Beginning with this morning's AVflash, we're introducing a new format for both the news and the web site itself. The HTML version of AVflash now has slightly narrower margins, which should make the text more readable on a wider range of e-mail readers. The AVweb home page has been redesigned for better readability and easier navigation, with the commonly used navigation buttons along the left side of the screen. We've also widened the margins of the home page, which allows for better integration of graphics and text. For browsers equipped to set text size under the view menu, we recommend the "medium" or "smaller" options.
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The Wright Redux Association is first in a year that promises more first flight re-enactments. The Association's 1903 Wright Flyer replica, Spirit of Glen Ellyn, made history of sorts on April 27 when pilot Ken Kirincic flew the aircraft 136 feet, making it the first 1903 Wright Flyer replica to achieve free, powered flight, according to its owners. It was the culmination of a four-year effort to fund, build and fly an exact replica of the 1903 Wright Flyer. The group worked primarily from information found in the Wright brothers' journals, original Wright photographs, and information obtained from the National Air and Space Museum. Tom Norton and Mark Miller founded the Wright Redux Association in 1999, yet neither are pilots and had never previously attempted to build a flying aircraft. "It's hard to describe what yesterday's flight means to this group," said Miller. "All the work and all the planning came down to one moment. It just came together unbelievably well."
We should point out this is not the first Wright Flyer replica to fly, as Ken Kellett (now with Kermit Weeks's Fantasy of Flight) built a replica and flew it quite a few times for the 75th anniversary. It's also far from the last attempt to replicate the Dec. 17, 1903 feat. Ken Hyde and The Wright Experience plan to launch their own Wright Flyer Replica on the exact anniversary of the Wrights' flight and from the same spot. Hyde's project is part of EAA's Countdown To Kitty Hawk, which boasts its own touring pavilion. Another replica of a Wright design will also take to the skies this summer. At this summer's Muskegon Air Fair, Dana Smith plans to fly a replica of the Wright brothers' Model EX. The Model EX replica is patterned after the "Vin Fiz," which flew from Sheepshead Bay, N.Y., to Long Beach, Calif., in 49 days during the fall of 1911. Smith's version of the Vin Fiz weighs 400 pounds less than the original and has a redesigned rudder.
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Despite a gloomy order book and a still-gloomy forecast, Boeing CEO Phil Condit recently assured shareholders the company is on the right track. It's no secret that rival Airbus is edging out Boeing in the commercial aircraft manufacturing sector. Many predications call for Airbus to beat our Boeing in sales this year. However, Condit told a shareholders' meeting that Boeing is still strong due to its diversification into the defense and space sectors. Condit said current data still show Boeing is on track to deliver 280 airliners after shipping 71 in the first quarter. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been good for business and no one else seems to match Boeing's posture in the military market. Airbus is struggling in this sector and recently lost some orders for its long-awaited A400M. Last year, Germany cut its orders to 60 from 72 and Portugal canceled its three orders of the $80 million aircraft, which has been under development for 20 years. Meanwhile, Boeing is on the attack in Airbus's home turf and is talking to France, Sweden, Norway, Germany, and NATO about orders of C-17s or 767 refueling tankers, said Chris Raymond, Boeing's manager of business development for those programs.
Condit's note of confidence belies the company's financial performance. Boeing last week reported a fourth straight drop in quarterly revenue, and sales in Europe have plunged 35 percent in two years amid a slump in commercial air travel. To cope with the decline in demand from commercial airlines since 9/11, Boeing has eliminated 30,000 jobs and halved jet production. Boeing shares have plunged 37 percent since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that sent the aviation sector into an unprecedented downturn. To add insult to injury, J.P. Morgan Securities downgraded Boeing to underweight, noting that the Commercial Airplanes unit was highly dependent on Asian carriers for deliveries, noting that they are increasingly affected by SARS. At the shareholders' meeting, Condit downplayed the significance of SARS on the company's future prospects since the disease is still contained in a few cities. "Obviously if this becomes a global epidemic, it's a big deal," he said. "Clearly right now, it is the classic reaction to the unknown that is sidelining travelers."
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Air traffic controllers say they can no longer keep the airspace around Chicago safe and have asked the NTSB to intervene. In a news release Wednesday, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) said chronic understaffing, rule changes and the extra burden of traffic from now-closed Meigs Field have pushed ATC staff and facilities too far. "The level of safety has diminished below an acceptable level," said Ray Gibbons, president of NATCA's Chicago chapter, who cited deteriorating conditions and staff morale for a rash of errors in recent weeks. Staffing is the most serious issue, say the controllers. NATCA wants 100 fully qualified controllers at the Chicago TRACON but there are only 73 of the 99 now on staff that are fully trained. The remainder are undergoing transition training but are otherwise qualified air traffic controllers. The controllers also cite a rule change by the FAA that prevents many airlines and all GA flights from taking part in a program that requires them to hold short of crossing runways to allow conflicting arrivals and departures at O'Hare. The new rules have cut capacity and created extra work for controllers, NATCA claims. And the early-morning destruction of Meigs on March 31 and the subsequent closure of the tower has shunted traffic to other facilities, notably Midway, which has had to handle 15 percent more traffic since the closure. NATCA President John Carr said the FAA must act immediately "to fix this rapidly deteriorating and critical problem."
FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Cory said the agency is "doing the best we can to hire more controllers." She confirmed that 25 percent of the controllers in Chicago are undergoing training but said it's normal to have some controllers on staff that aren't fully capable. But Cory avoided directly commenting on the union's assertion that Chicago airspace is not safe. Instead, she commended controllers for their skills in keeping it so. "I think they're doing an excellent job," she said. On Tuesday, one sector of the TRACON became badly overloaded and it took about 20 minutes to restore normal operations, but Cory said separations were maintained. She also said the Washington office is reviewing the decision to curtail the Land and Hold Short program at O'Hare. Cory said she doesn't know the precise impact of the Meigs closure on Chicago area controllers, noting that the traffic could have dispersed to any of five or six airports in the area. NATCA's Church said the association has been pleading with the FAA to do something about the problems for months and issuing the press release was a last resort. Neither NATCA nor the FAA are commenting on whether a higher authority has become involved, but the FAA regional office in Chicago may have been hit by lightning Wednesday. Staff were sent home after the electrical system, computers and fire alarms began malfunctioning. "I think it's just one of those things that happens," offered Cory.
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This week, Diamond Aircraft announced its selection of the Garmin G1000 integrated avionics system for the new DA42 Twin Star. The G1000 system is configured with two 10-inch displays, a primary flight display (PFD) and a multi-function display (MFD), in landscape orientation. The avionics suite boasts a number of features, including: WAAS-capable IFR, oceanic-approved GPS, solid-state Attitude and Heading Reference System and a digital air data computer. The Twin Star's fuel consumption is said to be 10 gph at 180 knots using less-expensive Jet A or even diesel fuel. With a base price, including the glass cockpit, of $360,000 in 2002 dollars for 2004 deliveries, the small twin is a new twist in a sagging market. "Garmin's all-glass cockpit perfectly complements the set of new technologies, including the modern composite design and highly efficient FADEC-controlled Thielert turbo-diesel power plants," said John Gauch, Diamond's vice president of sales and marketing for North America. "The G1000 avionics system offers an increased level of situational awareness, further enhancing the many safety advantages of the Twin Star."
AOPA staff is in the final planning stages for its 13th Annual Fly-In and Open House. The Fly-In will offer more than 100 vendors and a host of seminars on safety, legal issues, buying advice and, of course, Rod Machado's humor. If you're going, don't forget that special aircraft arrival procedures are in effect thanks to the Washington, D.C., Air Defense Identification Zone and the expanded prohibited area (P-40) around Camp David in Maryland. AOPA claims the event transforms Frederick Municipal Airport (FDK), already Maryland's second-busiest airport, into one of the busiest in the nation. "The AOPA Fly-In is an opportunity for our members to meet with association staff members face-to-face, one-on-one, and discuss the issues that are uppermost on their minds," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "For anyone who loves aviation, whether you're a pilot or not, Fly-In's a great chance to enjoy the company of other enthusiasts." For more information visit the AOPA Fly-In and Open House web page.
Northrop Grumman has won a seven-year contract from the FAA for technology upgrades in the National Airspace System (NAS). Northrop Grumman's Mission Systems division will serve as prime contractor for the Technical Assistance Contract supporting the FAA's Office of Air Traffic Systems Development (AUA). Specifically, Northrop Grumman will provide program management and technical assistance to five integrated product teams that include traffic flow management, en route, next-generation communications, Free Flight and weather. The company has been the FAA's prime contractor in this modernization effort for the past 12 years. "The continuity we bring to this project means the FAA won't miss a beat in assuring the public that it's operating within the safest and most efficient airspace possible," said Dave Zolet, Mission Systems vice president for Northrop Grumman's Civil Systems Division. Northrop Grumman will lead a Washington, D.C.-based team of approximately 300 employees on the project.
The NTSB has issued a recommendation letter on certain Hartzell propellers. In its letter, the agency advises the FAA to require the immediate inspection of all propeller parts and propeller assemblies overhauled or inspected by T&W Propellers in Chino, Calif., to determine if they are airworthy. The notice also advises the FAA to require that all Hartzell Z-shank propellers be overhauled every 2,000 hours or five years, whichever comes first, as recommended by the manufacturer. The NTSB's letter stems from an accident investigation, which involved a Beech 95 (Travelair) that crashed shortly after takeoff on Jan. 24, 2003. The investigation revealed that a two-and-a-half-foot section of the Hartzell propeller blade separated from the assembly on the aircraft's number-two (right) engine. Metallurgy analysis determined the separation occurred due to fatigue cracking that initiated at corrosion pits on the internal surface of the blade's pilot-tube hole. Although the maintenance records show the propellers to have been overhauled per manufacturer's specifications, the NTSB felt incorrect procedures were carried out. T&W Propellers surrendered its Air Agency Certificate on Feb. 14, 2003, in a response to a letter of investigation from the FAA.
