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On Wednesday night, Eclipse Aviation president and CEO Vern Raburn confirmed in a letter to customers that the start-up aircraft
manufacturer and United Airlines have mutually agreed to terminate their training program partnership for Eclipse 500 pilots. This change comes right on the heels of a supplier switch for the very
light jet's Avio avionics system. Raburn advises customers to take the latest news in stride: "We are currently in negotiations with an exceptional new training partner that will deliver on the
Eclipse vision of comprehensive, scenario-based flight training through the curriculum we co-developed with United we are in the final stages of a detailed multi-month selection process [and]
plan to announce our new training partner within the next few weeks."
According to Raburn, the overall curriculum is not expected to change, "but will be enhanced by a partner that has deep
knowledge of general aviation and Part 135 training requirements." Training providers that fit this description include SimCom, FlightSafety International and CAE SimuFlite. In the short term, United
will continue to administer the Eclipse 500 pilot flight skills assessment, including the 767 assessment flight, the Myers Briggs personality test and the single-pilot resource management class. On a
better note, the FAA Flight Standardization Board draft report was released on Feb. 26, allowing Eclipse to start typing pilots. According to Raburn, nine pilots have received Eclipse 500 type ratings
(five from the FAA and four Eclipse instructor pilots) with four more Eclipse instructors slated to complete their type ratings soon.
One week after revealing a divorce from Avidyne, Eclipse Aviation on Monday announced that Innovative Solutions & Support (IS&S), Chelton Flight Systems, Garmin, Honeywell and PS Engineering will be its new partners for the Eclipse 500's improved avionics
system. Dubbed Avio NG (for next generation), the upgraded version of the very light jet's deeply integrated avionics system has been in development "for many months and is scheduled for production
and delivery this summer." A hot-bench Avio NG suite is currently being evaluated, and a test Eclipse 500 will fly with the new system in "about 35 days." Eclipse promises a faster timeline for Avio NG functionality; according to Eclipse, it was Avidyne's failure to deliver functionality on time that caused the
rift between the two companies. Aircraft delivered with the Avidyne avionics will be retrofitted with Avio NG by year-end. The retrofit is expected to take less than 10 days to install. [more]
According to Eclipse, Avio NG delivers significant enhancements, including a fourfold increase in mean time between failure rates for avionics, more robust systems, higher-resolution displays and
more growth capability for future avionics functionality. IS&S will now provide hardware and select software for the Eclipse 500 primary and multifunction displays, while Chelton Flight has been
selected to do the flight management system. Meanwhile, Garmin has been picked for its remote-mounted Mode S transponders; Honeywell for its KTR 2280 Multi Mode Digital Radios, as well as its previous
selection for the RDR 2000 Weather Radar System and optional KGP 560 Terrain Awareness System; and PS Engineering for its PMA500 remote audio control system. Eclipse Aviation president and CEO Vern
Raburn says customers are pleased with the change to Avio NG, adding that production will not be affected by the switch. He expects his company to deliver 402 Eclipse 500s this year (down previously
from about 500 aircraft due to unrelated production problems) and just under 1,000 in 2008. Meanwhile, Eclipse is still working on obtaining a production certificate to deliver aircraft en masse, and
Raburn plans to announce more news on this front in a couple of weeks.
Bolstered by a $50 million infusion of new funding, DayJet said this week it expects to start offering air-taxi jet service in five Florida cities by the end of June. This funding is the
keystone to the operational launch of our Per-Seat, On-Demand jet service, said Ed Iacobucci, president and CEO of DayJet. With the necessary capital now in place, we are just
months away from delivering regional business travelers something they have never had -- accessible and affordable mobility between difficult-to-reach regional destinations. The infusion of cash
means that construction of DayJet's facilities at Tallahassee Regional Airport's Flightline Aviation will begin within the next 30 days, the Tallahassee Democrat reported Wednesday. The on-demand, per-seat operators
reservation system will be online within the next 30 days, and DayJets fleet of Eclipse 500 jets should start arriving about that same time, according to company COO John Staten. Hiring of
pilots and support staff should start next month, Staten said. The company's initial service area will include Lakeland, Boca Raton, Gainesville, Pensacola and Tallahassee, Fla. Eclipse Aviation
spokesman Andrew Broom told the Lakeland Ledger that he's confident the company can
deliver 12 jets to DayJet by June 30.
