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

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Meigs Destruction Stopped

But The Battle Rages On...

A poll done by Chicago media shows locals believe the destruction of Meigs will hurt the area economy, and some pilot groups intend to make sure of it. Since Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley doesn't seem to play by the same book as everyone else, rushing (de)construction vehicles to Meigs in the middle of an otherwise serene Sunday night to rip up the runway, AOPA is responding via some guerilla tactics of its own. The group has thrown its muscle behind a boycott of Chicago by pilots, business and anyone else who cares about the unprecedented situation. "AOPA will bring all possible pressure to bear on Mayor Daley," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "Pilots are letting Daley know that his destruction of this valuable airport has consequences." Several members have cancelled or scaled down business appointments in the Windy City and an English member rebooked his flight to San Diego to avoid a stopover at O'Hare. As for the locals, the poll showed a total of 63 percent believe fewer business visitors will come to Chicago and 59 percent believe the closure will harm Chicago's reputation as a business center. Only 3 percent think business will improve. Only 10 percent bought Daley's security justification for the move and 40 percent thought it would actually increase the danger to downtown Chicago. While the man on the street is clearly opposed to the action, business groups aren't generally willing to stick their necks out. CEO of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Jerry Roper, did throw his support behind Daley, saying the closure will protect the city. He also downplayed the economic impact of a permanent closure because "a very small percentage of our visitors use it."

...Controllers Worry About O'Hare Congestion...

While some pilots go after the economic jugular, there's another potential impact that could play out sooner rather than later thanks to a precipitously timed FAA decision this week. A few days after the runway destruction, the FAA ruled that GA aircraft and dozens of airlines will no longer be able to participate in the Land and Hold Short (LAHSO) program at O'Hare. With the closure of Meigs, more GA traffic will inevitably be looking for slots at O'Hare and that could further complicate matters. "This will certainly result in an increase in delays ..." said National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) spokesman Ray Gibbons. NATCA claims the new rule will reduce the number of arrivals and departures at the world's busiest airport by 10 percent. LAHSO allows air traffic controllers to tell pilots of landing aircraft to stop before reaching intersections with crossing runways and so allow arrivals and departures simultaneously on all runways. The FAA decision also burdens controllers with the task of determining which aircraft they can order to stop and hold short on the runway. Only American carriers with waivers on file at the FAA can be so instructed. According to NATCA's calculations, that leaves 41 airlines (plus GA traffic) using O'Hare that controllers must issue different instructions to. "Because our arrivals come from five different directions, we end up crisscrossing them all over the sky using altitude for separation," said Gibbons.

...Court Order Prevents Further Damage

Well, at least Richard Daley can't do any more damage at Meigs Field ... for now. A Cook County, Ill., judge has granted a temporary restraining order blocking any further destruction of airport facilities until a May 16 hearing on a permanent injunction. The order, by Judge William Maki, specifically orders the city of Chicago to preserve the taxiway and terminal building, as well as other components of the lakefront facility. The Friends of Meigs has launched a suit against the city claiming the runway destruction violated state law by altering a runway without Illinois Department of Transportation approval. AOPA is demanding that federal funds be cut off to Chicago's major airports, O'Hare and Midway, until Meigs is reopened. An AOPA complaint to the FAA claims the city violated federal regulations by not giving the minimum 30 days' notice for closing an airport. The restraining order came four days after heavy equipment, on Mayor Daley's order, carved large Xs out of the airport's only runway, closing it and stranding 16 airplanes. The aircraft were allowed to take off on an adjacent taxiway on Wednesday. The restraining order blinked a ray of hope into aviation groups and the Friends of Meigs, which has been battling for years to preserve the field. A coalition of aviation groups wrote President Bush earlier this week to protest the closure and a legal defense fund has also been established. The city plans to fight the restraining order ... and everyone else.


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New York No-Fly Zone Proposed

After All, Washington Has One...

If Washington has one, New York should also have a GA no-fly zone, according to a New Jersey congressman. This proposal would have a much bigger impact on GA. Steven Rothman (D-N.J.) is proposing that GA be banned within 15 nm of New York City. "It is unacceptable that New York City, the site of the greatest terrorist attack in American history, still has not been given the same protection from general aviation aircraft ..." Rothman said. Within 15 nm of the center of New York are at least 12 GA airports, including some of the busiest in the country. Teterboro in New Jersey handles thousands of GA flights a year, many of them corporate. It's seven miles from Manhattan. Since 9/11, only airliners and the military have been allowed within 15 nm of the Washington Monument, with the exception of GA aircraft based at three small airports within the no-fly zone and under severe restrictions.

