By Arturo Weiss, Newswriter
NATA Meets With The TSA...
National Air Transportation Association (NATA) President James K. Coyne told Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials last week that the federal governments continuing efforts to reassure the American public of their security is doing irreparable harm to the nations general aviation industry. Coynes comments to TSA officials came during a regularly scheduled meeting June 4 involving NATA and other organizations representing different segments of the general aviation industry. "Time and time again, we see general aviation bearing the brunt of the federal governments public statements about specific actions it is taking in the war on terrorism," Coyne said after the meeting. According to NATA's account of the meeting, TSA officials responded that the fears expressed by Coyne and others were very real. And unnamed TSA officials said GA leaders had every right to be concerned about the damage the publics perception of these restrictions is doing to the general aviation industry.
...As Another Presidential TFR Pops Up...
The FAA will establish a 30-nm-radius temporary flight restriction (TFR) when President Bush travels to the family's seaside retreat in Kennebunkport, Maine, this week. The TFR is an expansion of the normal P-67 restricted area that is always in place over the vacation home. The TFR will be in effect from 2:25 p.m. local on Thursday, June 12, until 12 p.m. local on Monday, June 16. The TFR will expand the existing prohibited area (P-67) to a 10-nm radius, closing Biddeford (B19) and Goosefair. Restricted operations will be imposed between 10 nm and 30 nm around the Bush family retreat. The TFR will also affect operations at Portland International Airport (PWM) and 13 other airfields in the region. AOPA and EAA offer graphical representations of these restrictions on their respective Web sites.
...And The L.A. Accident Doesn't Help
While the discussions of what potential terrorism threat GA may pose to the public continue, the news of last Friday's aircraft crash into an apartment building certainly didn't do anything to calm those fears. A Beech Bonanza crashed into an apartment building near Hollywood on Friday afternoon, killing the pilot and four others and causing the three-story structure to catch fire. FAA officials say the aircraft, which was flying VFR, departed the Santa Monica Airport, about 10 miles away, minutes before impact. ] Initial reports indicate the Santa Monica tower controller advised the pilot to switch to approach control for radar services but the pilot did not make contact. By Sunday, all 17 people believed to have been inside the 15-unit building had been accounted for, including the seven who were hurt in the crash. Two remained hospitalized in stable condition. Of the five people killed in the incident, four were believed to be in the aircraft.
FAA Commissions STARS In Philly...
On Monday, air traffic controllers in Philadelphia officially began "STARS gazing." That's when the FAA commissioned the Raytheon-built Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS) servicing the Philadelphia International Airport. Philadelphia is the first major airport to fully deploy STARS. Raytheon claims STARS is a highly reliable air traffic automation system that provides new high-resolution color displays, new computer processing and communication equipment, six-level display of weather, multi-radar tracking and easy and rapid incorporation of new hardware and software features. ] STARS is a joint procurement for the FAA and the Department of Defense. The FAA plans to install STARS in a total of 167 TRACONs (Terminal Radar Approach Controls) and up to nine terminal support facilities. The STARS FS-2+ system started working at Philadelphia on Nov. 17, 2002, and since that time, the system has been thoroughly evaluated by the FAA, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association and the Professional Airways Systems Specialists, resulting in Monday's STARS commissioning.
...But NATCA Questions FAA's Commitment
Now that it is fully operational, the FAA claims STARS replaces the older-generation technology with "an advanced air traffic system with greater capability to meet capacity needs for years to come." However, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) doesn't completely see it that way. The organization claims the controllers, not the FAA, are the reason this system is now operational. "Controllers have always been at the forefront of the drive for new technology," said NATCA President John Carr. "In Philadelphia, they pushed very hard to be the first to receive STARS and worked hard to make it a success," he added. ) NATCA also questions the FAA claim that STARS will become a widespread system throughout the National Airspace System. "Clearly, the STARS deployment waterfall has turned into a trickle," Carr said, noting the FAA now plans to deploy only seven new systems this year around the country, not 18 as originally scheduled. As for the FAA's plan to have 188 installed over the next several years, that number has been slashed to 74. The FAA says it plans to deploy STARS at "facilities deemed most critical over the next several years as funding permits."
