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Members of the House Ways and Means Committee heard from several players in the aviation-taxes/user-fee debate in a hearing on Wednesday. FAA Administrator Marion Blakey made her pitch for user fees, telling the
committee that "general aviation drives about 16 percent of the costs of the air traffic control system, while only paying about 3 percent of the taxes." The committee also heard from Gerald
Dillingham, director of the Government Accountability Office, who said the current trust fund system is already raising enough money to support the FAA without the imposition of user fees. "Selected
proposals for funding aviation activities could generate more revenue, but could also lead to unintended consequences," he said in his report. "For example, a House committee recommendation to raise
general aviation fuel tax rates could increase trust fund revenue, but might reduce fuel purchases, which would limit the amount of the revenue increase." Dillingham also said that when fees are
imposed for aviation activities, "care must be taken to ensure that efforts to avoid the fees do not compromise safety." Joseph Kile of the Congressional Budget Office concluded, "Pricing the air
traffic control system so as to provide the appropriate economic incentives to the various sectors of the aviation industry may enable the system to better accommodate the growing demand for air
travel." Also speaking at the hearing were Phil Boyer, president of AOPA; James May, president of the Air Transport Association; and spokesmen from Delta Air Lines, UPS, Bradley International Airport
in Connecticut and Winner Aviation, an FBO in Ohio.
It's one of those things that's been intuitively accepted -- glass cockpit technology improves situational awareness, thereby
enhancing safety. Now a study published this week by the AOPA Air Safety Foundation (ASF) confirms that technologically advanced aircraft (TAA) are involved in fewer accidents when compared with the
overall general aviation fleet. The analysis shows that advanced aircraft account for 2.8 percent of the GA fleet, but were involved in only 1.5 percent of the accidents. Most notable was the
difference in accidents related to fuel. TAA have fuel-monitoring and warning systems, and there was not a single fuel-related accident reported in the ASF study. In other GA aircraft,
fuel-management accidents occur at a rate of almost three per week. "As more TAA begin entering the flight-training market, we'll look for changes in the accident statistics," said Bruce Landsberg,
executive director of the ASF. "There's a potential for more takeoff and landing accidents when these aircraft are used more for instructional missions." The report also noted that instructors must
maximize on-the-ground systems training to avoid too much head-down time in the cockpit during flight. The report, Technologically Advanced Aircraft: Safety and Training, is available for free on the Web.
As very light jets begin deliveries in the U.S., the demand for training is on the rise, and that's good news for the folks who
build flight simulators. An analysis by Frost & Sullivan,
released this week, shows that training and simulation for VLJs is already a $73 million market and should grow to $84 million by 2010. "Unlike twin-piston or other aircraft comparable in size, VLJs
are highly powerful aircraft with features once exclusive to commercial airliners and other big business jets," said Frost & Sullivan analyst Garrick Ngai. "With the availability of technologies such
as single-pilot resource management on VLJs, both new and transitioning pilots require extensive ground-based and in-flight instruction in order to fly these powerful micro-jets safely." The training
market will grow as the jets are delivered, and then will continue as the aircraft age and second buyers need training, the report said.
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A controller who was communicating with famed test pilot Scott Crossfield shortly before he crashed his Cessna 210 in April 2006 did not provide any severe weather advisories, although he acknowledged that adverse weather was present
"all over" his sector, according to the recently released NTSB factual report. The controller told
investigators that he believed his radar information to be unreliable and he expected the pilot would have a better idea about the location of the adverse weather than he did. "By not issuing weather
reports to the pilot, the controller violated several paragraphs in FAA Order 7110.65, 'Air Traffic Control,'" according to the NTSB. Crossfield, 84, died in the crash. The NTSB investigation is
continuing and no probable cause has been determined. The AOPA Air Safety Foundation reminds pilots
that they must be cautious when flying near convective weather. "Mr. Crossfield taught us a valuable lesson, unfortunately with a tragic outcome," said Bruce Landsberg, executive director of the ASF.
