AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 13, Number 26b

June 28, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Top News back to top 

NTSB Wants More Oversight Of Substance-Dependent Pilots

The FAA needs to do more to ensure that pilots dependent on substances such as drugs and alcohol are properly evaluated by aviation medical examiners, the NTSB said on Monday. A number of aircraft accidents have occurred when the pilot's substance dependence was relevant to the cause, according to the Safety Board. The NTSB said the FAA should require pilots to provide copies of arrest reports and court records to their examiner prior to clinical evaluation. Those records, it added, should be kept on file in the Aerospace Medical Certification Division, where they can be accessed in regard to any application for a medical certificate. Also, airmen who have been clinically diagnosed with substance dependence, including dependence on alcohol, should be medically certified only under a special-issuance waiver, the NTSB said. The Safety Board cited several recent accidents in support of its recommendation. In one case, the pilot had reported a DUI conviction to the FAA, but the FAA did not obtain records of that offense. The Board obtained the arrest records and found the pilot had a blood alcohol level of 0.28 percent, a level indicating that the driver had a tolerance, which is evidence of a substance-dependence problem. If the FAA had considered the DUI arrest record as part of the medical certification application process, this pilot would not have been issued a medical certificate.

FAA Confirms Third-Class Medicals Here To Stay

The FAA confirmed this week that it is not interested in eliminating the requirement that private pilots must hold a third-class medical certificate. Despite recent rumors to the contrary, the FAA said that "out of a concern for the potential safety impact of the change given the large number of private pilots, and in the absence of any data to support the change, we are not inclined to change the rule at this time." The statement was part of a listing of responses to comments collected during a review of FAA regulations that began in February 2004. The public was invited to tell the FAA which regs should be removed, amended or simplified. Most of the 97 comments concerned details of air transport operations. EAA asked to simplify the paperwork for registering certain homebuilt aircraft, but the FAA declined.

EAA asked that an applicant for registration of an aircraft built from a kit be allowed to use either a bill of sale or an invoice from the manufacturer. Currently, the regulation requires a bill of sale. EAA said this requirement is burdensome because most kit manufacturers do not provide a bill of sale. The FAA said invoices do not provide proof of ownership. Proof of ownership should include language that shows a sale took place and the signature of the seller. An invoice would be adequate if it has a signature for the manufacturer and some wording such as "sold to [name of buyer]." The FAA will continue to review the regs every three years. A notice requesting public comments for the next review will be published later this year.

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News Briefs back to top 

Is There A Diesel In Cessna's Future?

Wichita-based Cessna Aircraft on Wednesday announced an agreement to collaborate with Germany's Thielert Aircraft Engines on future programs "centered on the Thielert diesel engine." Cessna said details will be announced later this year -- possibly as early as next month at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis. "We think the Thielert engine may provide a very worthwhile power option for many of our customers since it runs on jet fuel and diesel," said Cessna Vice President of Worldwide Propeller Aircraft Sales John Doman. "We have had discussions with Frank Thielert and his group for some time, and we think the time is right to move forward." Thielert has obtained several European certifications for retrofitting diesel engines into Cessna aircraft, and in March it received an STC from the F AA to re-engine the Cessna 172 with the Thielert Centurion 1.7/2.0.

Columbia Aircraft Back Up To Speed

Columbia Aircraft has restored its production level to three new aircraft per week, and nearly all employees furloughed in late March are now back at work, the company said in a news release on Monday. "We made a lot of dramatic moves earlier this year with the objective of increasing our efficiency and strengthening Columbia Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation," said Columbia President Wan Majid. "We've made significant improvements to our production processes and tooling." The returning employees will have plenty to do, said Vice President of Marketing Randy Bolinger. "We don't publish sales or backlog figures, but I can safely say that we're comfortable with the order level of the past few months. We delivered more aircraft during the first quarter than we did during the same period last year and I expect that we'll continue to see strong sales and deliveries." Columbia manufactures a variety of all-composite piston-single aircraft, including the Columbia 400 and the 350.

