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The FAA says it will likely investigate the complaints of a couple of pilots who say they were intercepted and shadowed, at close range, by an F-16 over Arizona earlier this month. Pilatus PC-12
pilot Patrick McCall and Beech Premier pilot Scott Laromee have both filed near-collision reports with the agency after they say they were aggressively pursued by an F-16 on March 21 in the Gladden
Military Operations Area, a training area used by pilots from Luke Air Force Base near Phoenix. The area is open for use by civilian aircraft. In a podcast interview with AVweb, McCall said that when his TCAS activated about 10 a.m. that day while he was cruising at 16,500 (VFR with flight
following) he ended up having to dive his aircraft as the target kept closing on him. The target followed him in the dive and when McCall leveled at about 14,000 feet, he was amazed by the view from
his side window. I then looked to my left side of the aircraft and saw an F16 aircraft off of my left wing, he said in a written report sent to the FAA. The F16 was no more than 20
feet off of my left wing. AVweb contacted the media relations department of Luke Air Force Base on Friday and provided copies of both McCalls and Laromees complaints but
military officials did not respond to our request for comment by our deadline on Sunday.
Laromee declined detailed comment on the incident but he did confirm that it occurred and that he is demanding answers. There are a lot of people getting involved in this. Its not going
to get swept under, he told AVweb. According to McCall, after pacing his aircraft for a few moments, the F-16 accelerated vertically. A few minutes later, he said, he heard another pilot
on the radio reporting a TCAS alert and announcing he was starting the vertical climb commanded by the TCAS gear to avoid what appeared to be an imminent collision. McCall said the other pilot then
reported an F-16 pacing him at a range of only about 10 feet. The two pilots exchanged contact information over the radio and both reported the incident to the FAA when they were back on the ground.
FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said the reports havent made their way through the bureaucracy yet but, assuming they do, the agency will look into the complaints. The FAA would certainly want to
know about an alleged incident like this. We likely would do an investigation, although the FAA does not have the authority to take action against a military pilot, Gregor said. The most
we could do would be to send our investigation package to the military and rely on them to take appropriate action. McCall said hes contacted the military and is not satisfied with the
response he received.
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XCOR last week announced its "Lynx" two-place transport that will be designed for to speeds near Mach 2, reached during ascent to 200,000 feet and 30 minutes aloft. Former Space Shuttle commander and
current XCOR test pilot, Rick Searfoss, is helping promote the aircraft as "the greatest ride on earth." The vehicle will be powered by liquid-fueled engines that "are fully reusable, burn cleanly,
and release fewer particulates than solid fuel or hybrid rocket motors," according to XCOR CEO Jeff Greason. Lynx aims to treat passengers more like co-pilots than cargo -- meaning they will ride up
front, not in back, and XCOR hopes to have a fully operable Lynx by 2010.
The company hopes to offer Lynx to the space tourism market, making round trips "several times a day." XCOR animation shows the aircraft departing the runway under its own power and returning in a
glide. Occupants are shown wearing space suit helmets. XCOR CEO Jeff Greason defines his company's mission as to radically lower the cost of spaceflight, because affordable access to space for
everyone means far more than breathtaking views and the freedom of weightlessness." Potential cost for the flights was not made available in XCOR's press release.
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The Airline Pilot Security Alliance (APSA) Thursday released a statement saying that TSA weapons-handling rules are to blame for the
accidental discharge of a pilot's firearm while in the cockpit of a flying US Airways jet last weekend. The APSA pointed specifically to the TSA's requirement for pilots to remove the guns from their
person, lock them and carry them "off-body" when off the flight deck. The group quotes an unidentified federal flight deck officer who said the pilot involved was preparing for landing and was trying
to remove his gun and secure it when "the padlock depressed the trigger." Personal responsibility aside, the rules may force some pilots to handle their guns ten times each day and that much gun play
is "a recipe for disaster," according to David Mackett, president of the APSA. APSA's press release concluded with one pilot's opinion that Congress should take a look at how the program is operated,
and the suggestion that pilots should follow the same procedures applied to federal air marshals.
