AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 12, Number 41a

October 9, 2006

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Marketing With A Twist? back to top 
Sponsor Announcement

Cirrus' Jet Delivers (A Coaster)

Perhaps the biggest question among those who received the so-called "grey box" on Cirrus' plans for "the-jet" revolves not around the engine, the design or the performance (none of which were addressed in detail). What's up with the coaster? The centerpiece of the marketing package is a heavy cast-metal drink coaster emblazoned with the Cirrus logo. There's also a letter from CEO Alan Klapmeier and an "initial position holding deposit" form, which, when accompanied by a check for $100,000, puts the recipient among the first in line to buy a "the-jet." If the intent of the initial marketing program was to raise the curiosity of potential buyers, it appears to have done that -- the members' discussion forum on the Cirrus Owners and Pilots Web site is buzzing with commentary from those who have received the package (and questions from those who haven't). But if the intent was to gather $100,000 deposits some buyers will clearly opt to wait for more details about the jet. Details so far are limited, see Monday's AVweb coverage for more.

Cirrus' Target Market: Every Pilot

While other entrants in the burgeoning mini-jet market have listed the air taxi business as a major component of their plans, Cirrus' initial marketing push appears to choose the road not taken. The grey box is clearly aimed at those who want a jet of their very own, largely for the fun of it. "The personal jet follows the Cirrus philosophy path to grow and enhance the entire personal aviation industry," says one of the cards in the marketing kit. "A personal jet is about more than power, it's about empowering you to live the dream of the jet lifestyle." So when will we see it? The next big announcement for the-jet will be at the National Business Aviation Association convention in Orlando next week when the engine maker will be unveiled. But Cirrus officials say there will not be a mockup on display and they won't discuss how far along they are with construction of the proof-of-concept aircraft. However, the actual aircraft may be closer to completion than all of this marketing hype would suggest. A reader told AVweb he was at the plant earlier this year when he saw a jet engine being wheeled into a closed-off area of the factory. "No comment," say Cirrus officials we spoke to.

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Up To Four Years Of Losses "Covered" back to top 

D.C. Airports Compensation Plan

The Department of Transportation is proposing to compensate general aviation businesses at five Washington-area facilities for reductions in revenue directly resulting from government actions in the wake of 9/11. GA operators, suppliers and service providers at Washington Reagan National Airport, College Park, Potomac Airfield, Washington Executive/Hyde Field and Washington South Capitol St. Heliport are eligible for the money, which was approved by Congress in 2005. There's a total of $17 million in the kitty but the businesses will have to prove, in auditable form, they deserve every penny. The DOT did a study in 2004 of 16 businesses at the five facilities and decided that, between them, the difference between what they would have made in that time span and what they actually made was $10,443,936. More than half of that was attributed to losses felt by Signature Flight Support at DCA. Congress apparently took that figure and added a cushion for surprises and came up with the $17 million, $5 million of which is allocated for Potomac, Hyde and College Park facilities. The congressional allocation is a maximum figure. In other words, if the companies can only prove losses of $15 million, the remaining $2 million goes back to the treasury.

Comments On Compensation

David Wartofsky, the enigmatic owner of Potomac Airfield, told AVweb the money proposed should cover the justifiable losses of the businesses but actually extracting it from the government could be an agonizing process. He said the bureaucrats charged with assessing and approving the claims may not have the skills and experience needed to accomplish the work, even though they are trying their best to do the right thing. "You've got dentists coming in to do brain surgery, with predictable results," he said. Wartofsky said the government is especially cautious because of the potential precedent being set in paying for the results of what some might consider questionable decisions. Wartofsky believes that when the checks are finally issued, they will come with strings attached. "What the federal government is fishing for is a waiver of liability on the part of the affected parties," he said. The DOT is applying a fairly liberal interpretation of the Congressional authority. The strict wording of the law says that compensation will be made for the period that airports were closed to GA traffic. All except the heliport were reopened under severe restrictions by early in 2002 but the limits on traffic were so stringent that the businesses "continued to sustain serious financial losses well past the dates that the airports were reopened for some resident based operations, and it seems inconsistent with the clear remedial purpose of [the Act] to restrict reimbursement only for losses incurred by these entities through February or March of 2002."

