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The Top Headlines From AVweb's Expanded,
Illustrated News Coverage At AVweb's
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
PAINLESS AND QUIETER HEADSET UPGRADE HELPS BRUCE BOHANNON BE HIS
BEST. Competitive aerobatics champion Bruce Bohannon cant
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
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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
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.
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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
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.
GETTING THE MOST
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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...
Peter Miranda, of Charlotte, N.C., is the 10,000th AOPA
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...
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
Rules and information are at
ARTICLES AND FEATURES ON AVWEB
#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
Reader feedback on AVweb's news coverage and feature
mail this week about contract towers, whether new technology helps pilot
safety, the public's perception of aviation and more.
Boston Center: Citation XXX, Boston Center now on 123.75.
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
were KO now. More...
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