AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 13, Number 15a

April 9, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Top News back to top 

Another Diamond In The Sky

Diamond Aircraft celebrated the first flight of its DA50 Super Star on Wednesday from the manufacturer's headquarters in Wiener Neustadt, Austria, but the jaunt was only 15 minutes due to poor weather conditions, according to company CEO and owner Christian Dries. The five-place single-engine airplane took off at an mtow of 3,670 pounds with Dries and director of sales/chief pilot Soeren Pedersen at the controls. While the maiden flight was cut short, the pair logged two more hours in the all-composite airplane on the next day when weather was more cooperative, allowing for a more comprehensive shake out of the initial DA50. Dries told AVweb that on Thursday the Super Star's 350-hp, FADEC-controlled, turbocharged Teledyne Continental TSIOF-550J engine systems were checked out and the fixed-gear airplane was also taken to 10,000 feet. Diamond brought the airplane from the drawing board to the skies in only 11 months, which Dries attributes to lead engineer Manfred Zipper and his team. The first DA50 has officially been handed over to Diamond's flight test department, which will further expand the aircraft's envelope. According to Dries, preliminary data shows that the Super Star will cruise at 180 knots at 8,000 feet with 68-percent power. The airplane will be equipped with TKS anti-icing, a variable-pitch hot prop and a three-screen Garmin G1000 avionics system. Optional 170- to 300-hp diesel engines will also be available for the DA50, Dries said. Diamond expects to start DA50 production in January, but those going to Aero 2007 in Friedrichshafen, Germany, this month will be able to get a first look at the airplane.

Martha King Dunked In Ultralight

Flight-training icon Martha King might have learned a thing or two about ultralights Wednesday when the aircraft she was aboard flipped over into Shasta Lake in northern California. King, 61, and pilot Dennis Chitwood, 54, were wet but virtually uninjured in the mishap, which occurred near Lakehead, Calif. According to the Redding Record Searchlight, King bruised a wrist but declined medical attention. Sheriff’s Deputy Gary Van Dyne told the newspaper that wind knocked the aircraft out of control and it ended up upside down in the lake. Witness Victor Patton watched the plane hit the water. "Something snapped … and the nose [of the plane] went 'boom' into the water," he said. The NTSB has not yet issued a preliminary report on the accident.

Cessna Mustangs Still In Starting Gate

Cessna says it hopes to resume deliveries of its Mustang entry-level jet soon after the schedule was stalled by a software glitch in the airplane's Garmin G1000 avionics suite. Cessna spokeswoman Pia Bergqvist told The Wichita Eagle the problem was discovered shortly after the first delivery of a Mustang (a company demo plane) last November and there haven’t been any customer deliveries. "It's just a minor software glitch that they had to correct," Bergqvist said. "It's already been fixed," she noted. Bergqvist did not specify the nature of the problem. While the glitch stalled deliveries, it didn’t halt production. “We’re pumping out airplanes like there’s no tomorrow,” she said, adding that the company still expects to deliver the 40 Mustangs it has scheduled for 2007. Meanwhile, the first class of future Mustang pilots has begun the 10-day type-rating course at FlightSafety International in Wichita.

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News Briefs back to top 

User Fee Proposal Dead?

Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan., is close to declaring the FAA’s proposal to impose user fees on general aviation dead. "I think we’ve finally gotten the stake out and are about to drive it through user fees," he told The Wichita Eagle's editorial board last week. Tiahrt told the Eagle brass that he’s made fighting the funding proposal his top priority and enlisted the support of other members of Congress to defeat the plan. On the Eagle's editorial board's blog, Tiahrt’s tenacity was applauded but it appears that not everyone in aviation-centric Wichita thinks user fees are a bad idea. "I have my 'stunned disbelief' hat on today," wrote one respondent to the blog. "I'm stunned that Tiahrt's top priority is a user fee for wealthy people." Others mentioned that there are some other issues in front of Congress (wars, famine, pestilence, that sort of thing) that might be more deserving of Tiahrt’s less divided attention, while others pointed out that "user fees" exist for everything from boat launches to freeways.