American Airlines and Delta Air Lines combined to cancel roughly 400 flights (Delta was responsible for about two-thirds of that total)
as the FAA's push to check maintenance records for compliance continues. American is rechecking 300 of its MD-80s and Delta is checking about 117 MD-88s. It seems the airlines are reacting to a
specific airworthiness directive issued in September of 2006 that requires compliance by March of 2008. The AD calls for the aircraft to be checked for evidence
of arcing on power cables of the auxiliary hydraulic pump and for action to be taken to prevent shorted wires or arcing and thereby reduce the potential for creation of an ignition source adjacent to
the aircraft's fuel tanks. The affected aircraft make up about 46 percent of American's fleet and 20 percent of Delta's. Following on the heels of the FAA's $10.2 million fine against Southwest
Airlines, the airlines may be moving to take action before being acted upon.
Cirrus Announces New Standard Maintenance Program
A planemaker fond of comparing its planes to high-end luxury automobiles just brought those two seemingly disparate markets a little closer. Cirrus Design has announced the launch of Cirrus
Maintenance, a new "standard with purchase" benefit designed to help reduce the cost of scheduled and unscheduled maintenance. For more information,
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Diamond's 170-knot twin turbo-diesel DA42 Thursday earned FAA known ice certification, allowing the 12-gallon-per-hour
aircraft to more completely utilize its 1,100-nm range. Owners currently operating TKS-equipped DA42s must comply with Diamond Service Bulletin OSB-42-015, Revision 3 or later to get known ice
approval. Diamond says it will cover parts and labor (the aircraft will get new placards, updated AFM sections and a TKS system test) for compliance. Diamond's four-seat DA42 Twin Star flies with
FADEC-controlled engines and a G1000 glass cockpit. Heike Larson, vice president of sales and marketing at Diamond Aircraft, put it this way: "The DA42 is an ideal cross-country traveling plane for
pilots who want the ability to go direct, over rugged terrain or open water, and who need to be able to fly when CAVU is nowhere to be found, and when the mercury drops below freezing." Now, says
Larson, DA42 pilots "have even more options."
By invitation only, a Select Committee Hearing for the House will examine aviation's impact on global warming Wednesday, April 2,
by examining the contribution to greenhouse gases caused by aircraft. Presently, aviation emissions "generate 12 percent of U.S. transportation carbon dioxide emissions and three percent of the Unites
States' total carbon dioxide emissions," according to a government release announcing the hearing. The FAA estimates that U.S. demand for passenger and cargo aviation will at least double by 2025.
Participants in the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming hearing include James May, president and CEO, Air Transport Association; Dan Elwell, FAA assistant administrator
for aviation policy, planning, and environment; and Bob Meyers, principal deputy assistant administrator for the office of air and radiation for the environmental protection agency (EPA). No agenda
was available at the time of this writing, but the hearing's title may offer clues: "From the Wright Brothers to the Right Solutions: Curbing Soaring Aviation Emissions."
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Canadas Transportation Safety Board says in a report hot air balloons that carry passengers for
hire should have safety standards equal to those required for other types of aircraft that fly commercially. While balloons can carry up to 12 fare-paying passengers, they are not regulated at a
level comparable to that of other commercial aircraft operators, the report said. The TSB recommends [that the] Department of Transport ensure that passenger-carrying commercial balloon
operations provide a level of safety equivalent to that established for other aircraft of equal passenger-carrying capacity. The board made its recommendation after completing an investigation
into a balloon accident in Winnipeg, Manitoba, last August in which the pilot and two passengers were severely burned and other passengers were less seriously injured in a landing accident.
The wind had picked up unexpectedly when the pilot of the balloon, which was carrying 11 passengers, tried to set it down. The wind dragged the basket on its side for 700 feet and the burners
struck the ground. That caused a propane leak that resulted in an intense fire and several explosions. The TSB is still investigating a fatal balloon accident that happened in Surrey, British
Columbia, two weeks after the Winnipeg mishap. In the Surrey accident, a fire started while the balloon was still tethered. As the 12 passengers and pilot fled the basket, the tethers burned through
and the lightened balloon shot into the air with two people still on board. Both burned to death.
KLM is refuting a story, carried by news outlets all over the world, including AVweb, last week that said one of the airlines crews refused to land at a new airport in Hyderabad, India,
because they werent familiar with it. According to the airline, however, the flight was diverted because weather was below minimums. The MD-11 and its 232 passengers ended up in Mumbai and
returned to Hyderabad the next day. KLM was fully aware of the new airport. Flight 873 departed prepared for the new airport Shamshabad at Hyderabad, KLM spokesperson Marisca Kensenhuis
told AVweb in an e-mail. In India the weather was below the published limits therefore the crew decided to go to an alternate airport. The passengers and crew stayed in hotels in Mumbai
and left the next day for Shamshabad. Although the newspaper that initiated the report pulled the story from its Web site, it did not publish a correction and KLM has AVweb reader Werner
Fischbachs curious nature to thank for restoring its reputation.
