AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 13, Number 39a

September 24, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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NBAA 2007 Kick-Off in Atlanta back to top 

NBAA 2007 Launches in Atlanta

The business aircraft market has never been hotter, but that doesn't mean everything is perfect. As the National Business Aviation Convention rolls into the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta on Tuesday, NBAA and its allies in general aviation remain embroiled in a political battle in Washington that could fundamentally change the way general aviation operates in the U.S. While there have been some encouraging signs about the future funding of the FAA, the battle over user fees is far from over, judging by the banners outside the convention center. And could a pending takeover in the piston single sector overshadow the turbine-oriented NBAA show, with Cessna rumored to be buying Columbia.

Sign up for AVwebBiz for daily updates of the convention, and listen to our Monday podcast to hear NBAA President Ed Bolen discuss the issues surrounding NBAA 2007.

Cessna Reportedly Interested in Columbia

Oregon definitely isn't Kansas but a key component of one Oregon town's economy could be headed there. According to the Wichita Eagle, Cessna is one of as many as three suitors for Columbia Aircraft, which has been shopped around by the Malaysian government, its principal investors, for about a year. Analysts say acquiring Columbia would give Cessna instant penetration of the luxury touring market that it has all but surrendered to Cirrus and the current incarnation of Columbia (the 182 and 206 are not really considered in the same market segment by many analysts). Cessna's interest could be an indication that its high-wing Next Generation Piston project has failed to strike a chord with dealers and potential owners and it has decided to enter the low-wing sweepstakes.

There are reportedly others interested in Columbia but if Cessna is truly in the market it has to be considered the front runner, or at least the eventual winner if someone else is really in the running. NBAA's annual convention likely isn't the chosen forum for this kind of announcement or discussion but CEO Jack Pelton will be at the Atlanta convention and it's a question he'll face.

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FAA Reauthorization Bill — Good News and Bad back to top 

Senate Finance Committee Rejects User Fees

The Senate Finance Committee has approved the "American Infrastructure and Investment Act" as part of Congress's FAA reauthorization process. The Act in part uses an increase in fuel taxes as a source of additional funding for the FAA and its infrastructure modernization efforts. The move was lauded by NBAA, because it does not include the $25-per-leg user fee that the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee was endorsing. "We agree with the Committee that everyone should support the NextGen effort, and that the best way for general aviation to contribute is by 'paying at the pump,'" said NBAA CEO, Ed Bolen. (Be sure to listen to Bolen's comments on the bill in Monday's audiocast).

Bolen emphasized the role of Committee members Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) in moving ahead with a "proven, reliable, and ultra-efficient" system of raising revenue. The full Senate still has to vote on this and it could be several weeks before that happens. Earlier this week, the House of Representatives passed its version of the legislation but it contains a red herring that could cause trouble down the road. The House bill includes a requirement that the FAA's imposed contract on the National Air Traffic Controllers Association be re-opened and the two sides head back to the bargaining table. The Administration is apparently adamantly opposed to that scenario.

House Passes Its Version of FAA Bill

There have been backslaps all around about the House’s convincing 267-151 vote to essentially maintain the status quo on the way the FAA is funded. In rapid succession, the Ways and Means Committee, the Rules Committee and the full House rejected user fees as a method of funding the Next Generation Airspace System (NextGen) and instead allocated modest increases in aviation fuel taxes to that effort. The House vote was considered a slam dunk by most aviation leaders but things get more interesting with the Senate. The Senate bill is much more airline-friendly and contains the $25-per-flight user fee for turbine-powered GA aircraft that has been described in somewhat colorful terms in off-the-record comments by GA leaders. But what it all boils down to is the creation of a bureaucracy to collect the fees, and it’s highly unlikely the $25 fee, if approved, will be the first and last cut. With the National Business Aviation Association convention set to start on Tuesday, expect some serious attention being paid to the Senate deliberations, which could start anytime.