The Jayhawk Chapter of the Commemorative Air Force is no stranger to historic aircraft, but their latest project still catches the volunteers' attention. Most were on hand last Friday to see their restored Cessna UC-78 Bobcat -- affectionately called the "Bamboo Bomber," take off. "It's a very rare aircraft. There are just a handful of Bobcats flying now," John "Hooter" Myers, spokesman for the group, recently told The Wichita Eagle. The aircraft was one of 4,600 advanced trainers built to teach thousands of bomber and cargo plane pilots during World War II. The all- volunteer crew overhauled both engines and installed a new interior and wheels. The aircraft languished in the Arizona desert for decades and was found in fairly good condition so the overall restoration project was not too expensive, only running about $6,000 to $7,000. Local aviation companies also helped with the restoration by donating equipment. This specific bomber was manufactured in 1943, then assigned to Douglas Army Air Field in southeast Arizona during World War II before it was purchased by a private owner who stored it in the airplane-friendly environment of the desert. The UC-78 Bobcat was Cessna's first twin-engine aircraft and the company later developed a civilian version. The military trainer cruises at about 150 mph. The group's next project is another military trainer, a Fairchild PT-23.
Plane spotters arrested, convicted and finally acquitted of espionage in Greece are now trying to get their bail money back. The plane-spotters, most of them British, were kept in jail for five weeks before being freed on £9,000 bail, which was never returned, even though they showed up for court. They were initially found guilty of the charges in a Greek court, but returned to Greece last April and had their convictions reversed on appeal. After a year of legal battles with lawsuits, the Greek authorities have finally agreed to repay the money to each of the 11 Britons and two Dutchmen. Paul Coppin told the East Anglia Daily Times he still doubts whether he will see the money again. "I still have absolutely no faith in the Greek authorities or legal system," he said. "I am still not 100 percent convinced we will get our money back. The judges have said we should get the money back in 20 days, but I still do not trust them or the Greek lawyers and authorities."
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One of the Navy Blue Angels' six F/A-18 jets landed shortly after takeoff after a mechanical problem was detected at a recent air show. After beginning his routine at last week's Air & Space Expo, held at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., the pilot noticed an unspecified problem with the jet's landing gear. The aircraft landed safely and the remaining five Blue Angel jets flew without incident
More than 160 EAA Wild Blue Wonders teams from throughout the country are busy preparing for their regional meets in May and June. The teams are part of an EAA Aviation Foundation's competitive program involving middle-school students who learn about aviation principles through science, math, and technology activities
On Friday, Delta's CEO Leo Mullin issued another apology to employees and shareholders for the handling of executive pay at his airline. Shortly before former American CEO Don Carty was criticized for similar issue and ousted from office last week, Mullin was the focus of criticism from inside and outside Delta Air Lines for his large compensation package, which was finalized months ago. He noted that he has already taken a 25% salary reduction, and won't take "incentive compensation" in 2003
Even with a tight budget, the 2003 Wichita Aviation Festival organizers promise it will be a spectacular event. The festival, to be held Sept. 18-21, is scheduled to include an air show, including the Air Force Thunderbirds, hot-air balloon launches, fireworks, educational seminars, aircraft displays and helicopter rides. There will also be a nighttime air show on Friday, Sept. 19, which will include acrobatics and pyrotechnic performances
An engineer that worked on the Concorde program now wants the aircraft in Scotland. Sir James Arnot Hamilton, one of the brains behind Concordes distinctive wing design, is trying to get one of British Airways' seven decommissioned Concordes for the East Fortunes Museum of Flight in East Lothian (UK). However, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., is also bidding on the supersonic airliner.
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We received over 90 pictures last week. Congratulations to this week's winner, Paul Stratman, of Kansas City, Mo. His photo, titled "Cloud Dancers," captures this RV formation after departing Sun 'n Fun 2003. The guys were on their way to a nice break in Key West, Fla., where Paul claims "the wine brings song and dancing all night long." Great picture, Paul! Your AVweb hat is on the way.
To check out the winning picture, or to enter next week's contest, go to http://www.avweb.com/potw.
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We received over 400 responses to our question last week on arming airline pilots. The majority (55 percent) of our respondents felt armed pilots should have been introduced a long time ago. The next largest group of respondents (22 percent) thinks the arming of airline pilots is a terrible idea. This group feel guns have no place in the airline cockpit. Only 2 percent of those responding hadn't made up their mind on this issue.
To check out the complete results, including comments, go to http://www.avweb.com/qotw.
*** THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***
This week, we would like to know your thoughts on STOL kits. Many thanks to George McKee for suggesting this week's QOTW topic. Please go to http://www.avweb.com/qotw to respond.
Have an idea for a new QOTW? Send your suggestions to email@example.com. Note, this address is ONLY for suggested QOTW questions, and NOT for QOTW answers.
Say Again? #23: May Day
It's the first of May -- spring has sprung, the birds are singing, and more planes are flying. Time to think about the unthinkable -- what to do during an emergency. AVweb's Don Brown reminds us what ATC can do to help.
You know the internet is filled with information to help you get an aviation job, but where to start? Start here, with a description of dozens of sites and how to best use them.
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