ATC under fire

A breakdown of the FAA computers Nov. 19 brought severe criticism from members of Congress, FAA unions, and others. For the second time in just more than a year, the air traffic computer system went down and brought about massive delays for airlines, general aviation flights under instrument flight rules, and other actions that require transfer of data. With one small circuit in the computer going out, all information had to be typed in by hand.

Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.), chairman of the full Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Ill.), chairman of the aviation subcommittee, asked the Inspector General of the Department of Transportation to investigate the system where the failure occurred and to report in 60 days.

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The Belite: Single-place fun

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Flying is about having fun — and what could be more fun than the Belite, a single-place ultralight that’s engineered like a cross-country-capable Light Sport Aircraft?

“It’s a single place ‘go out and have fun’ airplane,” says James Wiebe, founder, CEO and president of Belite Aircraft.

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A story we need to share

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1 8At the conclusion of October’s Copperstate Fly-In, held at Casa Grande Municipal Airport (CGZ) in Arizona, I attended the annual awards banquet. As luck would have it, I sat at a great table. Seated with me was Chris Christiansen (and his parents), designer/builder of the award-winning Savor, Dave Edwards from Las Vegas, who turned me on to a resolution making its way through the Nevada Legislature to make sure North Las Vegas Airport remains open to experimental aircraft , and Bill Harrelson, a retired airline pilot and efficiency expert from Fredericksburg, Virginia.

What a table. Great conversation and some amazing stories. I learned that Bill came to the Copperstate Fly-In to compete in the FuelVenture 400 efficiency race. (He won his class, by the way). He and his flying partner ducked out early, as they were hoping to make a non-stop flight home the next morning, and needed to get some rest. A few days later, I received the following e-mail, which tells the story of the potential of that fuel efficiency much better than I could. Enjoy.

“It was nice to meet you at the awards banquet. We might have mentioned we were going to try to make it home from Casa Grande to Fredericksburg the next morning. Here are some brief facts of the flight home. Unfortunately we landed 40 miles short of home at Orange, Virginia, for a shot of gas.

Great Circle distance: 1,700 nm; Route flown: 1,749 nm; Yahoo Map driving distance: 2,353 miles; Time to Orange: 9 hrs, 40 minutes; Total time: 10 hrs, 15 minutes; Total fuel burn: 51 gallons; Number of people: 2; Payload: 380; Cost: Less than $100 each

This was a pretty remarkable flight any way you look at it, but when you compare this flight to driving a car or commercial airline service, you really get an appreciation for the Lancair 320 and GA in general.

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NextGen could spur jobs

As President Barack Obama and Congress continue to look for ways to accelerate job growth in a tough economic climate, civil aviation and travel associations are touting funding for the Next Generation Air Traffic System (NextGen) as an answer.

In a Nov. 23 letter to House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.) and Ranking Member John Mica (R-Fla.), 19 associations, including AOPA, explained that funding for NextGen would “provide a platform for domestic job creation, thereby ensuring that the civil aviation and travel industries — which directly and indirectly generate over 10 million jobs and $1.2 trillion in economic activity annually — can continue to positively contribute to growth in the domestic economy.”

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Wichita Aero Club slates online summit

A top management panel featuring the senior executives of Wichita’s airframe manufacturers will close out the Wichita Aero Club’s year on Tuesday, Dec. 15.

The luncheon, which will be held at the Wichita Airport Hilton, will feature the first annual Wichita Aero Club “On-Air Summit.” The event will be broadcast live over the Internet

“The December meeting of the Wichita Aero Club will be a special opportunity to gain first-hand insight into the challenges, plans and issues facing the major aerospace firms that call Wichita home,” noted Dave Franson, Wichita Aero Club Executive Director.

“Calling this event the ‘On-Air Summit’ isn’t totally ‘tongue in cheek,’ either. It actually brings together industry leaders just as the G-8 Summit does with heads of state and it’s focused on the air industry. By broadcasting it live over the Internet, we’re adding another dimension to the event.”

