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Volume 18, Number 16a

April 16, 2012
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AVflash! Welcome to the Far Future, Spitfiresback to top 
Sponsor Announcement
Great Alaska Aviation Gathering || May 
5-6, 2012 || Anchorage, Alaska

Aviation historians and warbird enthusiasts are drooling at the discovery of at least 12 and maybe as many 20 perfectly preserved brand-new Spitfire Mark 14s buried in Myanmar, which was formerly Burma. Thanks to the tenacity (and apparently considerable diplomatic skills) of British farmer David Cundall, the lost squadron of pristine fighters was found where they were buried by U.S. troops in 1945 when it became clear they wouldn't be needed in the final days of the Second World War. At least a dozen of the aircraft, one of the latest variants with their 2,035-horsepower Roll Royce Griffon engines replacing the 1,200-1,500-horsepower Merlins in earlier models, were buried without ever being removed from their original packing crates. It's possible another eight were also buried after the war ended. After spending 15 years and $200,000 of his own money, Cundall was rewarded with visual proof of the magnitude of his discovery. "We sent a borehole down and used a camera to look at the crates," he told the Telegraph. "They seemed to be in good condition." More...

The weekend's news brought a report that a British farmer named David Cundall has discovered a squadron of Mark XIV Supermarine Spitfires buried in their factory crates as surplus at the end of World War II. If the story has legs, it will be the historical aircraft find of the century. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli asks the question on everyone's mind: "Whattya figure those things will be worth?" Read more and join the conversation. More...

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Employment and the Economyback to top 

The Air Force will formally reopen the bidding process for a light air support aircraft contract on Tuesday with the release of a draft request for proposals. The decision will presumably allow Hawker Beechcraft to re-enter its AT-6B in the competition for the $1 billion deal, which was briefly awarded to Sierra Nevada Corp and its version of the Embraer Super Tucano. The Air Force cancelled the deal with Sierra Nevada earlier this year after it said it discovered unspecified irregularities in the contract process while preparing a defense for a lawsuit launched by Hawker Beech. The final draft of the RFP will be issued on Apr. 30 and the contract will be awarded sometime in 2013. More...

Hawker Beechcraft has warned shareholders it may not be able to stay in business in its current form. "Management has concluded that there is substantial doubt about the Company's ability to continue as a going concern," the company said in a delayed year-end filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company had earlier warned the ominous warning was coming. The Form 10-K filing bluntly assesses the company's future prospects and it's not a pretty picture. Many analysts have determined a Chapter 11 reorganization is inevitable. The company is awash in red ink and has lost almost $1 billion in the last two years against a shrinking backlog of about $1.13 billion. It has more than $2.3 billion in debt, has already missed some interest payments and may miss more. "Due to the fact that we have recurring negative cash flows from operations and recurring losses from operations, we will need to seek additional financing," the filing states. 'There is substantial doubt that we will be able to obtain additional equity or debt financing on favorable terms, or at all, in order to have sufficient liquidity to meet our cash requirements for the next twelve months." New CEO Steve Miller spun the financials as positively as he could, saying the company will "decide on a path forward for Hawker Beechcraft that will include a plan that will put the company on firm financial footing and better position Hawker Beechcraft for the future." More...

For the first time ever, Scaled Composites, in Mojave, Calif., will open the hangar doors on Saturday, April 21, and invite job-seekers to come in and talk to the staff about job openings at the company. "We have a lot going on and we need to do some hiring," company spokesman Elliot Seguin told AVweb this week. "It's very unusual that we invite people in like this, but we're very busy with a lot of projects, and we've accelerated our hiring efforts." The job fair coincides with an Open House event at the Mojave Airport, open to all, so it's a unique opportunity for those who are interested in exploring job options to also get a sense of the culture of the airport, Sequin said. More...

