AVwebFlash - Volume 12, Number 44a

October 30, 2006

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Let's Be Careful Out There back to top 
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In Wake Of Crashes, Cirrus CEO Appeals To Pilots

In the wake of three fatal crashes involving Cirrus aircraft in the past couple of weeks, Cirrus CEO Alan Klapmeier is urging pilots to set and follow their own personal limits for flying in marginal weather. And although his message is addressed to Cirrus owners and pilots, it could apply to just about any pilot. In a letter to Cirrus owners, Klapmeier urges them to take stock of their abilities and review all the safety-related material and services the company has created to try and prevent accidents. "Historically, weather has been one of the most significant risk factors affecting general aviation," Klapmeier wrote, noting that the onset of winter magnifies and extends potentially dangerous conditions. "We, as prudent pilots, must adjust our decision making to the new season."

Even though few people know Cirrus systems and performance data better than Klapmeier, he said in the letter he intends to review all the relevant safety and systems-related data and make sure he's up on the best places to get weather information. "As Cirrus pilots, we owe ourselves, our passengers, and our families a professional approach to operating our airplanes," he wrote. "It means that we are proficient at risk management, information management, and aircraft automation management – all the things that Cirrus transition and recurrent training are intended to support."

Pilots' Group Chimes In

Cirrus pilots also heard from the Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association on the same topic and President Mike Radomsky was a little more candid in his message (.DOC file). "It is tempting, but very dangerous, to believe that because the airplane is capable of flying in challenging conditions, the pilot can take it there," he wrote. "No technology can replace training, skill, proficiency and judgment." He also noted that, statistically speaking, COPA members appear to be much less likely to be in an accident. "The fact is that over 87% of the [Cirrus] pilots of the fatal accidents to date were among the 30% or so of pilots who do not belong to COPA," he wrote. Of course, paying the $50 membership fee doesn't grant increased immunity from accidents, he noted. He theorizes that those who join the group, take part in the online chats and read the magazine are more likely to take part in the safety-related activities it sponsors. Radomsky says the recent spate of accidents has made him reassess his flying. "I have redoubled my resolve to fly conservatively and make decisions that I know are good ones," he wrote.

Eight People Lost In Two Weeks

The latest crash occurred Friday in Statesville, N.C., in bad weather. Two people were killed and two were injured when the SR22 they were in crashed about 50 feet from the airport in a wooded ravine. NTSB spokesman Ted Lopatkiewicz told The Charlotte Observer the aircraft was on an instrument approach when it crashed. According to witnesses, the aircraft made a low pass over the length of the runway and then returned to do the same. The witnesses told the Observer the second low pass was apparently aborted and the plane turned and climbed into the clouds before they heard it crash. The survivors were identified as Edward Sasso, the plane's owner, and Cecile Sasso. The deceased were not identified. The North Carolina crash came a day after a crash in northern Arizona killed a family of four from Georgia and about two weeks after New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle and his flight instructor Tyler Stanger died when the SR20 they were in hit an apartment building in Manhattan. In the Arizona crash, race car driver Luis DeCastro, 44, his wife Laura, 41, and their children Nadia, 7, and Trevor, 4, were killed when the SR22 they were in crashed near Kingman, Ariz. According to the Kingman Daily Miner, FAA spokesman Allan Kenitzer said the pilot reported severe icing at 13,000 feet, declared an emergency and dropped off radar. It's still not clear if the aircraft's parachute was deployed.

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VLJ Study Released back to top 

Promise And Peril Await Mini-Jet Makers

The very light jet (VLJ) market is fueled largely by the salesmanship of its optimistic originators and the potential of a boom in air taxi operations, but a study by a European media consultant company still predicts that 4,154 aircraft will be delivered over the next 10 years by at least five manufacturers. "Some industry observers critical of the manufacturer-supplied growth rate contend that only two, or at best three, manufacturers will make it to market but the authors of this report are slightly more optimistic than this," wrote Phillip Butterworth-Hayes in the study he compiled for England-based PMI Media Group. "We believe, in addition to the five key programs featured in this report there will be other new entrants who succeed in producing aircraft for the personal jet market." The study also strongly suggests that the air taxi business, which makes up the bulk of initial orders for several companies, won't materialize as predicted. PMI shared a copy of the 155-page study with AVweb but is selling online and print versions, so we won't go into fine detail.

