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The Top Headlines From AVweb's Expanded, Illustrated News Coverage At
BLACKOUT AND GA...
What do you do when the power goes out at one of the country's busiest
GA airports? You make a paper fan, grab a flashlight and keep on
landing, servicing and taking off airplanes. At least that was the story
at Teterboro (TEB), near New York City, on Thursday. While Gotham (and
its three major area airports) was paralyzed, TEB's generators kept air
traffic controllers on the job and everyone else made do. "We stayed
open, which was incredible when you consider all the major airports had
to close," an FBO employee, who asked not to be identified, told AVweb.
"They had no air conditioning and they worked with flashlights. They
weren't happy, but they were working." Not all GA airports were able to
keep functioning but pilots seemed to be able to find those that were.
AIRLINES HIT HARD TUESDAY, THURSDAY ... YESTERDAY
the blackout virtually stopped airline traffic, and not just in the
areas without electricity. Aircraft (and pax) that were supposed to head
to the Northeast from all over the country were stuck at their departure
airports. FAA officials told The New York Times that more than 700
flights were cancelled across the U.S. Air Canada's whole fleet was
virtually paralyzed because its central command center near Toronto was
shut down. Foreign carriers, too, turned back flights already over the
Atlantic, inbound to the U.S. By Saturday, however, it appeared that
most airlines and airports were getting back to normal. Right up until a
30-45 second power outage Sunday at a radar control facility on Long
Island translated into a 30 minute ground-stop at Newark, LaGuardia and
JFK, and much longer delays. More...
LOOKS AHEAD: DRAFT STRATEGIC PLAN RELEASED...
The FAA has taken on the daunting tasks of "reinvigorating global air
travel and reigniting the power and the potential of aviation for the
21st Century." And it's giving itself five years to lay the groundwork.
The agency recently released its draft
strategic plan (PDF file) for the years 2004 to 2008, which it coyly
calls its Flight Plan. It frankly admits that the status quo just won't
do anymore. "Today, the challenges facing aviation demand nothing less
than a transformation of the system itself," the plan's introduction
says. "This will require a willingness to embrace change on both the
part of the industry and the FAA." The plan outlines four major goals
including increased safety, greater capacity, international leadership
and organizational excellence. More...
CAPACITY, STANDARDS STRESSED...
Seemingly at odds with increased safety is the FAA's determination (and
the industry's need) to put more airplanes in the same airspace. Again,
technological development gets the nod to decrease separation and
streamline the system not only for passenger convenience but to ensure
airlines are squeezing the most value possible out of each mile they
fly. But the FAA doesn't want to pursue these initiatives in isolation
and is hoping the rest of the world will come along for the ride.
NAVEL GAZING, TOO...
Perhaps the FAA's biggest challenge through the life of the plan,
however, is reinventing itself enough to achieve the lofty goals. Based
on the amount of ink the plan devotes to the FAA's own internal
challenges, this might be where the rubber hits the road. The agency
wants to control costs (many project costs have spiraled out of control
in recent years) while at the same time giving employees "the
appropriate tools and resources in order to accomplish our mission." The
answer, according to the plan, is an agency-wide cost-control program
that will ideally find and eliminate wasteful and redundant programs and
redirect their funding to those that work. And there's a not-so-subtle
hint to the FAA workforce (and unions) that times are changing. "In
turn, employee compensation and salary increases should be
performance-based, allowing the agency to control costs and reward
HAS ITS SAY; YOU CAN, TOO
The FAA is still accepting
comments from the public for the Web version of the draft plan (the
published form has already been printed) and the agency promises that
input will be considered. AOPA is among the groups that has gone over
the draft and discovered at least one glaring omission. "... The FAA's
draft plan does not deal with the effects of aviation security
requirements on GA traffic ..." thundered President Phil Boyer in news
release. Boyer said a strategy to soften the impact of security-related
restrictions on GA is needed. AOPA is also worried that a new training
program called the FAA/Industry
Training Standards (FITS) program (PDF file) might become a tap on
pilots' wallets and a boon to manufacturers and insurance companies.
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Private-sector air traffic controllers are as highly trained as their
federal counterparts, have a better safety record, and many are more
experienced, says the president of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers
Organization. In a letter sent to AVweb, Ron Taylor dismisses the
"doomsday" predictions of those opposing the expansion of the Federal
Contract Tower (FCT) program -- a program initiated at smaller airports
in 1982. Under the current version of the FAA Reauthorization Bill that
will go to Congress in September, the FAA has the ability to expand the
FCT program to 69 more towers currently under FAA control. Taylor claims
safety concerns raised by some are a red herring in the debate.
