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The FAA is examining some Colgan Air crew members to determine if they exceeded flight-time limitations, but according to Colgan that
examination is not in any way related to the NTSB investigation of Colgan Air Flight 3407 that crashed Feb. 12, in Buffalo, N.Y, killing all 49 on board and one person on the ground. The NTSB
previously listed fatigue management and stall-recovery training as factors that it was studying as it investigates that crash. According to the pilots union, letters sent from the FAA to Colgan Air
pilots regarding their scheduling do not make mention of the crash. A memo sent by the union for Colgan pilots and obtained by Buffalo News told pilots the FAA is looking at a limited number of pilot
schedules dating from last November and that the agency believes some pilots flew in violation of flight- or duty-time regulations. Toward that end, Colgan and the FAA may be in disagreement about the
interpretation of the rules and specific paperwork under review. Specifically, exception reports may or may not indicate that pilots legally flew beyond their allowances due to weather or other
factors outside the carrier's control. Colgan said the probe was part of a routine FAA review, that its pilots are "in full compliance" with federal regulations and it is not expecting any enforcement
actions as a result.
Current FAA regulations allow pilots to fly no more than eight out of each 24 hours, allowing for at least eight continuous hours of rest. Rest periods shorter than nine hours require an automatic
compensatory extension of the pilot's next rest period. Operators found to be in violation of the regulations are subject to civil fines.
The NTSB has determined in the case of two EMS helicopters that collided near Flagstaff Medical Center last June, killing all seven
persons aboard, that had the pilots "been more attentive and aware" and communications more thorough the accident could have been prevented. According to the NTSB, the actions of both pilots
contributed to the accident that destroyed the two Bell 407 EMS helicopters while on approach to the helipad. En route, the pilots of the aircraft were in communication with their communications
centers and both provided position reports. The communications center at Flagstaff Medical Center advised the first pilot that the other helicopter would be dropping off a patient and advised the
second pilot's communication center of the first aircraft's arrival. However, that communication center failed to relay the information to the second pilot (and was not required to do so, according to
the NTSB). The second pilot then failed to contact communications at Flagstaff Medical Center, which was required, and so arrived on scene uninformed of the first aircraft's presence. Further, the
first pilot flew a non-typical approach that was not in accord with noise abatement guidelines and would not have been expected by the second pilot. Neither aircraft had onboard a collision avoidance
The NTSB found that had a typical approach been flown by one of the aircraft, had either aircraft been equipped with a collision avoidance system (not required), and had required communications
procedures been employed it is likely the accident could have been avoided.
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The Obama administration has taken a look and after production of 187 aircraft, "the administration proposes to terminate the F-22 Raptor
program," and close the Raptor production line. The quote comes straight from the Terminations, Reductions, and Savings report offered up by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The Raptor
program costs the United States about $3.5 billion per year, according to the OMB, and the proposal would halt production after 2009, when the current multi-year procurement contract ends. The OMB
states that the 187 examples of the F-22 Raptor air superiority fighter, supported by the planned fleet growth of Joint Strike Fighters (JSF) to 2,443 aircraft, "will meet DOD's requirements to
maintain air superiority." And, according to the OMB, the Department of Defense agrees. But while the F-22 has frequently been attacked for its expense it has rarely (if ever) been attacked for its
demonstrated real-world abilities. The JSF is a different story, but does come with at least one distinct advantage.
Versions of the JSF are destined for sale en masse to foreign governments and as such, the JSF program is seen by some as vital to the U.S. recapitalizing tactical aircraft. With the GAO and
Congressional budget office both questioning the affordability of continuing the F-22 program while simultaneously pursuing the larger JSF procurement, that factor may be critical. Still, the JSF is
still a project in development and as such its cost figures are still somewhat malleable -- they may grow larger. With the proposal to cut the F-22 on the books, critics and proponents of both
aircraft may find new urgency in their voices. We'll be listening.
