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Volume 13, Number 7b
February 15, 2007
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Top Newsback to top 
Sponsor Announcement

The FAA's proposed reauthorization legislation, the Next Generation Air Transportation System Financing Reform Act of 2007, revealed Wednesday, claims a new financing structure is necessary for the FAA to build an efficient and safe air transportation system for the future. Airlines and air travelers would pay less, but operators of business and general aviation aircraft would pay more. "Our proposal will make it easier for airports, airlines and controllers to keep pace with the skyrocketing demand for air travel," said FAA Administrator Marion Blakey, in a news release. "With over a billion passengers expected in the air by 2015, we have to act now or risk gridlock in our skies and on our taxiways." Yet the plan shows that under the proposed change to user fees, total revenue for the agency would actually decline. The FAA's data shows that the new proposal would yield $600 million less in FY2008 than the current tax structure and over $900 million less from FY2009 to FY2012, according to Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Ill., chairman of the House Subcommittee on Aviation. More...

The FAA's long-anticipated new funding plan, revealed Wednesday morning, calls for a changeover to user fees, as expected -- but the agency ran into immediate and widespread opposition at a hearing later in the afternoon before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Rep. Vernon Ehlers, R-Mich., called the proposal "dead on arrival." Many on the panel questioned whether the plan would promote safer skies. Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., maintained that it would, ironically, because it would "rid the skies of general aviation aircraft." Along with others on the panel, he questioned the need for drastic hikes in the fuel tax -- from 19 or 21 cents per gallon to 70 cents -- and called the plan "terribly disturbing." Questions were raised about why the change to user fees would apparently result in even less money to support the airspace system, which already is strained and in need of technological upgrades. More...

AOPA President Phil Boyer said he was "very encouraged" by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's reactions to the FAA's proposed reauthorization blueprint. The hearing featured "a lot of blunt, outspoken dialogue," he said, and he expects all 535 members of Congress will closely scrutinize the FAA plan, and consider its effect on their constituents. The general public may have only a vague idea of what GA is, Boyer said, but "the members of Congress get it -- they understand GA." And AOPA plans to talk to all of them, one by one. Ed Bolen, president of the National Business Aviation Association, said it's too early, though, to tell the "overall reaction" of Congress to FAA Administrator Marion Blakey's proposal. More...

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Top Newsback to top 

On Monday, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) unveiled its 2006 summary of shipments and billings in Washington, D.C., and there was good news all around. GA airplane shipments were up across all types to reach 4,042 units, or 12.9 percent more than in 2005, with billings up 24.1 percent to a record of just under $18.793 billion. A record 28.3 percent of shipments landed outside of North America. Though piston aircraft sales jumped 11.6 percent higher than in 2005 and turboprop shipments spun up 11.5 percent, the strongest growth came from the 885 business jets delivered, driven partly by modest fractional growth but largely due to corporate operators who shunned airline security delays and sought door-to-door routing to fill out their fleet to 25,383 aircraft. Interestingly, more aircraft are flying less time overall -- GAMA estimated that flight hours are down 30 percent since their highs of the early 1980s, possibly from ever faster aircraft and more efficient routings. More...

General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) President Pete Bunce emphasized that nearly 30 percent of GA shipments are now exports, and the appetite for aircraft in China, India and Russia will continue to drive revenue. In the meantime, GAMA expects North American air carriers to continue to lose business in small communities in favor of GA, and more corporate operators will seize ongoing advantages in safety, performance, productivity and cost efficiencies. This week, however, the FAA will reveal its complete plan for agency reauthorization and its associated user-fee proposal, and Bunce cautioned that these strong indicators for growth could evaporate if user fees remain a central part, bringing "long-term damage." Bunce has directed GAMA to fight the call by the airlines for user fees based on an aircraft's time in the air traffic control system rather than on its size or its number of departures. "Do we really want to create an IRS within the FAA to collect those fees?" he posed, saying that fuel taxes are a more efficient way to pay. Bunce argued that an FAA budget based on user fees is inherently unstable compared with a regular contribution by the general fund of the treasury, since operations vary with world security, economy and politics. More...