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New Aircraft ...back to top 

The unorthodox five-place Synergy aircraft concept gained critical attention with its public introduction about one year ago and, as AVweb learned Thursday, it may soon be taking another enterprising turn. Aircraft are generally designed to do one thing very well (high-speed cruise, for example), often at the expense of other things (like fuel burn, slow flight, or landing speed and distances). Aerodynamically, that is where John McGinnis' Synergy hopes to be different. It seeks to integrate into one highly efficient package multiple aerodynamic principles that McGinnis says aren't often used together, or to their full effect. The designer has reason to be confident his aircraft succeeds in the task while bending to fewer compromises across the flight envelope. McGinnis told AVweb Thursday that his project's progress, like most others, is funding-dependent and he has plans to take new approach there, as well, with an effort that could roll out next week. More...

Italian aircraft manufacturer TECNAM flew a new offering, the 133-knot cruise, 180-hp, four-place, high-wing P2010 for the first time, Thursday. The aircraft is formed from carbon fiber and metal components and has a full-flying stabiliator. It makes use of a Lycoming IO-360-M1a, the "Lycoming Light" engine and an externally braced wing. The company, which has sold more than 3,000 aircraft (mostly in Europe), prides itself on its attention to pilot and passenger comforts and says it has logged 50 confirmed orders ahead of its attendance at the Aero 2012 trade show in Friedrichshafen, Germany, next week. It also offered a relatively detailed account of the flight trial. More...

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... And New Ideasback to top 

Recycled American cooking oil was chosen by Qantas to help power an Airbus A330 on a commercial flight from Sydney to Adelaide, Friday, and to raise awareness about alternative fuels as part of a biofuel trial flight. The fuel produced by Dutch firm SkyNRG uses the cooking oil and that product will be mixed with conventional jet fuel for the flight. SkyNRG fuel has already been tested by KLM, Chile's LAN and Finnair. Other airlines have successfully flown aircraft on biofuel, including Air New Zealand, which in 2008 flew a Boeing 747 on a 50:50 blend of jatropha plant-based biofuel and Jet A. Qantas says its flight this week is a step toward a larger goal. More...

Surf Air hopes to make a $700,000-per-month gamble that people will want to pay hundreds of dollars each month for access to flights in one of two PC-12s flown between set airports on the west coast. The company plan includes service to Palo Alto, Monterey, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles with memberships ranging from $790 to $1490 per month, beginning this summer. Surf Air memberships offer an "all-you-can-fly" format that operates on a Netflix-like system. Members paying $1490 can set up to six one-way reservations at a time. Once the first trip is fulfilled, the queue refreshes to include the next reservation in the member's queue. The company is founded by two brothers under the age of 33, and may depend on the acquisition of 500 members to cover monthly expenses. More...

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Meanwhile, Across the Pond ...back to top 

Something that is a likely topic of discussion as AERO 2012 gets under way in Germany this week is the new EU pilot certificate rules as they apply to non-European pilots. AVweb's Russ Niles spoke with Jan Brill, the managing editor of Pilote and Flugzeug magazine, about the immediate and long-term effects of the controversial rule. More...

At least one of two RAF Typhoon interceptors broke the speed of sound over England Thursday responding to what appears to have been an errant hijack code entered into a helicopter's transponder. When the code reached controllers, they attempted to contact the helicopter. When those efforts failed, a Quick Reaction Alert was issued and the Typhoons were launched. The jets caught up with the helicopter somewhere near Bath, but not before bathing a swath of British countryside, from Bath to Swindon, Coventry, Rugby and Oxford, in sonic boom. London will host an opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympic games in July, and for some residents, the initially unexplained wall-shaking noise was more than disconcerting. More...

International Association of Flight 
Training Professionals (IAFTP)
IAFTP Is Participating in the NBAA Safety Committee
Business Aviation Pilot Training Project

The first step is to gain a better understanding of current business aviation pilot training practices and issues. If you would like to share your comments on this topic, please add them to the following discussion:

What's Being Done in Regard to the Training Needs of Corporate and Business Aircraft Pilots?
Opinion & Commentaryback to top 

Should a practical flying car be the next moonshot? After all, cars that fly have held perennial fascination for both pilots and drivers for decades. Mary Grady examines the idea on the AVweb Insider blog. Read more and join the conversation. More...

