NewsWire Complete Issue

December 14, 2005
By The AVweb Editorial Staff

This issue of AVweb's AVflash is brought to you by ... Trade-A-Plane


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Joe Pilot - Countdown to Christmas

Your Aircraft Must Be "Properly Registered" By Feb. 1...

FAA Tightens Rules On Access To Airspace

Aircraft owners and operators must ensure their aircraft registration information and security waivers are properly completed and up to date by Feb. 1, 2006, or they "may be denied access" to the National Airspace System, the FAA said in a notice published in the Federal Register on Friday. The notice states that the FAA and the Transportation Security Administration will "revitalize and refocus" their airspace-monitoring capabilities to ensure that the requirements are met, "in the interests of national security and aviation safety." The FAA says it has provided numerous notices to aircraft owners over the last few years to emphasize the need for them to update their aircraft registration so both the FAA and aircraft manufacturers can notify them of safety and maintenance-related information. If you may be at risk, the FAA claims to know and offers some simple ways to check yourself (and them). The FAA offers a "registrations at risk" Web page. The theory is this, if you can't find your N-number in that particular database, the FAA believes you're in the clear. The agency stresses that up-to-date information is needed to assist local law enforcement agencies and FAA Flight Services Stations in the event of a downed or overdue aircraft, the FAA said. On Feb. 1, operators of aircraft with questionable registrations and/or no TSA-required security measures/waivers will be notified of the deficiency, a pilot deviation will be filed on the operator, and the operator may be denied access to the NAS.

...About Enforcement And Collateral Damage

AOPA has "concerns" about the FAA notice, based on an initial reading, spokesman Chris Dancy told AVweb yesterday. "AOPA has already pressed the FAA on one issue -- aircraft renters," Dancy said. "Would they be denied access to the NAS because the owner of the aircraft they've paid to rent has failed to comply with registration requirements? AOPA absolutely opposes anything that would impede a renter's ability to fly." Dancy added that the FAA has assured AOPA that renters would not be denied access to the NAS or face any enforcement action, although their departure on a flight in a rented aircraft could be delayed as the issue is sorted out. "While we're pleased with the assurances we've received so far from the FAA, we will continue to watch and to make sure that renters are not caught in an unexpected trap," he said. He also said the FAA has indicated that if owners do not comply with current registration requirements, the agency may consider requiring re-registration every three years. "They tried that in the 1990s," Dancy said. "AOPA fought it then." Owners and operators can check the FAA database online to see what information is on file regarding their aircraft.Fired Air Traffic Controllers Back To Work...

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Fired Air Traffic Controllers Back To Work...

But NATCA And FAA Still Feuding

Eleven air traffic controllers at the New York Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) on Long Island who were fired by the FAA last August have been reinstated. The controllers had been fired for allegedly failing to report on their FAA medical forms that they'd sought treatment for job-related stress. "The case was so one-sided in our favor that we didn't call a single witness," said John Carr, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. "NATCA did not even put on a defense, relying solely on the agency's witnesses to exonerate our people. The FAA folded like a cheap tent." The controllers will have letters of reprimand placed in their files for the failure to properly complete the forms and most will lose five days' pay. One of the 11 will lose 30 days' pay. Carr said the FAA has tried to "mislead the public into thinking that the agency has somehow snuffed out a case of abuse and misconduct." On the contrary, he said, the "FAA maliciously smeared its own employees, wrongfully terminated them and deliberately put their families through hell." NATCA said one of the FAA's witnesses testified that the controllers were removed in order to institute a "culture change."

...FAA Cites "Zero Tolerance"

"The taxpayers have a right to expect high standards of conduct from all civil servants," FAA spokesman Greg Martin told AVweb on Tuesday. (Your mileage may vary.) "The accuracy and integrity of these medical forms are essential to aviation safety. We felt this was an important case to pursue. There must be zero tolerance for actions that could affect aviation safety." The controllers were fired by the FAA in August and had appealed that decision. The dispute was resolved when both parties agreed to a settlement during arbitration. "We consider the matter closed," Martin said. NATCA said the Department of Transportation Inspector General should investigate the hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer funds spent on what Carr called a "shameful and egregious abuse of power."