"Weather does not respect any type of certificate or experience level." The ASF offers an online program, Weather Wise: Thunderstorms and ATC, that is free to all pilots. The program includes information such as what weather services are available from ATC, how to ask the right
questions of controllers to get the information you need, and radar capabilities of ATC facilities. "Most ATC centers and TRACONs have the ability to detect precipitation, and pilots flying in the
area of thunderstorms would be wise to discuss what the controller sees and ask for suggestions for avoidance," said Landsberg. Now is a good time for pilots to review this information, with summer
thunderstorm season already upon us. (Photo: Jeb Burnside)
A throttle lever on the A320 that crashed after overrunning the runway in Sao Paulo, Brazil, last month may have been in "accelerate"
position when it should have been in "reverse" position, Reuters reported on Wednesday. Reuters cited
flight-recorder transcripts published in a Brazilian newspaper. The airline, TAM, has already said that one of the aircraft's thrust reversers was inoperative. In that case, both throttle levers
should have been in the "idle" position during approach to the airport and in the "full reverse" position on the runway, according to the Brazilian news report. Airbus issued a safety advisory last
week stressing the need for pilots to follow proper landing procedures when a thrust reverser is not working, Reuters said. All 187 people on board the airliner and at least 12 on the ground were
killed in the July 17 crash. It was the country's worst aviation accident.
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Attendance at this year's AirVenture show was up about 3 percent over last year, EAA President Tom Poberezny said on
Monday, with an estimated total of about 560,000 visitors. Other numbers included more than 10,000 aircraft that flew in to Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh and other nearby fields; 2,647
showplanes (985 homebuilts, 1,014 vintage airplanes, 365 warbirds, 136 ultralights, 117 seaplanes and 30 rotorcraft); 784 commercial exhibitors; and more than 38,000 campers. Reporting on all that
news and activity were 887 media representatives from six continents (none, apparently, made the trip from Antarctica). "The number of aviation innovations and introductions we saw at Oshkosh were
unprecedented, and there was a very positive feeling among pilots and aviation enthusiasts," Poberezny said. "In addition, exhibitors throughout the grounds noted strong interest and, in some cases,
record sales." The increase in attendance was thanks partly to good weather, plus a strong lineup of features and attractions, and a large number of significant announcements, Poberezny said. If you
missed it this year, next year's dates are July 28 to August 3.
Any pilot who has tried formation flying knows it is harder than it looks. And if flying close to two or three pals seems
daunting, imagine flying in formation with 34 other airplanes. But a group of Van's RV pilots, determined to honor designer Richard VanGrunsven and Van's Aircraft on their 35th anniversary of being at
Oshkosh, pulled it off with panache last week. After a couple of practice runs at a nearby airport, the 35-ship formation flew a mass arrival into Wittman Field on Sunday afternoon, the day before the
show opened. On Tuesday and Wednesday, all 35 airplanes took off four at a time, then flew several maneuvers over the show. "This formation over OSH was the buzz along the flightline and particularly
noteworthy as 35 pilots and planes remained mechanically sound and in precision tight formations five times over a five-day period," flight leader Stu McCurdy told AVweb. "It was a fitting
acknowledgement of 35 years of Van's Aircraft producing quality homebuilt kits, with more than 5,000 now flying." During the airshow, the airplanes took off four at a time in fingertip formation,
McCurdy said. "After takeoff, the No. 4s dropped into the slot for four-ship Diamond formations, and the four-ship Diamonds then formed two 16-ship Diamond of Diamonds formation with a three-ship
tacked onto the second. The two formations then entered the airspace over Oshkosh with a criss-cross maneuver followed by a join-up into a Double Diamond shape. The 35-ship then transitioned in a
Figure 8 pattern over OSH into an Arrow formation, then a Cluster formation, and then for the final pass they joined into a huge 35-ship Diamond formation. As far as we know, this is the largest close
formation shape ever flown at AirVenture, or anywhere else."
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Yingling Aviation, a Cessna-affiliated general aviation services provider
located at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport, has announced that it will add 9,000 square feet of hangar and office space to make room for McCauley propeller overhaul and service. The $1.5 million
addition, which is the first part of a two-phase expansion, is expected to be completed by March 2008. Yingling said that the second phase will accommodate repair services for composite propellers.
