AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 13, Number 27a

July 2, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Top News back to top 

The Devil's In The Details Of House FAA Bill

Late Wednesday the U.S. House of Representatives finally released H.R.2881, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2007. As widely expected in aviation circles, the House bill does not contain any user fees, unlike the companion Senate bill (S.1300) that includes a $25 per flight fee for turbine aircraft using the IFR system. However, H.R.2881 does increase and expand existing fees for FAA services, with some fees increasing by 2,500 percent (see table). Importantly, the FAA reauthorization fully funds ATC modernization, better known simply as NextGen. "This legislation addresses many of the concerns raised by general aviation and puts in place building blocks required to move forward with NextGen," said General Aviation Manufacturers Association President and CEO Pete Bunce. "We are proud to have leaders like Chairmen Oberstar and Costello and ranking members Mica and Petri taking bold steps to ensure these critical needs are met in the NextGen process." The four-year FAA reauthorization legislation also contains several other "Easter eggs," including a system to monitor service at Flight Service Stations, a provision to raise the mandatory retirement age for airline pilots to 65, and a requirement for the FAA to roll out tamper-proof pilot certificates that contain a photo of the airman and possibly even a biometric identifier. The bill also includes language that would send the National Air Traffic Controllers Association and the FAA back to the negotiating table to finish work on a collective bargaining agreement.

Aviation Groups Praise House FAA Bill

H.R.2881, the House of Representative's FAA reauthorization legislation, drew wide approval from aviation trade groups. The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), National Air Transportation Association, EAA and AOPA praised the bill for its effort to modernize the national air transportation system while still retaining the current funding system of aviation fuel and ticket taxes. The bill will now move to the House Ways and Means Committee, with a recommendation to increase the current aviation gas tax from 19.3 cents per gallon to 24.1 cents per gallon and the Jet-A fuel tax rate from 21.8 cents per gallon to 30.7 cents per gallon, which pilot groups agree is a more fair tax increase than the 70-cent-per-gallon tax proposed by the Bush Administration. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) joined the chorus of approval, partly due to the absence of user fees but especially because of the provision that would reopen contract negotiations between the controllers union and the FAA. That latter provision drew sharp criticism from the DOT. In a statement, DOT Secretary Mary Peters rebuked House lawmakers for adding the amendment forcing the FAA and NATCA back to the table. On Thursday, she said that over the past two weeks the Administration has made a good faith effort to negotiate and settle with NATCA over what the union calls "imposed work rules" implemented last September. Peters said FAA negotiators offered "a substantial financial settlement," which the DOT chief said union leaders turned down. "The Administration opposes legislative efforts that would limit the [FAA's] ability to manage its workforce and that would threaten investment in critical aviation safety programs," she said, adding that for this reason the President would veto a bill with any such provision. For a more in-depth look at the bill, listen to AOPA's Andrew Cebula.

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News Briefs back to top 

Cirrus Unveils Seven-Place Personal Jet

Click any Image to View Larger Version

Cirrus Design unveiled the mockup of its single-engine V-tail jet, with seating for up to seven people, at a media reception at its Duluth, Minn. headquarters on Thursday. The aerodynamically sculptured design includes a variety of innovations that will definitely make it stand out on any ramp, but its striking looks are a side benefit of some practical design, according to Cirrus CEO Alan Klapmeier. "We didn't do it just to make it look cool," Klapmeier told AVweb. "We wanted people to know that there are sound reasons behind the design." Cirrus designers opted to mount the engine on top of the fuselage for easy access, fire and turbine blade containment and for easy load balancing. The V-tail makes way for the thrust from the Williams FJ33 turbofan, which is expected to push the aircraft to about 300 knots. The engine is also mounted flush with the 20-degree slope of the aircraft's back and the thrust is vectored to point it in the right direction. Big straight wings with large control surfaces will make the aircraft easy to fly, says Klapmeier. The placement of the engine caused a design dilemma. It occupies space normally taken by the whole-airplane parachute that is standard on all Cirrus piston airplanes. In the jet, the chute is in the nose and the straps tear up through the center division of the windshield, which will undoubtedly make pulling that handle even more memorable. The aircraft also sports substantial winglets, which will enhance aileron authority at slow speeds and boost fuel efficiency.