Landing Fees Imposed At Montreal Airports

Flying to Montreal gets more expensive on June 1 but it’s not just pilots in La Belle Province who should be concerned, according to a Quebec aviation leader. Michel Charette, former vice president of Aviateurs et pilotes de brousse du Québec (Quebec Aviators and Bush Pilots Association), told AVweb that despite lobbying by his group and the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA), ADM, the administrator of Montreal’s airports, is slapping a $35 one-time landing fee ($1,000 for a yearly pass) on general aviation aircraft using the downtown Trudeau International Airport (Dorval) and a $15 fee ($400 annually) at Mirabel, about 30 miles from the city. The goal, says Charette, is to discourage GA traffic, but it’s destined to be a nuisance for trans-border traffic headed to the Montreal area. “Pierre-Elliott Trudeau Airport (Dorval) is a major stop for customs clearing upon returning from a flight into U.S. or for incoming general aviation traffic from the U.S., especially during the evening and at night,” he wrote. Customs service is available at nearby St. Hubert from 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays only, and there’s already a $10 landing fee in place there. Charette said the new fees will also hurt already-struggling FBOs and flight schools at the Montreal airports. It also seems likely that it will annoy the various aircraft manufacturers that have set up shop at Mirabel. COPA and the APBQ are preparing a protest campaign to try to stop the fees.

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News Briefs back to top 

Space Weather Threatens GPS

As if we didn’t have enough weather to worry about here on Earth, scientists have confirmed what has long been anecdotally acknowledged -- that solar flares play havoc with GPS signals. And with the FAA moving steadily toward satellite-based technologies for the future of airspace management, the warnings from last week’s Space Weather Enterprise Forum take on increasing poignancy. “Society cannot become overly reliant on technology without an awareness and understanding of the effects of future space weather disruptions,'' Anthea Coster, Ph.D., MIT Haystack Observatory, told attendees at the conference, which was held in Washington, D.C. There is some good news, however. It appears WAAS signals, the cornerstone of most of the new navigation protocols, are somewhat less vulnerable to disruption. The scientists got a good look at the potential for disruption courtesy of massive, and unexpected, solar flares that occurred on Dec. 6, 2006. When a solar flare erupts, it throws out tremendous radio wave energy over a wide range of frequencies, and the December occurrence was enough to swamp GPS receivers over the entire sunlit side of Earth, noted Dale Gary, Ph.D., chair and professor of the physics department at New Jersey Institute of Technology. The December flare was an anomaly because sunspot activity is on an 11-year cycle and we’re at the lowest ebb of it now. Scientists predict the next peak in solar activity, in about six years, to be one of the strongest ever.

Guard Wants Low-Level Range In New England

Opposition is mounting to a Massachusetts Air National Guard plan to conduct low-level (500 feet minimum) training over a 3,600-square-nautical-mile area of northwestern Maine and a sliver of eastern New Hampshire known as the Western Mountains. The sparsely populated resort area is already a military range, but only a small section is used for low-level flights. According to The Original Irregular (the real name of the newspaper in Kingsfield, Maine) the Guard claims buzzing the treetops in F-16s and F-15s shouldn’t really bother anyone. “The Proposed Action would have the potential to affect airspace management, biological resources, and safety, but would have no significant impacts on these resources,” the paper quotes the Guard’s draft environmental assessment as saying. Others aren’t so sure and are worried about wildlife, air quality and the undeniable impact of a fighter suddenly screaming overhead. AOPA is also involved, asking for, and getting, more time to study the impact on airspace. The comment period on the environmental assessment was to have ended, but AOPA has asked the Guard to extend that by 30 days so it and others can properly assess the plan. The Guard agreed and the new comment deadline is May 14. Meanwhile, a grassroots movement is afoot in the hills of Maine. Rather than try to scoop each other with this story, little newspapers like The Original Irregular are alerting each other about it in an effort to spread the word.

Columbia Introduces 2007 Models
The 2007 Columbias have arrived. Fresh for this year are new, dynamic paint schemes for both the Columbia 350 and 400, as well as a host of thoughtful and unique features for the discerning aircraft owner. See how your new Columbia will look with the interactive online Paint Selector. Just go online and click on the "Paint Your Passion" icon.

