AVwebFlash - Volume 13, Number 20b

May 17, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
 
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Top News back to top 
 
Sponsor Announcement

Aviation User Fees Stay In Senate FAA Bill

An amendment introduced by Sens. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and John Sununu, R-N.H., to strike user fees from S.1300, the Senate FAA reauthorization bill, was narrowly struck down by a roll-call vote of 12-11 on Wednesday during an executive session of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. As such, the four-year FAA reauthorization legislation -- sponsored by Sens. Trent Lott, R-Miss., and Jay Rockefeller IV, D-W.Va. -- now headed to the full Senate will include the $25 per-flight user fee for IFR operations conducted by turbine aircraft. S.1300 was touted during the session as fully funding ATC modernization to 2011, restoring full Airport Improvement Funding levels and containing a passenger bill of rights. It also would continue the fuel and ticket taxes at current levels except for the 4.3-cent per gallon fuel tax for commercial flights, which would be phased out by the bill. Sen. Nelson was the most vocal supporter of the amendment during the session, saying that it makes more sense to continue the 4.3-cent per gallon fuel tax for commercial operators versus charging a $25 IFR flight user fee. He further alleged that the airline lobby pushed for this $25 user fee to impede the success of startup very light jet air-taxi firms such as DayJet, which the airlines generally view as new competition.

Aviation User-Fee Fight Far From Over

An effort to eliminate aviation user fees from the Senate's FAA funding proposal came within one vote of succeeding on Wednesday, prompting National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) President and CEO Ed Bolen to note that opposition to user fees is strong and growing. "This remarkable vote shows that opposition to the per-flight user fee is growing among Senators from both sides of the aisle, who are coming to share our concerns about this user fee," Bolen said. AOPA President Phil Boyer sent a similar message to members: "Even this defeat sent a very strong message that AOPA members do not support user fees for any segment of aviation! This is important because we are still in the early stages. This bill will also need action by the Senate Finance Committee before it reaches a vote by the full Senate." He added that this "has been an impressive opening round, and we still have yet to see any action in the House of Representatives." Bolen maintains that the razor-thin margin for the vote adds momentum to the fight against user fees. "We have some real champions for our cause, and we are picking up key supporters in this fight," he pointed out. "The general aviation community recognizes the need for [ATC] modernization…but we also know that user fees represent a step in the wrong direction because they would be very harmful to small and mid-sized businesses and rural communities across the country."

 
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News Briefs back to top 
 

Senator Critiques FAA's Performance

If your projects aren't meeting their targets, here's one solution -- move the target so it's closer to where you are. That's what the FAA has been doing, according to Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who sits on the Senate appropriations subcommittee on transportation. At a hearing last week, the senator said FAA Administrator Marion Blakey's frequent claim that 97 percent of the agency's capital projects are on time and on budget is true only because some projects have been "re-baselined." That is, when projects run over budget or behind schedule, those targets are recalculated. "Things are not all 'on track' at the FAA," Murray said. She said she questions "whether the agency is being honest with the system users, Congress and taxpayers when it establishes a new higher cost estimate, a later delivery date or a weaker performance goal, and then continues to proclaim proudly that the program is 'on-time' and 'on budget.'" Among the projects that are lagging, according to Murray, are improved weather systems, radar upgrades and systems to prevent runway incursions. FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown told the FederalTimes.com that out of 37 large programs tracked by the agency, only seven have been re-baselined. "Our programs continue to meet their targets," Brown said.

Will Air Taxis Fly With Joe Public?

