By Russ Niles, Newswriter
Globe Editorial On The GA Threat...
After weathering a media storm for three weeks over his X-marks-the-spot destruction of Meigs Field, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley has found a few words of support. Editorial writers at the Boston Globe gave Daley their Op/Ed attaboy on Friday, suggesting his actions, in a more restrained fashion, make a good public policy blueprint. "The Department of Homeland security and the [Transportation Security Administration] should take a page from Mayor Daley and, without using bulldozers, explore ways to reduce the threat to this country's population centers and national monuments posed by small private aircraft," the Globe opined. Well, you can imagine what EAA thought of that. President Tom Poberezny shot back a letter to the editor explaining that Daley ripped up Meigs because he has always wanted to turn it into a park and that a carefully crafted series of political maneuvers allowed him, initially, to use security concerns as slim justification for the airport's destruction. Poberezny also notes that the useful load of most GA aircraft makes them anemic, at best, as terror weapons and that if the Globe was serious about eliminating such a threat, cars, boats, trains and people would have to be banned from the city's core. Just for balance, the Globe opinionators might have looked up the views of their colleagues in Washington, D.C., where the circumstances they advocate have been in place, to varying degrees, since 9/11. In a March 30 piece, Washington Post columnist Melanie Scarborough noted that little has been achieved by banning GA traffic from within 15 nautical miles of the Washington Monument ... nothing except erosion of personal freedom.
...As TSA Drops (Some) Restrictions
Just as the Globe's opinions were being formulated for the next day's edition, the people whose job it is to actually gauge security risks were concluding that those risks had abated considerably. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced Thursday that it was eliminating many of the flight restrictions imposed when the terrorism threat level was at orange, or high. That level dropped to yellow on Wednesday and the TSA cancelled the New York ADIZ, Chicago TFR and the gateway airport and screening requirements for the Maryland-3 airports within the Washington SFAR. Sporting event overflight waivers (except banner towers) were also reinstated. The Washington ADIZ and the Disney TFRs remain but there's a hint there may be changes coming for the ADIZ, something AOPA is fighting for. AOPA President Phil Boyer said the Washington ADIZ was imposed when the threat level went to orange from yellow in February and, for the sake of consistency, should be cancelled at the yellow level. Boyer plans to bring the issue up when he meets next week with Asa Hutchinson, the Homeland Security undersecretary responsible for aviation issues. He will also likely tell Hutchinson about the numerous delays, cancellations and lost business suffered by GA because of the ADIZs. "Based on real-world experiences by pilots, the ADIZ is not working," Boyer wrote in a letter to the TSA. "It is clear that the air traffic control system does not have the resources in place to effectively manage, for extended periods of time, the volume of general aviation traffic requiring access," he wrote.
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Process Began Before 9/11...
September 11 and the poor economy can only take part of the blame for Textron's problems, according the company chairman. A year before the terrorist attacks, Lewis Campbell embarked on a reorganization of the company, which owns Cessna, Lycoming and a variety of other manufacturing interests. Layoffs and plant closures were inevitable to trim a corporation that was bloated with duplication and startling inefficiencies. "Ashamed to say we had 87 data centers around the country," Campbell told Reuters. There were also 156 employee medical plans. Within a few years, the data centers will be consolidated into a handful and there are now just two available medical plans. Campbell said Cessna is now the corporation's example of the new way of doing things at the plant level. Cessna is going to redesign production methods to produce the Mustang, its $2.3 million entry-level jet. "They're committed to re-engineering their systems and rethinking how they run their economy." All the change comes at a cost and it's something Campbell has drilled into staff and management since the outset of the program. He told Reuters that "no position, no relationship, no friendship" will stand in the way of squeezing more earnings out of the company. And he's unlikely to be making many friends with the 1,200 people who will be laid off in May and the 6,000 who will be furloughed for seven weeks starting in June. Cancellation of a big order from NetJets helped provide stimulus for those actions.
...Sales Go On, New Planes Fly
Being a PR person for Cessna can't be the easiest job in times like these but they have dug up some positive things in recent weeks. For instance, the Civil Air Patrol ordered 15 Skylanes last week to use in its increasing emphasis on homeland security missions. The high-winged 182s are pitched as good for that type of surveillance work. Universities are also modernizing their fleets and Cessna sold seven 172Rs to Southern Illinois University Carbondale last week. The university traded in seven, 18-year-old 152s on the new Skyhawks, which host some of the latest flight and navigation technology that students need to learn. As for the future, Textron is convinced Cessna is poised for recovery, particularly in the business jet market. The company's next-generation light business jet, the CJ3, flew for the first time Thursday. It's basically a CJ2 with a longer cabin and tail cone, but the real creature comforts are for the pilots. The CJ3 features dual-channel FADEC-controlled Williams FJ44-3A engines and a state-of-the-art Collins avionics suite. The first CJ3 flew from McConnell Air Force Base to Wichita and, over the course of the 1.7-hour flight, pilots Dan Morris and Russ Williams lowered and raised everything and evaluated stability and flight characteristics. "The airplane reacted exactly as we anticipated," said Morris. The $5.895 million jet (2003 dollars) will cruise at 417 knots with two pilots and four passengers over an IFR range of 1664 nautical miles. First deliveries are expected in the third quarter of 2004.
