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Photo: via NTSB

A UPS Airbus A300 cargo airplane on approach to Runway 18 at the Birmingham, Ala., airport crashed Wednesday morning at about 6 a.m. local time. Both crew members were killed, local authorities have reported. The aircraft hit the ground in an open field about a half-mile north of the runway, outside the airport boundary, broke into several pieces, and caught fire. Photos by The Associated Press show the front cabin section mostly intact, lying on top of a hill, as emergency vehicles contain the fires. The NTSB has sent a team to the site to begin their investigation. UPS said in a statement the flight had originated in Louisville, Ky. No homes or other structures were affected by the crash, and the airport has remained open.

The local weather at the time of the crash was rainy with low clouds, according to local news reports. "This incident is very unfortunate, and our thoughts and prayers are with those involved," said UPS Airlines President Mitch Nichols in a statement, Wednesday morning. "We place the utmost value on the safety of our employees, our customers and the public. We will immediately engage with the National Transportation Safety Board's investigation, and we will work exhaustively on response efforts."

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photo credit: Numismatics

Wesley David Archer in the 1930s produced pictures of WWI aircraft engaged in aerial combat that became a popular sensation in their day, but decades later were discovered to be falsified, and Wednesday in Australia they went up for auction. In 1933, the photos gained publicity through their use in the book Death In The Air: The War Diary And Photographs Of A Flying Corps Pilot. The publisher paid $20,000 for images that included midair collisions and a flaming aircraft with its pilot falling from the cockpit. But in 1984, when Archer's effects were donated to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., original images gave away the truth. Wednesday, the fakes were expected to fetch more than $1000 from bidders.

A woman claimed at the time that her husband had flown with a camera mounted on his plane and was later killed in battle. She disappeared from public view after payment for the images. Decades later, in 1984, workers at the Smithsonian discovered among Archer's still images photos similar to those that had been published, but with one major difference. Wires could be seen holding up the aircraft, giving them away as miniature planes. Archer, who was an American pilot and later (after his images were published) became a movie special effects creator, had airbrushed images he'd taken of the model aircraft to remove evidence of the wires. And the woman who had given credence to the origins of the purchased photographs was later discovered to be Archer's wife, according to The collection of images up for auction included 34 of Archer's "aerial" photographs sold through Noble Numismatics.

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Amelia Rose Earhart, who recently appeared at a news conference at EAA AirVenture to announce a round-the-world flight in a Pilatus PC-12, said this week she has discovered she is not at all related to the original Amelia Earhart, whom her parents named her after. "After hiring a team of researchers, I learned today that though we share a name and a love of flight, the first Amelia Earhart and I are not from the same family," Earhart wrote in a Facebook post. Earhart also said she had hired a genealogist 10 years ago who confirmed that she "shared a distant common ancestry" with the famous aviator. The new knowledge won't affect her commitment to aviation, she said.

"While the news was a jolt, it DOES NOT change my commitment to the [round-the-world] flight or to the mission of The Fly With Amelia Foundation, which is to enable young girls to pursue their dreams of flight," she wrote. The Foundation provides flight scholarships to girls ages 16 to 18, flight-based educational curriculum, and various opportunities for people to get involved in aviation. Earhart, who lives in Denver, flew from Oakland, Calif., to Miami in a Cirrus SR-22 in 2011, to re-trace one of Amelia Earhart's famous flights.

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A new feature from Xsight Systems aims to improve the detection of ground-level birds in real time, in severe weather, and in the dark, the company said this week. The feature, called BirdWize, is an add-on to a system the company sells for detecting foreign-object debris on runways. "Forty percent of all bird-related incidents happen on the ground," said Xsight CEO Alon Nitzan. "This solution provides airport personnel with a more effective way to track birds and their behavior patterns." The product employs a dual technology sensor, with millimeter-wave radar and electro-optic abilities, together with radar and image processing, to help detect ground-level threats from FOD and birds if they appear on the runway, the company said.

The FAA says that due to increasing traffic, the introduction of quiet engines on newer airplanes, and an increasing wildlife population, the probability of wildlife strikes has been increasing dramatically. From 1990 to 2011, the agency recorded 133,000 wildlife strikes. The vast majority of bird strikes, about 92 percent, occur at or below 3,500 feet AGL, the FAA said. The agency has been researching a variety of methods to mitigate the hazard, including sensor development, habitat modification, and deterrence systems.

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photo credit: Associated Press/Steven Senne

The presidential helicopter group, Marine Helicopter Squadron One, Saturday debuted its new MV-22 Ospreys, and will receive a total of 12 of the tilt-rotor aircraft, none of which will be used to move the president, and all of which cost more than $10,000 per hour to operate, according to the GAO. The aircraft were used over the weekend to carry staff, Secret Service and news media, and will be phased in to replace CH-46E helicopters currently used by the group. The cost for the aircraft is currently estimated at roughly $70 million each. Relative to the CH-46E Sea Knight the Ospreys are replacing, the new aircraft offers some performance advantages. It also carries the memory of some early fatal accidents.

