By Russ Niles, Newswriter
Pilots, Businesses, Officials Learn To Cope...
Nancy Lynn, an aerobatic instructor out of Bay Bridge Airport in Maryland -- and inside the D.C. ADIZ -- told AVweb that on March 8 she waited 90 minutes for an open phone line to the Potomac TRACON to obtain the clearance and code required to fly from her non-towered home field. Others suffered a similar fate as the first decent VFR weekend flying day since imposition of the ADIZ brought out hundreds of sky-starved pilots. One week later, it seems the FAA and perhaps the military are getting used to the capital's restrictions, which is good -- officials in at least one other U.S. city have announced intent to restrict airspace if the country goes to war. The New York City Police Department announced this weekend that, in the case of war, heightened security measures, including "limited access to city airspace," could take effect. The complete plan, dubbed "Operation Atlas," would cost an estimated $5 million per week, a cost the city hopes the federal government would absorb. Hopefully lessons will be learned from D.C. After the weekend of the 8th, various club and type chat rooms lit up with complaints. This Saturday, however, was a different story, Lynn reported. "I had to phone three times. On the third try I got through. It took about three minutes," she said. Although the weather on this past weekend was just as good, Lynn said it was her impression that far fewer GA planes were in the air than on the previous weekend, which might account for the speedier service.
...FAA Adds More Staff...
The FAA is taking some of the credit for the improvement. Spokesman William Shumann told AVweb that staff have been added at the Potomac TRACON to handle the extra VFR clearances and transponder codes and he's as anxious as any other pilot to see the system functioning as well as it can. Shumann, who recently earned his private certificate, was also flying Saturday. He waited about five minutes for his departure clearances from Leesburg and also had to do a 360 while waiting for permission to re-enter the ADIZ. "Is it frustrating? Yes. Is it gridlock? No," he said. Not all pilots were inconvenienced by the rules, however; some ignored them ... and some apparently met "Huntress." Shumann said the FAA tallied 38 violations of the ADIZ rules on the March 8 weekend. Virtually all of them were by pilots who were simply ignorant of the restrictions, despite a major PR campaign by the agency, alphabet groups and the media to get the word out. "We're trying to educate pilots but obviously we have missed some," said Shumann. Some of the violators should have known better, however. "A small number were military flights," he said. AVweb received several e-mails from pilots who listened to errant aviators being chastised by Huntress, quite possibly the AWACS plane that polices the capital airspace around the clock. GA pilots who came under Huntress's scrutiny can expect a letter in the mail (and on their file) from the FAA and possibly some kind of sanctions later on. Military justice tends to move a little more quickly in these matters and those jocks who busted the ADIZ rules have probably already seen what the inside of their CO's office looks like.
...Long-Term Solutions Sought
With a war still brewing and the terrorism threat almost certain to rise again, flight restrictions in the D.C. area (and very likely other places) are a fact of life and that's got the FAA, alphabet groups, pilots and industry all pitching in their two cents worth on how GA can survive, or even thrive, in the new world of TFRs, ADIZs and FRZs (Flight Restricted Zones). "It's a challenge, but we believe we'll be able to handle it," said the FAA's Shumann. Nancy Lynn agrees, saying it's up to pilots to adapt. "Ok, this is the way it is, now let's make the best of it," she said, adding that the various hoops she has to jump through to get her Extra 300 into the air are "no big deal." Bay Bridge Airport Manager John Kirby said his airport, the aviation businesses and the whole community have been hit hard by the new rules and he wants a voice in what happens in the future. "We would like to be brought into the decision-making process." AOPA has weighed in with recommendations on how to smooth operations in the ADIZ and others are sure to follow.
Union Vote May Decide Plant Future...
A crucial contract ratification vote on the weekend could determine the fate of one of Bombardier's most historic manufacturing plants. Members of the Canadian Autoworkers Union (yes, the autoworkers union) were voting on a package that included layoffs and restructuring at the former de Havilland plant in Downsview, just north of Toronto. In exchange for concessions, the company is offering to keep the plant, the birthplace of such aviation icons as the Beaver and Otter bush planes and the DASH series of commuter airliners, open and operating. Otherwise, it will be mothballed and production shifted to Montreal. The Downsview plant is also home to Bombardier's Global series of business jets, and the latest in that line made its maiden flight on March 7. The Global 5000 is intended to compete in the "super-large" category of business jets. The passenger cabin is more than 42 feet long, 8 feet high and 6 feet across. Takeoff weight for the inaugural flight was 77,000 pounds and the aircraft was flown as high as 45,000 feet and as fast as 340 knots. Preliminary flight-testing will be done at Downsview before the prototype heads to Wichita for the advanced flight program. The Wichita facility was spared in Bombardier's last round of job cuts but the bean counters are looking hard at cost-cutting there.