The study predicts that Eclipse will sell almost as many planes as all the other manufacturers combined but it will substantially miss its own sales predictions. And while it acknowledges entries by Cirrus and Piper, it lumps them with jets from start-up companies like Avocet, Safire and Epic in a sort of "other" category of manufacturers not considered to be guaranteed players in the new market.

Who Will Fly Them?

If, as predicted by the study, the air taxi market doesn't materialize as predicted, a lot of the customers for those 4,200-odd jets will be owner pilots and that raises training and insurance issues. A Canadian company is addressing the pilot issues head-on with an "introductory" course for piston pilots who think they might like to fly jets. JetSet Inc., of Burlington, Ontario, held a training session for would-be jet jockeys over the past weekend and plans another for Nov. 24-25. The sessions give students a grounding in what will be expected of them as jet pilots for the relatively modest fee of about $2,250 USD. "This introductory course is for pilots who dream about flying a jet -- a much faster and appealing aircraft -- but who have not had the opportunity before," Edward Furtak, president of JetSet Inc., said in a news release.

The JetSet course involves 10 hours of ground school on systems, glass cockpit procedures, and turbojet basics as well as ground handling and normal takeoffs and landings. The fee also includes an hour of flight time in one of the MS760X ParisJet aircraft it operates. The ParisJet is based on a 1950s French military trainer, which the French had the foresight to equip with four seats and a pressurization system. JetSet is claiming to have a jump on the VLJ market by creating a fractional ownership program with a buy-in of $60,000 for a one-sixteenth share of one of the vintage jets, which have been updated with a new interior and glass cockpit. JetSet says it has four MS760s flying and 17 more ready to go.

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News Briefs back to top 

GAMA Says Exports Help GA Boom

Emerging markets in Europe, Russia, China and India are helping fuel the continuing boom in aircraft sales worldwide, according to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association's (GAMA's) report on third-quarter results for 2006. Most companies are reporting healthy sales increases both in terms of billings and in the numbers of units sold. And an increasing number of those aircraft are being shipped overseas. "Our manufacturers have seen growth in all airplane segments, part of which we attribute to strengthening sales in Europe, and into Russia, China, and India," GAMA President Pete Bunce said in a news release. "Business people and government officials are recognizing the dynamic role that general aviation plays in building a vibrant economy and, as our manufacturers continue to bring new innovations to market, we expect this trend to continue."

Sales and billings are up across the board. In the first nine months of 2006 there were 1,957 piston aircraft delivered, an 18.2-percent increase over the same period last year. Turboprop sales jumped from 228 to 256 but it was the bizjet market that really shone. There were 629 jet deliveries in the first three quarters of 2006 compared to 510 in 2005 (355 in 2003 and 391 in 2004). The total value of GA aircraft delivered in the first nine months of 2006 was $13.2 billion, up 28.6 percent from $10.3 billion.

First WAAS, Now LAAS

Work is continuing on development of Local Area Augmentation System (LAAS) to further enhance GPS navigation, particularly during precision approaches. The Wide Area Augmentation System has been running for about three years and has opened up hundreds of airports for ILS approaches, to established minimums, using GPS data. The LAAS system is another refinement of GPS that allows even greater precision. "LAAS will offer very precise guidance to aircraft, eventually providing guidance all the way to the runway surface even when visibility is near zero," said Rick Cassell, head of safety systems for Rannoch Corporation. Rannoch recently won an FAA contract to provide engineering support on the project. Assuming all goes as planned, LAAS could have a major impact on the way we fly around airports. It may eventually replace conventional ILS gear and will provide the navigation data for Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) systems. The FAA's William J. Hughes Technical Center is coordinating the LAAS effort.

