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AOPA President Phil Boyer faced off with James May of the Air Transport Association (ATA) on Tuesday at the Washington, D.C.,
Aero Club in a debate about the pending FAA reauthorization legislation. May questioned why Boyer was opposing the Senate bill that would require a $25 user fee for turbine aircraft flying in the IFR
system and exempt piston aircraft. "Our only concern is the introduction of a user fee to any segment of aviation, whether it be $5 or $25," said Boyer. "Even if it were just the airlines [paying user
fees], to put that structure in place would be a slippery slope." May said he is fine with exempting piston aircraft. "My beef quite frankly is with the corporate jets. I'm just trying to find a
little balance from some folks who can easily afford to pay their fair share." A video of the entire debate can be watched online at AOPA's Web site.
Albuquerque, N.M.-based Eclipse Aviation's order book for its very light jet swelled to nearly 2,700 airplanes thanks to a large
fleet order from ETIRC Aviation on Wednesday at the European Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition in Geneva, Switzerland. The Luxembourg-based Eclipse 500 distributor placed a firm order for
120 of the small twinjets with options for 60 more. ETIRC Aviation, led by European high-tech industry veteran Roel Pieper, also signed an agreement with Atasay, a luxury goods company, to provide a
jet-taxi service for Turkeys business travelers using these 120 to 180 Eclipse 500s. Added to a previous standing order for 40 Eclipse 500s, ETIRC could take delivery of up to 220 of the very
light jets before all is said and done. This latest order further solidifies Eclipse's dependence on the success of the yet-to-be-proven VLJ air-taxi industry. Some 1,700 of Eclipse's order book,
which equates to fully two-thirds of the 2,700 tally of firm orders and options, are confirmed to be from air-taxi firms, and slightly more than 1,400 of them are from startup air-taxi hopeful DayJet
of Delray Beach, Fla. While there's no shortage of air-taxi optimists, business aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia believes the success of air taxis is anything but assured. In his latest blog entry, Aboulafia predicts that air taxis "will be hobbled by low utilization and high prices."
The plans that government contractor Lockheed Martin had in place for this spring to consolidate Flight Service Stations and implement new
software were doomed to fail. That's the gist of the results from a study by the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector
General that was released last week. The study was conducted from May 2006 to March 2007, just before the system began to experience major problems. The DOT OIG found "significant, inherent risks" associated with the consolidation phase of the transition, which is now underway. The planned six-month
consolidation schedule was "extremely aggressive," the DOT Inspector General's report says. The schedule depended on deploying new software on time, and the software development was already behind
schedule. Infrastructure issues were likely to arise in combining digital and analog networks. "Improvements are needed to ensure that the operational needs of users continue to be met," the report
says. FAA officials said they would consent to the DOT OIG's requests to provide an update on the status of the transition through the end of April 2007, to ensure that Lockheed Martin has appropriate
and feasible contingency plans in place during the transition, and to develop a means for monitoring customer service that is independent of Lockheed Martin.
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Does the FAA have an adequate plan in place for training the 15,000 new air traffic controllers it plans to hire over the next 10
years? That's what the Department of Transportation's Office of Inspector General (OIG) is wondering, and it plans to commence a study of the issue next month. Top among its concerns is whether the FAA's plans for training at the facility level are adequate. Facility training takes three to five years, and
comprises classroom, simulation and on-the-job training. It's the longest and most expensive part of certifying new controllers. "FAA projects that [controllers-in-training] will make up 25 percent or
more of the entire controller workforce through fiscal year 2014," said David Dobbs of the DOT OIG. "Furthermore, as experienced controllers retire, FAA will increasingly lose more experienced
[on-the-job] instructors, who are critical components of facility training." The goals of the OIG audit will be to assess the adequacy of the FAA's training plans and also to determine its progress
in implementing key initiatives for reducing facility training time and costs. The DOT OIG will also be looking next month at runway
status lights to see if they prevent runway incursions, and if they do, whether the FAA is making progress implementing the system.
