NewsWire Complete Issue
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
The Fight For Every Vote...
With a couple of weeks to go before an extended funding deadline, the lobbying equivalent of trench warfare has taken over the battle for the FAA Reauthorization Bill as those on both sides of the Air
Traffic Control privatization issue launch a vote-by-vote campaign to get their version passed. Congress agreed to extend the FAA's funding authority for a month beyond the Sept. 30 expiration of the
previous legislation while the privatization issue is sorted out. A prominent Ohio senator found himself directly in the line of fire last Thursday when the National Air Traffic Controllers
Association (NATCA) got wind that Ohio Republican Mike DeWine might be waffling on his previous support to maintain ATC as a government-run function. In a
conference call arranged by NATCA with Ohio reporters and a few aviation publications, including AVweb, NATCA President John Carr said he wants DeWine to know there
is public support for keeping ATC in government hands. "We want to shore up support for our delegation," Carr said. DeWine was one of 10 Republican senators who supported a version of the
reauthorization bill that prevented further privatization of air traffic control services, helping the measure pass. But the House/Senate conference committee's final version of the bill, issued in
late July, allowed the contracting out of an additional 69 so-called VFR towers. Since then, NATCA has been running a flat-out campaign to have Congress reject the bill as written and so far it seems
to have the upper hand. Carr said NATCA's polling indicates 80 percent of Americans favor keeping ATC a government function and he said he hopes wavering politicians like DeWine are mindful of that. A
coalition of consumer groups has joined NATCA. Winnifred DaPalma, of the Public Citizen's Congress Watch, told the conference call that Americans want the government looking after them in the air.
"When people get on an airplane in this country, they want to know that the entire security process is being operated in the public interest," she said.
A spokesman for DeWine admits the senator is reconsidering his previous position. Mike Dawson told The Columbus Dispatch that the senator must weigh whether the ban is worth risking all the funding in
the bill for Ohio airports and other provisions. According to the Dispatch, DeWine still favors the privatization ban but he's not sure he'd vote against the reauthorization bill if the current
language remains. Despite what must be enormous pressure from the White House to change his vote, DeWine's fellow Ohio Republican George Voinovich has apparently indicated to NATCA that he won't alter
his position. Ohio Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Lorain) accused the White House of mounting an "ideological jihad for privatization" and said the public won't
stand for it in the case of air traffic control. He said similar debates are being conducted over Medicare, parks and a host of other publicly run services but air traffic control is different in the
minds of voters. "This one is barely debatable," he said. "I just urge my colleagues to put public safety over political ideology." Brown and Carr both reject the notion, brought forward by supporters
of the conference language, that intransigence on the privatization issue is threatening airport project funding. Carr said any funding delays must be the White House's responsibility because it is
the administration that is trying to modify the will of Congress to meet its own agenda, first through veto threats, then by pressuring the conference committee to change the bill. "Everything was
fine until another branch of government (the executive branch) interfered," said Carr.
Of course, the language, as it is currently before Congress, has its supporters, including Rep. John Mica, the powerful chairman of the House Aviation
Subcommittee. He told the National Business Aviation Association convention that NATCA's fears of wholesale privatization of ATC are unfounded. He also offered a
cursory assessment of the Department of Transportation's Inspector General's report on the contract tower program, saying the
report found that in most cases, comparable FAA towers are "more error prone and more costly compared to contract towers." NATCA and its supporters have previously attacked the report, saying its data
is suspect because of inconsistencies in error reporting in the different types of towers. The union has also suggested that contract-tower costs are spiraling out of control. Mica has also apparently
been telling reporters that the political battle has been won and supporters of the conference report have the votes they need to carry it. Both Brown and Carr scoffed at the suggestion. "If they had
the votes, it would be on the floor (of the House and Senate) right now," said Brown. He dismissed Mica's comments as "Republican bravado." The administration has been floating a compromise but Carr
said it might actually be worse, in his mind, than the conference report. The administration has suggested that the whole section on privatization be simply dropped but that would also eliminate a
guarantee that the bulk of the ATC system will stay in government hands through 2007. Meanwhile, the clock ticks toward the next deadline, as the current funding extension runs out in less than two
weeks. Stay tuned ...
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Groups Want Qualified GA Access By Centennial...
Dec. 17, 2003, may take on an even greater meaning to certain sectors of the aviation community if some of the alphabet groups have their way. The 100th anniversary of the first powered, sustained
flight of a private aircraft may also be the day private and charter aircraft are allowed to return to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). National
Air Transportation Association President James Coyne set the centennial date as his goal for resumption of non-scheduled flights to DCA in a statement drafted during the National Business Aircraft
Association convention last week in Orlando. "We dedicate ourselves at NATA to work with the entire community to achieve the goal of equivalent access to DCA by Dec. 17, 2003," Coyne said. He said
NATA and the NBAA have both been working hard to restore access by charter and private aircraft since scheduled carriers were allowed back shortly after 9/11. The key to that access is being able to
ensure that crews and passengers get the same level of security screening as airline passengers. "We are committed to restoring access for security-qualified general aviation operations, including
private and charter flights," said NBAA President Shirley Longmuir. Ed Bolen, president of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, also chimed in.
