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Volume 9, Number 43aOctober 20, 2003

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

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) claims an influential congressman is trying to create two new classifications of control towers: Democrat and Republican. NATCA President John Carr said his organization is outraged by a deal proposed by Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Aviation Subcommittee, that would involve guaranteeing the retention of FAA-staffed towers in states represented by Republican senators who switch their vote and support the FAA Reauthorization Bill in its current form. "He wants to play Monty Hall and Let's Make a Deal (with air safety)," said Carr. The political scrap that has ensued over 69 so-called VFR towers that could become privatized (pending the bill's final wording) has held up the $60 billion bill, which was supposed to have been passed by the end of September. It has also put a hold on all the capital spending for airport improvements the bill contains. More...

Naturally, privatization opponents are livid with the deal, saying it shows the true attitude of the Republican leadership toward air safety. "[This] tells our citizens that their safety is a political issue," Carr said in a conference call with reporters. "It's about trading towers for votes. If you live in a nice Republican community, you get an FAA tower, if you live in a Democrat community you get a contract tower." Carr said this "two-class system of safety" won't fly with the American public and the union is battling it strenuously. Gary Burns, a spokesman for Mica, told AVweb the issue is holding up the bill and all the benefits it will bring to aviation and there has to be some resolution to the impasse. More...

Despite the high-level deal-making, political intrigue and Capitol Hill name-calling the issue has precipitated, the FAA continues to maintain that it has no plans to privatize any of the towers. Communications Director Greg Martin told AVweb the agency just wants to keep the option open in case operational conditions require it. "The FAA wants to preserve its flexibility to convert VFR, non-approach towers if circumstances warrant it," Martin said. He said looming retirement of thousands of government controllers and future funding constraints make that flexibility necessary. "They all add up to how we deploy our resources," he said. Martin also characterized the privatization issue as relatively insignificant compared to all of the measures in the bill that are currently on hold. More...

GARMIN'S 196 GPS HAS THE MOST UTILITY AMONG AVIATION HANDHELDS! WAAS-capable, the Garmin 196 has advanced mapping and logbook capabilities offering more utility as a cross-platform navigator than any aviation portable on the market. On land the GPSMAP 196 can navigate along roads or waterways. For details on the 196 and other Garmin GPS models stop by AOPA Expo Booth #300, or go online at

Bombardier is streamlining its business jet operations in a series of moves that will affect 1,150 jobs in the U.S. The Canadian-owned company announced last week it is moving production of the Challenger 300 from its Wichita plant to Montreal, where other models of the Challenger are made. The Wichita facility will continue to make Learjets. And although 350 jobs will be lost in Wichita, production of the Challenger 300 will be integrated into the existing capacity at the Montreal plant -- no new jobs are expected. There will, however, be some jobs added in both Montreal and Wichita at the expense of Tucson, Ariz. More...

Of course, the soft market for bizjets gets most of the blame for this latest consolidation. With order books gathering dust, industry analysts say the only way for the companies to survive is to trim their operations. "They're desperate to cut costs and rightly so," consultant Richard Aboulafia told The Wichita Eagle. Employees at the Wichita plant did their share to help the company. The Machinists Union allowed its contract to be renegotiated and workers voted to freeze wages, delay pension increases and pay more of their own health-care costs. Agreeing to the concessions may have saved the plant. "If they hadn't, it could have gone the other way," said Bombardier spokesman Dave Franson. The worst may not be over for the bizjet market, according to Bombardier's chief competitor. More...

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In what looks like a case of shutting the barn door after the horses have left, Melbourne, Fla., authorities have enacted anti-noise rules for the local airport. You may recall that Melbourne Airport was (briefly) the headquarters of Aerogroup, an air-combat training company. Aerogroup had a contract to train pilots of the Royal Netherlands Air Force how to turn and burn in their F-16s. The nightly air shows caused such a ruckus among local residents, the company relocated to Jacksonville. Airport authority officials insist the new rules aren't aimed specifically at preventing Aerogroup (or anything like it) from returning to Melbourne, but they did include a ban on the use of afterburners. More...