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The FAA on Wednesday released its updated plan to hire air traffic controllers over the next 10 years. According to the FAA, it will hire and train more than 15,000 controllers over the next decade,
starting with nearly 1,400 new controllers this year. Instead of listing a fixed optimum staffing number for each of the FAA's 314 facilities, as in the past, the new plan provides a range of numbers
to give the agency greater flexibility. "Air traffic levels are very dynamic," said FAA Administrator Marion Blakey. "It is critical that we staff facilities based on actual and forecasted traffic
demands. We are confident that the new controller hires will be able to meet the needs of the future." The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) was quick to dispute the plan. The FAA
is not staffing to match traffic needs, but "simply staffing to budget," said air traffic controller union spokesman Doug Church. That's not what is needed to safely run the National Airspace System,
he said. "The FAA's hiring plan is three years too late in arriving," he added. NATCA President Patrick Forrey will testify tomorrow before the Senate Subcommittee on Aviation and will address these
issues, Church said. During a Wednesday-morning speech, Blakey disputed NATCA's views on controller staffing
Staffers at AOPA have been
sorting through the FAA's funding proposal to figure out exactly what all the proposed changes would cost. They've found that if the FAA gets its way, fliers of piston-engine aircraft would see their
fees increase $100 million per year -- more than triple what they pay today. Fees for turbine-powered GA aircraft would also more than triple, adding up to an extra $868 million per year. The big
winners would be the "legacy" airlines, whose taxes would be cut by more than one-fourth, saving them about $1.7 billion a year. The low-cost airlines would see a 15-percent cut, saving about $286
million per year. "It's no wonder the airlines love this proposal so much," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "Not only would they pay less, they'd have more control over who uses the air traffic
control system, and they'd have the majority vote in setting the fees they charge themselves and others." But isn't there an upside -- when you are forced to fly commercial, those savings will show in
your ticket price, right? Not according to Boyer. "Do you really think the airlines are going to pass that cost savings on to the passenger?" he asks. Under the existing structure, airlines simply
collect the ticket tax from passengers, and send it along to the U.S. Treasury. But under the new proposal, the airline would pay a user fee directly to the government, and there is no incentive or
requirement to pass their savings along to passengers.
The Regional Air Cargo Carriers Association (RACCA) and Helicopter Association International (HAI) recently joined ranks with other
aviation groups to take a stand against the FAA's proposed change to a system funded by user fees. In a statement to members of Congress, RACCA said the proposal
would triple the fuel taxes paid by its members. The group also said the cost of collecting new fees for GA operations and services would be prohibitive. "If implemented, the proposal puts the FAA in
the position of being a tax collector, diluting its mandated focus on aviation safety issues," according to RACCA. Meanwhile, last week at Heli-Expo HAI President Matthew Zuccaro said his organization
is "strenuously opposed" to the FAA's user-fee proposal, charging that the fourfold fuel tax increase and other additional untold fees are "not acceptable." He was most puzzled by "the FAA's math,
where general aviation will pay more but the overall revenue is less." Zuccaro also pointed out that helicopters don't use services at the level of other aircraft; for example, he said helicopters can
use heliports, which have far lower infrastructure and operating costs than airports. Thus, he maintains that helicopter operators would pay a disproportionally larger share under the FAA's proposed
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Epic Aircraft will introduce two new aircraft at the Sun 'n Fun air show
coming up in Florida next month, the company said on Wednesday. One will be a single-engine jet and the other one a prop airplane, but the company won't release other details until Sun 'n Fun. The two
new models should be flying "well before year-end," a company official added. Both new aircraft models, which began as clean-sheet designs in December 2006, will first be sold as experimental kits,
the official said. Epic's existing twin-engine jet and turboprop single are currently going down the certification process, starting with Transport Canada and then the FAA and EASA. CEO Rick Schrameck
said in the news release that both models will continue the company's tradition of "being at the cutting edge, comfortable and fast, while utilizing state-of-the-art technologies."
"We're building the next plane same as the last," Sport-Jet founder Bob Bornhofen told AVweb Tuesday. With the fuselage currently in
construction, that aircraft should be in the air "in 10 or 11 months." The project to produce a $1 million certified four-seat single-engine jet that would cruise at 340 knots at 25,000 feet suffered
a major setback when the original proof-of-concept aircraft on June 22, 2006, crashed after 25 hours of otherwise "virtually flawless"
flight testing. Test pilot James Stewart survived the crash without injury and has stayed on with the project. "We had to convince some financial types that it wasn't the airplane," Bornhofen said,
but while the program could always use more money, funding has been secured to see the build of the second aircraft through to completion. The new aircraft will incorporate the design's originally
intended aluminum wings and further optimize cabin space. (The original proof-of-concept aircraft flew with composite wings due to a problem with a supplier, according to Bornhofen.) "We haven't found
anything that would prohibit the plane from gaining certification," said Bornhofen, who aims to reach that goal in two to three years.
