AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 13, Number 9b

March 1, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Top News back to top 

A Glimpse Into Cessna's Crystal Ball

Anytime Cessna Chairman, President and CEO Jack Pelton reveals what's on his mind, you can be sure that plenty of people will be paying close attention. Last Friday, he delivered a lengthy speech at the University of Northern Colorado in which he outlined what he sees as the assets and obstacles to growth in the GA industry. Topping the list of obstacles are user fees. Defeating the FAA's proposal is "critical to the future well-being" of the GA industry, Pelton said. If user fees are imposed, "instead of growing to meet the global demand and retaining our national leadership in general aviation, we will retreat and ultimately lose out to Japan, to Brazil, to Canada." Pelton also expressed skepticism that a new air-taxi industry using very light jets will take off anytime soon. "We believe the air-taxi segment will show a gradual growth curve that takes into account the economic realities of ramping up aircraft production, public acceptance of the concept, and the need for a critical mass of aircraft in each region to minimize the expense of deadheading," he said. "We believe the true air-taxi concept will be many years in the making." Pelton also said that the much-talked-about new markets of India and China are still 10 to 15 years away from having the infrastructure needed for GA to blossom. Right now, the international growth opportunities are in Central and South America and Europe, especially Eastern Europe. "Europe would grow much faster were it not for the oppressive user fees, landing fees and overflight fees levied on all aircraft, regardless of how they are used," he said. Pelton also said the most exciting new technology now in the works for GA is synthetic vision. "With such a system, the pilot can navigate mountain passes in darkness or bad weather, and land in fog," he said.

Older Pilots Perform Better, Study Finds

Researchers studying the impact of aging on performance found that older pilots performed better over time than younger pilots, the American Academy of Neurology reported on Monday. The results show that expert knowledge may offset the impact of old age. The report is sure to be warmly embraced by those now lobbying for a change in FAA rules to raise the mandatory retirement age for airline pilots from 60 to 65. "These findings show the advantageous effect of prior experience and specialized expertise on older adults' skilled cognitive performances," said researcher Joy Taylor of the Stanford/VA Aging Clinical Research Center in California. For the study, researchers tested 118 pilots, ages 40 to 69, annually for three years. All pilots were currently flying, had between 300 and 15,000 hours of total flight time and held a current FAA medical certificate. In flight simulators, pilots were tested on communications, traffic avoidance, scanning cockpit instruments to detect emergencies, and executing a visual approach.

The study found that while older pilots initially performed worse than younger pilots, older pilots showed less of a decline over time than younger pilots. The study also found pilots with advanced FAA pilot ratings and certifications showed less performance decline over time, regardless of age. Researchers suggest that pilots with advanced FAA pilot ratings may develop "crystallized intelligence," similar to the way skills are developed by musicians or chess experts, who are able to maintain high performance standards as they age.

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News Briefs back to top 

Embraer's New Jets Making Progress, Going On Tour

The Phenom 100 and Phenom 300 executive-jet programs are moving forward on schedule, Embraer said Tuesday. Final assembly of the Phenom 100 prototype is ready to start within the next few weeks at the company's main plant in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The jet will be powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW617F turbofan engines, which are now being tested and are expected to be certified by the end of this year. First flight of the Phenom 100 very light jet is expected by mid-year, with certification and first deliveries set for mid-2008. The Phenom 300 light-jet program is also advancing on schedule, Embraer said. Mock-ups of both jets are now on tour, with stops scheduled in North America and Australia. The two small jets have already logged more than 350 firm orders in 23 countries, Embraer said. The 2007 Phenom Tour will also visit Europe, Latin America and South Africa. The schedule is available online.

NOAA Working To Improve Winter Storm Forecasts

Pilots depend on accurate weather forecasts, and many of those forecasts originate with NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This week, NOAA is launching an effort to improve the accuracy of forecasts released 24 to 96 hours before a winter storm. A high-altitude Gulfstream IV jet will fly out of Honolulu to acquire atmospheric data from severe winter storms that originate over the Pacific Ocean. The jet will fly extended patterns over the north Pacific and drop meteorological instruments into developing winter cyclones and snowstorms. Data from these instruments will be used in NOAA's most sophisticated forecasting models to improve warnings of severe weather events. "Our NOAA aircraft crew, made up of pilots, flight engineers, meteorologists and electronic technicians, is prepared to fly north of Hawaii on a daily basis as the winter storms intensify over the Pacific. The storms we profile will affect areas from California and the Pacific Northwest to the U.S. East Coast," said Jack Parrish, G-IV program manager and flight director. Two Air Force Reserve WC-130J aircraft will fly missions out of Anchorage, Alaska, through March 12 in conjunction with the NOAA jet. Past experiments have shown that the missions can improve accuracy for individual targeted events by as much as 80 percent.

