AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 13, Number 1b

January 4, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
 
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Aging Aircraft Issues Loom back to top 
 

More Pilots Report Maintenance Problems

AVweb's stories (1, 2) on Monday about some maintenance and repair shops turning away work on older airplanes brought in more reports from pilots who have run into similar situations. Readers in Maryland, Texas and Utah said local operators have told them they can no longer work on aircraft over 18 years old due to insurance and liability concerns. Brian Finnegan, president of the Professional Aviation Maintenance Association (PAMA), told AVweb on Wednesday that the 18-year limit on manufacturer liability set by the 1994 General Aviation Revitalization Act (GARA) does raise concerns that the focus of litigation in the case of an accident involving an older aircraft could shift to the maintenance shop. But so far no troubling trends have been noted, he said. "But more and more aircraft are turning 18 years old every year [since GARA], and it could be that at some point a critical mass will be reached," he said.

A Hint Of Things To Come?

The concern is that if enough lawyers in search of "deep pockets" go after maintenance shops, the cost of defending against that trend could put insurers on the defensive. Professional Aviation Maintenance Association President Brian Finnegan said the FAA's Aging Aircraft Committee, of which he's a member, has been carefully monitoring litigation relevant to mechanics and maintenance providers to keep on top of any changes. "I'm not aware of any maintenance being turned away at this point" due to such concerns, he said. Peter Tulupman, a spokesman for aviation insurance company AIG, told AVweb on Wednesday that the company has no policy restricting shops from working on aircraft over a certain age. Stay tuned to AVweb for more on this situation.

AOPA On The Lookout

"AOPA has been following this for a number of months now," spokesman Chris Dancy told AVweb on Wednesday afternoon. "In fact, Phil Boyer had a brief face-to-face meeting with Bill Cutter last August after the story first surfaced. Now that another shop has apparently made the business decision to keep their insurance premiums in check by declining to work on aircraft 18 years old or more, it raises the question of whether these are only a couple of isolated incidents or the beginning of a very disturbing trend." Dancy said AOPA is still investigating the situation. "Is this truly the beginning of a trend? If so, what action is appropriate? Will it require legislation? What type of legislation? All of these questions and others need to be answered before AOPA can take any action." He added that anything that potentially jeopardizes AOPA members' ability to maintain their aircraft is of great concern. "Rest assured, AOPA is working to find the answers and will take action as appropriate to defend our members' ability to maintain and fly their aircraft," Dancy said. He added that the average age of an aircraft in the GA fleet is currently about 35 years, and the FAA forecasts the average age could approach 50 by 2020.

 
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LSA Expo Preview back to top 
 

New Light Sport Aircraft On Display At Expo

The third annual U.S. Sport Aviation Expo will take place next week in Sebring, Fla., from Jan. 11 to 14. The user-friendly event has been growing every year, and this time will host about 70 outdoor booths and another 50 or so exhibitors in tents. "We'll have a number of new aircraft to show this year," event chairman Bob Wood told AVweb on Tuesday. "The Cessna LSA [light-sport aircraft] prototype will be here flying," he said, providing the first public showcase flights of the new aircraft. Cessna confirmed that it will bring its prototype LSA to the event, but the airplane will not be available for visitors to try out unlike most aircraft at the show. "Maule also will be bringing a new LSA that hasn't been seen before, and IndUS will show its new Thorpedo LP model," Wood said.

New LSA Engines, Seminars And Events

Next week's U.S. Sport Aviation Expo aims not just to show off the LSA products but to introduce the masses to the whole concept of sport flying and get them up in the air for a free demo flight. Entrance fees are low, with $40 buying a four-day pass including parking. Fly-ins are welcome, and camping is just $5 a day. Besides lots of LSAs to look at and try out, UL Power-Aero from Belgium and Vulcan both will be introducing new engines at the show, Wood said. EAA staffers provide free seminars about how to choose the right LSA and how to earn a sport pilot certificate. Current aviators can also learn about becoming an LSA instructor or repair technician. And if you've always wondered what it's like to fly a trike, gyro, powered parachute or LSA, the Sebring expo offers a chance to try them all.

 
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News Briefs back to top 
 

Iceland Air Traffic Controllers Protest Privatization

With the new year, the administration of Iceland's air traffic control system shifted to a new public corporation, Flugstodir ohf, and controllers are apparently not happy about the change, which affects salaries and pension funds. About 60 of the controllers said they would resign on Jan. 1, which an Iceland Express official said would have "catastrophic" effects on the aviation system. But the two sides have been in talks since Sunday, trying to resolve the issues. It's unclear whether controllers have walked off the job, but Iceland Review says that since Sunday, air traffic has been managed by a "back-up plan" and there has been no disturbance of flight activity.

