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Volume 11, Number 40b October 6, 2005

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This issue of AVweb's AVflash is brought to you by ... LightSPEED Aviation

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Red Bull Air Races

The Top Headlines From AVweb's Expanded, Illustrated News Coverage At AVweb's NewsWire.

GAO TAKES AIM AT AIRLINES, BANKRUPTCY, PENSIONS...
Bankrupt airlines may just be delaying the inevitable by walking away from their pricey pension plans, according to a report released last month by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The report (PDF file) says that even without the pension-contribution burden ($10.4 billion over the next four years) the so-called legacy carriers may remain financially challenged unless they get their costs under control. "... These airlines will have trouble meeting their various financial obligations, regardless of whether they terminate their pension plans," the report reads. Even without the pensions, the average legacy carrier will continue to lose money (and pile up debt), according to the GAO. More...

...LOSSES IN THE EQUATION...
Now, there's no news in the GAO's finding that legacy carriers have higher costs than the budget airlines, and the GAO says it's in cutting costs where the so-called big airlines will find their salvation. In broad terms, the unit cost per available seat mile of the budget carriers is 7.3 cents and the legacy carriers are paying 10 cents. With a 27-percent cost advantage, the budget lines can easily undercut their competition. Matching fares with the likes of Southwest and JetBlue is a recipe for losing money and the big airlines are expected to lose up to $9 billion this year. More...

...GIGANTIC NUMBERS PLAY JUST A SMALL PART
Just what role do pensions play in the overall financial health of the major airlines? Although the numbers are huge (airline contributions will total about $10.4 billion over the next four years, assuming they're made), the actual effect on the bottom line is minimal and only accounts for 15 percent of the cost spread between the budgets and the majors. However, the impact of default on employees, especially pilots, can be enormous, or it may be negligible, depending on time and circumstance. Pilots take a beating on two fronts. More...

THE SJ30-2 IS THE WORLD'S FASTEST LIGHT BUSINESS JET
Not only is it fast; it has intercontinental range — 560 mph and over 2800 sm range. The SJ30-2 is the most advanced light business jet in the sky today, the perfect package of speed, range, and good looks. For details, go online to http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/sino/avflash.


FlightMax EX500 from 
Avidyne

ROCKET PLANES, A NEW ERA FOR AIR RACING...
Will racing do for rockets in the 21st century what it did for aviation in the early part of the 20th century? That's the hope of the forward-thinking folks that brought you the Ansari X Prize. X Prize founder Peter Diamandis, along with car-racing executive Granger Whitelaw, have formed the Rocket Racing League, in which rocket-powered planes will square off against each other in head-to-head competition. Diamandis said that while the race series will be tremendous spectator sport, it will also help advance private exploration of space. He called the races "a critical commercial step in opening up the space frontier." More...

...THE EVOLUTION OF X PRIZE...
X-COR's EZ Rocket is being hailed as the prototype for the race aircraft and it will be put through its paces at the Countdown to the X Prize Cup in Las Cruces, N.M., Oct. 9. The EZ Rocket has been flying for three years and uses a tiny alcohol-fueled rocket motor that can be started and stopped in flight. "Crucial for rocket racing is the ability to turn off and relight the engines," said Col. Rock Searfoss, a former astronaut who will fly the EZ Rocket on Sunday. "I will do multiple shutoffs and relights in Las Cruces to demonstrate where we're headed." The racers will reach speeds of 200 to 300 mph (the piston-powered unlimiteds and most of the sport class aircraft beat that at the Reno Air Races) and Diamandis is promising a spectacle. More...

...LINING UP SPONSORS
As with any other professional sport these days, success depends on sponsorship and media deals. Whitelaw said there's a major TV network interested and a soft drink company is talking with the organizers. Hats, T-shirts and video games are also on the radar. There are even plans for a reality TV series on the selection and training of rocket racing pilots. Even the FAA seems enthusiastic about the idea. "The Rocket Racing League takes the public awareness of rockets to a whole new level," said spokeswoman Patricia Smith. She said the agency is ready "to enable this business through an efficient and responsive regulatory approach." More...

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KATRINA FRAUD -- REPORT: NO SHOTS FIRED AT HELI'S...
Remember the rage you felt when you heard last month from major news outlets that people were taking shots at rescue helicopters over New Orleans. A Knight Ridder investigation has revealed no evidence whatsoever that any helicopter came under fire during the relief effort. In one news conference, a Coast Guard spokeswoman told reporters that the choppers came under fire every time they landed at a hospital. Trouble is, none of the Coast Guard pilots seem to remember taking fire. Now, it's not that there wasn't gunfire. Rescue workers on the ground regularly heard shots. But directed at aircraft? The Knight Ridder reporters couldn't find anyone who would confirm those reports, which often led to the grounding of aircraft desperately needed for rescue work. More...