In 2008, hackers temporarily gained the power to shut down FAA servers, according to an audit performed by the Department of
Transportation. The report states that the United States air traffic control system is highly vulnerable to cyber attack in large part due to Web applications (those accessed via Internet browser) run
by aviation authorities nationwide. More than 70 Internet applications used for anything from distributing communications frequencies to those that serve internal air traffic control systems create at
least 763 high-risk vulnerabilities, the May 4 report said. Any one of those vulnerabilities could allow an Internet hacker the ability to alter systems, gain access to data, or, worse, take control
of a computer. In the last fiscal year, some 800 "cyber incident alerts" were reported to the Air Traffic Organization and by year-end, 17 percent had not yet been remediated, "including critical
incidents in which hackers may have taken over control of ATO computers." According to the report, "it is likely to be a matter of when, not if, ATC systems encounter attacks that do serious harm to
The report found that multiple serious cyber attacks have occurred on FAA networks in recent years, including 2009. One such attack took place in February, when hackers compromised an FAA system
and used it "to gain unauthorized access to personally identifiable information on 48,000 current and former FAA employees." The FAA plans to address the report's conclusions by creating safeguards or
"patches" for Web applications -- some of which already have publicly available patches that the FAA has simply not yet applied -- and by adding more systems to detect outside intrusion, an area in
which the report found the FAA currently fell short. It was noted in the report that the FAA was responsive to the report's recommendations through actions both taken and planned.
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The White House official who authorized the photo shoot of one of the presidential Boeing 747s over New York last month --
and then didn't tell President Barack Obama or other top officials about it -- has resigned. Louis Caldera, the director of the White House Military Office, said in his resignation letter that the
controversy made it impossible for him to continue. "Moreover, it has become a distraction to the important work you are doing as president," Caldera wrote in the letter to Obama. Caldera OK'd the
flight and told New York police and city officials but also told them the information was classified. He did not, however, tell key Obama officials so Obama was unaware of the flight, presumably until
his Blackberry started ringing.
Meanwhile, on the ground in New York, buildings were evacuated and people panicked at the specter of a large airliner flying at about 1,000 feet over the city with an F-16 in tow. Mayor Michael
Bloomberg apparently wasn't notified, although members of his staff were aware of it. The NYPD obeyed the White House order to keep the mission a secret. The result of all this is a nice but
unremarkable photo of the 747 with Miss Liberty well in the background that cost more than $300,000 to orchestrate. Military officials argue the money would have been spent, anyway, on another
There may be about $3.6 trillion in the Obama administration's proposed budget, but that may not include funding for LORAN-C because
"it is obsolete technology," according to a report released by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) titled Terminations, Reductions, and Savings. Cutting LORAN-C would save $36 million in 2010
and $190 million that would have been spent over five years in support of the system. Operated by the United States Coast Guard, the long-range radio navigation system "for civil marine use in U.S.
Coastal areas" is no longer needed, according to the report, because "the federally-supported civilian Global Positioning System (GPS) has replaced it with superior capabilities." The remaining "small
group of long-time users" is not seen as reason enough to continue funding and it is the opinion of the OMB that the system "is not capable as a backup for GPS." Federal agencies that rely on GPS
"already have backup systems" for their GPS applications, wrote the OMB, but the office appears to concede that a national backup system has yet to be developed.
Federal agencies including the Departments of Defense, Transportation, and Homeland Security will not be compromised, wrote the OMB, "and the termination of LORAN-C does not foreclose future
development of a national back-up system." The OMB states that funding for LORAN-C "merely stops the outflow of taxpayer dollars to sustain a system that does not now and will not, in its current
state, serve as a backup to GPS."
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Created "to fund initiatives that ensure a healthy future for the general aviation community," Sporty's Foundation Friday released its annual report showing total bequests of $151,355 in 2008. Original funding for the foundation came from Sporty's Pilot Shop and its
affiliate businesses but was bolstered by the foundation's online auction of a Cessna Citation Mustang that netted the foundation $500,000 from an anonymous bidder. According to Sporty's, "Donors can
rest assured that every dollar contributed goes directly to funded programs." In 2008, bequests went to flight training scholarships, the AOPA Air Safety Foundation, Boy Scouts of America, and Build A
Plane, among others. This year the foundation has already funded a Microsoft Flight Simulator for Cincinnati Children's Hospital. The simulator was supported by Sporty's employees who volunteered
weekends to teach youngsters the art of simulated flight. And Sporty's Foundation is looking forward.
The foundation at Sun 'n Fun '09 announced a partnership with EAA and its Young Eagles program and has pledged $250,000 over a three-year period to support that cause, but will continue to fund a
range of other programs and education efforts. Through its efforts, the foundation is dedicated to growing the general aviation community. In the words of Sporty's Chairman Hal Shevers, "If there is
no freshman class, in just four years, there will be no graduates." Sporty's is welcoming similarly motivated contributors to donate as their finances and desires dictate. For more information,
download the foundation's annual report (2008) here.
