AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 13, Number 12a

March 19, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
 
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FAA Forecast Shows Paradoxical Trends

In its annual forecast, the FAA believes a 9.1-percent increase in piston-single shipments for 2006 is evidence that "sales in the low-end of the market" have been stimulated by a selection of new aircraft models (presumably light sport aircraft), though general aviation activity overall declined in 2006. "GA operations at combined FAA and contract towers dropped 3.0 percent in 2006, with declines in both itinerant and local operations." IFR GA flying also fell by 2.3 percent. Meanwhile, the active general aviation fleet is estimated to have increased 0.9 percent to 226,422, with associated flight hours up 2.1 percent even as the pool of student pilots decreased by 2.7 percent. Estimates for GA fuel consumption in 2006 show a rise for the first time since 2003. Changes were made to the FAA's information collection in 2005 and year-to-year changes may be affected by that, but the FAA believes methodological improvements make current estimates superior to past-year estimates. Changes aside, the numbers indicate a consecutive year decline in the student pilot population and the FAA believes attention is needed to address the drop.

GA Leaders Discuss Vital Factors

On Friday morning at the FAA forecast conference in Washington, D.C., AOPA's Randy Kenagy discussed the change in attitude by his association's 410,000 members in its latest survey. Some 66 percent said that the political environment is “not so good,” even when 30 miles from the Bush administration; 80 percent of AOPA members were diverted last year due to a presidential temporary flight restriction (TFR). More than 90 percent would fly less if the FAA wins its proposed hike in fuel tax from 19.4 to 70.1 cents per gallon, while 334,000 AOPA members live “in the shadow” of Class B airspace and are threatened by user fees. Rusty Sachs, executive director of the National Association of Flight Instructors, saw plunging numbers. “I have no doubt there are 89,000 U.S. instructor certificates in wallets and desk drawers, but no more than 12,000 are actively training.” Sachs called the outlook “not rosy” to meet demand in emerging markets like China and India. Robert Olislagers, executive director of Denver’s Centennial Airport, said a quarter of Colorado’s gross domestic product is generated within five miles of Centennial Airport. He spoke anecdotally of a declining vigilance in GA security, such as unattended aircraft with open doors, and surveillance cameras used only for post-incident analysis. Donald Kenney, senior VP of Falcon Insurance Services, had “only good news” about GA insurance, citing three new players in the last 18 months, but he argued that the loss of one major airliner hull and its consequent liability could erase the entire 2006 “book” of $1.6 billion in written premiums. Kenney said recognition by insurers of the solid factory training planned for very light jet (VLJ) pilots would mean an easy assimilation.

VLJ Makers Talk Turkey

At a very light jet panel at the FAA forecast in Washington, D.C., on Friday, Eclipse Aviation Director of Public Relations Andrew Broom swept aside the myth that VLJ pilots were limited to rich dentists. He said that VLJs are easier to fly than twin-engine pistons, and that the Eclipse 500 was efficient at flight levels “in the 20s,” while its cabin fit and finish matched that of the 7-series BMW sedans. Diamond Aircraft Industries President Peter Maurer said his company's D-Jet targeted the 5-series of BMW with its two-plus-three seating. Maurer defied the conference audience to define "VLJ," saying that, other than flying a new generation of turbofans and an advanced glass cockpit, the weight, thrust, number of engines and cost differed, with more variance ahead as VLJ makers challenge both high-end pistons and downscaled business jets. John Knudsen of Adam Aircraft estimated that per-mile seat cost could fall to $3, compared with $2 for airlines, though there is no direct competition, and VLJs would fly only 0.16 percent of the available seat miles in a medium-level forecast. Steve Hines, Cessna’s director of research, said the VLJ business model requires not just lower variable cost but more utilization, and he recalled that in the 1950s 20 percent of GA hours were for air-taxi/charter, but the category slipped to 14 percent in 2005. Embraer Vice President of Market Intelligence Marco Tulio Pellegrini agreed. He said the Embraer Phenom 100 airframe should withstand 15,000 hours in a 10-year cycle, quipping, “You don’t learn VLJ design from books, you learn by serving the airlines.” Pellegrini predicted that a growing “hassle factor” felt by business travelers will drive demand for VLJs.

