AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 13, Number 35b

August 30, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
Adam, Cirrus, Columbia, Diamond, Liberty ...
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NASA Denies Reports of Drunken Astronauts

A NASA safety review has found no evidence to support claims that astronauts were impaired by alcohol when they flew in space, the agency said on Wednesday. Bryan O'Connor, NASA chief of safety and mission assurance, conducted the monthlong review to evaluate allegations in an Astronaut Health Care System Review Committee report that was released in late July. That report stated that in at least two instances astronauts had been so intoxicated prior to flight that flight surgeons and/or fellow astronauts raised concerns regarding flight safety, but the astronauts were still permitted to fly. O'Connor said he was unable to verify any case in which an astronaut was impaired on launch day, or any case where a manager disregarded the recommendation of a flight surgeon or crewmember that an astronaut should not fly the Shuttle.

"Should such a situation present itself in the future, I am confident that there are reasonable safeguards in place to prevent an impaired crewmember from boarding a spacecraft," O'Connor wrote.

No Charges For Men Who Tried To Get Into Airliner Cockpit

Winnipeg, Manitoba police say the actions of two men who made repeated attempts to get into the cockpit of a WestJet Boeing 737 while it was in flight from Calgary earlier this month was “not a reportable incident.” Canadian Pressreported Sunday that the two men insisted on seeing the cockpit while the aircraft was on the ground in Calgary and captain allowed them a brief visit and “showed them a few things,” said WestJet spokeswoman Gillian Bentley. "They took their seats and during the course of the flight, the two people involved did approach the flight attendant at the front of the aircraft, asking to go on the flight deck again, Bentley said. "She told them they could not. They were very nsistent.” Bentley said it took an intercom call from the captain behind the securely locked cockpit door to convince the men to return to their seats. Police met the pair on arrival and after a brief interview they were allowed to leave. Const. Jason Michalyshen said that because the two weren’t drunk, didn’t get physical and the plane wasn’t diverted there was no police action. Bentley said some passengers were upset by the incident but Bentley downplayed any suggestion of terrorism. "I don't think it had anything to do with hijacking. I think they just wanted to see the cockpit but there hasn't been any determination as to what their motives were," Bentley said.

Inspiring Daydreams Daily, BoeingStore.com
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Cessna Sets Life Limit on Conquest; Airplanes Grounded in Australia

Operators of Cessna 441 Conquest II twin turboprops must comply with a life limit of 22,500 flying hours, Cessna has said, and several of the aircraft have been grounded. "As part of the continuing product safety process, Cessna looks at data from test articles and from field reports regarding the structural integrity of its aircraft," Cessna spokeswoman Pia Bergqvist told AVweb. Based on test and field data, Cessna has issued a Supplemental Inspection Document recommending the life limit for the aircraft. While most of the Conquests operating around the world are well below this limit, according to Bergqvist, several aircraft in Australia are beyond it, and those aircraft have been grounded. Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority has allowed one year for alternatives to be explored that could extend the safe operation of the Conquest beyond the current life limit. It's not known if any Conquests in the U.S. will be immediately affected, industry groups are looking into it.

AOPA spokesman Chris Dancy told AVweb his organization has been in contact with the Cessna Pilots Association but discussions are preliminary. The 441, a pressurized version of the 404, was first delivered in 1977. General-aviation aircraft certified under FAR Part 23 must have a life limit set by the manufacturer on critical structures such as wing spars, but an overall life limit is not required.

LSA Round-the-World Flight Completed

Two Indian Air Force officers have completed a circumnavigation of the globe in a Light Sport Aircraft in 79 days. Wing Commanders and Squadron Leaders Rahul Monga and Anil Kumar visited 19 countries in a Flight Design CTsw. The flight marks the 75th anniversary of the Indian Air Force. Monga and Kumar, who normally fly helicopters and fighter jets, launched June 1 from Delhi, India, and returned August 19, after flying through China, Russia, North America, Europe, and the Middle East. Monga flew solo across the north Atlantic so he could carry more fuel. "The round the world tour under day VFR rules was successful with this airplane despite difficult weather conditions," said Matthias Betsch, CEO of Flight Design, which is based in Germany.

"Of course, weather was a problem for us," Kumar told the Times of India. "We had to train ourselves to handle all kinds of problems ... we were sitting in the cockpit for nine or ten hours, moving from culture to culture, time zone to time zone. I think we are fortunate that we could cope up in all such situations." One of the first aircraft certified under the U.S. LSA standards, the CT is currently the best-selling LSA in the U.S., with 200 copies delivered.

