AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 12, Number 44a

October 29, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
 
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Bombardiers Grounded back to top 
 

SAS Permanently Grounds Q400 Fleet

Bombardier insists its Q400 airliners are safe despite SAS's decision to "permanently" ground its fleet of 27 of the aircraft after a partial gear-up landing in Copenhagen Saturday. The decision came after the airline's third landing-gear-related emergency landing in a little more than a month. But Bombardier said in a statement that Saturday's incident did not appear to be related to the two previous incidents and it advised carriers using the aircraft to continue as normal. The right main gear failed to deploy on the SAS Q400 at Copenhagen Airport. The flight crew was able to slide it safely to a stop on the foam-covered runway with no injuries to the 44 people, including two infants, on board. In a news release, SAS management said the airline and its customers were losing confidence in the aircraft.

"Confidence in the Q400 has diminished considerably and our customers are becoming increasingly doubtful about flying in this type of aircraft," CEO Mats Jansson said. "Accordingly, with the Board of Directors' approval, I have decided to immediately remove Dash 8 Q400 aircraft from service." In mid-September, after two landing-gear-related mishaps involving SAS aircraft, Transport Canada issued an airworthiness directive (AD) ordering inspection of landing gear mechanisms on all aircraft with more than 10,000 cycles. Q400s carried about 5 percent of SAS's passengers and the airline says there will be service disruptions while it redeploys other aircraft and leases planes to fill the void.

 
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Wildfires and General Aviation back to top 
 

Southern California G.A. Waits Out Fires

GA pilots have been doing their share in the battle against wildfires in California — largely by staying out of the way. "People are being pretty sensible about it," Roger Griffiths, airport manager at Gillespie Field in El Cajon, Calif., near San Diego, told AVweb Friday Though local pilots have been grounded by temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) in place to support firefighting efforts, the skies above San Diego County are buzzing with activity. Aircraft ranging from helicopters and single-engine air tankers (SEAT) to a DC-10 and a 60-year-old Martin Mars flying boat brought in from British Columbia are being used to attack the fires, which forced the evacuation of more than a million people last week. Griffiths said two of the three runways at his airport were closed and turned into parking ramps for helicopters, as many as 30 at a time.

But not all GA activity has stopped. And even amid the fires, the show must go on. Evelyn Hall, co-owner of Chuck Hall Aviation at Ramona Airport, about 20 miles northeast of San Diego, told AVweb her husband Chuck was able to take off from there in his P-51 to meet up with an F-16 for a heritage flight at an unnamed air show. The couple runs Chuck Hall Aviation, which has been busy fueling tankers and helicopters. Ramona Airport Manager Bo Donovan said the TFR over his airfield was lifted Friday night until daybreak Saturday, allowing GA flights. Donavan said Friday night was the first time the FAA lifted the TFR, saying it's a "good first sign" things will be returning to normal soon.

Fingerpointing Starts Over Firefighting Helicopter Delays

San Diego politicians say foot-dragging by state officials kept 24 firefighting helicopters on the ground for a full day last week, critically hampering firefighting efforts in the early stages as the blazes gathered strength. The helicopters, operated by the military, were grounded because a state regulation requires that all firefighting choppers have a "fire spotter" on board and there weren't enough available. By the time the helicopters were allowed to take off it was too windy for them to fly. On Wednesday the state waived the regulation but now the heat is on state officials to explain the delay in doing so.

"When you look at what's happened, it's disgusting, inexcusable foot-dragging that's put tens of thousands of people in danger," Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican congressman from California, told the London Daily Telegraph. Calif. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Saturday the state will review its policies. "There are things that we could improve on and I think this is what we are going to do because a disaster like this, you know, really, in the end is a good vehicle, a motivator for everyone to come together," he told a news conference. Two Air National Guard C-130s also sat idle because they haven't yet been retrofitted with fire-retardant tanks.

 
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News Briefs back to top 
 

Controller Alerts Police To Suspected Impaired Pilot

An air traffic controller called police to report a pilot he believed was drunk at the controls and the cops in Mitchell, S.D., later arrested a 65-year-old man on various alcohol- and drug-related charges. The controller became suspicious of the pilot's slurred speech and his apparent difficulty holding altitude on Thursday. According to the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, when police met the Mooney after it landed, they found open liquor in the cockpit, a container of prescription drugs without a prescription and a pilot they allege had obviously been drinking.

The pilot, who is from Flora, Ill., was given a field sobriety test and determined to have been under the influence of alcohol, according to a police statement quoted by the newspaper. "Right now you have to worry about people in motor vehicles that are drinking and one thing we shouldn't have to worry about is the safety of our pilots in the air," Mitchell Police Sgt. Ryan Erickson told Keloland Television.

