AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 13, Number 5a

January 29, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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A Nightmare That’s Every Private Pilot’s Dream back to top 

150-Hour Cessna Pilot Helps Out In Continental Emergency

Stephen Brown says he has no intention of abandoning his successful air conditioning business in Albuquerque, but he’s done something most private pilots haven’t. The 47-year-old 182 pilot was asked to take the right seat of a Continental Airlines Boeing 757 after the captain collapsed at the controls (he later died) shortly after takeoff from Houston bound for Puerto Vallarta 10 days ago. Brown, along with his wife and some friends, was among 210 passengers heading on vacation when, less than an hour into the flight, Brown said he knew something was terribly wrong not long after a flight attendant asked if there was a doctor on board. “Anyone who could see up front could see them pulling one of the pilots out of the cockpit,” Brown told AVweb in an exclusive interview. While a doctor, a nurse and a couple of sports medicine specialists performed CPR on the stricken pilot (the cause of his death has not been released yet) another announcement was made asking if there were any licensed pilots on board. It turns out Brown and one of his friends were. “We quickly went up front to see if there was anything we could do to help out,” Brown said.

Click here to hear AVweb's exclusive podcast interview with Stephen Brown about his experience on the Continental flight.

A Strange But Familiar View

After presenting himself to the cabin crew, Stephen Brown was asked to sit in one of the front passenger seats while the right-seat pilot switched sides. He then transitioned from a 182 cockpit to the glass screen spectacle that is a modern airliner’s command post. “Gosh, there’s a lot going on in there compared to a 182,” he said. Brown said the pilot introduced himself as a 28-year veteran of this world. “At that moment I was probably the least nervous person on the plane,” he said. Brown said it was obvious the pilot was more than capable of safely landing the plane himself but the concept of cockpit resource management dictates that two sets of eyes, hands and feet are better than one and, despite his relative lack of experience, he was able to make a contribution. The pilot had Brown handle much of the radio work and other routine chores as he set up for the emergency landing at McAllen, Texas. He set the flaps at the pilot’s direction and also lowered the landing gear. Brown said he believes his help allowed the pilot to “focus a little bit more on flying the plane first” given the emotional impact of having his colleague “collapse on the yoke” beside him. He said he was struck by the professionalism and the obvious effect of rigorous and repetitive training that allowed the pilot to shake off the shock of the incident and concentrate on handling the aircraft. Brown said they broke out of the clouds at 800 feet and he was surprised at how familiar the view on final was to him. The aircraft landed without incident and Brown said he marveled at the professionalism of the whole crew in handling the emergency. Brown and the other passengers continued to Puerto Vallarta with a fresh crew.

Click here to hear AVweb's exclusive podcast interview with Stephen Brown about his experience on the Continental flight.

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Symphony Declares Bankruptcy back to top 

Symphony Aircraft Faces The Music

Symphony Aircraft files for bankruptcy, customers will lose their deposits.

The eleventh-hour balk of a Symphony Aircraft Industries investor has forced the company, which shipped five aircraft in 2006 (all in the first two quarters), to lay off all employees and declare bankruptcy, according to a letter sent Tuesday to dealers by now former President Paul Costanzo. "It was a big shock for the dealers," said Florida dealer Jeff Ermish, who also sells Storm LSAs. Other knowledgeable sources on Thursday told AVweb that the company had told dealers in a Jan. 5 conference call that a plan to secure funding for continued operations and production of the Symphony 160 – a two-seat, fixed-gear, high-wing airplane that sold for roughly $160,000 -- was approved and moving forward. The turn of events is rumored to have been ignited by a late change in the funding plan that would have required a larger investment from a lead investor who on Jan. 19 reviewed that change and pulled out of the deal. Still, some Symphony insiders we spoke with on Thursday remain optimistic about the aircraft's future.

What's Next For The Symphony 160?

The current lead investor could resurrect the company and its airplane.

As for the future of the Symphony 160, "I don't know, specifically," Jeremy Keninger, the company's former national sales director, told AVweb. "I don't think it's the end of the aircraft -- it's a great value at that price point [IFR-equipped for about $165,000]," Keninger said. "It's too bad it didn't work out in Canada," where the company in recent years completed manufacturing facilities. Keninger could not confirm rumblings that the current lead creditor is thinking about resurrecting the company and bringing it to the U.S., where the cost of labor and efficient building practices would likely remain key issues. For aspiring owners with deposits already paid, "they will be treated as unsecured debts of [Symphony]," writes former president Paul Costanzo. "It is extremely unlikely that the proceeds of liquidation will be sufficient to pay the secured creditors, and as such the entirety of these deposit amounts will more than likely be lost." Demand for the design exists, but has been in short supply. Shipment reports published by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association show that Symphony has shipped 45 aircraft since 2002, but without an upward trend or even much consistency. The number is formed from 10 aircraft shipped in 2002, 19 in 2003, one aircraft in 2004, 10 in 2005 and five in 2006.

