AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 13, Number 23a

June 4, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
 
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Top News back to top 
 

U.S. Pilots Charged In Brazil; Will They Show?

The lawyer for two New York pilots facing criminal charges in Brazil has suggested they might not return to Brazil to appear in court. Joel Weiss, who's representing Embraer Legacy 600 pilots Joe Lepore and Jan Paladino, didn't come right out and say they weren't going to go, but he did tell The Associated Press the extradition treaty between the U.S. and Brazil "does not permit the extradition of a U.S. citizen or a Brazilian for this charge." That charge is one of putting an aircraft into jeopardy causing death and stems from Brazilian prosecutors' allegation that the pilots accidentally turned off the transponder on the Legacy and then didn't follow a flight plan that would have resulted in an altitude change before they collided with a Gol Boeing 737, resulting in the airliner's crash and 154 deaths last Sept. 29. "The pilots' conduct was completely competent throughout the flight and cannot be fairly characterized as criminal," said Weiss. "The allegations against the pilots are inaccurate, and the pilots are innocent." They did, however, promise to return to Brazil to face charges as a condition of their release last December. If they do honor that promise, they'll be on the docket Aug. 27, a day before four Brazilian air traffic controllers get to explain how they may have cleared two aircraft on reciprocal courses at the same altitude. Paladino and Lepore have maintained throughout, and cockpit tapes seem to support, that they were at their assigned altitude and heading when the left winglet of their bizjet evidently sliced into the wing of the 737. The Legacy kept flying, however, and the pilots were able to land it safely at a jungle military base. The indictments came long before crash investigators will finish their probe of the collision, an investigation that will undoubtedly shed light on both the technical and human factors aspects of the events leading up to the accident.

JFK Bomb Plot Foiled

Authorities say they’ve had an informant in on a plot to blow up John F. Kennedy Airport for 18 months and the plan was far from mature. Three arrests have been made and a fourth alleged conspirator is on the run after police and the FBI apparently determined they’d gotten far enough with their plans to set explosives in the huge fuel tank farm at the airport. U.S. Attorney Rosslyn K. Mauskopf said the attack would have caused “unfathomable damage, death and destruction,” but unnamed sources in various media outlets indicated the plan was an amateurish operation by “al Quaeda wannabes” that had little chance of success. The plotters were also hoping to take out a 40-mile fuel pipeline that runs through New York. The alleged kingpin was Russell Defreitas, a Guyanese national who worked at JFK as a cargo handler. He’s now retired but allegedly used his knowledge of the layout and procedures at the airport to hatch the plan. He was arrested Saturday in New York. Two alleged accomplices, Abdul Kadir, a former member of the Guayanese parliament MP and a former local mayor who is also reportedly an imam, and Kareem Ibrahim, from Trinidad, are in custody in Trinidad. Abdel Nur, of Guyana, is still at large and believed to be in Trinidad. Secretly recorded conversations indicate the plotters thought JFK would be a symbolic, as well as economic, target. "Any time you hit Kennedy it is the most hurtful thing to the United States,” Defreitas is quoted as saying on the recording. "To hit John F. Kennedy, wow, [Americans] love John F. Kennedy like he's the man. If you hit that, this whole country will be in mourning. It's like you can kill the man twice."

AOPA Urges Members To Call Influential Senators

After losing a vote at the Senate Commerce Committee, opponents of a Senate bill that would impose a $25-per-flight modernization "surcharge" aimed at business aircraft are hoping for better luck with the Senate's finance committee. A couple of weeks ago, the commerce committee passed, by a single vote, an FAA reauthorization bill that included the $25 user fee. Although the finance committee can't overrule the earlier vote, its position on the bill could be critical when it hits the floor for a full Senate vote. AOPA says it has sent e-mails to all its members in 18 states who have senators on the finance committee, asking them to contact the senators directly to express their opposition. The finance committee is expected to meet on the issue in mid-June and vote before the July 4 break. AOPA President Phil Boyer said the airlines, which favor the surcharge and have also lobbied for further shifting of airspace management costs to general aviation, will throw money at the issue and have already produced a provocative television ad that suggests airline delays are the result of private aircraft getting preferential treatment in the system. But Boyer said that while money talks, senators are more inclined to listen to voters "and that's why we, as pilots passionate about flying and who vote, must be involved. Passionate voters can overcome big money almost every time." Even if you don't have a senator on that committee, you can still get involved. AOPA has launched an online petition opposing user fees for GA.