AOPA Sets Agenda For 2007

"We must increase the number of student pilots," says AOPA President Phil Boyer, in setting out his priorities for the coming year. "For our own survival, we must grow the pilot population ... [or] general aviation will become here what it is in much of the rest of the world -- something enjoyed only by some businesses and the wealthy few," he said. At one time, there were more than 800,000 active pilots in the U.S., but now this number has dropped below 600,000. To encourage more people to start flying, Boyer is asking all pilots to step forward and mentor a newcomer. He also encourages pilots simply to fly more often, which not only keeps skills sharp, but creates more opportunities to bring passengers aloft and introduce them to the benefits of general aviation. "The greater the pilot numbers, the stronger our voice," says Boyer, and that strength will be needed to fight the user-fee battle in Washington.

 
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News Briefs back to top 
 

Report: 2006 A Safe Year For Aviation

Around the world, 1,292 people died in plane crashes in 2006, according to the Geneva-based Aircraft Crashes Record Office (ACRO). That was the lowest total since 1963, and a drop of 11 percent from the year before. The group keeps track of crashes involving commercial airplanes that seat at least six people, plus the crew. About one-third of the accidents occurred in North America, with 45 accidents in the U.S., according to ACRO, and about three-quarters of the crashes involved piston-powered aircraft. Among airliners, two Airbus jets crashed, five built by Boeing and 16 Antonovs built in the Ukraine. More than 2 billion passengers flew during the year worldwide, according to the Associated Press. And if over a thousand people sounds like a big loss, note that on average about 1.2 million people die every year in car crashes and another 50 million are hurt.

Tower Alert System Cited In Fatal Crash

The "inadequate design and function" of the Minimum Safe Altitude Warning System in an FAA airport tower was cited as a contributing factor by the NTSB in its final report on the fatal crash of a Mitsubishi MU-2B-60 in Colorado in August 2005. The approach controller handed off the flight to the tower when it was about 10 miles out, but the tower controller's radar display issued an aural alarm to warn of terrain conflict only within five miles of the airport. The discrepancy meant the tower controller was not warned until it was too late. The commercial pilot, who was flying cargo, was attempting a precision instrument approach at about 2 a.m. in instrument meteorological conditions when the airplane collided with terrain about four miles short of the runway. The pilot's failure to fly a stabilized approach was cited as the main cause of the crash. The FAA's inadequate procedure for informing controllers about the operating parameters of their system was cited as another contributing factor.

 
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News Briefs back to top 
 

UFO Takes A Look At O'Hare, Retreats

If a spaceship were to travel across the vast emptiness of space, enter Earth's atmosphere, and then find itself hovering above the busy ramp at Chicago's O'Hare Airport, can you blame those astronauts for deciding to just turn around and leave, without even stopping to say hello? According to about a dozen United Air Lines workers, including some pilots, that's just what happened one overcast night in November. The observers said they saw a flying elliptical object, dark gray and about 20 feet across, that hovered about 1,000 feet or so above the airport for several minutes about 4:30 p.m. They told their story to the FAA and the airline, who kept it quiet until a Chicago Tribune reporter got a whiff recently and started asking questions. The FAA at first denied any knowledge of the event, but after the Tribune filed a request for documents a record of a telephone call from a United supervisor surfaced. However, the agency has no intention of investigating. "When the lights shine up into the clouds, sometimes you can see funny things. That's our take on it," said FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory. Meanwhile, France's National Space Studies Center plans to post its own online database of UFO reports soon, maybe by the end of this month, according to Reuters. About 1,600 incidents are in the archive, with some 6,000 reports, including many from airline pilots.

AVweb Fund To Help Rebuild Embry-Riddle Fleet

AVweb has set up a "Rebuild the Fleet Fund" to help Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's Daytona Beach, Fla. campus get back in the air following a direct hit from two devastating F2 tornadoes on Christmas day. University President John Johnson estimates that the Daytona Beach campus suffered between $50 million and $60 million in damage, $11 million of which is from the 40 airplanes that were destroyed and another 10 that were damaged. We've been assured that any donations to Embry-Riddle will be devoted to the flight line, and to help students continue their training. Contributions will be allocated to meet the school's significant insurance deductible, we're told, but also to help defray the cost of flying in leased replacements and to reduce losses by fixing repairable damage. The bottom line is that AVweb wants to support any mission that helps build tomorrow's pilots, so we consider a donation as an investment in the future.

