World's Leading Independent Aviation News Service
Volume 24, Number 48c
December 1, 2017
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You Squawked, We Listened
Tim Cole


AVweb readers have good-naturedly borne with us the past few weeks as we've tweaked and modified to make AVwebFlash mobile optimized. Many of you are accessing most, if not all, of your daily information on your mobile devices, and we felt AVweb needed to keep up with the times.

This process resulted in a fragmented, click-hungry Flash in place of the seamless one-click Flash many of you had grown fond of. We heard loudly and clearly your distaste for this so-called "improvement." 

 With today's Flash, you will notice on the mobile version access to the full Flash with the click of a single "Read More." You can then scroll up or down to get the entire newsfeed without having to click additional "Read Mores." Likewise, when Flash arrives in your inbox on your desktop, laptop or tablet, the click of a "Read More" will take you to the full, click-free version of the Flash. 

 We hope readers will agree this is a step in the right direction. We're always working toward a better reader experience, and constructive input is always welcome.

What's True
Mary Grady


There’s been a lot of talk lately about “fake news” and “alternative facts,” and the aviation world can’t escape the discussion. We were reminded of this recently when Bruce Landsberg, a well-known GA safety advocate for many years, faced some tough questioning during a hearing before Congress, where he was seeking approval for his recommended appointment to the NTSB.

The nomination might have seemed a shoo-in, given Landsberg’s long resume and decades of work on behalf of aviation safety at AOPA and the Air Safety Foundation. But the tough questioning centered on one issue — does Landsberg support the 1,500-hour rule for pilots? The senators on the panel cited several times over the years when Landsberg had questioned the rule’s usefulness. 

The rule was passed in the wake of the 2009 Colgan Air crash. "It's been safer since the 1,500-hour rule was put into effect," said Sen. Tammy Duckworth, a former military pilot. There have been no fatal airline crashes in the U.S. since the law was passed, Duckworth said. 

This is a classic example of confusing correlation with causation. Senator Duckworth has the facts correct. But can the one incident — the passing of the new rule — really explain the outcome — an accident-free stretch? 

Landsberg had expressed a more nuanced take on the problem — "Pilots should be hired and trained by solid criteria, not arbitrary numbers,” he wrote in 2010. He noted that the Colgan Air pilots had more than 1,500 hours in their logbooks, yet still were not up to handling the situation they faced on that fatal night. 

What matters are skills and judgment. Hours in the cockpit count too, but we all know there are pilots out there who are never going to learn, no matter how many hours they have. Others are ready to do the job on day one. 

So is the long accident-free stretch due to the Colgan rule? Or are there a million other factors and variables at work, including dumb luck (see SFO)? Does it make a difference to require 1,500 hours of flight time for a right-seat pilot? Or is the rule just an arbitrary requirement that makes people feel better and more secure while causing major headaches for airlines and new pilots? Those are complicated and useful questions to explore.

But to declare that the matter is settled — proven by the accident record — doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. It ignores a bedrock truth that (hopefully) is taught in high-school science class. Correlation is not causation.

Hooley And Harris' Cool Jet Eze
Geoff Rapoport

The really cool thing about the experimental aircraft field is that you can build anything you want. And that's exactly what Lance Hooley and Robert Harris did with their GE58-powered composite single-seat canard design reminiscent of the famed Rutan Long-EZ. AVweb's Geoff Rapoport spoke with Hooley and Harris about this unique airplane for this original AVweb video.

GA Groups Protest Veteran Flight Training Caps
Mary Grady

Eight general aviation advocacy groups signed onto a letter this week protesting a bill now in the House that would put a cap on payments to veterans in flight-training programs. Other education tracks are not subject to caps, the advocates said. “Capping funds available for flight-training degree programs virtually guarantees that veterans seeking to use their GI Bill benefits to enter the aviation industry will have insufficient funds to achieve their goals,” says the letter. “They will either abandon their pursuit or be burdened with significant personal debt through either expenditure of personal funds or taking on student loans. This will harm veterans and limit the employment opportunities in the aviation industry.”

The GA groups noted there are several areas of the bill that do benefit veterans seeking flight training education. Those include better payment programs, coverage for private pilot training (as part of a professional flight training program) and flexibility for public schools to contract for flight training. “While the current bill contains numerous provisions to improve the program’s efficiency, the proposed capping of program payments undermines the important goal of helping our nation’s veterans enter a field where they are desperately needed,” the letter states. Groups signing on to the protest are EAA, AOPA, GAMA, NATA, NBAA, Helicopter Association International, the Air Medical Operators Association and the National Association of State Aviation Officials.

