AVwebFlash - Volume 13, Number 3b

January 18, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Comair Crash Has Wide Implications back to top 

Transcript: Comair Copilot Noted Lack Of Lights

On Wednesday, the NTSB released transcripts and tapes from its investigation of the Aug. 27 Comair CRJ-100 crash in Lexington, Ky., which killed 49 of the 50 on board. Safety board investigators determined that the regional jet took off from the airport's shorter, 3,500-foot Runway 8/26 instead of the intended 7,000-foot Runway 4/22. Transcripts from Flight 5191’s cockpit voice recorder showed that the copilot -- the lone survivor, James Polehinke -- noted that the runway lights were off as the jet sped down the wrong runway. "That is weird with no lights," he said, at 6:06:16 a.m., and Capt. Jeffrey Clay responded, "Yeah." Seconds later, Clay said, "Whoa," then the sound of impact is heard. The Safety Board had no comment or analysis regarding any of the items released. Polehinke, who lost a leg and suffered brain damage in the crash, has told relatives that he remembers nothing from that morning.

Air Safety Concerns Linger

The Comair crash in Lexington, Ky., raised questions about the FAA's dissemination of airport information and its staffing of air traffic control towers. The tower at Blue Grass Airport had only one controller, instead of the required two, on duty that morning. Construction work at the field had changed the regular taxiway and runway layout, but the crew's information was outdated. The FAA last week issued an advisory to airport operators, asking them to disseminate better information about closures and construction. "Air crews may have a hard time keeping up with these changes as they occur," the FAA said. "In many cases, the NOTAM system may be inadequate." [more] The FAA said operators should use computers to create graphic notices on a timely basis, which can be distributed to airport users via a Web site or e-mail.

Schumer, NATCA Say ATC Staffing Inadequate

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said the FAA is not staffing air traffic control facilities in the state adequately. In Albany, for example, there should be 30 full-time controllers, but there are only 26, Schumer told The Associated Press. "It started as a labor dispute, but now it's become a safety issue. The FAA cuts are absurd," he said. FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown told the AP the union's numbers don't reflect actual staffing needs. "We have a staffing plan to put the right number of controllers in the right place at the right time," Brown said. "There may be a few facilities here and there where we have a couple fewer controllers than what we want." On Wednesday, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) said staffing issues in Tulsa, Okla., threaten air safety. Controllers in the TRACON, which the controller group says is already understaffed, now must stay on duty for the busy morning rush hour after working a long overnight shift. Previously, fresh controllers were brought on to start a morning shift before the rush, NATCA said. It claims the scheduling change was made without any input from the facility’s controller workforce.

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News Briefs back to top 

AOPA: San Diego Building A Threat To Air Traffic

Less than a mile from Montgomery Field, a busy GA airport just outside San Diego, developer Sunroad Centrum is moving forward with plans to finish up a 180-foot-tall building that the FAA has deemed a hazard to navigation. That's a bad idea, AOPA said last week. "This is a critical safety issue not only to pilots using the airport, but also to workers in the new office complex," said AOPA Vice President of Airports Bill Dunn. "AOPA is appalled that the developer is blatantly ignoring the FAA's ruling and the city's order to stop working on the building." AOPA has joined the city of San Diego and the California Department of Transportation as a real party of interest in a suit against the developer. A local pilots group, the Community Airfields Association of San Diego, has also joined in the suit. The California Pilots Association said last week that it has been asked to join the suit and intends to do so. The only solution to this issue, AOPA said, is to do away with the top two floors of the building, cutting its height back to the FAA's acceptable 160-foot limit. Montgomery Field is one of the nation's busiest GA airports, with several active flying clubs and flight schools based there.