 
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Suppliers Announced For HondaJet

Honda Aircraft on Thursday disclosed it forged agreements with GKN Aerospace, Avcorp and Garmin as major component suppliers for the HondaJet. GKN's Tallassee, Ala. facility will supply the jet’s composite fuselage structural subassembly; Olathe,Kan.-based Garmin will provide a state-of-the-art avionics system "specifically tailored" for the HondaJet; and Avcorp of Delta, British Columbia, will build the aluminum wing structural subassembly. "We are pleased to be entering into collaboration with some of North America's top aviation industry suppliers, as we continue to focus on developing an innovative aircraft of the absolute highest quality for our customers," said Honda Aircraft President and CEO Michimasa Fujino. On February 9, Honda Aircraft announced plans to establish its world headquarters and jet production plant in Greensboro, N.C. The company’s 215,000-sq-ft headquarters will be the center of all HondaJet activity, including type certification; sales, marketing and service support activity; and continued research and development activities. The adjacent HACI production facility will handle production of the HondaJet, including final assembly of all structural components and parts; aircraft system assembly and installation; completion of the interior; and painting. Deliveries of the HondaJet are slated to begin in 2010.

Changes Proposed For Europe's Aviation Safety Org

The European Parliament has included in a draft law a measure to expand the powers of the Germany-based European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and work toward uniform safety standards across Europe. The plan would allow EASA more precise power by allowing EASA to impose fines for carriers that break safety rules and function in a capacity that's more similar to the FAA by overseeing air operations, pilot licensing and non-EU airlines flying into Europe. Specific to the fines, the proposal stipulates that they be deducted from EASA's annual budget so they are not used to boost that budget. To increase EASA's revenue from certification-related work, the EU plans to change the fee system so that larger manufacturers pay a larger share.

Boeing 747-400 Officially Out Of Production

With the stroke of a pen, the production life of the Boeing 747-400 passenger jet came to an abrupt end last week, but it’s hardly the end of the line for the aircraft family that started the jumbo movement in 1969. According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Boeing technically had four more -400s to build but it appears Philippine Airlines changed its order and asked for 777s instead. That brought the 747-400 line symbolically to an end (about 450 were delivered), but there are dozens and perhaps hundreds of other types of 747s on the order books that will keep the folks in Washington state busy for years to come. Boeing still has 36 747-400 freighters to build while it develops the 747-8, a modernized version of the jumbojet that uses a new wing and the efficient engines developed for the 787 Dreamliner. There are about 60 orders for the freight version of the 747-8 and Lufthansa has placed an order for 20 passenger versions, called the Intercontinental, which will seat 466 people.

 
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Hartzell Develops Its Own Prop Deicing Systems

Hartzell props will soon be available with factory-installed deicing systems. Until now, aftermarket vendors have built and installed the systems, but Hartzell said it now plans to offer the system on its full range of deiceable props. “The new Hartzell deice components will replace previous, third-party manufactured deice parts, including deicer boots, wire harnesses and slip rings,” the company said. Hartzell claims its own gear is as good or better than the after-market equipment, and it’s offering enhanced warranty protection on the homegrown deice systems. The boots themselves will be covered for 18 months or 2,000 flight hours, while the other components are warranted for 12 months or 1,000 hours. Hartzell says labor will be included in its warranty packages, while competitors cover only the parts. According to Hartzell, development of its deice systems will enable the company to design entire prop systems for OEM customers rather than relying on other vendors.

