February 16, 2006
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
Aircraft Sales Up In All Sectors
All the numbers show that 2005 was a great year for airplane sales, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) reported on Monday. Billings rose to $15.1 billion, up 27.2 percent over 2004. U.S. manufacturers shipped 2,857 airplanes, an increase of 21.3 percent. Worldwide shipments of GA aircraft totaled 3,580 units, up 20.8 percent. GAMA President Peter Bunce says he expects more of the same for 2006. "Our industry has experienced an absolutely phenomenal, phenomenal success in the past year," he told The Wichita Eagle. "We want to keep that momentum going." An expanding global market and the emerging market of very light jets should provide that momentum, he said. "Our growth shows that general aviation continues to have a dramatic impact on the way the world does business," said Bunce. "As the worldwide economy expands and becomes ever more interdependent, general aviation will play an ever-increasing role."
Investigative Efforts Must Be Prioritized
The piston market grew an additional 20 percent over the 20-year peak reached in 2004, with 2,465 units shipped. Turboprop shipments grew 14 percent. GAMA credits innovations in performance and comfort for keeping the turboprop segment competitive. The bizjet sector grew 27 percent, with 750 units shipped, just 34 fewer than the record of 784 in 2001. Exports from the U.S. grew 67 percent, representing 19 percent of all aircraft built in the country. "All manufacturers are seeing new markets emerge around the globe," GAMA said. Jobs at GAMA member companies grew by 6 percent. But one statistic fell -- there were 3 percent fewer private pilots than in 2004. GA flight activity overall also declined by about 2 percent, and remains about 30 percent below levels seen in the early 1980s. The student pilot population remained stable at about 87,000.
Mark Rosenker, acting chairman of the NTSB, spoke to the GA world on Tuesday at the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) meeting, and made use of the occasion to respond to a recent story in The Washington Post. The Post reported last week that NTSB investigators have been going to fewer accident scenes every year since 2001, showing up at less than half of the crashes involving small aircraft. Rosenker told the GAMA audience on Tuesday, "While it is true that we do not launch on all fatal and serious injury accidents, I must reiterate that we shall continue to lead an investigation into every single one of the nearly 1,800 general aviation accidents that occur each year in the country." Rosenker said the NTSB historically has not conducted an on-scene investigation on fatal accidents involving crop-dusters, homebuilts, illegal ultralights, balloons and gliders, which make up about 25 percent of the fatal accidents each year. "It is simply a matter of prioritizing our efforts," he said. "Our cadre of 43 regional investigators simply cannot travel on every fatal and serious injury accident, and we must rely on some of the 3,500 FAA inspectors to assist us."
"Whether we launch to the scene or not, we will conduct all of the research, interviews, and follow-up examinations necessary to perform an appropriate investigation," Rosenker said. "We will write the final report, and the NTSB will determine the probable cause of every single accident, no matter how small. This is our mandate, and we are sticking to it." Rosenker said the NTSB has been on-site at 62 percent of fatal accidents over the last three years, a drop from 75 percent previously. "I assure you that this 13-point drop involved fatal accidents that had known circumstances and no safety payback," he said. Rosenker added that by prioritizing and conserving resources, the safety board has decreased its backlog of cases from 2,500 to less than 400 over the last five years. The backlog consists of cases over six months old with no probable-cause finding. He also added that areas of GA safety that the safety board is monitoring include helicopter operations for air tours and offshore oil rigs, aging aircraft, icing, and light sport aircraft.
Virgin America, the U.S. stepchild of Richard Branson's Virgin brand, has started hiring pilots for its base in San Francisco. The new airline is looking for six experienced pilots right now to help with starting up, then will hire more than 100 pilots later this year to staff its fleet of 33 Airbus 320-family jets. At least 5,000 hours are required, and a type rating wouldn't hurt. Branson also is interested in getting into the air-taxi business with a fleet of Eclipse jets, Andrew Broom, public relations manager at Eclipse, confirmed for AVweb, yesterday. Meanwhile, NetJets says it will hire 450 pilots in 2006. Last year, NetJets pilots represented by the Teamsters achieved a new labor agreement with substantial increases in salaries. NetJets' new hires will be based at Columbus, Teterboro, West Palm Beach, Los Angeles and Dallas. NetJets operates a range of aircraft, including Citations, Hawkers, Falcons, Gulfstream 200s and Boeings, and on international routes, Gulfstream large-cabin jets. Rapid growth in air travel is creating a pilot shortage in India and China, where training of new pilots is not keeping up with the demand. Air China is planning to look for experienced pilots from overseas to fill its seats.
