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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The Top Headlines From
AVweb's Expanded, Illustrated News Coverage At AVweb's
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...
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...
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.
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...
EVOLUTION OF X PRIZE...
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.
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...
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...
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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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...
APPROVED FIX FOR NEAR VISION
The FAA More...
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.
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.
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...
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
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
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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.
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...
RedBull's low-level aerobatic Air Race spectacle is live and online,
NASA offering online ground de-icing course...
Citation made off-airport emergency landing in Alaska, everyone
Eugene, Ore., dedicated new $16 million runway...
Force wants more room to train F-16 pilots in South
TwinStars delivered to Chinese flight school.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. You're a part
of our team ... often, the best part. More...
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ARTICLES AND FEATURES ON AVWEB
Quiz #99 -- Step Up To
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.
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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...
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!
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|ZD PUBLISHING INTRODUCES TWO NEW PILOT FRIENDLY
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