Raytheon Aircraft Cuts Baron, Bonanza Prices

Raytheon Aircraft Company said on Tuesday it will cut the list prices of its 2007-model Bonanza single-engine airplanes by 14 percent over last year's prices. Beechcraft Baron twins will sell for 12 percent less. Additionally, the cost of popular options such as SkyWatch and Stormscope will be cut by up to 20 percent. The company said it can offer the new prices because of gains in production efficiency and strategic sourcing. The list price for a typically-equipped Bonanza G36 was $667,000 in 2006; this year it will be $574,000, a drop of $93,000. The price of a typically equipped Beechcraft Baron G58 last year was $1,186,000; this year it will be $1,046,000, saving $140,000. This year's models will feature new interiors and sidewalls, Raytheon said, adding about 3 inches of elbow room to the cabin. Raytheon designs, manufactures, markets and supports Hawker and Beechcraft aircraft for the world’s commercial and military markets.

Fly in Ultra-Comfort with LightSPEED Headsets:
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News Briefs back to top 

Columbia Delivered Record Numbers In 2006

Columbia Aircraft, of Bend, Ore., delivered a record 185 aircraft last year, the company said on Wednesday, despite delays certifying the Garmin G1000 glass panel and a summer hailstorm that affected more than 60 aircraft. The aircraft weren't significantly damaged but all had to be refinished. “No doubt, we endured more than our fair share of challenges in the first half of 2006,” said Randy Bolinger, Columbia vice president of marketing. The company's previous record for one year was 114 aircraft delivered, set in 2005. The 2006 total included 146 Columbia 400s and 39 Columbia 350s. The company also said that overall, orders last year were up more than 200 percent over the previous year. “On balance, 2006 turned out to be a very good year,” Bolinger said. “We expect to build on our second-half momentum going into 2007 and set new records for deliveries and sales in 2007.”

FAA Approval For ATG Javelin Requires Trial By Fire

As Aviation Technology Group works toward certification of its 500-knot, $2.795 million Javelin executive jet and military trainer aircraft, the FAA on Monday proposed special conditions regarding the aircraft's internally-mounted turbofans. The FAA believes "applicable [Part 23] airworthiness regulations do not contain adequate or appropriate safety standards" for two turbofans set side by side inside the fuselage and "not in the pilots' field of view." Central to the issue is fire suppression and specifically how one ill-fated engine's malaise (read: violent conflagration) would be isolated from the adjacent engine, fuel lines, a nearby 280-gallon fuel tank and primary structure and systems "passing through or near the engines" that support "critical flight controls." So far, the FAA is suggesting that the Javelin 100 be required to incorporate extinguishing along with fire detection systems and fire isolation. ATG told AVweb it is aware of the special conditions and is working closely with the FAA. "It is not uncommon for jets to have special conditions under Part 23. We don't expect any problems in certifying the Javelin," spokeswoman Sara Newton said. The FAA is seeking comments on the notice of proposed rulemaking by Feb. 7, 2007.

Concorde Fans Hope For Legislative Support

British fans of the Concorde are not giving up in the fight to restore one of the elegant birds to airworthy condition, and they are focusing on the London Olympics of 2012 as an event that deserves to be commemorated with a Concorde fly-by. Last week, they won some support in the British House of Commons when a bill was introduced that would promote the maintenance and preservation of "certain vehicles of cultural value." The legislation, if it passes, would authorize the restoration of a Concorde to airworthy condition for use on ceremonial occasions. Britain's Save Concorde Group is encouraged by support for new legislation. “We welcome this latest attention to Concorde as it not only highlights our thinking that a return to flight is possible, but also continues to keep the subject of Concorde alive nearly 3-1/2 years since the aircraft’s retirement," said Ben Lord, spokesman for the group. "There continues to be no reason why Concorde cannot return to flight in the intended capacity, so with this latest call from politicians, the Government together with British Airways need to start cooperating in order to ensure our target for a flypast in 2012 is met and this plane is not left to languish in museums and on the sides of runways.”