Wings to Adventure is the ground-breaking series featuring aviation as YOU know it! Sunday at 2:30pm Eastern, on the Outdoor Channel. Each week, host Tom Gresham profiles classic and new planes and visits great fly-in destinations. Buckle up!

Cirrus Wreck Raises Special Concerns...

First Responders At Risk?

A Cirrus SR22 crashed in Minnesota on Sunday night, killing the pilot and two passengers. When rescuers reached the crash site, questions arose about the safety of approaching the wreck. "There's an explosive charge that sends that parachute up, that hampered the investigation to some degree," Lincoln County Sheriff Jack Vizecky told the local KeloLand TV. Such concerns are legitimate, according to Bill King, a Cirrus vice president who oversees investigations. "As a practical matter, we would rather that if the first responders don't need to go in, that they didn't," he told AVweb on Tuesday. "We don't want somebody to get hurt." The wreck was found about 2 a.m. Monday morning southeast of Ivanhoe by a Civil Air Patrol pilot. Weather overnight was reported as cold, foggy and drizzling. The parachute had been deployed, but it was not clear whether it had been manually deployed or deployed on impact.

...Citing Airbag, (Ballistic) Chute Dangers

The concern is not only about the parachute, but also the airbag seatbelts, which are standard on the newest Cirri. "First responders have been hurt by airbags in the past," said King. "So we will ask them to stand down until we can get there. Or if that's not possible, if they need to act, we will walk them through how to deal with the airbags and parachute to be sure they're safe." In the case of the Minnesota crash, where there were no survivors, everyone on the scene did the right thing, King said. It's best to disturb the site as little as possible until NTSB investigators arrive, he said. Killed in the crash were pilot Mark Johnson, 50, and his parents, Arthur and Maryann Johnson, all of Minnesota.

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Socata Takes On VLJs With Turboprop

EADS Socata will soon be offering its EASA-certified six-seat TBM 850 for sale in the U.S., the company announced Tuesday in Washington, D.C. The pressurized single-engine turboprop's performance will compete directly with very light jets (VLJs) while its operating costs will be lower, Socata said in a news release. The TBM 850 is based on the 15-year-old TBM 700 design, but with a more powerful Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-66D engine. It will cruise at a maximum 320 knots at FL260, 20 knots faster than the 700. Deliveries will begin early in 2006, after FAA certification is complete. Base price is set at $2.5 million, which -- in billionaire-speak -- is about where Cessna hopes to tag its Mustang VLJ twinjet and not quite twice the cost of an Eclipse 500. Decisions, decisions. A version of TBM's turboprop with typical customer options and ready for RVSM (Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum) operation will list at $2.8 million. "The TBM 850 is the fruit of our close relationship with TBM customers," said EADS Socata Chairman and CEO Stéphane Mayer. "We listened to their requests to make the fastest aircraft in its class even faster, and the result is the TBM 850 -- which we believe is the ultimate personal aircraft." More than two-thirds of next year's production has already been sold, Mayer said. The TBM 850 offers jet performance and excellent short-field characteristics without the operating costs, transition training and insurance premiums associated with the emerging category of light jets, according to Socata.

Virgin Galactic To Build HQ At New Mexico Spaceport

Virgin Galactic will locate its world headquarters and Mission Control in New Mexico, in a deal with the state that will launch the creation of a $200 million spaceport on a 27-square-mile site in a remote part of the state. Will Whitehorn, president of Virgin Galactic, announced the deal on Tuesday, saying New Mexico is an ideal operations base, with a favorable climate, uncrowded airspace, low population density, high altitude, and stunning scenery. "Our activities will prove the commercial viability and excellent safety technology behind private personal spaceflight and give birth to a new industry in New Mexico," he said. Virgin Galactic has contracted with Burt Rutan's Spaceship Company to buy five commercial versions of SpaceShipOne for space tourism. Already 38,000 people have put down deposits for seats. First flights are expected to launch from Mojave in 2008, with the New Mexico site coming on line in 2008 or 2009.

