By Russ Niles, Newswriter, Editor
More Costs, More Red Tape...
European GA is facing massive cost increases, more red tape and what some say is an unnecessarily daunting training regimen for many technicians as the European Community's new umbrella safety organization flexes its newborn muscles. But their airplanes will be clean. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which is taking over from the Joint Aviation Authority, is bent on removing the 12,500-pound barrier when it comes to certain maintenance standards and record-keeping and we bet you can guess which side of the line they're favoring. And tucked in the myriad of regs is a provision requiring maintenance and repair shops to return customers' planes "clean." The new agency, which takes over in September, plans to implement the changes over the next couple of years and the Aircraft Electronics Association is crying foul. The AEA has about 100 members in Europe and VP Ric Peri said it's too much, too fast, particularly when it comes to getting aircraft technicians ready for the switch. "The proposed timeline for implementation [of regulations] for aeroplanes with a maximum takeoff mass below 5,700 kg. [approx. 12,500 pounds] and helicopters with a maximum takeoff mass below 3175 kg. [approx. 7,000 pounds] is extremely aggressive," Peri wrote in a statement about Part 66, which concerns qualification for maintenance personnel. According to Peri, the new rule would require someone working on single-engine piston aircraft to be qualified to fix such big-iron items as autoland systems, satellite communications and in-flight entertainment systems. He said this one-size-fits-all approach ignores the progressive training and experience model that technicians now go through and puts a tremendous burden on students and the companies that must train them. He also notes that countries that don't heavily subsidize aviation-trades training are put at a disadvantage by the rule.
...GA Maintenance Requirements Change...
Of greatest concern to private aircraft owners is EASA's retooling of the JAA Part M. Essentially, the new rule will require light aircraft (below 12,500 pounds) to have individual maintenance management programs in place, similar to those used on airliners and other commercially used aircraft. GA aircraft are currently maintained according to manufacturers' maintenance programs, and a Cessna 172 is a Cessna 172 regardless of who is fixing it. The AEA claims the new rule will not only drop a huge financial burden on GA owners, it could actually make the GA fleet less safe. "The requirement to individually approve each and every aircraft's maintenance program is administratively burdensome to individual national aviation authorities, extremely costly to individual owners/operators and will introduce a lack of standardization essential to the improving safety of general aviation maintenance and operations," Peri wrote. The proposed regs get into some details that the AEA believes should be left to the discretion of the people doing the work. For instance, the new rules require that maintenance be performed in "proper facilities" while the AEA points out that some jobs have to be done outside and as long as the airplane and the people working on it are protected from bad weather that should be good enough for the government. As far as cleaning the airplane after servicing, the AEA says that shouldn't be a requirement because "the cosmetic appearance of the aircraft is not a safety issue." Rather, it's recommending the section be changed to ensure that all tools and leftover supplies be removed and access panels replaced before the aircraft is signed off.
...Blakey Urged Consultation
So far, the proposed rules would only affect European Union states and neighboring countries that want to do business with them. But aviation, perhaps more than many others, is a global industry and it was only a few months ago that FAA Administrator Marion Blakey told a conference in Geneva, Switzerland, that Europe should be talking to other jurisdictions to ensure there are no conflicts down the road. "Aerospace trade between the United States and the European Community exceeds $40 billion," she said. "There is a lot at stake." What's not clear is if the new rules will apply to very light aircraft that some believe are poised to flood the American market as soon as the new Light Sport Aircraft is approved by the FAA. North American manufacturers are worried that their European competition will be subject to looser regulations and lax enforcement, thus reducing their costs.
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Meigs' Fate Sealed...
