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This issue of AVweb's NewsWire is brought to you by

makers of the world's best-selling ANR headsets
LIGHTSPEED 20XL GETS MAKEOVER! The 20XL/2 brings back the popular model with a new, even smaller, battery box and the Aux Audio 3G input, at a new LOWER price of just $395. HEAR for yourself during Sun 'n Fun at LightSPEED's booth #D-051-053. Get more LightSPEED for LESS at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/litspeed.

The State Of Security

Apparently Is New Jersey...

In New Jersey, James E. McGreevey announced on Friday that any aircraft left for more than 24 hours at any of the state's 486 licensed general aviation facilities must have a "two-lock" system. "Two-lock" apparently would lock the door and either the wheel or propeller. New Jersey is also going to install Web cams at the state's 47 public-use GA airports so police can watch them in real time and so images can be recorded at regular intervals.

...As Revocation Rule Is Further Panned

Meanwhile, comments are due Tuesday on the controversial rule that gives the TSA, via the FAA, the right to suspend and ultimately revoke airmen certificates for perceived security threats. All of the pilot-oriented alphabet groups have taken generous swipes at the rule, which essentially makes the TSA the sole arbiter of who is allowed to hold a certificate. But the rule, which became law Jan. 24 -- without a preceding comment period -- also affects aircraft mechanics. The FAA has been taking comments since the rule was enacted and the Professional Aviation Maintenance Association (PAMA) has now put in its two cents' worth. PAMA's main beefs, like those of the pilots' and operators' groups, center mainly on the perceived lack of due process. Theoretically, the TSA can order the FAA to take away a certificate and, using confidentiality rules as a shield, not even tell the certificate holder why. PAMA agrees with other groups that this can essentially make the affected party defenseless. PAMA suggests that, barring documented evidence of an imminent security risk, that those who face certificate suspension be allowed to give their side of the story first. Currently, the TSA is the only avenue of appeal and PAMA wants the appeal process for this measure to be more like the procedure used for other violations, in which the NTSB is the final authority. PAMA is urging anyone involved in aviation to submit comments before Tuesday's deadline.


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Keeping Spirits Up

Fresh Record Attempts In The Works...

So, who will be dining out with the awards-granting National Aeronautics Association next year? Included among this year's record attempts, Steve Fossett is still seeking more than 49,000 feet in a glider. Gerhard Schauble, of Kelowna, B.C., Canada, will attempt to fly his Glasair 22,858 miles at an average 250 mph. He plans to stop only for fuel. Endurance of a different sort will be needed by the Pakistani military pilot who hopes to set the record for an ultralight flight from Karachi to Peshawar. And -- though it's hard to believe it hasn't already been done -- Lee Owens, a 54-year-old chief pilot and instructor, hopes to become the first black man to fly around the world solo in a single-engine plane, a P-51, in tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen. "The goal of this trip is to promote what the Tuskegee Airmen did for me as a citizen, as a pilot and what they did for aviation," Owens told AVweb. He hopes to leave June 19. The Canadian Schauble hopes to break 16 speed records when he mounts his Glasair for a round-the-world trip from British Columbia on May 24. If he makes it, Pakistani Qazi Sajjad Ahmed will grind along behind a 64-hp Rotax for 16 hours. And Steve Fossett is out to prove that whatever goes up can keep going up, using powerful winds that blow against the California mountains at this time of year to breach 49,000 feet in a sailplane. He tried the same thing in New Zealand last fall (spring in New Zealand) but didn't make it.

...Rubber-Band Plane Hits New Heights...

