October 2, 2003
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
This issue of AVweb's AVflash is brought to you by
You'll need to sign your name a few more times and be more vigilant about locking up behind you, but if the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) adopts GA security measures proposed by an industry panel, they shouldn't cost you much, if anything. A working group formed by the TSA's Aviation Security Advisory Committee submitted its final report Wednesday and, since most of the members represent GA groups, it's not surprising the recommendations are light on the wallet and heavy on commonsense precautions. National Air Transportation Association (NATA) President James Coyne said all federal money for aviation security is going to protect scheduled service and that's as it should be. "Recognizing this, the working group went to great lengths to avoid placing any unfunded mandates on the aviation industry," he said in a statement. Coyne said the group had the daunting task of coming up with meaningful recommendations that work at everything from a private grass strip to the busiest metropolitan reliever airport. "The working group took great pains to recognize this fundamental difference and develop meaningful recommendations," Coyne said. "I'm pleased to say they succeeded." He also noted that the recommendations represent minimum standards and airports, businesses and individuals are welcome to exceed them when and where they see fit. The report also recognizes all the security work that has already taken place at airports all over the U.S. "For the most part, these steps have been implemented voluntarily instead of having been required by one agency or another," Coyne noted.
If the recommendations are adopted, student pilots warrant a little more scrutiny and will be monitored fairly intensely, especially early in their training. Low-time students won't be given the ignition keys until the instructor is belted in beside them and it's recommended there be a formal sign-off procedure for dispensing keys to soloing students. The report says those renting aircraft, particularly for the first time, should be checked for ID and given a briefing on local operations and security procedures. Renters should be on the lookout for suspicious activity and know how to report it. The report also recommends establishment of an Airport Community Watch program at each airport and it means more than putting up a few posters. Periodic meetings should be held and circulars on security programs sent to frequent users of the airport. The group can also provide training on spotting and reporting suspicious activity and perhaps even create a video to distribute to airport businesses and other personnel. Among the topics to be discussed are watching for unusually modified aircraft, keeping an eye on loiterers and making sure the credentials offered match the apparent knowledge and experience of the person offering them. The report also recommends that local police be taught to recognize the difference between suspicious activity and "normal" operations.
Of course, most of us have a considerable proportion of our net worth tied up in our airplanes and the stuff that goes with them so we most likely have a security program of our own, even if we don't call it that. The report goes over all the things we can do to ensure the airplane and its accoutrements remain where they belong, including the obvious, like locking everything up and, perhaps, investing in anti-theft devices, such as propeller locks and locking tie-downs. Crop dusters should get special security attention. Limiting vehicle access to the field is also recommended, where practical, and lighting, signage, fencing and gates should all be reviewed and upgraded where possible. Of course, it's always best to have a plan for the worst and the report lays out a blueprint. It says every airport should have a map that locates gates, hydrants, emergency shelters, building and hazardous materials and it should go to the local police and fire department. Procedures should be established for dealing with bomb threats and suspect aircraft. The report also recommends a phone list of the people and agencies that need to be called in any security-related scenario. A point of contact should be designated for disseminating security information. The report is with the TSA now and it is hoped that implementation will occur with cooperation from state and local governments, Coyne said.
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The X-PRIZE race began like many others, with a slew of competitors jumping from the starting position with all of the motivation and excitement of a world-class runner. The mission is daunting, as the contest rules call for launching a manned craft to 62 miles, returning it safely to Earth and then doing it again within 14 days. Now, the race is realistically moving into a tight contest between two companies with an eye on the $10 million prize. Burt Rutans Scaled Composites and Dallas-based Armadillo Aerospace are leading the suborbital race with their own respective spaceship designs. Scaled Composites project consists of two stages: a carrier aircraft, the White Knight, and a second-stage rocket, SpaceShipOne (SS1) . Armadillo's current design is a single-stage vehicle with "non-traditional operating features." Scaled's White Knight is a manned, twin-turbojet research aircraft intended for high-altitude missions. The design mission of White Knight is to provide a high-altitude airborne launch of a manned suborbital spacecraft, SS1. The White Knight is equipped to flight-qualify all the spacecraft systems, except rocket propulsion. The Black Armadillo's propulsion system consists of four pressure-fed, hydrogen peroxide, monopropellant system rocket engines fed from a single tank. While the two companies have publicly offered the most public advancement to date, there are 23 other registered groups from seven countries competing for the $10 million cash prize.
