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Volume 9, Number 38aSeptember 14, 2003

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The Top Headlines From AVweb's Expanded, Illustrated News Coverage At AVweb's NewsWire.

VFR TOWER PRIVATIZATION STALLS REAUTHORIZATION BILL...
While the administration tries to turn up the heat, the FAA Reauthorization Bill remains stuck on the back burner over a single clause that has split traditional allies in aviation and in politics. It's been a long time since lobbyists and political tacticians have burned the midnight oil over an aviation matter but that's what's happening in Washington as the dispute over privatizing 69 so-called VFR towers grows into a full-blown legislative crisis. The current FAA funding bill expires Sept. 30 and the pressure is on to get it passed before then. "We should not be in this position," said Doug Church, spokesman for the embattled National Air Traffic Controllers Association. "They (the Bush administration) created this mess." NATCA has lined up some impressive political support to keep those towers in the government fold but has received tepid backing, at best, from aviation groups. More...

...ALPHABET GROUPS WANT BILL PASSED...
Alphabet groups, which have generally favored keeping air traffic control a government function, appear willing to concede the 69 towers to ensure the rest of the goodies contained in the bill are preserved. AOPA issued an analysis of the current situation last week that included an explanation of its position that "the total benefits of the bill to general aviation outweigh the concern over the 'qualified' anti-privatization language." The National Air Transportation Association also maintains there is too much good in the bill to jeopardize over a "theoretical labor-management tug of war." The controllers' concerns notwithstanding, there appears to be something for everyone in the bill. More...

...AMID FIGHTING WORDS FROM TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY
The administration appears ready to flex its authority in the face of a stubborn Congress over the issue. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta recently wrote to Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert threatening to furlough some FAA employees and freeze some airport construction projects if the bill isn't passed by the end of the month. NATCA is furious about the threat, saying funding authority can be extended by Congress beyond the expiration date of the current legislation. "This is scare tactics 101," said Church. More...

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RENO, THE POWER AND GLORY...
The 500-mph barrier has been smashed at the Reno Air Races -- at least on paper. Dago Red, the intensely modified P-51 with Skip Holm on the stick, recorded an average speed of 507.105 mph during a qualifying heat Friday, becoming the first to do so. Dago Red also took the Unlimited Gold this weekend with Rare Bear in second. But the numbers might be a bit misleading since race organizers have changed the way they calculate speed and time for this year's races. The race distance used to be measured from pylon to pylon. The new calculation allows for the curving path of the aircraft around the course and the distance they travel is thus increased. Pilots were told to expect speed increases of about 2.5 percent, so, under the old measurement system, Dago Red would have missed the magic number by about five mph. More...

...OLD EMOTIONS, NEW CHALLENGES
Reno evokes the full range of emotions, from the visceral to the nostalgic, and nobody felt them more than two of this year's 16 grand marshals. Retired Lt. Col. James Warren and retired Chief Master Sgt. Fred McLaurin fought two different kinds of conflict throughout their careers. As alumni of the Tuskegee Airmen, they did their duty while battling the kind of racial intolerance that would be unthinkable today. "We succeeded where we were expected to fail," McLaurin, a former T-6 mechanic, told the Gazette-Journal. "Nothing was done to help us. We had to succeed by guts and willpower." Warren was once refused entry to a Reno hotel while in uniform and helped lead a mutiny against the white-only policy at an officers club in Indiana in 1945. But all that's changed, he said, and he called the U.S. military "the most equal-opportunity community in America." Others faced different challenges on their way to Reno. More...

ATTENTION 1968 THROUGH 2003 172 SKYHAWK OWNERS! SEMINAR OPENINGS The Cessna Pilots Association (CPA) will conduct Lycoming Powered 172 Skyhawk Systems and Procedures Seminar at CPA headquarters in Santa Maria, October 11-12. This program will not be offered again on the West Coast until 2005. Those interested should make an effort to attend this October seminar now! More information and on-line sign up are available at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/cpa

BEECH, HAWKER ON THE BLOCK?
The rumors about Beechcraft and Hawker being up for sale just might be true. Raytheon's new CEO William Swanson told Bloomberg News last week he'd consider selling the aircraft division after fixing what ails it. "As soon as the market wakes up and people realize there is a rationalization that needs to take place, we'll be in the right position to be able to do that," Swanson said. The aircraft division is being extensively revamped, much to the disappointment of some workers who are seeing in-house jobs being sent to contractors. More...

TURBULENCE DAMAGE MAY BE HIDDEN
The NTSB is recommending (PDF file) that the FAA order airlines to more thoroughly inspect aircraft that have encountered severe turbulence after the discovery of a composite delamination in an American Airlines Airbus A300 that was missed during the inspection specified in the maintenance manual. The NTSB said the plane, operating as Flight 903, was inspected after a severe upset incident in May 1997 and damage was found in the wings and engine pylons. Repairs were made and the plane returned to service. Five years later, based on the findings from the investigation of the suspected tail failure that brought down American Flight 587 in New York, the tail from the Flight 903 aircraft was put through an ultrasound. One of the attachment lugs was damaged. That plane got a new tail and it might not be the last if the FAA adopts the NTSB's recommendations. More...

