AVwebFlash - Volume 13, Number 45b

November 8, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Homeland Security Tightening Up on G.A. back to top 

GA Border Checks To Include Screening For Nukes

The Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO), which is part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is working to strengthen its ability to detect radiation and nuclear devices in the international GA environment. The DNDO is evaluating equipment that it will use to support this mission, according to a "General Aviation Fact Sheet" published by the DHS on Monday. The goal is to "further minimize the vulnerability of GA and private aircraft flights being used to deliver illicit materials, transport dangerous individuals or employ the aircraft as a weapon," the fact sheet says. The DHS plans to screen aircraft at sites outside the border, to ensure that illicit materials do not enter the U.S.

Some GA pilots are already encountering this increased scrutiny. Dave MacRae, who has flown back and forth across the U.S.-Canada border for decades, told AVweb this week that a Customs and Border Protection officer in Buffalo, N.Y., swept his Cessna 210 for nuclear material last Sunday. It's apparently something anyone flying across the border had better get used to. MacRae shared his thoughts on that with AVweb's Russ Niles, and you can hear their conversation in tomorrow's AVweb podcast.

DHS Chief Chertoff Pushes For More GA Oversight

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Michael Chertoff made clear in a speech on Monday that he wants more scrutiny of general aviation aircraft that cross the U.S. border -- but while his main concern appears to be with large corporate jets, his proposals don't distinguish between the different types of GA activity. Chertoff discussed his concerns at a meeting of the NATA Business Aviation Roundtable, in Washington, D.C., and the industry was quick to respond. "We will continue to oppose any regulations that place restrictions on GA that outweigh the actual security threat," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "One size doesn't -- and shouldn't -- fit all." Chertoff's plans include creating a partnership with overseas FBOs, in which the FBO will check boarding passengers against the manifests on file. The DHS is working with Signature Flight Support in Ireland and Alaska, and plans to have the program in place by the end of this year.

The latest GA proposals follow an NPRM filed in September by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. That proposed rule would require passenger manifests to be submitted over the Internet for all aircraft crossing the border into the U.S. The plan that has drawn opposition from GA pilots who fly from small, remote fields without Internet access. Comments on the rule must be filed by Nov. 19.

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U.S. Government Steps Carefully back to top 

Will Congress Raid the Aviation Trust Fund?

That's the question raised by a Wall Street Journal commentary on Wednesday. The procedural rules that would allow it to happen are complex -- the sausage factory analogy certainly applies -- but according to the WSJ, Congress could pilfer the $10 billion per year raised by airline excise taxes (and GA fuel taxes) and use it to balance the budget so they don't have to impose higher taxes on the middle class -- as they would otherwise have to, under their own rules, to balance the budget. This sleight of hand will be made possible only if the House allows general tax revenue to fund the FAA. Thus, according to the WSJ, there is a major political incentive for Congress to change the FAA's funding structure, to solve their own political problems.

Meanwhile, the House passed a bill on Tuesday that would extend the authorization for most FAA programs through December, according to rotor.com. U.S. Rep. Tom Petri (R.-Wisc.), a member of the House Aviation Subcommittee, said the bill "simply continues aviation programs under the same terms and conditions as were in effect on September 30, 2007," when the last full authorization expired.

F-15s Grounded, Structural Failure Suspected

The Air Force suspended non-mission-critical F-15 flight operations on Saturday, the day after the crash of a Missouri Air National Guard F-15C during a training flight. Preliminary findings indicated that a structural failure of the aircraft may have occurred, the U.S. Air Force said. However, the accident is still under investigation and the indefinite suspension of flight operations is a "precautionary measure," according to the Air Force. The Air Force flies more than 700 of the aging F-15 fighters, which date back to 1975. They are gradually being replaced by the F-22 Raptor. The Missouri jet crashed in a wooded area about 120 miles southwest of St. Louis. The pilot ejected and was released from a hospital Saturday after treatment for a dislocated shoulder, a broken arm and minor cuts.

