AVwebBiz - Volume 10, Number 32

August 29, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! MIT's ICAT Studies the Decline in Flying back to top 

Survey Shows Costs Limit Flying

An MIT student's grad school thesis, which relied in part on information gathered from AVweb readers, confirms that cost is a major factor in the decline of general aviation activity. It has also revealed something that hasn't shown up in other studies but may be related to economics. In her research, Kamala Shetty, who wrote the thesis as part of her quest for a Masters of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT's International Center for Air Transportation, found that people feel they don't have the time to fly. "An interesting result of the survey that was not clearly evident in the data indicated that available free time has also been a major factor in a ffecting activity levels," Shetty wrote in the thesis. AVweb facilitated the study, which was done under the supervision of Prof. R. John Hansman, by inviting readers to take part in a survey of flight activity and related issues. More than 1,250 AVweb subscribers took part.

The survey also asked our readers to crystal-ball general aviation and their responses hit some familiar themes. "In the responses of the surveyed pilots, increasing costs, increased regulation, lack of public understanding of the role of general aviation, and the declining pilot population stand out as the biggest challenges that general aviation faces," the thesis concludes. Readers also said they'd like less cumbersome regulations, better availability of rental aircraft and lower costs. Fuel costs, in particular, figured as a major factor affecting flight activity and almost 80 percent of pilots said they'd quit flying if fuel prices hit $8 a gallon, which is less than the price of avgas in many countries with active general aviation.

Click here to download the report as a PDF.

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No Payouts for Hawker Beech Execs back to top 

Court Denies Bonuses For Hawker Execs

A request from Hawker Beechcraft to allot $5.3 million in bonuses to eight executives was denied by a federal bankruptcy court on Friday, The Associated Press reported. Judge Stuart Bernstein said the proposed plan would reward the executives just for doing their jobs. The bonus request had been opposed by both the machinists union at Hawker and a watchdog agency for the U.S. Justice Department. "Aside from its legal problems, the bonus plan never made common sense -- why should a company in financial distress pay millions to its executives for work they are already paid to do?" said Frank Larkin, spokesman for the machinists union. "We welcome the decision."

Bernstein said the "Key Employee Incentive Plan" didn't specify any goals the executives would have to meet to earn the bonus, other than simply staying at their jobs. A Hawker spokesman told the AP the plan was meant to recognize the "critical role" of the leadership team in managing the company's restructuring process. The company plans to amend the bonus request so it will conform to guidance in the court's opinion. An earlier request for $1.9 million in bonuses for 31 senior Hawker Beechcraft employees was OK'd by the court last month, despite objections from the machinists union.

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NTSB Reports on Reno Air Race Crash back to top 

NTSB: Flutter Led To Reno Crash

Last year's fatal crash of a P-51 racing aircraft at Reno was caused by compromised stiffness in the elevator trim-tab system, which led to flutter and loss of elevator pitch control at race speed, said the National Transportation Safety Board in in its probable-cause hearing on Monday. At last year's race, veteran air racer Jimmy Leeward lost control of his Galloping Ghost P-51 after the home pylon turn, causing a sharp pitch up followed by a dive into a spectator area, killing him and 10 others. The NTSB's investigation revealed that the aircraft was flying faster than it ever had by some 35 knots, with higher engine power settings than previously used. The board also found that there was evidence of ongoing structural failure during the race, including a cracked canopy. Further, Leeward and his crew had made major modifications to the aircraft, including the removal of the P-51's iconic belly airscoop, that compromised the structural integrity of the fuselage. The crew notified the FAA of only one of these changes, a boil-off system used to improve oil cooling. The NTSB probe found that screws used to attach one of two trim tabs to the elevator were old or loose, possibly having last been replaced in 1986. This allowed the trim tab to flutter, failing the tab control rod and resulting in an instantaneous pitch-up moment that generated a calculated 17 Gs, which the board determined was beyond human endurance. In a video posted on AVweb yesterday, the trim tab can clearly be seen departing the elevator, but by that point, the control rod had already failed and Leeward had no trim control.  The board had issued 10 safety recommendations in April, so the race organizers would have time to act on them before this year's races, and no new safety recommendations were issued on Monday.

NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersmann referred to the aviation writer Ernest Gann in her closing remarks, and said "Fate is no longer the hunter" for pilots who can rely on a wide range of safety advances that weren't available in Gann's time. Spectators at aviation events also need an assurance that they will be protected, she added. "Innocent bystanders should never have to rely on fate for their safety," she said.

