AVwebFlash - Volume 12, Number 45d
Special Coverage from AOPA

November 11, 2006

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
 
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Hot Topics and Record Attendance at AOPA Expo '06 back to top 
 

User Fees Agenda Cloudy

FAA Administrator Marion Blakey was given an opportunity to clear the air on the user fee issue on Friday but didn't. Asked politely, but pointedly, to explain exactly what she meant by comments she made about GA's role in the future funding mechanism for the agency, she told hundreds of delegates to AOPA Expo in Palm Springs that the funding proposal is not complete and that she doesn't know what it's final form will be. The current funding system for the FAA expires next September and Congress must approve reauthorization by then. She told the mostly patient crowd that the new funding plan "does not have to contain broad user fees for general aviation" and that she does "not want to create a funding system that stifles GA." But she did not directly answer a question from the floor inviting her to explain exactly what those statements would translate to in terms of future fees or taxes. She did, however, make it clear that the status quo is not acceptable, although she did say she believes general tax revenue should continue to pay a share of FAA funding (it contributes 23 percent now).

Blakey reiterated her belief that the current system of funding is disassociated from the services it provides and is therefore fundamentally flawed. Most of the FAA's revenue comes from airline ticket excise taxes and she said the combination of lower ticket prices and the use of more small airliners has changed the economic basis for that system. But while she suggested that there are more equitable ways to spread costs over the system, she appeared to reject the rationale of the Air Transport Association (ATA), the lobby group for the airlines, that all users of the system have an equal financial impact on it. "[The new funding system] certainly is not base on a blip is a blip is a blip," she said. Blakey also noted that while fees can be adjusted to reflect costs (she said the agency was working at reducing costs and increasing efficiency), there is less flexibility with taxes.

Record Attendance at AOPA Expo 2006

AOPA Expo is virtually assured to break attendance records, according to spokesman Chris Dancy. He said that as of late Friday, the number of registered delegates was more than 10,900. The current record (set in 2002 when the event was also held in Palm Springs) is 11,700 and there is still a full day left. "I think 12,000 is reasonable to expect," Dancy told AVweb. He said weekend attendees from the nearby Los Angeles basin could swell the numbers even higher, given that the weather (sunny and temperatures in the low 80s) is expected to hold.

Those hoping to fly into Palm Springs today are advised to check ahead, however. By 10 a.m. on Friday, Palm Springs tower was diverting AOPA traffic to nearby Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airport because all 1,200 parking spaces at Palm Springs International were full. There's a shuttle bus operating to and from both airports every 20 minutes.

 
Adam Aircraft Designs & Manufactures the A700 AdamJet & A500 Centerline Piston Twin
The Adam Aircraft A700 features twin Williams FJ-33 engines, state-of-the-art avionics, and comfortable seating for eight (or seven with an aft lavatory). The A700 is currently undergoing flight test and development. The Adam Aircraft A500 centerline piston twin has been Type Certified by the FAA and offers superior safety, range, and performance, along with the pressurized comfort of a roomy six-seat interior. For complete details on both aircraft, go online.
 
Special Occasions Are Always Good for New Toys back to top 
 

Columbia Delivers at AOPA Expo

A year ago, Sherry Nesbitt Gettinger was a newly minted pilot who was presented with the “Newest Pilot Award” at AOPA Expo 2005. She is now instrument rated, and yesterday at AOPA Expo 2006 Gettinger received the keys to Columbia Aircraft's 500th aircraft, a Columbia 350. “This is a tremendous milestone for our company and we’re very pleased to present our 500th aircraft to Sherry and her family,” Columbia Aircraft Vice President of Marketing and Business Development Randy Bolinger said during the handover ceremony.

