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rules governing what is broadly known as air tours are easier than expected on commercial operators and tougher than anticipated on so-called charity flights. The final form of the air tour rule
released Friday is quite a bit different from the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that was released almost three years ago. Among the biggest changes for commercial operators was the continuation of the
so-called 25-mile rule, which allows Part 91 operators to offer sightseeing trips as long as they begin and end at the same airport and don't extend farther than 25 miles from that airport.
"Elimination of this provision would have devastated many small businesses and deprived the public of the all-too-rare opportunity to experience flight in a small general aviation aircraft," said
National Air Transportation Association President Jim Coyne. There's more paperwork ahead for all commercial operators, tougher rules on life preservers and helicopter floats but it all seems like
stuff the existing operators can live with. The biggest changes appear to be in rules governing fund-raising and other not-for-profit flights. Under the final rule, private pilots can continue to fly
a limited number of charity flights each year but they must have at least 500 hours instead of the current 200. According to AOPA's math, that cuts the pool of potential pilots for such events by 22
percent. The FAA's rationale for raising the experience level is that pilots with less than 500 hours have more accidents than those with more experience. But AOPA says that might be because there are
simply more pilots in the 200 to 500-hour category than in others and they have more exposure. The Air Care Alliance, which represents organizations that use volunteer pilots to get people to medical
appointments or other special circumstances, was pleased with the rule on its initial reading. "We are pleased that the FAA, recognizing the noncommercial nature of volunteer pilot operations and the
value of donated flights to help our communities and those in need, saw fit to continue the policies which have governed this activity for so long, and which have worked well," Rol Murrow, president
of the Alliance told AVweb. EAA is also digesting the 107-page document but it likely has some concerns, especially the section that outlaws experimental aircraft from taking part in charity
flights."The regulations spelled out in the 107-page document will affect a significant part of certain flying by EAA and many of its members, including the B-17 tour, Pioneer Airport operations, and
Young Eagles flights," said a posting on EAA's Web site. " Many EAAers also provide "barnstorming" flights that will be affected by the new regulations." Expect more reaction in the coming week.
On Friday, Honda Aircraft fulfilled a promise to build the HondaJet in the U.S. by announcing plans to establish its world
headquarters and aircraft manufacturing plant in Greensboro, N.C. Aircraft division President and CEO Michimasa Funjino said his company will invest $60 million for the new 215,000-sq-ft headquarters
facility and hangar at Piedmont Triad International (PTI) Airport and a further unspecified dollar amount for an adjacent manufacturing plant. Honda said its new home will be finished in November and
promised more details about the production facility's size, scope of operations and construction timetable at a later date. Honda plans to begin delivery of HondaJets to customers in 2010 and has
orders for "more than 100" of the very light jets. "For five years, Greensboro has served as the home of HondaJet, as we have worked to take our dream from the drawing board to the sky," said Fujino.
"As we move steadily toward certification, production and delivery to our customers, I am excited that Greensboro will be home both to our company's world headquarters and the production of HondaJet."
Honda Aircraft's new headquarters will serve as the home for all HondaJet research, product engineering, sales/marketing and service support, and will replace the company's existing 32,000-sq-ft
hangar and office complex already at PTI.
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AOPA says it has learned at least two groups are vying for the assets of Symphony Aircraft. In a release on Friday, AOPA said a
French Canadian group and a group of U.S. investors are both hoping to carry on production of the two-place composite aircraft. AVweb contacted the office of the bankruptcy trustee in Trois Rivieres
but he was away from his office. According to AOPA, neither former CEO Paul Costanzo nor the still-unnamed "lead investor" whose withdrawal from the operation led to the bankruptcy are involved with
either of the investment groups. More details on the bids are expected after a meeting of the creditors on Feb. 24. Symphony was declared bankrupt in late January, about eight months after entering
creditor protection. According to a letter sent to owners by Costanzo, the company went under after the lead investor refused to accept a refinancing plan. Anyone with deposits on aircraft will almost
certainly lose them unless the company is resurrected and the new owners honor them. Liberty Aerospace has offered to honor deposits up to $10,000 by Symphony customers toward the purchase of one of
their two-place touring aircraft.