Liberty Honors Symphony And Tiger Deposits

Symphony Aircraft and Tiger Aircraft customers may be down but they're not necessarily out. Liberty Aerospace, which came on the scene roughly concurrently with the now-bankrupt Symphony and Tiger, is offering to honor the deposits of customers of its former competitor toward the purchase of a Liberty two-place touring aircraft. "The exit of these two companies is a tremendous loss to the aviation community," Keith Markley, chief operating officer of Liberty Aerospace, said in a news release. "Pilots and the rest of the industry have a strong history of working together and our wish is to keep the aviation community flying by delivering to those who still desire a new aircraft." Tiger entered liquidation proceedings on Jan. 16 in West Virginia and, less than a week later, Symphony's main investor pulled the trigger in Quebec. Liberty is offering those who face losing their deposits in the bankruptcies up to $10,000 toward the purchase of a new Liberty, with no additional payments required before delivery. Proof of the deposit will, of course, be required.

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News Briefs back to top 

Superior's New President And (Soon) Certified Engine

Frank Thielert, the CEO of Thielert AG, announced that Kent Abercrombie has been selected as the new president of Superior Air Parts. Abercrombie joined Superior in December of 2000 as the director of finance and was promoted to V.P. of finance in September 2005. Last year Superior experienced 25-percent growth, and further growth is expected since Superior aims to offer the four-cylinder 220-hp angle-head XP400 engine as a certified product, according to the company. Thielert AG, whose diesel engines have won industry acclaim for efficiency serving in the sleek Diamond TwinStar, acquired Superior last spring. The $10 million deal was a "final step along the road into the U.S.-American market for engines and engine components and the expansion of our presence there," according to Thielert. And Abercrombie has "demonstrated exceptional leadership qualities" as "an integral part of the development of the business plan for Superior," said Thielert.

Soccer Squad Under Aerial Surveillance

The British media is buzzing about a covert video and photo surveillance mission that’s worthy of an Ian Fleming novel. But unlike a Fleming book, there’s nothing as paltry as the future of mankind at stake. This plot has shaken and stirred something far more important—soccer (or, as they prefer to call it in Britain, football). According to the Daily Mirror, a highly modified Cessna 172 has been flying over the heavily guarded training complex of Manchester United as the lads practice and set tactics for future matches. United appears to be the team to beat in Britain’s top league and the video and still pictures taken “during the astonishing spying mission could be invaluable to rival clubs,” the newspaper speculated. The blue-on-white Cessna has been spotted at least three times over the practice field, and an “aviation source” told the newspaper it’s no ordinary Skyhawk. The unidentified expert says the plane (G-CBME, registered to Skytrax Aviation) has “a $200,000 engine which operates on jet fuel” that’s quieter so it doesn’t attract as much attention as a conventional engine. It’s also got $100,000 worth of camera gear mounted in the belly, the source said. “It has been deliberately modified so it looks like a little sight-seeing pleasure plane but it is equipped for some of the best surveillance operations in Britain." Reporters followed a man from the plane meeting another man in a van with blacked-out windows where the images were presumably handed over.

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News Briefs back to top 

NTSB: OSU King Air Crash Leaves Legacy Of Safety

An NTSB recommendation resulting from its investigation of a January 2001 King Air crash that killed all aboard -- two crew and eight members of the Oklahoma State University basketball team -- has borne fruit. NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker praised the "admirable work" of the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) and other student athletic organizations as "above and beyond" for the creation of a 64-page "Safety in Student Transportation" guidance manual that has since June been distributed to some 9,200 presidents of colleges and universities, athletics directors and business and risk managers at educational institutions across the country. If officials implement the policies, "We will have gone a long way toward making something good come out of a tragic accident," said Rosenker. Developed by the NCAA in cooperation with the American Council on Education and with the assistance of United Educators Insurance, the publication addresses the NTSB's recommendation to "review athletic team travel policies and develop a model transportation policy." The NTSB has classified the safety recommendation with an evaluation of A-03-1 that identifies it as "Closed -- Exceeds Recommended Action."

