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The Top Headlines From AVweb's Expanded, Illustrated News Coverage At AVweb's NewsWire.

FIRST-QUARTER 2003: BIZJET SALES FALL, SINGLE-ENGINE PISTONS HOLD STEADY...
Shipments of GA aircraft decreased 16 percent in the first quarter of this year, compared to the same period last year, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association reported on Thursday. Billings in the same period fell 33 percent. Total deliveries for the quarter fell from 531 aircraft last year to 444 this year. Business jets were hardest hit, with deliveries down 42 percent, from 169 to 98. "These are very tough times," GAMA President Ed Bolen said in a news release. "Lost in all the noise about the troubles of the airlines has been the fact that, since 9/11, many general aviation manufacturers have had to lay off workers and slow or even temporarily halt production lines. The only segment of the market that was able to hold its own in the first quarter was the single-engine pistons." More...

...AS BOEING FOLLOWS AIRLINES' TRAJECTORY
Boeing last week reported a large -- but not its largest-ever -- quarterly loss, down $478 million, as its biggest customers, the airlines, continued their steep downturn. Deliveries of commercial aircraft decreased 35 percent compared to the first quarter of 2002, to 71 airplanes. Boeing said it would deliver about 280 airplanes in 2003. The delivery forecast for 2004 remains between 275 and 300 airplanes, but Boeing said it expects a gradual market recovery to start in 2005." More...

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SAFIRE ANNOUNCES MAJOR CHANGES IN JET PROGRAM...
Safire Aircraft, one of the handful of GA manufacturers venturing into the light-jet market, announced on Friday that is has made substantial changes in the design and specifications for its personal jet program. The original S-26 light jet, with a composite airframe, will not be produced, the company said. The new design, called simply the Safire Jet, will have all-aluminum construction and be larger, heavier and faster. The change comes along with Safire's recent selection of the Williams FJ33-4 engine as its powerplant. CEO Camilo Salomon said in a news release that the choice of engine drove the need for other changes in the overall design. "The aircraft's structural weight had to be increased to accommodate the added weight of the engines," he said. More...

...WHILE NEW IDEAS ARE FLOATED...
Undaunted by today's gloomy economy, dreamers and tinkerers continue to pursue their vision. Which designs will survive into the next century of flight, time will tell, but among those ideas that we've heard of lately, the AeroCat "hybrid aircraft vehicle" appears to be full of ... helium. The AeroCat dream "combines the principles of a hovercraft, blimp, airplane and catamaran," a news release from the newly formed California company said last week. The AeroCat, 310 feet long by 80 feet high, would travel 500 miles at 70 knots while carrying 30 tons of cargo. More...

...AND TOMORROW'S AIRPLANE COULD FLY GAS-FREE
Meanwhile, in Worcester, Mass., a small group of entrepreneurs and engineering students is working to create an all-electric fuel-cell airplane. The ultimate goal: to fly with a hydrogen-powered fuel-cell system by 2004 -- quiet, efficient, emissions-free air travel. "If this were easy, somebody would have already done it," jokes Jim Dunn, executive director of the Foundation for Advancing Science and Technology Education (FASTec), the nonprofit group working in stages to develop the project, with help from NASA. The team is currently testing an electric motor mounted on a modified French DynAero Lafayette III two-seat kitplane, and recently began taxi tests. More...

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PARIS AIR SHOW GETS COLD PENTAGON SHOULDER
The Paris Air Show, coming up June 15-22, is apparently feeling the freeze from the Pentagon's recent aversion to France. The U.S. Defense Department announced Thursday it will cut back sharply on participation in this year's show. No high-ranking officials will attend, no U.S. aircraft will join the daily flyovers, and static displays will be reduced by half. "This is senior [Defense Department] officials' way of expressing their displeasure with French government policy on Iraq," Joel Johnson, of the Aerospace Industries Association, told Reuters. More...

CONSTRICTING AIRSPACE WORRIES PILOT ADVOCATES
Maybe you can see forever, on a clear day, but it's getting harder and harder to fly there -- especially for GA pilots, who have to avoid 16 security-related TFRs scattered from coast to coast and "pop-up" TFRs that follow President Bush everywhere he goes. EAA complained last week that presidential TFRs in Ohio created confusion because they varied in size and location, and pilots were given insufficient notice. "Consequences for such airspace violations can be dire," EAA said, and called for more reasonable security measures and better communication with pilots. AOPA last week wrote to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) about lingering post-9/11 TFRs that affect airspace in 13 states, with details about the impact of each one on local operations. More...

