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BILLION FOR AVIATION ... OR DOOR #2
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.
SAFETY SYSTEM ALLEGED...
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.
SAYS IT'S ABOUT FLEXIBILITY
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...
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...
WORKERS BEAR THE LOAD
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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GONE, NOISE LAWS ENACTED
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...
HINTS AT GA SECURITY CHANGES
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
BABIES SAFER EVEN UNBELTED?
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.
WANTS MEIGS TOWER BACK
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.
UPGRADES ON THE WAY
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
DEMANDS BETTER-LOOKING FLIGHT ATTENDANTS
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.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rules and information are at http://www.avweb.com/contact/newstips.html.
ARTICLES AND FEATURES ON AVWEB
As the Beacon Turns #69: Monday Morning Quarterbacking
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....
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
Ground: To Madrid ... but you just follow him till before the
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