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The FAA said on Wednesday it has revoked the air carrier certificate held by AMI Jet Charter of
Burlingame, Calif., which was suspended earlier this month. The company had tried to work with the FAA to resolve the issues, but
apparently to no avail. The FAA says AMI allowed "entities that do not hold air carrier certificates" to exercise control over flights and failed to keep records needed to ensure safety. The agency's
earlier actions against AMI provoked strong reactions from the industry -- James Coyne,
president of the National Air Transportation Association, said he was "extremely angered" by the FAA's "shocking" action, and National Business Aviation Association President Ed Bolen said the FAA
action should be viewed as a wake-up call to all charter providers. "This case sends a clear message that the FAA will act when it finds evidence that any air carrier is engaged in the franchising or
rental of its air carrier certificate," Nicholas Sabatini, FAA associate administrator for aviation safety, said on Wednesday. "Federal Aviation Regulations clearly require that an air carrier
maintain operational control of the aircraft and crews on its certificate."
The FAA said AMI permitted TAG Aviation -- an entity not holding a U.S. air carrier certificate -- and various "charter ally" companies to schedule flight crews and operate flights in violation of
federal regulations. The FAA alleges that AMI also failed to keep required records on maintenance, crew members, ground and flight training, and flight and duty time for the aircraft and crews
operated by those companies.
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After being inundated with criticism from all sides after a NASA official refused to release safety data to an Associated Press reporter who requested it, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin told a
congressional panel on Wednesday that the information will be made public after all (PDF). "I regret any impression that NASA was or would in any way try to put commercial interests ahead of public safety," NASA's administrator, Michael Griffin, told the House Science Committee. "That was not and never will be the case." The official who
denied the reporter's request had said the information might scare people away from flying and hurt the industry. Griffin said that under federal law, "NASA is required to protect confidential
commercial information that is voluntarily provided to the agency and would not customarily be released to the public." But, he said, all of the data from the safety survey that does not contain
confidential commercial information, or information that could compromise the anonymity of individual pilots, will be released as soon as possible.
"The release of this data will be accompanied with the proviso that neither the methodology nor the results have received the level of peer review required of a NASA research project," Griffin
said. Captain Terry McVenes, executive air safety chairman for the Air Line Pilots Association, told the committee the raw data should not be released (PDF). "Raw data, distributed without appropriate analysis and scrutiny
to ensure its validity, can lead to unintended consequences," he said. "Incomplete or inaccurate conclusions can be reached." A final report from a contractor analyzing the data is expected by Dec.
31, Griffin said, and NASA will make that report available to any interested party.
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Three-year-old Kate Williams, described by rescuers as an incredibly tough little girl, was the lone survivor of the crash of a Cessna 172 that killed her grandfather and one of his
business associates in the rugged mountains of British Columbia on Sunday. The girl was found hanging from the child car seat shed been securely strapped into before the aircraft left Golden,
B.C., on a trip to Edmonton, Alta. She was released from a Calgary hospital Tuesday after spending five hours in 30-degree weather in the wreckage. Her grandfather Allen Williams and his business
associate Steve Sutton were killed in the crash, which occurred in bad weather shortly after takeoff from the Rocky Mountain town about 300 miles northeast of Vancouver. "When you think of what that
poor little girl went through, watching the plane tumble through the woods and hanging upside down," rescue helicopter pilot Don McTighe, 51, told CanWest News Services Monday. "What an incredible,
The girl was conscious and asking for her teddy bear shortly after rescuers rappelled to the crash site on a riverbank in steep terrain just north of Golden. The aircraft took off about 1 p.m. and
a passing aircraft reported an ELT signal about 20 minutes later. The girl was pulled from the wreck about 5:35 p.m., less than an hour before darkness fell. A Golden police spokesman said she was
unharmed except for a slight mark on her face. Rescuers said its doubtful she would have survived the night in below-freezing temperatures, however. The crash was one of three in the past week
in British Columbia and the fifth in less than a month.
Prosecutors don't have a case to charge pilot Brent Caldwell with first-degree manslaughter for the three deaths in a
crash last December, a judge in Delaware ruled on Tuesday. Caldwell was flying a high-performance 300-hp Bellanca 17-30A, which he had bought about nine months earlier, according to the NTSB's final report, when the engine died "for undetermined reasons." The NTSB said Caldwell made an "improper
decision" to extend the landing gear before ditching into a lake. The airplane came to rest inverted and Caldwell escaped, but his three passengers drowned. Police said they smelled alcohol on
Caldwell's breath and found open containers of alcohol in the airplane, but a blood sample tested negative for alcohol. The NTSB also said the pilot did not hold any FAA pilot or medical certificates.
