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Tiger Aircraft LLC ended a long and tortured journey to bankruptcy on Tuesday with a formal filing in West Virginia court. And,
based on the company's filing, almost everything (including a valid type certificate) needed to build a sporty airplane based on a proven design could be obtained for what amounts to chump change in
most aerospace endeavors. Tiger's filing says it owes its various creditors about $930,000 while its assets, including parts and tooling, total more than $3.26 million. In 1999 Tiger obtained the type
certificate for the four-place, 180-hp low-wing airplane with the unique sliding canopy and started production in 2001 in Martinsburg, W. Va. The company built only a handful of aircraft and began
laying off staff last year. By November, the company announced its buildings were for sale in a last-ditch attempt to raise capital.
The Tiger Aircraft bankruptcy filing shows that 70 percent of Tiger is owned by three Taiwanese investors. However, the lone
American investor, Teleflex Inc. of Limerick, Pa., also shows up as the company's biggest creditor. According to the filing, Tiger owes Teleflex, which makes parts for the aerospace, marine and
automotive industries, $356,000. Other major creditors include former CEO Gene Criss, who's owed about $150,000 in back wages and benefits, and there's a tax bill of about $115,000. There's a total of
about 100 creditors and they've all been invited to a meeting Feb. 15 to see where things will go from here. According to AOPA, it appears that politics in Taiwan killed the American dream for the
Martinsburg group. The project was apparently abandoned by the Taiwanese investors as a result of political changes in Taiwan.
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On Thursday, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) said statistics published in the FAA's Administrators
Fact Book shows that ATC staffing levels have dropped "to a new low" after a third straight year of decline. This year's decline is defined by the loss of 21 people and represents a slight
negative shift in staffing levels, or a change from 14,227 controllers in 2005 to 14,206 in 2006. That said, in 2003 (the high water mark for staffing) the controller population reached 15,386 -- a
full 7.7% more controllers than we have today. [more] Last year, 734 controllers retired, eclipsing the FAAs projection to Congress by 57 percent, according to NATCA. Rather than
staffing to traffic as the FAA states publicly is its new mission, the agency appears to be following a new policy: staffing to budget, NATCA president Patrick Forrey
stated. "Our greatest challenge today, besides the distraction of the imposed work rules, is maintaining the margin of safety knowing the level of redundancy has been whittled away to its bare
minimum." The FAA did not return repeated calls seeking comment, but the agency's latest Flight Plan performance report claims it is on target for controller hiring and overall staffing.
Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) President Ron Taylor says the controversy over staffing levels at FAA
towers is overshadowing an even bigger problem at the 233 contract towers the agency oversees. Taylor has asked Rep. Tim Mahoney, D-Fla., to call for a congressional investigation of what he says is
chronic understaffing at the contract towers, which typically serve small-to-medium non-hub airports. "In many cases, and at different times, these towers are staffed by only one controller, with no
back up within the facility for any type of emergency, Taylor claimed in a letter to Mahoney. "Staffing at these contract towers needs to be increased to ensure that the margin of safety is not
compromised. While the debate over staffing at the FAA-operated towers centers mainly on the maintenance of mandated staffing levels, Taylor claims that contract towers already have less than
half the number of functional controllers on staff than comparably sized federal towers. "A typical FAA federal facility that runs 100,000 operations a year has on average 10 working controllers,
while on average, the contract towers operate with only four." Taylor also notes that, according to an FAA assessment, contract towers have a better safety record than government towers, but he
doesnt address that apparent incongruity in his letter. The FAA was unavailable for comment over the weekend.
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If its not enough that your family is worried about you, your fellow pilots keep tabs and the whole aviation system
is built around this notion, now your airplane can remind you to fly safely. Cirrus Design has introduced a feature on its Avidyne multifunction display that will invite some introspection along those
lines. Those with revision 6 of the software for the system will get three pages displayed on startup that ask questions Cirrus CEO Alan Klapmeier thinks every pilot should answer before releasing the
brakes. As a Cirrus owner and pilot, I appreciate the friendly reminder to make sure that I am personally prepared to fly myself and my passengers safely to our destination, Klapmeier
said. It was natural to add Risk Assessment Tool as a function of the versatile Avidyne Entegra MFD. Cirrus spokeswoman Kate Dougherty said the display grew out of
Klapmeiers letter to Cirrus owners about safety after three fatal accidents in October. The screens contain sections on limitations, weather, flight planning, passenger briefing, and readiness
to fly and are designed to invite pilots to take stock of their abilities, conditions and other factors that could affect the outcome of the flight. Its also available online to all pilots, regardless of the airplane(s) they fly.