Honda Aircraft Starts Work On $100M HQ

Honda Aircraft Company on Wednesday morning began construction of its new 369,000-square-foot headquarters and manufacturing facility at the Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro, N.C. "By breaking ground for this new Honda Aircraft facility today, we take the next important step in getting HondaJets into the skies tomorrow," Honda Aircraft Company President and CEO Michimasa Fujino said. "With the warm reception we have received in the Triad, and the great response HondaJet has received from our customers, we are confident of a very bright future here in North Carolina." Phase one of construction will comprise offices, research facilities and an airplane hangar, to be completed next spring. The HondaJet production facility is currently in the design phase. Investment for construction of the headquarters and production facility will be about $100 million, including equipment. About 350 workers will be employed once the entire complex is complete.

PowerLink™ FADEC Certified on Liberty XL-2; Is It Right for Your Aircraft?
Liberty Aerospace is the first certified piston-powered aircraft with PowerLink™ FADEC as standard equipment. PowerLink™ FADEC is now also available for several additional certified and experimental aircraft, including the A-36 Bonanza and VANS RV series. Find out how you can bring your aircraft into the state-of-the-art online.
News Briefs back to top 

Systems Specialists Decry FAA Staffing Plans

Trainees are being left in charge of critical national airspace equipment without the supervision of certified specialists, the Professional Airways Systems Specialists (PASS) said in a news release on Monday. PASS said that managers plan to leave a single trainee on his own at the Memphis Air Route Traffic Control Center when one of the three certified specialists is on leave this summer. "The specialist in training is being left alone during high-volume traffic for Federal Express," said Dave Spero, PASS regional vice president. "If something were to go wrong, the individual would have to rely solely on the skills and expertise that he brings to the job rather than specific FAA training. Basically, he's doing the best he can with what he's got." PASS also said all three of the certified specialists in Memphis are eligible for retirement, but the FAA has no plan to address their impending departure. "The FAA is clearly making significant changes in how it chooses to operate," said Spero. "It is completely negligent to choose saving a few bucks by not paying qualified and certified systems specialists overtime over the safety of the flying public. We hope the FAA will rethink this dangerous practice by adequately staffing and training employees at the Memphis facility."

Controllers Retiring Faster Than Predicted

For the second time in four months, the FAA has revised its air traffic controller retirement projections for the current 2007 fiscal year, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) said in a news release on Tuesday. According to NATCA, the changes reflect "the agency's continuing inability to get a handle on the alarming rate of retirements that rose after the FAA imposed work and pay rules on controllers against their will last September." FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown told AVweb on Wednesday that predicting retirements "is not an exact science," and the evolving numbers reflect the agency's ability to improve and refine its projections as it collects more data. A year ago, the FAA published a workforce plan that estimated 643 controllers would retire in fiscal year 2007, which runs from Oct. 1, 2006, to Sept. 30, 2007. That estimate was raised to 700 in March, and the agency now has raised its projection to 800, a 24-percent increase. Brown added that if more controllers retire than projected, "we can always ramp up and hire more people ... we have hundreds of applicants for every job we post." The agency has already hired 1,200 controllers in this fiscal year and plans to hire at least 200 more by the end of September, she said. NATCA says a large number of those new recruits will likely never become controllers and those that do will need two to three years to fully train, making them unable to help the staffing crisis until 2009 at the earliest.

Aircraft Spruce Now Carries the A2 Aviator Flashlight
Extremely compact (shirt pocket-size) dual-output hybrid flashlight for aviation, camping, self-defense, and general use. Features two types of light sources: low beam for close-up work and brilliant tactical-level beam with over three times the light of a big two-D-cell flashlight. Available in red, blue, green, yellow-green, and white. For information, call 1-877-4-SPRUCE or visit Aircraft Spruce online.
News Briefs back to top 