West Indies Company Plans Unique Commuter Plane

Click for a Larger Image

Integrity Aircraft Holdings Ltd. (IAHL) of Nevis, in the West Indies, recently announced it will develop an 18-20-seat commuter aircraft with a single 1,100-hp Honeywell TPE 331-12 mounted on the tail. The aircraft is similar in appearance to the British-built Britten-Norman Trislander, which has three piston engines, one each on the wings and the third on the tail. In news releases appearing on stock watch Web sites, IAHL CEO Peter Van Dyke said the single tail-mounted turboprop offers numerous advantages over conventional configurations, including the ability to leave the engine running while loading and unloading, thus cutting the number of start cycles on the engine. Van Dyke said he expects to sell the aircraft for $1.9 million and, although it's strictly a paper airplane at this stage, he's hoping for certification sometime next year.

The aircraft appears to be designed for short-haul service between small airports, like those operated by Caribbean airlines. The original name for the aircraft was the Island Hopper but it's been changed to the Integrity. The company claims STOL capability off unimproved strips with a cruise speed of 170 knots. Gross weight is about 10,000 pounds. The company says it has U.S. patents on the design.

 
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News Briefs back to top 
 

Flight Schools Gear For Pilot Shortage

Pundits say the traditional training models for professional pilots are changing and there's never been a better time for young people to get in the left seat. In an extensive feature in Florida Today, various institutions say a looming pilot shortage should also make it much easier for students to get the training they need and the jobs that will follow. "It means a big shift, as far as where pilots are trained," Louis Smith, president of the Internet-based pilot information resource FLTops.com, told the newspaper.

Smith said airlines can no long count on the military as the pipeline for turbine-ready pilots because the Air Force and other air arms are realizing the investment they have in those pilots and are offering incentives to keep them flying in uniform. Martha Lynn Craver, an associate editor for The Kiplinger Letter, said airlines will have to start subsidizing training costs and offering job guarantees (not to mention pay rates above food-stamp levels) to attract the new pilots they'll need when the current bubble of baby boomers retires.

Myrtle Beach Votes Itself $7 Million Bill

Keeping up appearances will cost Myrtle Beach-area taxpayers $7 million. The Myrtle Beach Sun-News says the FAA has sent Horry County, which encompasses Myrtle Beach International Airport, a bill for that amount because it didn't go through with a terminal project. The county and FAA spent a total of about $18 million on clearing the site and designing the building before the Community Appearance Board quashed the project last April. The FAA says it paid the money on the condition that the project go through and now it wants it back.

The bill could have been higher, according to FAA officials. The agency also chipped in an unknown amount for buying the property but since it could still be used for the airport in the future it's not asking for that money back. The county has until Dec. 10 to pay the money back but FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Cory said the agency is willing to negotiate a payment plan. County officials say they expected to pay back about $1 million. The full amount is available from airport revenues but that would cut into budgets for future projects, like renovation of the existing terminal.

 
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More Travel Travails back to top 
 

JFK Flight Caps Rile New Yorkers

New York politicians, business groups and tourism officials have joined the chorus of opposition to a proposal by the FAA to limit flights into John F. Kennedy Airport to a maximum of 81 during peak hours and 80 for most of the rest of the day. Instead, the "broad coalition" opposing the proposal is saying the FAA should get its own house in order and fast-track modernization efforts, facilities improvements and airspace redesign to reduce the number of flight delays at the airport. "We must act now to reduce delays. However, the solution on which the FAA is currently focused - a cap on the number of flights at JFK - is, in truth, no solution at all," New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine said in a joint letter to Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters.

Opponents to the plan say it will put the number of flights into JFK at the same level as the late 1960s and prevent more than 3.4 million passengers from getting there. The coalition says improved radar, more taxiways, a new westbound departure route and improved "navigation and surveillance systems to reduce spacing between aircraft" should be undertaken instead of simply capping flights.

A380 Beds For Sleeping, Says Airline

Considering the areas of aircraft that have served the carnal desires of their occupants, it would seem likely that the private suite with double bed that Singapore Airlines has installed on its A380 would be creating a little turbulence of its own on every flight. But if the airline has anything to do with it (and good luck with this) the first-class section will not become headquarters of the Mile High Club. "If couples used our double beds to engage in inappropriate activity, we would politely ask them to desist," company spokesman Stephen Forshaw told the Times of London. "There are things that are acceptable on an aircraft and things that aren't, and the rules for behavior in our double beds are the same ones that apply throughout the aircraft."