 
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News Briefs back to top 
 

Politics Outs Honda Engine Plant

Honda is known for keeping its plans closely guarded, but the inscrutable Japanese giant is apparently no match for one-upmanship in small-town politics. North Carolina State Republican Rep. Cary Allred spilled the beans on Honda’s much-anticipated announcement that it would build engines for the HondaJet in Burlington, N.C., about 30 miles from where the jet itself will be built in Greensboro. Citing a “high-level state Department of Transportation official” who is “very knowledgeable about airports,” Allred blabbed to the Burlington Times News that the announcement -- from Honda -- is expected in about two weeks. “I’m told Honda has made a commitment,” he said. The plant, a partnership with GE called GE Honda Aero, will employ about 50 people. Allred was apparently inspired to tell all by an incident in which the Burlington-Allamance Airport Authority had a weekly newspaper publisher arrested for trying to crash one of their meetings on the topic. Allred says he’s upset with the way the authority is handling the matter and that the arrest of Tom Boney Jr., publisher of the Alamance News, for refusing to leave a closed-door meeting rankled him. “They have not consulted with me, so I’m going to blow their cover,” he says. “They haven’t had the courtesy to call me and ask me for my assistance or tell me what’s going on, and they’ve had a news reporter physically removed from a room. I’m tired of the arrogance.” Honda has kept its head predictably level through the whole thing, neither confirming nor denying Allred’s scoop.

Jeppesen Sued For Providing CIA Flight Plans

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed suit on behalf of three terror suspects against Jeppesen for "knowingly" helping the CIA spirit them to various countries so they could be tortured. Jeppesen spokesman Mike Pound is quoted by the Denver Business Journal as saying that its business is to supply charts and flight planning information, but what the customer does with that information is its own business. "We create flight plans, what the fuel requirements might be, where they might refuel, the airports they might use. It's not our practice to ever inquire about the purpose of a trip," Pound told CBS News. In the ACLU's estimation, however, Jeppesen is profiting from the practice of "extraordinary rendition" in which the CIA ships suspects to other countries for interrogation that some allege involves torture. Anthony Romero, the ACLU's executive director, says companies like Jeppesen should be made to atone for their role in the controversial practice. "Corporations that choose to participate in such activity can and should be held legally accountable," Romero said in a statement. Jeppesen is owned by Boeing. The suit is being launched under the Alien Tort Statute that allows people from other countries to file suit in the U.S. The terror suspects named in the suit are Binyam Mohamed of Ethiopia, Italian citizen Abou Elkassim Britel and Ahmed Agiza of Egypt.

Controllers Get Weather Radios, Air Monitors

After some embarrassing incidents in air traffic control facilities across the country, the FAA has announced it will supply weather radios and air-quality monitors to select ATC facilities. Last September, as part of the package of work rules imposed by the FAA in its forced settlement of a contract dispute, the agency ordered tower controllers to remove weather radios, which were pretty much a fixture in many facilities. Controllers monitored the radios to keep track of severe weather, but the FAA said they had plenty of regulation gear -- such as radar, Doppler radar and wind shear detectors -- and didn't need to have a radio on. However, after the radios were banned, there were several instances in which aircraft were vectored into severe weather, including one sent toward a tornado that had just gone over an airport unbeknownst to the controllers in the tower. As for the air-quality monitors, they would appear to be the result of carbon monoxide leaks in FAA facilities over the past month, including one at the New York terminal radar approach control (TRACON) facility in which controllers were told to stay at their consoles despite reporting symptoms of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. The FAA says the weather radios it supplies will only activate for severe weather alerts and are designed to supplement all the other gear controllers have at their disposal. As for the air-quality monitors, the agency says they detect four different types of potentially harmful gases and not just the CO that's been making headlines. The National Air Traffic Controllers' Association, which had waged a public-relations war with the agency on both issues, claimed victory, saying both measures are safety enhancements that will help controllers do their jobs properly.

 
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News Briefs back to top 
 

Glacier Girl To Finish Mission, 65 Years Late

A P-38 Lightning that was supposed to be in England in the summer of 1942 will finally get there in a few weeks. The P-38, now known as Glacier Girl, will launch from Teterboro Airport on June 22 on a multi-legged flight to Duxford, England, where it will take part in the Flying Legends Air Show on July 7 and 8. Glacier Girl was among six P-38s and two B-17s that had to land on an ice field in Greenland because of bad weather during a mission called Operation Bolero. All the crews were rescued, but the aircraft were abandoned and slowly melted into the ice. Glacier Girl was recovered from 268 feet of ice and restored to flying condition four years ago and is the only surviving airframe of the so-called Lost Squadron. Ed Shipley, who will be flying a P-51 accompanying Steve Hinton in the P-38, told AVweb in a podcast interview that finishing the mission, dubbed Operation Bolero II, has great symbolic significance. “This really is something that has to be done,” he said. “It represents the human spirit.” The original flight was ended because bad weather surprised the aircrews. With modern technology there’s virtually no chance of a repeat, and it’s also allowing the rest of us to go along for the virtual ride. The aircraft will be decked out in satellite gear that will allow the public to contact the pilots in real time through Shipley’s Web site, AirShowBuzz.com. A documentary film is also being produced.

