AVwebFlash - Volume 12, Number 34a

August 21, 2006

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Plane Business back to top 

More Trouble At Tiger

The owners of Tiger Aircraft LLC are suing the company's former CEO, saying he sold off the company's assets without their approval. Gene Criss was fired in early August after he cut a deal with a Florida company called Network Hosts (which, ironically, owns 39 scrap yards, among other successful ventures). According to the Martinsburg Journal, there are four companies that own a stake in Tiger and they've asked a West Virginia circuit court for a restraining order to prevent any of the company's assets from changing hands. Then they want a judgment nullifying the sale. "Whether it (Tiger) is doing well now or not, there are companies that have invested substantial sums of money," Tiger attorney Michael Lorensen told the Journal. "It's not a situation where a responsible company would allow its assets to go out the door." As for Network Hosts, it doesn't sound like the Tiger acquisition is a fundamental part of its long-term business strategy. "We're pretty large," Network Hosts' chairman of the board Samuel Miller told the Journal. "When it comes down to aircraft, for us it was just the passion of flying and sharing that with other people. For financial reasons, it would be stupid to buy Tiger. They were knee-deep in debt." Ah, only in the airplane business....

Sino Swearingen Defends Layoffs

It's been a tough month for Martinsburg because Tiger's neighbor, Sino Swearingen, has announced that 50 employees at its SJ30 fuselage and wing plant in the West Virginia plant are being laid off, along with 100 at the main assembly plant in San Antonio. The announcement came about six weeks after the company said it would build a huge new plant and hire another 850 workers in San Antonio. The company's CFO Kelly Simmons said the layoffs are "a bump in the road" and Sino Swearingen remains committed to building the 300 jets it has on order. "It just looks bad more than anything," Simmons told the San Antonio Express-News. "What this is, frankly, it's the life of a startup business and the beginning of a mass production process. These are issues that are typical of setting that up." The other bump in Sino Swearingen's road is that $2.5 million in grants and a 10-year tax holiday offered by the state and local governments won't materialize until and unless the company makes good on its construction and employment promises. Last June 29, Sino Swearingen pledged to spend $20 million on a 220,000-sqaure-foot building in San Antonio and another $50 million on parts and supplies. The speedy SJ30 was certified earlier this year and if it makes it to market will be the first start-up bizjet company to do so in 40 years.

Pilot Insurance Center Get PIC's "Best Class" Rates With Only 250 Total Hours!
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New Fuel Tested back to top 

USAF Looks At "Synthetic" Fuel -- Made From Fuel

Where there are hydrocarbons, there can be jet fuel, and the Air Force is looking at an 85-year-old technology to solve a modern problem. Jet fuel is made from oil, some of which must be purchased from other countries (and occasionally expended in the defense of and acquisition of same, according to some). The Air Force wants a guaranteed supply of fuel to meet its objectives and is looking at the work two German scientists did in the 1920s for answers. Franz Fischer and Hans Tropsch figured out how to make a diesel-like (or JP-8-like) liquid fuel from natural gas, coal and even oil-refinery byproducts. Using iron or cobalt as a catalyst, the process takes the carbon monoxide and hydrogen from a controlled burn of the raw material and creates liquid hydrocarbons of various grades, from the synthetic fuel, to lubricants, to wax. Coal-rich but petroleum-poor Germany had 25 plants producing a total of 124,000 barrels a day by the end of the Second World War. The U.S. has vast reserves of coal, natural gas and oil shale capable of guaranteeing a domestic supply of strategic fuel for hundreds of years, say some estimates.