As many suspected all along, there was nothing that could be done to save Meigs Field, once it had been rendered unusable by heavy equipment sent in by Mayor Richard Daley last March. That didn't stop Friends of Meigs (FOM), the alphabet groups, Harrison Ford and even a few politicians from trying, but the last chapter of the long and bitter story would appear to have been written at a meeting of the Chicago Park Board last Wednesday. "The decision to close the airport has already been made," said Park Board President Maria Saldana as she presided over a unanimous vote to award a $1.5 million contract to remove what's left of the runway and replace it with topsoil. The FOM had asked that the contract decision be deferred while it worked on a combined airport/park plan it hoped would satisfy everyone. "There was not even any discussion between board members prior to the vote on the issue," said an account of the proceedings on the FOM's Web site. The FOM noted that all members on the Park Board are appointed personally by Daley and it's the only such entity in all of Illinois. The FOM suggested that an elected board might have been more sensitive to the fact that a Chicago Tribune poll recently showed that 65 percent of residents opposed closing the airport. The demolition work was to have begun in the fall but the Park Board has apparently decided sooner is better and wants the work started within a month.
...Maybe The President Will Listen...
Public opinion might not have been a factor in Chicago but AOPA is hoping an election-focused George W. Bush will listen to his flying constituents about all the trouble he causes them when he drops in for a visit. And there's no place like home for that message to hit. Over the past weekend, Bush used his Crawford, Texas, ranch as his base for some visits to his old stomping grounds in Dallas and Houston. The result was a series of overlapping TFRs that closed a total of 70 airports and inconvenienced hundreds of pilots. AOPA is hoping all Texas pilots affected will write a letter directly to Bush informing him of the trouble he caused them. "Don't send an e-mail," warned AOPA VP Andy Cebula. "It might as well be junk mail. Send a letter. In Washington, a piece of paper carries a lot more weight." The White House address is 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, D.C., 20500. AOPA President Phil Boyer said that since Bush is a pilot he should know the effects of his portable TFRs and he should tell the Secret Service to lighten up. "Today it's Texas. Tomorrow it's wherever the next stop on the campaign trail is," Boyer said. "It's time for the president's security personnel to stop treating GA pilots like criminal suspects."
...FAA Hears Concerns
Now, the Secret Service might not be swayed much by public opinion, but the FAA has shown that it can accept a common-sense suggestion. The weekend restrictions were going to particularly affect Crawford-area pilots. Generally, the 30-nm TFR around the ranch is only in effect when Bush is actually there. But for some reason the TFR was set to remain in place even when Bush was safely under the no-fly zones around Houston and Dallas. That was until AOPA got in touch with the FAA. The Crawford TFRs were changed at the last minute to reflect the president's physical presence on the ranch. "Apparently our comments made someone at the FAA step back and take another look at the situation," said AOPA VP Melissa Bailey. It's a small victory, however, and AOPA's fight against the presidential TFRs will continue. "AOPA members continue to question the size and scope of these presidential TFRs for the burden they create for general aviation pilots," Bailey said.
With a furlough here, some shuffling there and a lot of crossed fingers, the GA capital of the U.S. may have weathered the worst of the worst economic downturn in aviation's brief history. Cessna and Raytheon officials can't and won't say that happy days are here again but they are at least giving qualified comments to The Wichita Eagle that suggests they expect that brighter future we've all been waiting for to start soon ... maybe. "We knew that we were in a tough delivery year for '03 and '04, " said Doug Wilburne, VP of investor relations for Textron, Cessna's parent company. "We are anticipating a much more robust '05." Cessna's recent furlough of 6,000 workers to align production with demand is now over and company officials hope no further layoffs are required. Raytheon isn't so much cutting jobs as transferring them to other companies. The company announced last week that it would shift some of its plastic work from a plant in Salina, Kan., to Nordam, a plastics and composites company with factories in Wichita and Tulsa. There will be 64 Raytheon employees affected by the move but they'll be allowed to apply for the 40 to 60 new jobs created at Nordam. Spokeswoman Jackie Berger said the shuffling is aimed at turning around the money-losing company. "We plan to break even this year and improve the business in future years," she said.