If you thought flying your own aircraft was a way to avoid the scrutiny of the Transportation Safety Administration, think again. While
youll likely be able to keep your shoes on, dont be surprised if a TSA official checks out you and your plane at any of the hundreds of U.S. airports with scheduled airline service.
According to AOPA, the TSA isnt concerned about the toothpaste you carry on your own plane, but it does want to make sure banned items dont get smuggled aboard an airliner. AOPAs Rob
Hackman said its part of a larger effort to ensure contraband is kept off airliners. "While GA access points will be randomly checked with all other points of entry, GA is not being targeted,"
he said. Pilots in Melbourne, Fla., were briefed by a TSA official on the program at a meeting last Thursday. Meanwhile, some lawmakers are saying GA is getting a free ride in the security department, and they want the TSA to give private aircraft more attention. At a Senate committee hearing last week, Sen. Jay
Rockefeller, D-W. Va., contradicted popular belief (and perhaps some of the rules of physics) when he told the hearing that GA aircraft and their occupants should come under about the same level of
scrutiny as commercial aircraft. "We're not taking the lessons of 9/11 seriously," Rockefeller said. "There is nothing written ... that small planes can't do catastrophic damage." He cited the
accident in which New York Yankees' pitcher Cory Lidle's Cirrus SR20 hit a Manhattan apartment building as an example of the "significant damage" a small airplane can do, according to a report in
GovExec.com. What he apparently neglected to mention was that while the crash caused a fire that damaged part of the building, the aircraft actually bounced off and landed in the street.
OK, so hes more capable and perhaps a little more driven than your average nine-year-old (or 39-year-old for that matter), but the
fact remains that Samaj Booker got through several layers of security and came within one flight of reaching his destination of Dallas from his starting point at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
last week. According to an AFP report, Lieutenant David Guttu of the police department in
Bookers new hometown of Lakewood, Wash., described the four-foot-nine, 90-pound Booker as "pretty dedicated, highly motivated and focused" to make it back to Dallas, where his family had moved
from a few months before. The boy managed to convince Southwest Airlines agents that he belonged on a plane to Phoenix, and was allowed to change planes for a flight to San Antonio, where suspicious
agents finally put a stop to his trip. He got past the agents at Sea-Tac by convincing them he was 12 and that his mother was already on board the flight. Since the information matched a ticketless
reservation in the system, he was allowed to board. His identity went unchecked in Phoenix where he walked onto another Southwest aircraft without a ticket for the flight to San Antonio. When he tried
to make the final connection to Dallas, agents discovered he didnt belong there and called police. It wasnt his first attempt to get back to Dallas. The day before the flight, Lakewood
police said he led officers on a high-speed chase in a stolen car, dodging a spike belt and finally stopping when the car had mechanical problems. With his grown-up abilities will likely come grown-up
consequences. Authorities are contemplating a list of federal charges against the boy.
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The flying pilot in the crash of Comair Flight 5191 noted the runway was "weird with no lights" as he rolled the aircraft
down the wrong runway. The cockpit voice recorder transcripts released by the NTSB also show
co-pilot James Polehinke and captain Jefferey Clay talked about their kids and their dogs as they taxied to line up on that runway at the Lexington, Ky., airport (LEX) on the morning of Aug. 27. The
chatter was in violation of an FAA regulation that bans "nonessential cockpit conversation" during taxi, takeoff and landing. The last word recorded was Clay saying "Whoa" just before the Bombardier
regional jet smashed through a fence at the end of 3,500-foot Runway 26, became briefly airborne and crashed in a field, killing 49 people -- everyone on board except Polehinke, who lost a leg and
suffered brain damage. The NTSB documents also identify Christopher Damron as the lone air traffic controller on duty at the time. As had already been widely reported, Damron's solitude was against
FAA regulations. He cleared the aircraft to the correct runway and then turned away to do some paperwork, not watching as the airplane made a wrong turn. The FAA has since corrected the staffing
situation at LEX and other airports, but the NTSB report appears to refocus the investigation on the actions of the pilots. Peter Goelz, a former managing director of the NTSB, told The Associated
Press that while some cockpit chatter is normal, there was more than usual on Flight 5191 and "they will identify this extraneous conversation as a contributing factor." The NTSB also revealed that at
least 16 people survived the crash but died in the subsequent fire.