ACLU AND DOT CONFRONT AIRLINE SECURITY
Pilots are not the only ones raising concerns about security measures -- last week, both the American Civil Liberties Union and Department of Transportation spoke up on behalf of commercial airline passengers. The ACLU Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit in an effort to force the government to talk about its secret "no fly" and other watch lists. The ACLU wants to know how the lists were created, how they are maintained, and how people who are mistakenly included on the list can get their names removed. Friday, the Aviation Enforcement Office of the U.S. Department of Transportation filed a complaint against American Airlines, alleging the carrier discriminated against passengers who were or were perceived to be of Arab, Middle Eastern or Southeast Asian descent and/or Muslim. More...

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TSA EARMARKS $8M FOR PILOT GUN TRAINING
The Transportation Security Administration announced last Thursday it has committed $8 million to train pilots to carry arms by October. Forty-four pilots attended the first 48-hour session, and were deputized as Federal Flight Deck Officers just over a week ago. Training includes defensive tactics, instruction in the use of force, information on how to safely transport their weapons ... and legal liability. Pilots have to carry the gun to the plane in a locked case inside a nondescript bag. When they leave the cockpit but are still on duty, they must keep the weapon in a lockbox. More...

AP: FOREST SERVICE CITES SPAR FATIGUE IN CRASH
A crack started at a half-inch rivet on the left wing of a 57-year-old PB4Y-2 fighting a Colorado forest fire last July. The crack spread, and the air tanker burst into flame and crashed to the ground, killing both pilots. That was the conclusion of a Forest Service investigation, the Associated Press reported last week. The Forest Service identified the cause of the PB4Y-2 crash as fatigue and failure of the left wing's forward spar, the AP reported. PB4Ys have been grounded by the Forest Service since the crash, as have C-130As. A 44-year-old C-130A was also involved in a fatal crash last year. More...

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PILOTS, CONTROLLERS TALK SAFETY
Ever wanted to meet the controller working your flight face to face? Well, here's your chance to address a room full of them, but don't be surprised if they have a thing or two to say about pilot performance. The occasion is the National Air Traffic Controllers' Association annual conference, Communicating for Safety, April 29 and 30 in Denver. But far from being a gripe session, participants in the panel discussions, Q&A sessions and seminars actually try to solve some of the evolving problems in the National Airspace System. This year, the conference is in Denver and is co-sponsored by the Air Line Pilots Association and AOPA. The FAA will also be there. Moderator Wes Stoops tells AVweb there's plenty for GA pilots to learn from -- and offer -- the conference. More...

ON THE FLY...
Swearingen test pilot Carroll Beeler killed Saturday in SJ30-2 crash...
Orenda Recip halted 600-hp turbocharged V-8 piston engine program...
Burt Rutan will talk about spaceflight at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh....
All pilots invited to AOPA's facility at First Flight Airport, May 10...Post office awarded first competitive contracts for flying the mail...
Airbus sold 30 planes to Chinese airlines for about $1.7 billion. More...

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SHORT FINAL...
After arriving in SLC we checked in with the ground controller. His radio wasn't the clearest. As we were taxiing to the ramp another aircraft asked the controller, "Has anyone else told you your communications are garbled?" Ground replied, "My wife!"

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AVweb's AVscoop Award...

Congratulations and an AVweb hat go out to Peter Lyons, this week's AVscoop winner. Submit news tips via email to newstips@avweb.com. Rules and information are at http://www.avweb.com/contact/newstips.html.

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New Articles and Features on AVweb

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COLUMNS
Pelican's Perch #68: The Human Borescope
AVweb's resident Pelican talks of a different kind of borescope -- one that may well save your life.

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SAFETY
Cocktails & Cockpit
Flying while intoxicated doesn't happen often, but when it does the results are usually tragic. A single DWI may point to trouble ahead in airplanes. This article appeared in the October 2002 edition of Aviation Safety and is reprinted here by permission.

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Reader feedback on AVweb's news coverage and feature articles:
http://www.avweb.com/avmail/

Reader mail this week about guns in the cockpit, the perils of GPS and more.

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We Welcome Your Feedback!

AVflash is a twice-weekly summary of the latest aviation news, articles, products, features and events featured on AVweb, the Internet's Aviation Magazine and News Service. http://www.avweb.com

Letters to the editor intended for publication in AVmail should be sent to mailto:editor@avweb.com.com. Have a comment or question? Send it to mailto:newsteam@avweb.com.

Today's issue written by News Writer Mary Grady:
http://www.avweb.com/contact/authors.html#mgrady
AVweb's editorial team: http://avweb.com/contact/authors.html.

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Let's all be careful out there, okay?

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