"There is no reason why qualified general aviation operators following appropriate airport-specific security protocols should not have the same opportunity [as airlines]," he said.
It took a few discordant notes to get the three groups singing the same tune, however. Earlier in the convention, NATA Vice President of Government and
Industry Affairs Jeb Burnside told NBAA Convention News, the unofficial organ of the gathering, that the NBAA's lobbying may have actually hindered efforts to crack
open the security wall around DCA. "We have been told time and time again that the way to do this is incrementally," said Burnside. "This would mean charter operations with 12,500 security approval
[TSA security rules for aircraft 12,500 pounds or more] as the next step in implementation." Burnside suggested that the NBAA's lobbying to include private aircraft under similar arrangements now,
while part of the ultimate goal, may have led to the watered-down promise by Congress to support the return of GA to DCA that came without any specific criteria or timetable. In a statement, Coyne
coyly said he was surprised to read Burnside's comments and that they were contrary to NATA's cooperative attitude with the NBAA toward restoring GA access to DCA. "The statements quoted in the
article reflect only the passionate outpourings of an employee of NATA and do not reflect the position of NATA's board, its president or the association," Coyne said. He also congratulated the NBAA
for its efforts to fight for DCA access. The NBAA's Longmuir welcomed Coyne's comments and pledged to continue to fight for access by both private and charter operators. "We have never and will never
favor one segment of the general aviation community over another," she said.
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The glass cockpit is coming to aircraft designs that date back to the 1950s. Cessna used the National Business Aircraft Association convention to announce that its venerable Skylane and Stationair
models of single-engine aircraft will be offered with an optional Garmin G1000 avionics
package. Last week, Diamond Aircraft announced the G1000 will be available as a $25,000 add-on to its DA40. Both companies have
had similarly glowing things to say about the panel setup. "The G1000 avionics package is the most advanced flight deck package to fly on a single-engine piston aircraft," Cessna said in its release.
The G1000 packs all primary flight, navigation, communication, terrain, traffic, weather and engine-sensor data onto two 10.4-inch, high-resolution, sun-readable screens. Old habits die hard, however.
Whereas Diamond offers optional and nearly wholesale replacement of the dials and gauges, Cessna believes its customers want the security (and weight) of vacuum-operated primary instruments and a
magnetic compass as a backup to the electronics. They'll be right underneath the screens.
A theoretically permanent fix is now available for troublesome engine mounts on Piper Mirages. Enhanced Flight Group, of Lexington, Ky., has received a
supplemental type certificate (STC) to beef up the mount in the area of the nose-gear actuator attach point. The factory
assemblies have suffered cracking and even complete nose-gear collapses, prompting a Service Bulletin requiring repetitive (and expensive) dye penetrant inspections or installation of a revised part.
While developing a powerplant upgrade for Mirages, Enhanced Flight also tackled the mount problem. As with many things in airplanes, size matters and the fix essentially involves putting beefier
materials into the affected area. The STC covers the replacement of four tubular steel members with stronger materials and includes machined pivot tubes with three times the wall thickness of the
Piper-supplied parts. Internal corrosion proofing is part of the package, something Piper didnt supply. The STC assembly is tested to withstand operation for more than 40,000 hours at double the
It's doubtful many Malaysians have ever even heard of a Lancair Columbia 300, much less imagine themselves in the left seat. But there are literally millions
of reasons that the Bend, Ore., company held a board of directors meeting there recently and let the country's prime minister take an hour-long hop in the plane. Investment from the South Pacific
country is the financial underpinning of the planemaker and Lancair executives showcased the Columbia at the LIMA International Air and Maritime Show. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad
stole the show when he took off in the 300 for what was supposed to be a brief flight over the airport. "Instead, he kept his entourage, dignitaries, members of the press and an entire nation waiting
for well over an hour," said a Lancair press release. Dr. Mahathir, an avid pilot and aviation enthusiast, praised the "beautiful design and wonderful handling" of the aircraft. Investment by the
government of Malaysia nine years ago enabled the kitplane maker to create a company to build certified Lancairs. The Lancair deal was a catalyst to launch Malaysia as a major investor in
aircraft-related industries. The country also makes wing components for Airbus.