Gettinger is only one of many new Columbia owners -- the company said it delivered 63 aircraft in the third quarter. This brings total shipments for the first nine months of this year to 130, 16 more than the same period last year. "Delays certifying the Garmin G1000 panel in Q1 and Q2 that forced refinishing of 66 aircraft awaiting delivery reduced our total year-to-date numbers," noted Columbia President Bing Lantis. "However, we're still ahead of last year's pace." Lantis yesterday reported that the avionics troubles are mostly behind the company, while sales are very strong and Columbia has been "operationally profitable since the late summer."

Mountain High Makes It Easier to Breathe Easier (And Longer)

Redmond, Ore.-based Mountain High announced at AOPA Expo that it is now shipping the single-user EDS-O2D1 digital "pulse demand" oxygen delivery system. According to the company, the shirt-pocket-size system automatically regulates the flow to deliver only the needed amount of oxygen, cutting consumption by up to six times that of constant-flow systems. Additionally, the system profiles the breather and adjusts the flow as needed and warns the user when not breathing enough through the canulla or face mask to prevent hypoxia.

Mountain High said the O2D1, which runs for up to 125 hours on two AA batteries, retails for $600. The two-user EDS-O2D2 system has been on the market since last year and costs $800. Mountain High also sells complete oxygen systems with the "pulse-demand" regulator, oxygen cylinder, EDS-O2D1 or O2D2, cannula, face mask, tote bag, batteries and a cylinder carry bag.

 
Precise Flight to Supply Fixed Oxygen as Standard Equipment on Cirrus Turbo® SR-22 & SE-22
Bend, ORNovember 9, 2006Precise Flight announced it has received STC approval for its Fixed Oxygen System for Cirrus Design Corporation's SR-22 aircraft. This follows Cirrus' selection of Precise Flight at Oshkosh to provide the Fixed Oxygen System as standard equipment on the Cirrus Turbo® SR-22 and SE-22 and as an option on the SR-22 and SE-22. Click here to read the full release.
 
Looking Toward the Future of Flight Training back to top 
 

Delta Connection Academy Flight School Picks Cirrus

Delta Connection Academy will buy 50 Cirrus SR20 aircraft in a fleet modernization program that it says will better equip its graduates to enter the modern world of airline operations. At a news conference at AOPA Expo on Thursday, Delta Connection CEO Capt. Gary Beck said the company researched the market for three years before settling on Cirrus. The company will do its ab initio training on the Cirrus so that students are exposed to the technology from the start. "The SR20 G2 incorporates the latest advancements in flight technology to provide our students a realistic, airline-style flight training environment," he said. The school is a busy one and will put the Cirruses through their paces. "We do 100-hour inspections an average of every nine days," Beck said.

Cirrus VP of Sales John Bingham said the company is on pace to build more than 700 planes this year for the third year in a row. It will finish the 3,000th aircraft on Nov. 16. That plane, a turbonormalized SR22 in a new silver paint scheme will be purchased by CEO Alan Klapmeier. Bingham said the company now sells more than 27 percent of its aircraft in other counties. "Truly, Cirrus is becoming an international brand," he said. The foreign country that's doing best for Cirrus at the moment is Brazil, but it continues to develop markets in potentially lucrative areas like India and China.

VFLITE Series Takes Training to a Higher Plane

Pegasus Interactive is at AOPA Expo touting new additions to its VFLITE series of aviation training software for PCs, including the Weight & Balance Visualizer, CFI iTools and GPSMAP 496 Interactive Guide. Its new VFLITE Weight & Balance Visualizer software instantly determines and displays center of gravity and weight loading, ensuring that an aircraft is properly loaded before takeoff. The program, which costs $39.95, provides fast loading of fuel via a draggable slider, while other inputs are made in an overhead view of the cabin. CFI iTools (retail price $34.95) is a suite of multimedia-based modules that enable and enhance live training and student practice.

Modules include navigation and holding tools. VFR plotter, circular flight computer and lighting and glidslope trainer. The GPSMAP 496 guide incorporates a visual, hands-on approach that enables at-your-own pace instruction on the handheld's operations, facilitated by extensive animation and narration. Price for this program, which is Windows and Macintosh compatible, is $59.95.