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News Briefs back to top 

Law Enforcement Pilot Beats FAA Rap

A law enforcement pilot for the State of Wisconsin has been cleared of all charges that he violated airport procedures at Chetek Airport in Wisconsin. According to the Chetek Alert newspaper, Larry Schasinger was originally found guilty by an FAA administrative judge of flying a right-hand pattern, in his personal aircraft, a Christavia, at Chetek instead of the standard left-hand pattern. He appealed to the National Transportation Safety Board and the charge was dismissed. Schlasinger offered as evidence documents showing he was flying in his law enforcement role for the state on Aug. 6, 2003, the day he's alleged to have fudged the approach to Chetek. He also entered his plane's maintenance log, which showed it was grounded for propeller work at the time of the alleged incident. As you might expect, there's more to this story.

Schlasinger alleges the charge was the result of a personal feud between himself and the person who made the charge, possibly relating to Schlasinger's aerobatic activities. A previous charge made by the same person that alleged Schlasinger illegally performed aerobatics at Chetek on July 4, 2003, was dismissed by the FAA and the same person apologized and paid Schlasinger an undisclosed amount of cash to settle a 2002 defamation case out of court, according to the newspaper.

Asleep At The Console?

The FAA isn't saying whether a controller who allegedly fell asleep while on duty in Charleston, S.C., last month has faced disciplinary action. But spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen did say that he's been cleared medically and has returned to work. A fellow controller arriving for work allegedly found his colleague dozing at the scope about 6 a.m. on Sept. 13. "He allegedly dozed off for a few minutes," Bergen told The Associated Press. "We're looking into the circumstances surrounding the allegations that someone was sleeping on duty." No flights were affected but things were about to get busy with the early morning departures. Doug Church, spokesman for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) told The Associated Press he wasn't surprised, since a shortage of staff has resulted in six-day workweeks and a heavy workload for many controllers. "This is a tired work force, no doubt about it," he said. "There are fewer controllers handling more traffic than ever before," he said. But a controller who contacted AVweb disputes the prevalence of six-day workweeks, while agreeing that controllers can get dangerously tired on midnight shifts.

The controller says he'll be fired if we identify him publicly. We have established his identity and spoken with him on the phone. He told AVweb the problem isn't necessarily the workload or the shifts themselves, it's the scheduling of the shifts. Sometimes he'll work from early morning to early afternoon and be back at work late that same evening for the midnight shift. "People are unaware that when they depart an airport in the morning (or anytime), probably 40 to 60 percent of the controllers working their flights all along the way have only had two to four hours of sleep, sometimes for two to three days, sometimes less," he said. "There are no standard sleep patterns for people working these kinds of schedules." The controller also noted that the end of the midnight shift, when controllers are at their worst, is often the busiest part of the day. I have often wondered how many controllers have been injured or killed driving home after those shifts or have hurt someone else," he said. "I know that quite often, I have an extremely hard time staying awake on the way home."

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News Briefs back to top 

Driver's License Medicals Rejected (Again)

AOPA says it won't give up trying to convince the FAA to accept a state driver's license as proof of medical fitness to fly with a recreational permit. Recreational pilots are restricted to fixed-gear, 180-hp, four-place aircraft flown day VFR only. AOPA argues that the difference in performance and weight between the recreational permit privileges and those allowed under the new sport pilot permit (which allows the driver's license medical) are not enough to continue requiring a third class medical for the recreational certificate. "Too many healthy pilots have lost their medicals, yet they could still fly simple aircraft like Cessna 172s safely," AOPA's VP of government affairs noted in a news release. "We're going to find a way to make that happen." Cebula said AOPA will use medical data from sport pilot records to press its case. In the past, he said, the FAA has rejected the driver's license medical because it lacked evidence to prove that relaxing the standards was safe.