Flight Tests In September

The Air Force has created a special unit to test the concept. A B-52 from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota has been assigned to the group and it will be modified so that two of its eight engines run on a blend of synthetic and JP-8. Maj. Gen. Curtis Bedke told the Shreveport Times that ground testing will begin in early September and they'll fly toward the end of the month. Operational testing will be done at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Cost-wise, the numbers may add up, given the spike in fuel prices. "The recent rise in cost of fuel has brought us to where many think we are now at the break-even point," Maj. Timothy Schulteis, the Air Force's propulsion program element monitor, said in May when the program was announced. However, some estimates peg the price at the pump for synthetic jet fuel at about $20 a gallon and a company that already has a contract to supply 100,000 gallons of the stuff to the Air Force agrees he's not ready to take on Shell or Exxon just yet. Mel Scott, of Tulsa-based Syntroleum, told McClatchy Newspapers his go juice, made 70 barrels at a time at a demonstration plant, is "not competitive" with regular fuels.

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Attention Turns To Business Aviation back to top 

Heightened State Of Awareness For Bizjets

Draconian security measures on airliners and the corresponding upswing in the use of (and interest in) private air transportation has led to perhaps inevitable scrutiny of the security and safety of business aircraft. The first cautionary remarks (that we've heard, anyway) come from Martin Rudner, the director of the Canadian Center of Intelligence and Security Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa. "One wants to make sure, for example, that terrorists groups, who usually aren't short of money, don't travel internationally avoiding aviation security and border controls by chartering aircraft," he told the Ottawa Citizen, acknowledging that millions of people avoid that particular brand of scrutiny every day by traveling by car, bus, ship, train and foot. "Any chinks of the armor are going be exploited by a terrorist determined to cause casualties and harm and that's why we have to protect all the chinks in the armor." If he had insights into how that might be accomplished, The Citizen didn't pass them along. A Transport Canada official told the newspaper that while it's true that bizjet passengers can take suntan lotion with them, the government department is constantly monitoring the source of security threats and is ready to take "immediate action" if it detects a risk of trouble from any type of operation.

Business Way Up For Charters

The security concerns were prompted by The Citizen's chat with Canadian charter operators who are reporting a 25-percent upswing in business since the terror scare in Britain two weeks ago prompted increased security at the 89 Canadian airports that get scheduled service. "We've seen a trend where people are a lot more open to the concept of doing a private jet charter," said Eddie Kiriliuk, of Toronto-based Limo Network, which provides car and jet services. "We don't have any heightened security measures as far as not being able to bring electronics or liquids or anything like that." Larry Libman, president of Corporate Aircraft Charters, downplayed the security threat posed by business aircraft in a 9/11 scenario. "The average airplane, if you travel into a big, big building, the average one would maybe break a couple of windows," he said.

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News Briefs back to top 

NASA Picks ATC Software As Its Best

Software originally designed for computer simulations has become an important tool for air traffic control centers to predict and manage the flow of aircraft traffic. Therefore NASA has declared its Future Air traffic management Concepts Evaluation Tool (FACET) the Software of the Year. The software crunches air traffic and weather data across the country and can predict the trajectories of aircraft, including climb, cruise and descent phases. It enables a single computer to track 15,000 flights and tell controllers when and how each is going to get to its destination. Its core technology is now use by 100 ATC centers and has been commercially licensed to Flight Explorer. "FACET started out as a simulation tool for NASA research and has evolved into an operations planning tool for the FAA and airlines," said NASA's Banavar Sridhar, FACET team lead at the Ames Research Center at Moffet Field, Calif. FACET is among the programs under development at Ames to help modernize the National Airspace System. The Software of the Year award is chosen from nominees from all of NASA's research centers and general usability (including patentability and licensing potential) is a key factor in picking the winner.

ADS-B Covers More Ground

Most of the Eastern Seaboard as far north as New Jersey now has virtually seamless automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast service (ADS-B -- a system that automatically and precisely reports an equipped aircraft's position, identity and velocity twice each second) thanks to a nudge from AOPA. The last gap was filled when the Pennsylvania Department of Aviation agreed to partner with the FAA to set up ground stations at four airports in the state. Now, ADS-B equipped aircraft can pick up continuous traffic and weather information en route from Florida to New Jersey. AOPA says it gave Pennsylvania officials a demonstration of the technology in 2004 and that helped them decide to implement it. The FAA has committed to installing ADS-B nationwide but it has a ways to go. Beyond the Eastern Seaboard, the technology exists in pockets of Ohio, central Tennessee, Wisconsin, North Dakota, central Arizona and most of Oregon. The technology will eventually replace the existing radar system and may allow aircraft some level of independent traffic control (or awareness) but not until all aircraft are equipped with the transponders that make it work.