SATSair and Linear Air believe that they have proven the air-taxi model using the Cirrus SR22 and Cessna Caravan, respectively. "Air taxis are a big opportunity," Bill Herp, Linear Air's president and CEO, said at the Business Models for VLJs and Light Jets Conference in West Palm Beach, Fla. SATSair President and CEO Steve Hanvey, among other panelists, also shared Herp's gushing enthusiasm during a forum on how to make money with very light jets. Because of "air cab" services like SATSair, "more people can now use aviation" to get to their destination, noted Hanvey. While air taxis do provide an option to connection-laden airline flights or long car drives, the thought of flying in small airplanes simply scares some people. This fear presents a roadblock to the air-taxi industry, though Herp and Hanvey believe this barrier can be overcome by educating customers. "We need to engage a change in thinking," Hanvey pointed out. He further said the emergency parachute recovery system on the SR22 is a major influence in tipping people in favor of flying SATSair. Hanvey says customers "enjoy the experience in the Cirrus," and a number of customers have told him, "I never knew I could do business that way." In fact, one customer told Hanvey that two technologies have made his business possible -- "the Internet and SATSair."

 
Aircraft Spruce East Coast Super Sale on May 19th
Aircraft Spruce will be holding their annual East Coast Super Sale on Saturday, May 19th from 8:00am to 4:00pm. Vendors will be on site demonstrating their products. Raffle prizes will be given away hourly. Seminars will include Bose, PTI, Ideal, and Light Sport Workshop. Numerous discounts, hot dogs, and lots of fun! Complimentary shuttle service available throughout the day from the Falcon Field (FFC). For more information, call Aircraft Spruce at (877) 4-SPRUCE or visit online
 
News Briefs back to top 
 

DayJet Dispels Air-Taxi Misconceptions

Before DayJet begins the first very light jet air-taxi service this summer in Florida using Eclipse 500s, company President and CEO Ed Iacobucci wants to clear up some myths about the air-taxi industry. "The biggest misconception is that the air-taxi model is about the airplane," he said Tuesday at a VLJ conference in West Palm Beach, Fla. "The VLJ is evolutionary, not revolutionary. It's the VLJ price point and air-taxi business models that are revolutionary." Iacobucci believes the Eclipse 500 is the best airplane available for the air-taxi mission, which he said requires an airplane with the lowest operating costs and not the lowest per-seat costs. Further, he maintains that DayJet has a solid model for on-demand, per-seat air service. According to Iacobucci, "air taxis are a new market game" since they give travelers a heretofore unavailable option where point-to-point airline service is limited or nonexistent, prompting them to drive long hours to get to their destination. The size of the Eclipse 500 cabin was an initial concern for DayJet, but customer focus groups and simulated 45-minute flights in cabin mockups put those worries to rest. Iacobucci said the consensus about the Eclipse 500 cabin among testers was, "It's small, but it's better than the alternative."

Pogo Bounces Back

The news blackout from Pogo Jet doesn't portend its demise; instead it was merely intentional. According to Pogo Executive Vice President of Operations Mike Stuart, the company has been laying low while working hard behind the scenes to make its flat-rate (per hour) charter service a reality. "We're waiting to get in when the [very light jet] aircraft matures," he said Tuesday at the Business Models for VLJs and Light Jets Conference in West Palm Beach, Fla. "We need a high-utilization aircraft model and we don't want to have to worry about teething pains." According to Stuart, Pogo is "leaning toward" the Eclipse 500, dashing Adam Aircraft's hopes that the company would buy 75 A700 very light jets. The VLJ charter firm plans on starting its $2,000-per-block-hour service in mid-2008. Pogo will not charge for unoccupied time, and all airplanes will come back to their home base every night. Stuart said Pogo's VLJs will fly between 2,100 and 2,300 hours each per year, more than that of the average fractional airplane but less than the 3,000 hours per year logged by the average airliner.

