AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 13, Number 36b

September 6, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Top News back to top 

Friends Worried, Yet Optimistic, as Fossett Search Continues

Sir Richard Branson, who financed many of Steve Fossett's adventures, told CNN on Wednesday that he is "obviously worried" about his friend, but remains optimistic. "If he's landed and he's not too badly hurt, he's the one person in the world who will be mentally and physically equipped to get out of it," Branson said. But he added that Fossett was wearing a Breitling watch capable of emitting an emergency distress signal when manually activated, and he's concerned that no signal has been sent. Meanwhile, as of Wednesday afternoon, the search continues across 600 square miles of desert south of the private airstrip where Fossett launched Monday morning in a Citabria Super Decathtlon, planning to fly for a few hours to scout locations for a land speed record attempt.

Maj. Cynthia Ryan, of the Civil Air Patrol, said the desert search is challenging, covering terrain cut by ravines and thick with sagebrush. Bumpy wind conditions are hard on airborne searchers. "It's a very large haystack," she said. "And an airplane is a very small needle. No doubt about that." CNN has posted its interview with Branson and other updates at its online video site.

GAO on VLJs: Impact of Small Jets Is Uncertain

The Government Accountability Office made a concerted effort this summer to figure out what's up with very light jets -- will swarms of them overwhelm the National Airspace System? Will they rain from the sky, ineptly piloted by untrained amateurs? Does the FAA have a plan to handle the costs of dealing with them? And what they found out is what we could have told them -- for the most part, we'll have to wait and see. The GAO report (PDF) did determine, however, that safety issues are unlikely to arise, since the aircraft and pilots must be FAA certified and insurance companies are keeping a close watch on proficiency requirements. Also, the report concludes that the FAA and the airspace system are prepared to integrate the jets, and that since they will mainly use smaller airports, they shouldn't add to congestion problems.

The study found uncertainty over how many of the jets will be produced, with estimates ranging from 3,000 to 7,600 over the next decade or two. Another uncertainty cited in the report is whether the air-taxi market for VLJs will materialize. Several experts told the GAO that there is nothing new about air taxis. "They argued that if the point-to-point on-demand air-taxi business model were so attractive, it could have become popular already using similar existing business jets and propeller aircraft," the report says.

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News Briefs back to top 

Three Bad Landings in One Day

A passenger taking her first ride in a 1959 Piper TriPacer jumped from the cockpit as it bounced down the runway during the third emergency landing of the day, the Modesto (Calif.) Bee reported on Monday. Witnesses told the Bee that pilot William Supan, 57, landed at Modesto Airport on Saturday afternoon with smoke curling from beneath the cowling, and fire trucks responded. Supan reportedly went to Wal-Mart to buy a clamp, installed it on the airplane, and took off. Smoke now poured from the cowling, and he immediately came around and landed again. The fire trucks returned, Supan replaced part of the exhaust hose, and launched yet again. When he landed for the third time, hard, the wings were wobbling, smoke trailed from the bouncing fuselage, and passenger Jinhua Lin, 43, alarmed by the intensity of heat radiating through the floorboards, jumped. The airplane ran off the runway, the pilot escaped, the fuselage caught fire, and the flames were put out by firefighters.

Lin suffered a broken leg and scrapes and bruises, while Supan was treated for smoke inhalation. The TriPacer's fabric skin and interior were charred and ruined. But airport manager Bill Latham told the Bee that all in all, it was a good day. Gesturing toward the houses west of the airport, he said, "When you think of what might have been, we were all very lucky."

FAA OKs DayJet To Fly Eclipse Jets

The FAA has authorized DayJet to use Eclipse 500TM very light jets in its operations, the company announced on Wednesday. DayJet is preparing to use its fleet of VLJs to launch "Per-Seat, On-Demand" jet service. "This milestone is the culmination of more than five years of dedicated work to develop the world's first fully automated fleet operations system," said Ed Iacobucci, DayJet president and CEO. In the coming weeks, DayJet says it will begin taking online reservations. The company, based in Boca Raton, Fla., operates under Part 135 air charter rules. Customers can schedule flights online according to their own schedules. The more flexible the passenger can be for departure and arrival times, the lower the price of the seat.

AV-8 Military Aircraft Soap Available Now at Aircraft Spruce
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News Briefs back to top 

Four Swiss Controllers Convicted of Manslaughter

In the continuing fallout from a 2002 midair collision in Swiss-controlled airspace in which 71 people died, four air traffic control managers on Wednesday were convicted of manslaughter, Reuters reported. The judge said the managers were responsible for ensuring that at least two controllers were on duty at all times, and the collision could have been averted if any one of them had acted to prevent the second controller on duty from taking a coffee break. That left just one controller working at the time of the collision. The lone controller was later killed by a Russian man who lost his wife and two children in the crash. The four managers, who are employees of SkyGuide, an air-traffic company, were given suspended prison terms and fines. Francis Schubert, Skyguide's interim CEO, said the company has "learned the lessons from this tragic event and has done everything to ensure that an accident of this kind cannot happen again."