And that seems a shame say the first occupants of the exclusive space. Tony and Julie Elwood paid plenty to recline in the suite on the A380's first flight from Singapore to Sydney last week and said the accommodations and the rule are at odds. "So they'll sell you a double bed, and give you privacy and endless champagne — and then say you can't do what comes naturally?" Tony told the Times. "Seems a bit strange." Julie agreed. "They seem to have done everything they can to make it romantic short of bringing round oysters."

On the Fly ...

The FAA has imposed a temporary flight restriction (TFR) within the Washington Flight Restricted Zone. The one nm diameter TFR is in effect Tuesday for the demolition of the Woodrow Wilson bridge ... .

Three Calgary, Alberta men died Friday when their Piper Malibu crashed in the Rocky Mountains west of Calgary in an unsuccessful forced landing at a small airport in Fairmont Hot Springs Resort. The aircraft lost power at 21,000 feet and the pilot tried to glide to a landing ... .

A Virgin Airways first officer was detained Sunday after officials suspected he was preparing for a flight from Heathrow to Miami while under the influence. He's been suspended by the airline pending the outcome of the police investigation.

 
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New on AVweb back to top 
 

Probable Cause #44: Dark Departure

If humans had been meant to fly at night, they would have been given better internal gyros.

Click here for the full story.

AVweb's Monday Podcast: Secrets from the Tower — And a Few from Author/Controller Bob Richards

File Size 10.8 MB / Running Time 11:53

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

When Bob Richards retired as a controller after 22 years in the O'Hare tower, he had a lifetime of stories to tell, not all of them pretty. He put his fingers on the keys and tried to give an honest account of not just the stress and demands of the job, but the human achievment and sacrifice that go hand in hand with that uniquely challenging lifestyle. What resulted is Secrets from the Tower, a book that's captured the imagination of people from all walks of life and landed Richards on the morning news and talk show circuit. He told AVweb's Russ Niles about how he hopes the book will be an engine for change in the air traffic control system.

Click here to listen. (10.8 MB, 11:53)

 
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Flying Video from Around the Web back to top 
 

Video of the Week: Low-Flying Superscooper Fighting Fires Over Malibu

Recommend a Video | VOTW Archive

We know them as "waterbombers," "superscoopers," and "ducks," but when wildfires burn out of control (as they did this week throughout Southern California), Canadair's CL-series firefighters are nothing short of lifesavers. In this clip from CNN (posted on LiveLeak by user bellava), we see one such scooper flying low over Malibu, fighting out-of-control California wildfires.


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If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

 
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Your Favortie FBOs back to top 
 

FBO of the Week: Minute Man (Minute Man Airfield at 6B6 in Stow, MA)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Minute Man Airfield at 6B6 in Stow, Massachusetts.

AVweb reader Dick Shafner recommended the FBO after spending some time there and discovering that (for piston pilot at least) "Minute Man Airfield has it all":

[Onwer Don and wife Nancy] still treat each incoming aircraft like it is their first customer. The motto on the Minute Man web site is "Where Piston Pilots Rule", and it certainly is. Fuel is cheap (pay cash and it is even cheaper) and there is always a friendly "hello" on the frequency when arriving or departing. ... And then there is Nancy's Airport Cafe. What a find. Locals consider it "the place to go" for breakfast and lunch during the week, and on Friday and Saturday nights Chef Nancy prepares gourmet meals in a very relaxed cafe setting.

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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The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 
 

Short Final

I do believe I tried to pass on this little edict many years ago without success, and since I never saw a response, I will try one more time, just for my old Yankee mate, Ken Sunderland:

An Aussie grazier flew his antique Auster aircraft to Mascot Airport, Sydney, some time back to enact some business at the offices of business acquaintances. Not being familiar with controlled airspace procedures, although making it safely to the airport, he required and requested guidance to the GA parking area.

Much later, after the completion of his business and returning to the airport, he eventually taxied out to the major runway 16, again guided by ATC to take his place in the queue for take-off clearance. When finally cleared to line up and subsequently cleared for take-off, his instructions were to call "123 airborne" (the departure frequency).

Applying maximum power and concentrating on keeping his aircraft on the centreline on the roll, the tail rose, and soon after the aircraft became airborne, whereupon the pilot pressed his transmit button and called ... "1-2-3 airborne"!

 
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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/.

 
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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:

Publisher
Timothy Cole

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Editor-in-Chief
Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Features Editor
Kevin Lane-Cummings

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