Cook County Circuit Court Judge William Maki has ruled the City of Chicago and its Park District must turn over all relevant documents and answer written questions about the March 31 late-night destruction of the runway at Meigs Field. The city and park department have asked the court for a "stay of discovery" in their attempt to overturn a temporary restraining order that prohibits further destruction of the facility, but Judge Maki turned them down. The restraining order is in effect until a May 16 hearing on a permanent end to the destruction. After that, Daley and other high-ranking city officials may have to file depositions in response to questions from the plaintiffs. Plaintiffs currently include Friends of Meigs (FOM), the Illinois Association of Air and Critical Care Transport and Chicago By Air. The next court date in the flurry of legal action surrounding Meigs is April 21, when oral arguments will be heard on FOM's bid to throw out the city's motion to dismiss the case. Meanwhile, thousands of AOPA members have passed judgment on Chicago and Illinois, according to AOPA President Phil Boyer. Boyer told Gov. Rod Blagojevich he's never seen the membership so riled up and that will mean economic consequences for the city and the state.
On the off chance that the flamboyant owner can turn a profit in the supersonic market, British Airways (BA) is saying "No, thank you" to Virgin Atlantic Airways owner Richard Branson's offer to take seven Concordes off its hands. BA announced last week it was retiring the Concordes by October due to falling revenue and increasing expenses and planned to turn the aircraft over to any museum that wanted one. That riled Branson's patriotic sensibilities and aroused his entrepreneurial spirit. Branson said the aircraft were developed with a healthy infusion of taxpayers' pounds (and francs) and if need be, he would appeal to the government to decide their fate. Branson has already dashed off a letter to BA saying there was plenty of room in his hangars for the Concordes. "At the moment I've had a negative response and so I think our next move is to go to the government and ask them if they can intervene on our behalf," he said. "I hope by September-October you will see Concorde in Virgin colors, not British Airways colors. The Concorde has another good 15 years of flying to go," Branson told Fox News.
XPrize, here we come. While other people talk about commercial manned space flight, Burt Rutan is one of few doing something about it. The owner of Scaled Composites LLC unveiled his company's hardware -- a suborbital spacecraft (click here for larger image) that consists of an airborne launcher (a.k.a. the White Knight) and the space ship, SpaceShipOne. The vehicles have been under development for two years at Scaled's Mojave, Calif., facility. The company's Web site says the craft will be used to determine the feasibility of commercial manned space flight. Meanwhile, another California company is burning rubber in its bid to supply the power for SpaceShipOne. SpaceDev, of Poway, Calif., has developed a hybrid rocket that burns nitrous oxide, the laughing gas you get at the dentist, and HTPB, which is ordinary tire rubber. In a news release, SpaceDev CEO Jim Benson said the Rutan project is a great PR platform for the rocket, which has commercial and military applications as well. Research on the rubber-burning rocket began in September 2001 and the engine has been test-fired successfully.
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There could be an armed pilot locked behind a reinforced cockpit door at the controls of your next airline flight. The TSA said last week the first class of 48 "federal flight deck officers" were to have completed their weeklong training program on Saturday. Those pilots would then be authorized to carry a .40-caliber semiautomatic pistol into the cockpit to defend against would-be hijackers, terrorists and other pernicious ne'er-do-wells. During the week, the pilots learned how to use the gun and also studied defensive tactics to foil anyone intent on taking over the plane. Graduates will need annual recertification of those skills. Passengers will almost certainly never see the guns, unless, of course, they have to be used. The program requires that the guns be carried to and from the cockpit in a locked case and that the case be kept in another bag in the cockpit. "We've been working to keep guns out of airplanes for a long time," TSA Adm. James Loy told Dow Jones Newswires. "We think it should stay that way." The TSA was ordered to get the program going by Congress, but Congress didn't provide any funding, so the agency had to find $500,000 in its own budget to fund the first class. Training and equipment cost about $6,200 for each pilot. The White House has asked for $20 million to fund the training over the coming year. Only a fraction of the roughly 100,000 eligible airline pilots are expected to take part in the program.