Both of the leading teams will soon have a chance to show off their spacecraft in action as the X-PRIZE launch date nears. While there is no "set-in-stone" deadline, the X-PRIZE is fully funded through January 1, 2005, and some participants may launch sooner. Peter H. Diamandis, chairman and CEO of the X-PRIZE Foundation, told the Associated Press he expects one of the two teams will launch within the next few months. "We expect to have a winner within the next nine to 12 months," Diamandis proclaimed in a presentation Friday to FAA officials. The FAA is also planning ahead, as it has already approved the launch applications of the aforementioned companies. The agency also approved a Mojave airport location for use as a launch pad. Supported by private donations and backed by an insurance policy to guarantee that the $10 million is in place on the day that the prize is won, the first team to successfully complete the race requirements will win the big money.
While venturing into suborbital flight is exciting and pioneering for the private sector, many have questioned the safety aspect of performing privately funded space exploration. Others critics claim the financial risks of private funding are just as high. Burt Rutan claims the risks are prevalent in government and private ventures, but the calculated risk is necessary. "Safety, of course is paramount, but minimum cost is critical. I strongly feel that, if we are successful, our program will mark the beginning of a renaissance for manned space flight," he said. Armadillo Aerospaces John Carmack supports Rutans assertion. Carmack has said, "The X-PRIZE is stimulating the re-examination of a premise that has gone almost unchallenged for decades -- that 'rocket science' can only be undertaken by governments and corporations with billions of dollars at their disposal."
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The folks at Extra Aircraft sent us a note announcing that their German factory is back in operation. The facilitys reopening follows the company's new life under new ownership, which was announced at this years AirVenture. The companys new EA-500, which was also debuted at the show and will appear at the upcoming NBAA Convention, will be built at the German facility. In addition, the EA-400 and Extra 300 aerobatic model will also be built there. Ken Keith announced at Oshkosh that his team assumed managerial control of the company on Aug. 1 after Extra was nearly bankrupt thanks to a slow economy, slow sales and the Lycoming 540-series crankshaft shortage that saw an end earlier this year. According to the new management team, Lycoming's work to resolve the crankshaft problem stopped the delivery of Extra aircraft for seven and a half months. "That really hurt us badly," Oliver Oechsle, a member of the new Extra Aircraft L.P., recently told AVweb.
Airport planners in Miramar, Calif., are keeping busy seeking a suitable location for the areas next regional airline-populated airfield. The county's new airport agency, called the Public Working Group, tasked with finding such a venue, recently recommended adding a fifth military location, East Miramar, to the list of finalists for a possible regional airport site. At the same time, the agency elected to drop a "floating airport" concept, amid concerns of engineering complexities (and, perhaps, budgetary concerns). The agency recommended that the nine-member San Diego County Regional Airport Authority board of directors focus on four San Diego County military sites. The Airport Authority hopes to draw an FAA grant to cover 80 to 90 percent of the cost, and has budgeted up to $1.8 million of its own money to use through June 30, 2004. Suggested sites include Miramar Marine Corps Air Station, East Miramar, North Island Naval Air Station and Camp Pendleton in addition to the March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County. The Imperial County desert and a cross-border facility using Tijuana International Airport are also to be considered. The group suggested using the present-day Lindbergh Field in conjunction with the proposed Tijuana, Camp Pendleton and North Island locations to continue offering flights to nearby destinations or serve as a passenger portal to North Island or Tijuana.