...Alphabets Blast The Idea

Of course, the alphabets are fit to be tied over Rothman's suggestion. "Enough is enough," raged AOPA President Phil Boyer. "What further burden must general aviation bear when it has never been used as a weapon of terror?" Boyer also accused Rothman of using security to camouflage his real agenda of reducing traffic to airports, like Teterboro (in his district). EAA's Earl Lawrence pressed that "Rep. Rothman's request would not make any of the citizens in his district, nor in the surrounding New York metro area, any safer, but it would effectively destroy hundreds of jobs and dozens of businesses ..." EAA noted that the Department of Homeland Security, the TSA and the FAA have all determined that GA traffic is of little risk to security. According to AOPA, Rothman has long opposed the stream of corporate jets that use Teterboro. Personal issues aside, AOPA's Boyer added that the TSA, with help from the FAA, Secret Service, Department of Defense and FBI, came up with the current ADIZ restriction over New York and the TSA, which has the responsibility for such matters, should not be overruled by anxious congressmen. "Let them do their job," he said.


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Briefs...

What Next? Residents Want Portland Airport Moved

Activists in Portland, Ore., and Vancouver, Wash., want Portland International Airport moved. Members of the Airport Issues Roundtable (AIR) say they're literally losing sleep (from 24-hour operations) and being showered with carcinogens from passing aircraft, and they'd like residents elsewhere to absorb the punishment. The AIR is suggesting that the presumably more resilient folks of Centralia, Wash., or maybe thousands of acres of the verdant Willamette Valley, play host to a joint Seattle-Portland airport. The group hasn't yet offered to pay the $3 billion move cost or solve jurisdictional issues. Meanwhile, Oceanside, Calif., politicians voted to expand their airport, despite opposition. City fathers there are seeking bids to build 21 hangars and to buy 14.7 acres of adjoining land to expand the facility. Of course, it didn't hurt that the federal government will pay $2.52 million and the state will chip in $280,000 to cover the full cost of the land purchase. Hangar rents will repay a state-sponsored loan. Opponents cited the usual concerns at the city council's meeting last week. Rev. Charles Wright doesn't like seeing (and hearing) airplanes when he and his flock cast their eyes skyward on Sundays and other residents thought the city might be better off financially if it sold off the existing 36 acres the airport now occupies. However, it was noted that the federal money already spent on the airport obligates the city to keep it open until at least 2016 and there's no appetite to take on the feds over that issue.

Bombardier Keeps Airplanes, Drops Snowmobiles

Bombardier Inc., the Canadian company that makes Challenger and Lear business jets as well as commuter aircraft and railway products, will sell its Ski-Doo snowmobile business (which founded the company in 1942) and other recreational products lines to help raise $1.5 billion in capital to prop up the other divisions. The drastic action came three months after corporate fixer Paul Tellier took over as CEO. Tellier previously turned the tattered Canadian National Railway into North America's most profitable. "We felt it was the right thing to do, to take a more conservative view of our assets, to change the accounting methods in aerospace," Tellier told reporters. Bombardier, which owns aircraft plants in Wichita, Montreal and Toronto, didn't announce specific action at any of those facilities. Wichita, especially, has been under close scrutiny because of its high production costs relative to the other plants. Bombardier, as a whole, lost more than $680 million in the fourth quarter of 2002 and its stock value has plummeted to the point where it could potentially reach junk status. The company has 75,000 employees and is still controlled by the family of late founder J. Armand Bombardier, who started it with the precursor to the snowmobile. Although its roots are in Canada, Tellier wants it to start reporting its financial data in U.S. dollars, get listed on an American exchange and use American accounting methods.

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Air Canada Files For Bankruptcy

Air Canada, which ended 2002 with a $295 million loss and some $8.8 billion in debt, filed for bankruptcy last Tuesday as it threw in the towel on a losing battle against a generally poor economy, the war in Iraq and a mysterious illness called severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The airline, Canada's only major national and international carrier, will be asking the Canadian government and its unions for help in climbing out of its financial morass. The government is considering loan guarantees, and unions accepted 3,600 layoffs and deferred pay increases. The Canadian government has rejected a cash bailout similar to one offered to U.S. airlines. On Thursday, Congress approved $3.2 billion in immediate aid to the airlines as part of an overall spending package for the war in Iraq. The White House opposed the bailout, arguing the airlines need to cut more costs and solve their systemic financial problems without asking for handouts. That argument had some support on Capitol Hill. "We are creating, unless we change this process, an Amtrak in the air," said Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), referring to the government-dependent passenger railway. But House Speaker Denis Hastert said the package was passed to avert a meltdown of the industry. "It's just getting them through this tough time, that we don't have the whole industry collapse at a time when maybe we need it most," he said. Airline CEOs, meanwhile, are doing their part to save their companies money. Delta boss Leo Mullin says he'll cut his own salary by 15 percent (to $595,000) and pass on $5.5 million in bonuses in the coming year. United CEO Glenn Tilton is also taking a 25-percent salary cut to $712,500. No word on his bonus package.

