A pilot who said he ran out of fuel while circling outside the Washington, D.C., ADIZ, waiting for ATC to find his flight plan and clear him to enter, crashed four miles short of the runway on Sunday. The pilot and his two passengers suffered minor injuries. The Cessna 172 went down near Baltimore's Martin State Airport shortly after noon, according to the FAA Preliminary Report (scroll for Record 10). "The controller told me they couldn't find me in the system," pilot Dale Roger told the Baltimore Sun, and he kept circling for about an hour, waiting for an OK to enter the ADIZ so he could land at Martin Airport. Roger told the Sun that he had filed a flight plan, but the FAA said they had no record of it. "We've had continuous problems like these," AOPA spokesman Warren Morningstar told the Sun. "Flight plans are lost every day."
"Fuel management is the pilot's responsibility," AOPA President Phil Boyer said in a news release on Monday. "But having said that, AOPA has repeatedly warned FAA and the Transportation Security Administration that the operational gridlock caused by the ADIZ procedures would result in an accident, and now it appears that this has happened." AOPA said it will file a Freedom of Information Act request for the ATC and FSS audiotapes. AOPA had asked the FAA and TSA to establish ingress and egress routes for the ADIZ, but on June 9, that request was denied. "This response is not acceptable," said Boyer. "As the accident clearly demonstrates, there is a serious safety-of-flight issue that is being ignored." The Washington ADIZ, which covers the region's Class B airspace plus additional airspace to the south, extends from the surface up to but not including FL180. The ADIZ was imposed on February 10.
The D.C. airspace is far from being the only victim of security restrictions. In Florida, the World Aerobatics Championships (WAC) underway in Lakeland ran up against a 30-nm TFR that sprung up Monday night during a campaign visit to Tampa by President Bush. By working with the FAA and the Secret Service, and with help from EAA, the WAC was able to obtain a waiver so the competition could continue without interruption. In Europe last week, French fighter jets almost shot down a civilian helicopter that wandered over Lake Geneva, after a Swiss controller jokingly labeled the helicopter as "al-Qaeda" on his radar screen. And in Africa, Kenya on Sunday closed its airspace to flights from neighboring Somalia, despite appeals from Somalia to keep the routes open. The closure was attributed to terrorism concerns, according to a BBC report.
The FAA is years behind schedule on many of its projects, while costs increase at rates that are not sustainable or affordable, the Transportation Department's Office of Inspector General concluded in a report issued last week. "Overall, the 20 projects we reviewed have experienced cost growth of about $4.3 billion and schedule slips from one to seven years," according to the report. "Moreover, FAA is just starting complex, billion-dollar efforts ... If FAA does not exercise more management control over its acquisitions, existing projects will be further delayed, and new projects may not start as planned." For example, NEXCOM, the Next Generation Air/Ground Communications, involves replacing 50,000 air-to-ground radios with new multi-mode digital systems, at a cost of at least $1 billion just to get started. Costs for total implementation of NEXCOM are undetermined. Likewise, the En Route Automation Replacement Modernization (ERAM) will cost an estimated $2.1 billion, starting in 2005, to provide software and hardware for facilities that control high-altitude air traffic.
Among the projects critiqued in the report are satellite navigation systems, weather systems for controllers, and new technologies to prevent accidents on runways and taxiways. For example, STARS, the Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System, is seven years behind schedule, and its estimated cost has ballooned by 80 percent, from $940 million to $1.7 billion. The estimated cost for implementing WAAS, the GPS-based Wide Area Augmentation System, has gone up a whopping 227 percent, from under a billion to almost $3 billion, and it's five years behind schedule. "Problems with acquisition efforts have serious consequences," the OIG reported, "because they result in costly interim systems, a reduction in units procured, postponed benefits (in terms of safety and efficiency), or 'crowding out' other modernization projects." Progress has been made with some efforts, such as Free Flight Phase 1, and the agency has made progress in reducing the time it takes to award contracts, the report acknowledged.