...Raytheon Considers Contracting Out
Bombardier isn't the only company looking at major shifts in its production. Raytheon has laid out a realignment of its operation that the Machinists Union claims could cost 3,400 jobs at the Wichita plant. Raytheon is contemplating a plan to contract out construction of all the major assemblies and parts on its aircraft and do only final assembly in Wichita. Company officials told The Wichita Eagle that the plan calls for the firm to concentrate on "core competencies" of customer support, design, development, testing, marketing and assembly. While the union vows to "fight with every bit of strength we've got" to maintain the jobs, Raytheon officials say they're trying to be creative with the downsizing. Spokeswoman Jackie Berger said many of the scenarios involve independent contractors taking over existing Raytheon plants, hiring current Raytheon employees and continuing to do essentially the same work as is now being done under Raytheon. There's also the possibility of outside companies hiring Raytheon workers to do the sub-assembly work at their own facilities. "Could we pull off something like that? I don't know," Berger told the Eagle.
It's not often you get a pat on the back from The Boss but four outstanding aviation workers will get that chance at AirVenture 2003. For the first time, the General Aviation Awards Program will gather its four major award recipients together. This awards program is a cooperative effort between the FAA and numerous industry sponsors, including EAA, AOPA, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, the National Air Transportation Association, the National Business Aviation Association, the Aircraft Electronics Association, and more. FAA Administrator Marion Blakey will present them. And the winners are ... Jeff Edwards, of Chesterfield, Mo., gets the nod as Certificated Flight Instructor of the Year. He's been a CFI since 1982 and is president of AvSafe, an aviation safety consulting company. Tom Hendershot, of Littleton, Colo., is the Aviation Maintenance Technician of the Year. Hendershot has been in the business 47 years and is also a pilot and flight instructor with more than 22,000 hours. Al Ingle, of Tallahassee, Fla., is the Avionics Technician of the Year. Ingle has been fixing, developing and maintaining avionics through his Capital Avionics for 28 years and has written numerous articles on the subject. USAF Maj. Jim McDonald is the National Aviation Safety Counselor of the Year. He's currently a C-130 instructor pilot and chief of wing flight safety with the 314th Airlift Wing and, as Aviation Safety Counselor for the Little Rock FSDO, has conducted 150 safety briefings to 5,000 pilots in the last two years.
EAA is broadcasting an alert to members to help stop a massive radio tower project in Florida and is hoping to ground out an electrical line project that threatens a runway project in Alabama. A 1,554-foot (AGL) radio tower is planned for central Florida on a heavily used VFR flight corridor and the power lines would be built right at the end of a proposed runway at Wetumpka Municipal Airport. The radio tower would be an addition to an antenna farm that already sports a 1,369-foot tower. EAA claims the taller tower would be an additional hazard to VFR traffic in the narrow (four-nm) north-south VFR corridor and noted it's less than 10 nm from Ocala-Taylor Airport (OCF), a busy GA and corporate facility. The Alabama power line project would cancel construction of a longer runway at Wetumpka to handle jet and turboprop aircraft. Politicians and the public are behind the runway project, which is seen as a necessary economic development tool for the area.
Where there's smoke (and noise) there's ire and there could be plenty of all rising from the FAA's recent ruling on Naples (Florida) Airport's Stage Two jet ban. The agency has ordered the airport authority to allow smoky, noisy, relatively inefficient business and commuter jets built before 1983 into its facility or risk losing future improvement grants. The FAA says Naples' ban on older small jets is discriminatory and violates federal law. Naples is the first airport in the U.S. to ban smaller Stage Two jets -- those larger than 75,000 pounds have already been banned nationwide. Airport officials claim the ban is legal because they did all the required studies under a 1990 federal law addressing noise issues. In that study, they claimed Stage Two jets made up only 1 percent of traffic but accounted for 40 percent of noise complaints. Naples officials say they're going to appeal the FAA ruling and enforce the ban while the appeal is being processed. Meanwhile, the National Business Aircraft Association and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association are cheering the ruling, saying such decisions are federal jurisdiction and Naples exceeded its authority.
A Navy investigation found that Cmdr. Michael Norman accidentally stalled the QF-4 Phantom he was flying during a steep turn, causing the accident that killed him and his navigator at Point Mugu Air Show in California last April. The findings vindicated the Navy's jet fighter maintenance program. Shortly after the crash, two former Navy mechanics came forward saying they quit the service because of problems with maintenance. "No evidence of any kind could be found which showed any maintenance-related actions contributed to this mishap," the report said. The accident occurred as the aircraft was turning, in formation with three other Navy jets, to set up for a landing. Cmdr. Norman and Marine Capt. Andrew Muhs died after ejecting from the aircraft about 150 feet AGL. The accident occurred in front of 25,000 spectators but no one on the ground was hurt.