The seventh annual European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE 2007) is underway this week in Geneva, Switzerland,
and it's expected to be the biggest ever, with more than 10,000 visitors, 354 exhibitors and 55 aircraft on static display. Already announcements of deals show a strong market, likely enhanced by the
strength of the Euro compared to the U.S. dollar. Among the news from the show so far: Airbus debuted its new bizjet, the A318 Elite; Adam Aircraft sold 50 of its yet-to-be-certified A700 very light
jets to a Chinese buyer; NetJets Europe announced an order for 32 Hawker 4000 business jets, worth more than $700 million; a Saudi Arabian buyer ordered 20 Gulfstream G450s; and JetFly, a fractional
operator based in Luxembourg, added four TBM 850s and four Piaggio Avantis to its fleet. Cessna, which announced EASA approval for its Citation Mustang at the show, is there with a mockup of its
large-cabin concept bizjet. Dassault said it will add a new jet to the Falcon family, the 2000LX, based on the 2000EX, with a
best-in-class climb speed to 41,000 feet in just 18 minutes. Podcasts of speakers from the opening session are posted online.
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Cessna announced Monday at the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibit (EBACE) that the company's Mustang very
light jet has won European Aviation Safety Agency certification, as well as steep approach approval. The EASA nod makes the Mustang "the first new-generation entry-level business jet to be certified
in Europe," according to the Wichita-based aircraft manufacturer. Deliveries in Europe will begin "later this summer."
The steep approach certification enables the Mustang to land at airports with instrument approaches steeper than a 4.5-degree approach angle. Cessna said this is the first step in the approval process
at airports such as London City in England, which has a glideslope angle of 5.5 degrees, and requires special authorization through the airport administration for both the aircraft and the pilots
landing there. The six-place, 340 ktas Citation Mustang has a service ceiling of 41,000 feet, and a 1,150-nm range, flown with IFR reserves. Cessna President, Chairman and CEO Jack Pelton said the
twinjet "has met or exceeded every performance objective established when we announced the program in 2002." In the U.S., several owner-operators are already flying the aircraft, by year-end some 40
Mustangs will be in service. Delivery rates of the small jets are expected to reach 150 per year by the end of the decade.
The first fully conforming A700 AdamJet, S/N 003, has been flying since April, and is performing as expected, Adam Aircraft said on Wednesday. "We are working on airspeed calibration and stability and control effectiveness with different
configurations throughout the flight envelope," said test pilot Jeff Peer. "The three-screen Avidyne display has been particularly impressive." According to Adam Aircraft, the very light jet has
completed ground vibration testing. Static testing for FAA requirements is currently 20 percent complete and will conclude this year. S/N 004 is under construction and will join the test program this
summer, followed by two more jets for the flight-test fleet. FAA certification is scheduled for the fourth quarter, and the first customer delivery is expected in early 2008. The A700 will be added to
Adam Aircraft's Production Certificate already in place for the A500 piston twin, with which the A700 shares 65-percent parts commonality, at its facilities in Colorado and Utah, the company
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NASA dedicated a new
astronomy aircraft to aviator Charles Lindbergh on the 80th anniversary of his historic trans-Atlantic flight. Erik Lindbergh, the pilot's grandson, joined NASA for the event on Monday, in Waco,
Texas. NASA's new Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is a highly modified 747 that carries a 45,000-pound infrared telescope system. At the ceremony, NASA officials said SOFIA
will fly above 40,000 feet to capture infrared images unavailable to earthbound telescopes. The aircraft is wrapping up a series of checkout flights before heading to NASA's Dryden Flight Research
Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., for two more years of tests and systems integration. "This project is a fantastic blend of a 20th century legacy aircraft and a 21st century platform for
exploration," Erik Lindbergh said. The NASA 747 will be able to carry out scientific missions with greater flexibility and ease of upgrade than a satellite-borne observatory. The telescope's first
images are expected in 2009.