Comfort, Convenience Key To Cirrus Jet's Cabin Design

Although the-jet by Cirrus is comparable in size to many four- and five-place jets, the cabin will actually hold up to seven people in admittedly close, but still relatively comfortable, quarters. In normal configuration, the plane is configured for five passengers, with a unique rear seat that allows the middle passenger to slide back about 12 inches so that all three in the back have plenty of elbow room. If the whole family is headed out, there is room for two more (kids or small adults) behind the three-abreast rear seat. Another unusual feature is full-sized doors on each side that allow walk-aboard access. Klapmeier said he hates having to climb over and between seats to get on an aircraft and the two-door configuration eliminates that. Because of the design, six-footers in the back seat have plenty of room to stretch out with the seats reclined. Although the final design of the cockpit hasn't been determined, there's the typical automotive feel to the front-seat area that is a feature of Cirrus piston products. The mockup seems to emphasize that this is a single-pilot aircraft by clustering the instruments toward the left side and a full glass panel will be standard (vendor not yet named). Sidesticks move the control surfaces and the rudder pedals are big enough for a basketball player's feet.

What We Don't Know About The Cirrus Jet

Cirrus has kept its jet project mostly under wraps for almost five years and there are still a lot of questions. Klapmeier declined to discuss the timeline, the cost or detail the projected performance of the jet, mostly because he said he didn't know. He said they're still hoping to produce the jet for around $1 million, but the other variables will affect the final figure. Naturally, with seven people aboard, the plane won't go as far or as fast when only one person is on board, but that, he says, is the beauty of the design. "It's all about flexibility," he emphasized. If the typical use of Cirrus' piston products is any guide, much of the-jet's time will be spent carrying one or two people, just like most SUVs rarely qualify for the high occupancy lane on the freeway. Although not detailed at the news briefing, the kind of utility that the company is demanding from the aircraft will likely require known icing capability and the ability to land on short fields. Klapmeier told the crowd on Thursday that he wants to be able to land on grass strips, and he didn't appear to be kidding. So far, reaction to the design has been positive, according to position holders AVweb spoke with. Cirrus jet position holder Wyn Lewis said the innovation and thoughtful design made him more anxious than ever to get his airplane.

A Plea For Piper Aircraft

While it might be hard to imagine a common bond between verdant Vero Beach, Fla., and industrial Toledo, Ohio, the Florida community is looking north for pointers on keeping its largest employer. Vero Beach’s "We Love [big red heart, here] Piper" campaign is modeled after a successful bid in the late 1990s to convince DaimlerChrysler to keep building Jeeps in Toledo. Vero Beach business leaders have launched a public campaign that includes bumper stickers and full-page newspaper tearouts that citizens are invited to put in their windows to proclaim their affection for the historic planemaker -- and the hundreds of millions of dollars it churns for the local economy each year. "We want to do everything we can to maintain Piper's presence in Vero Beach," Gerry Thistle, executive vice president at Vero Beach-based Hilb, Rogal and Hobbs told TCPalm. "I hope people in the community will understand what we'll lose versus what we'll gain if Piper leaves." Vero Beach and Indian River County politicians have agreed to offer Piper about $56 million in incentives and the state has chipped in $20 million. Most of the civic governments’ contribution is in the form of facility lease-back arrangements which will allow Piper to stay in its present quarters and also move into a brand-new plant for its PiperJet rent-free for the first eight years of the deal. However, the spending must be approved by referendum, and that’s the focus of the public campaign. "We really need community support on the bond referendum," said County Administrator Joe Baird.

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News Briefs back to top 

New Eclipse 500 Avionics On Display At OSH

According to Flight International, International Solutions & Support will unveil the AvioNG avionics and flight management system for the Eclipse 500 at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis., later this month. The system was necessitated when Eclipse parted ways with its former avionics vendor Avidyne in February. Eclipse continues to build aircraft with the Avidyne system pending certification of the new setup, and those aircraft will be retrofitted once the new system is ready. Among the innovations expected is an electronic flight bag that automatically selects the right charts and shows the aircraft’s position on them. This is IS&S’s first attempt at OEM installation -- its core business to date has been retrofitting panels in commercial and military aircraft. The avionics maker reports order backlogs on retrofits for Boeing 767 and 757 panels.