Mayor Wants Airport Curfew Violators Publicized

The mayor of Naples, Fla., says he’s hoping to embarrass aircraft owners into being a little more considerate of their neighbors. Bill Barnett has written the local airport authority asking them to consider publishing a list of every aircraft that busts the voluntary 10 p.m. curfew. "We seem to have run out of ideas to stop planes from coming in after the curfew. So why couldn't we publish a monthly list of violators?" he wrote in his letter. Local residents interviewed by NBC2 are backing the mayor. “I've been startled several times by planes in the night," Tom Laughlin told the TV station. "It is so intense, it is so noisy, that you can't help but snap your head up and look, what is that going over head?" The airport's board of directors is meeting June 21, and Barnett’s letter will be on the agenda. Spokeswoman AnneElena Foster said the directors are aware of the complaints and will be addressing it. "What we've had happen recently is there's been some change on the board and now the current leadership is willing to take a look at the problem in another way," said AnneElena Foster of the Naples Municipal Airport. "You don't have to be the mayor for us to sympathize; a loud plane is a loud plane."

 
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News Briefs back to top 
 

Pilot Who Fled 1982 Crash Pays $35,500

A Montana judge has ordered a Canadian pilot, whose ditching of an aircraft in 1982 led to the death of his girlfriend, to cover the cost of repairs to the Cessna 150 and to pay the funeral costs for Diane Babcock. Jaroslaw “Jerry” Ambrozuk was also fined $1,000 under a plea arrangement that was revised by Flathead District Court Judge Stewart Stadler last Thursday. According to the Kalispell Daily Inter Lake, Ambrozuk pleaded guilty to one count of felony criminal endangerment and one count of felony criminal mischief in May for the bizarre elopement scheme in which he, then 19, and Babcock, 18, rented the plane in Penticton, British Columbia, and then deliberately put it in Bitterroot Lake, near Kalispell, Mont. They planned to run away together, but Babcock for reasons that are not clear was unable to escape the sinking aircraft. Ambrozuk fled, didn’t report the accident and eventually took up residence in Plano, Texas, where he led a comfortable life as a software engineer under an assumed identity. One of his neighbors recognized him when the story was told on America’s Most Wanted. Shortly after the ditching, police in Canada recorded a phone call in which Ambrozuk told a friend that Babcock’s seatbelt had jammed, but it was working properly when searchers recovered the plane, with Babcock’s body still inside, from 220 feet of water. In his ruling, Judge Stadler ordered Ambrozuk to pay $19,500 to the aircraft owner, $5,000 to Babcock’s family for funeral expenses and $10,000 in court and prosecution costs, in addition to the $1,000 fine. Ambrozuk’s legal issues are far from over, however. Next week, he’ll plead guilty to falsifying his U.S. passport, which is a felony.

Luscombe Sedan Builder Suffers Delays

Quartz Mountain Aerospace, which is trying to revive an updated version of the Luscombe Sedan, laid off about 20 of its 104 workers last week, citing supply and training problems and an FAA inspection bottleneck. The company, which has had its share of startup issues, set up in Altus, Okla., with about $40 million in government incentives and loans. CEO John Daniel told The Oklahoman that the company is in production but doesn’t have a production certificate, meaning each aircraft, designated the 11E, has to be inspected by an FAA inspector. There aren’t enough of those inspectors to go around and that’s slowed production to a crawl. “With delays, we just had more people than we had work for right now,” Daniel said. FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Cory said the agency is doing the best it can to attend to new certifications, but its priority is to ensure the safety of the existing fleet. Daniel said he hopes to have the production certificate by September and be in full production by the end of the year. He said customers are being patient with the company’s problems and none have canceled their orders. The original Sedan, which went into production in 1946, was a four-place taildragger that was intended as a competitor for the Cessna 170, but it didn’t sell well and the company went bankrupt in 1948. The Quartz Mountain version has updated systems and tricycle landing gear.

 
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News Briefs back to top 
 

Guard Launches See And Avoid Web Site

There is now a one-stop Web site for information on special-use airspace where military pilots practice their craft. The See and Avoid site, designed by the Air National Guard with input from aviation groups, allows pilots whose route might take them through a military practice area to get all the information they need about flying safely in that area. “The mission of SeeAndAvoid.org is to eliminate midair collisions and reduce close calls with good flight planning,” the site says. “By promoting information exchange between civilian pilots and the military flight safety community, we hope to help all of us safely share the skies.” Typing in an airport identifier brings up all the relevant information about military activity in that area. It also shows where previous midairs and near collisions have occurred. Some of the information has never been available on the Internet before and some was available only by searching the Web sites of individual air bases.