Don't Worry, It's on Cessna ... Cessna Offers to Cover $15,000 in Fuel Costs
From now until October 31st, Cessna is stepping in to cover the cost of your fuel! With the purchase of a new Skylane or Turbo Skylane from a participating dealer, Cessna will provide a $15,000 Multi-Service fuel card. To find out more about the program, contact your Cessna Sales Team Authorized Representative or call 1-800-622-7495. Offer expires on October 31, 2006. Complete program details online.
News Briefs back to top 

AOPA On Top Of "Threat" To Satellite WX

AOPA says it's monitoring a couple of bills that some worry will mean the end of satellite weather beamed to aircraft cockpits. Internet rumors are circulating that the loss of Sirius and XM aviation weather services will be one result of the Local Emergency Radio Service Preservation Act, which has been lying dormant in House and Senate committees for more than a year. The bill is intended to protect local radio stations from competition by the satellite broadcasters by prohibiting the satellite stations from offering content tailored to specific markets. Some have interpreted that to cover local weather data and forecasts prepared for aviation customers. It's an unlikely result, says AOPA's government affairs specialist Andy Cebula, but it's also something AOPA is keeping an eye on. When the bills were introduced in March of 2005, Cebula said AOPA officials talked to the sponsors and were assured canceling aviation weather was not part of the intent. Since then the bills haven't moved from committee but AOPA is monitoring them to make sure, if they see light of day, that they don't have that effect, whether intentional or not. "If satellite radio broadcasters are prohibited from offering graphical weather service, pilots will lose a reliable and widely available source of in-flight safety information," said Cebula. "AOPA will continue to make sure that there's no doubt in lawmakers' minds about the link between satellite weather data and safety."

Heliplane Research Continues

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has given Groen Brothers Aviation the green light (and $6.4 million) to continue its efforts to develop a militarily-capable aircraft that lands and takes off like a helicopter but flies as fast and as far as a conventional airplane. In a news release, Salt Lake City-based Groen Brothers said DARPA had passed its submission of the third milestone of its contract to develop the aircraft, whatever that means. Groen Brothers are big believers in the "gyrodyne" concept for such an aircraft. Essentially, it's a gyrocopter with jet engines on the tips of the rotors that run only when the plane is in helicopter mode. The concept has worked. The British firm Fairey developed a 44-passenger gyrodyne that performed as advertised but never attracted the commercial interest needed to put it into production. Groen Brothers is aiming for a proof-of-concept vehicle that will go 370 knots for 1,000 nm and carry a 1,000-lb. payload. Among those working on the project with Groen are Adam Aircraft, Williams International and various government and academic organizations. The current design and study phase is expected to last 15 months.

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News Briefs back to top 

Twin Otter Production May Resume

A Canadian company is testing the waters to see if it makes sense to resume building Twin Otters. The last of 844 of the high-wing, twin turboprops rolled off deHavilland's assembly line in Toronto in 1989 and Viking Air Ltd., of Victoria, B.C., says the notoriously rugged and reliable STOL aircraft are in serious demand. "A decent 20-year-old 300 Series fetches well over $2 million USD on amphibious floats, making it a viable candidate for new manufacture," said Viking Air President David Curtis in a news release. Viking recently acquired type certificates for the Twin Otter, Single Otter and Beaver designs from Bombardier, which bought out deHavilland in the 1980s. Viking will hold an operator's forum in Victoria Sept. 13 and Sept. 14 to gauge demand. An undisclosed number of order commitments will be needed to get the project going. Curtis said the Twin Otter, which seats 19, "is in a class by itself in terms of size, speed, strength and versatility." Perhaps best known as the airplane that rescued a cancer-stricken researcher from the South Pole in the middle of winter with temperatures dipping to –60, the Twin Otter is also widely used for passenger, freight and even sightseeing operations. Curtis said he's already talked to Transport Canada and "can see no major obstacles that will prevent a production re-start."