Japan's air force has also grounded its fleet of some 200 of the fighter-bombers.

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Aviation Safety back to top 

Skimping On Fuel Leads To More "Emergencies"

At busy Newark Liberty International Airport, just outside New York, 73 flights landed after telling controllers they were operating with minimum or low fuel during six months this year, compared to just five flights making the same declaration during a similar period in 2005. An additional 10 flight crews declared an emergency fuel situation, requesting to land immediately, according to WABC News. The WABC report blames cash-strapped airlines for pressuring their crews to carry minimum fuel, saving money by cutting weight on the flights. "They're taking away the margin of safety," former NTSB Chairman James Hall told WABC. "Seeing numbers like that, the FAA administrators should be calling the airlines in on the carpet and find out what's going on." WABC also cites anonymous reports from NASA's aviation safety reporting system in which one pilot says an airline's "fuel saving program takes preference over safety," and another writes, "It's a case of dice rolling at its most dangerous."

Air traffic controller Ray Adams told WABC that in the last two years he's noticed an astounding increase in the number of flights coming into Newark under minimum or emergency fuel conditions.

737 Proves One Engine Is Enough

"I heard this huge bang, and [the man next to me] said, that's our engine that's just fallen off. I couldn't believe it. He had to repeat it to me," passenger Ronel Derma told the Independent News. A Nationwide Boeing 737 was taking off from South Africa's Cape Town International Airport on Wednesday afternoon when the right-hand engine separated from the wing. "The aircraft returned and landed ... without further incident," the airline said. The landing was safe and none of the 106 passengers was hurt. "The plane started to shake a bit, but what was amazing was the staff and passengers, everybody was so calm," said Derma. "There was no hysteria, no nothing, it was amazing."

The runway was closed briefly while the debris was cleared away but then the airport operations returned to normal.

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Flying Troubles in the Rest of the World back to top 

Australian Airline Cancels Route for Lack of Crew

Australia's largest independent regional airline, Regional Express (Rex), announced on Monday it will suspend one of its routes due to ongoing pilot shortages. "We are extremely disappointed that we have had to take this drastic action," said Rex Managing Director Geoff Breust. "However, given the pilot shortage, we are faced with the choice of suspending some of our regular services to build up a reserve buffer or canceling [flights] each time a pilot calls in sick." To cope with the ongoing shortage, Rex has started its own training academy, which will start next month with a class of 20 in a 32-week course. Breust called on the major airlines in Australia to follow Rex's lead and train their own pilots, "instead of simply poaching massively from the regional airlines and the pilot training schools."

The Australian pilot shortage results from a tight labor market, lots of jobs elsewhere in Asia that offer faster promotions and tax advantages, and a wave of retirements, according to ABC News. Rex operates a fleet of 35 Saab 340 aircraft on 1,300 flights weekly to 25 destinations from Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane. The airline expects to resume the cancelled route next March.

In India, Pilot Certificates For A Price

A certified flight instructor in India has been accused of selling his endorsement to commercial pilot applicants without conducting the required checkrides in at least 25 cases, the Times of India reported on Tuesday. The pilot candidates had been trained abroad and applied for conversion to Indian licenses. The instructor should have checked each applicant's skills in night flying, day flying, and instrument procedures. Entries were made in the applicants' logbooks that they flew in aircraft belong to a local charter company, but the company said its aircraft were never used, according to police. "It is very significant as the authenticity of entries in the student's flight log books are never verified," an instructor told the Times. "These checks are the only means of knowing whether the student has actually taken any flying training and whether he/she knows [how] to fly."

Air traffic controllers also signed off on the student logbooks, the Times said, but it is unclear whether those signatures were forged or if controllers may have colluded with the CFI and students in the fraud.

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News in Brief back to top 

On the Fly ...