 
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News Briefs back to top 
 

FAA's Blakey Promises Quick Fix For FSS

"The top levels of both the FAA and Lockheed Martin are now engaged and committed to fixing the significant problems pilots are experiencing with the new flight service station (FSS) system," AOPA said on Tuesday. AOPA President Phil Boyer spent nearly an hour on the phone with FAA Administrator Marion Blakey on Sunday, and another hour with her and her deputy on Monday. "I have their pledge that they will do whatever it takes to ensure pilots get the safety of flight information that they need and deserve," he said. Problems with the system worsened in recent weeks, as Lockheed Martin began consolidating the old FAA flight service stations at the rate of three a week. Computer updates were incomplete, and spring weather brought an increase in flying. "I have great difficulty understanding why it has taken so long for those FAA employees responsible for the Lockheed Martin contract to address a safety of flight issue," Boyer said. According to Lockheed Martin program manager Dan Courain, a series of software updates that are scheduled for the next few weeks should resolve the transition problems and "allow [workers] to focus on the pilot's needs, rather than the system's performance." Lockheed Martin is the number-one government contractor, with $12.7 billion in government revenue for various programs. Regarding the FSS project, executive vice president Linda Gooden told Washington Technology in a story published on Monday, "We ... provided an offering to the customer that was very comprehensive and efficient.”

GA Groups Join To Lobby For New Orleans Tower

The control tower at New Orleans Lakefront Airport was closed down by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and is still not back in operation. On Monday, the National Business Aviation Association, AOPA, and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association joined together to blast the FAA for "dragging its feet," and called for progress. The tower is "essential to safety and the economic recovery of New Orleans," the groups said in a joint news release. The field is growing busier, and a number of unsafe incidents have been reported, such as aircraft on the runway passing each other at high speed in opposite directions and pilots having to go around to prevent collisions on the runway. "The FAA can and must restore an operational control tower at Lakefront before an incident becomes an accident," said NATCA spokesman Darrell Meachum. NBAA President Ed Bolen said his group "is enormously supportive of efforts to revitalize and enhance Lakefront Airport." AOPA's Andy Cebula said that Lakefront used to be a vibrant GA community, with two flight schools and a lot of traffic. "Now, in addition to the tower, Lakefront's instrument landing system remains out of service," he said. "AOPA wants to see services that enhance safety for pilots who use Lakefront returned to pre-Katrina levels." The FAA initially had said it would provide a temporary mobile tower for the airport, but then said it would reopen the permanent tower instead. However, the FAA has not even begun substantive work on the tower, according to NATCA.

 
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News Briefs back to top 
 

Three Killed In Ohio Midair

A Cessna 172 and a Beechcraft Bonanza were flying in opposite directions last Friday afternoon, according to witnesses, when their wings clipped and both airplanes fell to the ground. All three men aboard the two aircraft were killed. Several people called 911 after they saw the collision and ran to the wreckage, but they were unable to help. The midair took place on a sunny day about two and a half miles from Blue Ash Airport, near Cincinnati, Ohio, where both aircraft were based. The CTAF audio from the airport, archived online, suggests that the Bonanza was inbound to the field and the Cessna had just departed. One airplane crashed into a road and another into a residential front yard, but nobody on the ground was hurt. The NTSB is investigating the crash.

LSA Models Climb To 50

LSA Models Up To 50 If anyone thought two years ago that light sport aircraft wouldn't catch on among manufacturers, they’ve been proven wrong this week as the number of certified LSA models now totals 50. Of those, 42 are fixed-wing airplanes, five are weight-shift trikes, and three are powered parachutes, according to Dan Johnson's sport-pilot blog. About a dozen of the designs are built in the Czech Republic, and 11 are built in the U.S. The 50th certification went to Powrachute's AirWolf 912, which carries an electric-start 100-hp Rotax. "While some complain about the cost of LSA, here's one with a four-stroke engine for less than $31,000," says Johnson. "Worth another look?" For a complete list of the 50 models, with info and links, go to Johnson's Web site.

 
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News In Brief back to top 
 

On The Fly

A 2001 Cessna 182 Turbo, N35347, white with two blue stripes, was reported stolen from Falcon Field in Arizona in the first week of May. If you have information, please contact the Aviation Crime Prevention Institute, Doug Bland, (805) 496-7181...

Transport Canada has certified Columbia 350s and 400s equipped with G1000 glass cockpits...

Socata Aircraft, of Pembroke Pines, Fla., has changed its name to EADS Socata North America. The company also delivered its first TBM 850 in South Africa last week...