Exact start dates have yet to be determined. However, land in close proximity to Mid-Continent Airport has recently been purchased. "Propeller technology is moving forward in close pace to new
airframes being developed by many aircraft manufacturers," said Yingling Aviation President Lynn Nichols. "In anticipation of composite propellers becoming more commonplace in years ahead, we are
taking the necessary steps now to position Yingling to provide state-of-the-art service and support for them." McCauley Propeller is a division of Cessna Aircraft.
The FAA over the last year or so has made clear that the much-vilified age-60 retirement rule for pilots is on its way
out. But for many pilots who are turning 60 now or expect to soon, the likelihood that things will change but haven't yet -- makes their situation just that much more frustrating. "The FAA
needs to get out of the age-discrimination business," says Lewis Tetlow, a US Airways captain who was forced into retirement when he turned 60 in April. Now president of the Senior Pilots Coalition, Tetlow on Wednesday asked FAA Administrator Marion Blakey to start granting
waivers now to keep the most experienced pilots flying through the busy summer season. "Today, we have an artificial pilot shortage in America and needlessly dangerous, unreliable airline service that
could be remedied quickly by putting available pilots back on the job," Tetlow said. "It is clearly in the public's best interest to get these most experienced pilots flying again and tapping the
added margin of safety that will come from their tens of thousands of additional flying hours." Tetlow says about 200 pilots per month are forced into retirement while the FAA drags its feet on
changing the rule. "Trust me when I say that these experienced and well-seasoned professionals are not the pilots that Americans want to see given their walking papers," he said.
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Plenty of young adults would like to try jumping out of an airplane, says Josh Berg, of Ontario, Canada, so why not give them
a chance to do it while raising money for a worthy cause? "A lot of organizations have done the walking and biking things -- skydiving is something new," Berg told the Welland Tribune. Berg's church youth group has put together a project
called LEAP -- Let's End All Poverty -- and they hope to sign up 150 people to jump during the August 18 to 19 weekend. If each jumper can raise C$150 in pledges, the event will raise C$22,500 for Make Poverty History, Berg said. The jumpers also must pay about C$200 each for the skydive. For more information about the event, send an
e-mail to email@example.com.
While concerns over price, availability and environmental impact have aviators worried about the future of fuel, one ultralight
flyer in New Jersey has already solved that problem. Randall Fishman has been testing lithium-ion polymer battery packs to drive the prop on his ultralight trike, and he says they work great. They are
powerful, smooth, sturdy, safe and quiet, Fishman claims. "The closest thing to a magic carpet ride ever," he says on his Web site. The quiet
is not only enjoyable for the pilot, it improves relations with neighbors, he notes. The batteries will run for up to two hours and cost about 60 cents to charge via a standard electric outlet.
However, the batteries are expensive -- $3,800 to $7,500, depending on size. The batteries are dependable and start with just the turn of a dial, Fishman says. Other advantages he cites: no handling
of smelly gasoline and oil, no soot or dirt, no emissions, no vibration, no engine maintenance, no carburetor adjustments, no expensive major overhauls. Fishman flew the aircraft at EAA AirVenture in
Oshkosh last week, and he has started a company, ElectraFlyer, to market the design.
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tips via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.
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It's been a busy year for everyone here in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. From product roll-outs to the ongoing fight against user fees, AVweb's audio news team was onhand (with microphones) to get
reactions and exclusive commentary from the industry's biggest players. In case you missed any of our daily audio coverage, here's a quick recap of the stories we covered at this year's EAA
This year, we shot quite a bit of original video at Oshkosh. While we didn't have time to publish everything we captured, we did put together a dozen or so videos to give you the flavor of the
show and highlight a couple of interesting products we found in the exhibitor hangars. Here's a complete list, just in case you missed any of them.
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Last week, Eclipse surprised everyone with a sleek, elegant concept
jet design that quickly became the talk of Oshkosh. In the midst
of AirVenture, we asked what AVweb readers thought of Eclipse's
big-news concept jet debut.