The Osprey is capable of 322 mph in cruise. It was characterized in a Marine Corps new release as "twice as fast" as the CH-46E and capable of carrying "three times as much" over "four times the distance." In 2000, two Osprey crashes killed 23 people and grounded the aircraft, leading to redesigns that became a new version of the aircraft cleared for deployment in 2005. Now, the Marine Corps says the aircraft experiences mishaps resulting in death, permanent injury or damage greater than $2 million 1.48 times per 100,000 hours of flying. The Corps says that's similar to the CH-46. In combat, the Osprey earned two of its pilots the Distinguished Flying Cross for action that took place in Afghanistan in 2012.

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Are you subscribed to our weekly newsletter devoted to business aviation? Delivered mid-week on Wednesday mornings, AVwebBiz focuses on the companies, products, and industry leaders that make headlines in bizav world.

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Just in case you're not taking advantage of AVwebBiz, here are a couple of the stories you missed this week.


A New Jersey man who didn't want his boss following his every move has lost his job and had the book thrown at him by the FCC because the inexpensive ($68 and up) GPS jammer he carried in his truck shut down an experimental, high-tech, multimillion-dollar navigation system at Newark Liberty Airport. Gary Bojczak was fined $31,875 by the FCC after admitting that he carried the device, which is readily available for sale on the Internet, so he could disable the GPS transmitter on the pickup truck he drove for engineering company Tilcon. He apparently didn't want his bosses to know his whereabouts when he was near the airport and his little jammer brought down a Ground Based Augmentation System (GBAS) being tested by Honeywell.

GBAS is designed to provide guidance for instrument approaches and departures with an accuracy of one meter. It can, when it's not being jammed by what looks like a deck of cards with one or more antennae sticking out of it (some simply plug into a vehicle power port), provide precision necessary for Cat III approaches. When the system experienced "interference"  the FCC went looking for the culprit using "direction finding techniques" and confronted Bojczak, who readily admitted to using the jammer. Ironically, GPS jamming detectors are also available from sites that offer the jammers but it's not clear where the FCC got its gear. However they found him, they showed no mercy on the privacy-seeking truck driver. While it's normal, according to electronics industry attorney Chip Yorkgitis, for those whose electronic experiments interfere with others using the same area of frequency to get off with a warning, the FCC skipped the warning and fined Bojczak heavily. Yorkgitis said that if the heavy fine isn't enough to deter others from using the apparently common devices, criminal charges are the next option.


Photo: NTSB

AOPA and EAA responded this week to the FAA's proposed airworthiness directive that would require thousands of GA aircraft owners to inspect and replace their ECi engine cylinders, saying the FAA's plan would impose a financial burden while also compromising safety. “Requiring the replacement of so many cylinders, in addition to repetitive inspections, goes well beyond the [NTSB] recommendations [PDF]," said Robert Hackman, AOPA's vice president of regulatory affairs. Hackman said he also is concerned that actual costs "could go well beyond the FAA’s estimate, and that the mass replacement of cylinders in the field would downgrade, rather than enhance safety." EAA noted that the proposed AD does not cite either specific failure rates or a total number of failures for the ECi cylinders.

The AD "does not point to a single accident or injury caused by the failure of any ECi cylinder," EAA said. Both groups said they are working on a written response to the proposal. AOPA also encouraged members to post comments to the FAA docket, highlighting their operating experience with the cylinders. The FAA has set a deadline of October 11 for comments. EAA said it will insist on a comment period extension, "given the very high cost of the proposed AD, and the almost impossibility of finding enough cylinders to replace the ECi units if the AD were to become law."

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As the quest for a replacement for 100LL drags into its third decade, our sister publication Aviation Consumer, is seeking opinions from owners, pilots and aircraft operators on how you think the process is going. The FAA has established a special office devoted to a replacement for 100LL and piston fuels in general. We would like to know if you've followed the process and, if so, what you think of it.

And what what about mogas? In some cases, it's $2 cheaper than avgas. Are you using it? If so, what are your experiences and if you haven't used it, why not? You can take the survey by clicking here. It'll take about five minutes.

We'll compile the results and compare them to the same questions we asked two years ago.


Each week, we poll the savviest aviators on the World Wide Web (that's you) on a topic of interest to the flying community.

Visit to participate in our current poll.

Click here to view the results of past polls.

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AVweb is the world's premier independent aviation news resource, online since 1995. Our reporting, features, and newsletters are brought to you by:

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Paul Bertorelli has been musing -- always a dangerous development -- on whether Disney's 'Planes' will inspire the young folks to become pilots. Growing up as he did in Beaver Cleaver's neighborhood, he's expressing serious doubts that a mere movie can convey the magic of learning to fly. Click here to join the conversation. Read More

MyGoFlight brought the new Sight Line remote iPad displays to AirVenture 2013.  MyGoFlight's Charlie Schneider gives an overview of the product to AVweb's Larry Anglisano.


Bad Elf came to AirVenture 2013 with the Lightning Dongle GPS -- a GPS that plugs directly into the iPad mini Lightning port.  It offers better GPS accuracy and faster satellite lock-on than earlier Elf GPS receivers thanks to its WAAS/Glonass GPS receiver.  Bad Elf's Brett Hackleman gave AVweb's Larry Anglisano a product tour.

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