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The FAA Safety Team (FAAST) is changing the focus of its Wings-Pilot Proficiency Program from an awards-based program to a
true proficiency program. The new system is expected to be in place in June. In a release on the FAAST Web site, spokesman James Pyles said the goal of the program is to instill a culture of constant
education and re-education in pilots. "It encourages pilots to continue their aviation educational pursuits and requires education, review, and flight proficiency in the Areas of Operation found in
current Practical Test Standards (PTS) that correspond with the leading accident causal factors in the United States," he said. That would be the stick. The carrot is that as long as a pilot keeps up
with the curriculum, the requirement for flight reviews is suspended.
Under the program, pilots design their curriculum to fit their own requirements and continuously study and review the material. The educational activity is monitored by the FAA and, as long as it
meets the requirements of the basic level. Of course, the program also encourages more advanced courses of study as a way of keeping pilots actively thinking about safety. If they drop out, though,
the time table for flight reviews is reinstated.
Pilots in South Florida have said for years that it's been an accident waiting to happen, and now it has. Three people died Friday when the Cessna 182 they were in hit the cable used to tether a
surveillance and propaganda blimp over Cudjoe Key in the Florida Keys. The blimp, known locally as Fat Albert, is normally flown at about 8,000 to10,000 feet, and the aircraft hit the wire at about
4,000 feet. Airspace surrounding the blimp is restricted. A camera trained on the blimp caught the impact on video. Fat Albert is one of squadron of lighter-than-air devices, more properly known as
aerostats used by the federal government to detect suspected drug smugglers. Some also beam anti-Castro television signals to Cuba. Meanwhile, rescuers are also looking for the five occupants of a
Piper Aztec that appears to have gone down off the coast of Fort Lauderdale.
The airplane was on its way from Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport to Andros Island in the Bahamas when it went off radar screens. Coast Guard Petty Officer Jennifer Johnson told the Associated
Press that debris had been found, but no bodies or survivors. According to newspaper reports, the five onboard were planning a fishing trip in the Bahamas.
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The operator of the Embraer Legacy 600 business jet involved in a midair with a Gol Airlines Boeing 737-800 over the Amazon jungle is blaming the accident on Brazilian air traffic controllers, according to the Associated Press. All 154 people aboard the 737 were killed when the jets collided
over the Amazon jungle in late September; the seven aboard the Legacy owned and operated by New York-based ExcelAire survived. In a 154-page document sent to Brazilian federal police earlier this
month and released to the AP on Saturday, the U.S. charter firm said an analysis of air traffic control transmissions and flight recorders in the Legacy "confirmed that both planes were freed by Air
Traffic Control to fly at the same altitude [37,000 feet] and the same path, in opposite directions." Meanwhile, Brazil's Defense Minister, Waldir Pires, maintains that his country's air traffic
control system is one of the safest in the world.
According to the AP, Pires said the collision was the fault of the ExcelAire pilots because the Legacy's transponder was not turned on or malfunctioned. Honeywell, which manufactured the business
jet's transponder, has repeatedly told AVweb that there is no evidence that suggests that this equipment malfunctioned in the ExcelAire Legacy.
Vero Beach, Fla.-based Piper Aircraft is reportedly considering Tallahassee, Fla.; Vero Beach, Fla.; Columbia, S.C.; Oklahoma City, Okla.; and Albuquerque, N.M. for its PiperJet manufacturing
facility, according to the Tallahassee Democrat. The newspaper reported on Sunday that if Piper chooses
the capital city for its new plant, the facility would be built on a 275-acre site at the Tallahassee Regional Airport, where it would have access to 700,000 sq ft of space. Further, the city said it
would construct and lease the buildings to lure Piper to the area, the newspaper said. Meanwhile, Vero Beach officials are fighting hard to keep the work alongside Piper's existing headquarters there.
Richard Aboulafia, vice president of aerospace forecasting and consulting firm Teal Group, told the Florida Sun-Sentinel that the PiperJet will likely be manufactured
outside Florida because of that state's aggressive incentives to lure new companies.
If Piper selects Albuquerque to build the PiperJet, the Albuquerque Bizjournal says it
is likely its new plant would be built at the Double Eagle II Airport, where Eclipse is erecting its manufacturing facilities. Piper has hired Boston-based consultant BDO Siedman to scout locations
where it could build its jet single. Now that the list is pared to five cities, the next step will be to narrow this further down to two or three locations before Piper makes a final
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Visitors to downtown Lakeport, Calif., were treated to an unusual site Thursday afternoon when two aircraft emerged from Clear Lake and taxied through the streets of downtown. The pilots and their
aircraft were participating in a rehearsal for the Western States Seaplane Festival -- also known as the Clear Lake Splash-In -- that will take place September 22. The festival is billed as the
"largest gathering of floatplanes and amphibious aircraft west of the Mississippi." This year, some of the aircraft will be parked on Main Street, where the public is invited to get close to a
seaplane, talk with the pilots and participate in the festivities. Thursday's rehearsal "was designed to ensure that the considerable logistical concerns involved in the effort will go off without a
hitch," according to festival spokesperson Damon Trimble. The pilots landed on Clear Lake and taxied up ramps normally used by boaters and fishermen.