FOD Blamed For Cracked Windshields At DIA

Although windborne debris was at first dismissed as a cause for the 14 cracked aircraft windshields last week at Denver International Airport, investigators now are saying FOD, or foreign-object debris, was indeed to blame. Microscopic analysis showed fine particles caused pitting that in turn caused cracking, NTSB investigator Jennifer Kaiser told the Denver Post. The runways had been sanded during recent snowstorms, and it's suspected that the winds, gusting up to 48 mph, drove the fine sand particles into the windshields. The fractures affected six passenger jets as they were taking off, seven on the airport surface, and one at 19,000 feet. The NTSB offered no explanation regarding that high-altitude incident. Also unexplained was the apparent lack of damage to any aircraft surfaces other than windscreens. "The only commonality across aircraft type, operator, location, time and phase of flight was the wind and weather," Kaiser told the Post.

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News Briefs back to top 

Earthjet Unearths More Details

If you think you've heard it all when it comes to air-taxi concepts, think again. West Palm Beach, Fla.-based Earthjet is adding its own twist by using a franchise business model for per-seat Part 135 service, in addition to conceptually designing the roughly 14,000-pound light jet to be used by the franchisees. "We believe the franchise model is a very effective way to structure an air-taxi service. Essentially, Earthjet will provide pilot and business training to franchise owners to ensure consistency of service," company President and CEO Dean Rotchin told AVweb. As for the air-taxi aircraft, Earthjet presented a conceptual design package that includes performance data and supplier bids to several "leading" aircraft manufacturers, and two are interested in building the six-seat (in air-taxi configuration) jet. A decision on which company will manufacture the airplane is expected later this year, according to Rotchin. All Earthjet flights will be nonstop, and per-seat fares will be fixed at $375, $675 or $975, depending on the distance. "This allows for simpler and more consistent pricing," Rotchin says. The business plan allows for passenger co-mingling on the market-pair flights, and the company believes that it can break even with an average load of 2.5 passengers per one-way trip. Rotchin says service could start with an "interim" aircraft in 2008, with the Earthjet-designed "ideal" airplane entering the fleet in the 2010 timeframe.

DFW Emergency Handling Redux

According to the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, an ABC News story -- cited in Monday's AVwebFlash -- regarding a controller's emergency handling on Aug. 31 of an American Airlines jetliner at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport "left out huge gaps." NATCA Dallas TRACON representative Mike Conely maintains that it was the "operational supervisor in charge's decision," not that of the controller heard on the tapes, to require the low-on-fuel Boeing 757 to land on Runway 31R instead of the requested Runway 17C. An FAA Quality Assurance Review obtained by AVweb states that the supervisor "advised" the controller to clear the airplane to 31R, which corresponded with the general flow of traffic that day. However, Conely says "advised" is code for "required," insisting that if the controller had issued other instructions to the crew then he would have faced actions for insubordination. "Controllers rely on the supervisor to shut down the airport or runways. Despite the supervisor's bad decision," he said, "the on-duty controllers did everything they could to clear the air to get the American Airlines airplane down safely and quickly. Emergencies always take priority – period." Conely admitted that had the airline crew forced the issue, then the supervisor would have had to stop operations at DFW until the jet landed on whatever runway the crew chose.

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News Briefs back to top 

Flight Instructor Denied Compensation For 9/11 Arrest

A flight instructor who was held in a British prison without bail for five months awaiting extradition to the U.S. on suspicion that he had trained some 9/11 hijackers doesn't qualify for compensation, a British court has ruled. The court said that since the U.S. eventually abandoned its case against Lofti Raissi, he was never "exonerated," and thus the case can't qualify as a "miscarriage of justice." Raissi has said that he and his family were "traumatized" by his time in prison, and he has abandoned his ambition to become an airline pilot. Raissi's lawyer says there was "not a shred of evidence" to support the accusations against his client. "The court's decision allows the home secretary to ignore the part played by those public bodies in ruining my life," Raissi told the BBC News. "I have no choice but to keep my faith in British justice and pray that it won't be too much longer in coming. The reality is that because of my profile of being Algerian, Muslim, Arabic and an airline pilot, I suffered this miscarriage of justice."