45S GROUNDED BY TAIL PROBLEMS
"During our investigation of the problem, we determined that the
configuration and quality controls over the production of these parts
were so deficient that we do not have confidence that the airplane can
be operated safely for any period of time," a new Airworthiness
Directive states. The FAA, last week, grounded 222 Learjet Model 45
business jets until their horizontal stabilizer actuator assemblies are
new AD issued last Wednesday supercedes an earlier one that called
for inspection of the assembly. At the heart of the problem is a screw
and nut assembly that can get brittle and fail. More...
SUFFERS WHILE OTHERS PROSPER
While Cirrus is reporting
record sales, Diamond fills flight
schools and Lancair Certified
ramps up production to clear a backlog of orders, the world's biggest GA
company is still writing pink slips. Another 300 Cessna employees were
let go last Tuesday as the company finished its review of workforce
requirements. The layoffs are included in a total of 1,200 originally
announced last March and the first 900 workers were let go in May. As
late as three weeks ago, Cessna was saying it might be able to keep the
remaining 300 on staff. "It's taken awhile to review everything we need
to know to make the right adjustment," Cessna spokeswoman Jessica Myers
told The Wichita Eagle. More...
"TOO BIG" SAY TWO AIRLINE EXECS
It's too big for some runways and terminals but is Airbus's A380 also
too big for some airlines? According to the CEOs of two major U.S.
airlines, the 550-seat behemoth will be shunned in the U.S. as too
costly and too crowded. "I don't think the A380 is going to sell other
than to cargo carriers in the U.S.," Northwest Airlines CEO Richard
Anderson told Bloomberg News. Northwest operates about a dozen B747
models to haul cargo. Continental CEO Gordon Bethune said he doesn't
think passengers will want to be lost in the A380 crowd. "What's in it
for me to sit on an airplane with 500 other people, wait for my bags
with 500 other people, check in with 500 other people," he wondered. He
did fail to mention the A380 has room for such amenities as full-service
restaurants and lounges. Continental operates an all-Boeing fleet.
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RECOVERY BEGINS (BLACKOUT NOTWITHSTANDING)
As in just about everything else, timing is everything in financial
forecasting. Just two days before a blackout paralyzed a good part of
the North American airline industry, the International Civil Aviation
Organization (ICAO) was giving a rosy outlook for the coming two years.
It's too early to tell what effect the millions in losses from
Thursday's blackout will have on the incipient recovery but if ICAO is
right it might be just a minor blip in an otherwise upward trend,
Southwest carried the most passengers of all U.S. carriers in May...
Diamond gave $20,000 in scholarship funds to customer
Entegra panel displays were picked for Javelin personal jet...
British flight fans enjoy helicopter rides at museum. More...
AVweb's AVscoop Award...
Congratulations and an AVweb hat go out to Kate Jennigns, this
week's AVscoop winner. Submit news tips via email to
Rules and information are at
As I was heading across the Desert a few monthes back, at the height of
the Iraqi war, and wanting to cut through R2515 around Edwards Air Force
Base, I had the following exchange with Joshua Approach...
Joshua Approach, Musketeer 123 requesting transition through R2515.
Joshua: Restricted area currently off limits, but let me talk to them at
(About 20 seconds of dead air and then Joshua came back to me.)
Joshua: Musketeer 123, Proceed through the restricted area as requested,
they need some practice on slow targets. More...
Reader feedback on AVweb's news coverage and feature
Reader mail this week about commercialism at Oshkosh, spins and stalls,
boycotting Chicago and more.
VANTAGE AND SPIRIT AIRCRAFT PROPERTIES BEING SOLD The
trademarks, drawings, flight test and performance data, marketing and
customer contact list, and tooling and molds from more than 12 years of
research and development will be sold for both aircraft. The Vantage, is
a six-seat, single engine, business class jet, and the Spirit, is an
experimental two-seat aircraft. The sale will be by sealed bid,
according to bidding procedures approved by the United States Bankruptcy
Court for the Eastern District of Missouri (Case No. 02-47804-293).
Deadline for submitting a bid is September 18, 2003 at 01:00 p.m. (US
Central Daylight Time). To receive a copy of the bidding procedures as
well as information on how to obtain a bid package contact: Howard S.
Smotkin, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Janice R. Valdez, email:
email@example.com, phone 314 721-7011; or Michael Yeager, email:
firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 314 447-3200.
New Articles and Features on AVweb
Use Your Head
We study the rules, we memorize procedures, and we execute standardized
practices in the hope of making our flights as safe as possible. Yet
sometimes following checklists and procedures blindly to the letter can
hinder that achievement, and a good pilot's job is to sort out the
Pelican's Perch #72: The Legendary Zero (Part 2)
In this continuation of his checkout in a Japanese Zero, John Deakin
does his preflight in the cockpit, fires it up and takes to the air in
one of the very few flying examples of this famous WWII fighter.
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