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News Briefsback to top 

Pat Forrey, who took over as the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) president last fall, on Tuesday called for the FAA to return to the bargaining table and work with the controllers to address problems with staffing, hiring and work rules that the union claims threaten air safety. "We're losing controllers at a rate of three per day," he said. "We now have 1,100 fewer controllers than we did in 2003." Further, he noted that more controllers are reaching 20 or 25 years of service, enabling them to retire, and at the same time they are finding fewer and fewer incentives to stay. Under the FAA's imposed "jailhouse work rules," they won't get any raises, Forrey said, and they are being poorly treated. Issues such as having to take vacation time to go out for a cup of coffee, being unable to get time off for family events and vacations, too much overtime and changes in training procedures have all added stress to the job, he maintained. Forrey has been working hard in the halls of Congress to build support for new contract negotiations. More...

"We don't believe we have imposed 'jailhouse' work rules," FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown told AVweb on Tuesday. She also disagreed with NATCA's claims of "inadequate staffing" at facilities around the country. "The 'authorized' number they quote is from a 1998 contract," Brown said. The FAA is working on a new set of numbers to determine appropriate ATC staffing levels based on statistical models, she said, and will release those numbers in March. She added that under the old NATCA contract, the FAA was not able to respond quickly enough to changes in traffic. Events such as the entry or exit of airlines at specific airports can drastically affect traffic very quickly. "Now we can be more flexible" to respond to such changes, she said. More...

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News Briefsback to top 

"Doc" -- the B-29 Super-Fortress that sat in the desert of Mojave for 42 years, was used for missile target practice (but never hit) and has now nearly been rebuilt and restored from the ground up by a team of devoted volunteers -- will face new adversity when it is pushed out of its current home, unfinished and into the winter elements of Wichita, Kan., by week's end. "Boeing has been great, but they need the facility," project spokesman John Shark told AVweb Monday. The Wichita forecast calls for sleet, turning later to snow this week -- not the warmest greeting for a 60-percent restored aircraft if it is, as expected, rolled onto the open-air facility of the Kansas Aviation Museum on Friday. "This is the last B-29 in the world that can be saved and restored to flight," Shark said, which makes it living competition, in both attention and charity, with the only other (sometimes) flying B-29, Fifi. Like Fifi, Doc's primary obstacle is money, but unlike Fifi, Doc doesn't have the recent flight experience to inspire donations. What it does have is new parts, though. " We're going to have a brand-new aircraft," said project manager Cliff Gaston, "It wasn't patched or repaired; it was done new." But for the dream to survive it will need new help, and soon, and two funds are now open to the public. More...

Despite efforts from business owners who wanted to keep Germany's historic Tempelhof Airport open, a court in Berlin this week said it must close by Oct. 31, 2008. The airport was the scene of the post-World War II Berlin Airlift, and it was popular with travelers because of its convenient location near the city center. The court said the closing won't infringe on the rights of the airport's FBOs and caterers because they have plenty of time to move to a new airport, Bloomberg News reported on Monday. The court's decision allows no appeal. More...

When a lovingly crafted Messerschmitt Me 262 replica built in the U.S. was shipped to Germany to fly in an air show last summer, the event stirred up memories -- and they weren't all positive ones. The airplane itself might be an engineering marvel and a joy to fly, but an Austrian journalist, writing for the Jerusalem Post, recalls its dark human history. "Almost all the Me 262s that actually went into service with the Luftwaffe were built in one of the most horrendous concentration camps of the Nazi regime," writes Anshel Pfeffer. "The fact that an unknown number of slave laborers, estimated at between 35,000 and 50,000, were murdered or died of malnutrition, disease, freezing and work accidents while building the Me 262 ... goes unmentioned," he says. More...

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News Briefsback to top 

Linear Air, an air-taxi company based at Hanscom Field, just outside Boston, Mass., is expanding into the Caribbean, and moving forward with its plans to be among the leaders in the very light jet (VLJ) air-taxi market...although so far, it has been operating without any VLJs. While waiting for its first Eclipse jet, now expected in April, the company has been flying Cessna Grand Caravans with luxury interiors. This week, the company announced it has been certified by the French government to offer charter service to the French West Indies, including the island of St. Bart's. The company also has attracted new investors with $2.5 million in funding, for a total of $6 million to fuel its VLJ plans. More...

