AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 13, Number 32a

August 6, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Top News back to top 

Georgia Firm Buys Tiger Type Certificate

True Flight Holdings LLC of Valdosta, Ga., was the successful bidder for Tiger Aircraft's type certificates and hopes to resume production of the sporty low-wing that was originally made by Grumman. True Flight spokesman J. Kevin Lancaster told AVweb on Friday that there are several communities interested in hosting the new business, but there won't be any detailed announcements for at least several weeks. Lancaster said his group of investors plans to take a "dramatically different" approach to structuring the company and marketing the airplane than the former owner, Tiger Aircraft, which filed for bankruptcy in January. The former company had manufacturing facilities in Martinsburg, W. Va., and was owned by Taiwanese investors, which Lancaster said caused corporate difficulties that won't be an issue with his firm. True Flight obtained the type certificates to the full line of former Grumman light aircraft from Tiger for $925,000. "I thought it was a bargain," Lancaster said. He owned two Grumman Tigers before buying a Mooney and said he wants another Tiger. The fate of the tooling and equipment is still under negotiation with the bankruptcy trustees.

N.Y. Pilot Background Check Law Struck Down

A U.S. District Court judge has ruled that the state of New York lacks the jurisdiction to require background checks on student pilots. AOPA and seven flight schools filed suit against the law, and on Aug. 2 Judge Gary Sharpe ruled in favor of AOPA's motion for summary judgment. In essence, the ruling affirms that the federal government has sole jurisdiction over the regulation and security of aviation. "This law didn't do anything to enhance security for New Yorkers," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "It was unnecessary and discriminatory, and it violated the U.S. Constitution." The judge found that the TSA already has a background check system in place and that Congress has already decided that a uniform system of regulations should guide aviation activity throughout the country. Allowing states to put their own spin on those regulations would create a patchwork of differing regulations that would negate the mandated principal of uniformity. New York was having a hard time implementing the law. The FBI refused to allow third-party access to criminal record files, so background checks were limited to illegal activity within New York alone.

Former FAA Deputy Barrett May Get Top Post

An Arizona woman who was the FAA's deputy director during the Reagan era is being touted as current Administrator Marion Blakey's replacement. According to Aviation Daily, unnamed sources say Barbara Barrett is being chatted up in Washington circles to take over from Blakey when her term expires on Sept. 13. Barrett has been on the boards of large companies and charitable organizations and chaired the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy. She also took a run at becoming Arizona's governor and is married to Intel Corp. Chairman Craig Barrett. The Barrett rumor comes as most pundits were predicting that the administration would not make an appointment because the Democratic Congress is unlikely to confirm an appointee for a five-year term when there is only a year left in the current administration's mandate. It was thought that current deputy, Bobby Sturgell, would ride out the last year as acting administrator.

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News Briefs back to top 

Bridge Stunts Concern FAA

Local authorities and the FAA are wondering what to do about an apparent fad among some pilots in northern Michigan. For the third time in two months, aircraft have been reported flying under the giant Mackinac Bridge that connects Michigan's Upper Peninsula with the rest of the state. The last time an airplane was reported flying under the bridge was 1959. "Flying close to any structure will create a tremendous risk of danger. It's not only a threat to the pilot and the people in the plane, but also to those on the bridge," FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Cory told the Traverse City Record Eagle. "There's a chance that wind or miscalculations could put you too close to a structure, any structure." The highest span of the bridge is 155 feet above the water. In early June, a helicopter flew under the bridge and witnesses apparently got a good enough look at it for the FAA to begin an investigation. On July 20, a floatplane flew under, but those who saw it couldn't provide a good description or N-number. The latest incident was July 30 when two red floatplanes performed the stunt, but it's not known if witnesses got their tail numbers. The FAA is encouraging people to report all such incidents with as much information as possible. Pilots face suspensions and fines if caught.

Forced Landing Pilot Already Under Investigation

A young pilot who witnesses say did a miraculous job in a forced landing on a busy Fort Lauderdale street last Wednesday has been cited by the FAA and has a checkered driving record, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.Austin Brennan, 24, of Hollywood, Fla., dodged people, cars and fast food restaurants when he brought the Piper Aerostar down on a main thoroughfare. He and his two passengers walked away from the fiery wreck with minor injuries while no one on the ground was hurt. Brennan had reported an engine failure just before the off-airport landing. "It looked like the pilot was in control the entire time," private pilot and incident witness Pat Schaffer told the Sun-Sentinel. But an investigation by the newspaper revealed Brennan has been accused by the FAA of previously violating regulations. The FAA confirmed that it has taken enforcement action against Brennan for a breach of regulations that happened this year, but wouldn’t discuss details because it’s in the appeal period. Brennan has also been cited for several driving offenses, including speeding, driving an unsafe vehicle, driving without a license plate and driving without insurance.