Europe Embraces Air Taxi Concept

The freshly minted Air Taxi Association (ATXA) wasted little time fanning enthusiasm in Europe as several players get ready to launch services on the continent that the association says will generate $1 billion in economic activity annually. ATXA President Joe Leader delivered the keynote address at the Very Light Jet-Europe conference last week in Vienna, Austria. He told delegates that U.S.-based DayJet will launch the first air taxi service using Eclipse 500 jets and JetBird plans to follow with the yet-to-fly Embraer Phenom 100. Other companies are also planning European services, but are busy getting their businesses going in the U.S. first. He mentioned EarthJet’s imminent launch of BusinessJetSEATS, a service the company claims will offer by-the-seat charters at 50 percent of the current cost of light jet charter seats. Also gathering momentum is Linear Air, SATSair (using Cirrus SR22s) and Pogo, which is the brainchild of former American Airlines CEO Robert Crandall. ATXA says air taxis won’t replace the airlines, but they will offer another type of air travel and relieve traffic congestion around major hubs by siphoning some business to smaller airports.

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News Briefs back to top 

Electronics No Substitute For Good Pilot Skills

A study to be released later this month by AOPA’s Air Safety Foundation has quantified what most of us already suspected about so-called technically advanced aircraft. All that electronically displayed information is no good if pilots ignore it. In fact, the comfort level achieved by lighting up that panel might actually contribute to the risk of some types of accidents. The study noted that 45 percent of fatal accidents involving technically advanced aircraft (TAA) were weather related, compared with 16 percent for steam gauge-equipped planes. "These accidents were not the fault of the airplane," ASF Chairman Bruce Landsberg on Friday told pilots attending M5, the annual gathering of Cirrus owners and pilots in Duluth, Minn. On the other hand, the terrain and fuel management information available in glass cockpit aircraft seems to have significantly cut the incidence of fuel- and terrain-related accidents in the new airplanes. Landsberg says the key to optimizing the technological advantages of TAA is training. He said pilots must be trained to become better "systems managers." But being a whiz with the buttons and knobs is no substitute for basic "stick and rudder" skills, he added. A significant number of TAA accidents occurred during landings and go-arounds, where the slick aerodynamics of the new aircraft may be a little less forgiving. “We as an industry are still playing catch-up on the training aspects of TAA," Landsberg said. "We are making progress, but we don’t yet have all of the tools.”

Moller Has A New Idea

The man who’s been promising to give the world a flying car for the past 25 years is apparently setting his sights a little lower. Paul Moller, the Canadian-born creator of the Skycar, which Moller says will be certified by the end of 2008, is now offering a ground-effect vehicle called the M200G volantor. In a news release, Moller International says the volantor is a "Jetsons-like" saucer-shaped vehicle about the size of a small car that’s designed to fly about 10 feet above the ground at about 40 knots. Moller says the volantor is "the ultimate off-road vehicle" and can cover rocky ground, swamps and water with ease. "It's not a hovercraft but its operation is just as easy," Moller claims. While the Skycar has rotary engines mounted on swiveling pods that will purportedly allow vertical takeoff and landing and a top speed of 325 knots at 20,000 feet, the volantor has eight engines arrayed in the circular hull that push the vehicle into the air. Moller says the engines will be computer controlled for ease of operation, and the first six are already under construction.

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News Briefs back to top 

UK ATC Eyes Full Privatization

In the best spirit of free enterprise, Britain’s hybrid airspace management company, National Air Traffic Services (NATS), is hoping to sell high after recovering from some desperate lows in its early years. According to thisismoney.co.uk, NATS is riding the worldwide growth in commercial air traffic and reported a profit of almost $200 million in the fiscal year ending March 31. That’s a far cry from the dark days following 9/11, when the brand-new entity had to arrange a $130 million bailout with airport operators just to stay alive. The airports group got 4 percent of the equity in return for the cash infusion and the British government still owns 49 percent of the company. Seven major airlines collectively hold 42 percent of NATS, and thisismoney.co.uk says they’d like to free up that equity. Some of the biggest winners in a buyout would be NATS employees, who own 5 percent of the company and could expect significant windfalls in a sell-off.