Commander Rises Again

The latest company trying to resume production of Commander piston singles says it will be taking orders for aircraft in two months. The announcement from Commander Premier Aircraft Corp. came after the FAA granted the company Parts Manufacturing Approval (PMA) following a field audit of its new production facilities in Cape Girardeau, Mo. "This is an enormously important milestone for CPAC. It’s like a birthday," CPAC President Joel Hartstone said. " With this grant, CPAC begins life as an FAA regulated manufacturing company.” CPAC was formed by about 50 Commander owners who chipped in to buy the assets of the former manufacturer in 2005. The first goal is to restock the spare parts shelves in the Missouri plant. Most of those parts will come from subcontractors, but the PMA designation allows CPAC to assess and approve the suitability of the parts for use in the existing fleet. “Putting things in the sky is serious business,” Hartstone said. “Our senior management team and our directors are all pilots; we take aviation safety very personally.” As the company gets into the swing of things producing spares, it will gradually expand operations to start building whole airplanes, under the direction of Carl Gull, who ran the factory for a previous owner. The speedy, luxurious single is already fully certified, and Hartfield said the plan is to start building aircraft later this year.

 
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Saab Unveils Cool Countermeasures

Saab Avitronics says it has successfully tested a missile defense system aimed at the civilian market that doesn’t use white-hot magnesium to confuse the heat-seeking heads on Man Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS) missiles. The potential collateral damage from the hundreds of flaming flares used in most military countermeasures has been a stumbling block to their integration on civilian aircraft but Saab says its Civil Aircraft Missile Protection System (CAMPS) changes all that. “The focus of CAMPS is to meet the requirements for civilian, VIP as well as special mission aircraft,” Saab says. “This includes system safety, costs and operational aspects of this type of system which are more pronounced than for the military environment.” The Saab system dispenses non-pyrotechnic decoys made by British-based Chemring Countermeasures. Just how they work isn’t clear (perhaps understandably so) from Chemring’s Web site, but work they do, apparently. Saab said it did the test at a military range in South Africa using an Embraer EMB-120 supplied by Naturelink Aviation. The South African charter company is planning to install the systems on its aircraft and might be equipped in a year or so if trials continue to go well.

"All-Attitude" Recovery Technique Promoted

APS Emergency Maneuver Training, an Arizona upset recovery training school, says it has developed a single set of in-flight procedures to recover from virtually any uncontrolled flight attitude, outside of a fully developed spin. Called the All-Attitude Upset Recovery Technique, the deceptively simple protocol is aimed at reinforcing the correct, and usually counterintuitive, actions to take when the airplane is doing something that neither the pilot nor manufacturer intended. APS President Paul “B.J.” Ransbury, in a letter to customers, said that while there are numerous factors affecting the successful recovery from those life-changing moments, a decade of experience teaching those skills has shown him and his instructors that there are also some basic similarities. What’s more, he said, the resulting technique works in everything from light singles to heavy transports. “The All-Attitude Upset Recovery Technique Checklist is a logical single-procedure checklist that, when combined with proper knowledge and skill, effectively deals with a wide variety of stalls, upsets, wake turbulence encounters and unusual attitudes encountered in fixed-wing aircraft,” Ransbury said. The program takes two days, including six hours of class time and three flights to teach a pilot to memorize just five words (push, power, rudder, roll and climb) and when to express them through control inputs. But since at least some of them are exactly the opposite to what a pilot’s highly charged senses are telling him to do in these awkward circumstances, it takes time to ingrain the training. “The key to being properly prepared to deal with an aircraft upset is no different than any other specialized flying skill: study, instruction, understanding, integration, application, error analysis and practice, practice, practice,” Ransbury said. It also may be just a little fun. All flights are in an Extra 300, a popular aerobatic aircraft used by Patty Wagstaff and other air show performers.