It's hard to imagine anyone falling asleep at the controls while flying water bombers but Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority has come up with a computer program to help firefighting pilots avoid fatigue. The "fatigue management systems" are designed to optimize flight time while ensuring the pilots get enough rest. Pilot fatigue has been identified as one of the most serious risks in fire operations and a chronic hot topic between line pilots and their managers. It's no wonder. Pilots fly for up to nine hours and do as many as 95 drops during that time. The computer program is intended to help design flight schedules that get the most out of man and machine without compromising safety. In the province of Victoria, firefighting contractors must also take a four-hour course and exam. There are, of course, special training and qualifications that pilots must have.
American Airlines workers nearly got all the pain and the company's top managers got the gain after unions agreed to massive concessions in a bid to keep the airline out of bankruptcy. Union leaders said it's unlikely their members would have voted in favor of salary and benefit cuts of $1.8 billion had they known that fat bonuses and pensions were intended for the company's top executives. "We are appalled and just disgusted," John Ward, president of the flight attendants' union, told the Associated Press. "It's the equivalent of an obscene gesture from management." The revelation caused such upheaval that American Friday dropped the bonus plan. Initially defended by company spokesman Bruce Hicks, the bonus and pension plans were said to be the cost of doing business at that level. "Retention benefits are designed to keep key senior management who are constantly being wooed by other companies ..." said Hicks. Under the plans, the six top managers would have received retention bonuses that double their salaries provided they stay with American through January of 2005. The airline is also funding 60 percent of a pension fund trust for 45 senior staff. Meanwhile, non-flying staff are taking 16-percent wage cuts and pilots are losing 23 percent of their salaries to keep the airline out of bankruptcy. The union staff says they didn't know about the management perks until American put them in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing made right after the concessions were ratified. "This ... leaves the issue to us whether they were actually bargaining in good faith," said James C. Little, president of the Transport Workers Union.
Well, it seems like everyone has a reality show these days and EAA is next up. Starting April 28, the trials, tribulations, challenge and honor that comes with earning a private pilot certificate will be a weekly feature on the Discovery Wings Channel. The 13-week series Learning to Fly will follow Kyle, an actual student (no closed courses and professional drivers on this set) and her instructor through the process that pilots all remember but can often find so difficult to describe to the uninitiated. "We know that millions of people have considered learning to fly but have hesitated because they don't know what's necessary to reach that goal," said EAA President Tom Poberezny. The show should remove some of the mystery. The filming took place at EAA headquarters at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh. The series was produced by EAA Television. The first five episodes will premiere April 28 to May 2. Check listings for times in your area.
EAA has 18 down and 32 to go in its 50 Flags to Kitty Hawk initiative to commemorate the centennial of the Wright brothers' first powered flight. Another 13 members have been chosen to fly their states' flags to Kitty Hawk for a ceremony and declaration of their state's "day" at the Wright Brothers' National Memorial. You can find out if your state has been claimed and further information at EAA's Countdown to Kitty Hawk page...
The Civil Air Patrol has won a national award for work in aerospace education. The Air Force auxiliary won the 2002 Frank G. Brewer Aerospace Education Trophy from the National Aeronautic Association. The award recognizes "significant contributions of enduring value" in aerospace education...
A blast from the past will come courtesy of Dale Snodgrass and his F-86 at the Centennial of Flight Celebration Air show at Tullahoma Regional Airport June 21 and 22. Snodgrass, a former Navy F-14 wing commander, will do aerobatics and high-speed maneuvers in the Korean War-vintage jet...
Grand Aire is back in the air after two crashes on the same day prompted a voluntary flight suspension. Two of the charter operator's Dassault 20 jets crashed April 8. Three pilots died in one and two were injured in the other. Flight operations resumed Thursday after safety procedures were reviewed with staff.
A friend of mine was cruising along in his turbo arrow at 18,000 feet one day when a 737 was called out to him at his 1 o'clock and 15 miles passing to his left. The 737 crew was similarly advised. When they passed, the 737 Capt remarked "What are you doing up here?" My friend replied, "About a 178 knots."
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MOUNTAINSCOPE FROM PCAVIONICS IS A SAFETY ESSENTIAL
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The Pilot's Lounge #60: Daley, Meigs And The Tyranny Of Small Minds
Like others in The Pilot's Lounge, AVweb's Rick Durden was stunned by the violent, dictatorial act that took place on the western shore of Lake Michigan. This month, Rick bemoans the triumph of fear and manipulation, and presents a call to action.
Mag Timing is Easy as One, Two, Three
There are several easy ways to time a magneto, as well as specific how-to data. The staff of Light Plane Maintenance describes a common and accurate way.
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DON'T WAIT TILL THE SUN STARTS TO BAKE YOUR AIRCRAFT'S INTERIOR.
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AEROX OXYGEN SYSTEMS ADD TO YOUR FLYING COMFORT, SAFETY AND PLEASURE
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"THE SAFEST WAY TO CATCH A KILLER" ISN'T JUST CO GUARDIAN'S MOTTO.
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