AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 13, Number 13a

March 26, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
 
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Top News back to top 
 

FAA: Funding Tied To Modernization

The FAA must implement changes to the way it is funded before it can afford to embrace the myriad technologies that are envisioned for the Next Generation Air Transportation System, according to senior FAA staffers. Appearing before the Senate aviation subcommittee, Charles Leader, director of the Joint Planning and Development Office, told committee members that the controversial system of user fees and tax increases now under consideration by Congress for FAA reauthorization is a key element of FAA modernization. "Modernization and moving to NextGen is inextricably linked to changes in the FAA’s financing system," Leader said. "We need to establish the financing of our current and future operations based on actual costs and investment requirements that will realize tangible benefits and increasing efficiency." General aviation groups – and even the Government Accountability Office -- have dismissed the need for a wholesale change in the way the FAA is funded, saying there's plenty of money available under the current system of ticket and cargo taxes and the existing fuel tax levied on GA aircraft. As we've reported previously, the FAA claims the current airspace system is at capacity and requires a multi-billion-dollar injection of new technology to cope with increasing demand. Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) is a pivotal technology identified in the FAA’s plan, along with more satellite-based navigation functions like area navigation (RNAV) and required navigation performance (RNP), as ways to pack more airplanes into the system. But he also said the various systems can't be implemented in isolation. "It is important to understand that NextGen is a portfolio program," he said. "The technologies described above, and those that will be defined over the next several years, are interdependent, creating a series of transformations that will truly modernize today’s system."

Tennessee Officials Discuss User Fees

While the debate over the FAA’s future funding process is big news in aviation circles, it barely registers in the mainstream media but there are occasional exceptions. The Kingsport Times-News in Tennessee saw some news value in a presentation given by Don Carter, owner of Tri-Cities Aviation, to the Tri-Cities Regional Airport Commission last week in which he predicted the user-fee plan currently being promoted by the FAA will “kill” general aviation in the area. Carter suggested the funding formula is calculated to reduce the number of GA operations to make room for more airline flights. "The more general aviation they can get out, the more airline slots they will get." Patrick Wilson, the executive director of the airport commission, also characterized the debate as a conflict between airlines and GA. Although there was some animated discussion about the issue, there’s no indication from the Times-News story that the commission intends to do anything about it.

NGATS May Cost Aircraft Owners $20 billion

The Government Accountability Office says the cost of equipping aircraft for the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NGATS) will range from $14 billion to $20 billion, depending on the gear that will be needed, the number of very light jets that will be using the system and how much downtime will be required to install the equipment. The GAO was quoting figures it says were recently released by the FAA’s Joint Projects Development Office, which says the government will spend between $15 billion and $22 billion on the project by 2025. The wide range reflects uncertainty in just what the system will entail. Meanwhile the GAO says the FAA is generally moving in the right direction with NGATS, but there’s a looming leadership vacuum that could hinder that progress. The GAO says the FAA should move quickly to replace its chief operating officer to ensure at least some continuity when Administrator Marion Blakey’s term expires in September. COO Russ Chew left the post in February and is now in a similar post with JetBlue. That, coupled with Blakey’s departure, could jeopardize the modernization initiatives the agency created, particularly the structural and technological changes that will be the foundation of the Next Generation Air Transportation System. “While FAA has implemented many positive changes to its management processes, it currently faces the loss of key leaders,” says the GAO report. “Such changes require focused, full-time attention from senior leadership and a dedicated team.”

 
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News Briefs back to top 
 

Lantis Out At Columbia Aircraft

Columbia Aircraft has replaced its CEO and announced a four-to-six-week furlough of about 25 percent of its workforce as part of a major restructuring bid. The company will remain in operation and continue to produce airplanes but under new leadership. Bing Lantis has stepped down as CEO "to attend to family matters and other personal interests," according to the company. He's been replaced by Wan Abdul Majid, who the release described as a "long-time Columbia and aviation industry veteran." Earlier this month, the company announced the permanent layoff of 59 staff as part of a bid to restore profitability. It was blamed on the effects of a freak hail storm and the delay in certification of the Garmin G1000 glass cockpit version of the aircraft. The latest announcement doesn't stop at the corner office and shop floor however. The news release says the company also now has a new Chief Restructuring Officer, Carl Young, Chief Financial Officer, Michael Culver and Chief Operating Officer, Rich Reighard. The furlough is taking place while the Bend, Ore. plant is reorganized to implement "lean manufacturing and lean enterprise process improvements." Wajid said the furloughed employees will continue to receive company benefits and he expects to recall them all within four to six weeks. It's offering training bonuses and incentives to lure the people back. “Our people are our most valuable resource,” said Majid. “However, the nature of the aviation industry and the realities of our current business situation require that we take a number of critical short-term actions to ensure our long-term success.

