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EMPLOYEES DEFEND STUDY
The International Federation of
Professional and Technical Engineers, the union representing NASA
employees who oversaw a controversial pilot safety study, says it was
done properly and the data is valid, contrary to NASA Administrator
Michael Griffins statements to Congress a month ago, according to
an Associated Press story. Griffin appeared before a
House oversight committee Oct. 31 and said, among other things, that the
National Aviation Operations Monitoring System (NAOMS) was flawed
because the 8,000 commercial and private pilots were surveyed
anonymously and that could have resulted in duplication of
safety-related incidents being reported. The contractor that did the
study has also defended the veracity of the data, at least some of which
is unlikely to be made public because NASA says doing so would violate
the confidentiality promises it made. NASA originally intended to keep
all the survey results secret but came under pressure from the media and
Congress to share what it found out. The data apparently show a much
higher rate of safety-related incidents than show up in FAA reports.
FUNDING/USER FEE DEBATE STALLED
It is expected that more
popular matters might easily absorb the attention of senators through
the end of the year and FAA reauthorization -- the government's decision
on how the FAA is funded and whether or not you'll be paying user fees
-- will await the attention of a new year. As it stands, the Senate
Finance Committee is at odds with the Commerce Committee about how the
FAA's ADS-B powered "next-gen" airspace management ideal should be
funded. The Finance Committee supports the continued use of excise
taxes, while the Commerce Aviation Subcommittee has sought departure and
additional jet fuel taxes, plus a proposed $25 per flight surcharge.
Reauthorization has been extended twice without the formal approval of a
new plan. The current deadline is Dec. 14, but insiders stress the main
issue is where the funds will come from, not whether the funding will be
there. Still, there are other complications. More...
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MONICA'S ATTEMPT TO BAN JETS
Already noise-conscious, busy
Santa Monica airport (SMO) just north of LAX is set to adopt a city
council ordinance prohibiting category C and D aircraft (those aircraft
with approach speeds of 121 knots or more, but less than 166 knots) from
using its sole 4,973-by-150-foot runway in spite of a letter from the
FAA that calls the move "flatly illegal." With a Dec. 5 meeting set for
SMO representatives and the FAA, the issue may yet end in court.
Category C and D aircraft (Gulfstream IV, Challenger and Citation X
aircraft, and the like) account for about 8,500 operations per year at
SMO and half of its jet traffic. Violation of the ordinance, which the
council says is proposed for safety concerns, would incur a $1,000 fine.
The FAA has stated it will use "all available means" to prevent
implementation of the ordinance. Proponents say the FAA's own guidelines
call for runway safety areas of 1,000 feet at either end of runways
accommodating category C and D aircraft. Santa Monica presently has none
... but it does have homes within 300 feet of the runway's ends.
ON ANTI-DEPRESSANTS "SAFER"
The first study on the safety
records of pilots taking anti-depressants suggests they're no more
likely to crash an aircraft than those who don't need the drugs. The
study was done in Australia, the only place it could be done since it's
the only country that allows pilots to take anti-depressants and keep
their medicals. "There was virtually no difference in the number of
incidents or accidents," Professor Kathy Griffiths, a mental health
researcher from Australian National University, told a mental-health
conference in Australia. "But importantly, there was a tendency for more
accidents in the period prior to pilots going on to anti-depressants,
but not once they were on them." More...
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LANDS ON ULTRALIGHT
The pilot of an Avid ultralight was
killed Saturday when a Cessna 172 flown by a 15-year-old student
collided with it from above as both were on final for the same runway at
Latrobe Valley Regional Airport in the Gippsland town of Traralgon in
Australia. "It appears the Cessna had hit the ultralight while both were
attempting to land and the Cessna came in on top of the aircraft during
the final approach," Civil Aviation Safety Authority spokesman Peter
Gibson told the Sunday Herald Sun. The student pilot was able to
land safely without injury but the ultralight "disintegrated on impact,"
caught fire and left a debris field 500 yards across, according to the
AFRICAN AIRLINE GROUNDED
Nationwide Airlines, which hit the
three weeks ago when an engine on one of its aging Boeing 737-200s
sheared from the wing on takeoff, has been grounded by South Africa's
Civil Aviation Authority on the suspicion that it's using unapproved
parts. The CAA says it found some bolts that don't have the correct
paper trail and it was investigating the pirate parts possibility when
the 737 lost the engine Nov. 7. The flying pilot, Trevor Arnold, is up
for an award from the South Africa Airline Pilots Association, for his
actions during the emergency. More...
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OLDEST CROP-DUSTER RETIRES
After 43 years and 150,000
takeoffs and landings (!), 74-year-old crop-duster Don Taylor says it's
time to take on some milder pursuits like skydiving, hang
gliding, scuba diving and the little aerobatic aircraft he's building.
"If it was just up to me, I'd still be up there," Taylor told the Idaho
Statesman as he reflected on one of the longest crop-dusting careers
ever recorded. "Flying has always been a miracle to me."