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

AVMAIL: APRIL 16, 2012

Letter of the Week: Proper Phraseology Critical

The recent incident involving the missed emergency call in Denver is a classic example of why proper phraseology is so critical to aviation safety. The controller is expecting to hear an initial transmission that starts with "Denver Tower" or at least "Tower" (or "Center" or "Approach") followed by the company name and then the flight number. The first transmission from the radio operator in this case was a garbled "fifty-nine twelve." I listened to this segment of the recording five times and wasn't able to understand the "fifty-nine" part until the fifth try, and I was listening for it.

The subsequent exchange only reinforces that the pilot clearly (but only) said "fifty-nine twelve" the second time but the controller was listening for a transmission that began with a company name, not a number. As a result, he was scrambling all over the place looking for a call sign ending in 12.

Factor in the issue of the rogue radio operator in the area (these incidents are unusual but happened twice in two different locations during my tenure as a controller) and one might understand how this could further confuse the controllers.

Had the radio operator in the aircraft been in the habit of initiating transmissions by stating the facility name first and/or using the company name in the call sign we wouldn't be writing this. Maybe if you are talking to a company dispatcher you can get away with flight number only but abbreviated IDs to ATC will get you in trouble eventually.

Apparently United 5912 was inside the marker when all of this occurred, but I cannot find a complete recording so as to calculate or guesstimate the amount of time that transpired between the first emergency call and the last. The reason I bring that up is because a 7700 squawk would have alerted the whole world to the location of an aircraft with a problem, and the emergency equipment would probably have been rolling by the time UAL5912 touched down.

Bob Merrilees

Click through to read the rest of this week's letters.


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 What have you heard? More...

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Your Favorite FBOsback to top 


Our latest "FBO of the Week" ribbon is a joint award to the civic-minded folks at Gama Aviation and Blue Sky Flight School on the campus of Igor I. Sikorsky Memorial Airport (KBDR) in Stratford, Connecticut. AVweb reader Bud Turner recently enlisted Gama and Blue Sky on behalf of some future pilots:

I'm an Aviation Merit Badge Counselor for the Boy Scouts of America. When e-mails went out from the local EAA Young Eagles chapter looking for volunteers, Tom Miller, himself an Eagle Scout, immediately offered up Gama's hangar and provided pizza for the boys for lunch. In addition, Mike Becker from Blue Sky Flight School donated a Grumman Tiger for three hours, and one of his CFIs signed up to take the boys up for a flight up and down the Connecticut coast line. Bravo Zulu to both for the outstanding support of the BSA and Young Eagle programs!

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!


Traditional Tactics Need a Fresh Approach
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AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learnback to top 

Which is better for training — a new-age LSA or an old-school Cessna 152? For Texas flight school U.S. Aviation Group, the Cessna wins hands down on economics. It's also easier to fly and solo, but not necessarily more fun. More...

The Lighter Side of Flightback to top 


ATC questioned a confused student pilot:

"What are your intentions?"

Student Pilot:
"After this cross-country flight, take my check ride and get my private license."

Ray Dash
via e-mail


Heard anything funny, unusual, or downright shocking on the radio lately? If you've been flying any length of time, you're sure to have eavesdropped on a few memorable exchanges. The ones that gave you a chuckle may do the same for your fellow AVweb readers. Share your radio funny with us, and, if we use it in a future "Short Final," we'll send you a sharp-looking AVweb hat to sport around your local airport. No joke. Click here to submit your original, true, and previously unpublished story. More...

Names Behind the Newsback to top 


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

The AVwebFlash team is:

Tom Bliss

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Scott Simmons

Kevin Lane-Cummings
Jeff Van West

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].

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.

If you're having trouble reading this newsletter in its HTML-rich format (or if you'd prefer a lighter, simpler format for your phone or handheld device), there's also a text-only version of AVwebFlash. For complete instructions on making the switch, click here.

Aviate. Navigate. Communicate.