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Volume 12, Number 33b
August 17, 2006
Sino Swearingen's SJ30-2 Business 
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Among the many intriguing sights at EAA AirVenture last month was an array of four brightly painted little RV-3s, just off Aeroshell Square, each with the word "ethanol" on its empennage and tail feathers. Nearby, a Mooney 201 also sported ethanol livery. The RV-3 E-Squadron has been flying for 13 years on corn-based ethanol fuel, and the Mooney is part of the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council's AGE85 aviation-grade ethanol research project. That project has been working for 11 years to determine how to burn ethanol fuels in general-aviation engines, in the event that 100LL becomes unavailable. As the market shrinks for leaded fuel, the concern is that it will become harder and harder to get, more expensive, and perhaps go away altogether. More...

Jim Behnken, chief test pilot for AGE85, told AVweb yesterday there's no need for pilots to be anxious about that scenario. "100 low-lead might be available for another 100 years. But if it does go away, we do have an answer." Behnken said his group's research shows that ethanol can do the job. "I can take you flying in our test aircraft, and switch back and forth between ethanol and low-lead, and you can't tell the difference in performance," he said. The biggest drawback with ethanol is fuel economy, which is about 20 to 30 percent less. An engine that burns 5 gallons per hour of gasoline would instead burn 6 or 7 gallons of ethanol. "But the engine wear is less," Behnken said, "so overall, on operating costs, it's pretty much a wash." More...

The main advantages of ethanol fuel, Behnken says, are, number one, it's produced domestically, and number two, it avoids the environmental and safety issues of the toxic components of 100LL. Although it's true that the U.S. can't produce enough ethanol to fuel the entire auto fleet, it could supply the GA fleet several times over. So if overall performance and cost is pretty much on a par, why wait for the end of 100LL? Why isn't the changeover already under way? "Because nobody's asking for it," says Behnken. If the demand isn't there, the fuel won't be available at your local FBO, and it's too much trouble to custom-order it. He said in the last year or two, though, with volatile gasoline prices and more concern over supplies, he's seen "significant change" in the interest level. So will ethanol soon be a viable alternative? More...

Voyager FreeFlight 
from Seattle Avionics Get Your 100% No-Cost Copy of Voyager FreeFlight
See why Eclipse Aviation and thousands of pilots chose Voyager as their flight planning, moving map, and approach plates solution — and why it won Product of the Year! New Voyager FreeFlight is a streamlined version of the full Voyager system with many of the same features: autorouting with terrain avoidance - DUAT briefings & filing - profile view with terrain, TFRs, clouds, airspace, airways - satellite and radar overlays - AOPA airport information - detailed trip printouts - and much, much more. Click here to download now or watch a self-running demo.

When the Concorde quit flying, it seemed like the end of an era for supersonic passenger aircraft -- but more likely, it was a blip in what will be a continuing story. Working on that next chapter are several companies laboring quietly away, hoping to build the transport of the future within the next 10 years. Most are aiming not for mass transport, but for the high-end business and fractional market, with seating for just 12 to 24 or so passengers. Aerion, based in Reno, Nev., and backed by billionaire Robert Bass, is testing its supersonic laminar-flow wing this month in New Mexico. More...

One problem for future SSTs, though, is restrictions on supersonic flight over land. Aerion says it will comply with the current rules by cruising at Mach 0.98 over the U.S. In other parts of the world where rules require that the boom can't reach the ground, Aerion can comply while flying as fast as Mach 1.1. Over the oceans, the ship can max out at Mach 1.6. Another contender, Supersonic Aerospace International, has a different plan, apparently hoping that the rules will evolve as technology improves. The company says its design, which it's working on together with Lockheed Martin's "Skunk Works," will be quiet enough to fly at Mach 1.6 and up anywhere in the world. More...

A federation of French and Japanese aerospace companies agreed in Paris last month to begin research on the development of a civilian supersonic transport airplane. The French group includes Airbus, EADS and Dassault Aviation, and the Japanese group comprises 98 companies, including Honda, Mitsubishi and Kawasaki. In Russia, Sukhoi has been working since the 1980s on SST technology, while keeping a low profile. Gulfstream is reportedly working with NASA to test a patented telescopic nose spike that would reduce the sonic boom of a supersonic business jet. The spike extends from 14 feet to 24 feet to reduce the shockwave intensity, Flight International reported last month. More...