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News Briefs back to top 

Vietnamese Homebuilders Close To First Flight

Vietnam’s (future) flying farmers, Tran Quoc Hai and Le Van Danh, passed a critical step in their bid to become the country’s first homegrown aviators last week when government inspectors appear to have given their backyard-built helicopter a passing grade. “Specifically, within 30 minutes, the engine operated in a stable manner, the propeller ran at 180 circles per minute and other indexes met standards,” the VietNamNet Bridge reported. “Particularly, the aircraft met the standards for anti-shake on the ground, which was the biggest challenge in the testing period.” Ministry of Defense inspectors will be looking at the aircraft over the next couple of weeks and, if it passes muster, it will be granted a license to (hopefully) fly. The pair hopes their dogged determination in pursuing their dream will encourage and facilitate others interested in aviation. They also acknowledged that the personal interest and support of Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung went a long way in getting them this far.

Garuda Airliner Landed At 230 Knots

Crash investigators in Indonesia say the Garuda Airlines Boeing 737-400 that overran a runway, resulting in 21 deaths on March 7, was going about 230 knots when it touched down, close to double the normal landing speed. The airliner caught fire after running off the end of Yogyakarta Airport's runway, but 119 people, including the flight crew, survived. According to the Australia Herald Sun, the report, which it says Indonesian officials are trying to suppress, conflicts sharply with the claims of the crew, Captain Marwoto Komar and his copilot Gagam Rohman, who could be facing charges. The Herald Sun said the crew indicated they had problems with a thrust reverser before taking off, but the flight data recorder so far shows no mechanical faults with the plane. Komar also said the plane was hit by a downdraft, but winds were calm at the time of the accident, according to the newspaper. There were earlier reports that the two pilots argued over flap settings and whether to go around, but those claims have been denied by a top investigator.

New from Aeromedix! Doug Ritter RSK Mk3™ Fixed-Blade Survival/Utility Knife
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News Briefs back to top 

Five Aircraft, One Pilot

The British military is testing a system that would, essentially, allow a pilot to command his own pilotless wingmates. The system, developed by QinetiQ with funding from the British Ministry of Defense, enables the pilot of a fighter jet to simultaneously control up to four unmanned companion aerial vehicles. According to Technology News, it was tested for the first time last week with the pilot of a Tornado fighter also influencing the movements of a BAC 111, filling in for a UAV, and three simulated UAVs. Despite the absence of actual UAVs in the test, the government called the test a success and said the Tornado pilot was able to lead his simulated backup on a simulated ground attack. Now, handling one aircraft in a hostile environment is usually more than enough for a fighter pilot, so much of the deployment of the four UAVs is controlled autonomously by the drones themselves. The (simulated) UAVs have the ability to “self-organize, communicate, sense their environment, including possible enemies, and target their weapons,” according to the report. However, the aerial robots can’t actually pull the trigger themselves and it’s up to the fighter pilot to make that call. But don’t look for this kind of capability over the battlefield anytime soon. “There remains a great deal of work to be done before a system like this could be considered for operations, but the trials represent an important step in proving that complex autonomy technologies are ready to move from a simulated world to realistic flight conditions," QinetiQ spokesman Tony Wall told Technology News.

China Releases Images Of Future "Jumbo" Jet

If the images portrayed by China’s Xinhua news agency are accurate, China’s jetliner for the 21st century looks suspiciously like a Russian military transport from the 1970s. The high-wing, high-tailed creation, with its multiple banks of landing gear trucks clustered under the fuselage, looks like the big Antonovs that still toil as chartered military cargo aircraft. It looks nothing like the sleek shape of the Boeing 787 that many consider the technology driver of the next generation of commercial airliners. Still, China seems pretty excited about its chances in the world market. "China's jumbo aircraft will initially target the domestic market. But the ultimate aim is to compete with Boeing and Airbus on the international market," said Jin Qiansheng, deputy director of the administrative committee of Xi'an Yanliang State Aviation High-tech Industry Base. According to Xinhua, China considers an aircraft to be in the “jumbo” category if it can carry 150 passengers and has a gross weight of more than 200,000 pounds. There have been no details released on the size of the Chinese jet, but Xinhua did say that cargo and passenger versions are planned. The news service says it will take at least 10 years to develop the aircraft. Meanwhile, final assembly has begun on the first ARJ-21 regional jet and its first flight is expected next March.