Reactions were mostly positive, with 31% of respondents calling the
jet a terrific idea that will benefit GA and the light jet market.
At the other end of the spectrum, 36% of respondents said that Eclipse
might do better to spend their time getting the long-anticipated 500 to
market instead of introducing a four-place jet of limited
You can view a complete breakdown of the responses
here. (You may be asked to register and answer, if you haven't already
participated in this poll.)
THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***
Now that EAA AirVenture is history, which news
announcement from the air show excited you the most? Was it the
Eclipse concept jet, the Cessna SkyCatcher, the FAA's big news about the
D.C. ADIZ or something else entirely?
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's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to TAC Air at KAPA in Denver, Colorado.
AVweb reader Scott Brooksby raves about the service at TAC Air:
"These guys were great; their self-serve fuel prices were great, and they loaned us a crewcar to go to dinner. When we first arrived, they took us to our hotel. When we left two days later, they
had the airplane near their door, ready to go. Awesome."
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 ***
Terrific photos continued to flow into "POTW"
headquarters, even while we were away at Oshkosh kicking tires,
er, working hard. We'll keep the banter short this week in order
to squeeze in a couple of extra pics. If there were but world
enough and time, we'd go on and on about the 120 photos we had to wade
through this week and what a tough choice it was selecting only a
handful to appear in today's issue. But we think you'll get the
idea when you see the pics that we just couldn't turn away.
Let's hit it!
It's always satisfying when the post-AirVenture "Picture of the Week"
comes from the show and maddening, in a way, since we really did think
we saw everything there was to see this year.
Foolish us. Leonard Mack of
Hilliard, Ohio, hung around for the ultralight air shows every night at
dusk (whereas we went back to the hotel to write up stories).
Thankfully, Leonard snapped some photos for us, even if it isn't exactly
the same as being there.
Man, do we ever love to watch this thing zoom around the air shows and
hover mysteriously in mid-air! Don
Parsons of St. Peters, Missouri caught the spirit of the F-22
demo perfectly. (Note the onlooker plugging his ears with his
Say some of you "POTW" contributors need to stop by our booth and say
hello while you're at Oshkosh!
One of the week's tragic losses was the death of Jim Leroy, and we're
grateful to all the "POTW" readers who sent us pics of LeRoy working his
aerobatic magic over the last few days. (We'd love to see more, if
you have them.)
LeRoy "always put on a good show," writes Jeff
of Clyde, Texas. "Here, he pulls and banks after cutting the red
ribbon in last year's Ft. Worth Alliance Air Show."
Who could resist a description like this one, from
Dan McCoy of Pennsville, New Jersey: "On the end of
our flight ramp, the hot tarmac pounded with rain, ready to go, a lone
crew chief seemingly standing on water. (There's actually a river
between the trees and the aircraft.)"
Dan credits a co-worker with the photo, but we have to give him a tip of
the hat for sending us our Desktop Wallpaper of the Week! (And
this was up against some awesome skylines that didn't make it into the "POTW"
proper, by the way.)
Nothing says "AirVenture" better than this sign! Frequent "POTW"
contributor Ralph Lacomba of
Columbia, South Carolina took a minute to fool around for the camera and
captured the spirit of the show perfectly. Maybe we'll even
forgive him for not stopping by the booth and introducing himself.
Not all the fun to be had last week happened in Oshkosh!
Paul Berrelkamp of North Holland in
the Netherlands was shooting photos of "probably the last flyable Fokker
Spin in the world, built in 1936 (taken from the original model from
1911) ... at the Airport in Leylstad in the Netherlands (EHLE) in front
of theme park the Aviodrome."
And a somber reminder that some pilots weren't having fun at all, but
were instead serving in the world's military forces.
Daniel Lyons shot this as pilots
were preparing for a border flight from the Forward Operations Base at
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 Editor Mary Grady (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.
Have a product or service to advertise on AVweb? A question on marketing? Send it to AVweb's
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.