As for the crash, "It was wake vortex -- from our perspective we have a lot of supporting evidence. It's physically impossible for the aircraft to roll that quickly no matter what you do to the
controls." The NTSB has yet to issue a probable cause, and the Safety Board's preliminary report says nothing about wake vortex. Bornhofen said that both wings were flying at the time of the crash and
the flight controls were working properly. "The one flaw we found is the aircraft can't get through a DASH-8 vortex." Bornhofen concluded, "We did what we said we were going to do. We put a plane in
the air, proved it's performance, proved its safety and we're going to go forward."
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Investigators are treating an
airplane crash on Monday as a murder-suicide. Eric Johnson, 47, of Bedford, Ind., a student pilot, rented a single-engine Cessna from his local airport, took his eight-year-old daughter, Emily, with
him, and crashed into the roof of his ex-mother-in-law's house. Nobody in the house was hurt. Johnson and his wife had divorced last year. The Indianapolis Star reported that he had taken the girl on a vacation to Cancun, and was supposed
to drop her off at school Monday morning, where her mother would later pick her up. Instead, he called his ex-wife and said he planned to keep the girl, the ex-wife's mother told reporters. "I've got
her, and you're not going to get her," he reportedly said. The crash scene is close to a small airport. "There's simply no way that pilot could have been anything but aiming," Jim McFarland, a
volunteer paramedic who was among the first on the scene, said in the Chicago Tribune. "There is a field just across the street he could have put down safely. He knew what he was doing."
Investigators recovered the flight data and cockpit voice voice recorders from a Garuda Airlines Boeing 737-400 that
crashed and erupted in flames while landing at Jogyakarta Airport in Indonesia on Wednesday. At least 23 people trapped inside the burning wreckage were killed, while more than 115 others on board
escaped through emergency exits, authorities and witnesses said. Survivors said the narrowbody "shook violently" as it approached the airport at a high rate of speed. The 737 overran the runway and
bounced three times before plowing through a fence and coming to rest in a rice field. The Garuda Airlines crash is the third involving a commercial jetliner in the country in as many months: an Adam
Air Boeing 737 plummeted into the sea on New Year's Day, killing all 102 on board; weeks later a jetliner broke apart on landing, but fortunately there were no casualties.
When the general public thinks about general aviation, we know what they usually think first -- weekend fliers in dangerous little
airplanes, crashing into buildings and making useless noise. But now there is a new icon for GA -- thousands of dangerous little jets, darkening the skies and clogging up already-overloaded airports.
Those concerns were lobbed to FAA chief Marion Blakey on C-SPAN's Sunday-morning "Newsmakers" show this week. "Can the system
handle 5,000 more planes?" asked Alan Levin of USA Today. Blakey said she hopes that very light jets will make good use of smaller airports that now are underutilized. She also explained that
congestion will be relieved by the next-generation air traffic control system now in the works, and argued that her proposed changes in revenue collection are the best way to fund it. After she left,
Levin and Associated Press reporter Leslie Miller noted that Blakey is a "lame duck" -- her term is up later this year -- and said with Democrats now in control in Congress, the FAA's funding proposal
doesn't stand much of a chance. Levin also noted that Blakey's "terrible relations with the air traffic controllers union" won't help her either in dealing with the Democrats.
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Flying helicopters to offshore oil rigs is known around the world as a dangerous undertaking. Weather, heavy loads and rough
seas all create a challenging task for pilots. That task will now be a little easier for pilots in the North Sea, known for stormy weather and strong winds, and home to an active offshore industry
that supports more than 25,000 helicopter flights per year. New technology from Sensis Corp. will enable air traffic services to track
helicopter traffic to and from oil platforms from close to the helicopter deck up to 10,000 feet, covering 25,000 square miles of airspace off the coast of Scotland. The new system will locate and
identify helicopters using sensors placed on oil platforms. "It is a less expensive yet more effective solution than traditional radar," said Marc Viggiano, president of Sensis Air Traffic Systems.
"The system features a low-maintenance design along with the ability to present a clear surveillance picture in any environment. Further, it supports new and emerging technologies such as Automatic
Dependent Surveillance - Broadcast (ADS-B)."