The crew of a US Airways flight that landed in Boston on Monday complained of headaches and nausea from an unidentified odor in the cockpit ... .

A 46-year-old T-38, the oldest of its kind in the U.S. Air Force fleet, landed for the last time at Los Angeles International Airport on Monday ... .

The General Aviation Manufacturers Association has elected Alan Klapmeier, chairman and CEO of Cirrus Design Corporation, as GAMA’s chairman for 2008 ... .

A North Carolina high school student who buzzed a local football game in a Cessna 172 has been suspended.

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.

AFSS Is Up to Speed. And Gaining Altitude.
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New on AVweb back to top 

Across the Pond #10: Good News for LSAs in Europe

GA jostles for fair play around Europe; and, yet again, GA pilots have reason to be grateful for AOPA and other general aviation associations.

Click here for the full story.

Thanks to everyone who has written to me with appreciative comments and suggestions. To the writer who questioned my use of "gotten" last time, I can only say I've "gotten" a great deal of pleasure from the feedback. Keep it coming!

U.K. CAA Under Review

The British government is to conduct a strategic review of the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Led by Sir Joseph Pilling, the report will cover "... the structure, scope and organization of the authority -- i.e., looking at how it can perform most effectively in future." Regulation and law making are under scrutiny, attempting to find the best practice in corporate governance and the regulatory framework which now exists in the EU with the creation of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and Single European Sky.

The reviewers will be seeking the views of the aviation industry and other stakeholders. The review is expected to conclude in 2008.

Aerodrome Rules for LSAs in the U.K.

Also in the UK the Light Aviation Airports Study Group (LAASG) earlier this year proposed that the current aerodrome license requirement for flying training be removed. The group further proposed that flight training at non-licensed aerodromes be conducted in accordance with a code of practice, for use under either an industry-led, or CAA-designated and enhanced flight training organization (FTO) regulatory regime. A draft code of practice, prepared by the group, can be found here.

LAASG was formed during 2005 to discuss and develop proposals relating to the regulation of light-aviation aerodromes and operations and, in particular, the aerodrome licensing and regulatory arrangements outlined in Article 126 of the Air Navigation Order 2005. Membership consisted of CAA and industry groups.

LAASG reported its findings in January 2006, which included three recommendations to the CAA, all three of which the CAA accepted. LAASG proposed that the requirement for flying training to be conducted at a licensed aerodrome be removed and that alternative arrangements be put in place -- e.g., a code of practice or enhancement of FTO approval -- to maintain safety levels for flying training to supplement the requirements in JAR Flight Clearance Letter (FCL). LAASG also noted that the current UK requirement for certain types of flying training to be conducted at a licensed aerodrome was at variance with a number of regimes in continental Europe. There was no evidence to suggest that the absence of such criteria would adversely affect the safety of training flights, since accident and incident data show that flying training is not a significant aerodrome-related risk. The proposals resulting from the review have been drawn together into a consultation letter.

If you wish to comment, there is an online questionnaire, which can be completed and returned electronically. The closing date for comments is Jan. 3, 2008.

Air Traffic Information Review

British pilots will also benefit from Air Traffic Services Outside Controlled Airspace (ATSOCAS). Flying outside controlled airspace in Class F and G airspace has caused confusion for many GA pilots, particularly flying around highly congested airspace such as near London in the U.K. The CAA has initiated a review to clarify matters. The new Airspace and Safety Initiative (ASI) is an initiative proposed between the CAA National Air Traffic Services (NATS) and the Ministry of Defense The ASI Web site aims to become the major destination for airspace information. The consultation process ends on Dec. 14, 2007, and the new procedures should come into effect in April 2008. The CAA is soliciting comments.