OREGON AERO’S PAINLESS AND QUIETER HEADSET UPGRADE HELPS BRUCE BOHANNON BE HIS BEST. Competitive aerobatics champion Bruce Bohannon can’t afford distractions in flight. So he depends on his Oregon Aero headset upgrade to eliminate noise and pain when he's in the cockpit. Says Bruce: "The difference in comfort and sound levels since Oregon Aero worked its magic on my headset is nothing short of fantastic!" Oregon Aero offers upgrades for nearly all civilian and military headsets on the market today, and the upgrades are customized for each specific headset model. Check out all of Oregon Aero's products online athttp://www.avweb.com/sponsors/oregon

X PRIZE ROCKET ENGINE TESTED
Scaled Composites keeps marking milestones toward the capture of the $10 million X Prize to build the first civilian spacecraft. Last week, Environmental Aeroscience Corp. (eAc), one of two contractors competing to supply the rocket for the suborbital SpaceShipOne spacecraft, did a full-duration test of its hybrid rocket engine. Its competitor, SpaceDev, has already tested its entry. More...

HOUSES CREEP CLOSER TO BUSY GA FIELD
Airports and housing developments don't mix, but try telling that to the community of Greenwood Village, near Centennial Airport in Colorado. The community recently approved a 387-lot subdivision less than 1.5 miles from the north end of the airport's main runway. Centennial is the closest airport to downtown Denver and the second-busiest GA field in the U.S. In 1998, the airport released land-use zoning guidelines that urged local governments to prohibit new homes in areas less than 1.5 miles from the runway ends. Now, Centennial officials are worried that other tax-hungry jurisdictions will do the same and noise complaints will put the airport out of business. But it's not like the new residents of Greenwood Village haven't been warned. More...

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FUNDING HALTED FOR BLUE ASH AIRPORT
The cash-starved city of Cincinnati might be looking lustily at 230 acres of prime real estate it owns as a cash cow, but those using Blue Ash Airport hope not. The city has a $450,000 FAA grant in the bank to resurface the runway or do other improvements but it's decided not to spend it. Using the money would mean guaranteeing the future of the airport, as an airport, for another 20 years. "We're just trying to keep our options open," Transportation Director Eileen Enabnit told The Cincinnati Enquirer. The city will also give up a $150,000 annual grant from the FAA. [more] Meanwhile, the runway is in need of some attention. Bill Christian, owner of Schmidt Aviation, said the potholes and uneven pavement are a liability issue. The city says the runway doesn't need replacing and the rough spots will be repaired. Although the rumor mill is full of stories of developers lining up to pluck the real-estate plum, Airports Manager Dan Dickten said the airport won't necessarily be sold for development. "There is no intention I am aware of to close the airport or not maintain it," Dickten said. But that doesn't wash with officials in Blue Ash, which is a separate jurisdiction from Cincinnati. "A lot of people are wondering and we're among them," said Blue Ash City Manager Marvin Thompson. More...

TERRORISM BY REMOTE CONTROL?
Someone must have thought of this before, but how do you guard against terrorists armed with remote-control aircraft? As we suffer any number of indignities on our trips through the National Airspace System, technology marches forward in pilotless vehicles, such as the system IBM engineers are fooling around with. The folks at Big Blue's Pervasive Computing Advanced Technology Laboratory have replaced the remote control on a model aircraft with a PDA that not only incorporates GPS navigation, it also beams an image back to the handheld computer's display. We'll spare you all the self-congratulatory jargon but it's basically done with a cellphone and off-the-shelf computer hardware and software. Sound too far out to be of any practical use? Consider the case of a conventional RC model and its semi-successful assault on a Sydney, Australia, prison last week. More...

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THUNDERBIRD DOWN!
Shortly after 3:15 p.m. yesterday, an U.S. Air Force Thunderbird was lost during a flight display at an air show in Idaho. Early reports say the pilot ejected safely, but his F-16 was dramatically destroyed in front of a crowd of thousands when it crashed on airport grounds at the Gunfighter Skies Air Show at Mountain Home Air Force Base. Witnesses told the Idaho Statesman the aircraft had performed a vertical climb and roll, pulling over the top, but as it dove, appeared to be "dropping like he had no control." Pilot Kris Stricklin of Nellis Air Force Base (Nevada) was treated by military medical personnel; the aircraft left a burning path near the control tower. More...

ON THE FLY...
Peter Miranda, of Charlotte, N.C., is the 10,000th AOPA Skyspotter...
Airlines, the New York Port Authority and Boeing could face lawsuits from Sept. 11...
If you ever wanted to own a piece of the Concorde, here's your chance...
Standards have been finalized for emergency parachutes for LSA aircraft. More...

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AVweb's AVscoop Award...

Congratulations and an AVweb hat go out to Art Linaschke, this week's AVscoop winner. Submit news tips via email to newstips@avweb.com. Rules and information are at http://www.avweb.com/contact/newstips.html.

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NEW ARTICLES AND FEATURES ON AVWEB

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COLUMNS
Pelican's Perch #73: Hurricane (Part 1)
It still gets less press than its more-famous compatriot, the Spitfire, but the Hawker Hurricane was the mainstay of the British fighter squadrons in the European theater of World War II. AVweb's John Deakin considers it one of his favorites, and his two-part pilot report begins this month.

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Reader feedback on AVweb's news coverage and feature articles:
http://www.avweb.com/avmail/

Reader mail this week about contract towers, whether new technology helps pilot safety, the public's perception of aviation and more.

More...

SHORT FINAL...
Boston Center: Citation XXX, Boston Center now on 123.75.

Citation XXX: 127.35, have a nice day.

Boston Center: Citation XXX, that frequency is 123.75.

Citation XXX: Sorry, 123.75, we were dyslexic but we’re KO now. More...

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AVflash is a twice-weekly summary of the latest aviation news, articles, products, features and events featured on AVweb, the Internet's Aviation Magazine and News Service. http://www.avweb.com

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