Aircraft Spruce at the 44th Annual Reno National Championship Air Races & Air Show
Aircraft Spruce will be in Reno, Nevada for the 44th Annual Reno Air Show. Visit Aircraft Spruce's location for show specials and vendor demonstrations and a no-cost copy of the new 2007–2008 catalog. Complimentary shipping available on show orders (doesn't apply to oversize or hazardous goods). Call 1 (877) 4-SPRUCE or visit Aircraft Spruce online.

Eclipse 500 VLJ Draws $1.8 Million Bid on eBay

Eclipse Aviation CEO Vern Raburn announced at Oshkosh that one Eclipse 500 jet would be auctioned off on eBay and the owner could take it home right away, without having to wait until 2009 for their turn to come up. "We'll let the market decide what that could be worth," Raburn said, and this week, the company announced the results of its auction. Morten Wagner of Denmark placed the winning bid of $1,833,945 at 2 a.m. local time on August 11, outbidding five other contenders. Wagner plans to accept his Eclipse 500 in Albuquerque this week, the company said. "I was just sitting there, holding my breath, watching the auction run out," said Wagner. "When I saw I had won, I was delirious; I woke up the whole house and told everyone I just bought an aircraft on Eclipse's private marketplace."

Wagner, a 35-year-old internet entrepreneur, plans to use the jet for business travel throughout Europe, and to travel between his homes in London, Spain, and Denmark. Wagner is a pilot and currently flies a Cirrus SR22. "The fact that we can sell an early Eclipse 500 on an open market for more than $1.8 million demonstrates the enormous demand for very light jets," said Raburn.

Honeywell, Sensis Develop Runway Alerts for Pilots

It's fine for air traffic controllers to get conflict alerts when airplanes converge on the airport surface, but wouldn't it be better if that information was directly available to pilots? The cockpit technology to make that work is now available, Honeywell International and Sensis Corporation said this week. The two companies have created a cockpit advisory system that sends potential ground, arrival or departure conflicts directly to pilots as an audible alert. The system uses a Mode-S data link and an existing TCAS unit in the aircraft, and requires only software modifications to start working, the companies said. The audible alert is transmitted simultaneously to the cockpits in the affected aircraft and to air traffic controllers. Currently, surveillance equipment notifies air traffic controllers of potential incursions and then controllers must relay the information to pilots, slowing down response time.

"The cockpit advisory will ensure that pilots are aware of possible conflicts with the safe operation of their aircraft in the airport vicinity much quicker than current procedures and technology allows," said Rick Berckefeldt, Honeywell product marketing manager for safety and surveillance systems. "Only the pilots that may be involved in a potential conflict receive the audible cockpit warning, and advisories are only provided if a potential conflict is detected. With the audible alerts, no heads-down time is required for the pilots during critical approach, taxi and departure phases, helping to ensure a safe flight." The system was demonstrated this week at the FAA Interim Contractor Depot Level Support facility at Syracuse Hancock International Airport in New York.

Introducing Zulu ... From Lightspeed
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Fallout from Comair Crash Continues

It's been a year since a Comair crew tried to take off from the wrong runway in Lexington, Ky., and the co-pilot, who was the sole survivor, and the captain's widow have filed suits against the FAA, the airport, and Jeppesen. Also, the NTSB, which in its final report on the crash last month faulted the pilots for failing to check their position before takeoff, this week issued safety recommendations (PDF) asking the FAA to revise procedures for pilots and controllers. The FAA should require flight crews to positively confirm and cross-check the airplane's location at the assigned departure runway before crossing the hold-short line, the NTSB said. Also, controllers should not issue a takeoff clearance until after the airplane has crossed all intersecting runways, and controllers should refrain from performing administrative tasks, such as the traffic count, when moving aircraft are in the controller's area of responsibility, the board said.

First Officer James Polehinke suffered extensive injuries in the crash. The lawsuits allege that the FAA should have had two controllers on duty instead of just one, that the airport didn't do enough to clearly notify pilots of changes to taxiways during airport construction, and that Jeppesen was informed of the taxiway changes in June but didn't issue new maps until late in August, after the accident.

United Pilot Noticed for Niceness

While many general aviation pilots revel in avoiding the miseries of airline flight, most find themselves occasionally forced to join the milling crowds in the main terminals. But if they are lucky, they may find themselves aboard a United Air Lines flight captained by Denny Flanagan. Flanagan won his 15 minutes of fame this week when Wall Street Journal travel columnist Scott McCartney singled him out as an island of niceness amid a sea of mere bland competence. While other pilots may get you to your destination in one piece, Flanagan does that plus checks on your pets and your luggage, calls the parents of children flying alone to reassure them, invites families into the cockpit, makes jokes, raffles off free bottles of wine, and orders hamburgers for passengers during delays.

"I just treat everyone like it's the first flight they've ever flown," Flanagan told McCartney. "The customer deserves a good travel experience."

