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The Top Headlines From AVweb's Expanded, Illustrated News Coverage At AVweb's NewsWire
Diamond Aircraft announced Sunday that its D-Jet personal jet will have
an introductory price of $1.38 million -- 40 percent more than the $850,000 figure that was named when the plane first went into development. Company officials also told reporters attending the annual
Diamondfest at the company's North American headquarters in London Ontario, Canada, that the price jump is tied closely to buyers seeking all available options and among those, the company now intends
to offer a whole-plane parachute system as an option on the 315-knot five-place single-engine jet. The cockpit will also come adorned with a massive glass panel display -- two 12-inch PFDs and a
central 15-inch MFD. AVweb contributor Rick Durden was there for the unveiling. Click here to find access to his personal observations and incisive opinions along with access to AVweb's
complete NewsWire. Of course, there were lots of questions about the big price hike and company officials said it was in response to customer demand. They said most customers are ordering the planes
loaded with every possible option, anyway, so they might as well all be built that way. The first 50 airplanes are slated for delivery by the end of 2008.
Diamond also used the event to unveil a jazzed-up version of the DA40 that might be a competitor for the likes of Cirrus, Mooney
and maybe Columbia (if you don't mind going slower with Diamond). With a Powerflow exhaust and a new composite three-bladed Scimitar prop, Diamond's been able to coax a maximum speed of 160 knots out
of the new DA40XL, which is about 30 knots faster than the standard DA40 and might be enough to make future owners of high-performance singles to look at the Diamond with its $329,800 price tag, as
opposed to airplanes that are 20 or 30 knots faster but also cost about $150,000 more. And, in these fuel-conscious times, it's worth noting the Diamond will burn about 10 gph at 150 ktas at 6,000
feet. There'll also be no lack of electronics on the Diamond. The DA40XL will come with a new Garmin GFC700 Digital Automatic Flight Control System, which includes a flight director, altitude
pre-select, GPS roll steering, overspeed protection and two-axis autopilot all integrated with the G1000. There will also be an Avidyne TAS and a satellite datalink system. Again, Diamond officials
said they developed the DA40XL because customers were already ordering the standard DA40 with every option they could hang on the airframe.
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The FAA has turned down a request by the International Cessna 120/140 Association to allow certain modified versions of the
singles to be flown under the rules governing light sport aircraft (LSA). The popular taildraggers, in normal configuration, have a gross weight of 1450 pounds, 130 pounds heavier than the maximum of
1320 pounds allowed under LSA designation. It's the only limitation they don't naturally meet. A couple of years ago, the owners group applied for, and received, a Supplementary Type Certificate that
would allow owners to reduce the gross weight to 1320 pounds in hopes that the FAA would then allow the aircraft to be flown by those with Sport Pilot certificates, which have much less stringent
medical requirements. The FAA saw it another way, however, according to a report in Sport Pilot magazine. Earlier this
month, the agency rejected the owners group's logic that since the planes have such a good safety record they should be natural candidates for LSA status. The FAA countered that the safety record is
due, in large part, to the training and skill required of pilots who fly certified aircraft. The agency also said the STC application backfired on the owners because it led to the inclusion of a
clause in the LSA final rule that prohibits modification of existing designs to meet LSA limitations. In the end, the FAA determined that lightened-up 120s and 140s simply don't qualify. "Granting the
petitioner's request would not be consistent with the intent of the rule," the FAA said. Several types of certified aircraft do qualify as LSAs, however, including certain Aeroncas, Cubs, Taylorcrafts
The fact that owners of standard category aircraft are actively campaigning to have their planes included in the LSA movement
is an indication that naysayers who predicted LSA/Sport Pilot would attract the same level of interest as the recreational certificate (virtually nil) may be looking up crow recipes. By all accounts
the new category, initially spurred by the introduction of some pretty slick European airplanes, is taking off the way its promoters predicted (and it doesn't hurt having EAA's PR and lobbying machine
behind it). While the majority of fixed-wing LSAs certified in the U.S. still arrive from overseas, American companies are catching up. As we've previously reported, Cessna will unveil its concept for
an LSA next week at EAA AirVenture and some of the better-known U.S. kit builders are getting into the act. Cubcrafters recently got FAA approval for its Sport Cub and RANS Aviation, which was a
pioneer in light aircraft manufacturing in the 1980s, is also reported to be planning an all-metal, factory-built LSA. The country's third-largest fly-in, EAA's Northwest Fly-In in Arlington, Wash.,
is now raising money to build a permanent Sport Aviation Park at the field. Pilot Journey has added a Sport Pilot section to its Web site, complete with a $99 introductory flight offer.