District Court judge Robert Haney dismissed charges against Caldwell in May, saying prosecutors did not show he had done anything illegal to cause the plane to stall and crash. This week, after
prosecutors again tried to press the case, Haney said he was not convinced there were any grounds to re-file.
"We have to be realistic and acknowledge the fact that this judge does not believe that what Mr. Caldwell is accused of doing is a crime and that regardless of how we procedurally attack this case
we will not be able to get it to trial," assistant DA Bryce Lair told KOTV News. Mariano Carlos, 15, Everado Robles, 20, and
Eulalio Gonzalez Campos, 33, died in the crash.
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Despite a decision by European air carrier SAS to stop flying its fleet of 27 Bombardier Q400 Dash 8 turboprops, airlines in the U.S. have said they intend to keep theirs in the air. Frontier
Airlines, based in Denver, is working to launch a new turboprop service, Lynx, which will fly the Q400s. Five new aircraft have been delivered and orders for five more are in the works. "Safety, of
course, is a top priority, and we're going to work closely with Bombardier to understand what the issues are and whether they are relevant to our fleet," Frontier spokesman Joe Hodas told the Rocky Mountain News. "At this point there's no change in our plans," he said, but
added that since Lynx isn't expected to launch till the end of the year, there is time to make changes if needed. Bombardier said on
Sunday it "stands behind the Q400 aircraft." Bombardier and the landing gear manufacturer, Goodrich, have completed a full review of the landing gear system and "results have confirmed its safe design
and operational integrity," the company said in a news release.
More than 150 Q400 aircraft are in operation among 22 operators around the world. To date, the fleet has logged over one million flying hours and 1.2 million takeoff and landing cycles. SAS is the
only airline that has grounded the airplanes.
Some of the 130 residents who have been forced to move out of their apartment building in British Columbia after a Piper Seneca crashed into the ninth floor earlier this month have launched a class-action lawsuit, CTV Canada reported on Tuesday. The 82-year-old pilot was killed in the
crash, and no cause has yet been determined. There was no substantial post-crash fire but extensive damage to the building was caused by water as firefighters hosed down the smoking wreckage. The
pilot, his estate and Piper Aircraft are all named in the lawsuit as defendants, CTV said. The residents expect it will take two to six months to repair the building before they can return home. "This
has been a very stressful experience for them," the lawyer behind the lawsuit, David Varty, told The Canadian Press. "The cost to get new furniture or to make those improvements is up to the owner and
some of them are complaining about lower property values," he said.
Canada's Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the crash.
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"The number of fatal general aviation accidents declined by 5 percent this year," the FAA announced in a
news release on Monday. But a closer look at the FAA data showed that 5 percent was the difference between the number of accidents they had projected for the fiscal year -- 331 -- and the number
that occurred, which was 314 -- that is not quite the same thing as an actual decline. AVweb asked the FAA if they could provide the number of fatal accidents for the previous fiscal year, to
see if there really was a decline or not, but so far they haven't gotten back to us. However, the same news release also reported that the number of people killed in GA accidents did decline
significantly, from 676 in fiscal 2006 (the 12 months ending Sept. 30) to 564 in fiscal 2007. That's about 20 percent fewer fatalities. For these calculations, "general aviation" includes not only
privately flown planes but also non-scheduled air taxi flights, the FAA said.
"This record is due to a dedicated commitment to safety by everyone in general aviation," said Nicholas Sabatini, FAA associate administrator for aviation safety. "In particular, manufacturers are
providing sophisticated technology like GPS and glass cockpits -- and the training to go with them -- and the FAA is vigorously encouraging adoption of these safety enhancements."
Pressure for general aviation to clean up its emissions or face restrictions is growing, especially in Europe, and aircraft manufacturers are responding. On Wednesday, Embraer said it will create a new division, the Environmental Strategies and Technologies
Office, with the goal "to achieve new levels of sustainable development." There is a growing concern within the company regarding environmental issues, said president and CEO Frederico Fleury Curado.
"This is reflected in the products developed by the company, as well as in the environmental policies that are established," he said. Meanwhile, a company in Reno, Nev., called GreenFlight International, earlier this month flew a Czech-built L-39 jet on 100 percent biofuel. The group gradually
increased the percentage of biofuel, made from renewable sources, mixed with diesel. Test pilot Carol Sugars said, "The aircraft continued to perform well, giving me the confidence to transition to
100 percent." Flight tests up to 17,000 feet showed no significant difference in performance compared to conventional jet fuel, the company said.