Microsoft Flight Sim as Learning Tool?

Can a video game (albeit a pretty sophisticated video game) make you a better pilot? Bruce Williams thinks so and he's written the book on the subject, called Microsoft Flight Simulator as a Training Aid. Williams, a 30-year pilot and instructor who was also the business development director for Microsoft Flight Simulator, told a news conference at AOPA Expo that the software package can be a powerful training tool if it's used to focus on specific topics in a logical order. "Using the parts is better than trying to use the whole," he said. Williams said the tendency is to try and create a complete flying experience with the simulator when it's greatest training strengths lie in the details. In addition to the written word, Williams has included a CD with hundreds of "practice flights" which teach a specific skill or range of knowledge. For instance, one lesson focuses on VOR navigation with specific tasks to accomplish.

Williams said the simulator can't replace stick time, especially for new students. "There are motor skills that just have to be learned," he said. But for training in navigation and procedures, the simulator is an ideal platform to practice without burning $4-a-gallon fuel. It's also a more efficient way to train for those skills. Instead of taking all the time to preflight, taxi and take off, the simulator can start flying right at the location where the training will take place. "You go straight to the task," he said. The book and CD are compatible with Flight Simulator X and Flight Simulator 2004 and he recommends the deluxe version of the latest issue because it offers options to add a second pilot networked to the same scenario, either by cable or over the Internet. It also includes a full Garmin glass cockpit depiction. Williams' book will be available through Aviation Supplies and Academics and at national chain bookstores.

 
One Six Left DVD Is Now Available at Aircraft Spruce
Enjoy the companion DVD to the highly-acclaimed aviation film One Six Right, with over 45 minutes of extra footage featuring "The Making of One Six Right." Also included is the original "Into the Clouds" trailer featuring Enya's song "Only Time." Additional footage includes a movie montage of the film's most beautiful shots, two new aerobatic sequences, and more! Call 1-877-4-SPRUCE or visit online.
 
Day Two Wrap-Up back to top 
 

Diesels for Cessnas

At AOPA Expo, both Thielert Aircraft Engines and SMA are promoting their diesel engines for light general aviation airplanes as efficient and greener alternatives to avgas-fueled powerplants. On Thursday, Thielert said Van Bortel Aircraft in Arlington, Va., will install the Centurion 1.7 diesel aircraft engines in brand-new Cessna 172 Skyhawks, which Bortel will then resell worldwide. Van Bortel has already retrofitted several Skyhawks, one of which is at the static display at the show in Palm Springs, Calif. Meanwhile, SMA said it recently delivered 18 of its SR305-230 diesel engines to U.S. distributors for installation in Cessna 182Q/R models. SMA received an STC for the re-engine modification in late July.

According to SMA, a firewall foreward kit costs about $85,000 (including installation), though it is working to reduce this cost. Tule is also pursuing an STC for M/N/P-series Cessna 182s. SMA's other U.S. distributors are working on obtaining similar approvals for the Piper Dakota and Maule M-9. So far, 31 aircraft worldwide are flying with the SMA diesel engine.

(Almost) "Live" from Palm Springs: AOPA Expo 2006 Photo Gallery, Day Two

AVweb staffers managed to see quite a bit at the AOPA Expo on Friday — and in between press conferences and tire-kicking, we even managed to snap a few photos. Sample the sights of the AOPA Expo without ever leaving your computer chair, in our Day Two Gallery.

Click here for photos.


 
Today Is Your Last Chance to Visit Us at AOPA Expo ...
Saturday, November 11 is the last day of the AOPA Expo. If you're here in Palm Springs, please take a few minutes to stop by the AVweb booth (#1702) and say "hello." And while you're seeing the sights, visit our sponsors' booths, as well. 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.
 
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 Chad Trautvetter and Russ Niles (bio).

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