LoPresti has introduced the ClearBlue wireless pilot headset, which has a simplified interface on the ear cup and a single-button control. The headset can be connected to an iPod via the “Intuition” software, and it can also be synched to a Bluetooth cellphone. Activity on the radio takes the highest priority, muting the other functions at the pilot’s discretion…

Pilot Steve Jones was unhurt after shredding a pylon at the Red Bull Air Race in Monument Valley. Hungarian pilot Peter Besenyei won the round. The race now goes to Istanbul...

Air pollution from aviation emissions kills 321 U.S. citizens per year, according to a study by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology...

The FAA says it was a mistake to allow model rocket launches near Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, Ky., without checking with the tower...

Air traffic controllers are now on trial in Switzerland in connection with a fatal midair five years ago.

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

HAVE YOU SIGNED UP yet for AVweb's NO-COST weekly business newsletter, AVwebBiz? Reporting on breaking news, Business AVflash also focuses on the companies, the products and the industry leaders that make headlines in the Business of Aviation. Business AVflash is a must read. Sign up today at http://www.avweb.com/profile/.

 
Garmin 496 vs. Flight Cheetah with XM Weather Comparison
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New On AVweb back to top 
 

Brainteasers

Quiz #120: Something Old, Something New
As the tsunami of change washes over the FAA, leaving it groping for a user-fee lifeline, pilots know to surf the crest, riding old terms, new ways and hope into aviation's future.

Exclusive Video Preview of Cessna's NGP Proof-of-Concept Aircraft from Sun 'n Fun 2007

Recommend a Video | VOTW Archive

Glenn Pew speaks with Cessna vice president of propeller aircraft sales, John Doman, about the company's Next Generation Piston proof-of-concept (NGP POC) aircraft.


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.

 
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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 hear an interview with Teal Group's Richard Aboulafia. And AVweb's podcast index includes interviews with Air Journey's Thierry Pouille; Epic Aircraft's Rick Schrameck; Cessna's Jack Pelton; Embraer's Ernest Edwards; LAMA's Dan Johnson; Piper's Jim Bass; DayJet's Ed Iacobucci; AOPA's Andrew Cebula; Hawker Beechcraft's Jim Schuster; Avfuel's Craig Sincock; Comp Air's Ron Lueck; and VistaNav's Jeff Simon. In Monday's special podcast, hear David Wartofsky, owner of Potomac Airfield, talk about AFSS problems. Remember: In AVweb's podcasts, you'll hear things you won't find anywhere else.

 
Merge the Real and Virtual Worlds, and Have Fun Learning
Using ASA's Microsoft® Flight Simulator as a Training Aid book, student pilots can enhance book-learning, review concepts and skills, and prepare for lessons. Certificated pilots can use the book to complement real-world flying with hours in virtual skies. Flight Instructors will discover new ways to use Flight Simulator as a ground-teaching tool and in pre- and post-flight briefings. Go online for complete details.
 
Question Of The Week back to top 
 

Question of the Week: Could FAA-Mandated Avionics Prevent Midair Collisions?

This Week's Question | Previous Week's Answers

PREVIOUS RESULTS ***

Last week, we asked how many AVweb readers are planning to make the pilgrimage to Oshkosh this summer for EAA AirVenture.  We were pleased to see that 52% of those who answered our survey will be at the show.  (Stop by the booth and say hi, O.K.?)

A complete breakdown of the responses can be viewed here.
(You may be asked to register an answer, if you haven't already.)

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***

Including last week's fatal midair collision between a Cessna 172 and Beech Bonanza, there have been 24 fatal and 16 non-fatal midair collisions involving GA aircraft in the U.S. since 1997. Should the FAA mandate that all GA aircraft be equipped with traffic advisory systems to help prevent midairs?

Click here to answer.


Have an idea for a new "Question of the Week"? Send your suggestions to .

NOTE:
This address is only for suggested "QOTW" questions, and not for "QOTW" answers or comments.
Use this form to send "QOTW" comments to our AVmail Editor.

 
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FBO Of The Week back to top 
 

FBO Of The Week: Million Air KHHR

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Million Air at KHHR in Hawthorne, Calif.