EU Backs Fuel Cell Aircraft Bid

The European Union has given Polytechnic of Turin, Italy, and its 11 partners about $6 million to install fuel cells and electric motors in a variety of two-place aircraft to show it can be done. But the real goal is to develop a 12- to 15-passenger commuter aircraft powered by fuel cells. “Hydrogen and fuel cell power technologies have now reached the point where they can [be] exploited to initiate a new era of propulsion systems for light aircraft and small commuter aircraft,” says a report on the ENvironmentally Friendly Inter City Aircraft powered by Fuel Cells (ENFICA-FC) project’s Web site. The initial goal is relatively modest. The two-place planes, equivalent to Light Sport aircraft in the U.S., will have an endurance goal of about an hour, enough to verify that the technology is viable. As fuel cell technology improves, so will that performance. The Europeans see a big market for fuel cell/electric commuter planes because of stringent noise standards at many of the smaller airports where they would land. “The possibility to takeoff and land without contravening the noise abatement regulations set for small airfields, in urban areas and near population centres, will allow the use of these airfields during the late night hours when the noise abatement regulations are even more stringent,” the Web site says. The news from Turin comes a couple of months after Boeing in Spain announced it was going to try flying a Diamond motor glider with a fuel cell/electric system. ENFICA-FC is also looking at using fuel cells to power onboard electrical systems. Boeing and Sandia National Laboratories are also investigating the use of fuel cells to power backup systems on aircraft.

 
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News In Brief back to top 
 

On The Fly

The FAA is investigating the fourth runway incursion this year at LAX. In Tuesday’s incident, an American Airlines plane went past the hold line and stopped abruptly while heading to a runway where a cargo plane was taking off…

The owner of a small cropdusting service near Bastrop, La., tried but couldn’t save two aircraft from a fire that damaged his hangar. Leland “Jinks” Pruitt said that while the fire didn’t reach the planes, the heat melted instruments and warped the wings, writing at least one of them off…

A Cessna 172 headed for Northwestern Michigan College was the 7,500th Cessna piston single to roll off the assembly line in Independence, Kan., last Thursday…

Exosphere Aircraft, which will build the BD-22 Light Sport Aircraft, is setting up shop at Harvey Field in Snohomish, Wash. The company announced the location in January, but it’s taken until now to do the necessary renovations to the buildings.

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New On AVweb back to top 
 

Busted: What Now?

If the FAA offers you remedial training in lieu of other enforcement options, we say take it. You might even learn something.

Click here for the full story.

Extra! IFR Magazine Talks to Radar Expert Dave Gwinn

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Retired TWA captain and renowned radar lecturer Dave Gwinn chats with Glenn Pew about the importance (and limitations) or radar in the IFR system. You may be surprised at what you can learn from Gwinn if you spend a few minutes with him ... .

 
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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 Eclipse Aviation president and CEO Vern Raburn. And AVweb's podcast index includes interviews with Xwind's Brad Whitsitt; BoGo Light's Mark Bent; DayJet's Ed Iacobucci; Pogo Jet's Cameron Burr; 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; AOPA's Andrew Cebula; Hawker Beechcraft's Jim Schuster; and Avfuel's Craig Sincock. In today's podcast, hear Ed Shipley talk about the P-38 called Glacier Girl. 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: Aurora Jet Center

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Aurora Jet Center at KUAO in Aurora, Ore.

AVweb reader Dennis Conner said the FBO has great service -- and cookies, too.

"Every time we stop in there, there is always a person to greet you and take care of all your needs quickly and efficiently. Fresh cookies and coffee as well."

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!

 
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Video Of The Week back to top 
 

Video of the Week: B757 Bird Strike at Manchester Ringway Airport

Recommend a Video | VOTW Archive

Recommend a Video | VOTW Archive

We all know the impact of bird strikes on small aircraft, but when was the last time you saw their effect on something as large as a Boeing 757? Simon Lowe was on hand when a Thomson 757 engine sucked in a bird on take-off a few weeks ago, and he caught the whole thing on video. (Thanks to AVweb reader Lawrence Braden for sending us the clip.)

For another view (and longer clip), click here.


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"

Overheard while flying into Troutdale, Ore. (KTTD) Class D airspace.

N338BV: Three Three Eight Bravo Victor, inbound, 3000 level, three miles, full stop.

Troutdale Tower: Three Three Eight Bravo Victor cleared straight-in Runway 25. Wind 270 at seven.

N338BV: Do you want me on a right- or left-hand pattern?

Tower: Neither, unless you can do it straight in.

 
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).

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.

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