Have you been thinking of selling your airplane lately? Now might be a good time. The National Aircraft Resale Association (NARA) says it is seeing the ingredients for a recovery in pre-owned aircraft sales. This assumption is based on factors ranging from the stabilization of aircraft values to opportunities created by the expiration of fractional contracts. The group claims pressures being placed on older aircraft are adding to the potential activity increase. In addition, NARA says some financiers and insurers are becoming reluctant to support older aircraft. ] "Inventory levels are high, resulting in almost unprecedented choice. Interest rates are at historically low levels, and prices have stopped declining. The combination of these factors represents a classic buyer's market," said Tony Friend, president of Aircraft Shopper Online and chairman of NARA's Industry Trends committee. NARA says other evidence of a likely turnaround includes an increase in turboprop sales, first-time buyers entering the market and price stabilization that has halted the precipitous drops of the past few years.
On June 9, the FAA issued an STC for the installation of a WSI InFlight AV200 cockpit weather system into a Piper Saratoga (PA-32R-301). The company says this is a major milestone in the certification process for their WSI InFlight (TM) system. The WSI InFlight AV200 system is designed to integrate with many popular multifunctional displays, most Electronic Flight Bags (EFBs) as well as other display devices. ] The company says the system continuously broadcasts near-real-time WSI aviation weather information directly to the cockpit using a geo-synchronous satellite service. Information includes current observed and forecast conditions, as well as WSI NOWrad®, a high-quality mosaic of the NEXRAD Doppler radar system. WSI claims InFlight has complete, uninterrupted continental United States signal reception at any altitude. The system features a sophisticated "high glance" value user interface that is easy to interpret and thereby increases situational awareness. Suggested retail for the system is $4,995, plus installation. Data service subscriptions start at $49.95 per month.
While Cessna and Eclipse seem to command most of the spotlight in the personal jet market, there seems to be a determined effort in Florida to provide some competition. Safire Aircraft recently announced plans for a massive new production facility at Opa-Locka Airport, in Dade County. The Beacon Council, Miami-Dade County's official economic development partnership, held a press conference on June 4 to officially welcome the company to its new Opa-Locka headquarters and unveil plans for the $40 million project. ] The Beacon Council helped Safire Aircraft Company with site selection at Opa-Locka Airport and the packaging of incentives. In one of the largest projects in the history of Opa-Locka, Safire has plans to build a new 500,000-square-foot, $40 million aircraft assembly facility. The company's new-generation, six-place jet is on schedule for deliveries in the first half of 2006, pending FAA certification. Production is expected to peak at more than 500 airplanes per year by 2009. According to Joe Cox, Safire Aircraft's vice president of operations and manufacturing, this translates into the employment of more than 700 production workers producing approximately two aircraft per day.
An Arizona judge has upheld liability limitations for aircraft manufacturers on older aircraft. Last month, Cessna successfully defended itself against litigation resulting from the crash of a 1980 Cessna 210 in 2000. To back his ruling, the Maricopa County judge cited the General Aviation Revitalization Act, signed into law 1994. This legislation gives aircraft manufacturers an 18-year liability limit on the manufacture of general aviation aircraft. Since the 210 involved in this case was 20 years old, Cessna was protected from liability. The crash killed the pilot and his wife. The outcome of the suit is typical of the almost ironclad nature of this piece of law, which apparently leaves little in the way of legal wiggle room for plaintiffs. In this case, the judge found no grounds for making exceptions to the 18-year liability limit and declared the law is constitutional. "The power of precedence is a very important thing," Ron Williams, Cessna's lawyer, told The Wichita Eagle. "The law has been upheld each time it has been challenged," Williams said.
While the aerospace market seems bleak at times, Garmin keeps coming up with new products and upgrades. The company -- known for its line of GPS products -- unveiled plans to upgrade its 400- and 500- series units over the next few months. The June 5 announcement said upgrades to certain units would include terrain advisories, certified Terrain Avoidance and Warning System (TAWS) and precision landings via the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS). ) The company plans to start implementing its internal terrain and TAWS upgrades later this year. Garmin will offer terrain advisories as an internal upgrade on its 400/500 avionics in the fourth quarter of 2003. This upgrade will cost $500 and will enable the 400/500 series to identify potential hazards, displaying them in yellow and red, so the pilot can avoid possible CFIT accidents. Garmin also says it is committed to offering WAAS upgrades for the 400/500 series for less than $1,500 by the end of 2004.