New Mexico Spaceport Design "Out Of This World"

The design for New Mexico's Spaceport America, unveiled on Tuesday, will incorporate the natural landscape, with a low-profile, 100,000-square-foot building that mimics a sand dune. A rolling concrete shell will act as a roof, with massive windows that open to a view of the runway and spacecraft, the designers said. A team of U.S. and British architects and designers, along with officials from the New Mexico Spaceport Authority and Virgin Galactic, are working on the project, which they billed the "world's first space terminal." The terminal and hangar are projected to cost about $31 million, and will include space for Virgin Galactic's pre-flight and post-flight training facilities and lounges, as well as the maintenance hangar for two White Knight Two and five SpaceShipTwo aircraft. Construction is scheduled to begin next year, with completion expected in late 2009 or early 2010.

Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic said, "Next year will see the first test flights of SpaceshipTwo and it is fantastic that we will now have a permanent home to go to, which will be every bit as inspiring for the astronauts of the future as Burt Rutan's groundbreaking technology. ... This vision for the world's first purpose-built private spaceport is truly out of this world." The project aims to be environmentally friendly, using passive energy for heating and cooling, with photovoltaic panels for electricity, natural lighting, and water recycling capabilities.

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News Briefs back to top 

Crop Dusters -- A Dying Breed?

There's no lack of demand for their services -- in fact, the need seems to be growing -- yet the crop-dusting profession is a graying one, and new pilots ready to enter the field are scarce, Forbes.com reports. The work is dangerous, and the bar to entry is high. Costs for equipment and insurance, and the hours required before pilots can start, have all risen over the years. Yet this summer in Iowa, crop-dusters were noticeably abundant, according to Radio Iowa News. It seems that Iowa farmers are battling soybean aphids and also are being very protective of their corn crops, which are attracting high prices created by the global demand for ethanol. Elsewhere, aerial spraying has been widely used against mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus. Andrew Moore, executive director of the National Agricultural Aviation Association, told Forbes that finding the next generation of crop-dusters will be tough, but doable. Both aviation and agriculture face recruiting challenges, he said, as the professions require a big investment of time and money, and other options may be more appealing, with less hard work and less risk. "The aviation industry has this challenge before them, agriculture has this challenge before them, we just happen to have components of both of those industries," he said.

Take Home an LSA, for Under $50K

photo by Dan Johnson

While the Light Sport Aircraft getting the most attention tend be those like Flight Design CT and Cessna, which are selling well in the $100,000 range, more models are coming online at lower costs. The latest is the Sport Hornet, a tandem fixed-wing airplane with full three-axis control, for sale as a Special-LSA at $49,995, reports LSA expert Dan Johnson. "With a 100 hp, four-cylinder Rotax, that's really quite a good deal," Johnson told AVweb on Wednesday. Other lower-cost models include the EuroFox, available with tricycle gear or as a taildragger for $59,950, and the Sky Arrow, an all-composite tandem pusher that goes for $66,000.

Johnson also noted that there are plenty of LSAs ready to fly at even lower costs, at prices $20,000 and under, if pilots want to try a trike or a powered parachute. The trikes have been very popular, he said. "Lots of fixed-wing pilots, once they give them a try, find out they're really fun to fly," he said.

PowerLink™ FADEC Certified on Liberty XL-2; Is It Right for Your Aircraft?
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News Briefs back to top 

French Company Flies Land-Water-Snow Amphib

LISA Airplanes, a French aircraft manufacturer, has successfully launched the first flight of its Akoya design, a two-seat amphibian that can land on the ground, the snow, and the water. Test pilot Gérald Ducoin flew the prototype for about 15 minutes on Aug. 22. "This maiden flight confirmed the very healthy general behavior of the Akoya," Ducoin said. The next tests will evaluate the various functions of the versatile aircraft -- skis, hydrofoils, flexible flaps, a swiveling wing for storage, a parachute, and more. The design phase for the airplane began in January 2006, and the company said first deliveries will take place within 16 months, at a price point of about 300,000 Euros.

LISA Airplanes was founded in 2002. The Akoya will have a range of 620 nautical miles and a maximum speed of 168 knots, the company said. The engine is a 100-hp Rotax 912S.

NTSB Wants Better ELTs in Aircraft

The FAA should require that all emergency locator transmitters in general aviation aircraft must be upgraded, the NTSB said (PDF) on Wednesday. The newer 406 MHz transmitters have significant advantages, the NTSB says, including longer range, better accuracy, and the ability to encode identification information, so rescuers know exactly what airplane is in distress. The safety board cites two accidents: In one airplane equipped with an older ELT, 16 hours elapsed before rescuers found the survivors, and when an airplane with a 406 MHz ELT crashed, the wreckage was located within an hour. The FAA should require an upgrade to the 406 MHz units before February 2009, when a change in satellite services will make the older units even less reliable, the NTSB says.

"This [change in service] will necessitate U.S. search and rescue authorities reverting to older, less effective search methods and techniques, which would greatly decrease the likelihood of finding downed aircraft in a timely manner," the NTSB said. AOPA has opposed mandatory ELT upgrades, citing costs. The new units can cost from $1,000 to $1,500. The 406 MHz units activate in about 81 to 83 percent of crashes. The older units, which operate on the 121.5 MHz frequency, have an activation rate of 73 percent in actual crashes, AOPA said.