Electronics International 'Aviation Alert! Short video on how EI saved this pilot's life
‘Substantial Damage’ For Airlander
Mary Grady

Officials at Airlander said this week their pre-production aircraft suffered “substantial damage” when it detached from its moorings on Nov. 18. As of Monday, the 300-foot-long aircraft was still “deflated and secure” on the edge of the airfield, where it landed, but it will be recovered and returned to Hangar 2 in Cardington, England, the company said. The aircraft is covered by insurance for up to 32 million pounds in damages. The incident followed “a very successful flight test,” the company said, and while the damage will “no doubt impact our timescales and plans,” the project to develop the aircraft will go forward. The aircraft was tethered to a mooring mast when it broke free and automatically deflated.

"We are testing a brand-new type of aircraft, and incidents of this nature can occur during this phase of development,” the company said, in a news release. "We will assess the cause of the incident and the extent of repairs needed to the aircraft in the next few weeks." The Airlander depends on helium for lift and has no rigid internal structure. The aircraft was also damaged on its second test flight, last year, when it made a hard nose-down landing, damaging the cockpit. Nobody was seriously hurt in either incident.

Garmin Expands G5 Capabilities
Mary Grady

Expanded capabilities in Garmin’s G5 electronic flight instrument system have now been approved by the FAA and EASA, the company announced on Thursday. Owners of specific fixed-wing GA aircraft now can install the G5 in place of an existing directional gyro or horizontal situation indicator, Garmin said. In some panels, when paired with select VHF Nav/Comms or GPS navigators, the G5 also can be considered as the primary instrument for displaying magnetic heading, VOR/LOC guidance and/or GPS course guidance, as well as distance and groundspeed. The installation of dual G5 electronic flight instruments can also eliminate the dependency on a vacuum system for attitude and heading information, Garmin said.

With a new GAD 29B adapter, the G5 DG/HSI can interface with a variety of autopilots to provide heading and course error to drive the autopilot, Garmin said. With a compatible navigation source, the G5 also can interface with select autopilots for coupled flight in heading and navigation modes. Also, when interfaced with a GTN 650/750 or GNS 430W/530W, the G5 can provide GPSS roll steering navigation from the navigator to the autopilot. Pilots can select GPSS on the G5 and heading mode on the autopilot and the autopilot will fly smooth intercepts, holding patterns, procedure turns and more, Garmin said. The G5 system is available for installation in hundreds of certified fixed-wing aircraft models, Garmin said. Prices start at $2,449.

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SMO To Close For Runway Shortening
Mary Grady

The Santa Monica Airport, which the city has long tried to shut down while the aviation community has rallied to keep it open, will close for 10 days this month so the single 4,973-foot runway can be shortened. The shutdown will begin on Dec.13 and conclude on Dec. 23, according to the airport website. The new runway will be just 3,500 feet long. Notams will be issued, and operators can find updated information on the airport website. Aircraft owners unable to operate on the shorter runway will have to remove their aircraft from the field prior to Dec. 13, the city said. NBAA said the runway change is still under litigation, and if NBAA prevails in court, the city will have wasted $3 million.

The runway change will mainly involve changes in markings and lighting, taxiway configuration and the location of navaids, NBAA said. “The 10-day closure and runway shortening will have a significant impact on the local companies that rely on SMO, small businesses at the airport and operators that depend on SMO as a gateway to the Los Angeles area,” said Stacy Howard, NBAA Western regional representative. “That role has earned SMO a ‘reliever’ designation by the FAA. NBAA is concerned about the impact to other Southern California airports and the effect on the national airspace system. NBAA will continue to use all means available to fight access restrictions at SMO.”

Starr - 'Click to read about Basic Med'
Picture of the Week
Every region has its unique aviation circumstances and dodging storms is a fact of life in Oklahoma. Dee Ann Ediger captured the spirit perfectly. Nice shot.

See all submissions

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Short Final

My friend was flying his Mooney 201 around the world. Needless to say, it was way over gross weight, flying with ferry tanks under a ferry permit. 

On departure from an Australian airport on a hot morning, he was only able to manage about a 200 FPM climb to his initial altitude of 5,000 feet.

Controller: “Do you want to continue your climb, or would you like to stop there and rest for a while?"