In the guts-and-glory world of aviation records, it's nice to see the whimsical getting a little recognition sometimes. This is supposed to be fun, after all, isn't it? So, full marks to the NAA for naming the rubber-band-powered exploits of one James Richmond in its annual declaration of the Most Memorable Aviation Records. Last Aug. 4, the "double strand rubber motor" in Richmond's homebuilt model airplane helped keep the creation aloft for 47 minutes and 19 seconds, not much less than some fighters will last at full burner. This was no balsa wood Silver Streak, however. Richmond's aircraft sported a wingspan of almost 3 feet and featured a variable-length propeller of 22 to 26 inches. The aircraft weighed just 1.39 grams. The rubber bands were wound 1,960 turns, which, according to our math, puts the prop speed near 100 rpm on average -- assuming it ran for most (but not all) of the flight. During the flight, inside the atrium at an Indiana hotel, the delicate craft achieved a maximum altitude of 90 feet (in a 96-foot-high enclosure). The feat was first recognized by the Academy of Model Aeronautics.

...As NAA Awards Six Most Memorable Of 2002

The theme of higher, faster and farther dominates the remaining five of the Most Memorable. An astounding 300-person formation parachute jump, Steve Fossett's solo balloon flight around the southern hemisphere, Lee Behel Jr.'s 3-km straight-course speed record of 354 mph in a Lancair Turbine IV-P, Bruce Bohannon's single-engine climb to 41,611 feet, and more, will be honored at a gala ceremony and dinner at College Park Aviation Museum in Maryland next Monday. The parachute record honors the 300 jumpers who jumped from 14 airplanes and held their formation for seven seconds in a free fall from 20,000 feet. Fossett's record is well-documented, and there's also been quite a bit about Bruce Bohannon's single-engine climb to 41,611 feet last October at AOPA's annual convention in Palm Springs. The others were a little more obscure but certainly noteworthy in their own right. And, proving that there's more to a Gulfstream V than plush leather seats and a great mini-bar, company demonstration pilots Sean Sheldon, Ahmed Ragheb and John Mullican ripped from Tokyo to L.A. at an average speed of 643 mph, beating an 18-year-old record for that route.


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Briefs...

Fewer Flights, Higher Accident Rate

We flew less but we crashed proportionately more in 2002, according to a new report by the NTSB. There were actually 12 fewer GA accidents in 2002 (1,714) compared to 2001 (1,726) but because we spent less time in the air, the accident rate actually jumped from 6.28 per 100,000 hours to 6.56. Despite fewer hours, there were more fatal accidents in 2002 (343) compared to 2001 (325). The trends were opposite in Part 121 and Part 135 operations. Departures increased in both nonscheduled (Part 121) and scheduled flights with fewer than 10 seats (Part 135) and so did the accident rates. The Part 121 accident rate almost doubled to 2.33 per 100,000 departures, from 1.248 in 2001. The rate for Part 135 operators jumped to 1.575 per 100,000 departures from 1.251. Air taxis bucked that trend with substantially fewer accidents (72 vs. 58) and the accident rate dropped from 2.27 per 100,000 flight hours to 1.9. Fatalities dropped from 60 to 33. As AVweb reported earlier, the scheduled carriers had no fatalities in 2002. They had 34 accidents and the accident rate dropped from .379 per 100,000 departures to .337.

Alaska Gets GPS/WAAS

If it works in Alaska, does it mean that true GPS/WAAS IFR navigation will come to the Lower 48? On March 13, the FAA passed a final rule creating Special Federal Aviation Regulation 97 that allows properly equipped aircraft in parts of Alaska to use satellite-based navigation aids as their sole reference during en route portions of their flights. Current regulations normally require ground based navigation aids be available to IFR flights regardless of the use of GPS equipment. SFAR 97 is an incremental result of the Capstone program, which was begun in 1999 aiming to improve flight safety stats in Alaska. Phase I of the Capstone program focused on the southwest part of the state and began in 1999. Lessons learned in the first phase have led to a second phase for the southeast part of Alaska. The second phase includes, in the FAA's words, "a more robust set of avionics" that includes GPS/WAAS. The new rule will allow properly equipped aircraft to fly IFR on published routes that are much more efficient than those that relied on ground stations. Whereas the freedom of Capstone was previously available only to the 200 or so aircraft formally registered in the program, SFAR 97 allows anyone willing to spend the money on the avionics to use the published routes. Despite rumblings on the topic from time to time, the exclusive use of GPS/WAAS in the rest of the country continues to be a distant dream.