AVweb reader Steve Hamerslag couldn't say enough good things about this facility.

"This is a new FBO on the field. When I arrived the ramp personnel were waiting to help with securing the aircraft. I was offered a short lift on their cart to the office, but I elected to walk the short distance. Upon entering the lobby I was helped immediately and efficiently. I was planning on taking a cab to my destination five miles away, but they insisted that they take me in their courtesy van. They even have a free soda machine on top of the normal coffee and tea. When I was departing, the line crew helped remove the chocks and offered me a cold bottled water as I did my walk around. Million Air KHHR has very friendly and efficient staff. The fuel was even reasonably priced!"

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!

 
Whether Your IFR Ticket Is Recent or Signed by Lindberg ...
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Pictures Of The Week back to top 
 

Picture of the Week: AVweb's Flying Photography Showcase

Submit a Photo | Rules | Tips | Questions | Past Winners

Each week, we go through dozens (and sometimes hundreds) of reader-submitted photos and pick the very best to share with you on Thursday mornings.  The top photos are featured on AVweb's home page, and one photo that stands above the others is awarded an AVweb baseball cap as our "Picture of the Week."  Want to see your photo on AVweb.com?  Click here to submit it to our weekly contest.

*** THIS WEEK'S WINNERS ***

"POTW" submissions climb back into the skies this week, with more great photos rolling into our submission box.  So many new photos, in fact, that we're running a little behind this week, so we'll jump right in with little fanfare.  This week's top photo is also our "suggested desktop wallpaper of the week," and it comes to us from the prolific Josh Cawthra.

medium | large

copyright © Josh Cawthra
Used with permission

Springtime in Alaska

Ah, springtime!  Josh Cawthra of Fairhope, Alabama snapped this pic in Lake Hood, where the frost has lifted and Piper Cubs are gearing up for flying season.

Josh has submitted some fantastic photos to our contest over the last several months, and we're very happy to (finally!) send him one of our brand-new sandstone AVweb ball caps.  At least he'll have something to keep the sun from his eyes while he's out there shooting more pics for us!

(We're never satisfied.  We know.)

 

medium | large

copyright © John Payne
Used with permission

En Route from Whitehorse, BC to Anchorage, AK

Speaking of Alaskans and airplanes and great-looking photos — here's an incredible in-flight shot from John Payne of Anchorage, Alaska.

 

medium | large

Used with permission of Thomas Auerbach

Let's Get Started

Thomas Auerbach of Ponca City, Oklahoma is another "POTW" alum who shows up in our submission box from time to time.  Here, Merl Helt does the prop honors for Steve McGuire's Baby Ace.

 

medium | large

copyright © Cirrus Design Corp.
Used with permission of Kate Dougherty

"Age 65 Rule?"  Puh-lease.

At 103 years old (104 this Sunday!), Rose Marie Schiltz took her first flight in a brand-new Cirrus SR22-G3.

Thanks to Cirrus Design's Kate Dougherty (of Duluth, Minnesota), who took time to submit this photo — probably knowing there was no way we could pass it up.  As Kate points out, Rose is seven months older than human flight, so (to our way of thinking), it's the airline industry that's finally catching up to her lead.

Happy 104th, Rose!  And to the rest of you — send more pictures!  :)


Is you desire for aviation pics as insatiable as ours?  Point your favorite web browser at AVweb's home page and to see all the photos we couldn't squeeze in here!

To enter next week's contest, click here.

A quick note for submitters:  If you've got several photos that you feel are "POTW" material, your best bet is to submit them one-a-week!  That gives your photos a greater chance of seeing print on AVweb, and it makes the selection process a little easier on us, too.  ;)

A Reminder About Copyrights: Please take a moment to consider the source of your image before submitting to our "Picture of the Week" contest. If you did not take the photo yourself, ask yourself if you are indeed authorized to release publication rights to AVweb. If you're uncertain, consult the POTW Rules or send us an e-mail.

 
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 Mary Grady (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.