Lars Perkins


Aviation Consumer Engine Shop Survey

Overhauling an engine is a big investment, with downtime, reliability, and confidence hanging in the balance. The editors at Aviation Consumer magazine want to know about your engine overhaul experience and the experience you had dealing with the shop. We'd appreciate you taking a couple of minutes to answer these questions. Take the survey here:

Meet the AVweb Team

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

Tom Bliss

Paul Bertorelli

Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Geoff Rapoport

Rick Durden
Kevin Lane-Cummings
Paul Berge
Larry Anglisano

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Karen Lund

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Healthy Pilot #3: Eyesight—Common Diseases and Risk Factors
Tim C

Yes we all fumble for our glasses when we pull out the checklist. And while your distance vision is still sharp when ATC calls out traffic, things get a little fuzzy when you transition back to the panel.  Maybe those drug-store cheaters aren’t hacking it anymore as you load your flight plan into your G1000, or you’re  having trouble finding the “squawk VFR” button on your transponder. 

Right now these might be minor annoyances. But with vision issues, little things become big things if left unaddressed. And face it, for a pilot, eyesight is the ballgame. 

That hits home when you run across line 18(d) on Section Two of the Basic Med self-reporting checklist. You’re obligated to correctly explain health status to your personal physician, your partner in getting you certified. He or she will want to know about any medications you might be taking, or any history of trouble. When it comes to your eyesight, answering these questions honestly gets easier with better information. 

Here are some common problems many of us face, and some basic risk factors. As always, your most important resource if you suspect you have an eye problem will be your ophthalmologist. The information here comes from AVweb’s sister website, University Health News. We hope it will lead to better communication between you and your doctor so you can stay safe in the cockpit. 

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

This condition affects the central portion of the retina, the source of the sharpest images. It causes slow erosion of central vision necessary for reading and recognizing faces. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) accounts for more than half of blindness, and the leading cause of vision loss in Americans over age 65. As yet there is no cure for AMD, so seniors must be vigilant about regular eye exams.


The first and most common form is dry, or non-exudative. This occurs when degenerated cells from the macula build up under the retina. The only early symptom may be slightly blurred. Dry macular degeneration can progress to the more dangerous wet form.

The less frequent but far more serious wet, exudative form accounts for most macular degeneration blindness. In wet AMD, abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina, leaking blood and fluid, lifting and damaging the retina. Fortunately, only about 10 percent of age-related macular degeneration progresses to this form. Untreated, wet AMD progresses much faster than dry and requires immediate treatment to preserve vision.


For unknown reasons, retinal structures break down which some experts believe leads to both dry and wet macular degeneration. Some researchers point to free radicals as the source. Other possible causes are general, low-grade inflammation throughout the body, genetic markers that increase risks, or high blood levels of a protein called cystatin C

Risk Factors

Smoking, high blood pressure and high LDL cholesterol all raise the risk of developing age-related AMD. Other risk factors that you can control are:

Dietary factors/poor nutrition


Heart disease

Overexposure to ultraviolet light

Risk factors you cannot modify:

Caucasian race

Family history

Female gender

Light-colored iris

Aging Eyes

Aging can affect the shape of the eye and/or the functionality of its components. Refractive errors occur when the anatomy, or shape, of the eye prevents light from properly focusing on the retina. Age also affects the eyes ability to produce tears.  


The most common forms of refractive errors are nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. The most common age-related vision problem is presbyopia, where the eye begins to lose its ability to focus due to loss of lens flexibility. It’s a gradual process that happens to everyone who lives long enough, which usually requires corrective lenses beginning at some point in your 40s. Chronic dry eye is another common condition of aging eyes.


Nearsightedness (myopia) occurs when the eye is too long from front to back, causing distant images to fall short of the retina. A nearsighted person has trouble focusing on distant objects but can see close-up objects clearly.

Farsightedness (hyperopia) -a farsighted person can clearly see distant objects, but close objects are fuzzy. Shorter-than-average eyes cause hyperopia, or farsightedness, where the focal point of close objects falls behind the retina.

Astigmatism occurs when the cornea is oblong rather than round. This inhibits focus for both near and far objects, leading to distorted vision. 

Presbyopia is the loss of lens flexibility, and thus clear vision, brought on by aging,


The eye’s clear lens consists of protein and water, arranged in a precise pattern. As you age, the proteins clump together, causing the lens to cloud and turn yellow. This is a normal process that occurs in almost everyone. In about half the population, the lens eventually gets too cloudy for clear vision. 


There are three types of cataracts:

Nuclear cataracts form in the center of the lens and are the most common age-related cataracts.

Cortical cataracts occur at the edge of the lens and progress toward the center.

Posterior subcapsular cataracts form at the back of the lens and are more common with injury, long-term steroid use, or diabetes.