New York Backs Off Pilot Age Limit

New York legislators have removed a bill that would have barred anyone younger than 17 from flying any type of aircraft in the state. FAA regs allow teens as young as 14 to fly balloons and gliders solo and also allow 16-year-olds to solo powered planes, but the now-defunct proposal would have set the limit in New York at 17 regardless of aircraft type. AOPA credits angry New York pilots, who contacted their state assembly members, for getting the bill quashed. "Vocal New York pilots were the key to preventing this requirement," said AOPA Vice President of Regional Affairs Greg Pecoraro. "Legislators specifically told me that they were pulling the bill because they had heard from pilots who opposed it." AOPA is still battling the New York law that requires background checks on student pilots. It has launched a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law and is also lobbying state politicians.

"Black Box" For Cirrus Approved

The FAA has granted Supplementary Type Certification for the Alakai Technologies engine trend monitoring system for Cirrus SR20 and SR22 aircraft, which when combined with the Alakai digital flight data recorder performs the same basic functions as the so-called “black box” recorder required on airliners. Such recorders are not required on aircraft with fewer than 10 seats, but a growing number of Cirrus airplanes are being used in air-taxi operations and pilots were required to record engine data manually while flying the aircraft. "This new system will allow Cirrus owners and operators, especially Part 135 operators, to focus on flying rather than manually documenting engine performance while in the air," said Cirrus co-founder and Vice Chairman Dale Klapmeier. The system also allows operators to accurately track engine data and spot potential problems before they become full-blown emergencies. Additionally, the information can help operators reduce costs by improving efficiency and reducing downtime due to costly repairs. Alakai says the installation might also prompt reduced insurance rates because the recorder will be able to provide accurate data on aircraft performance immediately before an accident.

 
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News Briefs back to top 
 

Thielert Diesels STC’d In Many Cessna 172s

On March 13 the FAA granted Supplementary Type Certification to installation of Thielert Centurion 2.0-liter diesel engines in Cessna 172 F through S models and Cessna F 172 F through P models, according to a news release. Thielert founder Frank Thielert said the STC not only opens the market for his engines to the most numerous of all aircraft in the biggest aviation market on earth, it also smoothes the way for similar approvals all over the world. “The FAA certifications are of particular importance on the world aviation market, since they are acknowledged by most countries in Africa and Asia without further intensive testing,” the news release said. Asia and Africa are seen as big potential markets because avgas is scare there, while the jet fuel that powers the Thielerts is generally available. The marketing push in the U.S. will be based on the lower operating costs of the diesels, which Thielert said should be particularly attractive to flight schools operating 172s.

Cessna Mustang Sales Looking Up Down Under

Cessna has sold at least three Citation Mustangs in Australia and New Zealand and predicts it will be a popular aircraft there. “The Mustang makes perfect sense for businesses across Australia, and in New Zealand,” Todd Duhnke, Cessna’s director of international sales, said in a news release. “Performance, price and reliability are all meeting our original projections, and sales have really accelerated since gaining full type certificate in September.” The first Australian Mustang, a demonstrator to be used by dealer Aeromil Pacific, will arrive in August. The second will go to a Queensland businessman who will fly it himself. The first sale to New Zealand was recently confirmed. Cessna says it will deliver 40 Mustangs this year and 100 in 2008.