A moose that had been shot with a tranquilizer dart by a wildlife biologist in a hovering helicopter charged the aircraft, damaging the
tail rotor, The Associated Press reported on Monday. "The moose would start to move, and then the helicopter
would back off and try to keep the moose out in the open," Doug Larsen, regional supervisor for the Division of Wildlife Conservation in Anchorage, Alaska, told the AP. The intent was to use the
helicopter to keep the moose out from the water so that it wouldn't drown when the tranquilizer kicked in. But instead of moving away from the helicopter, the moose suddenly charged. The pilot landed
safely. The moose was badly hurt by the spinning rotor, and the biologist euthanized it. "It just had to be one of those quirky circumstances," Larsen said. "Even dealing with bears and goats and
moose and wolves, this is pretty unusual and truly a very unique situation."
A former Canadian defense minister, worried about pollution of the atmosphere by fossil-fuel emissions, has asked governments around the
world to stop hoarding their secret alien technologies and use them to stem global warming. "We need to persuade governments to come clean on what they know," Paul Hellyer, 83, told theOttawa Citizen. "Some of us suspect they know quite a lot, and it might be enough to save our planet if applied quickly enough." Presumably, the advanced technology, gleaned from
captured UFOs, would help airplanes to fly with less pollution, and maybe save money, too. Hellyer has told the press in the past that he believes UFOs are real visitors from other planets, and also
that he believes President Bush wants to send men to the moon so they can build a military base in case aliens threaten the earth.
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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 email@example.com. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.
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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
unparalleled feature reporting.
Merge the Real and Virtual Worlds, and Have Fun Learning
Using ASA's Microsoft® Flight Simulator as a Training Aid book, student pilots can enhance book-learning, review concepts and skills, and prepare for lessons. Certificated pilots
can use the book to complement real-world flying with hours in virtual skies. Flight Instructors will discover new ways to use Flight Simulator as a ground-teaching tool and in pre- and post-flight
Go online for complete
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.
If You Live in One of These States, Mike Busch Is Coming to a Town Near You
Texas, California, Ohio, Maryland, Massachusetts, Georgia, New Mexico, and Oklahoma are states where Mike Busch will be offering his acclaimed Savvy Owner Seminar. In one information-packed
weekend, you will learn how to have a safer, more reliable aircraft while saving thousands on maintenance costs, year after year. For complete details, and to reserve your space,
Last week, AVweb asked our readers, "What is the main source of problems at airports?" The biggest portion of our readership responded with Local government doesn't understand
the airport's role, an answer that accounted for 41% of those who took our poll.
For a complete breakdown of last week's responses,
THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***
On-demand, per-seat air-taxi service on very light jets is expected to start this summer. In your opinion, how successful do you think VLJ air-taxi services will be over the next five years?
(Please send us an e-mail if you have more thoughts on this topic.)
Have an idea for a new QOTW? Send your suggestions to
NOTE: 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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AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Premier Jet at KCRQ in Carlsbad, Calif.
AVweb reader Douglas Roberson said the staff gets what it takes to have a successful FBO.
"When I arrived they gave me the red carpet treatment and parked me right up front and met me when my door opened, with a friendly smile and a welcome. Then the service began: they asked me what I
needed for my overnight, and within a few minutes they had me a hotel room and a ride for me. The next morning they picked me up, without a phone call, at the time I requested. When I arrived, my
aircraft was positioned up front ready to load. They treated me as if I was flying a jet. They get it!! They know with the advent of the very light/personal jets that a lot of their future customers
will be buying jet-A. But in my opinion I believe the staff truly desires to treat there customers the way they themselves would like to be treated."
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."
*** THIS WEEK'S WINNERS ***
Once again, our electronic mailbag is full to
overflowing with reader-submitted photos of planes, airports, pilots,
passengers, gliders, RC gizmos, and pretty much anything else that you
could get off the ground and into the air.
Donald Reid of Bumpass, Virginia has
submitted photos to us before, but this serene (if damp) morning photo
from last year's 10th Annual Virginia Regional EAA Fly-In makes him an
official "POTW" Contest winner. Thanks, Don watch your mailbox
for a hat package in the next few days!
Roy Uchman of Edmonton, Alberta
(Canada) gave this week's winner a run for the cap. In fact, the
competition was so close and Roy submitted so many gorgeous aerial
photos in addition to this one that we're going to send him a cap,
too! (We like to do that kind of thing once in a while.)
(Although this is a good opportunity to remind our submitters:
If you have multiple photos, you really do stand a better chance of
getting into the top spots if you submit only one photo per week.
Otherwise, you're competing against yourself and wedging out photos that
we might be able to run if you send them in later.)
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,
send us an e-mail.
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
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.