Smile, you're on Southeast Airlines. The tiny Florida-based carrier will be among the first in the U.S. to use video cameras to monitor cabin activity. In fact, the Largo company is bragging that it will never forget the face of anyone who flies with them because the digital images of each flight will be kept for up to 10 years. It may also put names to faces with face-recognition software. There are also plans to beam the live images to the corporate head office. "One of the strong capabilities of the system is for the corporate office to be able to monitor what is going on at all times," Southeast VP Scott Bacon told Wired News. Bacon says it's just a matter of time before the FAA mandates video monitoring so Southeast decided to be one step ahead. The video system, to be installed by SkyWay Communications, will have up to 16 cameras throughout the cabin (none in the washrooms) and can either be overt or covert. Although no camera ever stopped a suicidal hijacker, SkyWay VP David Huy said the images could help police track criminals and be used as evidence in air-rage cases, and pilots could use monitors to make sure the cabin is secure before opening the cockpit door. But video can work both ways as the (now-unemployed) pilot of a charter plane found out last week. WPVI News in Philadelphia reported a passenger recorded the Walker Aviation pilot asleep at the controls on a flight from the Bahamas to Ft. Lauderdale. He woke up in time to land the plane and pick up his pink slip. The FAA is investigating.
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Flight-control operating levers in GROB Model G120A airplanes must be modified to prevent a ball bearing failure.
McCauley props installed on BAE Jetstream Model 4101 airplanes must be checked for cracks.
The nose landing gear drag link right-hand part on all Pilatus PC-12 and PC-12/45 airplanes must be replaced every 4,000 landings until an improved design part is installed.
The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) industry's answer to AirVenture was held last week at Patuxent River Naval Air Station's Webster Field Annex and indications are this semi-annual event will grow along with the popularity of UAVs. According to the American Forces Press Service, about 10 UAVs, including a pilotless helicopter, were there to show the expanding capabilities of the remote control devices. They were Northrop Grumman with the Fire Scout and the Hunter, Boeing's ScanEagle, DRS's Sentry HP, Scheibel's Camcopter, Yamaha's RMAX, Aurora Flight Sciences' GolenEye-50, Innocon's Mini Falcon and MMIST's SnowGoose. In fact, about the only one not there was the well-known Predator because the military couldn't spare any from its operations. As the capabilities of UAVs expand, so will their roles. "When we held this the last time in July 2001, the emphasis was on data and pictures," an unnamed Navy official told the Press Service. "Now, the Predator is armed, and flying missions. The Defense Department is sinking serious money in the unmanned combat air vehicles and all sorts of other uses are being considered for these platforms." Among those roles is border security and the Department of Homeland Security has been kicking the tires of UAVs. As the roles expand for the vehicles, the equipment and personnel requirements are shrinking. "They are getting easier to fly and require fewer people and pieces of equipment to operate," said Clark Butner, who works with UAVs at Pax River. Among the most economical is the SnowGoose, which arrives ready to fly for $250,000, or "digit dust" when compared to the overall DOD budget said Butner.
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With all three North American military performance teams flying each day (and perfect 79-degree pure blue skies Saturday) it was a celebration befitting the occasion it marked. This weekend, people jammed the Vectren Dayton Air Show in the official (Kitty Hawk will always argue this) Birthplace of Aviation, to mark 100 years of powered, sustained flight. The event is the keystone gala to a long list of centennial events across the country. The Canadian Forces Snowbirds, the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds each brought their own version of precision flight to hundreds of thousands. Rich's Incredible Pyro assaulted the record books with a 3,000-foot-long wall of fire and air-to-ground attack simulations, while aerial demonstrations included everything from the 1910 Bleriot XI" to the B-2 Stealth Bomber. Announcers at the show Saturday proclaimed by noon that the record crowd had gobbled up all the programs for the week and officials were scrambling to open new parking areas as visitors spent three hours inching in gridlock the last three miles to reach the show site. Hot, sunny weather had air show watchers seeking shade under airplane wings and drinking water from military tank trailers as they watched military, commercial and aerobatic aircraft go through their paces. And if they were lucky, they might have run into an aviation icon or two, who were in Dayton for a reunion of a very exclusive club. A total of 22 aviators enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame attended a gala reunion of the most influential people in aviation in its first 100 years. Astronauts, test pilots and industry builders paid homage to the brothers who started it all in their Dayton bicycle shop. "The Wright Brothers gave me the best vocation a man ever had," said Scott Crossfield, who was the first to fly twice the speed of sound in 1953, a scant 50 years after the Wrights managed their wobbling first flights. Boeing also used the Dayton event to ensure that the cutting-edge technology of just a few years ago will be remembered long into the future. It donated its technology demonstrator aircraft the Bird of Prey and a 28-percent scale model of the X-36 tailless agility flight demonstrator to the U.S. Air Force Museum in Dayton. For more details and images, visit Dayton Daily News' online coverage.
