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The massive shift in the political winds in Washington is a major boost to the fight against general aviation user fees, delegates to AOPA Expo in Palm Springs were told on Saturday. "The election
says we're in much better shape," AOPA President Phil Boyer told those attending the morning general session. Boyer said the political dynamics might result in the FAA's proposal to replace taxation
with user fees to fund most of the agency's operation being shelved. "There will be gridlock in Washington for at least a year," he said. Since Congress must reauthorize the FAA funding formula by the
end of next September, a frozen Congress might not be able to deal with it in time and that could mean the current system will just be rolled over for another 10 years. But even if Congress does
become unstuck enough to deal with a new funding proposal, Boyer said the user-fee option now has powerful opposition in Washington. Boyer said Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn., will be the next chairman
of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and he well understands the impact of general aviation on the economy, since Cirrus Design is in his district. The Aviation Subcommittee will be
headed up by either Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., or Jerry Costello, D-Ill., and both are strong opponents of the user-fee option. "Either way, we win on this issue," Boyer said, while adding there are
indications in trade publications that the airline industry, which strongly supports the user fee initiative, considers the election a setback.
Although the user-fee issue dominated the political discussions in Palm Springs, there were some other victories being heralded in the
host state of California. Earlier this year, the FAA, with some prodding from AOPA, emphatically denied a request from the city of Bakersfield that it be released from its obligations to the FAA so
the airport could be closed in favor of residential and commercial development. Since federal funds were used to buy the land for the airport in the 1980s, the site must remain an airport in
perpetuity, unless the FAA says so. In a 10-page denunciation of Bakersfield's rationale for closing the airport, the agency made it clear that option wasn't on the table. The Oceanside, Calif.,
battle wasn't as simple. Andy Cebula, AOPA's government relations expert, said pilots, with AOPA help, got directly involved in local elections. The campaign involved advertising and direct mail
urging voters to support pro-airport candidates. Two were elected and that was enough to shift the power balance on the city council to preserve the airport, at least for now. In her speech to
delegates on Friday, FAA Administrator Marion Blakey stressed the agency's commitment to keeping airports open. She pledged that the FAA wasn't "going to sit idly by" when local governments try to
close or restrict federally funded airports. "The condos will just have to go somewhere else," she said.
This year's AOPA Expo reached an all-time record high of 12,973 attendees by the time the show closed on Saturday afternoon. Later
that evening, AOPA paid tribute to Rep. Harold "Hal" Rogers, R-Ky., for his dedication to general aviation, awarding him with the prestigious J.B. "Doc" Hartranft Award for 2006. Rogers is responsible
for funding and oversight of the Department of Homeland Security as chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee On Homeland Security, and he's been an advocate for reasonable approaches to GA
security. As a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, Rogers has ensured that resources paid into the aviation trust fund reach GA airports across the country. Also on Saturday evening,
AOPA bestowed the 2006 Laurence P. Sharples Perpetual Award to Felix Maguire for his "selfless commitment, tireless leadership, and commitment to general aviation in Alaska." According to AOPA
President Phil Boyer, he was a driving force for "improvements for VFR pilots -- including the unprecedented establishment of a VFR route across the Bering Straits to Russia -- to the cutting edge of
instrument flight using [automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast]."
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The project that started the very light jet movement almost 30 years ago might be revived in a modern form. Millennium Aerospace earlier
this year purchased the rights to manufacture the rakish little jet that Tony Fox predicted would revolutionize air travel when he introduced it in 1977. Although there are plenty of opinions about
why the project never progressed beyond the mockup stage (it still hasn't), Fox says it was just too far ahead of its time. His plan was to use modified cruise missile engines from Williams
International (sound familiar?) but the federal government wasn't keen on having the technology released to the public at that time and there were no suitable substitutes. Fox, now 85 and promoting
his latest invention, talking garbage cans for fast food restaurants, said times have changed and the world is ready for his jet, even though he considers himself too old to take it the rest of the
way. "I just want to see it take off," he told AVweb last week at AOPA Expo. The new Foxjet will use Pratt & Whitney Canada PW615 series engines, similar to those in the Cessna Mustang. The
company is predicting the six-place jet will cruise at 320 knots with a range of 1,215 nm and a stall speed of 74 knots. It will be a composite airplane with a full glass panel. Interiors are being
designed by Porsche. Projected price is $1.7 million and first flight is planned for mid-2007, with certification in 2008.