Add mischievous politicians to the list of airborne threats that can put the nation's defenses on alert. According to The Washington Post, anti-terrorism and anti-drug forces were diverted from their normal duties to try and find a Texas politician mounting an airborne filibuster of their legislature. You may remember last month when 51 Democratic Texas state legislators went en masse to Oklahoma to prevent a quorum in the Texas house. This disrupted plans by the GOP to enact a congressional redistricting plan certain to send more Republicans to Congress. One of the hooky-playing legislators was Rep. James E. "Pete" Laney, who flew to Oklahoma in a light plane. It's now apparent government forces were called in to hunt for the aircraft. ] U.S. and Texas officials have acknowledged that an "air interdiction" center, based in Riverside, Calif. -- responsible for tracking down potential terrorists and drug traffickers -- used its anti-smuggling resources to try to locate Laney's plane. The center's search was reportedly triggered by Republican suspicions that the plane was on its way from Oklahoma to pick up more Democrats seeking to escape Texas on the evening of May 12. The Washington Post says Laney unwittingly gave searchers the slip when the aircraft was out of radar coverage and the pilot made a detour to visit his mother in Graham, Texas, west of Fort Worth. The newspaper reports the Department of Transportation confirmed that the FAA gave U.S. Sen. Tom DeLay's (R-Texas) staff information about the past movements of Laney's plane. Now, if they can only get our flight plans correctly filed.
The CIA says a former Sydney Airport international baggage handler had links to al-Qaeda. It was reported by Australia's AAP that Bilal Khazal was employed as a baggage handler until a security review was carried out at the airport before the 2000 Olympic Games...
On Tuesday, Embraer announced it will build an airplane plant in Florida as part of an effort to become a defense contractor for the U.S. government. The company did not disclose the size of the investment, when the plant will be completed, or when it expects to win contracts with the U.S. government. The facility will be at the Cecil Commerce Center, formerly the Cecil Field Naval Air Station, an active military base until its closure in 1999...
The Flying Texas 200 Air Race culminated in a pass at the Bombardier 500 Indy Car Race last weekend. The top three placing teams in the air race flew a victory lap at the Texas Motor Speedway before the car race started. After landing at nearby Alliance Airport the winners were taken by helicopter to the track's Victory Circle for presentations. Dennis and Jeanette Hackler won the air race...
A five-year-old British girl was killed after being swept away by a helium balloon. The tragic accident happened when the girl became entangled in the mooring ropes of the balloon just as high winds swept into air show grounds. The balloon was about to be used for fun rides at a British military show being held at a base in Germany. The rest of the show -- scheduled through the weekend -- was cancelled...
New tests seem to confirm the possibility that Columbia was brought down by a piece of foam. In a test conducted June 6, a chunk of foam fired at high speed cracked a space shuttle wing panel. The 1.5-pound piece of foam caused a 3-inch crack in the reinforced carbon panel creating a gap of less than 1/10th of an inch between the panel and an adjoining seal...
The oldest Air France Concorde will be donated to the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. It will go on permanent display at the museum's new companion facility, the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. The aircraft will make its last flight as it travels to its induction ceremony on June 12. The new museum will open to the public on December 15.
*** PREVIOUS RESULTS ***
We received over 100 pictures last week. Congratulations to this week's winner, Mark Hoyne, of Grand Rapids, MN. This winning photo was taken by Willow Sedore, a reporter for the local newspaper this past Memorial Day. It shows pilot Amy Eichorn flying with a passenger located in a rather unusual location. Folks, please do not try this at home! Great picture Mark! 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.
**Due to privacy issues, AVweb does not publish e-mail addresses of readers who submit photos.
*** PREVIOUS RESULTS ***
We received over 500 responses to our question last week on ATC facility tours. The majority (65 percent) of those responding felt these visits are very important, as they gained valuable insight into the operation of these facilities. About 34 percent felt pilots should try to visit these facilities at least once in their lifetime. Only two people indicated didn't see the usefulness of these visits.
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 factory built versus kit aircraft. Thanks to Robert McCoy for suggesting this week's topic. Please go to http://www.avweb.com/qotw to respond.
Have an idea for a new QOTW? Send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Note, this address is ONLY for suggested QOTW questions, and NOT for QOTW answers.
AVweb's AVscoop Award...
Congratulations and an AVweb hat go out to John O'Neil, this
week's AVscoop winner. Submit news tips via email to
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New Articles and Features on AVweb
BIZAV: June 13, 2003
AVweb's expanded coverage of business/corporate aviation continues with the ups and downs at Cessna, Bombardier working real estate deals, Sino Swearingen regrouping after crash, the BizAv AD watch and more.
Reader feedback on AVweb's news coverage and feature articles:
Reader mail this week about NASA's cockpit study, Garmin support and more.
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