They do things the old-fashioned way in Bartlesville, Okla. Instead of weaving a complex fabric of tax breaks, lease discounts and other
incentives commonly used to attract industry to a town, the good people of Bartlesville are simply putting cash on the table. For every job created by the new Micco Aircraft plant, the community will cough up $1,000. "They looked at several locations in Oklahoma and they selected Bartlesville," Jim Fram, president of Bartlesville
Development Corp., told the Tulsa World. Micco, which was formerly a project of the Seminole Tribe
in Florida, estimates it will add about 54 people to the payroll over the next three years, so Bartlesville City Council set aside $60,000 to cover the incentive costs. Micco builds the SP26, a
two-place aerobatic aircraft in retractable tailwheel configuration. The plane, which is powered by a Lycoming IO-540 putting out 260 hp, cruises at about 155 knots. Micco is also planning to build
Tecnam light sport aircraft and offer rental and instruction.
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According to a
story in the Chicago Tribune, the air traffic controller on duty at the time of a midair collision near Chicago in February of 2000 admitted in court last week he didnt know precisely where
the two crash airplanes were when he was directing them on approach to Waukegan Airport. Waukegan didnt have radar at the time of the crash, which killed local radio celebrity Bob Collins, his
passenger Herman Luscher and student pilot Sharon Hock in the other plane. Controller Gregory Fowler told the court he should have asked for more precise position reports from both pilots before
clearing Collins to land behind Hock. Collins Moravan (Zlin) Z242 hit Hocks Cessna 172 from behind and both aircraft crashed immediately. The victims families are suing the federal
government, claiming the FAA is responsible for the crash even though Waukegan is a contract tower. In other testimony, Richard Burgess, a former FAA employee who was hired by Collins widow as
an expert witness, told the court that Waukegan should have been equipped with radar. He said nearby Meigs Field had radar installed after a 1997 midair but Waukegan, which was a busier airport, did
not. Radar was installed at Waukegan five months after the Collins crash. Government lawyers alleged that Collins flying ability was impaired by diabetes, even though a doctor whod
examined him a day before the crash found no evidence of visual or cognitive impairment. The government also suggested Burgess has a grudge against the FAA for his treatment as an employee, a
suggestion Burgess denied.
The FAA says air traffic control staffing levels are actually better than they are portrayed in the FAA Administrators Fact Book,
but the National Air Traffic Controllers Association maintains the agency remains far behind in keeping the consoles occupied. An FAA spokesman told GovExec.com that figures in the fact book showing a
net decline of almost 500 controllers in the past three years are wrong. Its actually about 300. In the meantime, according to NATCA, senior controllers are leaving at the rate of about three a
day, many of them members of the retirement bubble that will create a mass exodus of controllers over the next 10 years. And while the FAA insists it has the staffing situation under control, NATCA
disagrees. The union says the figures show the agency isnt able to keep up with vacated positions and that the problem will only get worse. According to the FAA, however, its not just
retirements that are emptying chairs in towers and centers. Of the approximately 10,000 controllers expected to leave in the next eight years, about 3,500 will simply quit, get promoted, be fired or
The pilot of a Cessna 182 that crashed near Delta, Colo., a year ago had smoked pot within three hours of the crash and was
impaired by its effects at the time of the accident, according to an NTSB report that was released in
October and reported last week in Glenwood Springs Post Independent. Pilot Glen Harcourt and passengers
Tim Hackett and Bolling Barton Willse died when the plane hit a power line before crashing in a field. Witnesses said they saw the airplane buzz the ranch that was its intended destination
before clipping the line. Autopsies on the passengers showed neither had any drugs or alcohol in their systems, according to the newspaper. The news added to the grief of Hacketts parents,
Robert and Nancy Hackett. This news has reinitiated our grief and anger over Tims death, the Hacketts said in a prepared statement. No one should lose their life because
someone else chooses to be impaired. The report identified Harcourts marijuana use as a contributing factor to the crash.