Balloon Pilot Says He Was Blown From Basket

A Canadian balloon pilot criticized by a passenger for being among the first out of burning balloon basket says he was blown out by what he suspects was the ignition of a fuel leak. Two people died and 11, including Pennock, were injured in the accident last week near Vancouver, B.C. Pennock was criticized by passenger Darlene Rutledge, who jumped 50 feet from the burning basket and questioned why the pilot was among the first out. She spoke with reporters from the hospital where she was recovering from burns and broken bones in her feet. In a story in the Vancouver Sun, Wednesday, pilot Steve Pennock says he remembers being thrown from the cockpit of the balloon after an explosion on board. He told the Sun he was thrown to the ground and temporarily immobilized. "I was blinded and stunned," he said. "I couldn't see or do anything I was basically disabled. I was shocked and stunned on the ground." Pennock said that once he was able, he helped get others out of the balloon but the fire burned through the tethers and it shot into the air. The basket, with Shannon Knackstedt and her grown daughter Gemma shot into the air before dropping from 400 feet into an RV park. Pennock said his actions were by the book. "I did exactly what would have been called for," he told the Sun. "I asked people to evacuate. The main concern is to get people out." Transport Canada and the Transportation Safety Board are investigating.

Fly Single-Pilot IFR with Confidence!
2004 CFI of the Year Doug Stewart shares over two hours of tips, tactics and strategies for IFR pilots in a new Pilot Workshops CD-ROM-based program. Doug's hands-on approach and entertaining style make this an enjoyable, memorable way to learn and refresh these vital IFR skills. Click here for more details.

Airport Videos Now in Google Earth

Users of the latest version of Google Earth, released last week, now can find videos related to all the world's airports with a single click. Version 4.2 enables users to embed videos and link them to sites on the world map, so the folks at planeplaces.com have collected all the airport-related videos at YouTube and linked to them to Google's map of the world. They found over 2,800 videos marked with airport identifiers. "We’re not claiming to have exhaustively searched YouTube or error-checked every video," they said. They have provided an e-mail link with each video and ask users to help weed out incorrect or inappropriate videos.

The video-map data can be downloaded from planeplaces.com and simply dropped into Google Earth. A random visit showed that the map is easy to use, with airplane icons indicating the sites with videos, and the videos load and play quickly. You're likely to find a random assortment of content, though, not all of it aviation-related, so patience is required.

A First Solo Cross-Country to Remember

We all remember our first solo flights but some are more memorable than others. A 69-year-old student on his first solo cross-country flight got lost last Sunday and stumbled into the busy airspace around Indianapolis International Airport. FAA spokesman Tony Molinaro told the Indianapolis Star that controllers tracked the plane flown by Keith Sharpe to within three miles of the airport and finally made contact with him. They directed him to land immediately. Three aircraft waiting to land circled the airport waiting for Sharpe's plane to clear the runway.

The Star says Sharpe told airport police he thought he was landing at Lafayette Airport and was trying to raise the Lafayette tower on the radio. Molinaro said that when contact was finally made (he didn't say how) the decision was made to bring him into Indianapolis. "We determined that if he wasn't sure where he was, we wanted to land him right away," he said. "We didn't want to take any chances with him being up in the air." The FAA is considering citing him for violating airspace regulations. Sharpe declined to comment to the Star about the incident.

In-Flight Emergency Maneuvers: Are You Prepared?
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The Savvy Aviator #48: Reliability-Centered Maintenance (Part 2)

Mike Busch explores how RCM might be applied to our small airplanes and especially to our piston aircraft engines.

Click here for the full story.

Safety Alert: Do You Know How to Transit Through Class B and a TRSA?
Get a complete, no-cost guide to airspace designations, restrictions and minimums from the AOPA Air Safety Foundation. Get details on TRSAs, Class D, Class C and Class B airspace, plus VFR transition routes, SUAs, TFRs, ADIZ and more. Bonus one-page Airspace Reference Guide and Intercept Procedures Guide. Download your no-cost Airspace Safety Advisor now

On the Fly ...

Dr. Paul MacCready, whose Gossamer Albatross I became the first aircraft to fly across the English Channel under human power alone in 1979, died Aug. 28. MacCready was also the founder of AeroVironment, which developed groundbreaking alternative energy technology ... .

Boeing says it will be ready to test biofuel in a 747 within a year ... .

The Hawker 750 mid-size jet flew for the first time on August 23 ... .

The Hawker 900XP mid-size jet was type certified by the FAA last week, Hawker Beechcraft announced ... .

The Washington, D.C., ADIZ airspace changes shape on Thursday, August 30, AOPA has the details.

