On The Fly...

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Total industry billings fell from an all-time high of $13.9 billion to $11.9 billion in 2002, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association announced yesterday. Shipments in the U.S. were down from 2001 by 13.6 percent for singles, 11.6 percent for twins and a whopping 38.9 percent for turboprops. Read the full text of the news release, available in Adobe's Portable Document Format.

A Delta Boeing 767 shed a landing-gear door on approach to San Juan International Airport in Puerto Rico. The door thudded to earth beside a carport in the San Juan suburb of Bayamon. No one was hurt and there was no damage ... except to the door...

Well, there's nothing like a riot at the airport -- by airline employees -- to inspire confidence in air travel. French riot police had to use smoke bombs to keep the protesting employees of Air Lib from reaching the runway at Orly Airport in Paris. The workers did manage to block a highway for 90 minutes. Air Lib ceased operations last week after the French government cut subsidies....

Perhaps breaking them in for hardships to follow, some soldiers headed to the Persian Gulf will get there via a long flight on a domestic airliner conscripted for the effort by the Defense Department. A total of 47 airliners from most of the majors will take part in the airlift and another 31 wide-body cargo jets are on call for the effort...

It's not just people who are flying less. A drop in the package business has United Parcel Service looking at laying off up to 100 pilots if it can't reach a deal with the union for voluntary separations and leaves of absence. The company has 2,515 pilots.