THEFT GONE BAD
An individual has been charged after $5,000
worth of headsets were stolen from an aircraft that he allegedly drove
off a taxiway and into a soybean field at La Porte City (Indiana)
Airport. The arrest is likely among the preferred results after the
aircraft's operator (presumably the alleged thief) failed to negotiate a
turn from taxiway to runway and got stuck in the field. The alleged
thief was charged with Class D felony theft and also as a Class C felony
habitual traffic offender, but it seems that criminal mischief may be
the charge that applies to damage done during the theft -- chopped
soybean plants and associated aircraft damage. More...
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OF NEW PILOTS IN INDIA
Yes, you read that right. As
international organizations sound the alarm over a worldwide pilot
shortage, as regional airlines in the U.S. and Australia cut routes
because they lack cockpit crews and as airlines the world over
shamelessly poach pilots from competitors, young pilots in India say
theres just too many of them. "Things are going from bad to
worse," Gautam Singh, whos been in the right seat of a budget
carriers aircraft for 18 months, told The Times of India "But if I leave, there are 10
freshers waiting to take my place." More...
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THE TOWN RED
Singapore air force officials were red-faced
last week after a ground test by the elite Black Knights air
demonstration team left a lasting impression on its neighbors. According
to air force officials quoted by the Straits Times, the Black Knights
were trying out a new dye intended to create a red smoke trail from
their F-16s. However, it also turned about 200 tons of unharvested
vegetables, numerous cars, and anything else in its path (including a
pet cat) varying shades of red, after high winds carried the smoke over
the neighborhood. More...
THE FLY ...
NASA criticized for giving away engines
Cessna sued over Caravan crash ...
Students invited to
describe airplane of the future. More...
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MONDAY PODCAST: AIR TAXI ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT JOE LEADER RESPONDS TO
In last Monday's AVwebAudio podcast, we spoke with aviation
analyst Richard Aboulafia, whose consistent message has been that very
light jets and the air taxi business they are helping to spawn will not
be the market explosion that some are claiming. Well, as you might
expect, there are differing opinions on that topic, and Joe Leader,
president of the Air Taxi Association is one of the industry's prominent
spokesmen. He spoke with AVweb's Russ Niles from VLJ West, a
forum for owners and operators of the new jets held in San Diego earlier
this week. More...
OF THE WEEK: RADIO-CONTROLLED B-29 AIR SHOW
It's autumn at
AVweb world headquarters, and we're already opining the passage
of air show season. We've shared lots of great air show clips in the
last few weeks, but today we'll shift our scale back just a bit and
marvel at the radio-controlled aerobatics of a B-29 bomber at the 2003
Southeast Electric Flight Festival (SEFF). We stumbled across this at Classic Wings but mirrored it on YouTube to spare
their bandwidth a huge hit. James Larkey, if you're out there, chime
in, and we'll send you a hat! (Click through to watch.)
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DEC. 3, 2007
Reader mail this week about instructor
shortages, mechanics' liability, Cessna's China connection and more.
YOUR BATTERY DIE? TELL US ABOUT IT
Our sister publication,
Aviation Consumer, will soon publish an in-depth report on
aircraft batteries. As part of that report, the magazine would like to
hear about your experiences with aircraft batteries -- good, bad or
otherwise. To take part in our online survey, click here. More...
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OF THE WEEK: MONTGOMERY COUNTY AVIATION (WINGS FIELD AT KLOM,
"FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Montgomery County Aviation at KLOM's Wings
Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
AVweb reader Brett
Justus recommended the FBO, telling us that "'Brotherly
Service' is abundant at this FBO":
exceptional service all the way around. Most notably, though, I needed a
quick aircraft wash for some important clients the next morning
(potential investors), and there was only an hour and a half of daylight
left. The entire staff jumped on it immediately to get it done and
charged a ridiculously low price. Definitely the place to land if you're
going to Philly!
Keep those nominations
coming. For complete contest rules, click here.
actively seeking out the best FBOs in the country and another one,
submitted by you, will be spotlighted here next Monday!
There's Only 22 Shopping Days Choose
Gifts from AVweb's Holiday Marketplace
When purchasing gifts for family, friends, and flying buddies, go to
's Holiday Marketplace
the place to find perfect gifts for pilots and aviation enthusiasts. And
for yourself forward the link to your family and friends as a
hint as to what you want!
It's easy online, with
Romance in the air is alive and well. While on a
CAP flight I heard the following over departure
Bonanza 123, squawk
A short while later
Bonanza 123, do you have a passenger
named [woman's first name] aboard?
Can you put her on?
We are holding an important message for her.
This is [woman's
We have been asked to relay a message
to you from [man's name] in [aircraft number]. Are you ready to
Bonanza 123 (woman's
[Man's name] sends the
following message: "Will you marry me?"
get that. What is your answer?
Bonanza 123 (woman's
I would be honored.
123, we copy and will relay.
Cap Flight 2237 offers best wishes to the
Delta 0000 offers best wishes to the
Bonanza 123, Cap Flight 2237 and Delta
0000 send best wishes to the bride.
Bonanza 123 (woman's
voice again):Thank you.
CAP Flight 2237:
know romance on the airways is alive and well. Over 3,000 hours up here,
and I never heard anything like that.
either. We have never played cupid before.
THE AVWEBFLASH TEAM
AVwebFlash is a weekly
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