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News Briefs back to top 

Ethics Reform Bill Could Snag Flying Legislators

The newly installed House of Representatives in Washington, D.C., got to work last week, eager to approve a new ethics package during their first hours on the job. But EAA says their proposed law includes a provision that could prevent pilots who serve in Congress from flying their own aircraft. Intended to curb lawmakers from accepting free rides in corporate jets, the language reflects a lack of understanding about how aviation works -- a lack that's all too familiar to most aviators. According to EAA, the ethics legislation states that members of Congress "may not use personal funds, official funds or campaign funds for a flight on a non-government airplane that is not licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration to operate for compensation or hire." But the FAA licenses carriers, not airplanes. The wording would virtually ban travel on any private aircraft. Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., and others who use their own airplanes to travel within their districts want the language fixed, EAA said. Graves flew his 1943 Boeing/Hughes PT-13D Super Stearman biplane to EAA AirVenture last summer and is also an airplane homebuilder. "Many members of Congress, particularly in rural or large areas, rely on airplanes as a primary means of transportation to travel within their districts," he said. "Taking away a member's ability to travel by plane limits their ability to serve their constituents."

Ohio Pilots Targeted In Anti-Terrorism Effort

Aircraft owners who live in Ohio now must sign a declaration stating they are not involved in terrorist activity when they renew their annual aircraft registration. Owners of other vehicles are not required to do this by the state Department of Transportation, only owners of aircraft. AOPA said on Tuesday it is "extremely displeased at this discrimination." The association has asked the state to remove this requirement. "Frankly, it is offensive to Ohio's pilot population to suggest that they are more suspect than people who own boats, trucks, or automobiles," wrote Greg Pecoraro, AOPA vice president of regional affairs, in a letter to the state's department of public safety. "Ohio's aircraft owners and pilots are committed to do their part to support our nation's security." Pecoraro cited pilots' voluntary participation in Airport Watch.

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

FedEx Jet Flying With Anti-Missile System

An anti-missile system is being tested aboard a FedEx MD-10 during its regular cargo flights, Northrop Grumman said this week. The airplane launched on Tuesday from Los Angeles International Airport with the Guardian system installed, starting the operational test and evaluation portion of the program, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The tests will continue through March 2008. The Guardian system uses proven military technology to defend against shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, Northrop Grumman said. The system detects an approaching missile and directs a non-visible, eye-safe laser toward it to disrupt its guidance signals. The DHS program aims to demonstrate the viability, economics and effectiveness of adapting existing military technology to protect commercial aircraft from shoulder-launched missiles. The Associated Press says a government report it obtained last summer concluded the Northrop Grumman prototype didn't meet the reliability standards set by the DHS, and it could be 20 years before every U.S. passenger airplane has anti-missile gear. It’s unclear just who would pay the billions of dollars to equip all 6,800 commercial U.S. airliners.

Pilots Express Concerns About Safety At Indonesian Airline

"Every time you flew, you had to fight with the ground staff and the management about all the regulations you had to violate," Feisal Banser, 30, a former captain for Adam Air, has told The Associated Press. An Adam Air 737 went missing on Jan. 1 with 102 people on board; the wreck has still not been found. In May 2005, a group of 17 pilots jointly resigned from the airline, citing alleged safety concerns, the AP said. The airline is now suing them, saying they violated their contracts and must refund money the airline spent on their training. Banser says he was grounded for a week in 2005 after he refused to fly because he had already flow five takeoffs, the daily limit. When the airline started up four years ago, pilots lined up to sign on. But within months, at least 20 left, citing safety concerns, according to the AP. "I didn't want to wait until I had lost my friends," said Banser, and added that he knew several crew members on the missing jet.

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News In Brief back to top 

On The Fly

A memorial fly-in for William Kershner, the flight instructor and aviation manual author who recently died, will be held at Winchester (Tenn.) Airport on February 17...

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2007 in July will feature the U.S. Air Force's new exhibit, "Heritage to Horizons," celebrating the 60th anniversary of the USAF...

A new $89 million control tower is now open at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix...

Keith Markley has been named chief operating officer of Liberty Aerospace, with responsibility for most of the firm’s domestic operations.

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

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/.

Avidyne TAS600 — Because Two Antennas Are Better than One!
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New On AVweb back to top 

The Savvy Aviator #40


The Savvy Aviator #40: Checking the Dipstick
During preflight, there's a lot more to checking the engine's oil dipstick properly than just noting the level.

