AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 13, Number 42b

October 18, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Top News back to top 

NTSB Cites Range Of Safety Issues In UAV Investigation

The NTSB has completed its first investigation into an accident involving an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and on Tuesday, the board issued 22 safety recommendations and expressed concern about operating these vehicles in the National Airspace System. NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker said the high number of recommendations reflects "a wide range of safety issues involving the civilian use of unmanned aircraft." On April 26, a turboprop-powered Predator B operated on a surveillance mission by U.S. Customs and Border Protection crashed in a sparsely populated residential area near Nogales, Ariz. No one on the ground was injured, but the remotely piloted 66-foot-wingspan aircraft was substantially damaged. The board found that the pilot, who was not proficient in the performance of emergency procedures, inadvertently shut off the fuel while dealing with a console "lock-up" problem, causing a total loss of engine power. The NTSB cited several areas of particular concern, including the design and certification of the unmanned aircraft system, pilot qualification and training, the integration of UAVs into the air traffic management system, and the lack of audio records of UAV operations-related communications.

"This investigation has raised questions about the different standards for manned and unmanned aircraft and the safety implications of this discrepancy," said Rosenker. He said the pilot's console had been known to "lock up" in the past, but this issue was not resolved. "Such conditions would never be tolerated in the cockpit of a manned aircraft," he said. "We need to make sure that the system by which pilots are trained and readied for flight is rigorous and thorough. With the potential for thousands of these unmanned aircraft in use years from now, the standards for pilot training need to be set high to ensure that those on the ground and other users of the airspace are not put in jeopardy." The complete UAV accident report can be accessed online.

PowerLink™ FADEC Certified on Liberty XL-2; Is It Right for Your Aircraft?
Liberty Aerospace is the first certified piston-powered aircraft with PowerLink™ FADEC as standard equipment. PowerLink™ FADEC is now also available for several additional certified and experimental aircraft, including the A-36 Bonanza and VANS RV series. Find out how you can bring your aircraft into the state-of-the-art online.
More Top News Stories back to top 

Excel-Jet Sues FAA Over Sport-Jet Crash

When the Sport-Jet prototype crashed during a test flight in 2006, it wasn't due to any flaw with the aircraft or a mistake by the crew, says Excel-Jet in a suit filed against the FAA. It was because air traffic controllers cleared the jet to take off behind a large commercial aircraft (a deHavilland Dash 8) in violation of mandatory separation requirements. The company on Wednesday said it filed the suit in an effort to prove that its airplane and pilot were not at fault. On June 22, 2006, the Sport-Jet rolled aggressively to the left immediately after liftoff and crashed. The company has long contended that wake turbulence was the cause, but the NTSB report, completed in April, found "it is most likely that the wake vortices were neither strong enough nor close enough to the Sport-Jet to cause the violent roll to the left." The NTSB cited "a loss of control for an undetermined reason" as the probable cause of the accident. Excel-Jet now says it has no option but to initiate legal action against the FAA in an effort to prove that there was no fault with the aircraft or pilot.

"Test pilots James Stewart and Ron McElroy had accumulated 24 hours of virtually flawless flight testing," Bob Bornhofen, president of Excel-Jet, said in a news release. "The Sport-Jet had explored the majority of its flight envelope without problems." Stewart, who was flying at the time of the crash, survived the crash without injury. The company is at work on a second prototype, which it expects to fly sometime next year.

Mallya Plans Epic Plant In India

Indian business tycoon Vijay Mallya says he intends to build Epic's line of turboprops and light jets in India to serve the Asian and Middle Eastern market. Mallya bought a 50 percent stake in Bend, Ore.-based Epic earlier this year and says he wants to bring the operation, or at least part of it, home. “Once the certification process of Dynasty, Victory and Elite is done in the US, I want to manufacture them in India. The manufacturing base in India will largely target Middle-East and Asia besides the domestic market,” he told The Economic Times The Times story also says that as part of the deal, "Epic Aircraft also got access to Airbus resources to accelerate the certification of its new VLJs — Elite and Victory." What effect the planned manufacturing plant in India will have on Epic's plans in North America isn't known. However, the story does say that building the planes in India is expected to be cheaper than building them in North America.