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Barnstable Patriot says results of an audit of the finances of Barnstable Airport in Massachusetts could let the air out of a lawsuit by a company challenging the local airport commissions
monopoly on fuel sales. Rectrix Commercial Aviation Services, which opened a $6.5 million FBO at Barnstable in 2005, claims revenues from the government-owned fuel service are being illegally diverted
to other departments outside the airport in violation of the airports grant agreements with the FAA. But the FAAs review of the finances at the airport says that while some forms were
filled out incorrectly, the money is being handled properly. The report, completed Jan. 30, may shatter the foundation of Rectrixs suit. According to the Barnstable Patriot, the Rectrix suit
centered around two forms it claims showed that funds were mishandled, but the FAA auditors disagreed. "We concluded the resulting inaccuracies on the FAA forms did not constitute a misuse of airport
revenue, but a misunderstanding by the airport in completing the two forms," the letter reads. "This was easily corrected with the refiling of the forms." Rectrix has not yet comment on the FAA audit
findings. The case is headed back in court on Wednesday, when city lawyers are expected to move for a dismissal.
Well you never know who your friends are, and the aviation alphabet groups can add the League of Rural Voters to the growing list of
organizations opposed to the Bush administrations plans for reorganizing the FAA. In a statement issued last week, League President Neil Ritchie described GA as the lifeline to rural
communities and says the mix of user fees and tax increases contained in the package will force many operators to ground their light aircraft, reminding the government of just how useful that
fleet can be in times of trouble. "General aviation played a crucial role in efforts to evacuate Hurricane Katrina survivors and continues to play an important role in our preparedness for future
disasters," Ritchie noted. The group is even more irritated about what the plans might do to airline service in the hinterlands. The government's fiscal year 2008 budget proposes to eliminate funding
for the Small Communities Air Service Program, one of two incentive programs aimed at ensuring a base level of airline service in isolated areas. Under that program and the Essential Air Service
Program, the government pays direct subsidies to airlines to provide service on what would normally be money-losing routes. Ritchie said the programs grew out of the need created when airlines were
deregulated and immediately chopped unprofitable routes. Our politicians often say that they recognize the economic importance of our heartland, he said. It is now time for them to
demonstrate that by rejecting this big tax break for the airlines and protecting our rural communities.
The White House has come to the defense of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after she faced a barrage of criticism over her limited
transportation options home to San Francisco. Since shell take over the Oval Office if the president and vice president somehow become incapacitated, the thinking in Washington is that she
should have a secure, nonstop ride home in a military aircraft. Among the military passenger planes that fit that bill is the C-32, a Boeing 757 decked out with 42 business-class seats. Now Pelosi
says shes just as happy to fly commercial, but the administration clearly thinks otherwise. Junior Republicans seized on the perceived wastefulness of her use of a 757 in a display of
legislative fervor that had even White House staff shaking their heads. During debate on a bill about alternative fuels, Republicans proposed an amendment urging that aircraft exactly matching the
description of the C-32 burn domestically produced alternative fuels." Republican Rep. Patrick McHenry noted the converted 757 would spew about 10,000 pounds of greenhouse gases on the trip from
Washington to San Francisco and his colleague Mark Kirk, R-Ill., chimed in that her use of the plane "appears to remove any spending controls from our operations. White House spokesman Tony Snow
had little patience for the shenanigans. "This is a silly story, and I think it's been unfair to the speaker," he told The New York Times.
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Its always best to take your time on a model project, but a British mans admittedly obsessive attention to
detail kept him working on one project for 11 years. And does it ever show. David Glen of Whaddon finished an almost unbelievably faithful one-fifth scale model of a Spitfire Mk I late last year, and
its so good that its on display at the Royal Air Force Museum. In fact, it was an offer from the museum to house the finished model that Glen credits with driving him to finish it when he
was ready to quit from the sheer strain of the effort. Glen worked from scratch, fabricating each part by hand from drawings and photographs obtained at museums. He estimates there are more than
19,000 rivets in the model, all predrilled and set by hand. The instruments are accurate to the point where the needles stand proud of the faces. Placards, engraving and other details are
faithfully reproduced. Glen said hes made some mistakes, which he said experts are sure to point out. He also admits to the odd shortcut made possible by the design of the first generation
Spitfire. For instance, the Mark I had a greenhouse-type canopy rather than a bubble, which Glen said he had no way of reproducing. The wheel covers also saved him the bother of re-creating the wheel
castings. At 58, Glen figures he has one more project left and hes started on a one-fifth scale P-51D, which means he must have figured out bubble canopies.