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are rapidly being developed and deployed, and the FAA on Tuesday published a UAV policy to outline how these aircraft can be used in the National Airspace System. The rules vary depending if the UAV is operated as a public aircraft (operated by the government), a civil aircraft or a model. Public aircraft operate under individual Certificates of Waiver or Authorization (COAs), which are issued after an FAA review of the program and its safety protocols. More than 50 COAs have been granted in the last two years, and a record number are expected for 2007. Civil aircraft must operate under experimental airworthiness certificates. Guidelines for operation of model aircraft are found in FAA Advisory Circular 91-57. Such aircraft may only be used for sport, and not for commercial or business purposes, the FAA notes. More policy statements can be expected as the technology and its applications continue to develop. More...

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News In Briefback to top 

A Bonanza broke up above Savannah, Ga., on Friday, three killed...
ATI is offering Rotax classes for aircraft owners at Sun 'n Fun...
CubCrafters received an FAA production certificate on Monday...
Two Iowa men face charges for harassing deer with an aircraft...
Russell Chew, who's leaving the FAA, will be VP at Hawaiian Air Lines...
Aspen Avionics has a new president and CEO...
JA Air Center will build a new FBO facility at KARR, near Chicago. More...

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. What have you heard? More...

Tired of the High Cost of Fuel? GAMIjectors Are the Answer!
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New On AVwebback to top 



The Savvy Aviator #41: Is Your Equipment List Up-To-Date?
The manufacturer provided an equipment list for your aircraft when it was delivered from the factory. Whenever equipment is added or removed from the aircraft, the FAA requires that list to be revised. Is yours up-to-date?

AVweb.com, the world’s 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 unparalleled feature reporting. More...

HAVE YOU SIGNED UP yet for AVweb's NO-COST weekly 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/. More...

DA40 Diamond Star a Fleet Favorite
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AVweb Audio News -- Are You Listening?back to top 

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 Monday'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.

Brought to you by Bose Corporation. More...

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

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association maintains that ATC services and safety are at risk due to controller staffing issues. Have you recently noticed increased denial of VFR flight-following services or fewer accommodations for practice approaches? Tell us.

PLUS: The landslide results of last week's Question, "Is G.A. paying its fair share in fuel taxes?" More...

Featured AVweb Classified Ad: 1982 Cessna 172P
Said to be "nicest 172 in SoCal"! 810 lbs. with full tanks, portable oxygen, GPS, extra headsets.
For contact information regarding this ad, to view more ads, and to post your no-cost ad, click here.
FBO Of The Weekback to top 


AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to St. Charles Flying Service at K3SQ in St. Charles, Mo.

AVweb reader Nick Ruemker said the FBO helps to make flying fun again.

"St. Charles Flying service is by far my favorite FBO I have experienced. The staff is always striving to go above and beyond to help anyone learn to fly and enjoy flying. It is a small business made of people who enjoy flying and the atmosphere that it brings to a small airport. This FBO is a great place to hang out and do some hangar flying or to just walk in and see who wants to go flying. Their prices are the lowest I have ever seen after flying in the Seattle, Denver/Colorado Springs and St. Louis areas. I would absolutely recommend this FBO to anyone who wants to enjoy the process of learning to fly and enjoy flying afterwards."

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!


Answering 14 Questions Can Help AVweb Serve YOU Better!
AVweb is asking you to take just a few minutes to answer an online survey with only 14 quick questions. The answers to these questions will help AVweb better serve our subscribers' needs and interests. You will not be added to any list or sent unwanted e-mails. Please click here to take the survey.
Pictures Of The Weekback to top 

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."

As much as we love action, adventure, and a cool airplane shape, nothing beats the perfect balance of color and atmosphere — a balance that drove this photo from Cary, North Carolina's Stephen Foster to the top of the stack this week. As this week's "POTW" winner, Stephen will receive a handy (and not-too-bad-looking) AVweb baseball cap in the mail. Plus, his photo will be seen by everyone who wanders past the office this week, since we've made it our new desktop wallpaper. More...

Names Behind The Newsback 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) and Special Correspondent Roger A. Mola.

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.