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Study Sees More "Agile" Aviation System back to top 

Purdue Researchers Tackle Airspace Modernization

Researchers at Purdue University say it's not necessarily a lack of capacity that is bogging down air transportation, it's the plodding pace of change. So they've developed a mathematical model that might help the FAA design a system that can respond more quickly to changes, thereby maintaining or adding capacity without huge capital infusions. "Improving agility, we found, requires not so much that you build a brand new runway at every large airport," said Daniel DeLaurentis, an assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics, told Innovations Report. "You need to be able to add capacity in a variety of other quicker ways. One of the problems in the current system is that it takes so long to develop new capacity at a major airport that by the time the capacity is available, the demand has already changed." The model the university team came up with takes a holistic approach to the issue, applying technological, economic and policy factors simultaneously to try and predict how best to manage air traffic. Among the themes addressed is the potential increase in air taxi operations using very light jets. The study was sponsored by NASA and includes recommendations on policy changes, not just technological and infrastructure improvements.

Mathematical Model Mimics Operations

How it all works seems pretty esoteric to the uninitiated so DeLaurentis tried to bring it down to a level mere mortals can understand. "You can almost think of it as a video game where the service providers are adding flights and subtracting flights and doing the best they can to satisfy changing demand, and the FAA is trying to catch up and add the capacity necessary to meet the needs of the airlines," DeLaurentis said. "One of the findings was that if the infrastructure providers were not able to keep pace with demand, the service providers would stagnate. They would be unable to add the flights that they needed. Yet, such agility or responsiveness is critical." Something else the study found will not come as much of a surprise. The researchers found that the FAA and its customers are not usually on the same wavelength when it comes to planning and preparation. The agency may be thinking ten years ahead while an airline is plotting decisions that can have operational consequences only a few months down the road. "A more agile system would have a closer connection between the two time scales," DeLaurentis said.

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News Briefs back to top 

Pilots Deny Wrongdoing In Brazil Crash

U.S. bizjet pilots John Lepore and Jan Paladino are denying accusations they caused a collision with a GOL Boeing 737, in which the airliner crashed and killed all 154 people on board (not 155 reported earlier). The pilots have been openly accused of turning off their transponder so they could perform "pilot tricks" without detection by air traffic controllers. Ralph Michieli, a spokesman for ExcelAir, which owns the Embraer Legacy 600 involved, called the allegations "untruthful, absurd and insulting" in an interview with the Brazilian Web site Folha Online. Lepore and Paladino were quoted as saying they did not turn off the transponder and that they were flying at the proper altitude, assertions that have made Brazilian authorities "furious," according to news reports out of Brazil. The pilots were delivering the factory-fresh Legacy to ExcelAir's New York headquarters when the collision occurred. Despite wing and tail damage, they were able to land safely at a military airfield in the Amazon jungle. Air traffic officials quoted by the Web site Estadao insist that it is "becoming more evident every day" that the transponder on the Legacy was not operating. But Lt. Brigadier General Paulo Roberto Cardoso Vilarinho, director of the Brazilian Airspace Control center, told reporters last week that the pilots had no reason to turn off the transponder because they were flying legally. He also ruled out technical problems with air traffic control equipment as a cause. The preliminary investigation into the crash by the Brazilian government should be finished next week.

Caravan Crash Prompts Suit

The family of a Canadian pilot killed when her Cessna Caravan crashed in downtown Winnipeg last year is claiming $25 million in damages from Cessna and Goodrich. The suit filed on behalf of the family of Nancy Chase-Allen by the Nolan Law Group, of Chicago, alleges Cessna is misrepresenting the ability of the Caravan to safely fly in icing conditions. "The Cessna Caravan is presently being marketed as a safe and secure aircraft for winter operations, a contention disputed by Nolan Law Group," the law firm said in a news release. Operation of the Caravan in icing conditions attracted attention and produced action from the FAA earlier this year. We were unable to reach Cessna on the weekend but the company does not normally comment on pending litigation. Chase-Allen took off from Winnipeg International Airport early on the morning of Oct. 6, 2005, for Thunder Bay, Ont., and almost immediately asked for clearance back to the airport because the aircraft was icing up. It crashed on railway tracks near the city's downtown and Chase-Allen was the only casualty. The Nolan Group is also representing the families of those involved in four other icing-related Caravan accidents in the U.S.