DayJet Ready To Train Pilots

DayJet, the on-demand charter operator that is Eclipse’s biggest customer, hopes to get its first Eclipse 500 in April and start training its pilots. According to CharterX, a charter industry trade journal, the start-up has received FAA approval for its pilot-training program and just needs airplanes to train them on. Co-founder Ed Iacobucci told CharterX the first four of its 239 Eclipses will be used to get pilots type rated. "After that, as more aircraft are delivered, we'll use those for our customers." Iacobucci said delays in getting the Eclipse to market haven’t shaken his confidence in the airplane. “If we don't get our first couple of aircraft from Eclipse soon, I'll have to change our launch date, again,” he said. “But believe me, I don't think I've been sold down the river. Eclipse has had problems but I know they are being fixed and the aircraft is a good plane. I have every confidence in the product and that it will meet our customer's needs."

 
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News Briefs back to top 
 

Second FBO Coming To LEX

Officials at Lexington’s Blue Grass Airport have voted to allow a second FBO on the field. Air 51 LLC is expected to be up and running this summer in a $2 million facility that will include a 12,000-square-foot maintenance and parking hangar, fuel facility and ramp space. Currently TAC Air is the only GA service facility on the airport. The new FBO will occupy about two acres in the southeast area of the airport. Air 51 owners told the Lexington Herald-Leader they hope to capitalize on very light jet business and expect plenty of traffic when the World Equestrian Games are held in Lexington in 2010. The new company is leasing the land for about $2,000 a month and will pay the airport commission seven cents a gallon for fuel it sells, as well as 10 percent of food and beverage sales, 0.5 percent on aircraft sales and 2 percent of other revenue.

Noisiest House In Britain?

Odelle and Stephen Trew are the first to admit they got a great deal on the house, but now they’re afraid they couldn’t sell it at any price. The Trews bought their home adjacent to one of Heathrow Airport’s main runways 18 years ago when air traffic was comparatively light. Now, for part of each day, they’re rocked every minute or so by airliners landing or taking off within a few hundred feet of them. As air traffic increases, there’s talk of abandoning the current practice of switching runways through the day to ensure that all the airport’s neighbors share the noise burden more or less equally and using every patch of pavement available. "If that happened life would be unbearable," Stephen, 43, told the Sunday Mirror. "I don't know how they can even suggest it." Still, the Trews (and their less noise-tolerant guests) are thankful for small mercies, such as the end of Concorde service. "We used to dread it," said Odelle. "It made the whole house vibrate. The first time my sister came round, she was so terrified she leapt under the coffee table." The family has done what it can to mitigate the noise, including installing triple-glazed windows, and are resigned to having ordinary conversation disrupted and the occasional guest under their table. They say they have no plans to sell because they don’t think anyone would buy.

 
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News Briefs back to top 
 

Global Warming Paradox For Aircraft

Aviation would contribute less to global warming if aircraft burned more fuel. That’s the convoluted conclusion reached by researchers at Britain’s Imperial College. They’ve determined that if airliners consistently flew at lower altitudes, the resulting decrease in the creation of contrails would more than offset the effect on global warming of the increase in fuel burn. “It seems counterintuitive,” acknowledged Robert Noland, one of the study’s authors, in a report in the Nigerian Tribune. However, the contrail issue could become more prominent with the expectation that airline travel will grow 3.5 percent annually for the foreseeable future and that much of that growth is expected in the contrail-spewing long-haul market. Noland and his team based their study on a theoretical shift in air traffic from the mid-30 flight levels to between 24,000 and 31,000 feet, where contrails are much less prevalent. They calculated that lower-flying aircraft would burn 4 percent more fuel (and create 4 percent more greenhouse gases) but that the elimination of contrails would have a greater net impact on the retention of heat in the atmosphere.

Rotor Control Problem May Have Preceded Crash

The NTSB says one end of a rotor servo control rod was found disconnected on an A350 helicopter that crashed on the Hawaiian island of Kauai earlier this month, killing four of seven people aboard. On Thursday, the FAA issued a special airworthiness information bulletin (SAIB) and Eurocopter e-mailed customers warning A350 operators that a serrated washer on the servo rod-end could fail, resulting in disconnection of the rod from the rotor assembly, and recommended immediate inspection of those parts. The A350 has three such assemblies to control rotor tilt. The SAIB issued by the FAA says two crashes have been caused by the washer failure, but spokesman Ian Gregor said those crashes occurred before the Hawaii accident and the bulletin was already in the works when the Heli-USA helicopter crashed on landing at Princeville Airport on March 8. Pilot Joe Sulak and three passengers died in the crash. Before the accident Sulak radioed that he was having “hydraulic problems.” Investigators later found the detached servo rod and sent those parts for more detailed inspection. The washer identified in the FAA and Eurocopter bulletins has a tang that is supposed to lock in the threads of the rod end to prevent the bolt from unscrewing. In the previous crashes, the tang was missing or worn and allowed the nut securing the rod to the rotor assembly to come off.