 
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Sightseeing Pilot Surrenders Certificate

A veteran British airline captain has surrendered his license after City Star Airways Dornier 328 with 17 passengers on board came within 400 feet of terrain on an aborted sightseeing excursion over the rugged Shetland Islands off Scotland. According to the Shetland Times, Capt. Roger Old clipped his own wings as authorities were preparing to revoke his license. The Air Accidents Investigation Branch reported that Old told investigators he wanted to show his young copilot the scenery as they approached Sumburgh Airport on June 11, 2006. But the weather closed in and, ignoring the “pull up” warning from the terrain avoidance gear, Old did a scud run parallel to a cliff and descended as low as 398 feet above the ocean with a much taller cliff about 600 feet to his left. At one point the copilot considered grabbing the controls, but told investigators he thought he might make the situation worse. They eventually landed uneventfully. Standard procedure when the terrain alarm sounds is to climb as fast as possible, but Old, who was apparently confused about the aircraft’s position, actually entered a descending right turn. The copilot told investigators he saw terrain and sea birds above the aircraft.

Cash Disappears From Crash

Brazilian authorities have recovered only a fraction of about $3 million worth of Brazilian reals looted from the crash site of an unidentified charter aircraft that crashed near Salvador, about 800 miles from Rio de Janeiro. The airplane had been hired by a private security company to move the cash from Petrolina to Salvador. All four people aboard were killed, and police speculate the bags of cash were taken out of the wreck by locals who got to the scene before rescuers. Two newspapers reported that a local farm worker was caught with $50,000 worth and about $40,000 was found buried in a back yard, but the rest is still missing. Police hadn't confirmed these reports. The cause of the crash hasn't been determined.

 
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On The Fly

Raytheon received experimental airworthiness certificates for its Cobra unmanned aerial vehicle program. The certification will allow five aircraft to operate in civilian airspace under the tight regulations that govern such flights…

The Province of Ontario is spending $5 million on a workforce training center that may convince Diamond Aircraft to build its D-Jet in its current home base of London, Ont. The company needs about 400 skilled workers to build the single-engine jet and is having a hard time finding them…

A chafing problem on the unfeathering accumulators on some Beech Barons has prompted an airworthiness directive from the FAA…

Veteran NTSB investigator Thomas E. Haueter has been named the director of the NTSB's Office of Aviation Safety. Heuter has been with the board for 23 years and headed numerous investigations…

Three Boy Scouts got more than merit badges Saturday after the airplane they were in had a gear-up landing at Hondo Airport. The boys were on the flight to earn badges and walked away from the incident with a much better story to tell…

Landing gear and other parts that washed up on a beach in Oregon are likely from a Piper PA28 that left Clackamas Airport on Saturday. Two people were on board the airplane registered to the Aero Dynamics Flying Club.

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Probable Cause #28: Scud Run Gone Bad

This article originally appeared in Aviation Safety, Jan. 2005.

[IMGCAP(1)]

Scud running is the time-honored practice of trying to stay VFR down low between weather and terrain while motoring off to a destination. Generally, it involves a VFR-only pilot flying in good daytime visibility over flat terrain at an altitude that will clear charted obstacles. While this kind of operation can be performed safely, it definitely poses higher risks than, say, cruising to the beach on a CAVU summer day. When flying at low level, at night and in reduced visibility over unknown territory and at a high speed, bad things can happen quickly. Too quickly.

When contemplating this kind of flight, it must be approached with a healthy respect for terrain, obstacles and visibility limitations. Planning a route to avoid the highest terrain, constantly updating the location of an airport to duck into and maintaining a forward speed that allows plenty of time to see, recognize and avoid obstacles are all keys to making a scud-running operation work well.

Ensuring adequate visibility cannot be overstressed, since the faster you fly when scud running, the less time you have to visually acquire terrain and obstacles and then maneuver to avoid them. At night, scud running at any speed is a really bad idea for exactly this reason.