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 

Inhofe Groundloops RV-8

Sen. Jim Inhofe says he knew there were problems with the rudder of an RV-8 he was flying as he approached Jones Riverside Airport in Tulsa, on a flight from Duncan, Okla., last week. He was right. The taildragger groundlooped and was substantially damaged but Inhofe and his passenger, long-time aide Danny Finnerty, were unhurt. Inhofe told reporters he noticed problems with the rudder on takeoff from Duncan but couldn't see what the problems were. He asked to land on the main runway at Tulsa, rather than the one normally used by GA aircraft and "prepared for the rough landing," according to an Associated Press report. The FAA is investigating.

Moller Skycar For Sale

Paul Moller finally has his Skycar for sale but don't expect the skies and carports of the nation to fill up with them anytime soon. The brains behind what could be the longest-lived aircraft development program in history is selling the original prototype of the vehicle on eBay. We couldn't find a listing on Sunday. He's expecting to get $4 million. The prototype has slipped the surly bonds on its own power in an unmanned, tethered flight. But anyone hoping to use it for the morning commute is likely to be disappointed. "Potential buyers are cautioned that this is a prototype model and considered an experimental aircraft," says a Moller news release. "It has not obtained FAA certification and is subject to significant flight restrictions until approved. Further, the Skycar has not yet been approved as a road vehicle." Moller says the prototype is being fitted with more powerful twin-rotor engines that would allow manned, untethered flight. The company claims on-board computers will eventually do most of the flying for the pilot. The company is planning one last media splash for the prototype. A manned, untethered flight will be done in front of 1,000 reporters and then the lucky new owner can take it home. Date of the media flight was not announced (we want to be there).

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News Briefs back to top 

Diamonds Used For Air Force Flight Screening

The first 11 of 44 Diamond DA-20 C1 two-seat trainers have been delivered to Doss Aviation, in Pueblo, Colo., for use in a flight screening program for the U.S. Air Force. The program takes potential candidates for military flight training and ensures they have the right stuff to continue. These types of programs cut the failure rate in later training by half. Doss President Frank Hunter said the low acquisition, maintenance and insurance costs for the Diamond made it the logical choice. Those candidates who move on from the screening program will get their first taste of military flight training in the same aircraft. After initial flight training (IFT) they move on to the Texan II, a turboprop trainer designed to have flight characteristics similar to a jet's. The Air Force used to have its own flight screening program using T-3 Firefly aircraft. The program was abandoned out of safety concerns and was eventually contracted out to civilian flight schools. Last month, the Air Force destroyed 110 Fireflys in a controversial program that did not allow for salvage of useable parts.

Wolf Aviation Fund Deadline Nears

The application deadline for funding from the Wolf Aviation Fund is Nov. 15 and organizations with projects worthy of consideration are urged to get them in soon. Last year, there were 130 proposals and funding was approved for 45. The fund will consider application for any project "supporting or promoting general aviation" so the types of projects funded are as diverse as the industry itself. In most cases, only partial funding is provided to be used as leverage in approaching other organizations for money. Last year, the Wolf Aviation Fund provided money for television programs, safety seminars, youth programs and national conferences on aviation topics. There was also a project to include small GA airports on the Microsoft Flight Simulator database. Build A Plane, which takes donations of damaged or unfinished aircraft as projects for young people to work on was also funded, as was Pilot Share A Ride, which is a sort of online matchmaking service for pilots looking for people to fly with.

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News in Brief back to top 

On The Fly...

More than 70 TBM aircraft and 200 people attended the annual TBM Owners and Pilots Association convention in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, last week. Attendees included a French Army Aviation transport crew who made a 24-hour flight from France...

The union representing Northwest pilots claims flights have been cancelled because the airline has furloughed too many pilots. The company won't comment on the claim, which is said to affect the DC-9 fleet...

Air Canada pilots are trying to block a payout to shareholders in the airline they say will jeopardize their pensions. The airline wants to issue about $1.8 billion in capital payouts to shareholders, a move the pilots say will restrict its ability to pay its creditors. The pilots say the airline owes their pension fund $1 billion...

"Some 400,000 spectators lined the shores of the scenic San Francisco Bay under clear blue skies to watch Chambliss' win the race, which took place between the city's most famous landmarks, the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island." Read the full release, here.