Aircraft Spruce Is a Proud Gold Sponsor of the Copperstate Regional EAA Fly-In
Come join Aircraft Spruce in Casa Grande, AZ at Copperstate booth numbers 53 & 70 October 25-28 from 8am-5pm Thursday-Saturday and 8am-3pm on Sunday. Take advantage of some of your favorite products on sale, complimentary ground shipping (does not apply to hazardous or oversize products), and staff on-site to answer questions. Pick up Aircraft Spruce's new Pilot Shop Catalog at no charge. Call 1-877-SPRUCE, or visit Aircraft Spruce online.
News Briefs back to top 

Fossett Friends And Family Face Likely Loss

Sir Richard Branson said this week that he knows his friend, adventurer Steve Fossett, probably will not be found alive. "I think the chances are that he's no longer with us," Branson told Matt Lauer on NBC's Today Show on Monday. "I think everybody involved has pretty well given up hope, sadly." Fossett was last seen on Sept. 3 when he took off from a private airstrip in Nevada for a short flight in a Super Decathlon. Branson said Fossett's wife, Peggy, plans to return to Nevada soon for "one final search," but her husband's loss is beginning to sink in. Lauer's interview with Branson is posted online. Continuing efforts by the Civil Air Patrol and privately funded searchers have failed to turn up any sign of Fossett or the airplane he was flying. New analysis of radar traces earlier this month pointed to a 100-square-mile area southeast of the Hilton ranch that Fossett took off from, but ground searchers found nothing.

Authorities have said they will continue the search if new leads arise. Meanwhile, the private search continues with various kinds of imaging and field reconnaissance.

Airbus A380 To Fly Next Week With Singapore Airlines

On the heels of Boeing's announcement that its latest design, the 787 Dreamliner, will be delayed six months, Singapore Airlines (SA) is expected to fly its first Airbus A380 next week for the very first time. The carrier has gone the luxury route and outfitted its double-decker Airbus with sleeping cabins that can be converted to flying offices. Those flying economy class on the jet will at least enjoy their own 10.5-inch screen. SA's configuration has room for 471 passengers instead of seating for the 800 or more passengers the aircraft is capable of confining.

"It sets new standards in luxury and comfort," Singapore Chief Executive Chew Choon Seng told TheAge.com. The aircraft's cabin is said to be extremely quiet in the air, too, no matter how much you paid for your seat. Qantas will soon be sending competing A380s into service, with a maximum seating capacity of 450, showing that the jet's 800-seat potential is (for now) being set aside for other concerns.

In-Flight Emergency Maneuvers: Are You Prepared?
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Courses ideally suited to any General Aviation pilot concerned with improving safety of flight. Call (866) 359-4273 or get Upset Recovery Training information online.
News Briefs back to top 

Pilot Fired Fighting Aviophobia

A pilot previously made famous for stripping to his underwear to protest airport security rules has now been fired from MyTravel Airways after allowing a soccer player to fly as a passenger in the flight deck jump seat. Captain Pablo Mason has a (relatively) popular following in the U.K. for his efforts to cure hundreds of passengers of their fear of flying. Mason acknowledged that he may have broken a rule by using the jumpseat, but did not admit to being aware of the rule. He told the Times Online, "I don't accept that I compromised safety, prejudiced the good name of MyTravel or neglected my duty." Mason added, "Rules are for the guidance of wise men and the obedience of fools."

Passengers touched by their positive experiences with Mason have spoken up on his behalf.

India Turns Away From American Gray

India is turning away American pilots over age 60, in spite of a need for qualified pilots. The country is currently seeing an aviation boom (civil aviation, there, is enjoying a 37-percent growth rate) and a pilot crunch, but that doesn't mean they want to fill the ranks with American pilots over the age of 60. The country has made a regulatory decision to stop issuing certificates to American pilots over the age of 60 -- Indian pilots may fly to age 65. India expects 350 million air travelers by 2020 (the number was closer to 75 million in 2006) and has the fastest-growing number of air passengers in the world.

As a result, the decision to turn away qualified pilots is viewed by some as not in India's own interests.

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News Briefs back to top 

Aussie Carrier Seeks Government Subsidies For Training

Australia's Regional Express airline is warning that a pilot shortage will within 12 months become a crisis and is calling on the Australian government to come to the rescue with cash for training. The airline estimates the country will need 900 new pilots per year for the next two years, and says ATPs are being produced in Australia at a rate of less than 400 per year. As a result, those new pilots who fly first for regional carriers are being swept up by national carriers at a rate that exceeds supply, leaving both regional and national carriers wanting.

Regional Express says the large airlines' demand for pilots and historic expansion plans at Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Blue are behind the pilot shortfall and are already leading to cancellation of flights due to a lack of available crews. Regional Express expects the situation to get worse before it gets better.