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Sport-Jet Moving to Oklahoma

Excel-Jet, which has been working to develop its single-engine Sport-Jet in Colorado Springs, Colo., since 2002, announced on Monday that it will be moving to Guthrie, Okla., in a deal that will pump up to $5 million in financing into the company. "We've completed negotiations and Excel-Jet will be relocating its facility to Guthrie within 90 to 120 days," said company President and designer Bob Bornhofen in a news release on Tuesday. The money was put together from local and state sources by the Guthrie Industrial Development Authority. It will be enough to bring the Sport-Jet well into the flight-test phase and start certification work next year. Excel-Jet will join two other aviation companies at the Guthrie Edmond Airport -- Zivko Aeronautics, builder of the popular Edge 540 aerobatic airplane, and Spirit Wing Aviation Services, which equips Lear Series 20 jets with new Williams FJ44 turbofans.

Work is underway to extend runways and improve the approach navigation facilities at the airport. "Everyone in the city and airport share the same entrepreneurial attitude and business goals that we have," said Bornhofen. "We are excited about the synergy and potential at Guthrie." The Sport-Jet is a five-seat, all-glass aircraft aimed at the GA pilot, and will sell for about $1 million. Once the FJ33 engine is integrated into the Sport-Jet, it will fly to its new home in Guthrie to complete the pre-certification flight-testing. "We really did not want to start the extensive flight testing program here and then move in mid-stream so we have been delaying this phase until we found a permanent home," Bornhofen said.

Lockheed Martin To Build Giant Airship

Lockheed Martin will build a prototype High Altitude Airship (HAA) under a $149.2 million contract awarded by the Missile Defense Agency, the company announced on Monday. The ship will be 400 feet long and about 140 feet in diameter with a volume of 3.7 million cubic feet, and will operate at altitudes up to 60,000 feet. The prototype is slated to fly in 2009. It will demonstrate launch and recovery, station-keeping and flight-control capabilities while carrying mission-reconfigurable payloads. It will be built in Lockheed Martin's facility in Akron. "The HAA delivers a persistent surveillance capability unmatched by any other platform," said Ron Browning, Lockheed Martin's leader of the project. It will support air and ground missile-defense needs and provide a near-space, multi-mission "guardian in the sky" that is easily relocatable and can be stationed where needed most, Browning said.


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For Delta's Pilots, It Could Have Been Worse

Pilots for Delta Air Lines struck a tentative deal over the weekend, averting a possible strike that the airline had characterized as a "murder-suicide" scenario. "The pilots came out on top of this skirmish, but I've been around for a long time and I know who is going to win the war -- Delta," industry analyst Terry Trippler told the Associated Press. Delta had been asking the pilots for $325 million in concessions, but under the new deal the pilots will concede less than half that amount. The cuts include a 14-percent wage reduction for pilots, on top of a 32.5 percent cut agreed to last year.

The pilots union says it is not backing away altogether from its strike threat, but putting it on hold for now while the two sides continue to negotiate. "All along, our biggest problem has been that the management team did not recognize that a 50 percent pay cut in a year and a termination of their pension plan ... if that wasn't enough to be the tipping point, I don't know what is," Lee Moak, chairman of the union's executive committee, told the AP. "So, I believe that they (Delta management) recognized that." Delta filed for bankruptcy protection in September. Delta's pilots are expected to ratify the agreement. The bankruptcy court also must give it an OK.