China Launches Large Airliner Program

Chinese officials have confirmed that China wants to get into the large airliner (150-plus seats) business, undoubtedly because one of the biggest future markets for aircraft is expected to be in its own backyard. An editorial in the People’s Daily says China expects to need about 1,600 large airliners by 2020 and would like to keep at least part of the $150 billion or so they’re expected to cost, not to mention the worldwide boom in civil aviation that’s opening other new markets. But it’s not all about money. “China believes that the ability to produce a large airplane reflects the strength of a nation, and has much the same ability to inspire nationalist sentiment as the development of the atomic bomb, the hydrogen bomb, satellites and space aircraft,” opined the newspaper. As for its main competitor in this venture, Boeing says bring it on. Mike Bair, head of Boeing’s 787 program, told Xinhua News Agency Boeing is ready to compete with anyone. "We always anticipate potential competitors," said Bair. "I don't think it's a surprise to anybody that a country as large as China might have ambitions like that." China recently committed to production of a 70- to 100-seat regional jet.

 
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News In Brief back to top 
 

On The Fly

The Evergreen Aviation Museum opened its IMAX theatre Friday with, among other features, a presentation of Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag. The McMinnville, Ore. museum is also home to the Spruce Goose…

Airbus A380s visited New York and Los Angeles last week, marking the 555-seat aircraft’s first arrivals in the U.S. So far, there are no U.S. orders for the plane…

The good vibrations weren’t just from airplane engines at last year’s EAA AirVenture, and there could be a repeat of the opening-night Beach Boys concert in 2007. EAA spokesman Dick Knapinski says the discussions are ongoing, but the Beach Boys are already confirming the July 23 gig in Oshkosh on their Web site.

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AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

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New On AVweb back to top 
 

Columns | Features | What's New | Calendar | Brainteasers

The Pilot's Lounge #111: The Door to Adventure

Learning to fly opens a door to many adventures. Hope it doesn't close too soon.

Click here for the full story.

AVmail: Mar. 26, 2007

Reader mail this week about VLJ air taxis, poor rudder skills, user fees and more.

Click here to read the full article.

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 Craig Sincock of Avfuel. And AVweb's podcast index includes interviews with Comp Air's Ron Lueck; 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; and Bill Lear, Jr. In today's news summary, hear about what panelists said at the FAA forecast about Columbia Aircraft's restructuring, the FAA's continued attempt to link user fees with ATC modernization, how much NextGen avionics will cost operators, the latest on DayJet and more. Remember: In AVweb's podcasts, you'll hear things you won't find anywhere else.

 
Pilot Journey Isn't Just for Students & Instructors; There's Something for Everyone
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FBO Of The Week back to top 
 

FBO Of The Week: Jet Aviation KBED

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Jet Aviation at KBED in Bedford, Mass.

AVweb reader Paul Tollini says the FBO provides the same level of service, regardless of airplane size.

"Unlike some other FBOs, at Jet Aviation BED all customers are valued regardless of the size of the aircraft that they arrived in or how much fuel they purchase. When I had passengers that insisted on using the other FBO on the field, I felt like a traitor and received much worse service at a much higher price."

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: Airbus A380 Debut at New York

Recommend a Video | VOTW Archive

Our friends at 2FlyTV were on hand last week with the first Airbus A380s landed at JFK and LAX. In this exclusive video from New York, 2FlyTV takes us behind the scenes of the celebrated landing, with great shots of the interior and some commentary on the A380.


Don't see a video screen?
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"

During a recent departure from Essex County Airport in Caldwell, N.J., the tower controller must have been frazzled with intensive student training in the pattern:

Tower: Bonanza Seven Zero Mike Romeo, contact New York departure and have a good flight.

Bonanza: To departure. Bonanza Zero Mike Romeo. Have a nice day.

Tower: It's too late for that.

 
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).

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.