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We Need Your Help back to top 


AVweb has an opening for an able and experienced aviation writer and editor with proven experience in both print and web publishing, although we're willing to train the right person in the finer points of massaging content for the web. This position requires relocation to our Sarasota, Florida office. If this description fits you, contact aviationeditorial@comcast.net.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: TNT Air (N47, Pottstown, PA)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to TNT Air at N47 in Pottstown, Penn.

AVweb reader Howard Whyte recommended the FBO after an unscheduled stop at Pottstown:

Recently, while my wife and I were on a cross country flight to visit her brother, we experienced a complete electrical failure. We diverted to the nearest airport and upon landing discovered that because it was Sunday there were no services available. No rental cars, no maintenance and no way home. We called friends and we called acquaintenances, but no luck. Since we are based at N47 we finally called TNT Air. Tom and Angie Noetzel run the FBO there and they immediately sprang into action. Tom picked us up in a Cirrus 22 at no cost, and even let me fly it home. Angie met us on the ramp with cold bottled water and a welcoming smile. That's just the way the operate. Form setting up and hosting a lavish birthday party for a local 96 year old pilot to impromtu cook-outs they manage to keep the airport the place to be. Clean, hospitable, friendly, you couldn't ask for a better FBO than TNT Air.

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!

Attention, LSA Builders & ROTAX 912 Engine Operators
BASA, 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!
Picture 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 good times continue here at "POTW" Central, with dozens more reader-submitted photos trickling in throughout the week.  Once again, we find ourselves in a tough spot trying to choose the best of the best to share with you here on AVweb.  Despite some tough calls, we've managed to narrow it down to a handful of don't-miss pics.  Let's dive in!

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Used with permission of Bill Howard

Last Plane Out of Santa Maria

Bill Howard of Milton-Freewater, Oregon shot this photo from the window of his airport hotel room — and now it's our "Picture of the Week."  In fact, this is the first "POTW" to feature a sunset in a while!

Watch your mailbox, Bill.  We'll be sending an official, sharp-as-a-tack new AVweb cap your way in the next few days.


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Used with permission of Mark Erwin

Watching the Skies

Mark Erwin of Menlo Park, California treats us to an emerging theme in this week's "POTW" submissions.  And despite what you're thinking, it's not the ATC tower — it's impending weather.


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Used with permission of Chris K. Shopperly

"One Day ..."

Chris K. Shopperly of Calgary, Alberta (Canada) snapped this one at AirVenture 2007, "my son's first trip to Oshkosh."

Next year, you guys stop by the AVweb booth and say hello, O.K.?


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Used with permission of Scott Gipson

Mustang Moment

Scott Gipson of Baytown, Texas submitted this photo on behalf of his son, Ryan Gipson.  Ryan is an Air Force Academy cadet (C3C) who captured this chilly scene on film "in March during a snow storm."


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Used with permission of
Dimitar Petkov Mahnev


Dimitar Petkov Mahnev of Assenovgrad, Plovdiv (Bulgaria) fires up the engines and prepares to fly us out this week.

Be sure to join us next Thursday morning for even more flying fun.  In the meantime, be sure to watch the "POTW" slideshow on AVweb's home page for more bonus images.

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 or send us an e-mail.

Question: Why Purchase Used Avionics?
Answer: Money

Purchasing used and reliable avionics from Bennett Avionics maximizes the additional capability for your budget. You can improve your aircraft's utility and safety while saving money compared to new. If a panel full of new avionics does not make sense for your aircraft, Bennett Avionics can help. Call Bennett Avionics at (860) 653-7295, or go online for a complete list of available products.
Question of the Week back to top 

Question of the Week: Where Did You Fly This Summer?

This Week's Question | Previous Week's Answers


These days, it seems everyone in aviation is trying to bring young people into the fold, to the bolster the dwindling ranks of private pilots.  Last week, we asked which (of several options) holds the most promise for getting more young people involved.

Most of our readers thought targeted outreach programs (like the Young Eagles) can do more to spark interest in a new generation of pilots than anything else.  For the complete breakdown of options and reader responses, click here.
(You may be asked to register and answer, if you haven't already participated in this poll.)


This week, we're asking the old back-to-school standard:  What did you do on your summer vacation?  Or, more appropriately to AVweb, where did you fly this summer?

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.

Pilot Journey Has Listings of Career Flight Schools & No-Cost Career Pilot Seminar
Pilot Journey has the largest selection of career flight schools to choose from in one place. While you're there, download a no-cost Career Pilot Seminar, sign-up for a really cool calendar for your PC's desktop, and get your own blog (at no cost!) to share flying with your friends and family. Check it out.
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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.

The AVwebFlash team is:

Timothy Cole

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Russ Niles (bio)

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady (bio)
Glenn Pew (bio)

Features Editor
Kevin Lane-Cummings (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.