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News Briefs back to top 

Piper Sale Rumor Downplayed

Piper Aircraft is always for sale, but that doesn’t mean it’s being sold, according to some cryptic reaction to rumors the Florida planemaker is on the block again. According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, AOPA apparently fueled the rumors by running an item in its EAA AirVenture coverage (which we couldn’t find) saying the current owners, American Capital Strategies, might be "shopping the company to potential buyers." American Capital didn't exactly quell the rumor by telling AOPA that "most companies are for sale for the right price." So what was Piper management's reaction? Piper spokesman Steve Johnston told the Sun-Sentinel that the company always has been and always will be for sale until the right buyer comes along. "At any given time most companies are for sale at the right price, so we find it surprising that anyone would find that surprising," Johnston said. As cold and indifferent the lack of sentiment may be for one of the oldest names in general aviation, it's just business, according to one analyst. Richard Aboulafia told the Sun-Sentinel that equity funds like American Capital make their money by buying up companies on the ropes, putting them back in shape and then selling them. Piper has rebounded in recent years, is launching its first jet next year, and is scouting locations to build it. In the meantime, Piper plans to sell 216 aircraft in the coming year, 50 of which will be its top-of-the-line Meridian.

Comair Can’t Sue Lexington Airport

A judge has ruled that Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, Ky., cannot be sued because it enjoys "sovereign immunity" under the Kentucky constitution that prevents counties from being sued without a waiver approved by the General Assembly. Comair is trying to sue the airport for its alleged role in the 2006 fatal crash of one of its regional jets that took off from the wrong runway. The airline alleged that inadequate signage and runway markings contributed to the pilots of Flight 5191 choosing a shorter, narrower general aviation runway instead of the 7,000-foot runway to which they'd been cleared for takeoff. The aircraft crashed off the end of the runway, killing 49 of the 50 people on board. Comair had hoped to spread liability for the accident to the airport and it is also suing the FAA, which had staffed the tower with a single controller when two were required. The controller on duty had his back turned to the windows and was doing paperwork when the crash occurred. An NTSB report put most of the blame on the pilots for not noticing the cues that they were on the wrong runway. The Board criticized the FAA for lax enforcement of taxiing regulations but, in a split decision, ruled the controller's failure to watch the aircraft line up for takeoff was not a contributing factor. The report did recommend that controllers keep an eye on aircraft under their control, however. No blame was assigned to the airport, but there was a recommendation to the FAA that all commercial airports be required to enhance taxiway and hold position markings.

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News Briefs back to top 

Oshkosh Approach Control Changes

An unheralded but vital aspect to the (mostly) orderly aerial migration to EAA AirVenture each year is undergoing a major change. Approach control services, which have been handled by Chicago Center since 1969, are switching to Milwaukee’s tower and TRACON facilities for the 2008 show. "Chicago Center employees do a remarkable job with Oshkosh, and we have a good story to tell," Bill Cound, the center's air traffic manager, told MyFAA, the employees’ online newsletter. Although a lot of well-deserved attention is paid to the tower controllers and those operating the mobile centers in Oshkosh’s immediate vicinity, funnelling all that traffic into the area also has its challenges. Chicago Front Line Manager Rita Thiel has been working the Oshkosh traffic for 18 years and told the newsletter it stretches staff and resources. "Every year the Chicago North Area Team braced up for one heck of a week," said Thiel. "Usually four controllers are working with split frequencies because of sheer volume. One controller would work departures and one would work arrivals. They would pass their breaks for sometimes five hours because it was simply too busy to give a briefing. I am so proud to have worked with such energetic, ingenious controllers who really just got in there, pulled up their sleeves, dug themselves out, and always, always got the job done."

Locally Famous DC-3 Makes Final Trip

What the Corona, Calif. Press-Enterprise calls the local airport's "signature airplane" is headed to South America's largest aviation museum. The DC-3, owned by John and Betty Pappas of Mission Viejo, left Saturday on a 5,300-nm trip over the Andes and across the Amazon jungle to be featured in the museum at Sao Carlos, Brazil. Boeing purchased the aircraft, nicknamed Rose, for an undisclosed price from the Pappas to place in the museum, which is described as being comparable to Seattle’s Museum of Flight. "It is the best place for a wonderful old airplane to finish off her days," said John Pappas. Like all DC-3s, this one has a storied past. Built in 1943 for the military, it was used to drop paratroopers on D-Day. The Pappas have owned it for 10 years and it's become an icon in Corona that will be missed. "I hate to see it leave. The saddest part is it sounds like it's not gong to fly again," local pilot Dave Stevenson told the Press-Enterprise. A pancake breakfast farewell was held Saturday morning before Rose's scheduled departure of 11 a.m.

