AVwebFlash - Volume 13, Number 8b

February 22, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Top News back to top 
Sponsor Announcement

Blakey Stumps For User-Fee Plan

The FAA's new financing proposal may have gotten a cool reception in Congress last week, but that's not daunting FAA Administrator Marion Blakey, who is continuing to push for the plan's acceptance. Speaking before the Royal Aeronautical Society in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Blakey acknowledged that "a bit of a stick fight" greeted the release of her proposed legislation, but said she's convinced that it's on target and needs to get passed. "The people who have never paid a user fee still don't want to," she said. "If you think that a user fee is troublesome, try an air traffic system that's totally gridlocked. When that happens, the argument about who flies most or who pays what isn't going to matter." If Congress fails to enact the legislation by the Sept. 30 deadline "because we were arguing about who picks up the tab, everyone loses," Blakey added. "If you think that the first step is all this represents -- that we have time to burn, that our current system works just fine -- watch what happens when the taxes expire and the [aviation] trust fund dwindles."

Datalink A Step Closer In Europe

Any pilot who's tried to communicate on a busy frequency can appreciate the value of having a datalink option in the cockpit, where controllers can send instructions directly to a computer screen. This week, Europe's airspace system moved a step closer to implementing a universal datalink system, announcing the choice of a contractor to build the infrastructure. The project will be led by a consortium comprising Sita, which is already providing air/ground service to most airlines, and Sofreavia, which provides the hardware. New rules that are expected to be adopted this year will require aircraft that fly in Europe's airspace to be datalink-ready by 2010. The project has estimated that the widespread use of datalink technology will increase airspace capacity about 11 percent within 10 years, while lowering costs.

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News Briefs back to top 

Two New Backcountry Flyers From Expedition Aircraft

A company in Canada is working on a pair of beefy new single-engine backcountry aircraft that should be certified soon. Expedition Aircraft of Toronto said on Wednesday that both of its multi-mission aircraft, the E350 and the E350XC, have already completed 90 percent of the work required to obtain certification. Both aircraft will be powered by a 315-hp Lycoming IO-580 engine and have a rugged design, with four doors and four seats (fifth seat optional). The E350 has tricycle gear while the E350XC is a taildragger, ready for optional tundra tires or skis. Both aircraft will be available for floatplane conversions. The airplanes will be on display at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh this July, the company said. The E350 prototype flew for the first time last October and has accumulated about 100 hours. Cruise speed so far is showing about 160 knots, while useful load will be in the 1,600-pound range. "Expedition E350 and E350XC customers will enjoy the best of both worlds -- an aircraft with excellent cross-country cruising speeds and incredible performance coupled with enough payload and versatility to take your family almost anywhere," said company spokesman Andrew Hamblin. Transport Canada and FAA certification is expected by the third quarter of this year, with production to commence by year-end, the company said. "We are convinced that this will be the aircraft of choice for both seaplane and backcountry pilots," Hamblin said.

Wichita Seeks Returning Veterans For Aviation Jobs

Veterans who are leaving the service are looking for good jobs, and the aviation companies in Wichita have good jobs in need of ready workers. So this week union leaders and company executives jointly launched the "Hire A Hero" project to entice those vets to come to Wichita and start a training program. "We believe that this program that we are launching ... is truly the answer to many of the problems we seek to resolve," Tom Buffenbarger, president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, told The Associated Press. More than 225,000 military personnel leave active duty every year, and unemployment among them is twice as high as the general population, according to hiring consultant Dan Caulfield. "They are going to be trainable, drug-free and eager to take the jobs you are offering," Caulfield told the Wichita group. Hire a Hero is a nationwide program managed by the Armed Forces Support Foundation.