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News Briefs back to top 

Ssshhh: DayJet’s Up And Running

DayJet, the largest customer for Eclipse 500 very light jets, has been quietly conducting revenue flights for more than a week as it shakes down the operation. Although there have been no official announcements about the commencement of air taxi operations, a column by James Fallows in The Atlantic.com spilled the beans and DayJet spokesman Jeff Benanto confirmed the operation to AVweb in an e-mail Thursday. “Right now DayJet is enabling a small number of members to use the system,” Benanto said. “The goal is to slowly ramp up to the point early next month when all the members can use the system.” According to Fallows' column, the first DayJet flight was more than a week ago from Boca Raton to Tallahassee and took 84 minutes. Because of the lack of direct flights between the two cities, a similar trip on the airlines would likely have used up much of the day and driving would have taken at least six and a half hours. Cost of the flight hasn’t been revealed but those sorts of details should be available soon.

No More Dumbing Down GPS

The Department of Defense says its next generation of GPS satellites won’t come with an on/off switch for civilian users. Because the system was originally deployed as a military system, the military wanted the ability to degrade the accuracy of the signal or eliminate it entirely to prevent it from being used against them. But with GPS in everything from cellphones to tracking chips in store merchandise, the DoD long ago gave up any hope of keeping it a discretionary asset and effectively turned off the "selective ability" function in 2000.

However, beginning with satellites deployed in 2013, even that capability won’t be included in the system, something that should calm the fears of some that their moving map could suddenly disappear without warning. "This action to permanently remove SA eliminates a source of uncertainty in GPS performance that has been of concern to civil GPS users worldwide for some time," DoD said in a news release. That undoubtedly means the military has something even better than GPS to run its own systems and it will be interesting to see what trickles down to the civilian market.

In Print & Online, Trade-A-Plane Has Everything That Keeps You Flying
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News Briefs back to top 

Friendly-Fire Pilot Loses Suit Against Air Force

Maj. Harry Schmidt, who mistakenly dropped a 500-pound bomb on Canadian troops, killing four Canadian soldiers in 2002, lost a suit against the U.S. Air Force on Thursday. Schmidt claimed the Air Force damaged his reputation by releasing the contents of a letter of reprimand. In a military-style plea arrangement, Schmidt avoided court martial for the friendly-fire accident but his actions were harshly criticized by his superiors in the letter. But U.S. District Court Judge Jeanne Scott ruled that the public interest outweighed Schmidt's personal privacy in this case. "The release of Schmidt's reprimand gave the public, in the United States, and around the world, insight into the way in which the United States government was holding its pilot accountable. Thus considering all of the circumstances, the disclosures at issue were clearly warranted," Scott said.

Schmidt and another F-16 pilot were flying over southern Afghanistan when they spotted muzzle flashes on the ground and thought they were hostile. The flashes came from Canadian troops conducting a live-fire exercise, which Schmidt claimed he was not told was going on. Eight Canadian soldiers were also injured in the incident.

Details Could Scuttle FAA Bill

While there seems to be agreement in the Senate and House that user fees will not be part of the FAA's next reauthorization package, details in the House bill that was recently passed could hamstring its passage and lead to a veto. The administration has already said it would veto the bill over a section that requires the FAA to resume negotiations with air traffic controllers and to go to arbitration if those talks fail. The FAA imposed a contract on the controllers (with Congress' tacit blessing) more than a year ago, and the controllers union has relentlessly criticized the deal, blaming it for an exodus of experienced controllers and a bottoming-out of morale. The White House has the votes it needs to veto since the 267-151 margin is less than the two-thirds required to block a veto. The other hot-button issue tucked in bill that could cause political fireworks is a provision to increase the mandatory retirement age for airline pilots from 60 to 65.

Although most of the media attention about Age 60 has been about the desire by older pilots to keep working, there are significant numbers of younger pilots who oppose the change. There are still thousands of pilots furloughed or who have been demoted to the right seat or to regional carriers and they see increasing the retirement age as another impediement to career advancement. The older pilots, however, say they need the money since bankruptcy at some legacy carriers wiped out their pensions.

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Photos in the News back to top 

Highway Landing Image Captures Headlines

Hardly a day goes by that we don’t hear about some kind of off-airport landing, but the images accompanying one pilot’s bad day in Florida have captured the imagination of even non-pilots. Pilot Robert W. Robertson, 34, was just about the only thing left intact after the Beech Super 18 he was flying lost power Friday, and came down hard on a freeway in Fort Lauderdale. After the crash, Robertson remained strapped in his seat with the shredded aircraft around him until rescuers could cut him free.