Share Your Thoughts on Aviation Headsets Pilots have many choices when considering aviation headsets. So we'd like to know: What features lead you to purchase? How do
you choose between brands? In short, we want to know what's important to you. Please take a few moments to complete this survey and help influence the future of the aviation headset industry. Go to survey.
Groups representing cargo pilots are calling on the FAA to give fire
safety the same priority on cargo aircraft as in passenger planes. During a
two-day hearing into the fire that destroyed a UPS DC-8 just after it landed in
Philadelphia last February, Shannon Jipsen, a UPS pilot and official with the
Independent Pilots Association, the union representing UPS pilots, said cargo
aircraft should have mandatory fire suppression systems like those in passenger
planes. "We have a double standard here," Jipsen told the hearings. The Air Line
Pilots Association joined the call for better training for airport firefighters
for cargo aircraft fires. Firefighters took more than four hours to douse the
flames, which may have started 25 minutes before the aircraft landed. The crew
was four minutes out before the smoke alarm sounded and didn't have much time to
spare in getting out of the burning plane. Philadelphia Fire Capt. Gary Loesch
said his department's response was slow because firefighters had no training in
cargo plane fires. They also were unsure of the contents of the plane and
concerned about toxic substances that might be on board. Loesch told the
hearings that Philadelphia firefighters are now getting training on fighting
Although UPS has so far declined to confirm just what was on board the DC-8, the NTSB probe is looking at whether lithium ion
batteries, of the type used to power laptop computers, might have caused the fire. Although problems are statistically rare (339 battery-related fires out of the tens of millions of batteries in
service) they can have spectacular results. An exploding cellphone battery is blamed for causing $100,000 in damage to a California home last year and two years ago the FAA banned non-rechargeable
lithium batteries as cargo on passenger planes because it found that halon, the fire suppressant used in jetliners, couldn't put out a lithium fire. The rechargeable type most commonly found in
consumer electronics are made differently and are considered safer but, according to the Chicago Tribune, the FAA said it had "concerns" about carrying the rechargeable type on airliners. UPS says it
followed all the rules when it loaded the DC-8, including notifying Philadelphia airport authorities of the hazardous materials on board. The company would not disclose the list, however. "We operated
according to federal regulations," Frank Skubis, UPS's director of safety, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "We intend to continue to do that."
Meanwhile, the NTSB says that earlier fixes aimed at preventing sparks from igniting vapors in aircraft fuel tanks don't work.
In a news release last week, the board said the wing tank of a Transmile Boeing 727 exploded even though it had been properly
fitted with electrical shields designed to prevent the electrical arcing that most likely ignited the vapors. An airworthiness directive required the wiring harness in question to be inspected,
repaired and then wrapped in plastic before being returned to the conduit in the wing tank. "This accident illustrates that ignition sources continue to exist and fuel tank explosions continue to
occur in both wing and center wing fuel tanks despite the corrective efforts of government regulators and industry," the board concluded. The accident happened while the plane was on the ground at
Bangalore, India, and no one was hurt. But the blast wrecked the wing and the plane would have crashed had it been airborne, the NTSB said. The board continues to press the FAA to require systems that
displace the explosive vapors in fuel tanks with inert gases, such as nitrogen. Boeing has already designed and installed systems on several aircraft and can retrofit airliners for between $100,000
and $300,000 each, depending on the size.
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AVweb always pulls out all the stops for its coverage of AirVenture and this year we've added a new dimension
to our coverage. In addition to our four complete AvwebFlash and NewsWire editions from Oshkosh (Monday, July 24; Wednesday, July 26; Friday, July 28; and our wrap-up on Monday, July 31) we're
producing three in-depth podcasts (Tuesday, July 25; Thursday, July 27; and Saturday, July 29) filled with interviews with the movers and shakers of the industry. Knapinski said more than 10,000
airplanes and 700,000 people are expected to attend and for pilots, getting there is half the fun. If you intend to fly in and you don't have the NOTAM, download one now or phone EAA and get them to
fax you one. Knapinski said flying to Oshkosh isn't as hard as it looks but it does require some preparation and concentration.