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Test Your Knowledge back to top 

Brainteasers Quiz #124: The Back-to-School Quiz

Brainteasers Shoes shined and hair slicked down, let's see what you remember after the long summer's break. Those who don't score well on this quiz will be forced to spend more time at the airport.

Take the quiz.

More Brainteasers

If Brokers Say They Cover the Whole Market, Why Can't They Get a Quote from Us?
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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Henderson Executive Airport (Henderson, NV)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to the FBO at Henderson Executive Airport (HND) in Henderson, Nev.

AVweb reader Christopher Dean heaps praise on the service team in Henderson:

We spent eight days out there going up and coming back daily. The line crew simply rocks -- they are thorough, efficient, professional and safe. The customer service teams on all of the the shifts are friendly, and know how to take care of the customer. And the icing on the cake -- the fuel prices can't be beat! From the second we arrived to eight days later, everyone there at the FBO who dealt with us left us with a positive and warm impression. We will make this FBO our choice FBO for our trips to Las Vegas. Thank you to everyone who works 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!

Diamond DA40 A Fleet Favorite
Airline Transport Professionals, Beijing PanAm, Empire Aviation, European-American Aviation, Middle Tennessee State University, Sabena Airline Training Academy, Utah Valley State College, and Utah State University have all selected the G1000-equipped Diamond DA40. For value, efficiency, and safety, the Diamond Aircraft DA40 is the fleet favorite. Go online for information on all Diamond Aircraft.
Tell Us What You Think back to top 

Question of the Week: Is It Time for a (Mandatory) ELT Upgrade?

This Week's Question | Previous Week's Answers


Last week, we asked the standard back-to-school question:  What did you do (or, more appropriately, where did you fly) on your summer vacation?

The biggest group of respondents (34% of those who took time to answer our Question) told us they didn't do much out of the ordinary — just flew around the patch a bit.

Another 13% were brave enough to fly into The World's Busiest Control Tower for Oshkosh.

For a complete breakdown of responses, click here.
(You may be asked to register and answer, if you haven't already participated in this poll.)


The NTSB is recommending the FAA require newer 406Mz emergency locator transmitters in all aircraft, preferably by February 2009. This would require many upgrades, but according to the NTSB would greatly increase rescuers' ability to locate downed aircraft.

What do you think:  Should the FAA require 406MHz ELTs?

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.

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Reader-Submitted Photos 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.


Picture submissions dropped off a bit this week, but that's turning out to be a mixed blessing at "POTW" headquarters.  You see, we've had far too many pics that went unseen over the last couple of weeks, so we'll be dusting off a few of those and changing out the "POTW" slideshow on AVweb's home a couple of times this week.  We're going to try to squeeze in an extra 40 pics this week that were just too good to go unseen, so be sure to bookmark AVweb and check back on Friday and Monday for some good bonus pictures.  Who loves ya, baby?  (Hint:  It ain't Kojak!)

medium | large

Used with permission of Dianne Cooper

Fire on the Horizon

We may catch some grief for running another helicopter photo as our "Picture of the Week," but honestly — check out the color and contrast on this shot from Dianne Cooper of Tucson, Arizona and then tell us there's no room for a whirlybird or two in our weekly contest.


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copyright © Don Parsons
Used with permission

Hummingbird 2, Go Around ...

Our old friend Don Parsons of St. Peters, Missouri is back — with a slightly smaller-scale photo than we're used to seeing from him.  (We know you sent in some cool ultralight pics recently, Don, but even you have to admit this is a different breed of flight altogether.)


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Used with permission of Gary L. Jones


Putting together AVweb week after week, we've heard some really good UFO stories — but who'd have thought the first irrefutable UFO image we'd publish would come in through "Picture of the Week"?  Hope the President is paying attention to his AVwebFlash this morning ... .

Wait.  What's that you say?  It's a remote-controlled disc flying over a model airplane gathering?!

Oh, shoot.

Thanks to Gary L. Jones of Clovis, New Mexico, anyway.  (For the pic and for letting us have a little fun with it around the office.)


medium | large

copyright © Daniel Valovich
Used with permission

Double Exposure

Hey, it's old home week!  Daniel Valovich of Hot Springs, Arkansas, is another long-time friend of "POTW" — he never fails to step up to the plate when we're having a light submission week.  Today he treats us to a little bit of double exposure photography, indulging in a rare bit of trickery to see us out for this week's edition of "POTW."

Be sure to join us next Thursday morning for even more flying fun.  In the meantime, we'll drop some bonus pics into the "POTW" slideshow on AVweb's home page for to keep you occupied.  :)

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.

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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.

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.

Understanding Your Airplane's Mechanics Could Save Your Bank Account
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Not Enough AVweb in Your Mailbox? back to top 

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/.

Names Behind the News back to top 

Meet the AVwebFlash Team

AVwebFlash is a 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.