Ten people, including five flight attendants, were hurt after turbulence rattled a United Air Lines flight headed to San Francisco from Hawaii Friday. Seven of the injured were sent to the hospital after the mishap, which occurred when the flight was about an hour from SFO. But if any of them have thoughts of suing the airline, they might consider the case of three Spirit Airlines passengers to whom a jury in Detroit awarded $5,000 for the "anguish" they suffered when the flight from Ft. Myers, Fla., to Detroit dropped 4,000 feet. The award was particularly disappointing to passenger Ronald Patterson, who told the Associated Press that he'd turned down $50,000 from the airline to settle out of court. Others are apparently suing the airline over the incident, claiming the pilot on the Jan. 30, 2000, flight wasn't watching what he was doing. The unidentified pilot was suspended by the FAA and resigned from the airline.
Dozens of light planes were damaged or wrecked and Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC) was closed for the first time in 10 years (barring 9/11) after hurricane-force winds blasted the area last Wednesday. Sustained winds as high as 95 knots forced evacuation of the airport tower and flipped over light aircraft, ski-equipped planes and floatplanes. "At the peak it was a safety hazard to even drive down the runway, much less fly," ANC spokesman Rich Wilson told Aviation News Alaska. Much of the GA carnage was at the ski and floatplane base at Lake Hood where at least 31 light aircraft were damaged or flipped. Owners worked through the night securing their aircraft. Some used cars and trucks as windbreaks and anchors. "I just keep adding more ropes," Cessna 180 owner Norm Lee told the Anchorage Daily News. The wind also took its toll on airport facilities. In addition to being closed for nine hours (the first-ever weather closure), ANC suffered nearly $500,000 in structural and equipment damage. Fifteen airline flights had to be diverted to Fairbanks. "It was just unprecedented in its intensity and it was sustained," Corky Caldwell, ANC's deputy director of operations, told the Daily News. Total damage hasn't been tallied, yet.
A bill that would require background checks on student pilots has been held back by the Illinois state representative sponsoring it. Rep. Suzanne Bassi (R-54th) has agreed to delay the bill's introduction pending further consultation with AOPA, which sent her a letter assuring that the federal government has the issue in hand...
A replica of the airplane that started it all for the world's largest GA manufacturer is on display at Wichita's Exploration Place for the next 18 months. Clyde Cessna's Silverwing was built and flown in 1911. He started the company in 1927. The original aircraft no longer exists and the replica was built in the 1960s by Cessna staff...
California is considering closing a sales-tax loophole that could affect those who buy aircraft (and cars and boats) outside the state. Currently, the tax is avoided if an aircraft is purchased more than 90 days before it is registered in the state. The new bill increases that time limit to one year. The sales tax rate ranges from 7.25 to 8.25 percent in California...
More than 500 FBOs in the U.S. are staffed with NATA Safety 1st line technicians. The National Air Transportation Association announced the milestone Thursday. To qualify, 100 percent of the staff at FBOs must pass a written and practical exam on fueling and aircraft-marshalling safety...
A piece of metal that almost hit a newborn boy and his mother is being examined by police, the FAA and NASA to determine its origin. The chunk of metal, described as being burnt and discolored around the edges, fell through the roof of a condominium in Middletown, Ohio, narrowly missing Kristy Blair and her seven-week-old son Josiah as they napped in a bedroom...
"Crash and burn" took on a whole new meaning for a German boy last week. The 12-year-old lit a paper airplane on fire and on its final flight it caught a hedge on fire. The fire spread to a pool house and pavilion in the southern German town of Oberasbach, causing $40,000 in damage.
Early in my tailwheel instruction, my instructor was trying to teach me wheel landings in a Citabria during a Southern California full-blown Santa Ana. Winds were approximately 45 degrees to the runway, blowing 20 knots, gusting to 35+ knots. After about 20 attempts, with about 20 saves from my instructor (lots of crow-hopping, bounces, you name it, using all of a 150-foot-wide runway), I decided I was done:
Citabria 123: Tower, we've had enough. Citabria 123 requests northbound departure.
Tower: Citabria 123, northbound departure approved. Sorry to see you boys leave -- sure has been entertaining!
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AEROSHELL IS PULLING OUT ALL THE STOPS FOR SUN 'N FUN!
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ATTENTION CESSNA PILOTS AND OWNERS! CESSNA PILOTS ASSOCIATION (CPA) announces its 2003 System and Procedure Seminar schedule. Learn from CPA's experts in Cessna systems. If you want to keep your Cessna aircraft running at its best -- and safest -- sign up for one of these seminars today. They fill up fast! Member or non-member, go online today for the complete schedule. It is available for viewing online, or e-mail Christine Fagundes and mention this AVflash.
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