The report found that since most of the projects reviewed do not have reliable cost, schedule, or performance baselines, the "FAA cannot effectively plan, manage programs, or meet expectations for improving the safety, security, and capacity of the National Airspace System." The agency must take steps to control costs, maximize the impact of each dollar spent, and develop methods to hold managers and contractors accountable for meeting performance goals, the report said. The OIG performed its review from December 2002 through May 2003. The report also recommended that the FAA update the cost, schedule, and performance baselines for many of its major acquisitions, including STARS, ITWS, LAAS, and WAAS at a minimum. "These baselines are misleading because they do not accurately reflect the true cost, schedule, or performance parameters for the projects," the report said. This process may require the FAA to establish a new strategy that accelerates some projects and defers others. The OIG met with FAA officials while preparing the report, and said the officials generally agreed with the analysis and recommendations. The FAA has been asked by OIG to provide written comments to the final report.
On Tuesday, personal locator beacons (PLBs), which have been in use in Alaska since 1994, became available to pilots in the lower 48 (see AVweb's review). The small, easily portable beacons, which use satellite signals to pinpoint location, have been credited with saving hundreds of lives in Alaska. Boy Scouts in Waterbury, Vt., carried out the official test of the technology on Tuesday, and were quickly located in the woods by rescue crews. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says lower-end units are available for $300 to $500, but a quick Internet search this week found many prices from $599 to $1,200. Prices are expected to come down as demand and production increase. Users of PLBs must register them with the NOAA. Upon activation, a PLB sends a signal to the satellites that encircle the globe. The signal is then relayed to a ground station and routed to the appropriate mission control center, where the unique identification signal is matched to the beacon owner's registered data. The location and data are then forwarded to the U.S. Air Force Rescue Coordination Center, which coordinates the rescue with the local search-and-rescue agency. If no GPS data is loaded into the PLB, searchers can pinpoint the PLB's location to within 2.3 miles. If a GPS unit is connected to the PLB, emergency response speed is increased. The approval for the technology is long overdue, according to Doug Ritter, of the Equipped To Survive Foundation. The PLB is "a proven lifesaving device that's been available elsewhere in the world for many years," he said. Ritter will conduct a forum about the PLBs on July 31 at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh.
The 300-plus private and state-owned companies that comprise Russia's struggling civilian aircraft industry must merge into a single entity that can compete with Boeing and Airbus, Vice-Premier Boris Alyoshin said last week in Moscow. The industry will draw up a plan this year to detail how it will achieve that goal, Alyoshin told the Associated Press. Alyoshin also said the Tupolev and Ilyushin companies are already working on a merger, and MiG and Sukhoi will be privatized next year, according to Pravda. Last year, Russia produced only seven civilian aircraft, while Boeing built over 300. Russia once built more than 700 aircraft a year, but in the last 10 years the industry has been in decline. Alyoshin also told the AP that his government might soon change its rules to allow more foreign investment, which could provide a boost to the aircraft sector.
Back in 1999, 13 Oregon pilots came up with a plan to build 14 identical replicas of the Nieuport 11, working together as a team. This summer, the whole fleet is finished, and the extra airplane will be auctioned off on eBay sometime in August. The proceeds will be donated to the EAA Willamette Valley Chapter 292 building fund. The Nieuport to be sold will be on display before the auction at the Northwest EAA Fly-In, July 9-13 in Arlington, Wash., and at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis., July 29 - August 4. For those not in on the bidding, you can get a taste of WWI aircraft aloft every weekend in New York at Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome -- and now there's a free ground shuttle for pilots who fly into the nearby Kingston-Ulster Airport (20N). The Oregon homebuilders were inspired by the Lafayette Escadrille -- American pilots who volunteered to fly for the Allies before the United States entered the Great War -- and who flew Nieuports. In their honor, the EAA members named their group the "Noon Patrol" -- joking that they're too lazy to get up at dawn. In this unique project, all builders worked on all the Nieuports, then held a drawing to match each pilot with an airplane. Decisions were made by consensus at weekly builders meetings.