Aviation weather and safety consultant/author and retired TWA captain Robert N. Buck, 93, recently passed away in Berlin, Vt. He
started flying at age 15 and set a New York to Los Angeles speed record before reaching his 16th birthday. By his 20th birthday, he broke an altitude record for light airplanes and became the first
person to take aerial photographs of ancient ruins of the Yucatán. Buck had flown the Atlantic more than 2,000 times during his airline career with TWA. He was also a consultant to four FAA
Administrators and airlines on many aspects of aviation safety, and was the author of "The Art of Flying," "Flying Know-How" and "Weather Flying." Buck continued to fly a Schleicher ASW-20 sailplane
well into his 80s. Pilots revere his books because they are easy to read and engaging, even though they cover complex subjects. In "Weather Flying," Buck succinctly starts, "Weather bothers our flying
in a few basic ways. It prevents us from seeing; it bounces us around to the extent that it may be difficult to keep the airplane under control and in one piece; and ice, wind, or large temperature
variations may reduce the airplane's performance to a serious degree. That's what weather does we fight weather in order to see, to keep our aircraft under control, and to get the best and safest
performance from an aircraft. The question is, 'How?'"
Some sage advice from Buck:
* "When bad weather prevails fear shouldn't be the attitude -- rather it should be respect."
* "When everything
inside us is scared we have to work harder to do a good precise job of flying, thinking scientifically all the time."
* "There are two ways to deal with fuel. One is to have lots of it...the second
is to fly within the airplane's fuel capacity by limiting the length of flights."
* "When ice is encountered, immediately start working to get out of it."
* "A real hazard is a pilot trying to
beat a thunderstorm to the airport...always remember thunderstorms on or near airports is the classic recipe for shear accidents."
On Tuesday at the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) in Geneva, Switzerland, CAE and Embraer announced the new flight training simulator base for the Phenom 100 and Phenom 300
very light jets. The training programs will be offered at Burgess Hill, near Londons Gatwick airport, and will start in early 2009 when the first Phenom 100 is delivered in Europe. Embraer's
first-ever aircraft to "receive primary parts in composite material [the vertical fin and the horizontal stabilizer] is on track for completion and first flight by mid-year," according to Embraer.
Mating of wings and fuselage for the first aircraft took place in late March. Major installations including flight test instrumentation; cockpit consoles; hydraulic, electric and deicing systems; and
landing gear, tires and brakes are also complete. The engines were installed in April, and Pratt & Whitney Canada has been engaged in a "maturity plan" that has accumulated more than 900 hours of
engine testing with 180 in flight and more than 230 in endurance tests, according to Embraer.
The aircraft itself will be priced near $3 million "based on January 2005 economic conditions." The company announced last year it expects to begin deliveries in mid-2008 with current orders for
Phenom 100 and 300 jets (not just their series numbers) together adding to nearly 400. The Brazilian manufacturer also announced a fuselage stretch for its Phenom 300. The 0.35 meter stretch offers
greater cabin flexibility, allowing for an entry-facing divan, making it the longest cabin in its class. Embraer is also putting the price of its new VLJ, the Phenom 100, up to $2.85 million on July
1, 2007. Launched at $2.75 million in 2005, the manufacturer put the price up to $2.85 million at last years EBACE. Prices will remain at $2.85 million until June 30. So hurry up and buy
one," urged Luis Carlos Affonso, executive vice president of executive aviation.
The number of light sport aircraft (LSA) in the FAA registry is now up to 930, showing growth of 46 percent since
January, Dan Johnson of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association reported on Monday. "Eighteen months ago the LSA community had
certified 16 new models, now we're at 50," he said. "More choice is great for consumers, but it's challenging for sellers." Those new owners should have no trouble finding instructors -- EAA's sport pilot instructor database now lists more than 600 flight instructors authorized to teach in light sport airplanes, weight-shift,
powered parachutes, gliders and gyroplanes. "We've seen a tremendous growth in the number of people interested in receiving sport pilot instruction, and that is translating to increased activity for
instructors willing to provide it," said Timm Bogenhagen of EAA Aviation Services. Qualified flight instructors can complete an online information form to be included in the EAA database.