Freight Company Blames ATC For Taxiway Collision

The owner of two small cargo aircraft that collided at Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport last Wednesday says both pilots were complying with instructions from the tower. One of the pilots was slightly injured when the Cessna 402 and Beech 99, both owned by Freight Runners Express, came together at the intersection of three taxiways just off the airport’s main runway. "Both aircraft were operating in controlled areas under explicit instructions of air traffic control," Freight Runners said in a statement quoted by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "Neither pilot was notified by [air traffic control] of the impending conflict at the intersection, which would have prevented this accident." The NTSB hasn’t decided whether it will investigate. A propeller on one aircraft pierced the fuel tank of the other, causing a fire, which was doused quickly by the airport fire department. Pilot Jim Kremsreiter, who was taxiing the Cessna, told WTMJ News that he initially thought he had an engine fire. "It wasn't until I was getting off the wing of the airplane that I even realized there was another airplane there,” he told the TV station. “It was just so bright and all I could see was this fire." Kremsreiter, who’s been flying for 48 years, was uninjured. Charley Stephenson, a 37-year veteran who was taxiing the Beech, suffered minor hand, scalp and face burns.

Doc Blue's Emergency Medical Kit — Don't Leave Home Without It!
Do you carry a first-aid kit in your airplane or car? AVweb's Dr. Brent Blue says drugstore first-aid kits are packed with mostly useless stuff. Dr. Blue has assembled a traveling medical kit for dealing with all sorts of medical problems, based on his long experience as an emergency room doctor, frequent traveler, pilot, outdoorsman, and dad. It would cost more than $500 to duplicate this kit, but it's available on sale from Aeromedix for $333. Order by calling (888) 362-7123, or go online.
News Briefs back to top 

NATA Urges LORAN Upgrade

It may not be as flashy or capable as GPS but Long Range Aids to Navigation (LORAN) is almost bulletproof when the going gets tough, and that’s why the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) is urging the federal government to improve it. The feds have asked for opinions on what to do with LORAN, a ground-based system that uses the time difference of low-frequency radio signals between the receiver and ground stations to plot the position of the receiver. Although GPS is now the favored navigational aid for everyone from pilots to hikers, NATA says it’s also vulnerable to disruption from weather and terrorists, while the long waves of RF from LORAN are hard to jam. “LORAN provides a critical back-up should GPS malfunction or become unavailable,” NATA says in its comments to the Department of Transportation. The current version is known as LORAN C. NATA wants the feds to upgrade the system to eLORAN (the “e” is for enhanced) which provides more powerful signals and updated technology. NATA also notes that LORAN receivers are relatively inexpensive. “The result is a dependable navigation system available at a low cost to the user,” NATA says in its comments. If the upgrade isn’t considered feasible, NATA says the existing system should be maintained.

Vietnam’s First Homebuilt Set To Fly?

Vietnam’s flying farmers (well, technically, they haven’t really flown yet) are at it again and this time, according to VietNamNet Bridge, it looks like they might actually put some air between themselves and the ground. As AVweb reported in 2004, Tran Quoc Hai and Le Van Danh from Tay Ninh Province cobbled together a helicopter from salvage parts and a Russian truck engine, and the Vietnam government (perhaps wisely) confiscated it before it they could test fly it properly, although they said at the time they’d hovered it about 18 inches above the ground. Undeterred, the duo started construction on another aircraft, which looks a little like a recycling bin with a rotor, but which they say is much improved over the first one. Now comes word that the country’s prime minister has decided to give his blessing (and you thought the bureaucracy was tough in North America and Europe) to a test flight, provided the ministry of defense and other relevant agencies agree the chopper is airworthy. “This is good news for us. Our flying dream will come true at last. We’ll prepare everything to ensure the test flight will take place as soon as possible,” Tran Quoc Hai told VietNamNet Bridge. Just what Hai and Danh farm to finance their aviation passion isn’t clear but the first aircraft cost them $30,000 and now they say they’ve spent about $20,000 on the second. Just when the first flight will occur is not clear.