British groups representing more than 4 million people joined on Monday to take a stand against airport expansion, the Guardian reported this week. About 20 groups concerned with conservation and heritage, or that target specific airports such as Gatwick and Heathrow, issued a joint statement that said any further airport developments would seriously damage the economy and the environment. The statement opposes any expansion at any of the sites, arguing that the government has failed to make a case that more air service is necessary. If the cost of air tickets wasn't kept artificially low by government subsidies, growth in air traffic would be contained, they said, according to the Guardian. London's Luton Airport joined in the debate this week, telling the government that it has excess capacity that is going to waste. The airport filed a brief arguing for "extreme caution in the apparent rush to lay new runways" and proposing "a responsible use of the spare runway capacity that still exists," Bedford Today reported Tuesday. The anti-airport groups argued that growth would destroy wildlife habitat, increase emissions that cause climate change, and promote noise and traffic.
The FAA last week issued a Final Rule regarding certain Hartzell propellers with aluminum blades, revising an existing Airworthiness Directive. Affected aircraft include models from Cessna, Piper, Beech and others (check the list). The new rule permits the replacement of affected propellers with Hartzell model "MV" series propellers as an alternative to the initial and repetitive inspections of the affected props. The change was prompted by type certification approval of the MV series propellers that are direct replacements for the affected propellers, and Service Bulletin approval to allow modification of affected propellers to the MV type design configuration. The revised AD is effective July 31. The AD is intended to prevent blade separation due to cracked blades, hubs, or blade clamps, which can result in loss of control of the airplane.
Mary Ann Stout, of Ormond Beach, Fla., got an unusual phone call last Wednesday morning from her husband, Larry, who was out flying his Experimental biplane, a Marquart MA-5 Charger. He was all right, he told her, but the airplane had crashed into a tree and he was stuck. Mary Ann called 9-1-1 and guided rescuers to the downed airplane, in a wooded area near the Volusia County line, the Orlando Sentinel reported. Larry was taken to the hospital shortly afterward, with minor injuries, but injury to the Charger, according to the FAA's preliminary report, was substantial.
A New Jersey bill that would have required pilot background checks died without a vote as the legislative session ended this week, AOPA said...
Stephen Finger took over on Tuesday as president of Sikorsky Aircraft, succeeding Dean Borgman, who was appointed chairman of the company. Finger was previously president of Pratt & Whitney's military engines business...
Three Reno unlimited racers will fly at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh later this month. The three include "Cloud Dancer," a P-51 flown by Jimmy Leeward; the Sea Fury "Riff Raff," piloted by former U.S. astronaut Robert "Hoot" Gibson; and the No. 57 Super Corsair owned by Bob Odegaard...
The World Aerobatic Championships continue this week in Lakeland, finishing tomorrow. Results as of Monday listed the Russians in the first four positions, with French pilots in fifth and sixth place, and only one U.S. competitor, Robert Armstrong, in the top 10...
Chip Erwin won the Schneider Cup 2003 seaplane race, held in Italy early this month, flying a Zenair Zodiac CH 601 XL on amphibious floats. It was Erwin's third win.
*** PREVIOUS RESULTS ***
We received over 100 pictures last week. Congratulations to this week's winner, Stanley D. Lindholm, of Westlake, OH. His photo, titled "Liftoff!" captures one of the most exhilarating moments in flight: takeoff! This sharp picture was taken on June 15 at the Father's Day Fly In, Beach City, OH. Nice picture, Stanley! 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 700 responses to our question last week on cellphone use in airplanes. Approaching half (44 percent) of those responding felt there might be some risk of interference when using cellphones in the air but were not totally sure of that fact. About 28 percent don't see a problem with their use and have done so on GA and airline aircraft alike. Only 8 percent felt using cellphones in the air compromises everyone's safety.
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 using anti-depressants before flight. Please go to http://www.avweb.com/qotw to respond.
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