NASA's Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS), which is widely used by
pilots and other airline employees to identify potential safety hazards, last week marked its 30-year anniversary. Established under a memorandum of understanding between NASA and the FAA, the system
collects, analyzes and responds to voluntarily submitted aviation safety incident reports to reduce aviation accidents and improve safety. The confidential reports are also used to identify
deficiencies and discrepancies in the National Aviation System that need to be remedied. "Since the implementation of the Aviation Safety Reporting System in 1976, more than 474,000 reports have been
submitted by pilots, mechanics, air traffic controllers, flight attendants and other airline personnel," said ASRS director Linda Connell. "Many of those reports have had a direct impact on making the
nation's airways safer." Over the years, ASRS has issued more than 2,500 safety alerts to the commercial and private aviation community.
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One of the first high-tech American-built light sport aircraft (LSA) made the trip to Palm Springs for AOPA Expo on a trailer, but it
should be flying freely soon. The Nexaer LS1, with its distinctive swooping fuselage, has flown a couple of hours at home base at Meadow Lake Airport near Peyton, Colo., but its experimental research
and development designation with the FAA prevented it from being flown to the show, said spokesman Scott Belliveau. The plane, which is surprisingly large for an LSA, made its first flight in October
but then the emphasis switched to getting it painted and in show condition in time for Expo, Belliveau said. The aircraft is only being flown a few feet above the runway at first to assess its flying
qualities and the FAA restrictions will keep it within a few miles of Meadow Lake when it does put some air under its wings. Belliveau said the unusual shape of the fuselage was incorporated purely
for styling. "We call it ramp presence," he said. But initial tests have revealed the shape actually contributes lift and has positive aerodynamic influences. "We got lucky," he admitted. The plane is
currently flying with a six-cylinder, 120-hp Jabiru 3300, but numerous engine options, including some certified mills, will eventually be available. Useful load with the 3300 engine is 570 pounds,
including up to 167 pounds of fuel.
Late last week the NTSB said its investigation of Comair Flight 5191 continues to make progress. The board will not hold a public
hearing on this investigation, but the public docket is expected to open in January. According to the NTSB, the docket will contain the cockpit voice recorder transcript, flight data recorder
information and the other group factual reports, including interviews. A public safety board meeting will be held late spring or early summer, at which time the NTSB will consider a final report on
the investigation and will include the determination of the probable cause and potential safety recommendations.
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Van's Aircraft's entry in the LSA category had its first flight last Thursday. The mini-RV, which sports many of the characteristics
of its larger stablemates (bubble canopy and a big, fat wing), was flown by company founder Dick VanGrunsven, who put it through a variety of speed profiles and basic handling tests. "Its far
too early to make any statements about what the airplane is like or what it will do, or what the performance numbers may eventually be," said Van's Web site. "We can report that when Van taxied in and
opened the swing-up canopy, he was grinning." The Web site also says the plane shares some flying qualities with other aircraft in the Van's family. "Even from the ground we could tell the roll rate
was pretty snappy," the site says. The aircraft is powered by a 100-hp Rotax and the payload goal is 550 pounds.
Hayden Lake, Idaho-based Aerostar Aircraft unveiled its latest model, the Aerostar 702P, at AOPA Expo. The company holds the type
certificate of the venerable recip twin, but is now only modifying previously manufactured Aerostars to this new model. Aerostar vice president Jim Christy told AVweb at the show that the 702P
recently completed extensive FAA flight testing that allows for an increased max takeoff weight of 6,850 pounds, a 2,200-pound useful load and a 6,850-pound max landing weight. To handle the extra
loads, Aerostar beefed up the landing gear and brakes on the airplane. In conjunction with the weight increase, Aerostar also certified an optional 5.5-psi pressurization system, which raises the
702P's ceiling to FL280. Specifications include a 1,000-nm range, 275-knot max cruise speed and a 69-knot stall speed. Christy said that his company still has plans to produce a Williams FJ33-powered
twinjet version of the Aerostar, but is still seeking funds to bring this program to fruition.
Precise Flight to Supply Fixed Oxygen as Standard Equipment on Cirrus Turbo® SR-22 & SE-22 Bend, OR November 9, 2006 Precise Flight announced it has received STC approval for its Fixed Oxygen System for Cirrus Design Corporation's SR-22 aircraft. This
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The media around Martinsburg, W. Va., are chronicling the fortunes of Tiger Aircraft and the implication is that the company can't
last much longer. According to a story in the Martinsburg Journal, the latest nail in the coffin is
that the company owes $115,000 in back taxes. It has, however, paid its lease to the airport through next April for a building that, according to the Journal, houses only two employees at the moment.