Young Florida Pilot Completes Solo Circumnavigation

Barrington Irving landed his Columbia 400 at Florida's Opa-Locka Airport Wednesday at 10:26 a.m., completing his round-the-world flight as -- unofficially -- the youngest person and first person of African descent to fly solo around the world. Irving, 23, launched from Florida in March, and flew up the East Coast and across the Atlantic. He stopped in Europe, the Middle East, India, Japan and Alaska, before heading back across the U.S. He covered about 25,600 miles in just over three months. Irving grew up in Miami but he was born in Jamaica, and Jamaican nationals greeted him at airports around the world. Upon landing Wednesday morning, he was greeted by a crowd that included local politicians and a steel-drum band. At launch, Irving had expected to make the trip in just 37 days, but weather caused multiple delays. He waited in Japan for two weeks for flyable weather across the North Pacific. He wrote in his blog that the delays gave him some time to explore local cultures. Irving is a graduate student at Florida Memorial University and works on Experience Aviation, a Saturday morning program he started to teach children about flying. He has said that he hopes his flight will inspire other young people to resist the negative influences of the streets and work toward their dreams. It's unclear whether Irving has set any "official" records. The National Aeronautic Association does not track aviation records by age or ethnicity.

Cirrus To Unveil Personal Jet

Cirrus Design has so far been coy about the details of its new "personal jet," but a mock-up will be unveiled on Thursday during the annual gathering of Cirrus owners at the factory in Duluth, Minn. AVweb Contributing Editor Russ Niles will be on scene for the event, so keep an eye on AVweb for coverage of all the details. The jet, which so far is called simply "the-jet," is expected to have one engine, cruise at about 300 knots and sell for less than $1 million. Last week, at the Paris Air Show, the Cirrus booth was "swarming with customers," according to Flight Daily News. At the Cirrus Web site, a jigsaw puzzle showing a drawing of the jet has slowly been growing, piece by piece. The complete picture is expected to emerge soon.

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News Briefs back to top 

Enthusiast Captures Pix Of Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Boeing's first 787 hasn't had a formal rollout yet, but an aviation enthusiast acting on a tip from a blogger caught pictures of the airplane as it was moved to a paint hangar just after midnight on Tuesday morning. Charles Conklin, 30, of Kirkland, Wash., shot with a telephoto lens through a fence from just outside the perimeter of the Boeing facility in Everett, komotv.com reported. Conklin said he picked up a tip from Flightblogger that the airplane might be moved late Monday night, and waited outside the facility for about two hours before the doors finally opened. Jon Ostrower of Boston operates Flightblogger. He said Boeing employees are excited about the airplane's progress and have been keeping him updated. The 787 is scheduled for a formal rollout ceremony on July 8, or what Boeing bills as 7/8/7.

Namibia To Host Africa's Aviation HQ

A new aviation organization will launch in Africa this week that aims to bring the continent's civil aviation standards to a par with those of Europe and the U.S., AllAfrica reported on Wednesday. The new African Civil Aviation Agency (Afro-CAA) will have its headquarters in Namibia, and its staff will work to establish common technical standards and safety regulations for the continent. Mwangi waKamau, who will be the first CEO of the agency, is from Kenya, but lobbied to base the agency in Namibia. "The good transport infrastructure in Namibia and its location, which is within easy reach of other countries, make it ideal to host the headquarters," he said at a press conference. The agency will be officially launched on Thursday. Five regional offices of Afro-CAA will also be established -- in South Africa for the southern African region, Nigeria for West Africa, Cameroon for Central Africa, Ethiopia for East Africa and Libya for North Africa. The agency will work to equip all African airports with air traffic control, radar and communications equipment by 2010. Namibia is just north of South Africa, along the continent's southwest Atlantic coast. (For a refresher on Africa's geography, click here for a PDF map of the continent.)

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News In Brief back to top 

On The Fly

A Washington Post story finds local pilots cutting back on flying due to high fuel costs...

EAA has announced its lineup for evening programs at AirVenture...

A man died in a 700-foot fall from a hot-air balloon over Colorado Tuesday morning; suicide is suspected...