To kick-start the "Rebuild the Fleet Fund," AVweb's parent company, Belvoir Media Group, is contributing $1,000. AVweb subscribers will soon be able to donate online to the fund, but for now those wishing to help can send checks to:

The AVweb Rebuild The Fleet Fund
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Office of Development
600 S. Clyde Morris Blvd.
Daytona Beach, FL 32114
Attn.: Jamie Belongia

 
The 2006 New Piper Mirage Offers Serious Sophistication
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News In Brief back to top 
 

On The Fly

A 737 that went missing in Indonesia on Monday is still unaccounted for, despite earlier reports that the wreckage was found. About 100 people were on board Adam Air Flight 574, which may have gone down in the Java Sea...

Cessna recently received FAA type certification for the Encore+, the latest version of its Encore bizjet that offers more payload, Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionics suite, more standard equipment and new interior styling...

F-16s scrambled to intercept a Maule M-7 that twice wandered into restricted airspace above President Bush's Texas ranch Sunday morning. The pilot landed and was questioned and released by authorities...

Adam Aircraft update: Certification on the A700 jet expected mid- to late 2007, says spokeswoman Shelly Simi...

A horse was killed by an airplane in Romania on Tuesday when a wheel of a 50-seat Saab 2000 twin turboprop hit the horse in the head shortly after takeoff...

Terrafugia, the company developing MIT's flying car design, recently announced it has closed its first round of angel funding and plans to complete a prototype in 2008...

Steven Chealander was sworn in Wednesday as a member of the NTSB. He formerly was a pilot for American Airlines and flew with the Thunderbirds...

David E. Jackson was named CEO of King Schools this week by co-chairmen John and Martha King. Jackson joined King Schools in 1997 and has been a pilot for more than 25 years.

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

Clarification

In Monday's "On The Fly," an item about an Eaglet in Kansas City looking for a new home contained a link to Marty Reichelt's Eaglet Web page. While his airplane is indeed an Eaglet, it is not the specific one mentioned in the item. AVweb apologizes for any confusion this might have caused.
 
If You Live in Florida or Texas, Mike Busch Is Coming to a Town Near You
Mike Busch will be offering his acclaimed Savvy Owner Seminar at Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport (FXE) on February 24-25 and near Dallas/Addison Airport (ADS) on March 3-4. In one information-packed weekend, you will learn how to have a safer, more reliable aircraft while saving thousands on maintenance costs, year after year. For complete details, and to reserve your space, click here.
 
New On AVweb back to top 
 

New Articles and Features

COLUMNS

The Pilot's Lounge #108: For 2007 -- Would You Fly In The Backseat With You?
It's a valid question: Do you trust your flying enough that, if you were with someone else flying that way, you wouldn't be uncomfortable? Honest pilots know they can't stay safe unless they stay current, and Rick Durden's New Year's resolutions reflect that.

FEATURES

2006 Year In Review
Brisk sales, new airplanes, no hurricanes -- despite troubles in the towers, some tragic flights, and worries about the future, overall a pretty good year for general aviation. Here's our year-end review of the news.

AVweb Daily News Coverage

You can now get the latest general aviation news from AVweb -- the world's premier independent aviation news source -- as it happens at AVweb.com. Or sign up for our news feed and have the most recent headlines pushed directly to your RSS-based news reader. Either way, you'll be able to read the same concise, but comprehensive, news stories that you've come to expect from AVweb. And for major breaking general aviation news, AVweb will send out news alerts via e-mail to keep subscribers informed. Don’t worry -- you'll also continue to receive AVwebFlash every Monday and Thursday.
 
DA40 Diamond Star a Fleet Favorite
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AVweb Audio News back to top 
 

AVweb Audio News

AVweb posts audio news on Mondays, plus a new in-depth interview each Friday. In last Friday's podcast, you'll find an interview with aviation forecaster Richard Aboulafia. And AVweb's podcast index includes interviews with NORAD; Bill Lear, Jr.; NATA President Jim Coyne; Eclipse Aviation's Vern Raburn; Honda Aircraft's Jeffrey Smith; Cirrus Design cofounder and CEO Alan Klapmeier; and Cessna chairman, president and CEO Jack Pelton. In Monday's news summary, hear about how two shops in the Southwest are refusing to work on airplanes that are more than 18 years old, the FAA's ban on "commercial" radios endangers safety, the Wright Experience's quest to replicate the Wright Military Flyer, Ballistic Recovery Systems' turnaround year, the FAA's push to roll out ADS-B throughout the entire U.S. and more. Remember: In AVweb's podcasts, you'll hear things you won't find anywhere else.

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AVweb's Business AVflash

HAVE YOU SIGNED UP yet for AVweb's NO-COST twice monthly business newsletter, AVwebBiz? 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. Sign up today at http://www.avweb.com/profile/.