Under new rules to be introduced later this year by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the minimum flight time for commercial pilots in Europe would be cut from 145 hours to 70, while simulator time would increase from 90 to 170 hours. The British Air Line Pilots Association (BALPA) is protesting the change. "Simulators may be amazingly realistic but you always know you will be going home at the end of the day," Martin Alder, spokesman for BALPA, told The London Times. "There is no substitute for the unpredictability of real flying." Lufthansa, which has invested heavily in new simulators, has pressured ICAO to make the changes, according to The Times. Supporters of the change say that pilot trainees learn more from simulator time than from simply building time in real airplanes. Also, there is a shortage of pilots in Europe (as in India and China, see above) and the change would allow new pilots to be trained more quickly. BALPA has asked ICAO to hold trials before making the new rules final. "We need to assess the results of trials before exposing the public to this," Alder told The Times.
Meanwhile, in the U.K., a documentary on Ryanair by Channel Four accuses the airline of requiring pilots to work excessive hours, even when they are fatigued. Ryanair has denied and disputed all of the filmmakers' allegations. The program, Dispatches, aired Monday night. Two undercover reporters posed as cabin crew and spent five months secretly filming Ryanair's training program and flights. The reporters claimed to reveal inadequate safety and security checks, dirty airplanes, exhausted cabin crew and pilots complaining about the number of hours they have to fly. Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary said the allegations were unfounded. "Ryanair operates to the highest safety standards in Europe," O'Leary said. Aviation authorities in Europe are looking into the allegations. To counter the bad publicity, the airline on Tuesday released 3 million free tickets for travel before the end of May. Passengers pay only airport taxes and charges. Ryanair, based in Dublin, is Europe's largest no-frills airline, known for its cheap fares.
U. S. Rep Tom Reynolds, of New York, called last week for an investigation into pilot fatigue and a fresh look at rules regarding duty time. "Not since 1940 have flight-and-duty-time rules for pilots been updated," said Reynolds. "That simply is unacceptable." Reynolds cited a recent NTSB report on a fatal crash in Kirksville, Mo., in October 2004, which found that pilot fatigue was a contributing factor. The pilots had been on duty for over 14 hours on the day of the crash. Reynolds said he also wants to review the rules regarding the use of Terrain Avoidance Warning Systems. No such system was required for the fatal flight. One of the 13 who died aboard Corporate Airlines Flight 5966 was a New York resident. Current FAA rules do not address the amount of time pilots can be on duty, but impose a limit of eight hours flight time during a 24-hour period, provided the pilot has had at least eight continuous hours of rest during the 24-hour period. In its report on the Kirksville crash, the NTSB asks the FAA to modify and simplify the flight crew hours-of-service regulations to take into consideration factors such as length of duty day, starting time, workload, and other factors shown by recent research, scientific evidence and current industry experience to affect crew alertness. The NTSB also wants Part 121 and 135 operators to incorporate fatigue-related information into their initial and recurrent pilot training programs. Such training should address the detrimental effects of fatigue and include strategies for avoiding fatigue and countering its effects, the safety board said.
A New Zealand pilot was in court this week on fraud charges related to lying about having ditched his Cessna 185 in July 2004, according to the New Zealand Herald. Howard Jamison, 46, had reported that he took off from Timaru Airport and was flying offshore when the airplane's engine surged and stopped. He said he dead-sticked into the water, and was able to remove part of the airplane floor, which he rode into shore as the airplane sank. Jamison submitted an accident report and insurance claim, but the wreckage was never found. The Cessna was reportedly found last month, undamaged, stored in a shipping container. Jamison has said that if found guilty, he may sell his three other aircraft if necessary to repay the insurance of NZ$258,000. A report by the Civil Aviation Authority concluded that since the wreckage had not been found, the cause of engine failure could not be determined.