In a letter to AVweb, Fischbach said the reports he read in the German press didnt ring true to him so he did what hundreds of professional journalists around the world didnt:
He asked KLM. Fischbach then thoughtfully contacted us and we confirmed the information he provided with KLM. The Times of Indias only acknowledgment of the incorrect report was a reference in
an unrelated story about the new airport in which it mentions that the KLM flight diverted because of weather.
Canadian authorities say a pilot reported a gyro failure before the Piper Malibu he and four passengers were in broke up and crashed in central Alberta. The pilot, Reagan
Williams, lost his father Alan in a crash in British Columbia exactly five months earlier ...
NATCA is inviting you to take some time out of your work day next week to observe online a portion of its annual "Communicating for Safety" conference. The conference will be held in
Chicago March 31 through April 2, with one Tuesday session (April 1) at 2:30-4:30 p.m. (EDT) entitled "Congestion -- Solving Gridlock Today" to be broadcast online. Check the online schedule for a full list of sessions. And click
here to access Tuesday's session, online.
Five people on a Cessna 501 Citation were killed when the aircraft hit two houses while attempting an emergency landing at Biggin Hill Airport near London Sunday. Officials said the pilot
steered the aircraft away from more populated areas before crashing on the edge of an estate ...
Build A Plane says it has 200 schools on a waiting list for donated airplanes that are used to teach a variety of disciplines and foster an interest in aviation. Donors get a tax receipt.
Get in touch at BuildAPlane.org.
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Most of us taxied an airplane on our very first flying lesson. After a period when we learned part of what our feet do in airplanes (a much longer
lesson in tailwheel aircraft), taxiing became second nature, quickly becoming an assumed part of our aeronautical skill set and falling out of the lesson plan and preflight briefings. And yet, the
U.S. Congress held hearings in mid-February 2008 asking the FAA and industry leaders to address this seemingly basic task, taxiing an airplane.
More to the point, Congress is concerned about the danger of runway incursion: Taxiing onto a runway without clearance, and presenting a collision hazard. Perhaps the very fact that taxiing is learned
almost in the prehistory of our pilot certificates creates a complacency that makes runway incursions more likely.
As reported by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, "In September 2007 the FAA released its Runway
Safety Report, examining runway incursions at towered airports between 2003 and 2006. The report found that 72 percent of all runway incursions (937 of 1306) involved a general aviation aircraft, but
that general aviation (GA) only accounted for 55 percent of National Airspace System (NAS) activity. However, only 44 percent (580 of the 1306) of all incursions were pilot deviations involving a GA
aircraft. And, of those 580 pilot deviations, the FAA classified 92 percent as less severe. The Government Accountability Office's (GAO's) Aviation Runway and Ramp Safety report notes that preliminary
data for 2007 indicate a disturbing upward trend."
Unlike runway incursions, taxi accidents are rarely injurious but are fairly common and costly to airplane owners. Collisions with taxiway signs and other obstacles usually result from the same
complacency and distractions that lead to runway incursions; from a training standpoint, they're part of the same problem.
In the Congressional hearings, AOPA president Phil Boyer "... called on the FAA to make runway safety a national priority." As a result, the FAA enacted a requirement for all Part 121 (air carrier)
pilots to take additional training on runway safety.
But airline pilots aren't the only ones needing to review taxiing safety. Under the aegis of the FAA Safety Team (FAASTeam), FAA
published Pilot and Aircrew Procedures During Taxi Operations (640 KB Adobe PDF file) and
emailed a link to all pilots with a FAASTeam email account. This two-page document is a quick-reference guide containing recommendations for reducing the chances of a runway incursion. The second page
is an illustrated primer on ATC light-gun signals. The Procedures are sized to fit in a standard Jeppesen binder, the idea being they can be referenced easily in the cockpit. Emphasis is on techniques
for increasing an aircrew's awareness of where their aircraft is on an air carrier airport; but as that suggests, many of the recommendations are designed for a two-pilot crew, and almost all are
predicated on operation at a tower-controlled airport with ground control.