Despite aggressive action -- including a whole new certificate classification -- to attract
more people to flying, the number of certificated pilots in the U.S. dropped to 597,109, according to year-end preliminary stats released by the FAA. Rather than attract new pilots, the new Sport
Pilot certificate appears to be extending the flying activity of older pilots. The average age of pilots as a whole was 45.6 years while the average of the 939 sport pilot holders was 52.9 years.
AOPAs mentorship program, Project Pilot, is reporting some success in encouraging people to learn to fly and there are plenty of instructors waiting. More than 90,000 pilots, almost one in six,
are instructors. The stats also raise questions about the need or viability of the recreational certificate. Only 242 people have maintained those privileges. By far the biggest segment of pilots is
private certificate holders (236,147) with ATP (144,681) and commercial (130,234) in second and third place. There are 84,866 student pilots and 41,306 with rotor ratings. A total of 37,837 pilots
have glider ratings and 10,511 can fly balloons.
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The Alpha 160A, an adaptation of the French-designed Robin R2160, has been
granted FAA certification, and New Zealand-based Alpha Aviation says theres strong interest in the aerobatic two-seater among flight schools in the U.S. "Our aircraft have already proven to be
of considerable interest to United States aero clubs and flying schools, said Alphas managing director, Richard Sealy. FAA certification will now enable us to actively market and
sell our aircraft in this hugely significant market," he said. Alpha bought the rights to the designs from Apex Aviation in France in 2004 and set up a manufacturing plant in Hamilton, NZ. All the
plans have been translated from French and the design updated. Although only one model is certified in the U.S., the company makes two others, a basic trainer and a touring version of the
FAAs internal newsletter, says the online publication of the report of a committee looking at the
contentious mandatory retirement of airline pilots at age 60 means FAA Administrator Marion Blakey is close to making a decision. And if we're reading between the lines correctly, it would appear
Blakey is prepared to fall in line with other members of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and allow pilots to keep flying until age 65 as long as there's another pilot younger than
60 in the cockpit with them. However, the newsletter says Blakey might need some legislative help to shield the government from a rash of lawsuits that could result from the move. The committee, which
considered 18,000 comments from 5,500 people, recommended that the rule not be applied retroactively, meaning those who reach 60 before it goes into effect will not be allowed to get their jobs back.
The newsletter says that if Blakey lacks the clout, "federal legislation might be required to protect companies and unions from lawsuits that might arise if pilots older than 60 claim age
discrimination or other employment issues." There was no speculation when Blakey might make her move.
Birds may be prettier, but bats have all the moves when it comes to maneuverability and aerodynamic efficiency, according to a study by Brown University researchers. Using sophisticated video gear, the study team found that while
birds can rotate and retract their wings in flight, bats have much more flexibility in the articulating membrane they use for flight and this makes them much more agile. And since agility, flexibility
and efficiency are also great qualities in micro-sized UAVs that are proliferating, the Brown team says there are lessons to be learned from bats. "Bats have unique capabilities," said Kenneth Breuer,
an engineering professor at Brown who did the study with Sharon Swartz, an associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology. "But the goal is not to build something that looks like a bat. We
want to understand bat flight and be able to incorporate some of the features of bat flight into an engineered vehicle." Bat wings are made up of an assortment of articulated joints that allow them to
make the most of the energy they expend in flight. The extraordinary flexibility also allows them to perform aerobatics unique to them, like 180-degree turns in the space of less than half a wingspan.