From there, volunteers from the Lake County Airmans Association guided the airplanes as they taxied through city streets along the same route theyll use at the festival. According to
Trimble, the rehearsal ensured that the aircrafts wing span will clear phone poles, street signs and other obstacles on the downtown streets. Pilots Jennifer Martin and Ray Arceneaux donated
their time and airplanes for the rehearsal.
On Thursday, the Eclipse 500 first very light jet (VLJ) made its European debut at AERO 2007 in Friedrichshafen, Germany. According to Eclipse Aviation, this is the first time that the Eclipse 500 has
been outside of North America. The twinjet left Eclipse's headquarters in Albuquerque, N.M., on April 14 and flew the North Atlantic route through Canada, Greenland, Iceland and the UK before landing
in Friedrichshafen. Europe is such a great market for the Eclipse 500 because of its superior performance and efficiency to anything else offered today, noted Eclipse Public Relations
Director Andrew Broom. We already have more than 100 orders throughout this market, and we be lieve that once people in Europe and the UK see it and fly it, we can change the way they
travel. Over the next month, the Eclipse 500 will travel to several countries while attending trade shows and completing sales demo flights before arriving in Geneva, Switzerland, on May 22 for
the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition.
The aircraft manufacturer says the Eclipse 500 is the "quietest turbine powered aircraft" and exceeds ICAOs most stringent Stage 4 noise standard by more than 40 decibels. It said that noise
testing proves that the Eclipse 500 is quieter than all multi-engine and most single-engine piston powered aircraft. "Additional testing by Pratt & Whitney Canada shows that the Eclipse 500s
PW610F engines are setting a green engine benchmark by registering a smoke number (SN) of less than five, while the regulatory limit for engine smoke emissions is a SN of 50," Eclipse said.
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A Gulfstream V twinjet will be used to track and analyze large plumes of dust and pollution from Asia as they journey across the Pacific Ocean, according to New Scientist. The airplane is expected to start its first research mission
this week to monitor the plumes, which affect cloud formation and are believed to contribute to global warming. The Gulfstream will fly at up to FL510 during the research missions, and onboard
instruments will monitor plume movement and cloud formation, as well as capture dust, pollutants and cloud particles for more study. This is the first time that an aircraft with very
sophisticated instruments will be following these plumes all the way across the Pacific, principal researcher Veerabhadran Ramanathan told New Scientist. There is a gold mine of
information out there waiting to be uncovered.
The plumes peak in the spring when windstorms over Central Asias Gobi desert send huge masses of dust, soot and smog from China and other East Asian countries across the Pacific
Paula Abdul either overestimated her star power or underestimated the sort of primeval code of conduct that rules when 100 or more people are packed in an aluminum tube, rebreathing each other's air.
The American Idol judge's first mistake was to ask for first-class treatment on the successfully proletariat Southwest Airlines by demanding advanced boarding for a flight from San Jose to Burbank,
Calif. Her next move was trying to cash in her star credits. When told that advanced boarding was reserved for the old, the very young and infirm, she reportedly said, But Im famous! I
need to go on first! according MonstersAndCritics.com's
retelling of tabloid accounts. At that point, her fellow passengers reportedly dissolved into laughter with one quipping "You're no Sanjaya," referring to the talent-challenged contestant whose
flamboyance carried him to a final 10 berth in the popular reality TV series. Abdul's final indignity was being forced to rub shoulders (not to mention elbows, knees and likely feet) with the less
important people in her seat row because the airplane was full and her lame attempt to reserve the seat beside her was immediately overruled by a flight attendant.
But while Abdul's antics had her seatmates rolling in the aisle, Heather Mills' impromptu dance routine couldn't break the veil of doom that had settled over the flight she was on. Mills, the
estranged wife of Paul McCartney is a competitor on Dancing with the Stars and, when the entertainment system on the Virgin Atlantic flight she was on from LAX to London broke, she thought she'd fill
in. Mills foxtrotted from First Class to Economy and back with Dancing partner Jonathan Roberts, but her act was scant compensation for the planeload of passengers facing 10 hours without day-old news
programming, TV reruns and six-month-old movies to distract them. "We weren't in a good frame of mind because of the broken entertainment system," one passenger is reported by London.Net to have
said."When the dance routine, which moved from first-class to economy, finished, no one clapped because we were all in such a bad mood."