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Remembering the First Man on the Moon back to top 

Aviators Remember And Honor Armstrong

Since the death of astronaut Neil Armstrong on Saturday, the aviation community has been paying tribute to his memory and his career. In addition to serving as a NASA astronaut, the National Business Aviation Association noted, Armstrong worked as a project pilot on many pioneering aircraft, including the X-15, which flew at altitudes up to 67 miles and reached a top speed of 4,534 mph. He flew more than 200 different kinds of aircraft, including jets, rockets, helicopters and gliders. He was also an aerospace engineer and a university professor. "Neil Armstrong inspired generations of people to reach for their dreams, and all of us in the aerospace community have been inspired by his example," said NBAA President Ed Bolen.

EAA remembered Armstrong as an "aviator at heart," and recalled his visits to AirVenture, the most recent in 2003 (a video of his talk there is posted online). President Barack Obama also honored Armstrong, saying: "Today, Neil's spirit of discovery lives on in all the men and women who have devoted their lives to exploring the unknown … That legacy will endure -- sparked by a man who taught us the enormous power of one small step." A statement from Armstrong's family remembers him as "an advocate of aviation and exploration throughout his life, [who] never lost his boyhood wonder of these pursuits." The family concluded their statement with a suggestion for those who wish to salute his memory: "Honor his example of service, accomplishment, and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink."

AVweb's editorial director Paul Bertorelli shared his outlook on Armstrong in a blog post; click here to join the discussion.

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400XT Calls Czech Republic Home back to top 

Nextant Cracks European Market

Nextant Aerospace has delivered its first 400XT to a European buyer, a private owner in the Czech Republic. The aircraft will be managed by Time Air, a major Czech charter and management company. "The 400XT is particularly well-suited to the European market, since its 2,003-nautical mile (3,709-km) range enables travelers to reach destinations throughout Europe, the Middle East and North Africa with nonstop flights," said Nextant spokesman Jay Heublein. That pushes the total deliveries of the "remanufactured" version of the Hawker 400 series bizjet. The European delivery comes a few weeks after a 10-aircraft order was placed by Asia Pacific Jets in Singapore.

The company has 80 orders for the aircraft and will be boosting production to 36 a year in 2013 to meet demand. Nextant takes the legacy Hawker and replaces or zero-times every time-constrained piece of equipment on the aircraft. Replacing the original engines with new Williams FJ44-3AP engines gives it a major boost in performance and efficiency. The new panel is Collins Pro Line 21. The aircraft was introduced at last year's NBAA convention in Las Vegas, where AVweb shot this video.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: 'Galloping Ghost' -- NTSB Nails It

The NTSB set just the right tone in this week's hearing on the Galloping Ghost accident at Reno last year. The investigation was competent, thorough and done quickly enough to have an impact on this year's event. Unfortunately, it also revealed an airplane being flown beyond its structural limits and one that appeared not to have been flutter-tested. Paul Bertorelli watched the proceedings Monday and shares his thoughts on the AVweb Insider blog.

Read more and join the conversation.

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AVweb Video: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learn back to top 

Video: Reno Crash Video Shows Trim Tab Loss After Pitch-Up

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

The NTSB released a spectator video of the September 16, 2011 crash of Jimmy Leeward's modified P-51 at the National Championship Air Races in Reno. The board is meeting August 26 to determine a probable cause.

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

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Who's Where back to top 

Who's Where? You Tell Us

Get a promotion or a new job? Your colleagues want to know about it, and AVwebBiz can get the word out. Drop us a line about the staff appointment, with a nice recent photo, and we'll do our best to include it in our new section, "Who's Where." The items will be permanently archived on AVweb for future reference, too.

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The Top Reporter on Our Crack Staff ... Is You! back to top 

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Our best stories start with you. If you've heard something 255,000 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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Names Behind the News back to top 

Meet the AVwebBiz Team

AVwebBiz is a weekly summary of the latest business aviation news, articles, products, features, and events featured on AVweb, the world's premier independent aviation news resource.

The AVwebBiz team is:

Tom Bliss

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Russ Niles

Scott Simmons

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Kevin Lane-Cummings
Jeff Van West

Ad Coordinator
Karen Lund

Have a product or service to advertise on AVweb? Your advertising can reach over 225,000 loyal AVwebFlash, AVwebBiz, and AVweb home page readers every week. Over 80% of our readers are active pilots and aircraft owners. That's why our advertisers grow with us, year after year. For ad rates and scheduling, click here or contact Tom Bliss, via e-mail or via telephone [(480) 525-7481].

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