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Airlines Sink Deeper

For the record, on March 11, the Air Transport Association predicted "a serious risk of chaotic industry bankruptcies and liquidations" that could result in "forced nationalization of the industry." Within days of the start of hostilities in Iraq, those predictions are already coming true. On Friday, Hawaiian Airlines filed for Chapter 11 protection. The 73-year-old carrier told the bankruptcy court it had $256 million in assets and $399 million in liabilities. Northwest Airlines is laying off 4,900 people, or 11 percent of its workforce, and grounding 20 planes. And that's not all ... actually that's not even close to all. Well, Uncle Sam Air has not yet landed and there's no George Dubya Express on the drawing board, but there's no doubt this is an industry in trouble and the carnage has just begun. US Airways is pinning its thin hopes of survival on dumping its pension plan for pilots and turning it over to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., a quasi-public insurance agency. The airline says it's the only way it can avoid liquidation. United, which is already in bankruptcy, ordered managers to take a look around them and decide who is absolutely necessary to keep the company running. Everyone else is going on "authorized no-pay status," which seems to mean they still have their jobs and keep their seniority but they don't get paid and don't have to come to work. And the war has a silver lining of sorts for the industry's cost-cutting efforts. Airlines can invoke the force majeure clauses in contracts with unions. Force majeure is the legal term for uncontrollable circumstances that release parties from contractual obligations, such as those governing the extent and nature of layoffs.

Suits Allege C-17 Maintenance Coverup

Lawsuits by two United Air Lines mechanics contend that documents were falsified and corners cut in a maintenance contract for the military's C-17 Globemaster transports. The documents, obtained by The Dallas Morning News, allege that mechanics were told to hide evidence of oil leaks in the engines and to say on documents that they'd properly torqued bolts when they used ordinary wrenches. The company declined specific comment on the claims and the military says it isn't worried about the safety of the aircraft. However, Doug Niven, who was fired by United in May of 2001, said "numerous" C-17 engines leak oil through the fuel oil heat exchangers and he and other mechanics were told to take action to cover up the leaks. Another United mechanic, Larry James, alleged in his suit that airline managers and officials of Pratt and Whitney, which make the C-17 engines, pressured him to change a report about a damaged fuel injector in 2000. United says it has a good reputation for its "meticulous approach" to maintenance and that it "thoroughly reviews all allegations of improper conduct."

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Canada Regulates Privatized Airports

Canada's government is giving its major airports a blueprint on the fees it can charge for aeronautical and passenger services. The government has introduced the Canada Airports Act in Parliament. And since the governing Liberal Party controls Parliament by a hefty majority, the proposed legislation is almost sure to pass. Much of the new act formalizes a blurry relationship between the government, which owns the country's 30 or so major airports, and the local airport authorities that lease them. The act will set limits on the fees the local authorities can charge, such as airport improvement fees that are a $5 to $10 addition at many Canadian airports. Transport Minister David Collenette said the act ensures that airport authorities put the money where they're supposed to and don't charge more than the stated purpose of the fee. He doesn't define "airport improvements." Any fee hikes have to go through a notification and comment process. The act also ensures that airport authorities don't play favorites with airlines by demanding "equitable access for airlines to essential airport facilities and services" as well as slot coordination. In other words, the airport authorities may run the airports, but they definitely are not in charge.

AD Watch

Owners of GE CT7 turboprop engines must repeatedly inspect propeller gearbox impending bypass buttons for extension and replace other parts as necessary to ensure the props feather properly when the pilot wants them to.

Owners of Air Tractor models AT-300, -301, -302 and -440A must inspect the centerline splice joint for cracks and report those findings to the FAA earlier than mandated by a previous AD.