Michigan Company Launches New LSA

Prestige Aircraft last week celebrated the first flight of its first U.S.-built copy of the Storm Rally special-light sport aircraft. The Rally is an Italian design now being manufactured in Jackson, Mich. Prestige began with the idea of importing the airplanes, but soon decided that it would be a better idea to just build them here. The high-wing Rally has the biggest cabin in its class, the company says, with gull-type doors and 300-degree visibility. Prestige already has started production of the Rally and plans to start on a second LSA model, the low-wing Century, next month. A third LSA, the SeaStorm amphibian, will be added in the future, but it will require a redesign to meet the weight restrictions of the U.S. sport-aircraft rules. Prestige Aircraft currently has a staff of 10, but plans to expand quickly. Company spokesman Dale Smith told the local news, "We expect to have 300 people working here in five years, and we'll be building 1,000 planes a year."

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News Briefs back to top 

Airport, Airlines At Odds Over Operating Fees

General-aviation advocates are not the only ones crying foul when it comes to the airlines' ideas about who should pay for what. While AOPA, NBAA and others last week protested the airlines' claim that GA needs to shoulder a bigger share of the expense for the National Airspace System, this week a California airport agency said the airlines are not paying enough for terminal space. Seven airlines that occupy terminals at Los Angeles International Airport have refused to pay their fair share of the operating costs, according to Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), the city agency that operates LAX. "As a result, much-needed airport improvements have not been made," the agency said in a news release on Tuesday. Further, the airlines want to "continue to force LAWA to subsidize their operations at LAX in order to boost their bottom lines," the agency said. "Over the course of more than 100 meetings between airport and airline representatives, the airlines have acknowledged their need to pay their respective shares of [increased operating] costs, but have yet to do so," LAWA said. The seven airlines filed a complaint on Tuesday with the Department of Transportation, saying the "massive" fee hike imposed by LAWA on Feb. 1 forces the airlines to pay as much as 12 times more per square foot than their competitors at other terminals.

Unreported Airplane Wreck -- Accident Or Crime?

A hunter tramping through a Louisiana swamp last week in search of rabbits stumbled onto a wrecked airplane, half-buried in the muck. "The wings are broken off. The plane burned," Harold Schoeffler of Lafayette told The Advocate. "You can see the path of plane parts where it came through the trees." Schoeffler poked around a bit, recorded the GPS coordinates of the site and reported his find to the NTSB. He didn't find any sign of human remains, and estimated the wreck at about 30 years old. It was a white Cessna 180 with pontoon floats, he said, but he couldn't find any registration number or other identifying marks. The NTSB said no lost airplanes had been reported in the area, which led to speculation that the 180 may have been on an illicit mission, perhaps smuggling drugs. Hector Casanova of the NTSB told The Advocate there are no plans for investigators to visit the site, but they will research records of aircraft reported missing in the area. "Normally, when there is a loss of an aircraft, we know about it," he said. If it appears that drug smuggling was involved, the investigation will be turned over to law-enforcement authorities. "If someone was hauling drugs or marijuana and crashed, we don't investigate those," he said. "Those are not accidents; those are crimes."

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News Briefs back to top 

Eclipse Aviation Starts Move To Double Eagle Airport

Eclipse Aviation will build a new 41,585-square-foot, two-story facility at the Double Eagle II Airport, on the west side of Albuquerque, the company said Tuesday. Once it's up and running by the end of this year, the new facility will house about 100 workers in a variety of roles, including training, flight support and administrative support. About half will be existing employees moved from the company's present facility, while the rest will be new hires. Eclipse now operates out of rented facilities at Albuquerque International Sunport, but plans to eventually build a complete campus of its own at the Double Eagle site, where the company owns 150 acres bordering the airport's technology park. Eclipse currently has 54 aircraft in production, and plans to ramp up to 1,000 per year once all of its new facilities are up and running. The Eclipse 500 very light jet was FAA certified late last year.

Cirrus Reports Another Record Year

Cirrus Design on Monday announced that it delivered 721 airplanes last year, a 20-percent jump compared with the previous year. This total includes 565 copies of the SR22, making that model the best-selling single-engine airplane in the world. The world beyond North America seems to be ready for more GA airplanes, and Cirrus has been making the most of that growth potential. "Cirrus has continued to make great strides in opening new international markets; in fact 25 percent of our deliveries were to these markets," said Cirrus spokesman John Bingham. Cirrus also started a new Cirrus Certified program last year, which factory-certifies used airplanes for resale. That program sold 30 airplanes in the last few months of the year. Last year was the fifth year in a row of steady growth for the Duluth, Minn.-based company.