He was taken to hospital with multiple injuries and his condition is improving. Robertson took off from Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport headed for Nassau with a load of store merchandise when he ran into trouble. Unidentified colleagues at Monarch Air, where Robertson worked, speculated that Robertson was trying to avoid hitting buildings and other public buildings with a steep turn executed just before the landing on the freeway.

VTOL Concept at Camarillo: Have You Seen This Plane?

VTOL concept from the Camarillo Air Show

AVweb reader Mike Palmer sent us this tantalizing photo of a Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) craft from last week's Camarillo Air Show in California. We're currently gathering en masse in Atlanta for the NBAA Convention 2007, so we're hoping AVweb readers can provide more information this latest craft from the "ohh, cool" file. If you saw it at Camarillo (or know more about it), drop us a line.

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AVweb's Audio News — Are You Listening? back to top 

AVweb's Monday Podcast: NBAA's Ed Bolen on the FAA Reauthorization Bill — And NBAA 2007 in Atlanta

File Size 8.2 MB / Running Time 8:59

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

If you were looking for a definition of busy, National Business Aviation Association President Ed Bolen would fill the bill. Not only is NBAA's big convention coming up Tuesday in Atlanta, there are major developments in Washington concerning the prospect of user fees being applied to general aviation and particularly business aviation. Bolen took a few minutes to bring AVweb's Russ Niles up to date on the latest in Washington and to tell us a bit about what we can expect in Atlanta.

Click here to listen. (8.2 MB, 8:59)

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Exclusive Video from AVweb back to top 

Exclusive Video: Behind the Scenes at the Red Bull Air Races 2007 in San Diego

Original, Exclusive Videos from AVweb | Reader-Submitted & Viral Videos

How do they clear those pylons at speeds topping 200mph? And how much Red Bull do air race pilots like Michael Goulian and Mike Mangold really consume to "give them the wings" they need to compete in the Air Race World Series?

AVweb's Glenn Pew ventured to the races in San Diego last week to find out. And though he lost a few hats to stiff breezes whisked in by the racers, he managed to bring back an incredible reel of video highlights and an exclusive look at the intense two-day preparation period with racer Michael Goulian.

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New on AVweb back to top 

CEO of the Cockpit #74: Football Is Like Airline Flying

AVweb's CEO of the Cockpit went down to Texas to learn about college football, the dangers of Wheel of Fortune, and the power of an English Professor to change your career.

Click here for the full story.


Is it really necessary to bother chasing down the proper grease for your airplane? We think so.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Hutt Aviation/Soar Minden (KMEV, Minden-Tahoe Airport, Minden, NV)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Hutt Aviation & Soar Minden at Tahoe-Minden Airport (KMEV) in Minden, Nevada.

The Civil Air Patrol's Brent Ludlow spent quite a few hours there during the last two weeks as part of the search for missing aviator Steve Fossett. Ludlow spoke highly of both FBO operators and the airport's Taildragger Restaurant:

You all made us welcome and promptly responded to anything we needed. You helped all of us in the Civil Air Patrol to do our job, and I hope everyone flying through there stops to enjoy the hospitality that we have seen.

Congratulations to the folks at Minden-Tahoe — and Brent, watch your e-mail. We'll be in touch about sending you an official AVweb ball cap.

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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In Touch with Our Readers back to top 

AVmail: Sep. 24, 2007

Reader mail this week about anticollision devices, a misidentified Flying Fortress, a pilot's history and more.

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


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.

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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"

Flying our Bonanza from Cape Cod, Massachusetts to Morristown, New Jersey at 6,000 feet with a big thunderstorm to the west, we were handed off to New York approach:

Approach, Bonanza Eight Zero Lima level 6,000, heading 270.

Bonanza Eight Zero Lima, descend and maintain 5,000.

Okay to stay at 6,000 for a better view of the weather ahead?

Whaddever, sure, stay at 6,000.

Later, we were close to some buildups when approach turned us right to 280 degrees.

Eighty Lima, would really rather turn left about 10 degrees to stay out of the buildups ahead.

Approach (Exasperated Tone):
Okay, do whatever vou want to do. Just let me know when you're done.

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

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Features Editor
Kevin Lane-Cummings

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.

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