Last year we watched the rarest and coolest airplanes by day and then watched for tornadoes at night. There's never a dull moment at EAA AirVenture and, while it'll be some time before the lineup of last year's show (SpaceShipOne, GlobalFlyer) can be matched, if ever, the world's largest aviation event continues
to pack in the best of the aviation world for a week in Oshkosh, July 24 to July 30. In a special podcast interview that will be available for download on Friday, EAA Communications Director Dick
Knapinski told AVweb that this year's show is shaping up to cater to virtually all interests in aviation. "What we're seeing coming in this year is perhaps the broadest and best developed
lineups that we've seen in a long time," Knapinski said. Opposite ends of the GA spectrum will have major prominence at this year's show. The light sport aircraft (LSA) category will have its
strongest showing to date as more than 30 aircraft are now certified. Very light jets (VLJs) will also take the spotlight, with the debut of Diamond's D-Jet and news about the continued development of
at least four others. Watch for some major announcements in avionics, too.
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Both AOPA and EAA are lobbying Congress to exempt aviation gasoline from two proposed amendments to the Clean Air
Act. The bills propose making it mandatory for all motor vehicle gasolines (with a few exceptions for collector cars) to contain at least 10 percent "renewable fuels" by 2010. About the only viable
alternative fuel now available is ethanol fermented from corn and it gives airplanes a major hangover. Separate studies by EAA, the FAA and Cessna have conclusively determined that ethanol damages
everything from engines to fuel systems in airplanes, but the bills, as they stand now, would require the 10 percent quota for avgas. The groups are also hoping to get some relief for those with mogas
STCs. In addition to exempting avgas, the groups want Congress to allow premium automotive fuel to be made without ethanol. The addition of ethanol invalidates the mogas STCs. Several states have seen
the wisdom of having some alcohol-free fuel available, not only for airplanes but for boats and recreational products, and have exempted premium fuel from their own 10-percent rules.
The co-pilot of the Challenger business jet that crashed at Montrose, Colo., in 2004, killing Teddy Ebersol, youngest
son of NBC Sports head Dick Ebersol, and two others says the manuals for the jet should have been more specific about the dangers of flying the Canadair Challenger 601 in icing conditions. Eric Sloan
Wicksell, of Daytona Beach, claims the flight and training manuals for the plane should have spelled out the icing dangers more explicitly. The NTSB concluded that the crash, which occurred on
takeoff, was most likely caused by the pilot failing to manually check for ice contamination on the wings. The pilot, Luis Polanco-Espaillat, and flight attendant Warren Richardson III, were killed
while Ebersol, his older son Charlie and Wicksell were injured. Wicksell is also suing the owners of the airplane saying they were aware that the pilot was not qualified to fly in winter weather. The
runway was covered in slush and snow and Dick and Charlie Ebersol both told investigators they saw it on the aircraft, too.
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Boeing engineers say its 787 Dreamliner is gaining weight as they figure out ways to shed the enormous shock a
lightning strike would bring to the airliner's (nearly) all-composite composite airframe. Lightning strikes one or two airliners every year and it's not normally a big deal. The big charge just passes
through the very conductive aluminum. But in a mostly composite airplane like the Dreamliner, the enormous charge looks for a relatively few conductive paths, such as hinges, attachment points and
wiring, and it can vaporize or fuse them. The answer is to provide conductive routes through the composite and that's where the weight gain comes in for the efficiency-driven design, according to a
report in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Metal strips or mesh can be added to the layers of composite to ensure the electricity has a place to go. That has pushed the airliner 2.5 percent beyond its
"target weight," although Boeing officials insist the plane will not weigh more than what was promised customers. Most of the weight gain is in the wings, which carry the fuel and where electrical
arcing is particularly dangerous. "We always planned to deal with this issue, but we did not anticipate the complexity," Boeing's Scott Strode, head of 787 development and production told, the
Northrop Grumman says it has developed a laser-based system -- a laser "bubble" -- that can knock just about any
kind of airborne threat out of the air within a five-mile radius of an airport and is effective against shoulder-fired missiles up to 20 miles away. And, once it starts selling the systems in
quantity, it's predicting a fully-installed price of "only" $25 million to $30 million, which it claims will be popular at airports in countries that are having neighborhood disputes, such as South
Korea, Taiwan and Japan. "If it goes that [price] path, it's a very large market," Northrop spokesman Dan Wildt told Reuters. The first systems might cost as much as $200 million and will be available
in about 18 months. Wildt said the laser "bubble" will destroy "rockets, mortars, artillery shells, unmanned aerial vehicles, short-range ballistic missiles, as well as cruise missiles," according to
the Reuters story. So, we can imagine the short work it would make of, say, an errant Cessna 150 over Washington. Israel is reported to be working on development of the system with Northrop Grumman.