Most of us in GA fly single-pilot. And many airline pilots fly single-pilot on their days off. I've taken the liberty of "translating" the FAASTeam guide for the single-pilot cockpit: one version for
tower-controlled airports, the other for non-towered airports. In addition to preventing runway incursions, these guides are designed to help pilots avoid taxiing into obstacles and to improve safety
at non-towered airports where pilots assume total responsibility for collision avoidance. Instructors: You might use these educational references with your students and when giving flight reviews.
My translations do not include the FAASTeam page on light-gun signals; see page 2 of the FAA document for this excellent pictorial.
First, here's the version for tower-controlled airports (click the graphics for larger versions):
And here's the version for operations at non-tower ("uncontrolled," although I prefer the term "pilot-controlled") airports:
You can also download printable versions of the tower and nontower versions, which are Adobe PDF files of about 50-KB size.
The common theme to all three versions is:
When in motion, keep your eyes outside; and
If you have questions, ask.
There are several more products available to improve taxi safety and reduce the chances of runway incursions. Among them is AOPA's Air Safety Foundation posts Runway Safety, a free, interactive on-line course that includes techniques and advice for taxiing safely and avoiding runway
incursions. Sporty's Pilot Shop sells a high-quality Pilots Guide to Runway Safety DVD.
Taxiing into obstructions causes damage, expense and inconvenience. Runway incursions can be deadly. The FAA, AOPA and others have made taxi safety a national priority. Use these guides to taxi
Fly safe and have fun!
Thomas P. Turner's Leading Edge columns are collected here.
This month, AVweb's survey of the latest products and services for pilots, mechanics and aircraft owners brings you glass-cockpit instrument covers, dosimetry reporting services, skis for
Huskys and more.
Nervous About Your Next Medical Exam? AOPA is the only General Aviation association with a dedicated staff of medical certification specialists who can answer your most basic medical questions or help you through a complicated
special issuance. And AOPA's web site has an extensive medical certification section to help plan your next medical renewal. Start with TurboMedical, AOPA's interactive medical
application planner, and if you're concerned about medications, check out the comprehensive listing of prescription and non-prescription drugs that the FAA allows. Call AOPA's Pilot
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Our sister publication, Aviation Consumer, is conducting a survey on aircraft engine cylinder products. If you've done an overhaul during the past several years, the magazine's editors would
like to hear from you on how the cylinders have performed.
Our best stories start with you. If you've heard something 200,000 pilots might want to know about, tell us. Submit news tips
via email to email@example.com. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.
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Two pilots who were transiting a military operating area near Luke Air Force Base last week say they got the fright of their
lives from an F-16 pilot who they say forced them to take evasive maneuvers to avoid what they thought was an imminent collision. AVweb's Russ Niles spoke with Pilatus PC-12 pilot
Patrick McCall about the close encounter and what the fallout from the incident might be.
The Lockheed U-2 has been in service for over 50 years. It has been at the center of some of the most tense moments in America's history. AVweb's Glenn Pew takes you inside the cockpit on a guided tour with an active U-2 pilot.
We'd already picked out a really educational and visually stimulating movie clip as today's "Video of the Week" but then we remembered that the very same submitter,
AVweb reader Michael King, had sent us an equally educational (but much more viscerally thrilling) video earlier in the week. The video was originally posted as part of an ongoing 9/11
conspiracy discussion, but it's well worth a watch on its own merits, demonstrating what happens when an F-4 jet crashes into the concrete wall of a nuclear power plant.
Don't forget to send us links to any interesting videos you find out there. If you're impressed by it,
there's a good chance other AVweb readers will be too. And if we use a video you recommend on AVweb, we'll send out an official AVweb baseball cap as a "thank you."
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Today, AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Landmark Aviation at KORF in Norfolk,
Virginia, which was recommended to us by AVweb readers David & Roberta McKenna, who write:
The line staff and front counter girls were outstanding, giving [us] a truly excellent experience. We were given the AOPA 25¢ fuel discount, a reservation at Windmark Hotel for $68(not a
misprint!), their shuttle to and from the FBO, and a restaurant recommendation. Outstanding service!
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AVwebFlash is a weekly summary of the latest news, articles, products, features, and events featured on AVweb, the internet's aviation magazine and news service.
The AVwebFlash team is:
Publisher Timothy Cole
Editorial Director, Aviation Publications Paul Bertorelli
Editor-in-Chief Russ Niles
Contributing Editors Mary Grady Glenn Pew
Features Editor Kevin Lane-Cummings
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