AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 13, Number 33a

August 13, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Top News back to top 

AOPA Says DOT Study Proves GA Not To Blame For Delays

Weather and the airlines' own scheduling practices continue to be the major causes of flight delays, and they won't be fixed with user fees or a modernized air traffic control system, according to AOPA President Phil Boyer. In a news release, Boyer says a Department of Transportation study shows that 40 percent of flight delays are caused by weather and 25 percent by problems within the airlines themselves, such as maintenance problems, crew shortages, baggage delays and the like. AOPA dug deeper into the report to analyze the 28 percent of delays attributable to National Airspace System delays and found 17 airports where airlines over-schedule flights. Only severe weather counts for weather delays, but delays can be caused in IMC because there are actually more flights scheduled to operate out of those 17 airports than ATC can handle under instrument rules. The airlines have been trying to blame general aviation, particularly business aircraft, for the delays as part of the attempt to have Congress invoke user fees for turbine aircraft. Both houses will consider their bills on FAA reauthorization when they resume sitting after the August break.

FAA Focus On NextGen Obscures Real Issues Says NATCA

The FAA's repeated reference to the need to modernize the air traffic control system is a smokescreen designed to divert attention from problems with the existing system, according to the head of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. Pat Forrey told a transportation forum in Dallas last week that while controllers love new technology and embrace it at every chance, poor morale and a severe staffing shortage are the most immediate concerns. "So before we as a nation turn our full attention to NextGen, and the future aviation system we hope to enjoy, we must work to ensure that the system we have to use today … remains the safest in the world and one where no corners are cut in a foolish rush to institute business agendas over safety practices," he said. NATCA is pulling for the same version of the FAA reauthorization bill that general aviation groups are supporting -- but for different reasons. The bill, H.R.2881, would not impose user fees on GA but, in its current form, would force the FAA and NATCA back to the bargaining table to settle the contract dispute that ended with an imposed deal last September. Most House Republicans are opposed to that clause and it’s likely to cause some fur to fly when the bill hits the floor. Meanwhile, the union continues to cite examples of understaffing at various facilities, including Las Vegas, where it claims the number of trainees will soon be greater than the number of certified controllers.

Bureaucracy Ready For VLJs

While we still don’t know just how the alleged onslaught of very light jets (VLJs), personal jets and family jets will affect aviation as a whole, the FAA appears to be among those who believe the impact will be huge. If you've noticed that VLJs seem to figure in just about every FAA news release on airspace and new technology, there’s a good reason. It’s called the FAA VLJ Cross Organizational Group and it has representation from no fewer than 35 agency departments, all of which believe that VLJs will affect their particular bailiwick. "We started brainstorming, identifying issues that could possibly arise, and looking at what we could do as an agency to [promote safety] while ensuring the smooth entry of these type aircraft into service," Mary Pat Baxter, who heads up the group, told FocusFAA, the agency’s internal newsletter. The diverse interests meet in person and by teleconference about every six weeks, and Baxter says it has put the agency in a better position to handle the little jets when they start showing up in significant numbers. Among the projects underway now is evaluating DayJet's introduction of the Eclipse 500 to the air taxi business that some believe will be the foundation of the VLJ market. "With this, we're going to have Air Traffic involved, so they can actually see how this operation is going to roll out -- before it starts -- so they can work out any kinks," Baxter said. Her group has also become the go-to organization for agency officials who have to speak to Congress or auditing organizations about VLJ-related issues. "If Congress needs a briefing, or somebody's going up to the Hill from our agency, we make up the briefing papers," Baxter said.

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News Briefs back to top 

EAA Members Picket Over Homebuilt Law

Pilots aren’t normally the type to hoist picket signs and mount protests against the powers that be, but it’s a measure of the frustration Jacksonville, Fla. aircraft kitbuilders are feeling that prompted them to the streets a couple of weeks ago to let their city officials know how they feel about their taking the home out of homebuilt. Wearing red EAA shirts and carrying signs with polite but pointed slogans, the pilots were protesting a Jacksonville ordinance that prohibits anyone from working on a homebuilt aircraft or an airboat at their homes. Last month EAA government affairs specialist Earl Lawrence coached the local chapter on ways to make the authorities listen to their plight and there are some encouraging signs the tactics are working, according to Jacksonville EAA President Milford Shirley. She told EAA that at least a couple of councilmen are talking about revising the law, and the real test of their resolve will be at Tuesday’s full meeting of council. "Tuesday is the regular council meeting, and if anyone can come it will be good for the full council to see a big presence," Shirley said.