A Glasair II two-seat kitplane crashed into a house in a suburban neighborhood outside Sacramento, Calif., on Sunday afternoon. The airplane's owner, Patrick O'Brien, 49, of San Clemente, was killed, along with James McIsaac, 43, of Roseville, who was also a pilot. Chris Musil, 19, who lived in the house with his father, was killed. According to The Sacramento Bee, McIsaac lived in the neighborhood, and his wife and mother were watching when the aircraft suddenly dove into the house, which was quickly engulfed in flames. Witnesses said the aircraft was flying low over the neighborhood and performing aerobatics just before the crash. Spokesmen from EAA and Glasair were interviewed in the local press. Mikael Via, president of Glasair Aviation, told The Bee he is unaware of any instance where a bad part from his company caused a crash. "People see the word 'experimental' and that unfortunately conjures up an image that is incorrect," he said. Dick Knapinksi, of EAA, told The Bee that all homebuilt aircraft are thoroughly inspected before they are allowed into the air. He added that pilots must fly a homebuilt plane for dozens of hours over sparsely populated areas before it is allowed to fly elsewhere.
LiftPort Group, a consortium of companies working together to develop a space elevator, said on Monday it has successfully completed a second round of tests of its high-altitude platform. The tests, which required an FAA waiver to use the airspace, were completed earlier this month in Arizona. LiftPort says it launched an observation and communication platform to over 5,000 feet and maintained it in a stationary position for more than six hours, using an arrangement of high-altitude balloons. A ribbon attached from the platform to the ground supported robotic lifters that climbed as high as 1,500 feet. LiftPort says the technology can eventually be used to create a space elevator that would be anchored to an offshore sea platform near the equator in the Pacific Ocean. A carbon nanotube composite ribbon would stretch some 62,000 miles from earth to space. Mechanical lifters would move up and down the ribbon, carrying such items as people, satellites and solar power systems. "We're pleased at the success of this round of testing," said Michael Laine, president of LiftPort. "Testing our technology in real world settings is critical to the ultimate success of our space elevator, and we appreciate the FAA's willingness to work with us on this." The company is headquartered in Bremerton, Wash.
A fleet of L-39 warbirds was confiscated in Alaska by the FBI...
A local newspaper supports GA pilots opposing permanent airspace restrictions over Washington, D.C....
Boeing on Monday delivered its 5,000th 737, to Southwest Airlines...
An IPO at Eclipse Aviation? Not this year, company spokesman Andrew Broom told AVweb...
Jeppesen has released a NavData Alert about incorrect sector boundaries for Minneapolis Class B Airspace in some Jeppesen products; check their Web site for more info...
Two federal air marshals face drug charges for allegedly smuggling cocaine past airport security...
British Prime Minister Tony Blair was on board a DC-8 during an aborted takeoff in South Africa on Sunday night; nobody was hurt...
A rainbow-painted Lear Jet is making five stops this week to fly children for the Make A Wish foundation...
A flying motorcycle takes to the air on a TV news video.
Drop us a line. If it caught your attention, it will probably interest someone else, too. Submit news tips via email to email@example.com. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.
The Making of the World's Largest Skydive
The world's most experienced skydivers recently met in Thailand to build a record, 400-way formation. What did it take? The resources of an entire air force, 300 tons of Jet-A, a trainload of oxygen bottles and the determined endurance of a marathon runner, according to AVweb's Editorial Director (and skydiver) Paul Bertorelli.
The Savvy Aviator #28: Be Prepared
The most exasperating aircraft mechanicals invariably occur between Friday night and Sunday afternoon when you're hundreds of miles from home. The difference between a minor annoyance and major trauma often hinges on whether you're prepared.
Non-towered pattern entry. Dick Taylor explains the not-so-common knowledge that keeps you safer in the pattern at a non-towered airport. This is one case where the simplest approach isn't always the best. Click through to learn.
AVweb's Business AVflashPilots Know They Need to Protect & Improve Their Eyes
HAVE YOU SIGNED UP yet for AVwebs 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/
As a pilot, Brian Grote knows that visual acuity is an asset he can't afford to lose. After years of declining vision, he's finally found an all-natural supplement that may help protect and improve the health of his eyes for years to come. Click here to find out more about Claroxan, an all-natural supplement for your eyes. PILOTS KNOW THEY NEED TO PROTECT & IMPROVE THEIR EYES As a pilot, Brian Grote knows that visual acuity is an asset he can't afford to lose. After years of declining vision, he's finally found an all-natural supplement that may help protect and improve the health of his eyes for years to come. Click here to find out more about Claroxan, an all natural supplement for your eyes: http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/pachealth/flashQOTW
AVweb's Question of the WeekTired of the High Cost of Fuel? GAMIjectors Are the Answer!
*** PREVIOUS RESULTS ***
Last week, in the wake of a growing number of mid-air collisions, AVweb asked if you're concerned about the possibility of a mid-air.