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News In Brief back to top 

On The Fly

Martin County, Fla., commissioners are vowing to fight the FAA for control of Witham Field. Commissioners voted to stop accepting federal grants from the agency and launch a lawsuit over the continued use of 460 feet of runway they want to shut down. The FAA has reminded the county that a golf course and YMCA are on airport land that was never approved for dispersal by the agency…

As AVweb reported, a nose baggage door was open on a Cessna Citation that crashed in Van Nuys, Calif., Jan. 12. The NTSB’s preliminary report said witnesses saw the door open and a check of the latch showed it unlocked…

The first flight of a next-generation Marine One helicopter to the White House took place last week with little fanfare. For some reason, the "effects of a new helicopter going on the South Lawn" need to be examined. The new helicopter is a derivative of the Agusta Westland EH-101 and goes into service in 2009…

FAA employees are generally satisfied with their jobs but management still needs to work on communication and recognition of accomplishments. About 72 percent of employees surveyed were very or somewhat satisfied with their jobs, their pay and the knowledge that they are doing something important…

A belt buckle in the shape of a grenade halted flights in Comox, British Columbia, on Saturday after it showed up on a luggage scan. Security officials located the passenger who owned the bag, who assured them it was not about to explode. The buckle was confiscated and the passenger was allowed to board the flight after a stern talking to from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police…

Pilot error has been blamed for the crash of a Predator unmanned aerial vehicle at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada last Aug. 3. An Air Force report quoted in the Air Force Times said the civilian contractor pilot thought he was pushing a button to raise the landing gear but, instead, cut off fuel to the engine…

Pilots test flying a Piper Aztec were forced to put it down on the median of I-75 near Sun City Center, Fla., on Friday after a double engine failure. The engines had just been installed…

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association will honor its finest tonight in Washington with the Archie League Medal of Safety awards. The medals will go to nine controllers (one from each region) who’ve prevented accidents in the line of duty.

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.

AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

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New On AVweb back to top 

The Pilot's Lounge #109


The Pilot's Lounge #109: Please, FAA, Return to Reality on Flying In Ice
Just when you thought it was OK to fly during the winter, the FAA appears to have changed the definition of known icing. AVweb's Rick Durden doesn't like choosing between scud running and getting grounded by FAA inspectors pulling his ticket.

AVmail: Jan. 29, 2007


AVmail: Jan. 29, 2007
Reader mail this week about the Comair crash, ATC staffing, user fees and more.

Welcome To The New Face Of AVweb

AVweb.com, the world’s best Web site for general aviation news and information, is now even better thanks to a redesigned home page that was unveiled this weekend. The revamped home page has more content, easier navigation, a more user-friendly podcast interface and better graphics to complement AVweb's real-time general aviation news, incisive commentary and unparalleled feature reporting.
Avidyne TAS600 — Because Two Antennas Are Better than One!
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AVweb Audio News -- Are You Listening? 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 NATCA's Paul Rinaldi. And AVweb's podcast index includes interviews with AOPA's Kathleen Vascouselos; 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; and Honda Aircraft's Jeffrey Smith. In last Monday'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. In today's special-edition podcast, hear an exclusive interview with Stephen Brown, the private pilot who went from Continental passenger to temporary copilot. Remember: In AVweb's podcasts, you'll hear things you won't find anywhere else.

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FBO Of The Week back to top 

FBO Of The Week: Taylor Aviation of Elizabethtown

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Taylor Aviation of Elizabethtown at KEYF in Elizabethtown, N.C.

AVweb reader Eddie Smith said the FBO is a shining example of Southern hospitality.

"Oscar and Mitch Taylor go beyond the required service. They have Paymaster self-service pumps, but are there to service your aircraft anyway. They just cannot do enough for you. Their fuel prices are extremely low, and I noticed many others landing there – some even going out of their way to return. Enough cannot be said about the service at this facility."

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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Video Of The Week back to top 

Video of the Week: Ultralight Flying over Cambodia with Lee Baer (Kompong Speu International)

Recommend a Video | VOTW Archive

Over the last few months, we've seen quite a few amazing videos from AVweb readers — and if we've learned one thing, it's how tough it can be to stage, shoot, and produce your own video. Sometimes you'll see something from the air that's incredible — but capturing that in a video can be tough. Ultralight pilot Lee Baer seems to have mastered the art is our latest "Video of the Week" clip.

(Originally submitted to YouTube by user leebaer; recommended to us by AVweb reader Dominic Cardy.)

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Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
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. And if we use a video you recommend on AVweb, we'll send out an official AVweb baseball cap as a "thank you."

The Lighter Side Of Flight back to top 

Short Final

The following exchange took place enroute to opening day at Sun 'n' Fun last April:

Bonanza: Jacksonville Center, Bonanza Two Zero Yankee. 11,000.

Center: Bonanza Two Zero Yankee, Roger, Jacksonville altimeter 30.12.

Bonanza: Are you working a lot of traffic to Lakeland this afternoon?

Center: I'll tell you what -- if you fell out of your airplane right now, you'd never hit the ground.

Names Behind The News back to top 

Meet the AVwebFlash Team

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) and Editor In Chief Chad Trautvetter.

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.