The Transportation Security Administration is hinting it may relax some of the restrictions placed on GA after 9/11. In testimony before a House Aviation Subcommittee hearing that was supposed to deal with airline security, TSA head Adm. James Loy said that GA was not as much of a threat as originally thought post-9/11. In written comments he said "more in-depth background checks" would assist in issuing waivers for individuals such as corporate pilots into certain restricted airspace. Loy also said, "We will advise the FAA about whether certain airspace restrictions add real security value and we will recommend that FAA engage in appropriate rulemaking to permanently codify those security-based airspace restrictions that add real security value." He said, too that the Washington ADIZ will remain for the time being. More...

Baby seats in airplanes may sound like a good idea but they might actually increase the number of babies that die -- in car crashes. A report by a group of pediatricians says a proposed FAA regulation that would require infant restraint seats for children under the age of two doesn't make practical or economic sense. The suggested logic (flawed or not) is that having to buy a seat for a tot that can now sit on Mom or Dad's lap for free would push some families to drive instead of fly. The report offers that the family car is a much more perilous environment for a baby than flying commercially (they haven't discovered stress yet) so the pediatricians want the FAA to put the brakes on the regulation. More...

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It's not just Chicago-area pilots who miss Meigs Field. The state of Wisconsin has formally asked the FAA to reopen the Meigs control tower even though the runway is unusable. Wisconsin transportation officials say the tower did a lot more than regulate the comings and goings at Meigs, before Mayor Richard Daley sent in heavy equipment to destroy it on March 30. They claim the tower helped pilots from Wisconsin navigate the route along Lake Michigan that small aircraft must use to avoid conflicts with airliners using O'Hare. "It helped people fly through Chicago without having to run into hurdles," said Gary Dikkens, airspace manager for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. Meanwhile, efforts continue to convince politicians to reopen Meigs. More...

Staff at some Flight Service Stations will soon be able to provide pilots with up-to-the-minute information on TFRs and special-use airspace thanks to new software being developed for the Operation and Supportability Implementation System (OASIS). Jeff Barnes, the National Association of Air Traffic Specialists' expert on OASIS, said the new operating system will accommodate overlays of TFRs and also give graphic depictions of active, pending and past special use airspace. Barnes said NOTAMs are also getting a makeover to make them clearer to FSS briefers, who, presumably, will pass that clarity on to pilots. Unfortunately, OASIS has only been installed at 13 FSS facilities so far with 12 more on the way next year. Barnes hopes to have a mock-up of the system running at AOPA Expo at the end of the month, as one of hundreds of exhibitors at the huge convention. More...

Next time you board an Air India or Indian Airlines flight, you might want to hope for a frumpy flight attendant. At least then you'll know that he or she was hired based on competence, not looks. As hard as it may be to believe, the Indian government has told the country's biggest airlines to set hiring standards that would land virtually any other carrier in front of a human-rights panel. "Being answerable to Parliament and based on the feedback we get from the market, I have suggested that presentability and physical appearance of a candidate be looked into first and academics later," Rajiv Pratap Rudy, the country's Minister of State for Civil Aviation, told The Indian Express. More...

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Smithsonian opened Wright exhibit...
ADs were issued for Cessna 208s and Univair Aircraft Corporation aircraft...
Eric R. Byer was named NATA's director of government and industry affairs More...

Congratulations and an AVweb hat go out to Gabe Longwell this week's AVscoop winner. Submit news tips via email to Rules and information are at More...

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As the Beacon Turns #69: Monday Morning Quarterbacking
How you learn from your flying experiences (and those of others) determines your attitude toward the safety of flying itself. AVweb's Michael Maya Charles concludes his analysis of an off-airport helicopter landing with some lessons learned. More...

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Overheard on the Mexico City ground control freq....

F-100: Ground control, F-100 ready to taxi.
Ground: F-100 clear to taxi to Runway 5 left. Follow the 767 ahead of you.
F-100: Where is the '67 going?
Ground: To Madrid ... but you just follow him till before the runway!!! More...

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