Saturday Celebrates Wrights' First Flight And 70 Years Of DC-3s

In a poll of pilots' all-time favorite airplanes, the DC-3 would surely come out in the top tier, so when we hear about a special event to honor these venerable fliers, we like to let you know. This Saturday is not only the 102nd anniversary of the Wright brothers' first flight but also the 70th anniversary of the first flight of the Douglas DC-3, in 1935. Within five years of the DC-3's introduction, passenger miles flown in the U.S. increased five-fold. To celebrate, the Prairie Aviation Museum's famous Ozark Airlines DC-3 will visit the 1940 Air Terminal Museum at William P. Hobby Airport in Houston, Texas. The event will be held in conjunction with the airport's monthly Wings & Wheels Saturday and will feature lunch, museum tours, new DC-3 exhibits, vintage aircraft displays, and many other special activities. A series of speakers will recall their experiences aboard the DC-3 during its golden age.

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On The Fly...

Nine single-engine aircraft were destroyed in a hangar fire at Arlington (Texas) Municipal Airport Monday night, and 11 others were damaged. One of the airplanes in the hangar was a 1934 Fairchild...

The U.S. House passed a bill last week that would carry a $250,000 fine and a possible five-year prison term for anyone who points lasers at aircraft, AOPA said on Tuesday. The legislation now goes to the Senate...

The fifth generation of ultralight-led whooping cranes completed their fall migration to Florida on Tuesday. Nineteen cranes and four ultralights landed at an isolated location in Marion County after a 61-day, 1,100-mile journey...

FAA will soon require security-enhanced plastic certificates for all pilots, AOPA says...

The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) is distributing $13,000 this week to victims of Hurricane Katrina. The funds were contributed by NATA members...

AirShares Elite will open its first New England site at Hanscom Field in Bedford, Mass., today. The AirShares LITE program enables pilots to own a share of a Cirrus SR20 and later upgrade to an SR22.

AVweb's Newstips Address ...

Drop us a line. If it caught your attention, it will probably interest someone else, too. Submit news tips via email to You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.

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

New Articles and Features on AVweb

As the Beacon Turns #96: Who You Calling Heavy?
An early morning departure from San Francisco in his nearly half-million pound heavy jet reminds Michael Maya Charles of the value of looking carefully at aircraft performance when you are confronted with something out of the ordinary.

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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

The Cessna Flyer Association (CFA) provides parts locating, tech support, a monthly member magazine, online forums, national and regional events, an annual convention, seminars, and more. With a one-year membership for $39, access the needed information to expand your knowledge and get more enjoyment from owning and flying your Cessna aircraft. Join the Cessna Flyer Association (CFA) as they build the ultimate Cessna association. The CFA is located on the Waupaca Municipal Airport in Wisconsin, just 35 NW of Oshkosh. For more information (and to request a sample copy of the magazine), go to

AVweb's Question of the Week ...


Last week, just hours after Federal Air Marshals shot and killed an airline passenger, AVweb asked our readers for their opinion on the incident.

67% of you saw the shooting as an example of the system in action — although one with tragic consequences.

The other 33% of our readership thought the death of an innocent man was a clear indicator that the system had failed.


Follow-up to the American Airlines incident.  Initial mainstream media reports generally told one version of events, indicating that 44-year-old Rigoberto Alpizar was threatening to detonate (or at least claiming to have) a bomb.  Now, one week later, news media from Yahoo! to TIME magazine to Fox News to CNN have offered briefs more in line with AVweb's original next-day coverage.

Our question to you:  If Rigoberto Alpizar never said anything suggesting that he may have had a bomb, would that change your opinion about the event?

Click here to answer

Have an idea for a new QOTW? Send your suggestions to

This address is only for suggested QOTW questions, and not for QOTW answers or comments.
Use this form to send QOTW comments to our AVmail Editor.

AVweb's Picture of the Week ...

Submit a Photo | Rules | Tips | Questions

Current POTW Winner | Past POTW Winners

AVweb readers were cooking with gas this week — contributing just over 100 photos to our "Picture of the Week" contest.  Those are pretty high numbers for the slow period between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  More amazing still, almost half of the photos you submitted were pushed through to the final round of selection!  After much debate, we decided to award this week's top spot to "Barrell Roll," a photo that turned to be from frequent "POTW" contributor Lassi Tolvanen.  Congratulations, Lassi — we'll be sending an official AVweb baseball cap your way early in the week.