Composite Industry Predicts Major Growth

If you’re looking for a place to invest all that cash you have left over from fueling, fixing and housing your airplane, market research company Lucintel suggests composite companies might be a good bet. The company recently completed a study on the use of composites by the aerospace industry and found, to no one in the aviation industry's surprise, that they are being increasingly incorporated into all parts of airplanes. "Remarkably, the global aerospace industry is estimated to use $57 billion worth of composite materials during 2007-2026," Lucintel CEO Dr. Samjay Mazumdar said in a news release. Composites have been widely used in homebuilts for decades, but manufacturers have been slow to adopt them. And while Cirrus, Columbia and a handful of others are leading the charge in general aviation, it’s Boeing's acceptance of the technology in the new 787 and Airbus's continued application in the A380 that will drive the growth in composites consumption, the report says. It notes that the 787 is about 50 percent composite while a 737 is only about 5 percent.

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News Briefs back to top 

Flight Data Recorder For Small Aircraft Approved

The FAA has issued the first supplementary type certificate on a flight data monitoring and recording system designed for small aircraft and helicopters. Jointly developed by Air Logistics and Appareo Systems, the Aircraft Logging and Event Recording for Training and Safety (ALERTS) system is billed as being small and affordable, but still capable of recording 100 hours of high resolution 3-D graphical data about the aircraft’s flight. It also keeps an eye on the pilot and can tell aircraft owners (or crash investigators) if the aircraft was being flown according to procedures. The first STCs are for Bell 206 and 407 helicopters, and Air Logistics President Mike Suldo said it provides a major safety benefit for operators of light aircraft. "Now we finally have a simple-to-install, low-cost, lightweight version for our smaller fleet. Every customer I have discussed this new safety technology with wants it installed as soon as possible," Suldo said. The unit is designed for simple field installation, according to Air Logistics.

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News Briefs back to top 

Pilot Said He Was "Sure" He Had Enough Fuel

A charter pilot who relied solely on fuel gauges to calculate his fuel load and admits he "guesstimated" the weight of his passengers said he was sure he had enough fuel to make it to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, from a remote fishing lake in 2002. The irony was that Mark Tayfel did make the field with one engine running, but his Keystone Airlines Piper Navajo, with six passengers aboard, was high and hot and he had to go around. His second engine quit on the go-around and the aircraft bounced off a bus, sliced the back off a truck and came to rest near a gas station at a Winnipeg intersection. One passenger later died from his injuries, but Tayfel and the others survived. Tayfel told a Winnipeg court that he found out later that there was a problem with the fuel gauges and he would have taken "extra precautions" had he known. The aircraft was loaded with 850 pounds of fuel for the flight to Gunisao Lake Lodge, a round trip of about 300 miles that Tayfel said normally takes about 720 pounds of fuel. Fuel is available at the lodge but, against the advice of a pilot who accompanied him there, Tayfel decided not to refuel for the return trip. "In my mind there was a safe amount to get me there and back with fuel to spare," he told Queen's Bench Justice Holly Beard. The plane was also flying without an autopilot. The court was told that on his approach to Winnipeg International Airport, the aircraft came out of the clouds too high and too fast to make the runway. Tayfel was initially hailed as a hero for guiding the aircraft to an emergency landing with no immediate loss of life. The airline, the fishing lodge and Transport Canada are being sued by the survivors and the estate of the man who died, 79-year-old Kansas resident Chester Jones. Meanwhile, Tayfel is currently in court facing several criminal charges, including criminal negligence causing death, four counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm and dangerous operation of an aircraft.

Fund Set Up For Jim LeRoy’s Son

The death of air show performer Jim LeRoy on July 28 at the Dayton Air Show not only left a void in the air show industry, it left a mother and a young son to fend for themselves. The International Council of Air Shows is encouraging those in aviation to help soften the financial blow of LeRoy's untimely death by contributing to a memorial scholarship fund aimed at ensuring his four-year-old son, Tommy, can pursue his own aviation dreams. ICAS President John Cudahy told AVweb that checks and credit card donations in any amount will be used to fund Tom's future education goals, which he said will almost certainly involve aviation since LeRoy was a third-generation aviator. "It's important for the aviation community to get behind this," he said, noting even small contributions can add up to a significant amount. Contributions can be made to Jim LeRoy Jr. Memorial Fund, c/o Harris Bank, 110 East Irving Park Road, Roselle, IL 60172; or by calling (630) 980-2700. LeRoy died when his plane pancaked onto the Dayton, Ohio, field after a series of snap rolls. The aircraft slid about 400 yards and burned. A coroner's report said LeRoy died on impact. Cudahy said LeRoy differed from many performers in that he designed his show with the audience in mind. While others essentially performed their aerobatic competition routine for the crowds, LeRoy tried to please the paying customers. "Jim was best known for his commitment to the entertainment component," said Cudahy.