Quest Aircraft Chairman Killed In Crash

Bruce Kennedy, 68, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Quest Aircraft, died in the crash of his Cessna 182 near the Cashmere (Wash.) Airport on Thursday. Kennedy had a long career with Alaska Airlines and retired as its CEO in 1991. He was on his way to Wenatchee to see his grandchildren when the plane went down in a high school parking lot while attempting to land. The airplane hit a truck and a tree before catching fire next to a house. No one on the ground was hurt. Weather was reported to be mostly clear with light winds at the time of the crash. Kennedy worked for Alaska Airlines and its predecessor for 32 years and is credited with the modern expansion that turned it into an international carrier. He took early retirement in 1991 to pursue humanitarian causes. According to a news release from his family, he was especially fond of his involvement with Quest Aircraft, which is on the cusp of certification for its turboprop Kodiak bush plane. The Kodiak will be sold in the general market and profits from those sales will be used to donate aircraft to humanitarian organizations flying into remote areas around the world.

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News In Brief back to top 

On The Fly

Engine problems have postponed the completion of Glacier Girl’s historic trip to England, 65 years after the initial mission ended in an emergency landing in Greenland. The engine will be fixed in Goose Bay, Newfoundland, and Labrador, and it’s hoped the aircraft will be able to fly to EAA AirVenture in three weeks…

Three University of Cincinnati Professional Pilot students won $5,000 scholarships from the Sporty’s Foundation. Matt Bengel and Steve Warther, both of Cincinnati, and Alex Glueck, originally from Farnborough, England, will use the money for studies in the 2007/2008 school year…

The massive CompAir 12 single-engine turboprop will fly to EAA AirVenture. The aircraft made its debut at Sun 'n Fun and is undergoing flight testing…

Security was tightened at airports around the world Saturday after a flaming Jeep was driven into the main terminal at Glasgow International Airport. The American Airlines terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport was evacuated and closed for about an hour early Sunday because of a suspicious package. It contained perfume.

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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

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New On AVweb back to top 

CEO of the Cockpit #71: A Pilot Base is a State of Mind

Airline consolidation and bankruptcies usually means cutting services and saving money -- and it often means closing pilot bases.

Click here for the full story.

AVmail: Jul. 2, 2007

Reader mail this week about the FSS mess, the ATC retirement mess, the FAA Administrator retirement and more.

Click here to read this week's letters to the editor.

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AVweb-Exclusive Audio And Video News 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 Alan Klapmeier on the Cirrus jet. And AVweb's podcast index includes interviews with NBAA's Harry Houkes; 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; and Piper's Jim Bass. In today's podcast, hear AOPA's Andrew Cebula dissect the House FAA reauthorization bill. Remember: In AVweb's podcasts, you'll hear things you won't find anywhere else.

Cirrus Design's The-Jet Rollout: A First Look

Recommend a Video | VOTW Archive

Cirrus Design's personal jet was shown for the first time, Thursday June 28, 2007. AVweb's Russ Niles was there.

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Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

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FBO Of The Week back to top 

FBO Of The Week: Jackson Jet Center

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Jackson Jet Center at KBOI in Boise, Idaho.

AVweb reader Fred Herzner said the FBO offered great service and fair prices.

"I flew into Boise with our Bonanza on the way home from Seattle and happened to chose Jackson Jet Center from several FBOs on the field. Line service was great, the facility was outstanding, the people were nice and the price of fuel was fair. They loaned us a very nice crew car for the afternoon and booked us in a good hotel for a low price. People were nice, and the service and facility were great. What else is there?"

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: In-Cockpit Video of C182 Gear-Up Landing

Recommend a Video | VOTW Archive

This week, we turn to Flight Level 350 for another in-cockpit video that serves as a safety reminder. If the loud beeping of the gear warning horn isn't enough to tell you that the gear is up on this C182, then the sound of the belly scraping on the runway will definitely let you know you're landing gear-up. Let's hope none of us ever have to actually hear this sound in our cockpits.

Speaking of sounds, this video automatically queues up and plays when you click on the link, so consider that a warning if you're watching at work!

Watch the Video

Don't forget to send us links to any interesting videos you find out there. (Try as we might, we can't seem to goof off enough to see all the videos on the Web!) 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"

Last July, on a 90-degree-plus day, in my Cessna 150 just 30 minutes fuel burn below gross, in IMC and at the already unbelievable altitude of 5,000 feet, Saginaw Approach made this request:

Saginaw Approach: Four Five Uniform, I need you to climb and maintain 7,000.

Cessna 45U: Leaving five climbing seven. But it’s gonna take me about 20 minutes to do it.

Approach: Four Five Uniform, I know. I don’t need you there for another 20 minutes!

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) 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.