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News Briefs back to top 

Close Call For Russian Cargo Plane

It was a testament to the ruggedness of the IL-76, but we’ll let others decide what it says about the crew flying it. According to a Transport Canada incident report published by Canadian Defence and Geopolitics, the Silk Way Airways plane was headed for Canadian Forces Base in Trenton, Ontario, in early June when it encountered poor visibility (half mile in fog, vertical visibility 500 feet, RVR 600, temperature and dew point 12 degrees Celsius) at the military base. The crew elected to try an instrument approach. The massive plane, loaded with military hardware from the Canadian Forces operation in Afghanistan, hit a perimeter fence, taking out 150 feet of it, touched down briefly 430 feet short of the runway and then managed to climb out, trailing part of the fence from its landing gear and peppered with damage to its belly. However, that wasn’t enough to prompt the crew to declare an emergency. According to the report, the crew climbed the airplane, still trailing barbed wire, to 3,000 feet and entered a hold for an hour. They then decided to divert to fog-free Ottawa, about 100 nm away. Ottawa officials were notified that the airplane had hit a fence and rolled emergency gear for the landing. The IL-76 landed uneventfully and went directly to an FBO. There, with help from the emergency workers, the crew untangled the barbed wire and took off again for Trenton, where the cargo was unloaded. In Trenton, it was revealed the aircraft had "substantial damage" and the events were classified by the Transportation Safety Board as an accident rather than an incident.

One Earhart Search Fades, Another Emerges

As a group that has pored over Gardner Island several times failed in its attempt to find conclusive evidence that the island is the final resting place of Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan, another effort to solve the 70-year-old mystery has received fresh funding, thanks in part to its exposure in AVweb. Last week The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery wrapped up its latest effort, recovering a part of a zipper and a melted bottle that might have been used to boil water, but nothing that proves Earhart was ever there. Official accounts say she and Noonan crashed at sea, but theories persist that they crashed on an island and perhaps survived for a time, either as castaways or prisoners of the Japanese. An Australian man hopes to test his theory that Earhart's plane came down on New Britain Island off Papua New Guinea and the $75,000 in funding pledges David Billings has received since his podcast interviewappeared in AVweb a month ago will go a long way toward that effort. Billings believes an Australian army patrol found the wreck of Earhart's Lockheed Electra and dutifully reported the discovery, including engine and airframe serial numbers. Although Billings has searched the area on foot, he believes the aircraft is so buried by jungle the only way to find it is with an airborne metal detector. That will cost about $150,000 and, with the money pledged so far and some promising leads on the way, he hopes to finally launch the search.

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News In Brief back to top 

On The Fly

If pistons and turbines are like dinner music to you, then a new restaurant planned for Wichita might be your cup of tea. Hangar 1 Steakhouse will have 41-foot tower where diners can watch aircraft arriving and departing Mid-Continent Airport...

Although pilot numbers continue to fall, membership in AOPA is on the rise. The organization hit a record 413,350 members, up 33 percent since 1991 when current President Phil Boyer took over...

Shawn Vick has been named CEO of Airport Services for Landmark Aviation. Vick was president of Landmark before it was sold to Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE). DAE says it plans to sell the airport services arm, which has 33 FBOs, and Vick will be CEO during the process.

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 aviation newsletter, AVwebBiz? Reporting on breaking news, Business AVflash focuses on the companies, the products and the industry leaders that make headlines in the business aviation industry. Business AVflash is a must read. Sign up today at http://www.avweb.com/profile/.

Columbia Introduces 2007 Models
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New Columns and Features back to top 

Pelican's Perch #87: Killer Go-Arounds

The recent crash of a warbird has John Deakin back on his soapbox to change our go-around habits.

Click here to read.

Probable Cause #38: Too Short, Too Soft

A relatively inexperienced pilot botches his landing on a short, soft-turf runway.

Click here for the full story.

AVmail: Aug. 6, 2007

Reader mail this week about Marion Blakey, the Cessna LSA and more.

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

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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 you'll hear Avidyne's Paul Hathaway on future avionics requirements. And AVweb's podcast index includes interviews with Arion Corp's Brian Barents; BusinessJetSEATS Alfred Rapetti; EAA's Dick Knapinski; AOPA's Andrew Cebula; Cirrus Design's Alan Klapmeier; 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 and LAMA's Dan Johnson. In today's podcast, Lycoming's Ian Walsh talks about "green" engine initiatives at his company. 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: Corporate Wings

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Corporate Wings at KCHS in Charleston, S.C.

AVweb reader Val Nasano said the FBO's staff really delivers:

"I have been using Corporate Wings CHS since I started traveling to Charleston on business in 2006. I receive the same royal treatment in my C182 each time I taxi in as any bizjet or large corporate client. Last trip in, the crew at Corporate Wings went above and beyond. I always rent a car through the FBO and when I ended up with a flat tire on the side of the interstate at 9 p.m., I called the FBO for the number of roadside assistance. Not only did they call the car rental company for me, one of their lineman went out on his own, located our car and changed the flat for us so we could get off the busy highway in the dark. I can't say enough about this crew. I nominate them for FBO of the year!"

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: Ridge-Soaring Schweizer 1-26E Sailplane

Recommend a Video | VOTW Archive

Our regularly-scheduled "Video of the Week" feature returns today, with a fun flying clip of pilot Noel Anderson riding ridge lines on his way to Mt. Greylock, Massachusetts in his Schweizer 1-26E.

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.

FLITELite™ Reinvents Light ... Once Again
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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"

Overhead during a rather quiet evening on Minneapolis Center.

Unknown aircraft: Minneapolis Center. Still there?

Minneapolis Center: Engineering to Bridge. Aye, Captain. Tricorder readings indicate carbon-based units still infest the planet.

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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.

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.