DAVID GLEN'S 1:35 SPITFIRE MK1 MODEL
CLICK FOR LARGE IMAGES
EACH IMAGE WILL OPEN IN A NEW WINDOW
Any landing you can walk (or swim) away from may be a good one but it seems unlikely that Nor Azlan Yazid's
ditching technique will make it into Malaysian Airlines' procedure book. The 25-year-old student in the airline's training program was on a solo training flight when his Diamond DA40 developed an
unspecified engine problem over water about two nautical miles south of Palau Aman. After radioing distress calls and circling briefly to check his options, the young pilot decided on an unorthodox,
but ultimately successful, course of action. Witnesses told Bernama.com that as the aircraft neared the water,
Yazid managed to get out of the aircraft just as the plane hit. Restaurant owner Abdul Halim Ayob said he spotted the aircraft circling overhead: "I rushed to have a closer look and saw the pilot at
the door of the aircraft as it was coming down but he managed to jump out just before it nose-dived into the water," he told reporters Friday. The DA40 doesn't have a door, but a forward-opening
canopy, so it's unclear just how he got out of the plane. He was picked up, unhurt, by a nearby fisherman. However he did it, the incident was confirmed by Civil Aviation Department (DCA) director Ooi
Chean Ong. "Azlan, who wore a life jacket, was plucked to safety by a fisherman who saw the mishap," he told Bernama.com. The Marine Police were on the scene within minutes of the pilot's distress
call, but Yazid was already aboard the fishing boat. He was taken to hospital for a checkup but released. Recovery efforts are now under way for the aircraft, which is in about 30 feet of water. The
plane is owned by Langkawi-based HM Aerospace Flight School.
A six-year-old Hanford, Calif., girl was the first to take advantage of a partnership between Angel Flight West and iFly, a fractional
ownership group that splits Columbia 350 aircraft. iFly co-founder and Angel Flight member Erik Lindbergh announced last week that iFly will donate 20 hours of flight time per year for each member of
the fractional to Angel Flight West to help people from rural areas get to specialized medical care. Those living in rural areas or needing specialized care that can only be found in a few
locations face a real challenge, Lindbergh said. "The speed, safety, utility and comfort of our aircraft lend themselves well to these types of flights, and our membership is very supportive of
the organization." In the case of the little girl, the flight from Hanford, in central California, to Los Angeles for treatment at the UCLA Medical Center cut travel time by about two-thirds. iFly
member Dean Shold did the inaugural flight and says he is anxious to do more. Angel Flights are a way that we pilots can really provide a valuable service to people who need assistance while
doing something that we love to do fly, he said.
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The FAA turned on seven approach lights at New Bedford Airport last week a week after a fatal crash. There's still more work to do to get all the lights working, but about 1,400 feet is now
All that fancy navigation gear on a Gulfstream 550 was put to the test last week as the pilots decided to do a little modern-day skywriting, which was caught by flight tracking aficionados of
A career Coast Guard pilot is the winner of AOPAs annual airplane sweepstakes. Rocky Lee, whos about to retire after 20 years, has 9,000 hours in his logbook and the refurbished
Cherokee Six fits his retirement plans perfectly
The U.S. Air Forces new Initial Flight Screening center opened in Pueblo, Colo., last week at Doss Aviation. Doss has the flight screening contract and will train about 1,700 pilot
candidates a year on 44 Diamond DA20-C1 and one DA40 aircraft.
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AVweb.com, the worlds best Web site for general aviation news and information, is now even better thanks to a redesigned home page. 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
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Attention, Cessna Owners and Pilots! Join the fastest-growing and best association for Cessna Flyers the Cessna Flyer Association (CFA), since 2004 providing same-day parts locating, faster answers to technical
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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 NBAA's Ed Bolen. And AVweb's podcast index
includes interviews with Open Air's Michael Klein; Air Excursions' Cable Wells; Stephen Brown; NATCA's Paul Rinaldi; 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. In today's news summary, hear about the new air-tour rule, Honda setting up shop in North Carolina, the fight over bankrupt Symphony Aircraft's
intellectual property, ATC staffing levels and more. Remember: In AVweb's podcasts, you'll hear things you won't find anywhere else.
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This week's video is an impressive slideshow of C-141s put together by Mike Novack of C-141 Heaven. The video celebrates the careers of
141s and (according to Mike's blog) was put together after last May's retirement ceremony for one of the last flying specimens.
Set to the music of Johnny Cash's "I've Been Everywhere." (Buy it here.)
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."
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