Flugtag Record Set

This is one record you'll never see in any official chronicles of aviation achievements but the team behind Vancouver's Big Shooter couldn't be happier. The "aircraft" managed to stagger about 86 feet before falling into False Creek, an ocean inlet in Vancouver's downtown core. That was good for a North American record for Flugtag (means flying day in German), which is sponsored by Red Bull (yes, the same Red Bull that sponsors those nifty aerobatic races), and is held in about 40 cities worldwide each year. "When I left the flight deck I thought I'm really flying. And while I'm excited about setting a new record, I know we can fly at least 40 feet further," pilot Mike Perreten is quoted as saying in a news release. Under Flugtag rules, competitors are required to dress outrageously and design "aircraft" that usually meet that definition only for the few seconds that they take to tumble into the water from the 30-foot-high launch platform. The Vancouver event drew 31 entries, including a group from the prairie province of Saskatchewan which proved conclusively that grain elevators can't fly. There were no reports of injuries.

Columbia Simplifies Buying & Selling All Aircraft Brands
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News Briefs back to top 

On The Fly...

Customs-related charges have been dropped against a Florida pilot whose fiery, but fatality-free, crash landing of a DC-3 on a Ft. Lauderdale street made headlines last year. Charles Riggs had been facing 19 charges of operating illegally but they were dropped after the FAA's case against him was thrown out by an administrative judge. The company that owned the plane was fined $2,000 for not having the right customs forms for the cargo on board...

Ohio Lt. Gov. Bruce Johnson had people talking last week but he might not have enjoyed what they had to say. Johnson, whose office oversees the Air National Guard, took a spin in a two-seat F-16 over the capital of Columbus and the demo ride apparently resulted in "9-1-1 calls galore" according to a police spokesman. The FAA says the flight was by the book...

Flight Explorer released it Professional Version 6.2. The latest release adds "alerting capability that allows customers to receive proactive alerts based on Meteorological Aerodrome Reports (METARs), Runway Visual Range (RVR) data, FAA airport delays and real-time diversions," according to a news release...

The FAA has issued an airworthiness directive (AD) for certain models of Cessna 172, 182 and 206 aircraft to check the torque on the end fittings of flexible fuel lines and adjust as necessary. The AD was issued after loose connections were found in a 172.

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 newstips@avweb.com. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.

Find all of today's stories in AVweb's: NewsWire

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Features back to top 

New Articles and Features on AVweb

Probable Cause #13: Circling Into Danger
A circling approach is one of the most challenging maneuvers in an instrument pilot's repertoire. While it sounds simple, it's also easy to get it wrong.

What's New for August
This month AVweb's survey of the latest products and services for pilots, mechanics and aircraft owners brings you a new handheld GPS, a diesel engine for Cherokees, icing training and more.

Reader feedback on AVweb's news coverage and feature articles

AVmail: Aug. 14, 2006
Reader mail this week about metal fatigue, 100LL, ethanol and much more.

Audio News

For AVweb subscribers who prefer their news straight from the horse's mouth, AVweb posts fresh audio news issues each Monday, plus interviews, Friday. We call them podcasts, but no iPod is required. Check our audio news index and hear what you've been missing.

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.

DA40 Diamond Star a Fleet Favorite
Airline Transport Professionals, Beijing PanAm, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University CAPT, Empire Aviation, Middle Tennessee State University, and Utah Valley State College — all have selected the G1000-equipped DA40 Diamond Star. For value, efficiency, and safety, the DA40 is the fleet favorite. For more information, click here.
Your Favorite FBO's back to top 

FBO of the Week: Skyline Aeronautics, Chesterfield, MO

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.