The SolarImpulse team, led by adventurer Bertrand Piccard, is conducting
a test of its mission procedures this week with a "virtual flight" from Hawaii to Florida. The team aims to fly a solar-powered
aircraft around the world. Piccard updated the project's goals at the opening session of the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition, in Geneva, Switzerland, on Tuesday. He expects to
launch the first flight of the prototype next year, and in 2009, test it on an overnight flight. Then they will build a pressurized aircraft capable of long-distance flight, and in 2010 fly it from
New York to Paris. His goal is to complete a round-the-world flight in 2011. The aircraft is expected to fly at only 40 knots, so every few days it will land and take on a fresh pilot. The entire
project will cost the equivalent of two business jets, Piccard said. The virtual-flight exercise has three main goals, says SolarImpulse CEO Andre Borschberg -- to evaluate the performance of the
airplane, day and night, over the ocean, using real-time meteorological data; to test the accuracy of the meteorological predictions over the time frame of the flight; and to train the mission team by
simulating various failures and finding solutions.
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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
Pogo Jet's Cameron Burr. And AVweb's podcast index includes interviews with Teal Group's Richard Aboulafia; 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; and Comp Air's Ron Lueck. In Monday's podcast, hear Ed Iacobucci of DayJet talk about how the air-taxi start-up is getting ready
to start service in July. Remember: In AVweb's podcasts, you'll hear things you won't find anywhere else.
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Last week, AVweb asked whether the FAA should require traffic
advisory systems for all aircraft to reduce the number of midair
collisions (and other threats to aviation safety). Not
surprisingly, the readers who answered our poll overwhelmingly said
no, we don't need yet more avionics mandated by the FAA.
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 ***
The House of Representatives has passed a bill that would make it a
crime to point a laser at an aircraft, punishable by up to five years in
prison. Does the punishment fit the crime?
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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AVweb reader David Stone said the FBO stepped up to the plate when he had to divert due to weather.
"For two months I had been planning a trip to the Metrodome -- a birthday gift to my 12-year-old baseball-possessed nephew to see the Red Sox versus Twins game. The forecast at KSTP was
thunderstorms, with surface winds over 35 knots. Radar showed storms on the way, so I landed at KEAU instead. The car rental was closed, but Heartland lent me a great crew car for the 180-mile round
trip with only a request to return it full (it was full when they gave it to me). They are the best."
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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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 ***
We love spotting trends and patterns among the photos that
make their way into our "Picture of the Week" contest. This week,
we're serving up a large helping of Young Eagles photos and not all of
them feature fresh-faced youngsters taking their first flights.
(Scratch that. Now that we think about it, they all do
feature fresh-faced youngsters taking first flights!)We'll
kick off the festivities with one of the few non-Young Eagles photos we
received this week, from the incredible Brian
Like last week's winner, Brian Emch
of Lancaster, California is a regular contributor to "POTW" who's
finally made it to the top of the pile. We'll be sending Brian a
hard-earned AVweb baseball cap in the next couple of days then
he can get back to work taking heart-stopping action photos like this
This particular shot, Brian tells us, came from the recent Chino Planes
of Fame air show.
Speaking of jets, Charles Foster of
Bonham, Texas served up this candid shot of Young Eagles chairman
Harrison Ford strapping in for "the ride of his life in this Blue Angel
F-18." Charles tells us Ford "looked a little shaky when he
returned" but who can blame him?
The real question, of course, is How do we rate a ride-along
with the Blue Angels? We might even be willing to part with an
AVweb hat, if that sweetens the pot for anyone ... .
Rene Covelli of Cherry Hill, New
Jersey brings us a whole different take on this week's Young Eagles
theme. (Click through to the
full-sized version if you can't make out the fresh-faced youngsters
According to Rene, "they flew away the next day," so we guess their
first flight did indeed get them hooked on aviation.
Norm Schultze of San Antonio, Texas
writes, "The Fleet, the grass, and the sign [at Old Kingsbury Aerodrome]
combined for a real Golden Age moment." We couldn't agree more,
and we're glad Norm has his camera handy.
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,
send us an e-mail.
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 Editors Mary Grady (bio) and Glenn Pew (bio), Columnist Liz Moscrop and Editor In Chief
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.
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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.