Chicago-Based JA Air Center Announces Expansion Plans
JA Air Center is proud to announce a new 108,000-square-foot facility to be built at Chicagoland's Aurora Airport (KARR). Slated to open in 2008, the $20M expansion project includes hangar space to fit Gulfstream 550-size aircraft, a roomy FBO terminal, rental space for aviation tenants, and a spacious ramp. JA Air Center is a Part 145 Repair Station and also operates the FBO at nearby DeKalb Airport (KDKB). Call (800) 323-5966 or click here for more information.
News Briefs back to top 

Rash Of Cracked Windshields A Mystery

The NTSB has brought in a glass specialist to try to figure out why 14 airplane windshields cracked during an hour-and-a-half at Denver International Airport last Friday afternoon. "We believe it is very remarkable to have this number of events in the same area at the same time," FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer told The Denver Channel. Some of the aircraft were taking off, some were landing and some were parked at various locations on the airfield. Weather at the time was variable, with temperature changes, some snow and high winds gusting over 50 mph, the Denver Post reported. However, no damage was found to airframes, which seems to rule out windborne debris as the culprit. "It's baffling," DIA spokesman Chuck Cannon told The Denver Channel. The cracks affected 22 front and side windshields, which have been removed from the aircraft and will be inspected by NTSB investigators. Nine of the aircraft were operated by SkyWest Airlines, four by Frontier Airlines and one from Great Lakes Airlines.

New Ethics Rules Leave Congressman Grounded

Minnesota is a big, spread-out state, and Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson's district covers 35 counties. He's found his Beech Bonanza beats out any other way to travel, but new ethics rules have left him grounded. "It's a pretty stupid deal," Peterson, 62, told the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune. House officials have said the new rules are intended to limit the use of private jets by members of Congress, but don't apply to members who fly their own airplanes. However, Peterson said the Ethics Committee has a different interpretation, and until it can all be ironed out he can't fly his Bonanza. "They didn't know anything about airplanes, the people who were writing this [new legislation], and they didn't talk to me," Peterson told the newspaper. "I threatened to put in a bill to make it illegal for any member to drive their own car until we got this fixed. And I told Nancy Pelosi that if she didn't get this fixed, I was going to quit and there was going to be a Republican in my place, that if I couldn't fly I wasn't going to do this anymore." The Congressman is getting some local support. A Star-Tribune editorial on Tuesday said, "[This] appears to be a case of common sense gone mad." The editorial says applying the ethics rules to private pilots would significantly handicap rural congressmen, like Peterson, who represent large districts. "Lawmakers who have private pilot licenses are providing a service to their citizens by maximizing their schedules when needed," the editorial concludes.

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News In Brief back to top 

On The Fly

Columbia Aircraft's Web site now offers "white papers" about aircraft systems, explaining some of the complexities for those new to aviation...

"Doc," the B-29 Superfortress being restored in Wichita, was moved out of its hangar this week. It will sit outside until funds can be raised to build a new hangar. (Listen to AVweb's recent podcast about this unique airplane)...

The U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team will honor the 45th anniversary of Project Mercury during an appearance at the World Space Expo, coming up in November at Kennedy Space Center in Florida...

An airline pilot from Minnesota won a $25,000 lottery jackpot two days in a row, playing a different number each time...

FAA Deputy Administrator Bobby Sturgell will serve as acting Chief Operating Officer of the Air Traffic Organization, while the agency seeks to name a successor to Russell Chew...

A television news story explains how the proposed FAA funding changes would affect local charity flights in Ohio…

Satellite radio companies XM and Sirius plan to merge later this year, and say the combined company will offer more data services beyond products such as graphical aviation weather.

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

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/.


In Monday's AVwebFlash, we incorrectly identified the source of a story on the Alaska Capstone program. The story originated with the Alaska Journal of Commerce, not the Business Journal of Alaska as stated. We apologize for any confusion.

Also in Monday's issue, a photo in the lighting story was inadvertently published without permission of copyright owner XeVision. We apologize for the oversight.