..."VOLUNTEER PILOT" USES AVIATION IN LIE?
Police in Miami have charged a man who posed as a pilot working night and day to help victims of Hurricane Katrina. The man allegedly set up a bogus Internet donation site that fraudulently solicited donations to buy fuel for rescue aircraft that did not exist. Internet postings by the man claimed he was transporting to safety critically ill children, "Seven months old and smiling the whole way, as if she knew," according to the Miami Herald, and that he had tipped his wings at Air Force One while flying by. The warrant for his arrest stated he spoke by phone with a potential donor claiming he was in the cockpit of an aircraft about to take off. During that call, he was interrupted by "what appeared to be sounds from air traffic control" and told the donor it would be his last flight if more money didn't arrive, according to The Associated Press. Prosecutors say he made no such flights and police say the nine-day scam netted about $40,000 over a two-day peak. More...

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CESSNA CONFIRMS NEW PHANTOM SINGLE
Cessna has now officially announced what AVweb told you last week -- that it's planning a "brand new, next generation" single-engine aircraft. However, the company claims it doesn't know what such a plane might look like. Spokesman Dick Ziegler told The Wichita Eagle that dealers were briefed on the project last week at their annual meeting and were asked for input on its design. "We are committed to maintaining leadership in the single-engine piston field," Ziegler said. Cessna's grip on that distinction is tenuous as Cirrus Design continues to increase sales of its composite and glass SR series, which may have prompted a comment from Cessna CEO Jack Pelton last month nicknaming the new plane the "Cirrus Killer." More...

FAA APPROVED FIX FOR NEAR VISION
The FAA More...

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"THE WHOLE LOT WAS ON FIRE" -- PILOT LANDS, ALIVE
An Australian crop-duster said he was only trying to save his own skin when he landed his burning aircraft, by memory, on a dirt strip near Deniliquin, New South Wales, last week. "I was just interested in getting out," Fred Clipperton told a hospital spokeswoman in Deniliquin. "I just flew her down. I switched her off and got out." But apparently Clipperton is as gifted at understatement as he is at flying. According to witnesses, the only part of the plane not on fire when it landed was the tail and it didn't last much longer. More...

CHELTON'S SYNTHETIC VISION COVERS PART 23
Your next commuter flight might be helped to its destination by synthetic vision. Chelton Flight Systems has received FAA certification of a new Approved Model List STC that covers all large Part 23 aircraft, including commuter aircraft, for its synthetic vision system. Among the planes that can now be equipped with the "highway-in-the-sky" system are Beech 1900s, King Air 350s, Twin Otters and a host of other jet and turboprop passenger aircraft. The system combines a terrain database with satellite navigation and electronic instrumentation into an Electronic Flight Information System that gives the pilot a virtual view of the world outside. And now NASA is studying the use of similar technology on big airliners. More...

THE COLUMBIA 350 & COLUMBIA 400 HAVE A NEW CORPORATE NAME
The Lancair Company has re-branded itself as Columbia Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation. The manufacturers of the Columbia 350 and Columbia 400, the world's fastest certified piston aircraft, made the change as part of an ongoing campaign to develop a unique identity for these premium aircraft. The schedule for the Fly Columbia Tour, an interactive Columbia experience, is posted online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/columbia/avflash.

HELIOS TRAGEDY COMPOUNDED BY SAFETY MEASURE
Flight attendants trying to save a Cypriot airliner with an unconscious crew on board were locked out of the cockpit -- by the plane -- until it was too late to do anything, according to the Greek assessment of a computer simulation of the flight. More than 100 people died when the Helios Airways Boeing 737 crashed near Athens Aug. 14. The plane had some kind of pressurization problem shortly after takeoff from Cyprus on its way to Athens and the flight crew lapsed into unconsciousness. The plane continued on its programmed route to a holding pattern off the coast of Greece and flew in circles for two hours. Meanwhile, at least two flight attendants had stayed awake using portable oxygen bottles but they couldn't get through the locked, terrorist-proof cockpit door. It was only when one engine failed from fuel starvation that the computer-controlled systems aboard the plane unlocked the door. "Whoever was conscious in the cockpit had only a few minutes to save the plane," Greek Chief Investigator Akrivos Tsolakis told reporters. More...

LASER POINTER BILL TABLED
It could soon be against the law to point a laser at an airplane. Well, to be clear, it was always against one law or another (interference with a flight crew being the most common one cited) but the rash of laser incidents last year has prompted a Florida congressman to craft a specific bill outlawing the practice. Under Rep. Ric Keller's (R-Fla.) bill, which passed the House Judiciary Committee last week, anyone who "knowingly aims a laser pointer at an aircraft" could face up to five years in jail. More...

AEROMEDIX INTRODUCES A NEW MINI LOW-LEVEL MONOXIDE MONITOR
The Pocket CO carbon monoxide detector is the smallest, most sensitive CO detector on the market.  It fits in the palm of your hand and weighs less than one ounce.  The unit will display CO levels as low as one part per million (1ppm) and has alarm and visual features when levels exceed 25ppm.   The CO Experts 2004 and the Pocket CO low-level CO detectors are available exclusively from Aeromedix.com.  Low levels of carbon monoxide can be extremely hazardous in aircraft, because the effects of CO and hypoxia are cumulative. A small CO leak may be an early warning sign of an impending life-threatening problem. Don't take chances!  Order today by calling (888) 362-7123, or go online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/aeromedi/avflash.