AOPA also wants to open the door to flying for a large segment of the former pilot population that doesn't qualify for even the sport pilot permit. They're pilots who, for whatever reason, have lost their medicals in the past. Even though they have driver's licenses, the FAA won't allow them to fly as sport pilots unless they can requalify for a third class medical. AOPA says they should be able to get a letter from their personal doctors stating that they are unlikely to be incapacitated within the next 24 months, but the FAA says that could "place licensed physicians in the position of unwittingly declaring someone fit for flight."

Weather Gathering Service Expands

Next time you get bounced into the headliner on a short-haul flight you can take some comfort that you might be helping other aircraft avoid that weather. After an initial trial of Tropospheric Airborne Meteorological Data Reporting (TAMDAR) with Mesaba Airlines, AirDat LLC has attached weather sensors to aircraft toiling for regional carriers in all areas of the continental U.S., providing real-time, real-world meteorological data through satellite transmissions. AirDat CEO Jay Ladd said in a news release that the rich stream of data from airliners-turned-weather-stations is improving forecasting accuracy and allowing the airlines to adjust routing and scheduling on the fly to minimize weather delays.

By next year, more than 400 aircraft working in every corner of the country will have the sensors attached. The sensors send data to AirDat headquarters via Iridium satellites. Built-in GPSs provide position and altitude simultaneously. Ladd says the regional airliners make the perfect platform. "They make shorter, more frequent trips and operate at altitudes below 30,000 feet, filling in an important gap in weather observations," said Ladd. "Their frequent ascents and descents provide a high frequency of soundings from diverse geographic locations."

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News Briefs back to top 

A Note to Readers

With this week's edition of AVweb news, we have two staff changes to announce, one a new face and the second the departure of an old friend. Joining the AVweb staff as editor in chief is Chad Trautvetter, a seasoned aviation journalist, CFII and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Before joining AVweb, Trautvetter was most recently an editor at Aviation International News and before that, he did a stint as an editor at Pro Pilot. He'll join AVweb as part of an ongoing expansion of our Sarasota, Fla., editorial offices. We were unable to pry Glenn Pew loose from California to join us here in Florida, but he'll remain aboard as a contributing news editor. Long time AVweb readers have come to appreciate the entertaining and insightful writing of Michael Maya Charles in his As the Beacon Turns column. But even good things must end and as of this week, Michael will be moving on to other writing pursuits, including growing his own publishing company, Artful Publishing. You can follow Michael's career and order a copy of his book at www.artfulpublishing.com. We wish him the best in both his continuing flying and publishing careers.

On The Fly...

About 100 people, including Sultan Ibrahim Muhammadu Maccido, the head of all Nigerian Muslims died when an ADC Airlines aircraft (type unknown) crashed shortly after takeoff from Nigeria's capital of Abuja on Sunday...

Seattle-area officials are pondering a deal to trade Boeing Field for a railway right of way that would open up 47 miles of bicycle trails. The airport would remain under the deal, but management would shift to the port authority from King County...

The FAA is investigating why a Northwest Airlink regional jet lined up on a closed runway at Pensacola Regional Airport Sept. 24. The Pensacola tower was closed but a controller in the TRACON noticed the error and redirected the flight when it was four miles out. The closed runway was blocked by construction equipment...

Quest Aircraft has been named Business of the Year in its hometown of Sandpoint, Idaho. The company has developed a turboprop bushplane called the Kodiak and has expanded its workforce by 82 percent in the last year...

Four air show legends will be inducted into the International Council of Air Shows Hall of Fame in December. They include Marion Cole, Eddy Greene, Patty Wagstaff and Paul Mantz...

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

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Scottsdale AirCenter

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 Scottsdale AirCenter at KSDF in Scottsdale, Ariz.

AVweb reader Alan Tipps praised the friendly service received at Scottsdale.

"The line-staff are totally heads-up, proactive, professional and courteous, and on-the-ball. Just about every time we are into Scottsdale, the line staff anticipates our needs. Their ramp management is progressive and efficient, and I find these folks to be one of the best line crews in the country."