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News In Brief back to top 

On The Fly

Charles Simonyi became the fifth space tourist Saturday after a successful launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Simonyi will spend 13 days on the International Space Station, courtesy of Space Adventures…

AOPA has assembled a Web page with information on flying to Sun n' Fun. The annual kickoff to the air show season begins in just over a week in Lakeland, Fla…

Despite a general decline in the number of pilots, membership in AOPA is climbing. The organization says membership reached a record 411,187…

EAA Founder Paul Poberezny will be featured on Wings To Adventure. The program will run April 14 at 7 p.m. and again at 9 p.m. on the Outdoor Channel.

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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Tired of the High Cost of Fuel? GAMIjectors Are the Answer!
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New On AVweb back to top 

CEO of the Cockpit #69: Size Matters

Even in big airliners there's no room for decent-sized bathrooms, comfortable seats, or even flight-bag storage areas. Doesn't help that we're all getting bigger.

Click here for the full story.

Replacing Ancient Avionics

If you're flying a nav/comm museum, it may be time to stop pouring money into older boxes. Here are guidelines on what's serviceable and what's not.

Click here for the full story.

AVmail: Apr. 9, 2007

Reader mail this week about FSS closures, medical application fraud and Tuskegee Airmen and much more about user fees.

Click here for the full story.

Kevin Garrison's New Book Now Available!
Clear Left, I'll Have the Chicken (An Airline Captain Looks at Life) is a collection of columns, humor pieces, satires, piloting advice, and memories from 26 years of airline flying. Now available online.
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 part one of an interview with AOPA's Andrew Cebula on aviation user fees. And AVweb's podcast index includes interviews with Hawker Beechcraft's Avfuel's Craig Sincock; Comp Air's Ron Lueck; Expedition Aircraft's Jim Schuster; VistaNav's Jeff Simon; 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; and aviation forecaster Richard Aboulafia. In today's special podcast, hear part two of AOPA's Andrew Cebula discussion with AVweb about aviation user fees. 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: Dillon Flying Service

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Dillon Flying Service at KDLN in Dillon, Mont.

AVweb reader Benjamin Marsh liked the service so much at the FBO that he dreams of going back.

"Dennis and Jean, the owners, offer extremely personable service and genuinely care about their customers. Dennis, a high-time tailwheel pilot, welcomes everyone from cub pilots to jet jockey's at the FBO. Dillon's does get trainsient traffic; however, most is recreational due to its world-famous fishing and hunting. Yet prices are extremely low unlike other recreational airports. The FBO even offers a beautiful C172 for rental at only $82/hour wet. Overall, this FBO is a dream come true for any fisherman planning a trip this summer to the Beaverhead, Big Hole, Ruby or Madison Rivers, but still wants to stick to his budget. I can only dream of a flight back to Dillon."

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!

The AVweb Bookstore, The Most Complete Aviation Bookstore Anywhere
Over 400 titles representing 52 publishers are in stock and ready for immediate delivery — as books, videos, or CDs. 100+ titles available instantly as fully searchable e-Book downloads. Whether you are a pilot, an A&P technician, or a kit airplane builder, if it's worth reading, it's available from the AVweb Bookstore. Click here to visit online.
Video Of The Week back to top 

Video of the Week: Sean Tucker Aerobatics to the Music of Steve Morse

Recommend a Video | VOTW Archive

CFII (and AVweb reader) Nate Weinsaft tells us he's "a huge fan of Sean D. Tucker and the musician Steve Morse ... [who] recently purchased a Mac." We won't speculate on how long it took to match up Tucker's aerobatic feats to the swells and valleys of "Air on a 6 String," but it was long enough to earn Nate's video a spot as today's AVweb "Video of the Week." (For those who will ask, here's a link to buy the album. You're on your own when it comes to buying the Macintosh.)

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."

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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"

I heard this somewhere out East while in the clag and trying to find an approach plate:

Piper: Center, Lance Six Two Eight One November, with you at 7,000 feet.

Center (sounding tired): Lance, Six Two Eight One November, roger. But two things: first you don't need to say "feet" because that's understood. And more importantly, you aren't "with me." I know everybody in this radar room, and you aren't here.

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.