The Hood blimp that crashed last September has been repaired and will be flying again this summer in New England and New York...

EAA's Rocky Mountain Regional Fly-In broke attendance records last weekend, despite 100-degree heat. Two show announcers died in a crash on Monday...

New rules in Canada will require collision-avoidance equipment aboard commercial aircraft...

A charter operator says its Learjet was a lemon, Bombardier blames "lessee's remorse"; they are working it out in court...

Final standings have been posted online for this year's Air Race Classic cross-country all-women air race, completed last week, from Oklahoma to New Brunswick.

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/.

GA Averages FIVE Accidents Every Day — Learn Why!
Search the AOPA Air Safety Foundation Accident Database to learn about the causes and outcomes of almost every fixed-wing general aviation accident since 1983. Search by keyword, state, aircraft make and model, weather conditions, and more. You'll gain invaluable knowledge about flying safely by learning from others' mistakes. Visit the ASF Accident Database now and get started.
New On AVweb back to top 

Pelican's Perch #86: Where Are the Eyes? -- Part 2

Jet pilots don't have the luxury of looking outside as much as piston pilots do during takeoff; but there are ways to do better.

Click here to read.

Probable Cause #35: Beyond The Rules

Although the weather was below minimums, a Part 135 Caravan pilot tries the approach, breaking more than just the regulations.

Click here for the full story.

Leading Edge #6: Instructional Hazards

Flight instruction is pretty safe, but how can any pilot-caused accidents and incidents happen when two hyper-aware pilots are in the front seats? AVweb's Thomas P. Turner has done the research and developed a few theories.

Click here to read.

What's New

This month AVweb's survey of the latest products and services for pilots, mechanics and aircraft owners brings you prop locks, oxygen systems, tri-color flashlights and much more.

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh Is the World's Greatest Aviation Celebration!
It's aviation's family reunion, bringing together the innovation, passion, and pride of every facet of flight. Join EAA at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, on July 23-29 for the people, airplanes, and knowledge that are unmatched anywhere else in the world. For aviators, nowhere else has the magic of "Oshkosh." Be part of it this year! For more information, click here. For more information, click here.
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 Vince Scott explain how he used a little electronic wizardry when his engine ate an exhaust valve at 7,000 feet in IMC. And AVweb's podcast index includes interviews with Reason Foundation's Robert Poole; SATSair's Sheldon Early; Epic Aircraft's Rick Schrameck; AOPA's Randy Kenagy; Eclipse Aviation's Vern Raburn; 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; and AOPA's Andrew Cebula. In Monday's podcast, hear NBAA Southeast Rep. Harry Houckes on aviation issues affecting the region. Remember: In AVweb's podcasts, you'll hear things you won't find anywhere else.

Attention, LSA Builders & ROTAX 912 Engine Operators
ASA, the industry's leader in aviation supplies, software, and publications, offers the ROTAX Engine Introduction DVD with tips and techniques for trouble-free operation of Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) with the ROTAX engine. This DVD also provides an introduction to the specific concepts important to maintaining the ROTAX 912. Go online for complete details and bonus features!
Question Of The Week back to top 

Question of the Week: The FAA vs. NATCA — Who's Telling the Truth (or More of It) about the Controller Crisis?

This Week's Question | Previous Week's Answers


Last week, AVweb pointed out that Marion Blakey's tenure as FAA Administrator is scheduled to end in three short months and asked who might make a good replacement.

This proved to be a popular question, drawing more than 5,000 votes over the weekend and even (temporarily) breaking our vote-counting script. When the dust had settled (and even before, to be honest), former NATCA president John Carr led the pack. AOPA President Phil Boyer and Blakey herself drew significant support in our "mock election," but those union guys can really get out the vote, and Carr pulled in more than 80% of our readers' responses.

We also received more than a few e-mails offering up other candidates whom we didn't list — everyone from Boeing's Neil Planzer to Donald Rumsfeld to Bob Barker, including our own Kevin Garrison ("CEO of 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.)