Hot air balloons are designed to fly in good-weather conditions, but that was not the case for the British pilot who broke a ballooning record this week. On Monday, David Hempleman-Adams became the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic in an open wicker-basket balloon. The flight -- which followed a route from Sussex, New Brunswick, in Canada to Hambleton, Lancs, in the United Kingdom -- took 83 hours, 14 minutes and 35 seconds to complete. The 46-year-old adventurer faced the most perilous portion of his flight as he approached the U.K. for landing. While Hempleman-Adams original plan was to land next to the Blackpool Tower, he found himself drifting farther inland and dodging houses and power lines as the aircraft descended below 100 feet. He finally crash-landed in a cow pasture without sustaining any serious injuries. One may think that was the worst of his ballooning adventure but Hempleman-Adams told reporters his most frightening moment came when Concorde flew overhead as he drifted across Ireland. "The basket dropped about a foot," he said. "I thought the rigging wires had collapsed."
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The United States has been fighting a drug war in Colombia for many years and American contract pilots have helped to wage the battle by spraying drug crops with insecticide. Of course, flying over lands controlled by drug lords has never been as safe as walking the dog, but a new danger from leftist rebels is increasing the danger quotient substantially. The Associated Press cites a United Nations study, which claims an ongoing U.S.-backed fumigation campaign has cut coca cultivation in the country by one-third in seven months. However, the weapons of choice -- contract American ag pilots -- are now caught in the crossfire between leftist rebels and government forces who try to clear the flight paths for the aerial bombardment. The Associated press reports Colombian government officials claim the pilots are flying into unprotected areas, which cannot be easily reached by Army forces. As a result, the rebels, who are paid to protect the drug crops, are shooting at the low-flying aircraft and, unfortunately, bringing some down. Colombian commanders claim their troops are slowed down by thick jungle, inclement weather and rough terrain near the Venezuelan/Colombian border, therefore leaving the aircraft flying over unprotected areas. "Dodging trees and ground fire over jungle terrain at 200 mph is not diplomacy, and diplomats cannot be expected to fully comprehend the complexity of the task and the level of support required," John McLaughlin, director of aviation in the State Department's Bureau of International Narcotics, wrote in an Aug. 4 internal memo cited by the Associated Press.
Two years after box cutters were cited as weapons used to hijack the airliners that changed the worlds view toward terrorism, the management of airport security has been overhauled ... and two things remain very similar. You can still get an aisle seat, and you can still get a box cutter onto an airliner. On Friday, James Loy, the head of the Transportation Security Administration, admitted this problem is very much a reality thanks to a series of budgetary concerns his agency is struggling with. When it was first created, the TSA hired 55,000 screeners. On Tuesday, the agency was forced to cut another 6,000 screeners from its dwindling workforce. The cuts, cited as a necessary step to deal with budget shortfalls, will bring the total number of screeners down to 45,000 by the end of 2004. Loy told reporters last Friday the TSAs problems go far beyond the staffing issue, as old technology is still limiting the agencys ability to catch banned items from boarding aircraft. Loy said the agency is focused on researching and developing better technology; however, the TSA cut most of its $75 million research budget for 2003 to address the ongoing budgetary deficit. Your tax dollars at work.
Kingsford Smith International Airport in Sydney, Australia, has been experiencing an unusual problem for the last week: a fuel shortage. Production problems at Sydney refineries and delays in shipments have caused fuel supplies at the airport to drop below 35 percent lower than normal. Now, the fuel distribution company says that the situation is easing and normal supplies could be restored by the weekend. Regardless, the damage is done. Because this shortage has come at one of the airports peak seasons, the delays have been massive and several airlines plan to take action in search of compensation. As a result of the problem, airlines have been forced to delay or cancel some international flights and aircraft have been diverted to other airports to take on extra fuel. Singapore Airlines said it might seek compensation for the fuel rationing, which caused major disruptions of its flight schedule. Other carriers plan to follow suit with their own litigation.
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
While nothing could ever make high school classes as fun as some would like, we'll hope that flying is a step in the right direction. A unique program at Dominion Christian High School in Cobb County, Ga., is granting credit to students who engage in flight training. About twelve students will spend the first semester of the yearlong program in classroom instruction, during which they will prepare to take the FAA Private Pilot Knowledge Test. The second semester is spent at McCollum Airfield in Kennesaw, where actual flight instruction is performed. Eager students, age 16 or older, must pay (or convince others to pay) $3,000 over the school's standard tuition to cover costs. Dominion Physics teacher Philip Polstra started the aviation class to share with students his love of flying. Coincidentally, he also operates Phil's Flying Enterprises Inc. at McCollum. The school reports interest in the program is high.