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New On AVweb back to top 

Quiz #117


Interactive Quiz #117: Why Make Bad Landings?
Would you rather bounce in a quiz or on real pavement? Let's turn base leg to final to see how well you recognize a bum approach.

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. 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.
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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 Cliff Gaston, manager of a B-29 restoration program. And AVweb's podcast index includes interviews with NBAA's Ed Bolen; Alaska pilot Cable Wells; 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; and Eclipse Aviation's Vern Raburn. In Monday's podcast, AVweb interviews EAA's Earl Lawrence about how the new air-tour rule will affect the Young Eagles program. Remember: In AVweb's podcasts, you'll hear things you won't find anywhere else.

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WingX 2.0 Now Available — With NACO Approach Charts, SmartTaxi™, Online Weather, and Podcasts!
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Question Of The Week back to top 

Question of the Week: Higher Taxes on Avgas, Less Time in the Air?

This Week's Question | Previous Week's Answers


A lot has been said about the coming controller crisis, much of it here on AVweb.  Last week, we asked if our readers have noticed any symptoms of the crisis, such as increased denial of VFR flight-following services or requests for practice approaches.

27% of those who responded confirmed that yes, they had experienced (or heard over their own radios) more denied requests in recent months.  At the other end of the spectrum, more than 50% of you said that you had no personal knowledge of the reduction of either service.

For a complete breakdown of last week's responses, click here.


If the FAA's new funding proposal were enacted, increasing avgas taxes from 17.4¢ to 70.1¢ per gallon, how would it affect your GA flying activity?

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.

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FBO Of The Week back to top 

FBO Of The Week: City of Wauchula

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to City of Wauchula at KCHN in Wauchula, Fla.

AVweb reader Jerry Carbaugh said the personnel at the city-run facility focus on pleasing customers.

"The folks running the FBO are great. They have the lowest fuel cost around and believe in satisfying the customer."

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.  ;)


Holy cow!  AVweb readers overwhelmed us with nearly 200 "Picture of the Week" submissions over the last few days.  After looking at the first hundred photos, we've got more stellar shots that we can possibly size and post before press time, so we may end up saving a few of the best for next week.  (Unless, of course, you decide to deluge us with photos next week, too — which would be a good problem to have!)

There's no time to waste, so let's dive right in!

The Usual Begging:  Even though our fingers hurt from all the cropping and resizing, our appetite for pictures knows no bounds!  Please — keep 'em coming!

medium | large

Used with permission of Terry Bock

My Final Career Flight

Terry Bock of Encinitas, California capped off a 29-year career as a commercial pilot on February 10, arriving at Philadelphia's KPHL underneath rainbows and beautiful skies.  What a send-off!

Twenty-nine years in aviation and taking top "POTW" honors in an incredibly tough week — good show, sir!  With any luck, you're reading this on your Blackberry somewhere on the back nine — but rest assured, there will be a bright, shiny new AVweb cap in your mailbox very soon.


medium | large

copyright © J.C. Systems
Used with permission of Jeff Campbell

Surfing the Southern Alps of New Zealand

Despite the hot competition for this week's top spots, we received more than our share of icy photos over the last seven days.  (We'll pause while you groan.)

Pressed to pick a single favorite, we had to go with this one from Jeff Campbell of Telluride, Colorado, who went all the way to New Zealand's Mt. Cook for his photo, an airspace Jeff describes as "some of the most challenging soaring conditions in the world."


medium | large

copyright © Jennifer Thompson
Used with permission

VFR Not Recommended

"POTW" isn't done with challenging weather yet!  Jennifer Thompson of Selah, Washington writes:

I'm an FAA NAVCOM technician and finally earned my Private Pilot rating.  I got this shot at Mile Post 13, Highway 82, on my way back to the office in Yakima, Washington after performing periodic maintenance on ELN (Ellensburg, WA) VORTAC.

Again:  Big thanks to everyone who contributed to this week's frankly amazing selection.  To see more pictures (as fast as we can load 'em up), visit our "POTW" slideshow on the AVweb home page.

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 

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 Editor Mary Grady (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.