The researchers used cameras synchronized from four points of view, lasers and an aerosol mist to record and study the animals' aeronautical actions. But theres more at play than scientific
interest and academic advances. The Air Forces Office of Scientific Research funded the project.
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The captain of a Continental Airlines flight suffered a "serious medical condition" and later died Saturday after the aircraft, with 210 people on board, took off from Houston bound for Puerto
Vallarta. The first officer diverted to McAllen-Miller International Airport, where a fresh crew took the holidayers the rest of the way...
In case you missed it on TV, a television news helicopter pilot saved a deer
by using his rotor wash to push it across an ice-covered lake in Oklahoma last week
Gene (Failure is not an option) Kranz will be the honored guest at the Southwest Regional Fly-In in Hondo, Texas, June 1-2. Kranz was the mission control commander who helped guide
the Apollo 13 mission to a safe conclusion
Jet Stream Aviation Products has opened a school for aircraft detailing at Love Field in Dallas. The three-day course at the Jet Stream Aviation Cosmetic Detailing University teaches students
how to safely and effectively clean all parts of a plane
Yingling Aviation customers can now order parts online. The 24-hour service was added earlier this month. Yingling is the worlds largest supplier of Cessna parts
Richard J. Millman has been named president and CEO of Bell Helicopter and Textrons Bell segment. Millman replaces Michael Redenbaugh, who recently resigned. Millman was head of Textron
Systems and has worked for the company for 20 years
A cat survived three weeks in the pressurized hold of a United Airlines plane before being discovered in Denver. Pumpkin was dehydrated and almost starved but is expected to be fine
Citizens of the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Bermuda need passports to enter the U.S. by air starting tomorrow. A drivers license and birth certificate used to be good enough
Unconfirmed reports from Europe say UPS is ready to cancel its A380 order. The order for 10 aircraft is Airbuss last remaining for the freighter version.
Our best stories start with you. If you've heard something that 130,000 pilots might want to know about, tell us. Submit news
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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/.
Columbia Introduces 2007 Models
The 2007 Columbias have arrived. Fresh for this year are new, dynamic paint schemes for both the Columbia 350 and 400, as well as a host of thoughtful and unique features for the
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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. Dont worry -- you'll also continue to receive AVwebFlash every Monday and Thursday.
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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 AOPA's Kathleen Vascouselos. And AVweb's podcast
index includes interviews with Maule Air's Mikel Boorom; 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 today's news summary, hear about Tiger Aircraft's bankruptcy filing, staffing problems at contract control towers, TSA security ramp checks
for GA aircraft, the FAA's imminent decision on the age-60 rule and more. Remember: In AVweb's podcasts, you'll hear things you won't find anywhere else.
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
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AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to LaSill Aviation at KLAW in Lawton, Okla.
AVweb reader Gerrit Paulsen said the facility consistently provides great service.
"I fly in to KLAW several times a month on business and have received top-notch service from the great folks at LaSill Aviation every time. My first experience with LaSill was early last year,
shortly after they opened. I arrived after-hours on a Sunday evening, just as Bill Tipton was climbing into his truck to go home. He cheerfully reopened the FBO, fueled and hangared my Cirrus, and
then insisted on giving me a ride to the hotel rather than calling a taxi and then refused the 'gas money' I offered as thanks. Since then I have come to expect that Bill, Chris Pittman and the
rest of the team at LaSill will anticipate my needs and then make it happen with a smile. On a recent visit when I arrived with the finish on my airplane looking a bit dull, Chris and Bill offered to
wax the plane while I was in town and did a terrific job at a reasonable price. On my visit there last week my Hertz rental car magically appeared planeside, even though I had not made any prior
arrangements to have it delivered from the airline terminal. Fuel is competitively priced as is overnight hangar space."
Don't try this one at home kids midfield landing on a short strip in a Mooney, with no "out" due to the pilot's long landing and tall trees all around the airport. It's too bad we don't
have Smell-O-Vision yet, because you'd actually be able to smell the rubber burn when he locks the brakes to avoid a runway overrun.
(Originally submitted to YouTube by user gsmac1969.)
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. And if we use a video you recommend on AVweb, we'll send out an official AVweb baseball cap as a "thank you."
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 Russ Niles (bio) and Glenn Pew (bio).
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