CORRECTION: TWISTED AIRBUS NOSEGEAR PICTURES-R-US
Monday, AVweb posted images that showed what happened to key parts of the Airbus A320 that landed last month at LAX with its nosegear twisted 90-degrees from center. Our link may have taken some early readers to images showing the aftermath of an earlier twisted-nosegear-landing incident, which also involved a JetBlue Airbus ... one that landed at JFK in 2002. To relieve confusion and enlighten inquiring minds, AVweb now has both sets of photos available for your consideration. More...

ON THE FLY...
RedBull's low-level aerobatic Air Race spectacle is live and online, Saturday...
NASA offering online ground de-icing course...
UND Citation made off-airport emergency landing in Alaska, everyone OK...
Eugene, Ore., dedicated new $16 million runway...
Air Force wants more room to train F-16 pilots in South Carolina...
TwinStars delivered to Chinese flight school. More...

AVWEB'S NEWSTIPS ADDRESS ...
Drop us a line. Heard something that 130,000 pilots might want to know about? If it caught your eye, it will probably interest someone else, too. Submit news tips via email to newstips@avweb.com. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part. More...

P2 AVIATION TECHNOLOGY GPS SWEEPSTAKES!
Register to win a Garmin® 296 GPS from P2 Aviation Technology. Learn more about P2 products — including TimeTrac, Audio Advisory, and SkyBuddy. P2 products make your flying experience more convenient, safer, and more cost-effective, leaving you more time for what you love — flying!  Purchase a SkyBuddy Heading and Altitude Reminder before December 31, 2005 for $285 — mention this AVweb ad to save $60 off the regular price of $345. Purchase a TimeTrac before December 31 and receive airport database updates ($100 value) for one year at no additional cost.  Register to win the Garmin 296 at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/p2inc/avflash.

NEW ARTICLES AND FEATURES ON AVWEB
BRAINTEASERS
Quiz #99 -- Step Up To Twins
Congratulations, Mrs. Hollow, it's twins. Twice the power at four times the expense lures the single-minded pilot into the multi-engine PIC seat with a multitude of multi-faceted questions. So grab a fistful of throttles and answer away.

More...

AVWEB'S BUSINESS AVFLASH
HAVE YOU SIGNED UP yet for AVweb's NO-COST twice monthly Business AVflash? Reporting on breaking news, Business AVflash also focuses on the companies, the products and the industry leaders that make headlines in the Business of Aviation. Business AVflash is a must read. Watch for a Business AVflash regular feature, TSA WATCH: GA IN THE "SPOTLIGHT". Sign up today at http://www.avweb.com/profile/ More...

NEW ADVANCED GARMIN GNS 530/430 COMPUTER-BASED TRAINING
The new VFlite GNS 530/430 Advanced Training Series, now FAA FITS-accepted, uses the award-winning VFlite training process to teach challenging tasks on the GNS 530 & 430. Developed with input from Garmin, FAA, and top CFIIs, the program builds confidence on a wide variety of complicated IFR procedures. The solution for both initial and recurrent training — for only $99, it's available on PC- and Mac-compatible CD-ROM. Learn more at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/vflite/avflash.

AVWEB'S QUESTION OF THE WEEK ...
This week, AVweb wants to give you a quick eye test. Remember, you're on the honor system. PLUS: Results of last week's Question on the future of aviation in the U.S.A. More...

AVWEB'S PICTURE OF THE WEEK ...
Welcome to another edition of AVweb's "Picture of the Week"! The number of reader-submitted photos has dropped back to usual levels for this time of year, but the variety and quality of pics remain high. Did all our readers get together and collectively decide to submit only their best photos? And if so, why didn't they invite us to the party? We've been so good to everyone, giving away an exclusive AVweb baseball cap to each week's number-one winner! Sigh. If we can't get invited to reader parties, there's only one way to console ourselves: Time to look through our latest batch of airplane pictures! More...

Sponsor News and Special Offers

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SHOPPING DEALS  
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FLYING'S OCTOBER COVER OF SPACESHIPONE INTRODUCES AIRVENTURE COVERAGE!
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CARBON MONOXIDE KILLS! GIVE THE GIFT OF SAFETY FROM CO GUARDIAN
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SPONSOR NEWS
ZD PUBLISHING INTRODUCES TWO NEW PILOT FRIENDLY MANUALS
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_____________________________________
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AVflash is a twice-weekly summary of the latest aviation news, articles, products, features and events featured on AVweb, the Internet's Aviation Magazine and News Service. http://www.avweb.com

Letters to the editor intended for publication in AVmail should be sent to mailto:editor@avweb.com.com. Have a comment or question? Send it to mailto:newsteam@avweb.com.

Today's issue written by News Writer Russ Niles:
http://www.avweb.com/contact/authors.html#rniles
AVweb's editorial team: http://avweb.com/contact/authors.html.

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