Ask About Aircraft Spruce Canada When You Visit at 
AirVenture Oshkosh Magnifico Plus GPS Magnifier Available at Aircraft Spruce
The Magnifico Plus PDA/GPS Magnifier has a unique clamshell design that will work with any handheld. Supplied with hook and loop pieces of Velcro for installation. With the flick of a finger, the lens will telescope out to the desired height and retract with the same ease to form a "sandwich" around your handheld, which can easily fit into your pocket as one integrated unit. For more information, please call 1-877-4-SPRUCE or visit Aircraft Spruce online.

Aviation Consumer (AVweb's sister publication) named Diamond Aircraft's DA42 Twin Star as its "Airplane of the Year" in the August 2006 issue. The magazine was impressed with Diamond's use of Theilert aerodiesel engines, especially with the price of 100LL reportedly peaking above $7 per gallon in some areas. According to Aviation Consumer, the aircraft addresses the "head-in-the-sand blind hope that fuel prices will somehow decline again." The Twin Star "has decent cruise speed [172 knots], a comfortable cabin and exceptional economy [12.5 gph of Jet A]. If the future of GA lies in more efficient airplanes and powerplants, Diamond is leading the way." Product of the Year was the Garmin GPSMAP396, and other favorites were chosen from airport bikes, EFIS displays and more. More...

The tax dollars that fund the U.S. Air Force and DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) are not for nothing ... the brains there are hard at work finding ways to deflect threats most of us didn't even know existed. The trouble is, according to some New Zealand researchers, their fix might cause problems of its own, disrupting GPS signals and aircraft radios worldwide for up to a week. DARPA says it could protect Earth-orbiting satellites from nasty charged particles by clearing them out with very-low-frequency radio waves. But according to researcher Craig Rodger, "Earth's upper atmosphere would be dramatically affected by such a system, causing unusually intense [radio] blackouts around most of the world." More...

Motors, Inc. Adam, Cirrus, Columbia, Diamond, Liberty ...
The most respected new aircraft on the market all choose Continental engines. Bring your aircraft up to speed with a genuine Continental engine. Select from factory-new, factory-rebuilt, or factory-backed overhauls by Mattituck. Add value to your aircraft and the peace-of-mind that you're flying behind the best — Continental. Click here for further details.

No, not Mr. Spock's home planet, but the giant Avro Vulcan delta-winged bomber, formerly of Britain's Royal Air Force. Despite widespread support and some £2.75 million already spent, the restoration of the retired airplane is "on the brink of failure," Robert Pleming wrote to AVweb on Monday. The impressive-looking aircraft was one of three British V-Bombers designed to drop nuclear weapons during the Cold War. The fleet fought in the Falklands War and was retired in 1993 -- none have flown since. After more than seven years of work, Vulcan XH558 is almost ready to be rolled out of its hangar, with the goal to return to the air next year. But the project has run out of funds, and now is trying to raise a million pounds by the end of August. More...

The Flight of Discovery will go on, its organizers say, despite the loss of three members of the expedition on Sunday morning, when their Robinson R44 helicopter went down off the foggy Oregon coast. Two helicopters were flying together from Washington state, with 100-foot ceilings and about a half-mile visibility reported. The pilot of the other helicopter called the Coast Guard after losing contact with the R44. The crash site was found about a mile offshore. The Flight of Discovery is a team of general-aviation pilots and scientists who will fly the route of the Lewis and Clark expedition during the 200th anniversary of their trek, in an effort to inspire an interest in history and science. More...

Reduction from LightSPEED Fly in Ultra-Comfort with LightSPEED Headsets
"Custom ear molds made my Mach 1 as quiet as any headset I've tried." — Bing Lantis, President of Columbia Aircraft Manufacturing. Discover what thousands of pilots already have: the most comfortable headsets in the industry. The in-the-ear Mach 1 weighs less than 1 oz.; the full-size Thirty 3G, just under 16 ounces and uses soft conform-foam ear cushions. Try a LightSPEED headset with a 30-day money back guarantee. To order, contact a LightSPEED dealer or call (800) 332-241 (PST, business hours). View the 60-second video clip!