Most of our respondents did express some concern but also some preparation and awareness. 68% of you told us that you're conscious of the possibility and have taken direct precautions to minimize the risk.
A significant 18% of respondents expressed some (understandable) longing for a little box that would see other aircraft and keep us alert to possible mid-airs.
Only 6% of our readers expressed little to no concern about being involved in a mid-air collision.
*** THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***
How would you like to be paid for flying? Does the job of pro pilot still hold the same appeal it once did?
Click here to answer
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Don't be grounded by sky-high gas prices. Install GAMIjectors, and you could see up to a 20% cut in your aircraft's fuel bill. Balanced fuel/air ratios make your aircraft's engine run smoother, cooler, and more efficiently. Call 888-FLY-GAMI, or order a kit online for your Continental or Lycoming engine. TIRED OF THE HIGH COST OF FUEL? GAMIJECTORS ARE THE ANSWER! Don't be grounded by sky-high gas prices. Install GAMIjectors, and you could see up to a 20% cut in your aircraft's fuel bill. Balanced fuel/air ratios make your aircraft's engine run smoother, cooler, and more efficiently. Call 888-FLY-GAMI, or order a kit online for your Continental or Lycoming engine: http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/gami/flashPOTW
AVweb's Picture of the Week
Submit a Photo | Rules | Tips | Questions | Past POTW Winners
What's got soaring jets, majestic mountains, tropical beaches, and adorable children?
O.K., it's a trick question. We all know the answer is the latest installment of AVweb's "Picture of the Week" contest. We'll kick things off with a photo from this week's winner, David Coggin of Altus, Oklahoma.
Like all "POTW" winners, David takes home an official AVweb baseball cap for his contribution. If you'd like to join in the photo fun and maybe win one of those hats for yourself submit your photos today!
*** THIS WEEK'S WINNERS ***
Used with permission of David Coggin
"All in a Day's Work"
You're not alone if this photo from David Coggin of Altus, Oklahoma made you ask "What the heck is that?" Until you take a closer look, you may not realize there are two jets here.
David tells us he took the picture "a couple of years ago," but didn't go into much detail about where he was or if he was trying for this effect. Whether by accident or design, it's catapulted him to the top of this week's "POTW" ranks, and we'll be sending Dave one of those sharp-looking AVweb baseball caps in the mail.
AVweb continues to receive a large number of excellent images for our POTW contest. Here are some of the runners-up. Due to privacy issues, AVweb does not publish e-mail addresses of readers who submit photos.
Used with permission of Trey Carroll
"Viper Out of the Dark"
Speaking of jets, here's a particularly menacing Thunderbird from Trey Carroll of Knightstown, Indiana. Actually, it isn't a Fabulous Thunderbird, but rather a USAF Viper painted in Thunderbird colors and on display in the National Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio.
Used with permission of John Hyle
"Earning Flight Time"
John ("Skipper") Hyle of Peachtree City, Georgia tells us the tykes in this photo are his sons. They're off to an early start in the world of flying, wiping down the family MK-4, J's Bird.
Whew. For a moment, we thought one of these guys might be Skip's A&P ... .
copyright © Kim Hatch
Used with permission
Last week's fire-fighting photo from Charles Stewart inspired nearly a dozen similar submissions to this week's contest. While we loved all the photos, we decided to limit our water-dropping finalists to just one this B-212 coming over a ridge in Spain, submitted by Kim Hatch of Nampa, Idaho.
copyright © Dan Valentine
Used with permission
"Under the Swaying Palms ..."
Does the name "Dan Valentine" sound familiar? It does to us, because Dan keeps showing up in our stack of finalists week after week. Not that we're complaining we've enjoyed every one of Dan's photos so far!
copyright © Joa Harrison
Used with permission
"Northwest Montana Winter Flying Beauty"
It's been a while since we ran a pure landscape photograph (with no planes in the foreground), so let's break that trend right now. Joa Harrison of Kootenai, Indiana took his two sons up for a flight over the Montana mountains. "My four-year-old really got a kick out of these 'pointy rocks,'" writes Joa, "and my two-year-old kept saying, 'Look, Daddy, big scary lions' (in reference to the chunks of snow-covered rocks)."
Wow. You really can see the lions in the large-size image. (Look in the lower-left corner.)
Maybe there are some benefits to flying with two-year-olds, after all ... .
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.Names Behind The News
AVwebFlash is a twice-weekly summary of the latest news, articles, products, features, and events featured on AVweb, the internet's aviation magazine and news service.
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