The letter released last week by 70 mayors and county executives sent to President Barack Obama began, "Recent negative press which
has mischaracterized general aviation has created a poisonous climate for the aviation sector of our economy," but for some the message may prove too little and too late. Intended to show the
importance of small aircraft and the economies they support, the letter called on the president to "help protect the 1.2 million good paying jobs and $150 billion per year in economic output created
by GA." Then, in a press conference with reporters, mayors emphasized losses specific to their communities. Some 13,000 aviation jobs have been lost nationally, according to a supporting press release
from the Alliance For Aviation Across America, and Wichita serves as ground zero, accounting for some 8,000 job losses. Overall, manufacturers are suffering a 7-percent slump in general aviation
aircraft sales. But theirs isn't the only hand aviation has in the pot, and when the administration's Fiscal Year 2010 budget was released at week's end another segment of the industry was quick to
express its disappointment.
Airports Council International - North America (ACI-NA), which represents the government entities that own and operate commercial airports in the U.S. and Canada, distributed a press release Friday
that expressed "disappointment that funding for the Airport Improvement Program was not increased." ACI-NA noted that "NextGen begins and ends at the airport" and an investment in airports is an
investment in "both jobs and economic activity." The group was also disappointed that funding for the Small Community Air Service Development program, which "provides airports with funding to enhance
and attract new air service," was cut altogether. ACI-NA will through channels to attempt to obtain $10 million in funding for that program.
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According to his attorney, Henry Gros, 56, complained via phone to the Navy and city authorities and wrote one senator without effect,
until one year ago he shined a spotlight at naval aircraft flying nighttime simulated carrier approaches to Jacksonville Naval Air Station. Gros says the idea was to collect identification markings
off the aircraft as they flew 100 feet over the roof of his mobile home, according to The Florida Times-Union. The act succeeded in winning Gros some attention ... from Federal prosecutors and they,
through a U.S. District Judge, managed to have Gros sentenced to one year and a day in prison. And so it is that Gros, who was arrested by Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) agents in
September, now has until June 4 to report to prison. The appointment falls about four years after Gros moved to the area ... and about four years since he signed a disclosure stating that his property
was close enough to the Navy's practice airfield that it would be affected by activity there, assistant U.S. attorney Jonathan McKay told the Times-Union.
Despite Gros' attorney's claims that his client's actions were intended to help him collect evidence about the jet flights, prosecutors believed Gros' intent was malicious. The act of shining
spotlights at military pilot trainees even resulted in one practice session being called off.
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Europe's biggest business aviation show, the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE) is almost here and
AVweb is inviting companies attending to submit their news releases to us for possible publication in our show coverage. Send your news to email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.
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Boy, that Sean Tucker sure screwed up when he ran out of fuel, didn't he? Um, yeah and AVweb's Paul Bertorelli has a little confession to make on that front, too. Read all about it in
the latest installment of our AVweb Insider blog and if you're not in the club with Paul and Sean, be sure to take the lesson to heart.
AVweb recently visited Robinson Helicopter's Torrance, California plant. Although sales are slow, the factory is buzzing with activity, including work on the new R66 turbine. Frank
Robinson gave us an update in this podcast.
It's a lesson that every new flight student learns, and it's one that 23,000-hour aviation icon Sean Tucker learned again last Sunday. The legendary aerobatic pilot tells AVweb's
Russ Niles why he'll never fly again without first dipping the fuel tanks.
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Almost. In this post-Sun 'n Fun video, AVweb reports that the Mustang's control forces and basic systems are so close to those of a heavy single or light twin that any
moderately experienced pilot should be able to check out in it without breaking a sweat. And at 340 knots for 1,100 miles, we could get used to it, thanks.
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AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Century Aviation at George W. Bush Airport (KGWB) in Auburn,
AVweb reader Joe Kobiela recommended the FBO:
Lara (a CFI) and her husband Tony (an A&P) took over a rundown FBO and have worked hard to make this a great alternative to Fort Wayne. With a 5,000-foot ILS runway and competitive fuel prices,
charts, headsets, and warm cookies, these two have put their future into aviation and have shown Hoosier hospitality to all who land.
AVweb is actively seeking out the best FBOs in the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here next Monday!
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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
Webmaster Scott Simmons
Contributors Jeff van West Mariano Rosales
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