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


Motor Head #16: Jabiru -- A New Engine That's Not All That New, But Cool Nevertheless
The advent of light sport aircraft has created a resurgence of need for engines that fit in-between the ultralight lawn mower engines and the standard, 160-hp four cylinder. AVweb's Marc Cook found one from an unexpected place.

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/ .

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AVweb Audio back to top 

Audio News

AVweb posts audio news on Mondays, plus a new in-depth interview each Friday. In Friday's podcast, you'll find exclusive news about rumored changes to the ADIZ. And AVweb's podcast index includes interviews with Adam Aircraft chairman Rick Adam and New Piper CEO Jim Bass, recorded live at the recent NBAA Convention in Orlando. And in Monday's news summary, hear from Cessna's Jack Pelton on his company's LSA, TCM president Bryan Lewis, NATCA president John Carr, New 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 and Dale Klapmeier and more. Plus: Listen in to an exclusive interview with Cirrus' Dale Klapmeier about the current state of Cirrus Serial Number 1, courtesy of our sister publication, Aviation Consumer. Remember: In AVweb's podcasts, you'll hear things you won't find anywhere else.

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VOTW back to top 

Video of the Week: U.S.A. vs. Japan in the 'Open a Beer Bottle with a Helicopter' Contest

Recommend a Video | VOTW Archive

The most expensive bottle opener we've ever seen, courtesy of Glumbert.com:

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.

Don't forget to send us links to any interesting videos you find out there. If you're impressed by it, there's a good chance other AVweb readers will be too. (Plus, we like watching videos.)

Not Keeping Up with FAA Rules & Regulations Can Cost You
In today's flight environment, busting a rule and/or regulation can cost you not only a fine but your ticket. Protect it by being informed. Read Aviation Safety every month for interesting and information-packed articles to sharpen your air readiness. Order your Aviation Safety subscription online for savings from the regular rate.
The Lighter Side Of Flight back to top 

Short Final

While returning from a cross country into Ellington Field...

Tower: Warrior 123, enter right downwind for 35L.

Warrior 123: Roger, downwind 35L

Tower: Warrior 123, wind calm, cleared for 22 if you like.

Warrior 123: Roger. Cleared for 22.

[Short pause]

Warrior 123: Tower, am i cleared for 22? Because ther is a truck in the middle of the runway...

Tower: Warrior 123, go around.

Warrior 123: [While applying power and retracting flaps] Could you get him to move over, because I don't think I can get around him.


What can I say? Sometimes the little devil on my shoulder wins.



WingX 2.0 Now Available — With NACO Approach Charts, SmartTaxi™, Online Weather, and Podcasts!
Hilton Software LLC has just released WingX 2.0 for the Pocket PC — now with approach charts, weather images, podcasts, N-number search, helicopter W&B, and SmartTaxi™ to help prevent runway incursions. Of course, this is in addition to WingX's great Weight and Balance, Route Planning, FARs, color-coded weather reports, and superb E6B capabilities. Excellent A/FD with auto-dial. WingX is now GPS-enabled! Learn more and download WingX at HiltonSoftware.com.

Choose the Flight Explorer Edition Right for You
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Power Flow Is Now FAA-Approved for the Diamond DA40
The Power Flow Tuned Exhaust System is now standard equipment on all 2007 Diamond DA40 aircraft. Benefits include: Speed increases of up to 8 knots; 15% more climb; or, go the same speeds and save up to 1.2 gallons per hour. Starting in October, existing DA40 owners can retrofit their aircraft. For complete details, go online!

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.

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.

Freedom, independence, responsibility.

Attending the AOPA Expo in Palm Springs?
AVweb will be! This year's convention starts Thursday, November 9 and runs through Saturday, November 11 in Palm Springs, California. We know many of you will be on-site with us this year, so please take a moment while you're seeing the sights 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.