FAA Closing Certification Loophole

The FAA is closing a loophole that could affect some would-be airplane manufacturers who thought they'd found a cheap way to certificate their creations. The agency has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that will eliminate portions of Sec. 21.183(d), an obscure clause that allows companies to apply for an airworthiness certificate without first having a type certificate or production certificate, two enormously expensive undertakings. The clause is a relic of a 1959 reg intended to allow retired military aircraft and aircraft that had not had their airworthiness status maintained to be certified on a case-by-case basis. But some enterprising companies have now won the agency's attention by trying to use the clause to get new airplanes on the market. The wording never caused a problem before but now, according to the FAA, but the language of the clause doesn't specifically exclude newly manufactured planes. "These people intend to build aircraft that match a type design under a previously approved type certificate but without the permission of the type certificate holder to use the design, and without a production certificate," the NPRM states. Most aircraft makers hold both the type certificate and production certificate, which are obtained after the FAA determines they can make an exact copy of the approved design, time after time. Under the emerging scenario, however, the FAA would have to inspect each aircraft produced to ensure it was safe and then monitor it throughout its life to catch any flaws that show up later. The agency has neither the time nor the inclination to provide such a service. "Obtaining type and production certificates is a fundamental concept in the regulatory framework," the NPRM states. The FAA is, however, asking affected companies for their input before it lowers the boom. It's drafted a series of questions (at the very end of the NPRM text) it's inviting the companies to answer about the impact of such a move. Deadline for comments is June 2.

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AD Watch

This AD requires owners of many Air Tractor ag planes to repetitively inspect the vertical fin front spar fitting for cracks and to install a doubler. The AD was issued because one of these fittings has failed.

Owners of Stemme S10 and S10-V sailplanes have to modify the engine compartment fuel and oil system and firewall to prevent the spread of an engine fire.

Twin Commander owners must look for fatigue damage in the wings and fuselage after tests showed the service life of some parts might be optimistic.

NPRMs have been issued recommending that Sky Arrow 650TC and 650TCN aircraft owners be ordered to modify nose gear support bulkheads and inspect for engine mount cracks.


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On The Fly...

Mark Rosenker has been named vice chairman of the NTSB. President Bush confirmed the appointment Friday. Rosenker joined the board March 24 after a two-year stint as deputy assistant to the president and director of the White House Military Office...

The Navy is spending another $192 million on the Osprey. The Navy awarded the contract to Boeing and Bell Helicopters to keep testing the tiltrotor, which returned to flightlast year. It was grounded in December of 2000 after two crashes that killed 23 Marines...

Phillips 66 is continuing its fuel rebates for the Young Eagles program even after it reaches its goal of flying a million young people by Dec. 17 of this year. Under the program, those taking Young Eagles for a flight can get a portion of their fuel cost rebated by the company...

A weeklong experiment to make pattern work easier in Washington and New York areas ended Sunday. The FAA initially allowed that type of training to take place without flight plans and through the use of the universal transponder code 1234 the previous weekend but bad weather kept traffic down. The eased restrictions could become permanent if the experiment was a success...

Jet A for your rocket plane? XCOR Aerospace has successfully tested a kerosene-fueled rocket engine it says will push it closer to a design for a space tourism rocket. The kerosene engine is more powerful than earlier alcohol models and fuel is a lot easier to come by.


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Short Final...

More from our "It's all about priorities" file ...

Saturday a.m. -- during Round 2 March Madness in Illinois. After too much coffee and two hours of touch & goes I was on base after an extended downwind. Two regional jets were waiting for IFR clearance and for me to get out of their way.

Cessna 12345: Tower, Cessna 345 on two-mile final for Runway 29.

Tower: Will that be touch and go?

Cessna: No, the Illinois game is about to start soon. This will be full stop.

Regional Jet: Nice Priorities. Go Illini!

Cessna: Well, that and I really have to pee.

Tower: Roger 345. Clear to land on 29. Best of luck with both.

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


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