The company hasn't shipped any airplanes for at least three months and civic politicians are now pondering the potential demise of the company. "You sense it's coming," noted Bob Crawford, executive
director of the Berkeley County Development Authority. The Journal says a company employee declined comment. A phone message left by AVweb this weekend was not immediately returned. Tiger
Aircraft has revived the Grumman design and, according to General Aviation Manufacturers Association stats, sold three airplanes in the first half of the year. The company laid off most of its staff
earlier this year and an attempt to sell the assets by then-CEO Gene Criss was challenged by company shareholders who said he wasn't authorized to do so. Criss is no longer with the
With some 1,100 hours of flight testing logged, the Epic Dynasty -- the $1.9 million certified version of the
owner-assisted-built Epic LT -- made its first public display last week at AOPA Expo in Palm Springs, Calif. With a high-speed cruise of up to 340 knots and an 1,874-nm NBAA IFR range, Epic said the
single-turboprop pressurized Dynasty is very competitive with very light jets. AVweb had the opportunity to conduct a short demo flight of the Dynasty on Saturday at the show, and the airplane
appears to be a solid performer. As would be expected with a speedy, six-seat cabin-class turboprop, the controls were a little on the heavy side, though no more so than the Beech King Air series. The
airplane exhibited good handling characteristics in our view, and appears on track to meet its projected maximum speed. Transport Canada certification is scheduled for mid-2008, with FAA approval
expected soon afterward. Epic is already delivering $1.2 million experimental versions of the airplane.
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On Thursday, the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico denied Aviace's request for a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit against Eclipse Aviation. In denying Aviace's request, the court
found that "Aviace has not shown a substantial likelihood of prevailing on the merits of any of its claims." The finding concluded, "Therefore, Aviace's Application for Preliminary Injunction must be
Mooney Airplane is launching a multi-city "Lead with Speed" tour this week to show off the Acclaim and Ovation3. The
demo tour tour starts Friday at Flightcraft's facility at Portland International Airport in Oregon and will eventually hit more than a dozen stops by the spring
The Ninety-Nines are seeking donations of aircraft, and even aircraft parts, to preserve its Museum of Women Pilots in Oklahoma City.
Donations made under the "Wings for History" program are fully tax-deductible since all money raised from the sale of donated aircraft goes into a charitable remainder trust
Another lawsuit was filed against Honeywell, as well as ExcelAire and its pilots, in the aftermath of the Brazilian midair between a Gol Airlines 737 and an Embraer Legacy bizjet. It was the second
lawsuit filed in the U.S., and more specifically Florida, since the September accident that killed 154 people, and the first case that names pilots Joe Lepore and Jan Paladino, both of New York, as
The Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership's use of ultralights to lead migrating whooping cranes to Florida is succeeding. Three reintroduced whooping cranes led last year made their first unassisted
migration and arrived in Florida on Nov. 6. The WCEP ultralight-led migration of the "Class of 2006" is currently underway
Chelton Flight Systems received FAA STC approval for its synthetic vision EFIS in the Eurocopter EC 120B helicopter. The STC was developed with Hillsboro Aviation and will be available in a standard
two-screen system with a primary flight display and multifunction flight display. An optional three screen system with one PFD and two MFDs is also available.
AVweb posts audio news on Mondays, plus a new in-depth interview each Friday. In Friday's podcast, you'll find an interview with Cessna chairman, president and CEO Jack Pelton, covering the company's light sport aircraft
and next-generation piston family. And AVweb's podcast index includes interviews with Spectrum Aeronautical chairman Linden Blue, Adam Aircraft chairman Rick
Adam and New Piper CEO Jim Bass. In today's news summary, hear about how the elections will affect the user-fee push; the FAA takes a hard
stand on preserving airports; AOPA Expo sets record attendance in Palm Springs; Foxjet revived after being on the shelf for nearly 30 years; the Aviation Safety Reporting System celebrates 30 years;
and more. Remember: In AVweb's podcasts, you'll hear things you won't find anywhere else.
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WHAT'S NEW FOR NOVEMBER
This month AVweb's survey of the latest products and services for pilots, mechanics and aircraft owners brings you diesel engines for new Skyhawks, glass-cockpit flight training devices, an electric
folding bike and more.
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Columbia Simplifies Buying & Selling All Aircraft Brands
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.
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Come take a wild ride with champion aerobatic pilot Patty Wagstaff in today's "Video of the Week"!
This week's clip was posted on YouTube by user Louie Schwartzberg and brought to our attention by AVweb reader Paul Stambaugh.
(We'll be sending Paul a hat for his troubles and we'll do the same for you, if you point us to an interesting new video that we use here in "VOTW.")
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.)
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
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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
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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 Editor In Chief Chad Trautvetter and Newswriter/Editor Russ Niles (bio).
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a letter to the editor. (Please let us know if your letter is not intended for publication.)
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