The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) and the FAA for months have been trading barbs about controller staffing, hiring, and retirement. Do you believe NATCA, which says there is a controller crisis looming — or do you believe the FAA, which says that it is staffing facilities to traffic and has adequately planned for hiring and retirements?

Click here to answer.

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

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.

If You Think "Bargains" Are Something Alien to Aviation — Think Again!
Spending hard-earned money on your aircraft and its avionics can be expensive. But don't think good deals aren't available in today's marketplace. Bennett Avionics provides pilots with quality avionics to meet their needs and maintain their budget. Before you buy anywhere else, check out Bennett Avionics at (860) 653-7295 or online. You'll be glad you did!
FBO Of The Week back to top 

FBO Of The Week: Great Lakes Air

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Great Lakes Air at K83D in St. Ignace, Mich.

AVweb readers Andrea and Tim Olson said the FBO's staff and service were outstanding.

"We had just touched down and were still rolling out down the runway when we were greeted over the Unicom with a very friendly 'Hello, Welcome to Great Lakes Air, will you be needing any fuel today?' At the fuel pump (with very reasonable fuel prices for the area), the staff was friendly and truly enjoyed talking aviation. The staff brought the courtesy car around to the plane, and even helped me unload the plane and pack the car while my husband, the pilot, 'talked planes.' The courtesy car was available for us to have until the next morning, so we were able to enjoy the Mackinac Bridge, see the area sites, and have a great dinner. Sally, the resident Golden Retriever, was very well behaved and kept our young daughters busy while we paid for fuel. A family friendly, reasonable, well maintained FBO located in a beautiful part of Michigan, in it for the love of aviation."

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!

Choose the Flight Explorer Edition Right for You
Flight Explorer is an information system tracking commercial and general aviation flights. With the Flight Explorer Personal Edition, view air traffic for the U.S., Canada, or New Zealand and monitor and display real-time delay information, TFRs, SUAs, and more. With the Flight Explorer Pilot Edition, view weather along a route, receive alerts with your preliminary flight plan, and have an e-mail sent to someone on departure or arrival. Click here for more information and to subscribe
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.


The run-up to AirVenture has begun!  Getting ready for the big show seems to affect everyone in aviation, including "Picture of the Week" contenders:  Only 64 submissions trickled in this week, but even thought the quantity lagged, quality remained high.  In fact, this is the toughest time we've had picking which photos would make it into the Thursday issue in the last several months.  If you're not already in the habit of visiting AVweb's home page to view the bonus pictures in our slideshow, this would be a good week to start.  There are plenty of great photos to be found over there.

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copyright © Larry Raulston
Used with permission

In the Light of the Moon

The moon was a recurring motif in many of this week's submissions.  Larry Raulston of Neosho, Missouri made several attempts at catching pilot Kyle Franklin silhouetted against the moon before this top-shelf photo caught him by surprise.


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copyright © Michael S. Whaley
Used with permission

Powered Parachuting over Melbourne Beach, FL

"These powered parachute pilots were having a ball flying over the beach a couple of months ago," writes Michael S. Whaley of Melbourne, Florida.  "The dome is an Air Force optical tracking station used to track the unmanned and manned rocket launches from Cape Canaveral, which is about 35 miles north."


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Used with permission of Vivian Lee

Father's Day Co-Pilot

Nick Pliam took aboard his five-year-old daughter Portia as co-pilot for this Father's Day flight.  "It was hard to say who was prouder," writes photographer Vivian Lee, of Los Altos, California.


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Used with permission of Don Rutherford

Up Close and A-O.K.

Don Rutherford of Lake Forest, California snapped this shot of Rob Hayford blind (and possibly over his shoulder) in a Stearman over Corona, California.


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Used with permission of Theresa White

The End of the Rainbow

As we come to the end of another edition of "POTW," Theresa White of Midwest City, Oklahoma delivers up our latest pot o' gold.

Remember:  You'll find more reader-submitted photos in the "POTW" slideshow on AVweb's home page.

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.