Industry Reacts to FAA Action Against Jet Charter Company

The FAA's recent action to suspend operations at AMI Jet Charter was "driven more by arrogance and a failure to understand how Part 135 is different from Part 121" than by any concerns about safety, according to James Coyne, president of the National Air Transportation Association (NATA). Coyne, in a letter to NATA members dated October 15, said he was "extremely angered" by the FAA's "shocking" action. AMI operates about 10 percent of the top-of-the-line Gulfstream, Falcon and other large corporate jets in the U.S. charter market, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Tag Aviation owns 49 percent of the company, and it is the issue of ownership, or "operational control" -- and who is responsible for the safe operation of the airplanes -- that is the basis for the FAA's action. AMI filed an appeal last week with the NTSB, arguing that no "emergency" situation exists to justify the FAA's action, and provided a declaration countering many of the FAA's claims against the carrier. AMI's appeal and their response to the FAA's charges are posted at the NATA Web site. AMI CEO Chuck McLeran said he hopes to work with the FAA to resolve the issues. "We are confident that we can demonstrate AMIJC's outstanding safety record to the FAA and our continued commitment to full compliance with all applicable regulations and procedures," he said in a statement.

National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) President and CEO Ed Bolen said the FAA action should be viewed as a wake-up call to all charter providers. "This significant action was taken against a company that is among the most highly regarded charter providers in the country," Bolen said. "NBAA urges the charter members within our association to take note of the FAA's recent action and ensure that their operational control practices are in order."

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.
News Briefs back to top 

Judge Keeps Pilot In Jail Pending FAA Action

For pilots who have experienced waiting for things to happen on an FAA time scale, the thought of waiting behind bars for the FAA to act could be daunting. One pilot in Virginia faces that situation, as a judge says he's not willing to let him out until the FAA revokes his pilot certificate. The FAA says it can't do that until it completes its investigation, and how long that will take, nobody can say. Pilot Ronald Davis Jr., 50, of Naples, Fla., is in this fix because he's charged with flying under the influence, which is a felony in Virginia. Davis was giving $10 helicopter rides to the public at the Suffolk Peanut Fest last Sunday when passengers complained that he was flying erratically. Police said Davis failed a field sobriety test and registered a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.116 on a preliminary breath test, the Virginian-Pilot reported.

Davis told the judge several times he would voluntarily surrender his certificate to get out of jail, but that proposal didn't fly. Jim Deuel, one of the Sunday passengers, told WAVY-TV that the four-minute ride felt unsafe. "It was a smooth takeoff and then all of a sudden he just shot up into the air and shot back down and turned to the left real hard," Deuel said. He said the pilot banked sharply left and right throughout the flight, and did not interact with his passengers. "The whole time he just looked straight ahead. He didn't even look at us. He just looked straight ahead," Deuel said.

We Have a Winner! AVweb's Red Bull Video Ranks First Worldwide

Among all the sports videos on the Internet -- from CBS, ESPN, and more, about football, and car racing, and scandal -- it was AVweb's behind-the-scenes coverage of the San Diego Red Bull Air Race that ranked number one in a worldwide online poll. The web site WeShow lets viewers around the world choose their favorite videos from more than 200 channels. Once a month, the ranks are posted, then the competition starts over. AVweb videographer Glenn Pew combined dramatic aerial shots, hangar talk with the pilots, knowledgeable narration, and deft editing to beat out the competition.

Click here to watch the winning video.

WingX 2.5 for Your Motorola Q, Blackjack, or Pocket PC — New!
WingX 2.5 for your smartphone and Pocket PC comes with DUATS support, and you can file and close flight plans from your phone. WingX 2.5 has Animated NEXRAD; satellite; lightning prediction graphics; color-coded METARs and TAFs; approach charts; advanced weight and balance; route planning; searchable FARs; endorsements; E6B; runway layouts; SmartTaxi™; and a comprehensive A/FD with auto-dial. WingX 2.5 is GPS-enabled! Click here to download your demo version of WingX 2.5.
New on AVweb back to top 

Probable Cause #43: Into the Water

A Baron pilot flies into Lake Ontario on an approach in foggy conditions, proving that CFIT accidents can happen in the flattest of places./p>

Click here for the full story.

A Pilot's History: Chap. 2 -- California Base

In this second chapter of the career of Carl Moesly, he goes to Long Beach to ferry brand-new aircraft all over the country.

Click here for the full story.

Bennett Avionics: Used Avionics Guidance You Can Trust
Used avionics is Bennett Avionics' only business! Bennett Avionics has served general aviation worldwide with reliable and quality used avionics for over 30 years. Bennett Avionics can help you meet your avionics needs, improve the capability of your aircraft, and maintain your budget. Call Bennett Avionics at (860) 653-7295, or go online for a complete list of available products.
Tell Us What You Think back to top 

How's That Diesel Airplane Working Out For You?