 
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Question Of The Week back to top 
 

Question of the Week: Your Flying Resolutions for '07

This Week's Question | Last Week's Results

PREVIOUS RESULTS ***

Last week, AVweb asked how many of our readers wear hearing aids in the cockpit while flying.  (Er, headsets excepted — if we counted those, as a couple of readers pointed out, they're the one hearing aid we should all be wearing.)

A full two-thirds of respondents answered with a flat no, but the rest of you told us something interesting:  With or without hearing aids, a full 30% of you admitted to having trouble hearing some transmissions in the cockpit.

View the complete breakdown of answers here.

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***

This week, AVweb would like to know whether you plan to do more, the same, or less GA flying in this new year versus 2006.

Click here to answer.


Have an idea for a new QOTW? Send your suggestions to qotw@avweb.com.

NOTE:
This address is only for suggested QOTW questions, and not for QOTW answers or comments.
Use this form to send QOTW comments to our AVmail Editor.

 
If You Have a Calendar Event, AVweb Wants to Hear from You!
AVweb's no-cost Calendar of Events is available to everyone who has an event to post! Remember, over 160,000 subscribers turn to AVweb for their news. Make sure they know about your upcoming event: Post it online!
 
FBO Of The Week back to top 
 

FBO Of The Week: KaiserAir

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to KaiserAir Center at KOAK in Oakland, Calif.

AVweb reader Carl Lindros praised the facility for not just catering to jet clients.

"KaiserAir is the best big-city FBO in the nation. They are friendly, fast and thorough, and they're as nice to the small plane guy as they are to the G5 crew. Their prices are very competitive with other big city airports, and they give free van service to the BART station so you can easily get into San Francisco in less than 45 minutes after you check in. "

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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Picture Of The Week back to top 
 

Picture of the Week

Submit a Photo | Rules | Tips | Questions | Past Winners

Each week, we go through dozens (and sometimes hundreds) of reader-submitted photos and pick the very best to share with you on Thursday mornings.  The top photos are featured on AVweb's home page, and one photo that stands above the others is awarded an AVweb baseball cap as our "Picture of the Week."

Want to see your photos featured?  Submit them here!

A quick note for submitters:  If you've got several photos that you feel are "POTW" material, your best bet is to submit them one-a-week!  That gives your photos a greater chance of seeing print on AVweb, and it makes the selection process a little easier on us, too.  ;)

*** THIS WEEK'S WINNERS ***

medium | large

Used with permission of Michael J. Mercer

Goose Sanctuary

While most of our readers were bundling up and fighting the cold weather last week, Michael J. Mercer of Vienna, Virginia was spending the first days of winter in the Bahamas.  While he didn't have the foresight to invite us along, he did take his camera and submit a handful of gorgeous photos.

By happy circumstance, this particular photo was not only our favorite reader photo this week; it also featured the two motifs that dominated the post-Christmas week of submissions — sunsets and seaplanes.  (You'll find more of both at AVweb's home page during the first week of January.)

Thanks for lifting our spirits, Michael.  May the rest of your trip at Cape Santa Maria be as lovely as the photos!

Oh, and here's one more — just because it makes great wallpaper.

 
AVweb continues to receive a large number of excellent images for our POTW contest. Here are some of the runners-up.  Due to privacy issues, AVweb does not publish e-mail addresses of readers who submit photos.
 

medium | large

Used with permission of John Robbins

Florida Seaplane Hazard

John Robbins checks in from another warm climate (Orlando, Florida) to warn us of a parking hazard peculiar to his neck of the woods — gators!  (Click through to the full-size image and read the sign.)

This photo was taken last spring at Sun 'n Fun — which reminds us:  It won't be long until we're down there checking out the seaplane base for ourselves.  (How time flies!)

 

click for a large-size image

Used with permission of David Rosinsky

Stearman Off into the Sunset

We started with a seaplane, and we'll wrap with a sunset.

David Rosinsky of Las Vegas, Nevada submitted our favorite of many great-looking sunset photos this week.  We'll trickle a few more into the slideshow on the home page, but if you only grab one to use as your desktop wallpaper, this should be it!

Or maybe the windsock sunset from Gary Percy.  Or maybe —

Ohhh, now you see why it's so hard to do this feature every week.  We get entirely too many great photos. (Woe is us.)

Heap more indecision upon us by submitting your photos, then join us here next week for another helping of AVweb reader photos!


Hankering for more reader-submitted photos?  There are a dozen more waiting for you at AVweb.com today!

To enter next week's contest, click here.

A Reminder About Copyrights: Please take a moment to consider the source of your image before submitting to our "Picture of the Week" contest. If you did not take the photo yourself, ask yourself if you are indeed authorized to release publication rights to AVweb. If you're uncertain, consult the POTW Rules or send us an e-mail.

 
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 Contributing Editor Mary Grady (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.

Aviate, navigate, communicate.