As for the rest of you — now's a great time to dust off those old Polaroids and digital memory cards and send us your pictures!

Due to privacy issues, AVweb does not publish e-mail addresses of readers who submit photos.


copyright © Lassi Tolvanen

Used with permission

"Barrell Roll"
"POTW" veteran Lassi Tolvanen of Helsinki, Finland
returns this week with a spectacular photo of "Team60,"
a Swedish Air Force demo team, in the midst of a barrel roll.
Lassi's photo was taken from the no. 5 plane in the formation.

Click here to view a large version of this image

AVweb continues to receive a large number of excellent images for our POTW contest. Here are some of the runners-up. Click on the links below to view larger versions.

Used with permission of Zane Jacobson

"Dawn Patrol in Reno"
Zane Jacobson
of Reno, Nevada
treats us to a serene view — which captured
our eyes and our desktops for the week.
Set it as your wallpaper, and see for yourself.

Used with permission of Colin Simmons

"Papua New Guinea Highlands"
Colin Simmons
of Discovery Bay, Lantau Island
(Hong Kong) shares a trip down memory lane —
this photo was taken in 1977 at Lapalama in
Papua New Guinea's Enga Province, when Colin
was learning his way around the PNG bush.

Bonus Pictures

More amazing photos from AVweb readers:

Used with permission of David Turner

"Idling Sea Monsters"
David Turner of Eagle Mountain, Utah
reminds us why we love seaplanes — though
it's getting a bit cold to love them as much as we
do during the summer months.  David snapped
this photo in Seattle, where his son was taking
his first floatplane lesson.

Used with permission of Richard Pahnke

"Air 7 at Daybreak"
Richard Pahnke of Taylors, South Carolina
is a traffic watch pilot for the local CBS affiliate
who took this photo early one morning before
taking to the skies.  Nice work, Richard!

copyright © Natalia Anemodoura
Used with permission

"Corfu Stoplight Redux"
Hey, remember Natalia Anemodoura's
heart-stopping landing photo from last week?
She was kind enough to send us a couple more
photos this week, including this one from the other side
of Runway 17 at Corfu Island International (Greece).
"Just for those who still are in doubt about the
authenticity of my previous photo," she writes.
Thanks for stunning images, Natalia —
we'll never doubt you again!

To enter next week's contest, click here.

A Reminder About Copyrights: Please take a moment to consider the source of your image before submitting to our "Picture of the Week" contest. If you did not take the photo yourself, ask yourself if you are indeed authorized to release publication rights to AVweb. If you're uncertain, consult the POTW Rules or send us an e-mail.

Visit AVweb's Holiday Shopping Page

Featuring products and services from AVweb's
sponsors — including very special holiday offers!

Sponsor News and Special Offers

Access to AVweb and AVflash is provided by the support of our fine sponsors. We appreciate your patronage.

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During the next 12 months, aircraft maintenance expert Mike Busch will be offering his acclaimed weekend Savvy Owner Seminar in Chicago, Boston, Denver, Frederick, Atlanta, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Charlotte, Orlando, Houston, Memphis, Las Vegas, San Diego, and Salt Lake City. Learn how to have a safer, more reliable aircraft while saving literally thousands of dollars on maintenance costs, year after year.  For seminar details and to reserve a spot for yourself (or as a gift), go to
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"Stepping Up to Glass" — flying LCD screens is easy once you figure out where to look and which stupid button to push, it's keeping current that's hard; "The End of Airmets" — most text-based weather is going extinct, behold the new order as approved weather finally enters the digital age; "Stupid Pilot Tricks" — join the fun as you learn how to shoot down your own aircraft and find duct tape is not an approved repair material; plus more for any IFR pilot who wants to stay informed and up-to-date. Order your subscription to IFR magazine at
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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.

Letters to the editor intended for publication in AVmail should be sent to Have a comment or question? Send it to

Today's issue written by News Writer Mary Grady:
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