Our sister magazine, Aviation Consumer, is conducting a research project on diesel aircraft engines. If you're flying one, we would like to know what your impressions of it are. Has the performance been what you expected? How about the economy? We would also like to know about service history. For a questionnaire, e-mail avconsumer@comcast.net. The editorial staff will get right back to you.

Question of the Week: Columbia Aircraft, Now Brought to You by ... ?

This Week's Question | Previous Week's Answers


Rarely do we find that AVweb readers are all of one mind on an issue — but there was clear consensus on the answer to last week's Question, Should passengers be allowed to use their cell phones on airliners?  That consensus, of course, was absolutely not.  A full 70% of AVweb readers said there are enough indignities in airline travel today without having to listen to other passengers' private phone conversations.

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


With Cirrus and Cessna both bidding on the assets of Columbia Manufacturing, the race is on!  Whom do you predict will win the bankruptcy sweepstakes and get to put their name above Columbia's on the company letterhead?

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.


"POTW" submissions tapered off a bit this week, with only 65 new photos finding their way to our submission box — but with a backlog of fantastic photos from the last three weeks that we're still trying to sneak into our home page slideshow, there's no shortage of oohs or ahhs.

medium | large

Used with permission of Wally Dilling

Where Do We Go from Here?

The top spot goes to a slightly unusual photo this week.  Most winners make us happy when we look at them — but this one just made us happy it wasn't us in the cockpit!

Wally Dilling of Hagerstown, Indiana didn't offer many comments, but he did explain that "brakes don't work so well on wet grass."

An official AVweb cap will probably be cold comfort, Wally — but we're sending you one anyway.



medium | large

Used with permission of Jeff Randall

American Pride

Jeff Randall of Clyde, Texas is a semi-regular contributor to "Picture of the Week," and if there's one thing almost all of his photos have in common, it's this:  Jeff knows how to put himself in the right place at the right time to catch folks doing what comes naturally and make it look stunning.



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Used with permission of Stoney Truett

This Is What Heaven Will Look Like for Me ...

Stoney Truett of Cayce, South Carolina spent some time at a small airport in North Carolina and (after chatting with the owner) decided he'd seen the Promised Land.

If they've got barbecue (or at least hot dogs), we'll go along with you, Stoney ... .


medium | large

copyright © Brad Marzari
Used with permission

Scare the S--- Out of You

Oh, all right — we couldn't resist this photo (and its caption) from Brad Marzari.  The context here is the Swiss Air Force's Fliegerschiessen Axalp, a day-long military demonstration and air show.  Brad points out that the F5 is firing ("note the gunsmoke") at a target "7,000 feet across the draw."

Those poor suckers in the Port-o-Johns.


medium | large

Used with permission of Norm Frakes

Last on the Ramp at Tangier Island

David Lumgair of Craddockville, Virginia flies us out this week.  Sorry to put you last on the ramp again, David, but you know what they say about "saving the best" ... .

O.K. folks, that's all!  But we're far from done — we'll have to do it all over again next week, so please:  Don't forget to send us your photos.  They really are the best part of our week.

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.

Featured AVweb Classified Ad: LoPresti Has Job Openings
LoPresti Speed Merchants, located in Vero Beach, FL, has a number of job opportunities for the right person. Are you that person? Go to AVweb's Classifieds and look under "Employment Opportunities" to find out.
For contact information regarding this ad, to view more ads, and to post your no-cost ad, click here.
Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Aviation Facilities, Inc. (AFI) (KFUL, Fullerton, CA)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Aviation Facilities, Inc. (AFI) at KFUL in Fullerton, California — a family-run FBO that celebrated its 40th anniversary at KFUL last week.

AVweb reader Ray Stratton gave us a little history:

Starting with a C-150 and using the airport motel lobby as an office, [AFI] ... has grown to a fleet of eleven aircraft and over seven instructors. Still owned and operated by the same family, it has accomplished over 250,000 hours of flight instruction.

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!

Understanding Your Airplane's Mechanics Could Save Your Bank Account
Light Plane Maintenance is the monthly magazine for aircraft owners who aren't satisfied with just flying. Aircraft repair can be simple when explained in concise, step-by-step details. If you want to truly learn about the workings of your airplane (and save a few dollars, too), Light Plane Maintenance is for you. Order online today and receive LPM's 40 Top Maintenance Tips as a gift.
Help Us Make the News back to top 

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/.

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.

Aviate. Navigate. Communicate.