The exact cause for cataracts is unknown, but one likely contributing factor is a class of compounds called oxygen-free radicals. They are generated by natural biochemical processes, notably metabolism, as well as by environmental pollutants, including cigarette smoke. In younger people, these free radicals are sopped up by endogenous antioxidants, but the body’s ability to produce antioxidants decreases with age.

Ultraviolet light also contributes to cataract formation, probably partly by generating free radicals.

Risk Factor

Everyone is at risk for cataracts as they age, but some have greater risks. Women are at high risk than men, especially those who receive hormone replacement therapy (HRT) after menopause.

Smoking also increases the cataract risk, and it can take 10 to 20 years after smoking cessation for your risk to drop.

Taking certain medications, like steroids and some SSRI antidepressants, also may make you more prone to cataracts.

Other risk factors for cataracts include:


Family history of cataracts

History of eye injury

Previous eye surgery

High exposure to sunlight

High exposure to radiation


Glaucoma is an eye disease where excess pressure irreparably damages the eye, causing blindness. It is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the world. In the U.S., an estimated two million people have glaucoma. An equal number of people probably have the disease but don’t know it.

Because symptoms don’t manifest until the disease is very advanced, glaucoma is a sneaky vision thief. Yet, fewer than 10 percent of Americans surveyed know that glaucoma has no warning signs, according to the National Eye Institute.

Glaucoma treatments have improved with fewer side effects. Because doctors can usually control glaucoma once detected it’s important to seek treatment right away and be vigilant about taking your medications.


The most common form is primary open-angle glaucoma. A malfunction in the meshwork that drains the aqueous humor from the “open angle,” where the iris and cornea meet, is the likely cause. In open-angle glaucoma, the drainage slows, leading to a surplus that builds pressure in the eye, damaging the optic nerve and retina.

Angle-closure glaucoma stems from a congenital malformation of the eye’s drainage system. When this develops, the angle into which the aqueous fluid normally drains becomes blocked. The eye pressure increases so rapidly that vision loss can progress to blindness within just one or two days if not treated aggressively.


Glaucoma is caused by a build-up of pressure in the eye from excess or blocked aqueous humor. The pressure builds, eventually damages the retina and optic nerve, causing blindness. Glaucoma can also stem from an eye injury, inflammation, infection, a very mature cataract, diabetes, lupus, or certain medications (particularly steroids).

Risk Factors

Everyone over the age of 60 is at increased risk for glaucoma, but the following factors increase risk even further:

African-Americans over age 40

Family history of glaucoma

History of previous eye injury

History of steroid use


Other related health problems, including high blood pressure and migraine headaches

Thyroid problems

High cholesterol

Lupus and diabetes are also risk factors for glaucoma. Heart disease is linked to glaucoma. Though high eye pressure is a risk factor and often an early warning sign of glaucoma, it doesn’t necessarily mean that nerve damage is occurring. Some people with high eye pressure never develop glaucoma.


Diabetic retinopathy, a complication of diabetes, afflicts approximately 4.2 million Americans—roughly one-third of whom have diabetes. It is the leading cause of new blindness in people between the ages of 20 and 74.


Nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy is the disease’s early stage. It begins with tiny bulges in weakened blood vessels of the retina that leak blood and fluid into the retina. More blocked blood vessels characterize moderate nonproliferative retinopathy and during the final, severe stage parts of the retina lose their blood supply.

New blood vessels begin to grow on the retina to bolster the blood supply. This is the most severe stage, called proliferative diabetic retinopathy. Up to 75 percent of people with nonproliferative will progress to the proliferative form within one year


Diabetes damages tissue throughout your body, including blood vessels in the eyes. Without proper blood flow, the retina and optic nerve incur permanent damage.

 The longer you have diabetes, the more likely you will develop retinopathy. The risk rises from 10 percent within five years post-diagnosis to 70 percent after 15 years.

Risk Factors

Everyone with diabetes is at risk for diabetic retinopathy. Your risk increases the longer you have diabetes and the less you control your blood sugar. Other risk factors include:

High blood pressure


High cholesterol levels

Kidney problems


For more information about the health of your eyes, consult these links from University Health News.  University Health News also has an excellent free guide to eye, ear, nose, and throat health. 

Here are some additional useful links: 

What Is Presbyopia

Eating for Eyesight

Research Sheds Light on Vitamins for Eyesight

Aging Eyes and Declining Eyesight

Dry eye syndrome

Glaucoma Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

Is Glaucoma Hereditary?

Eye Pressure Can Indicate Oncoming Glaucoma

Cataract Symptoms

Cataract Replacement Lenses

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