The powers that be in Nacogdoches, Texas, have decided to look a gift parachute in the mouth, and told the local sheriff to keep his Buckeye Dream Machine on the ground, at least for now. The sheriff got the powered 'chute for free last month from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, funded by a federal grant to test the usefulness of the craft in crime fighting. But when three deputies started practicing in the aircraft, working toward a Sport Pilot certificate from the FAA, questions arose about liability and insurance. "I haven't really achieved a high level of comfort with this," said County Judge Sue Kennedy, quoted in The Daily Sentinel. "I have some concerns that we are being rushed into something we haven't had time to look at." More...

We've written before about snakes on a plane, and bees, too, but with this week's recall of 4.1 million Dell laptop batteries because they might suddenly burst into flame -- the biggest such recall ever -- pilots may be wondering if it's a good idea to allow laptops on a plane. Last month, an NTSB hearing about the onboard fire that destroyed a UPS DC-8 in Philadelphia in February focused on lithium-ion batteries. And a Wall Street Journal story earlier this week, prior to the Dell recall, explored concerns about the batteries, citing 60 incidents since 1991 logged by the FAA. In the last two years, five known battery fires have occurred on aircraft, the Journal reported. So should you leave your laptop out of the cockpit? More...

Introducing New AeroShell® Oil W 80 Plus
The newest member of the AeroShell® family, AeroShell® Oil W 80 Plus is designed to provide excellent protection for pilots who fly in colder weather or less frequently. With the same anti-wear and anti-corrosion additives found in AeroShell® W 100 PLUS, new AeroShell® W 80 Plus provides pilots with a lighter single-grade oil they can trust. Learn more online.

In the span of just a few years, NEXRAD weather datalinked to the cockpit has become all but standard equipment. But has it displaced the previous standard in storm avoidance, spherics devices such as Stormscope and Strike Finder? For an upcoming issue, our sister publication, Aviation Consumer, is preparing an article comparing the two technologies. If you've been using both systems and you have an opinion on the topic, the editors would like to hear from you. Contact aviationeditorial@comcast.net for a survey form. The editors would also like your views comparing onboard weather radar with datalinked NEXRAD. More...

A short item in Monday's AVweb news about a proposed Airworthiness Directive affecting some Cessna aircraft should have referred to seat backs, not seat tracks. More...

FAA and LAX at odds over ILS breakdowns...
NTSB reports on the crash that killed Wal-Mart heir John Walton...
Silverjet to compete for high-end trans-Atlantic traffic...
Flight Aware's archive now totals more than 25 million flights...
What happens when a plane is struck by lightning? More...

Garmin 396 vs. Flight Cheetah with XM Weather Comparison
How does the Garmin 396 really compare to the Flight Cheetah with XM Weather?  Check out this link to find out.
(866) 443-3342

Online Now: Listen to, or take AVweb's no-iPod-required audio news with you. We post fresh audio news issues each Monday and Friday. Tomorrow, we're with the group working to restore the Avro Vulcan delta-winged bomber.

Find exclusive interviews featuring Cessna's Jack Pelton on his company's LSA, 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 online, now. You'll hear things you won't find anywhere else.


What have you heard? There might be something to it. If you've heard something that 130,000 pilots might want to know about, tell us. Submit news tips via email tonewstips@avweb.com. Our best stories start with your tips. More...

Join AOPA: The Real-Time Flight Planner Is Worth the Dues Alone!
AOPA membership can be an invaluable resource at an incredible value. Join AOPA for $39 a year and take advantage of the benefits exclusive to members, including: a year subscription to AOPA Pilot magazine; 24-hour access to the "Members-Only" section of the web site; and AOPA's Real-Time Flight Planner with up-to-the-minute flight restrictions, routing images, weather info, and more! As the largest aviation organization in the world, AOPA is a tireless advocate for over 407,000 members, protecting their right to fly. Click here to become an AOPA member today.



Say Again? #66: Common Phraseology
Back to basics this month. AVweb's Don Brown has some reminders on how (and why) common phraseology is not as good as clear phraseology. More...

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...

If You Think "Bargains" Are Something Alien to Aviation — Think Again!
Spending hard-earned money on your aircraft and its avionics can be expensive. But don't think good deals aren't available in today's marketplace. Bennett Avionics provides pilots with quality avionics to meet their needs and maintain their budget. Before you buy anywhere else, check out Bennett Avionics at (860) 653-7295 or online. You'll be glad you did!

For local prices, enter your U.S. ZIP Code or Airport Identifier:
Fuel prices provided weekly by AirNav,
based on prices from the past 2 weeks.
Changes are relative to last week.