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.
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.
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 Mikel Boorom at Maule Air. And AVweb's podcast index includes interviews with Professsional Aviation Maintenance Association president Brian Finnegan; aviation forecaster Richard Aboulafia; NORAD; Bill Lear, Jr.; NATA President Jim Coyne; Eclipse Aviation's Vern Raburn; Honda Aircraft's Jeffrey Smith; and Cirrus Design cofounder and CEO Alan Klapmeier. In Monday's news summary, hear about how the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo drew record crowds and exhibitors, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's planned use of UAVs along the Canadian border, a midair collision that controllers failed to prevent, an upcoming ADS-B mandate and more. Remember: In AVweb's podcasts, you'll hear things you won't find anywhere else.

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Question Of The Week back to top 

Question of the Week: Will Maintenance Concerns Lead You to Upgrade to a Newer Plane?

This Week's Question | Previous Week's Answers


Last week, we revisited the favorite "paper or plastic" question, this time with an eye toward new plastic pilot's licenses in the works from the FAA.

To no one's surprise, 67% of the typically-security-conscious AVweb readership approve of the change — but think the new licenses should include a photo.

You'll find a complete breakdown of reader answers to last week's Question here, and reader comments on the change in Monday's AVmail, here.


Alleged insurance concerns are prompting some maintenance shops to turn away older aircraft (those manufactured more than 18 years ago).  Has this issue influenced you to consider purchasing a newer airplane?

Click here to answer.

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

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.

FBO Of The Week back to top 

FBO Of The Week: Copeca Inc.

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Copeca Inc. at TJBQ in Aquadilla, Puerto Rico.

AVweb reader Tami Bream said the FBO makes you feel right at home.

"We have been flying to Puerto Rico for more than 10 years and always land at Aquadilla Airport (BQN/TJBQ). We never found an FBO there, until now. Copeca is first rate and really knows how to treat GA pilots. Upon our arrival, they met our Bonanza with umbrellas due to the rain. This is a rare event, even in the States when arriving in a single-engine piston. Once we got out, they pushed the plane directly into a hangar so we could unload and stay dry. Their facilities are beautiful and clean, and we felt right at home. They should be recognized for their courteousness and knowing how to really treat GA pilots."

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!

Pictures 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.  ;)


Given the sudden chill many pilots are feeling, it's no surprise that a common theme in this week's submissions is ice — and plenty of it!

medium | large

copyright © Don Parsons
Used with permission

Third Blade?

Frequent "POTW" contributor Don Parsons of St. Peters, Missouri submitted our favorite icy photo this week.  "We had a freezing rain ice storm Friday night," writes Don.  "When it started warming up Sunday morning, the blade warmed up enough for the ice to slide off it.  It was still attached to the spinner, however, leaving this 'ice blade.'"

We've seen some fantastic pictures from Don over the last year or so, and it gives us great pleasure to finally be able to send him an official AVweb baseball cap as this week's "POTW" winner!  Thanks for persisting, Don — and keep sending those photos!

(Picture submissions have slacked off a little in the wake of all these holidays.  If you'd like to give 'em a boost, submit your photos here — and be sure to check out more than a dozen bonus photos in the "POTW" slideshow on AVweb.com.)


medium | large

copyright © Stig Ohlsson
Used with permission

Patty Wagstaff Did It Again!

Well, O.K. — to be perfectly honest, we could probably rename this feature the "Patty Wagstaff Picture of the Week" and not have to repeat ourselves for over a year.  But that doesn't mean we can't ooh and ahh over new Patty photos that find their way into our inbox!  Most all of them make us flinch, and more than a couple make us ask whether or not they've bee turned upside down — but this one, from the incredible Stig Ohlsson of Orlando, Florida, made us grin from ear to ear.


medium | large

copyright © Lee Hogan
Used with permission

Close Quarters

Ron Durr of Albuquerque, New Mexico forced us to choose between a couple of impressive helicopter photos, but we had to choose this one of three Special Operations choppers "refueling over the North Sea."

If you enjoyed these photos, be sure to visit AVweb.com, where there are more than a dozen new photos waiting for you in our "POTW" slideshow!

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 Editors Mary Grady (bio) and Glenn Pew (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.