Scott Strode, vice president and general manager of Boeing Integrated Defense Systems in Wichita, has agreed to bring a military dimension to the panel. He will join the top managers of Wichita’s major commercial aviation firms: Jack Pelton of Cessna; Bill Boisture of Hawker Beechcraft; David Coleal of Bombardier Learjet; Jeff Turner of Spirit AeroSystems and Bill Greer of Airbus North America Engineering. Flying Magazine’s Editor in Chief J. Mac McClellan, who will act as moderator for the discussion, has indicated that he will focus on four key areas: Business and Recovery Outlook, Wichita’s future focus, Employment levels and Government influence.

“Web-casting this panel discussion will make it available to other industry associations, media outlets and interested individuals in real time. That’s consistent with the Wichita Aero Club’s mission to help focus attention and advance awareness of the issues facing the aerospace industry,” Franson added.

The Wichita Aero Club was founded in October 2008 to foster and promote interest in aviation, provide a forum focused on the industry’s issues and achievements and bring together those with a passion for flight in an environment that expands and enhances professional relationships and furthers cooperation and understanding.

For more information: WichitaAeroClub.org

LoPresti grand opening Dec. 5

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LoPresti Aviation has slated its grand opening at its new location at Sebastian Municipal Airport (X26) in Florida for the first Saturday of December.

The Dec. 5 celebrations will feature J.W. “Corkey” Fornof speaking about his life in the movie industry as a Hollywood aerial stunt pilot, camera man, aerial coordinator and an aerial director. The day will also include a special LoPrestiFury Air Show, as well as hot air balloon rides, skydiving, antique cars, aircraft static displays, vendor displays, door prizes, raffles and discounts.

After more than 20 years in Vero Beach, LoPresti moved to Sebastian, where it has a new engineering facility and new offices on the east side of the airport. The engineering facility is the first “green” hangar built in Florida, LoPresti officials note.

For more information: LoPrestiAviation.com.

Acuwings expands to export

AcuWings, a family-owned business in Renton, Wash., is reaching the world — and business success — by exporting general aviation aircraft to other countries. The company, which started with a single aircraft five years ago, is now expanding its horizons beyond the Pacific Northwest and national borders.

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SimCom unveils MU-2 maintenance training

SimCom Training Centers now has available MU-2 Maintenance Training for aircraft owners, operators, mechanics and technicians. The week-long course will familiarize mechanics and technicians new to the MU-2 about type-specific inspection requirements and maintenance procedures, according to SimCom officials.

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HRL FBO joins Phillips 66 network

Gulf Aviation at Rio Grande Valley International Airport (HRL) in Harlingen, Texas, is joining the Phillips 66 Aviation network.

Serving the Rio Grande Valley, the aviation company provides aviation support, complete aircraft maintenance and management, air charter arrangement, flight school and a host of on-site FBO services, including fueling the airlines that serve the Harlingen airport.

Gulf Aviation is a WingPoints Rewards Card participating location and offers Phillips 66 Aviation’s Partners-Into-Plane contract fuel.

For more information: Gulf-Aviation.net.

Unauthorized aerobatics kill three

This November 2007 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.

Aircraft: Piper Cherokee. Location: Ranger, Texas. Injuries: 3 Fatal. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The accident happened while on a instructional cross-country flight in visual meteorological conditions. The purpose of the flight was to allow the left seat student to acquire experience flying the airplane and to allow the back seat passenger, who was also a student pilot, to listen to radio transmissions. The CFI, who was known at the flight school for performing aerobatics in the school’s aircraft, had logged 595 hours.

Before the flight, the instructor of the back seat student and the accident flight instructor had lunch. The accident flight instructor was asked not to “do any funny stuff” with the back seat student on board. The instructor of the back seat student told investigators she made the request because she didn’t want him to learn any bad habits.

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