EASA lightens the load on GA

The are a great many developments originating within EASA, a key one of which is finding a means of better regulation for the lighter aircraft within GA. The MDM 032 working group has been set up to progress this work and it is nearing publication of its results after some 18 months of work. An Advance Notice of Proposed Amendment (ANPA) was published in late 2006, which resulted in an unprecedented response, with some 4,000+ respondents making more than 7,500 comments. EASA has had to develop new database systems to allow it to handle this volume of data and the Comment Response Document (CRD) should be published before the end of the year.

A subgroup is looking at the introduction of a simplified private pilot's license to be adopted across the whole of Europe. This work recognizes that the qualifying criteria of the Joint Aviation Authority Flight Crew Licensing have discouraged new entrants to light aviation. This work is building on national licenses such as the U.K. National Private Pilots License (NPPL) to develop a new European Light Aircraft Pilots License (LAPL). The LAPL is likely to have similar criteria to the U.K. NPPL and allow holders to fly aircraft of up to 2000 kg maximum weight. A number of issues are still to be finalized, including medical criteria.

New Tecnam Twin Airborne

Tecnam's new light twin aircraft, the P2006T, flew for the first time last month from the company's manufacturing base at Capua Airport in Italy. The company says that the Rotax-powered aircraft is aimed as direct competition to the single-engine Cirrus SR20, Piper Archer and Arrow, Cessna 172 and Diamond DA-40.

AOPA-Spain To Investigate Ultralight Accidents

Until recently, there has been a sketchy knowledge of ultralight accidents in Spain, since accidents were only voluntarily reported and not investigated. This shed no light on the major causes of most accidents. Safety awareness and knowledge within the ultralight community plunged. Two years ago AOPA-Spain proposed to the Commission on Investigation of Accidents and Incidents of Civil Aviation (CIAIAC) to work with the ultralight community to investigate ultralight accidents and incidents. CIAIAC has now signed an agreement with Royal Aeronautical Federation of Spain (RAFE) to collaborate on determining causes of ultralight accidents. Eventually, other air sport activities will be covered under this agreement, including gliders and other types of air sport aircraft.

AOPA-Spain president Marlies Campi said, "This is a very important achievement for AOPA-Spain, one that we have been working on for two years. Prior to this, CIAIAC would only publish an annual report of accidents that had been reported. This agreement will mean that for the first time in Spain's ultralight history, accidents and incidents will be reported, studied, and safety recommendations made."

IAOPA And FAI Ask For Modification Of ICAO Language Requirements

In yet another instance of AOPA working for GA pilots, IAOPA and the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI) have asked ICAO to modify their language-proficiency standards for VFR pilots. The joint working paper noted that "... the requirement for a pilot to meet the high levels of language proficiency specified in the new standard while operating under VFR and in non-complex airspace is unnecessary for the safety and efficiency of the air traffic control system. The high costs and time required to meet this requirement cannot be justified for the few times a VFR pilot may be required to contact an air traffic control facility."

Level 4 language proficiency would require thousands of dollars in training and testing for the hundreds of pilots who may only occasionally use ICAO Standard English in their brief international flights.

Seems the last few times I've written my column, I've done so on the hoof. This time is no different. I'm in Hong Kong again, courtesy of Oasis Hong Kong Airlines. Not a GA story, but a father and son pair, Chris and Richard Humphrey, flying the aircraft from London to Hong Kong for the airline's first anniversary. I'll be back next month with more GA news from Europe. Drop me a line if you hear something good!

For more aviation news and information from Europe, read the rest of Liz Moscrop's columns.


Question of the Week: Cross-Border Air Security

This Week's Question | Previous Week's Answers


Last week, we asked AVweb readers whether foreign companies should be allowed to manage the flight operations of U.S.-based charter airlines (as was the case with AMI Charter Jet).

Your answers ran the gamut, but the largest segment of readers (39% of those who responded) gave it a stern No way — although another 28% of you said Sure, as long as the U.S.-based company meets all the regulations.

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


Now that Michael Chertoff has laid out the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's plans to fortify borders against private airplane traffic, we want to hear what AVweb readers think. How much general aviation cross-border security do you think is reasonable?