Background

[IMGCAP(2)]

On January 18, 2003, at 0638 Central time, a Cirrus SR22 was destroyed following an in-flight collision with terrain near Hill City, Minn. The Private pilot and single passenger were fatally injured. The airplane had departed the Grand Rapids/Itasca County Airport (GPZ) in Grand Rapids, Minn., at 0630, with an intended destination of the St. Cloud (Minn.) Regional Airport (STC). Marginal VMC or IFR conditions prevailed in the area of the two airports and at the accident site. An AIRMET calling for occasional ceilings below 1000 feet agl and/or visibilities below 3 statute miles in light snow showers and blowing snow was in effect at the time of the accident as was another AIRMET for occasional moderate turbulence below 8000 feet msl. The IFR conditions along the route from GPZ to STC were expected to continue beyond 0900, ending around 1200.

On the morning of the accident, civil twilight began at 0720 in Grand Rapids, Minn., with sunrise at 0754. There was a full moon earlier in the morning, at 0448. The pilot received two weather briefings from the Princeton (Minn.) Automated Flight Service Station on the morning of the accident. Both briefings noted the marginal VFR weather and AIRMETs in effect for the flight.

The airplane was a 2002-model Cirrus SR22, less than two months old. Total time on the airframe and engine at the time of the accident was 35.7 hours. Its pilot, age 47, held a Private pilot certificate and, according to a logbook found in the wreckage, had logged 248.0 hours total time. Of these, 18.9 were in an SR22. Except for 1.0 hour in a simulator, the remaining flights logged were in a Cessna 172.

The pilot had 57.0 hours of instrument time and 19.0 hours of night. Instrument and night flight time in the SR22 totaled 0.3 and 2.3 hours, respectively. According to Cirrus Design/University of North Dakota records, the pilot completed the SR22 training course on December 12, 2002. The course involved 12.5 hours of dual flight instruction and 5.3 hours of ground instruction. A VFR-only completion certificate and High Performance aircraft endorsement limited to SR22 were awarded the pilot on December 12, 2002.

Witness Reports

Several witnesses reported seeing and/or hearing the aircraft shortly before the accident. One witness stated the aircraft appeared to be following a nearby road at an altitude estimated as 100 feet above the trees. He noted the engine sound was smooth; it "wasn't laboring." Another witness noted the engine seemed to be at full throttle and that it "wasn't missing." A third witness, located about 1/2-mile south of the accident site, heard the aircraft fly over. He stated that it "sounded like the prop wasn't catching any air. It was just screaming." Approximately 3-4 seconds after the aircraft flew over, he stated that he heard what he considered to be the impact. He noted that as he was looking out his window, he saw a "fireball" up over the trees. He recalled the weather conditions at his location as clear, with a full moon.

Investigation

[IMGCAP(3)]

The aircraft impacted into level wooded terrain. The entire debris path was approximately 500 feet long, oriented on a 280-degree magnetic heading. Despite the airframe's fragmentation, all major components were found in the debris field. Portions of the cabin and several wing skin fragments, as well as localized ground cover and trees within the debris area, exhibited evidence of a post-impact fire.

Radar data obtained from the FAA's Minneapolis Air Route Traffic Control Center indicated a single VFR transponder code in the vicinity of GPZ about the time of the accident. The initial radar contact was at 0630:16 over GPZ at 1700 feet pressure altitude. The aircraft associated with the beacon code proceeded southbound, paralleling Minnesota Highway 169, and reached a maximum of 3200 feet pressure altitude. At 0636:51, the target began a descending left turn, reaching a pressure altitude of 2400 feet at 0637:27. This was an average descent rate of 1166 fpm. At this point, the target entered a climb with a decreasing-radius left turn.

The final radar contact, at 0637:39, was plotted to be 0.21 nautical miles from the accident site. The aircraft's Mode C transponder data displayed 2900 feet pressure altitude. This evidence suggests an average climb rate of 2500 fpm from a pressure altitude of 2400 feet at 0637:27.

The aircraft's average ground speed, true airspeed and climb/descent rate were computed based on the raw radar data and measured winds aloft. The aircraft's true airspeed averaged 191 knots over the final one minute of radar data. The rate of climb averaged 2500 fpm between the final two radar data points. This followed an average descent rate of 2000 fpm, 36 seconds earlier, between 0636:51 and 0637:03.