The group plans to fly the jet cross-country to Florida this fall, and to fly a Learjet around the world next year on 100 percent biofuel.
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Eclipse has received FAA approval of its Flight Operational Quality Assurance (FOQA) program, the company said on Wednesday. The system is similar to those used by airlines, in which onboard software records the aircraft performance data, and it is then downloaded into a
central database for analysis. "FOQA is a perfect addition to our progressive safety management system, which gives us the tools to proactively ensure the highest level of safety across all Eclipse
500 operations," said Vern Raburn, president and CEO of Eclipse Aviation. The information gathered by the system is used to identify, assess and correct high-risk operating conditions before they
cause an accident, according to Eclipse's news release.
Instead of waiting for hazards to be identified through accidents, Eclipse says its system will identify risks so they can be managed in advance of an incident or accident. FOQA is central to this
process, allowing Eclipse to understand what is actually happening with the Eclipse 500 fleet in the field. More about FOQA can be found at the FAA's web site.
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NASA has made the decision to
release the results of the aviation safety survey the agency had
previously decided to withhold but should that have been their call
alone? Last week, we asked AVweb readers who should make
such decisions when it comes to releasing safety-related studies to the
A full 58% of our respondents said that all such information should
be freely accessible as long as its availability doesn't compromise
security or defense, that is. On top of that, another 35% said
safety information should always be freely available to the
For a complete breakdown of reader responses,
(You may be asked to register and answer, if you haven't already
participated in this poll.)
THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***
With the FAA's revocation of AMI's jet air charter certificate, we're hearing a lot of talk that reminds us of last
year's Dubai port controversy. Safety and security definitely seem to be at play in the FAA's decision, but were they overreacting? We'd like to hear what
AVweb readers think: Should foreign companies be allowed to manage the flight operations of U.S.-based charters?
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.
AVweb is actively seeking
out the best FBOs in the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here next Monday!
Choose the Flight Explorer Edition Right for You Flight Explorer is an information system tracking commercial and general aviation flights. With the Flight Explorer Personal Edition, view air traffic for the U.S., Canada, or New
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information and to subscribe.
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.
*** THIS WEEK'S WINNERS ***
We hope you have a little cheese handy this morning,
because we're about to break out the whine.
Picking this week's top photos was tough!
Seriously. Although we had only 58 new submissions
to choose from this week, our "top contender" pile was ridiculous.
There couldn't have been more waffling about which photos should make it
into the AVwebFlash if we'd done this edition over breakfast.
If your first thought on seeing the name of this week's winner is "Oh,
that's not fair," then buddy, you ain't alone. We were just as
shocked as you to learn that Patty Wagstaff
(of St. Augustine, Florida) is as handy behind the lens as she is behind
the stick but hey, them's the breaks. The lady can fly, she can
snap pics of warbirds like nobody's business (apparently!), and she'll
soon have an AVweb cap to keep the sun off her brow this winter.
(Wonder if she can write or code web pages? Hmmm ... .)
And lest we forget: Thanks to everyone who's sent us
their Mustangs and Legends photos! Our own Mike Blakeney had a
ball at the show, and the rest of us wish we could've gotten away but
at least we've got the photos!
Yes, we admit it: Even though we've seen it a thousand times, we
still get a charge from the Wall of Fire, even in photos and maybe
especially in photos set against the blue skies of Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii!
Jacqueline Monterrosa of Kapolei,
Hawaii serves up this pulse-pounding entry.
Eric Williams of Oakland, California
snapped a couple of photos of the Airbus A380 for us at San Francisco
International Airport. We have yet to see the aircraft in all its
fully-functioning glory, but Eric's pics do a nice job of communicating
the scale, don't you think?
Photo by Sean
Used with permission
of Herb Kushner
Short Final at 47N
Sean Morrissey sees us out
this week, with a photo of submitter Herb
Kushner cruising into Central Jersey Regional in his
Want more? Cruise on over to AVweb's home page and
check out our "POTW"
slideshow, where you'll find all these photos plus another from
Kaieteur Falls, some snaps from Anchorage and Antarctica (if you prefer
cooler locales), and a sampling of the deluge of rainbow pics we
received in the wake of last week's winning photo.
Look all you want, but don't forget to
send us your
photos, too! (Where do you think we get all these cool
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,
send us an e-mail.
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
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.