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.

Last Call for Mike Busch's West-Coast Seminar
Mike Busch just returned from conducting two sold-out Savvy Owner Seminars in Albuquerque and Tulsa and will be doing one final seminar in 2007: December 1-2 in Burbank, California. For 2008, he'll be conducting four more in Austin, Chicago, Las Vegas, and Norfolk. Sign up for one of these classes and learn how to save thousands of dollars on maintenance costs, year after year. Do it before your next annual inspection! For complete details (and to reserve your space), click here.
Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Panorama Flight Service (Westchester County Airport, White Plains, NY)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Panorama Flight Service at Westchester County Airport (KHPN) in White Plains, N.Y.

"Panorama Flight Service goes out of their way to serve pilots and passengers," according to AVweb reader George Samara, who also raved about the princely treatment he received there:

They are the only FBO I know of that provides free: a flavored coffee service, a large container of Gorp Mix, a large container of Jelly Beans, a large container of small chocolates, and (for all pilots) a selection of seven different kinds of cheesecake (which were awesome). Oh, and they also provide several kinds of free granola bars, and a great Crew Lounge with two computer terminals and two phones. Did I mention that there are three phones in the lobby, too?

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.
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.


You guys sure know how to warm a web site's heart during the autumn months — reader-submitted photos continue to arrive daily for our "Picture of the Week" contest, and the quality is as high as its ever been.  This week saw nearly 160 submissions come our way (!), so let's waste no time on chit-chat.  On to the photos — !

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Photo by Jason Newby
Used with permission of Bob Steinbauer

Montana Morning Shift Change

Bob Steinbauer of Billings, Montana sent in this photo snapped by Jason Newby, which takes the top spot as our "Picture of the Week."  Watch your inbox, Bob:  We'll sending a pair of hats — one for you and one for Jason.


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copyright © Gary Grass
Used with permission

All Clear on One!

Gary Grass of Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada) tells the tale behind this rather ... er, unusual pilot:

[A] lone Snowy Owl spent two days perched upon the wing of the Martin Mars. I was in my office when a colleague said, "You have to see this."  He and I went out in our crew boat and spent the next 30 minutes marveling on the wonderful life opportunities we share. The weather was "Walks Off," and the little guy just thought the Grand Old Lady suited his needs.

(Alas, we didn't run the head-on shot, Gary — this one was just too good to pass up!)



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Used with permission of Aaron Dabney

Beginning of a Beautiful Day

Aaron Dabney of Hewitt, Texas wasn't actually the photographer here — rather, his wife was doing camera duty while Aaron took an introductory seaplane flight and Seattle's Kenmore Air.

("Definitely want to finish the rating!" adds Aaron.)


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Used with permission of Timothy O'Connor

The Coolest Playset EVER!

Timothy O'Connor of Batavia, Ohio just happened to spy this custom contraption in a backyard between Cincinnati and Dayton.  Nice!


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Used with permission of Jeff Randall

Early Morning Troop Deployment

Semi-regular contributor Jeff Randall of Clyde, Texas returned this week with a batch of great photos — but none captured our imagination like this long line of troops filing into a DC-10 at 3:15am "bound for Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina, and then on to Iraq."

Stay safe, fellas — and thanks.

More new photos are waiting for you on AVweb's home page, in our "POTW" slideshow.  Don't miss 'em!

Look all you want, but don't forget to send us your photos, too!  (Where do you think we get all these cool pictures?)

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.

Shop From Your Computer for Perfect Pilot Gifts
When purchasing gifts for family, friends, and flying buddies, go to AVweb's Holiday Shopping Page. AVweb is the perfect place to find the right gifts for pilots and aviation enthusiasts. And for yourself — forward the link as a hint to what you want! It's easy online, with AVweb!
More AVweb for Your Inbox 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/.

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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:

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.