Want to rub shoulders with the likes of Chuck Yeager and Sean D. Tucker or take home Patti Wagstaff's flight suit? There are still a few tickets available for the Gathering of Eagles, the gala benefit that kicks off EAA AirVenture a week from tomorrow. Dozens of the most famous and influential people in the aviation world will attend the event at the AirVenture Museum. It's a fundraiser for Young Eagles and other educational programs aimed at inspiring young people to pursue aviation as a hobby or career. A live auction features items like a Segway human transporter, works by aviation artist James Dietz and even a weekend spent with racing-car drivers courtesy of Roush Racing. Raffle prizes include a ride in EAA's Spirit of St. Louis replica, a Bose Wave radio, flight jackets, vacations and Wagstaff's flight suit.
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A camera's flash may have saved three men who crashed a 172 this weekend in hilly wooded terrain some 60 miles east of Vancouver. All were soaked in fuel and sitting in the crumpled plane, according to The Province, when a Comrorant military rescue helicopter passed near the site at 1:45 a.m., and one of men in the aircraft pointed his camera skyward and set off its flash, pinpointing his location for rescuers...
The Boeing 307 Stratoliner that ditched off Seattle last year will be back at EAA AirVenture this year. The 60-year-old restored airliner ran out of fuel about 16 months ago and ended up in Elliot Bay. It's been faithfully restored again and will be on display the full week of AirVenture...
Two Canadian pilots were killed in the crash of an Air Spray Lockheed Electra water bomber last week. The big four-engine turboprop had just dropped a load of retardant on a fire near Cranbrook, B.C., when it crashed in a wilderness area about five miles from the town...
German gun maker Heckler & Koch will supply U.S. airline pilots with their weapons. The winning bid was announced last Thursday. The company will supply 9,600 .40-LEM semiautomatic pistols for the TSA's Federal Flight Deck Officer's program...
Northwest Airlines suffered its worst financial quarter ever last quarter. Without cash infusions from the sale of its WorldSpan ticket processor and reimbursement for security costs from the government, the airline would have lost $160 million. The Iraq war and SARS were largely to blame but CEO Richard Anderson said there hasn't been much improvement since...
The eyes have it for speedy Customs clearance at Vancouver International Airport. The Canada Customs and Revenue Agency will use Iridian Technologies equipment to scan the irises of pre-approved travelers at YVR under CCRA's CANPASS-Air program. Eight other Canadian airports will soon have the equipment...
Atlantic City's famed Boardwalk will be the venue for the city's first major air show in 10 years. The Aug. 27 show will feature the Thunderbirds and various military and warbird demonstrations. It's free to the public and sponsored by Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa.
I fly skydivers and am talking to controllers at the best ATC facility around quite often. One day traffic on the frequency was a little light so one of the controllers had a little fun:
Cessna123: Jumpers away!
Approach (in his best kid-on-a-ride voice): WEEEEEEE!
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AIRVENTURE 2003 OSHKOSH
AVweb's AirVenture 2003 Survival Guide -- Part Two
AVweb presents an insider's guide to the hows, whys and wheres of EAA's AirVenture 2003 at Oshkosh. AVweb columnist Rick Durden provides you the benefit of his years of OSH experience with tips you won't find anywhere else. The first part of this series covered how to prepare for your pilgrimage to Aviation Mecca -- this second part focuses on what you need to know once you've arrived.
Pelican's Perch #71: The Legendary Zero (Part 1)
The Japanese Zero of World War II was so light it could out-turn just about any American fighter, but that meant it had very little armor, so one good shot would take it down. Nowadays, there are maybe two flying examples in the entire world -- and AVweb's John Deakin is now a qualified pilot in one of them.
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