Solar Flying Wing Joins Smithsonian Collection

Pathfinder-Plus, a pioneering solar-electric flying wing that set several altitude records, has become the fourth AeroVironment aircraft to land in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution. The flying wing, which spans 121 feet, is now on display in the National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles Airport. Pathfinder-Plus set a world altitude record for propeller-powered aircraft by climbing to more than 80,000 feet in 1998. The technology used in Pathfinder-Plus led to the development of Helios, which holds the current world altitude record for propeller-driven aircraft in level flight of 96,863 feet, set during a flight above Hawaii in 2001. In 2002, Pathfinder-Plus flew several missions above Hawaii to prove that a high-flying, remotely piloted, environmentally friendly solar aircraft could be useful for commercial purposes, such as a relay platform for telecommunications or aerial surveillance of crops. The company's other aircraft that now live in the Smithsonian include the Gossamer Condor, Gossamer Albatross and Solar Challenger. The museum is also home to a flying Pterosaur replica and the Sunraycer solar race car developed by AeroVironment for General Motors. AeroVironment was founded by Paul MacCready and is based in Monrovia, Calif.

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News Briefs back to top 

Australia Testing New Certification Track For Airline Pilots

There's nothing new about ab initio training programs that start flight students off from zero time with the goal of an airline job. But ICAO, the International Civil Aviation Organization, is now developing that track into a completely separate certification path, with a drastic cut in the required flight time to get to the right seat in a passenger jet. Alteon Training, a Boeing subsidiary, announced this week that it's launching a "beta test" of a training program for the ICAO Multi-Crew Pilot License in Brisbane, Australia. "The world's airlines will need more than 17,000 pilots each year for the next 20 years to fill the seats of the airplanes on order," said Marsha Bell, a spokeswoman for Alteon. "The world needs a better training solution for those pilots." The proposed new track has been in the works for several years, and has attracted some concern from the aviation community. The MPL would require just 240 hours of total time, with 70 hours of that in an actual aircraft, and only 10 hours solo. Current rules require at least 1,500 hours total time. Alteon says its competency-based training program prepares pilots effectively and efficiently through increased use of modern simulation and crew-based training. Cadets will fly Diamond DA-40 airplanes and DA-40 Level 5 simulators.

Online Service Keeps Your Logbook Current

Don't waste another minute making "tedious" logbook entries, says fboweb.com. Now, it may be hard to justify calling a two-minute-or-so chore "tedious," but plenty of pilots find their logbooks getting behind, or just give up altogether on keeping them up to date. Fboweb.com will take care of that recordkeeping for you, but with a few caveats. First, it's for IFR flights only, and you have to file the flight plan via the fboweb service, though later versions should make that unnecessary. Also, the system is not foolproof, but an easy double-checking system is built in. You can edit the information after each flight. "This new service is a perfect example of what fboweb.com was designed to do," said Andrew Green, president of aviation data systems, in a news release on Tuesday. "By integrating all of the various services and features offered on the Web site, we alone have the ability to provide this unique and extremely useful tool." The system monitors flight-tracking data and extracts the departure and destination airports, time of departure and arrival, weather conditions, and equipment type used for the flight, then calculates flight times and categories, including day/night flight and landings, instrument approaches, multi- and single-engine flight time, and more. For more details about the system, go to fboweb.com.

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News In Brief back to top 

On The Fly

Piaggio will announce a new jet design by the end of this year, a company official said this week. The jet, currently known as the P-1XX, is expected to sell for $15 million...

Cirrus Design and Jeppesen are teaming to provide a Web-based transition course for Cirrus pilots, the first in a series of courses designed to promote safe flying through lifelong learning...

The Alaska Airmen’s Association is raffling a 2007 Cubcrafters Light Sport Cub valued at $130,000. Tickets are $50 each, and only 6,500 will be sold. For info, contact AAA at (907) 245-1251, (800) 464-7030 or via email at sportcub@alaskaairmen.com...

Approach Systems, a maker of glass-cockpit software for laptops and PDAs, now offers approach charts that will both display and "fly" the approach...