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Pegasus Aviation at KRTN, Raton, NM.

Offering up Pegasus, Peter Hochla told us, "The friendliest, most helpful FBO within 500 miles. Competitive fuel prices, consciencious service, clean and neat facilities, GREAT food."

Keep those nominations coming.

Click here to nominate your favorite FBO and here for complete contest rules

AVweb is actively seeking out the best FBO's in the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here next Monday!


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 aviation organization. At $39 a year, NAA membership is a terrific value for any aviation enthusiast! Members receive the Smithsonian's Air & Space and NAA's Aero magazines, plus access to aviation records, product discounts, and much more. Call (703) 527-0226 to become an NAA member, or sign up online.

Is 100LL nearly extinct? Some would argue gasoline is almost extinct! Tell us how you feel about 100LL — and being stuck burning it. Plus: Overwhelming solidarity from readers in response to last week's Question, "What do you think is the biggest cause of aviation accidents?" More...

Safety Equipment ... Add Aviation Safety to Your MEL
A Minimum Equipment List is not complete without a subscription to Aviation Safety. Discover this informative, instructive monthly publication that sharpens your air readiness. Order your subscription online for savings from the regular rate.


Those back-to-school specials must really be hot this week. It's the only thing we can think of to explain why "POTW" submissionhave dropped a mere sixty-odd photos.  (Heck, we had almost thatmany in the running for "top ten" status last week!)  Not to worry. We won't take it personally.  No, instead we'll soldier on bravelyand entertain ourselves with the top-notch photos that did rollin over the past few days.

At the very top of our pile is an eye-catching paint job from Mike Pastore of Illinois. Congratulations to Mike, who'll receive an official AVweb baseball hatin the mail next week.  For a chance to win an AVweb hat of yourown — and, more importantly perhaps, the chance to ooh and ahha hundred thousand of your fellow aviation enthusiasts —submit your photo here!




Award-Winning VFLITE™ Computer-Based GPS Training Just FAA-Adopted
Now in use at FSDO's nationwide for FAA Inspector training, the VFLITE standard and advanced GNS 530/430 eLearning programs are the ideal solution for both initial and recurrent training. Featuring scenario-based, guided simulation; get the most from your GPS the quick, easy, and safe way. Manufacturer-recommended, VFLITE programs are also available for popular Garmin® and Lowrance® portables. Prices start at $49.95. Order online.

Attention, Cessna Owners
Do you need to modernize your old, tired RT359A or RT459A transponder? Narco Avionics proudly announces the availability of their all-new AT165/C and AT165/C Value Series digital display transponders. The AT165/C and AT165/C Value Series are designed as direct slide-in plug & play replacement transponders for the old ARC units. Both units feature instant VFR recall with quick and easy one-knob code entry. The AT165/C also features pressure altitude display with hold alert, along with three independent timers with audible alert. For more information, visit Narco Avionics online.

AVweb's Flight Explorer 5.0 Available at Same Low Price!
Version 5.0 is now available at the same low price! New features include FAA Airport delays; enhanced terrain/elevation map depictions; updated Airways, NAVAIDs, Fixes, Special Use Airspace, and Flight Service Stations; and more. Click here for more information and to subscribe.

Flying Magazine's August Issue Reviews the Mooney's Acclaim
Flying finds the Acclaim quick, solid, and smooth. Plus: Expert advice on pre-take-off strategy and in-flight avoidance tactics for thunderstorms; Richard Collins is impressed with Columbia's 400 with G1000 autopilot; and much more. Don't miss an issue. Special subscription rates online.

Ensure Yourself and Your Passengers' Safety for Under $149!
CO Guardian has reliable and proven CO detectors in both portable and panel-mount models starting at $149. You can't afford not to purchase from CO Guardian. Order online.

Have You Seen Aviation Consumer's "Gear of the Year" List?
Check out the "Gear of the Year" along with Aviation Consumer's no-nonsense reviews and more. Subscribe today!
Aviation Consumer — 36 years and still no advertising!


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 Mary Grady (bio).

Click here to send a letter to the editor. (Please let us know if your letter is not intended for publication.)

Comments or questions about the news should be sent here.

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If you're having trouble reading this newsletter in its HTML-rich format (or if you'd prefer a lighter, simpler format for your PDA or handheld device), there's also a text-only version of AVwebFlash. For complete instructions on making the switch, click here.

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