A missing Middle Eastern F-16 has investigators stumped. The jet, which belonged to Bahrain's air force, disappeared Saturday during a routine training flight over the northern Gulf. Bahraini, American and Australian rescue teams have been involved in patrols to the north of Bahrain, where the F-16 vanished from radar screens. The cause of the accident is unknown...
The homebuilt community is mourning the loss of David Stits. Mr. Stits, EAA Chapter 1 President and son of famed homebuilding pioneer Ray Stits, was killed in an airplane crash on Saturday in Southern California. Also killed in the crash of the Stits Playmate SA-11 was fellow Chapter 1 member, Debbie Nalepa of Detroit. EAA President Tom Poberezny expressed his sorrow at the loss of the 56-year-old Stits...
Two international gateways are celebrating their 75 anniversaries. Newarks Liberty International Airport and Los Angeles International (LAX) are marking their milestones with a series of historic programs. In the 1930s, Newark Municipal Airport handled nearly 90,000 people through its only terminal. Now, three terminals at Newark Liberty International Airport funnel nearly 90,000 passengers worldwide. Before becoming a major international gateway, LAX began as nothing more than a 2,000-foot strip of oiled dirt. Now, it is one of the largest airports in the world.
Congratulations and an AVweb hat go out to Jay Cioffi, this week's AVscoop winner. Submit news tips via email to email@example.com. Rules and information are at http://www.avweb.com/contact/newstips.html.
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BIZAV: October 2, 2003
AVweb's expanded coverage of business/corporate aviation continues with news about the final rules on fractional ownership, NBAA's annual show, Raytheon weathering the summer's heat and more.
RYAN AND CAREERS IN AVIATION TEAM UP AT NBAA 2003, OCTOBER 7-9, ORLANDO Enter to win a ride in an L-39 Fighter Jet. Go Vertical compliments of Ryan International and Careers in Aviation! Sign up at NBAA Booth #3964. You must be 18 years or older to enter. Ryan International brings you the best in TCAD technology at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/ryan
We received over 100 pictures last week. Congratulations to this week's winner, Michael Crook, of Lumberton, NJ. This week, we decided to go with a military theme and the winning
photo, titled "Cleared for contact" is a great way to highlight the concept. The photo captures a C-141B coming in for some gas behind a KC-10 somewhere over Illinois. Great picture, Michael! Your
AVweb hat is on the way.
To check out the winning picture, or to enter next week's contest, go to http://www.avweb.com/potw
Due to privacy issues, AVweb does not publish e-mail addresses of readers who submit photos.
To check out the winning picture, or to enter next week's contest, go to http://www.avweb.com/potw
Due to privacy issues, AVweb does not publish e-mail addresses of readers who submit photos.
AVweb continues to receive a large number of excellent images for our POTW contest. Here are some of the runners-up. Click on the links below to view a larger version.
"Short final at Nellis"
*** PREVIOUS RESULTS ***
We received over 200 responses to our question last week on federal aviation funding. Over half (54 percent) of those responding felt small reliever airports are an area where urgent federal funding is needed. Almost a quarter (22 percent) indicated air traffic control as the necessary recipient of federal money, while only 1 percent cited certification as the primary area of needed funding.
To check out the complete results, or to respond to this week's question, go to http://www.avweb.com/qotw.
*** THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***
This week, we would like to know your thoughts on the publics perception of general aviation.
Have an idea for a new QOTW? Send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Note, this address is ONLY for suggested QOTW questions, and NOT for QOTW answers.
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COME BY AND SAY "HELLO" TO AVWEB AT THE NBAA SHOW, ORLANDO, OCTOBER 7-9 AVweb personnel will be at Booth #935 during the NBAA Convention and Trade Show, Orlando Convention Center. And don't forget to tell friends and colleagues about no-cost AVweb/AVflash subscription. They can sign up online at http://www.avweb.com/profile_____________________________________
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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Let's all be careful out there, okay?
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