Reason #31 Look Ma, No Hands
The new Garmin GFC 700 autopilot gives you more hands-free flying control than ever. The flight director is seamlessly integrated into the G1000 glass cockpit and standard on new Skylanes and
Stationairs. Letting go never felt so good. For more great reasons,
The NTSB says the pilot of Piper
PA-28 Warrior misjudged his approach to a private airport in Georgetown, Del., on July 26, 2005, but it also suggests the consequences would have been far less grave had a road that passed
perpendicular to the threshold been in compliance with FAA standards. The pilot of the Piper said his sink rate was faster than he expected on the approach, so he added power and retracted some flap.
It was noted in the report that retracting flap in that flight condition would increase the sink rate. At any rate, as he did so an SUV occupied by a man and his 14-year-old daughter crossed from the
left and the aircraft hit the vehicle, killing its occupants. The pilot and his two passengers survived, and the pilot later told investigators he thought he would clear the vehicle, which was on a
public road less than 18 feet from the beginning of the runway. The NTSB says the FAA would normally require at least 300 feet between a road and the end of a runway.
The greatest threat of collision at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport during early April's unprecedented spring snowstorms was
apparently from deicing trucks. Associated Press reported last week that no less than three collisions occurred between
trucks and airplanes during whiteout conditions at the airport. In one case, the driver of the truck didn't mention that he'd made contact, but the pilots apparently caught it and, as in the other two
incidents, all three airplanes returned to the gates so they could be inspected. There's no word on what damage, if any, the incidents caused. Of course, airport authorities rounded up all the drivers
involved and gave them drug and alcohol tests, which they all passed. Airport officials blame the weather, poor communications and operator error. The FAA is investigating.
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.
S-TEC received FAA STC approval on Wednesday for installation of its standard roll-axis servo in Cirrus SR22s with System Fifty Five X autopilots. The company says the new
$4,000 servo will enhance roll response when using the airplane's autopilot
Flight1 Aviation Technologies' Avidyne EXP5000 primary flight display PC-based courseware has been accepted as a FAA/Industry Training Standard (FITS) self-learning program
Anywhere Map is now offering the HP Travel Companion 5915 packaged with its moving-map GPS system and an airplane interface adapter
MS Aviation on Friday released its online private pilot training course that covers ground training, FAA knowledge test preparation and checkride preparation. The introductory price is $97.
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If your instructor is not behaving in a professional, respectful manner, then you need a new one. And if you're a CFI with an unprofessional, disrespectful student, don't wait around
for things to change.
Join NAA and Help Shape the Next Century of Flight
It's a great time to join the National Aeronautic Association (NAA), the nation's oldest aviation organization. At $39 a year, NAA membership is a terrific value for any aviation
enthusiast! Members receive the Smithsonian's Air & Space and NAA's Aero magazines, plus access to aviation records, product discounts, and much more. Call (703) 527-0226 to
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As we pack up and head home from the 33rd Annual Sun 'n Fun Fly-In in Lakeland, Florida, let's take a moment to recap the six exclusive audio interviews we turned into webcasts during the show.
Here's the checklist, in case there are any you've missed.
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AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Augusta Aviation at KDNL in Augusta, Ga.
AVweb readers Jim and Karen Lindemulder says the FBO owners went out of their way to help them.
"Good Friday evening our Skylane experienced multiple instrument failures while flying over Georgia. Control vectored us to Daniel Airport for assistance, where we were met on the ground by the
smiling faces of Sherrell and Steven Gay of Augusta Aviation. The Masters Golf tournament was in progress and every hotel and rental car was taken. There were no mechanics available at the late hour
and we considered a ferry flight to another facility, but Sherrell could tell by my wife's face that we really needed a night on the ground. She made many personal phone calls and located the last
room available 35 miles away and gave us their own truck to get there. When we returned in the morning, their mechanic had already checked out our plane and determined the pitot heater was not working
well and allowed ice to form in the lines. We were gratefully humbled when we were told that there was no charge for any of the services, even though we did not buy fuel. We will definitely stop to
see them whenever passing through!"
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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This week, we're taking a brief hiatus from reader-recommended videos to point out two videos produced on-the-fly (and largely on-the-run) by AVweb's Glenn Pew over the last couple of days
at the Sun 'n Fun Fly-In in Lakeland, Florida. We shot quite a bit of video at the show, so look for more original video content here on AVweb in the next few days. For now, here are a couple
of short clips that set the tone for our adventures in vodcasting at the Fly-In:
After 10 years of flying a Twin Comanche, I upgraded to a Beech Baron. With the Beechcraft Pilot Proficiency Program in Lakeland, Fla. under my belt, I advanced the throttles on my first PIC flight
into Orlando airspace.
Me: Orlando Approach, Baron Eight Two Four just off Lakeland, five miles to the east, out of 1,200 for 3,500. Would like to coordinate a Class B entry en route to New Smyrna Beach, VFR.
Approach [in a classic southern drawl]: Baron Eight Two Four, this is Tampa Approach, and if you dont call us Orlando, we won't call you a Piper. Squawk two seven three zero and ident.
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
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