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News Briefs back to top 

SheltAir Wins Plattsburg FBO Deal

SheltAir is opening its fifth full-service FBO in New York, but a significant portion of its client base could come from La Belle Province. SheltAir will be the only FBO at Plattsburg International Airport, which is only about an hour's drive from Montreal and is described as "Montreal's U.S. airport." The airport is on I-87 near the resort district of Lake Champlain and Lake Placid. And just how big of an airport can a small community like Plattsburg have? Think big, Cold War big. Clinton County took over the former Strategic Air Command bomber base, and there's plenty of room for growth. "This opportunity is not our traditional business model, but we look forward to a long, prosperous relationship with both Clinton County and the surrounding community," said Ed Zwim, the company’s COO. "The close proximity to Montreal, and the expansive ramp space also allows this airport to become a diversion airport for widebody jets if the need arises." The FBO will have all the usual amenities of a SheltAir FBO, including crew cars, lounges, a flight-planning room and catering.

First Inductees To Columbia's 300-Knot Club

It didn't take long for Columbia Aircraft to get its first members of its 300-Knot Club. The club was announced at EAA AirVenture and six Columbia 400 pilots have provided photographic evidence of flying at a ground speed faster than 300 knots. The fastest recorded speed so far is 334 knots, which is about 100 knots faster than the Columbia's top true airspeed in level flight. The club was started to draw attention to the twin-supercharged, 310-hp composite aircraft as a "purpose-built speedster," said spokesman Randy Bolinger. "People purchase a Columbia because they want to fly comfortably as fast, as far and as safely as possible in an aircraft that was engineered around a 310-horsepower twin-supercharged powerplant all the way to the fringes of the envelope," Bolinger said in a news release. "But the bottom line is that flying a piston single should be fun. The 300-Knot Club is just another way for the Columbia community to bond and have fun while doing what they love to do."

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News In Brief back to top 

On The Fly

Embraer announced U.S. certification for its 195 passenger jet. The 110-seat aircraft is the largest built by the Brazilian company…

Is that a monkey on your head or…? A man was caught smuggling a marmoset aboard a Spirit Airlines flight, first from Lima to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and then on the connecting flight to New York La Guardia. He had the monkey hidden under his hat, but it crawled out and other passengers noticed it clinging to his ponytail…

Williams Aviation has opened a service center in Akron. The FBO is in the same 200,000-square-foot hangar where Goodyear built Corsairs during World War II.

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/.

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New Columns and Features back to top 

The Pilot's Lounge #116: Getting Back More Than You Give

There are lots of ways to help young people get excited about aviation: EAA Young Eagles, mentoring, instructing ... but what if the kid is blind?

Click here to read Rick Durden's column.

Getting It Fixed Right

Post-accident, most insurers will do the right thing but some will steer you to a marginal shop. Here's how to stand your ground to get competent repairs.

Click here to read this maintenance article.

AVmail: Aug. 13, 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 ConocoPhillips' Gabe Giordano on aircraft engine oil. And AVweb's podcast index includes interviews with Lycoming's Ian Walsh; Avidyne's Paul Hathaway; Aerion 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; and Cessna's Jack Pelton. In today's podcast, EADS Socata's Jean-Michel Léonard talks about future plans 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: McMinnville County

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to McMinnville County at KRNC in McMinnville, Tenn.

AVweb reader Jerry Trachtman said the county-run facility's staff went above and beyond:

"Traveling from my home base of Melbourne, Fla., to Oshkosh, I stopped for fuel at McMinnville, Tenn. (RNC), based upon availability of low-priced avgas (lowest price within 100 miles). Due to thunderstorms, I could not depart as planned and had to spend the night. Without hesitation, the FBO staff gave me their only crew car for the overnight, and pointed me in the right direction. My early departure the next morning was met with a top cowl latch on my Piper Lance popping open on takeoff roll. I aborted the takeoff and sought help with the FBO's mechanic, who was at work early before any other staff had arrived. He repaired the latch, sent me on my way and refused compensation. This FBO demonstrated service above and beyond the call of duty."

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!

FLITELite™ Reinvents Light ... Once Again
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Video Of The Week back to top 

Video of the Week: Aviation Nation 2007 Preview

Recommend a Video | VOTW Archive

With the scintillating aerobatic performances of AirVenture fresh in our minds, how could we resist a video of highlights meant to whip us into a frenzy for this November's Aviation Nation showcase in Las Vegas?

Answer: We can't, and now that we're appropriately jazzed for Aviation Nation, you should be, too. Sit back and let these preview clips work their magic:

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.

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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"

On a recent trip from Illinois to Arkansas, we overheard the following exchange:

Razorback Approach: Cessna Two Three Tango, Razorback Approach. Have you changed your destination from Houston, Texas?

Cessna 23T: Razorback Approach, Cessna Two Three Tango. That’s a negative. Destination is still Houston.

Approach: Well Cessna Two Three Tango, on your current heading you are not going to even hit the state of Texas.

Cessna 23T: Approach, Cessna Two Three Tango … we are experiencing … nav problems.

Approach: Cessna Two Three Tango, we assumed that, too … turn right heading 179 direct Houston.

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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.