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American Airlines says it has fixed all the damage a rampant mouse infestation caused to one of its
A320s but not soon enough for maintenance workers who discovered the rodents. According to documents obtained by KARE TV in Minneapolis, the first mouse sighting was in early May and the plane was
only cleaned, repaired and returned to service last week. According to the TV station, maintenance workers in Los Angeles shot video of the damage (which included dead mice in emergency oxygen masks
and chewed insulation) and called the FAA's safety hotline. At the time, an exterminator apparently told the whistleblowers that there could be up to 1,000 mice on the plane but the airline said only
17 live mice were found. The airline also insists that the plane was safe to fly with all the extra passengers on board (which it did on numerous occasions) and that mouse infestations are rare in
In Thursday's editions of AVweb's news, a Cessna display ad was published without a contrasting border, suggesting it was part of a news story about the cargo industry. The ad was unrelated to
the news story. We apologize for the oversight.
Remember the guy who got to 16,000 feet in a lawn chair with 400 helium balloons attached? Well, now Flight of the Lawnchair Man has been turned into a musical that, according to press notes, "reminds the world that dreams can come true if you believe in yourself." (and place considerable faith in latex,
aluminum and plastic webbing)...
Patience has its rewards and the owners of 66 new Columbia aircraft damaged in a hail storm last month will get theirs. The company that the deposit holders will be enrolled in an avgas
promotion the company began after their orders were received and that finance rates will be set according to the time the planes should have been delivered...
There will be no criminal charges filed against a teenage pilot who is alleged to have buzzed his school last month.
However, the FAA is still investigating allegations that Daniel Morrison busted altitude minimums when he gave a "final salute" to Pinkerton Academy in New Hampshire...
A glider pilot was found alive and in remarkably good shape after spending 30
hours in the wreck of the aircraft in England last week. John Russell couldn't get out of the cockpit because of a broken leg and he's now recovering in hospital.
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
Join NAA and Help Shape the Next Century of Flight It's a great time to join the National Aeronautic Association (NAA), the nation's oldest
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Offering up Christiansen, Phil Hanson told us, "Tremendous t-storm blew into Tulsa, and they put my Skylane in their hanger among the Citations, Pilatus', etc. Staff is always very friendly and
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Attention, Cessna Owners Do you need to modernize your old, tired RT359A or RT459A transponder? Narco Avionics proudly announces the availability of
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COLUMNS The Pilot's Lounge #102: The Last 10 Feet
The dreaded 709 ride -- it's just the FAA "here to help you," but your ticket could be on the line. AVweb's Rick Durden helped one pilot brush up on his skills and remind himself the best way to land.
Online Now: Listent to, or take today's news with you. Find exclusive interviews featuring TCM president Bryan Lewis, NATCA president John Carr, New
Piper CEO Jim Bass, Hal Shevers for Sporty's Pilot Shop, Light Sport guru Dan Johnson, Excel Jet's Bob Bornhofen, Adam Aircraft's Joe Walker, FAA administrator Marion Blakey, Cirrus Design's Alan
Klapmeier and more. AVweb's Podcast index, is available online -- pick and choose your pleasure, or subscribe free and receive AVweb's podcasts automatically for listening on your computer, iPod, or while traveling with any MP3 player.
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Seeing is believing... Overheard while in the pattern at FNT:
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Tower: Well, look close. One of them has a transponder in it.
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IFR Refresher's July Issue Brings Some Summer Refreshments "Building Blocks" breaking down the complicated approach procedures components;
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Aviation Consumer's July Issue Reviews Include: "Chelton FlightLogic Is Top EFIS Display"; "What a Gear Up Costs" costs are up since there are
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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.
Today's issue was written by news writer Russ Niles (bio).
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