Airline officials are warning Toronto that spiraling fees at Pearson International Airport might prompt them to bypass Canada's largest airport. Eugene
Hoeven, of the International Air Transport Association, said last week he's concerned Pearson's $4.4 billion expansion is over budget and airlines will be left
footing the bill through landing fees and other charges. Toronto is already at least the 11th most expensive airport in the world. It costs an airline $8,560 to land a fully loaded Boeing 747-400
there, an increase of 142 percent since 1999. Tokyo's Narita Airport is the most expensive at about $16,000 for the same aircraft. Toronto officials angrily deny the project is over budget but they do
admit that airlines will pay the cost, whatever it is. "While we recognize that fees have increased, that was part of the understanding: that the infrastructure investment that needs to happen has to
be paid for," said Greater Toronto Airports Authority spokesman Peter Gregg. Most of the money is slated for a new $3.6 billion terminal, which was to open this month but has been delayed until at
least next March. Hoeven said rising costs could result in some airlines reducing service or skipping Toronto entirely. For instance, a European carrier that doesn't fly to Toronto often might choose
to land elsewhere and force its passengers to switch to an airline with which it has an alliance for the final leg of the flight.
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It would appear that the long-standing battle over curfews at Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport may be over, at least for now. In an arguably more sensible agreement between the city and
the FAA, noise -- not size -- will determine which aircraft can use the airport between 11:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. A previous city bylaw banned anything larger than 75,000 pounds from using the airport
in the wee hours, but owners of large but quiet aircraft claimed the law was arbitrary and discriminatory. On the heels of Larry Ellison's
court battle at the airport, a court case brought by the owner of the airplane that transports the San Jose SaberCats arena football team, scheduled to be heard in three weeks, sparked the new
rules. Under the new regulations, any airplane that puts out 89 decibels or less (about the same as a lawnmower) will be able to come and go at will. The FAA determines the noise level by measuring it
at various distances and also takes into consideration its duration. Anyone caught busting the 89-decibel limit will face a $2,500 fine. The old regulation wasn't really working anyway. Since Oracle
chief Larry Ellison successfully challenged the law in court several years ago, a growing number of aircraft have been getting exemptions. City official acknowledge the new rules might lead to
increased late-night traffic but Mayor Ron Gonzales noted the compromise "prevents the possible elimination of our curfew."
"I've shot three thousand dead-stick landings in this airplane," he said. Bob Hoover, the war veteran, test pilot, and grand old man of air show routines, last Friday saddled up in his famous Shrike
Commander 500S for one last flight, The Flying Life's Jamie Beckett told AVweb. Hoover, along with co-pilot Steve Clegg, were wheels-up at 9:15 a.m. to
deliver the famously green-and-white business aircraft from its temporary digs at the International Sport Aviation Museum in Lakeland, Fla., to the Air and Space museum in Washington, D.C. As Sun 'n
Fun Vice President Greg Harbaugh explains it, the aircraft will be displayed 30 feet above the museum floor in a familiar pose, inverted with both props feathered. Once a backup and chase pilot for
the sound-barrier-breaking Bell X-1, Hoover's logbook includes time in over 300 types. Hoover had offered the aircraft to the D.C. museum two years ago, but lack of room at the facility caused delay.
Look for more details in an upcoming issue of The Flying Life magazine.
Chase planes might enable resumption of spectacular night launches of space shuttles. NASA is working on a system whereby two WB-57F converted bombers, carrying sophisticated cameras, will be
able to watch for pieces falling off the shuttle as it climbs through the atmosphere. Such imagery is required in the wake of the Columbia disaster, in which a piece of foam insulation damaged a wing
and led to a re-entry breakup of the craft...
An expensive-sounding Airworthiness Directive (AD) is being proposed for Piper PA-46-500TP owners. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking involves replacing all
the electronic modules in the electrical system with newly designed modules after reports of smoke in the cockpit and failures. KG Model STEMME S10-VT sailplanes are the subject of an AD requiring placarding for new flight restrictions to prevent failure
of a cog in the engine gearbox
Concorde is going out with a bang. The supersonic airliner broke its own record for a trans-Atlantic flight with a hop from London to Boston that lasted just three hours, five minutes and 34
seconds. The old record of 3:09 was set in 1974 on a flight from Paris to Boston. The latest record was set on Concorde's farewell tour. The last trans-Atlantic flight of the aircraft is Oct.
The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds have resumed touring after a Sept. 14 crash grounded them for almost a month. The team will fly with five F-16s instead of the usual six through the rest of the
schedule, which resumed at the Ft. Smith, Ark., air show over the weekend. The cause of the Sept. 14 crash in Idaho has not yet been determined
From the "Don't try this at home" file. An unidentified air show pilot was uninjured when the Piper Cub he was trying to take off from the roof of a moving 1961 Pontiac Catalina fell off the
car and slid along the runway before an air show crowd at McKellar-Sipes Regional Airport Oct. 4. The pilot had managed to land on the car but the tailwheel caught on part of a support structure when
he tried to lift off.
Pelican's Perch #74: Hurricane (Part 2)
AVweb's John Deakin concludes his two-part series on the Hawker Hurricane with this report of his first time flying it. As you'll see, it takes a lot of time just to get ready to go, but once it does,
it does it in a Hurry!
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From Grand Rapids tower...
Tower to Continental ABC: I see that your flight plan states, "no ice".
Won't the passengers be upset?
Tower (again): Sorry, I couldn't help myself.
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