According to the NTSB, the Cirrus Design SR22 Pilot's Operating Handbook (POH) specifies a never exceed speed, Vne, of 204 knots calibrated airspeed. This airspeed is represented on the airspeed indicator as a red radial line. The aircraft's maximum structural cruising speed, Vno, represented as the top of the green airspeed arc, is denoted as 180 knots. The POH also lists a rate of climb of 1428 fpm at sea level and -20° C ambient temperature.

Conclusions

The factors present in this accident go beyond the classic "scud-running" scenario. In addition to disregarding the dangers of night operations in poor weather, the pilot was inexperienced in his brand-new aircraft; he had little time in it at night and almost no instrument work. The decision to launch in marginal nighttime conditions -- even though witnesses reported a clear sky -- is an unmistakable sign of overconfidence, perhaps in the well-equipped airplane, perhaps in the pilot's skills -- perhaps in both.

While there is no way to know what pressure, if any, the pilot felt he was under to complete the flight, waiting for daylight might have made the difference. Slowing down might have, also. The bottom line, however, is that an Instrument-rated pilot would have been able to climb through the low clouds and avoid hitting the terrain.


More accident analyses are available in AVweb's Probable Cause Index. And for monthly articles about safety, including accident reports like this one, subscribe to AVweb's sister publication, Aviation Safety.

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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 Ron Lueck of Comp Air. And AVweb's podcast index includes interviews with Expedition Aircraft's Andrew Hamblin; Eclipse Aviation's Vern Raburn; NBAA's Ed Bolen; 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; Bill Lear, Jr.; and NATA President Jim Coyne. In today's news summary, hear about what panelists said at the FAA forecast about general aviation and very light jets, new suppliers for the HondaJet, Saab's airborne missile defense system, Hartzell's homegrown prop deicers and more. Remember: In AVweb's podcasts, you'll hear things you won't find anywhere else.

 
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FBO Of The Week back to top 
 

FBO Of The Week: Rexburg Air Service

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Rexburg Air Service at KRXE in Rexburg, Idaho.

AVweb reader Scott Brooksby says the FBO's owner bent over backwards to accommodate him.

"I landed last weekend for a mother’s weekend at BYU Idaho. I was fueled quickly, and a courtesy car was offered. The next day was so cold that I could not even get the engines started to take friends flying. Craig Frisby, the FBO owner, put the plane in the hangar overnight, serviced the struts and charged the battery, all at no charge. He met us Sunday afternoon and helped get the airplane out and ready to go. We had a brake failure on taxi out, and he came out immediately to service the brakes. He then waited to make sure we were off OK before going home to his family."

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!

 
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Video Of The Week back to top 
 

Video of the Week: Helicopter Whacks Hangar on Takeoff

Recommend a Video | VOTW Archive

For the last couple of weeks, we've been sharing fun, light-hearted videos of people making things fly. This week, we dip back into the "holy crap!" file for a devastating helicopter accident from Break.com. Thankfully, no one seems to be injured, but this is one harrowing clip, especially for safety-conscious observers.

Content Advisory: You'll find some PG-13 language in the video and R-rated language on Break.com. Mentioned for the benefit of those who should be working and are wondering whether this video might be NSFW ... .


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Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

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."

 
The Lighter Side Of Flight back to top 
 

Short Final

Overheard in IFR Magazine's 'On the Air' Section
Overheard in IFR Magazine's "On the Air"
Overheard on Pittsburgh (KPIT) Ground working Hooters Air, better known by callsign “Pace,” and a Delta airliner:

Pittsburgh Ground: Delta Eleven Twenty, follow Hooters off your left to Runway Two-Eight Right.

Delta Eleven Twenty: (in a slow southern drawl) Well, I’ve been doin’ that all my life, and it’s only got me in trouble with the wife.

 
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 Editors Russ Niles (bio) and Glenn Pew (bio), Washington Correspondent Roger A. Mola 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.

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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.

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