Nominate an FBO | Rules | Tips | Questions | Winning FBOs

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Skyline Aeronautics at KSUS, Chesterfield, MO.

Offering up Skyline, Robert Greenfield told us, "Truly the best of the best. Great plane rentals, instructional staff, and services! I've flown thru many FBO's in the past, but these guys bend over backwards to help you out! Currently working on my instrument ticket with them, and couldn't be happier!."

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!

Pilot Journey, Your Learn to Fly Headquarters, Offers New Toolbar
Pilot Journey has added a new way to help internet browsers stay in touch with key aviation websites, including AVweb and Pilot Journey's podcast! The new Pilot Journey toolbar is at no-cost and offers quick links to aviation sites plus the ability to check e-mail, listen to podcasts, weather, and more. Go online for more details.
AVwebBiz back to top 

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 http://www.avweb.com/profile/ .

Perform Maintenance Legally & More Easily by Knowing What & How
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The Lighter Side Of Flight back to top 

Short Final

"I was sitting on the ramp just about to fly out of Lubbock, TX, yesterday when hopping along came the biggest jackrabbit I ever saw. I thought I would advise ground control about it so they could spare some aircraft from making contact with it on the runway..."

Me: Lubbock ground, um, there's a big jackrabbit headed for the runway on TWY Romeo.


Me: Uh... I thought I would tell you so the people who take care of those things could do something about it.

Ground: Copy that. The coyote over there on Mike looks like he'll take care of it.



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Doc Blue's Emergency Medical Kit — Don't Leave Home Without It!
Do you carry a first-aid kit in your airplane or car? AVweb's Dr. Brent Blue says drugstore first-aid kits are packed with mostly useless stuff. Dr. Blue has assembled a traveling medical kit for dealing with all sorts of medical problems, based on his long experience as an emergency room doctor, frequent traveler, pilot, outdoorsman, and dad. It would cost more than $500 to duplicate this kit, but it's available on sale from Aeromedix for $333. Order by calling (888) 362-7123, or go online.

Maximum MPG ... Maximum MPG ... Maximum MPG!
LoPresti Speed Merchants, the world's leading provider of aviation PERFORMANCE solutions, converts brilliant design into more miles per gallon. LoPresti offers highly efficient engine cowlings, wing tips, fairings, seals, and shapes designed to reduce drag caused by less-than-optimum aerodynamic shapes on stock aircraft. The comprehensive cowl kits not only cool the engine but significantly reduce drag, providing more range and better fuel efficiency. AVweb Special: Save $300 on new LoPresti Zip Tips. Call LoPresti at (866) 397-4757, or go 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.

Better than an IFR Refresher, This Manual Is Real-World Flying!
With Rod Machado's Instrument Pilots Survival Manual, private pilots can learn: mimicking pro pilot thinking strategies; developing IFR self-talk skills; managing cockpit resources; planning for unanticipated changes; a three-step instrument scan; IFR charting secrets; insights into flying GPS approaches; and techniques for avoiding thunderstorms and handling icing conditions. Pilots claim, "You can't find some of this information anywhere else!" Order online.

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IFR's September Issue Is Jam-Packed with These Topics:
"Think Like a Forecaster" — critique the official weather and decide if you agree; "Flying the PAR" — this radar dinosaur can still beat an ILS; "File for the Big Rocks" — use all your options when flying mountain IFR; "The Perfect Panel" — your dream panel may be experimental, but it's cool; "Seat-of-the-Pants Holds" — with or without GPS, we can still screw up a hold, but recovery is simple. PLUS: Things heat up just outside the Washington, DC ADIZ; readers argue the merits of zero-zero takeoffs; and discover why flying light freight is dangerous. Order your subscription online at money-saving rates.

Names Behind the News back to top 

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).

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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