AVweb's Newstips Address ...

Our best stories start with you. If you've heard something that 130,000 pilots might want to know about, tell us. 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

Audio News

Audio news, plus a new in-depth interview are posted online each Monday and Friday. Check AVweb's audio news index to hear news directly from the newsmakers.

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.

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Your Favorite FBO's back to top 

FBO of the Week: Dixie Chopper Air

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 Dixie Chopper Air at K4I7 in Greencastle, IN.

AVweb reader Bruce Cameron offered comments and a few reasons to stop by.

"Stopped twice in the last month (X-C in my Bonanza Coast to Coast R/T) Excellent service and prices, Great restaurant and 12 guest suites overlooking the runway. What else could a pilot/passengers ask for?."

Keep those nominations coming. For complete contest rules, click here.

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

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Features back to top 

New Articles and Features on AVweb


The Pilot's Lounge #105: Flying In To AirVenture -- It's Time To Slap Around The Bozos
Another summer in Oshkosh has come and gone -- and good riddance, say many. AVweb's Rick Durden heard some sad and frustrating stories while in the virtual lounge at EAA's AirVenture 2006.

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/ .

Visit AVweb's Sponsors Companies at the 2006 NBAA Convention
AVweb will be in Orlando, Florida for the annual NBAA Convention and Conference next week, October 17-19. If you're one of the many AVweb readers who make a living in the business of aviation, please take a moment while you're at the show to stop by our sponsors' booths. Their patronage of AVweb makes it possible for us to deliver the high quality of news, reviews, and information you've come to expect in your inbox twice a week — at no charge to readers. We encourage you to visit with them at the show and thank them for their support of AVweb. Click for a complete list of AVweb sponsors and where to find them at the show
VOTW back to top 

Video of the Week: RC Model Airplane Indoor Aerobatics

Recommend a Video | VOTW Archive

New and interesting videos continue to trickle in through reader recommendations. Thank you very much!

This week, lest we forget to include it in our new "Video of the Week" feature, we showcase an amazing clip that ran at our AirVenture booth in Oshkosh this summer. Many AVweb readers stopped to speculate with us on what was going on in this clip — and we discovered just how many of you are Radio Control airplane buffs! If you've never been to an R.C. meet or have no interest in these tiny aircraft, this is just the clip to show you why so many people are fascinated by them.

Don't see a video screen?
Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

No Cute Cartoons, No Fancy Covers. IFR Magazine Brings You the Hard Facts
IFR magazine has insightful facts to polish your proficiency, updates on changing regs, and articles that help keep your decision-making skills sharp in the demanding IFR environment. Order your subscription online for savings from the regular rate.
The Lighter Side Of Flight back to top 

Short Final

A few years ago I was getting an IFR clearance from ground control. When I called for clearance I had a brain-fart and forgot where we were going. The conversation went like this:

Me: Ground, Lear 1234 looking for clearance to ....... ummmmm .... that airport we're going to.

Ground: Lear 1234 cleared to that airport you're going to via radar vectors...

Don't worry. It came back to me eventually.



WingX 2.0 Now Available — With NACO Approach Charts, SmartTaxi™, Online Weather, and Podcasts!
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Flight Explorer for Professionals Goes Beyond "Flight Tracking"
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Pilots Comment After Reading IFR: A Structured Approach:
"The GPS chapter alone is worth getting the book. It's the best instrument flying book I have ever read," states Fred Scott. "If one book could help you make the leap from a bit player to a skilled conductor of instrument flight, this is probably it," reads a November 2003 AOPA Pilot review. With the help of this book, you will establish your personal standard of IFR operating practices, including incorporation of checklists, flows, callouts, briefings, and the "fly by the numbers" method of aircraft control. Order online.

Sundowner, Musketeer Owners: Power Flow Is Now FAA-Approved
Power Flow Tuned Exhaust System is now FAA-approved for the Beechcraft 23 series with Lycoming O-320 & O-360 engines. More RPM, better climb, saves fuel at current speeds. First shipments by February 2007. $400.00 pre-production discount ends 12/31/06. Place your deposit now. Complete details online.

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.

Have a product or service to advertise on AVweb? A question on marketing? Send it to AVweb's sales team.

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.

Because the source matters.