Learjet Model 45 owners are subject to an emergency AD and must look for a certain part in the jack screw assembly that needs replacing.


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On The Fly...

Air show performer Chris Smisson was killed Saturday in a strange accident at the Gulf Salute 2003 air show at Tyndall AFB, near Panama City, Fla. Witnesses told the Panama City News Herald that Smisson, 55, a Delta international captain and U.S. Air Force veteran, was to race a rocket-propelled truck on the runway. When the truck failed to start immediately, Smisson apparently tried to loop his SP-95 and set up for a second run but the aircraft hit the grass next to the runway...

The federal government may pay $6.8 billion for missile defenses on airliners. Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) told a news conference on Thursday that the government has the responsibility to "make sure the traveling public is secure." Mica, the chairman of the House Aviation Subcommittee, made the comments after a closed-door briefing with the CIA, TSA, Israeli government officials, the Defense Intelligence Agency and defense industry reps...

John Hammerschmidt, acting chairman of the NTSB, retired Friday as Ellen Engleman started picking out colors for his old office. Engleman, along with Mark Rosenker and Richard Healing, were confirmed by the Senate as board members Wednesday. Hammerschmidt, who sat on the board for 12 years, said the NTSB made great strides at eliminating midair collisions and wind-shear accidents during his tenure...

Think you've got the fastest socket wrench in the West (or East)? Then PAMA wants you to join their Maintenance Olympics as part of the annual symposium and trade show May 11-13. Teams of three will compete for pride, glory and the coveted Golden Wrench Award. Bombardier won last year...

With echoes of ham-fisted diplomacy echoing through its structure, former U.S. President Ronald Reagan's Air Force One is being dismantled at San Bernardino Airport. The Boeing 707, tail number 27000, will be reassembled on the roof of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif....

Flight testing of the V-22 resumed ahead of schedule after a 10-day break to replace potentially faulty hydraulic tubes in the tilt rotors' engine nacelles. After a 20-minute flight in one aircraft, the rest were cleared to resume their test schedule following precautionary maintenance...

John and Martha King, founders of King Schools, became the latest Life Associates in AOPA's Air Safety Foundation. The honor is bestowed upon anyone who donates more than $2,500 toward ASF programs. More than 100,000 pilots took ASF programs last year.


Short Final...

More from our If Only file...

The comm radio failed again while practicing instrument approaches. After restoring communications...

Cessna 12345: "Approach, Cessna 12345 is going to break off the approach, procede VFR to (uncontrolled home field), and kick this radio down the stairwell."

Controller, "Cessna 12345, approved, squawk VFR. After a short pause, "Will that work with my teenager?"

Contributions to Short Final are welcomed at sf@avweb.com.


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Sponsor News and Special Offers

Remember, we are able to provide FREE access to AVweb+AVflash thanks to our fine sponsors so please try to patronize them whenever you can.

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SPONSOR NEWS

AEROSHELL IS PULLING OUT ALL THE STOPS FOR SUN 'N FUN!
Put AeroShell's activities on your Sun 'n Fun "to do" list. Patty Wagstaff, the AeroShell Aerobatic Team, and Jamail Larkins will be signing autographs at AeroShell's Booth 85-89 in Hangar C on Friday, 9:45-10:45 for Patty; Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, noon to 1pm for the Aerobatic Team; with Jamail available on Friday or Saturday. The AeroShell Forums presentations will be given by Ben Visser everyday, except Tuesday, at 10am in Tent 9. Alternating topics will be "Care & Lubrication of Piston Engines" and "AvFuel." These are important safety forums no pilot should miss. http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/shell.

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PICK UP YOUR FREE ISSUE OF FLYING MAGAZINE AT SUN 'N FUN BOOTH E-60-62.
Flying Magazine will also be raffling off a dinner with Tom Benenson at the Show to benefit the Youth Education Programs and Endowment. http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/flying.

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