A floatplane landed on a freeway in Oregon and taxied for two miles to find a place to pull over...

Airbus will cut 10,000 jobs an d may sell off three of its plants in Europe...

"Save The Reds" petition urges the U.K. government to retain funding for the Red Arrows, the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, endangered by budget cuts...

Low-flying aerial tours of D-Day beaches in Normandy aboard small twin-engine aircraft are now offered by a British tour operator...

Liberty Aerospace has received Indonesian certification for its XL2, and delivered the first XL2 to Australia.

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 

Across the Pond #1


Across the Pond #1: Dysfunctional EU Family
This week AVweb introduces a new columnist, Liz Moscrop, whose monthly Across the Pond column will explore GA issues in Europe. This month she looks at the challenges of multiple aviation authorities.

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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 LoPresti's R.J. Siegel. And AVweb's podcast index includes interviews with Eclipse Aviation's Vern Raburn; B-29 restoration program manager Cliff Gaston; 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.; and NATA President Jim Coyne. In Monday's newscast, hear about the highlights of Heli-Expo 2007, production problems looming at Eclipse Aviation, lawsuits flying in wake of the Cory Lidle crash, Jacksonville reconsidering its ban on building kit airplanes in garages and more. Remember: In AVweb's podcasts, you'll hear things you won't find anywhere else.

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Question Of The Week back to top 

Question of the Week: What Lies at the Root of Airport Problems?

This Week's Question | Previous Week's Answers


Last week, AVweb asked if the FAA's proposed avgas tax hikes would affect the number of hours you log in the air. Nearly 70 percent said they would fly less and a shocking 18 percent said they'd quit GA flying altogether if the 70-cent per gallon tax took hold.

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


What's the main source of problems at airports?

Click here to tell us what you think.

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.

FBO Of The Week back to top 

FBO Of The Week: Executive Flight Center KMDQ

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Executive Flight Center at KMDQ in Huntsville, Ala.

AVweb reader Breck Hopkins said the personnel at the FBO made his literally messy situation better.

"Executive offered the best and most helpful service I have experienced in 49 years of GA travel. I had a bird strike en route, and though it was frigid and gusty, they cheerfully spent more than a half hour scrubbing the remains off the windshield and wing. We met someone there to look at an airplane, and they offered to put the airplane in a hangar to make the inspection more comfortable, shuttled us back and forth to the hangar and let us use the crew car. The facilities are first rate, too. I will go out of my way to stop at MDQ."

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."


Our intrepid "POTW" editor is on the road today, seeing real airplanes and sunsets instead of sifting through pictures on the computer. Not to worry — he's left behind plenty of eye-popping reader-submitted photos to tide us over, including a handful of holdovers from last week's contest.

Join the Fun: Want to see your photo on AVweb.com? Click here to submit it to our weekly contest. The top winner each week receives and an AVweb baseball cap and the adoration of hundreds of thousands of web surfers!

medium | large

copyright © Bud Struck Photography
Used with permission of Bud Struck

Two-Year-Old Wrench Monkey

Apologies to Bud Struck of Garrison, NY for tilting his photo at such an odd angle — but we had to size it a bit to fit our home page slideshow. (You can see the original, full-size image here.)

Bud writes:

I'm doing an A&P course at the Teterboro School of Aeronautics, and while studying the AC-43.13, my two-year-old son Tomas comes up and starts taking apart (and putting back together) his toy airplane. So I put the book on his lap and took the shot. ... It's only a little bit set up!

A bit — but we'll still send you (and Tomas) a matched set of AVweb caps to keep the sun off your heads.

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Used with permission of Bruce Windom

Waiting for Nightfall

This shot from Bruce Windom of Belle Mead, New Jersey may seem restful, but it's not as easy-going as it might seem. This American Airlines 767 is on the ramp at Rio de Janeiro, readying itself for the all-night trip back to New York's JFK International.

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Used with permission of Jerry E. Doyle

C-17 Work Horse

Jerry E. Doyle of Las Vegas, NV sees us off this week — and reminds us that air show season is just around the corner — with a photo taken at last year's EAA AirVenture.

Remember: You'll find more than a dozen brand-new photos online in the "POTW" slideshow on AVweb's home page!

To enter next week's contest, click 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. ;)

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 Russ Niles (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.