Is There an Insurance Crisis Ahead? »

EDITORIAL. Aircraft insurance is something of a cyclical business, and General Aviation insurance rates have been fairly reasonable in recent years. However, premiums may soon be headed for the Flight Levels, at least if the author's own recent insurance renewal experience is any indication. Whether you own or rent the aircraft you fly, be afraid ... be very afraid! More

Cessna Single-Engine ADs: What's Going On? »

EDITORIAL. The Priority Letter ADs against 172R and 182S mufflers is just the latest of a string of highly-publicized Airworthiness Directives against the new Cessna Skyhawks and Skylanes. Previous ADs and Service Bulletins required inspection for missing rivets in the forward door post structure, and modifying the Skyhawk engine cowling to prevent interference. Why this rash of glitches, and what does it mean? We think there are at least three important lessons here. More

AVweb Reviews NBC's Blackout Effect »

MOVIE REVIEW. NBC's made-for TV movie (Sunday, January 4th at 9-11 pm) depicts a plausible scenario in which an ATC computer glitch results in the collision of a passenger jet and a cargo plane, destroying both aircraft and killing 185 people, and the NTSB investigation and attempted coverup by FAA management that follows. The involvement of two working air traffic controllers and NATCA members as technical advisors to this production is obvious in the spot-on pilot/controller phraseology and the accurate portrayal of ATC procedures and data blocks. But in the aftermath of the crash (which occurs about 15 minutes into the two-hour show), the plot quickly degenerates from the plausible to the absurd, and "Blackout Effect" becomes just another disaster movie designed to capture the attention of the public and prey on widespread fears of flying. What a missed opportunity. More

Follow-Up: Free "Ten Romeo"! »

GUEST EDITORIAL FOLLOW-UP. Three months ago, AVweb ran a guest editorial about the seizure by the U.S. Treasury Department of Beech Bonanza N7710R after its owner, Dr. Millard Harmon, declared an emergency and landed the oil-covered aircraft in Havana, Cuba. Since then, hundreds of readers have asked for an update on Ten Romeo. Ron Kensey reports that there’s good news and bad news: the U.S. Attorney has dropped three of the four federal charges against Dr. Harmon, but the fourth charge still stands, and Harmon is still without his beloved Ten Romeo some nine months after it was confiscated. Ron’s update includes suggestions about how you can help. More

The Blackout Effect: Fiction or Fact? »

GUEST EDITORIAL. On January 4, 1997, NBC will air a made-for TV movie in which an ATC computer glitch results in a passenger jet inbound to O'Hare colliding with a cargo plane, destroying both aircraft and killing 185 people, whereupon FAA management attempts to cover up the cause of the mishap. Is this the product of a Hollywood screenwriter with a hyperactive imagination? No it isn't, say ATC consultants R. Michael Baiada and Michael J. Boyd. They've previewed this movie and believe it to be uncannily accurate, and that a real catastrophe along these lines is just a matter of time unless decisive changes are made promptly to the U.S. ATC system. More

Mini-500 Kit Copter Controversy »

SPECIAL REPORT. Everyone seems to agree there were problems with the original Mini-500 kit helicopter. Kit manufacturer Revolution Helicopter Corp. has come out with an improved "Bravo" model, and has issued a bunch of "ADs" against the earlier aircraft. Some owners are angry, contending RHC should pay to upgrade their Alpha models. RHC says that's unreasonable, and says it's already making the upgraded components available at cost. We examine both sides of the controversy. More

TWA 800: The NTSB Stages a Show »

SPECIAL REPORT. Those who expected new, explosive details of the crash didn't understand what the week-long hearings were about: to give the NTSB a chance to show how good they are at what they do, and to put pressure on the FAA and industry. The hearings accomplished that and more, but failed to address a key question: whether it makes sense to spend millions to make an almost-perfectly-safe airplane like the 747 ever-so-slightly safer? More

Will Fixed Base Operators Survive? »

SPECIAL REPORT. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of last month's three-hour six-state video teleconference on "Survival of FBOs" was who attended and who didn't. The alphabet groups were out in force: DOT, FAA, NATA, MATA, GAMA, SAMA, AOPA, even USDA. The Governor of North Dakota was there. But of the scores of participants, only six were FBO owners or managers; the rest were politicians, bureaucrats and lobbyists who, according to our man on the scene, "spoke a lot but said almost nothing." Here's a report of what transpired. More

On the Basics ... »

GUEST EDITORIAL. Captain Fred Moore, an 18,000-hour veteran who flies 747s and Hercules in all parts of the world from Alaska to Antarctica for Southern Air Transport, expresses his alarm at that young pilots who are entering the world of aviation in the age of FMCs and satnav aren't learning the basics of navigating by pilotage, wet compass, ADF and VOR — and many older pilots are rapidly losing those skills as well. Moore explains why he believes these basic navigation skills are essential, and why today's headlong rush to make GPS the sole means of air navigation is sheer lunacy. More

Free "Ten Romeo"! »

GUEST EDITORIAL. Last April, renowned educator and humanitarian Dr. Millard Harmon made an emergency landing in Cuba when his Bonanza developed a serious oil leak while on a flight from the U.S. to Grand Cayman. Harmon landed his oil-covered craft in Havana, where Cuban mechanics discovered that the gear-driven alternator was loose. But upon his return to the States, the U.S. Treasury Department said they didn't believe that Harmon's emergency was genuine, and proceeded to confiscate Harmon's aircraft under seizure laws intended to be used against drug smugglers (even though there has never been the remotest suggestion that Dr. Harmon was involved with narcotics). Ron Kensey urges AVweb readers to help Dr. Harmon get his airplane back, and to change the laws that allow the feds to seize aircraft from U.S. citizens without having to prove them guilty of any crime. What happened to the presumption of innocence? More