November 13, 2003
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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The pilot who plodded along in a Mooney M20 above the Potomac River on Monday morning flew within eight miles of the White House, and managed to intrude not only into the Air Defense Identification Zone, but also its inner ring, the Flight Restricted Zone, which extends in a radius of 15 nm from the Washington Monument. In some cases of piloting errors, filing a reporting form within the Aviation Safety Reporting System can sometimes offer some level of "immunity" -- against sanctions, not against prosecution. FAA, spokesman William Shumann told AVweb, "In those cases where a penalty was imposed even though an ASRS report was filed, it might be because the pilot didn't check NOTAMs or otherwise comply with FAR 91.103, which requires a pilot to 'become familiar with all available information concerning that flight.'" As for satisfying those requirements, "If one wants to be legalistic, the Automated Flight Service Stations are the only 'official' source of information, and DUAT is the only 'authorized' source outside of AFSS," but that applies only to Part 121 and 135 -- not Part 91 operators. Part 91 operators "can use whatever sources of weather and other information they wish to meet the requirement of getting all the information necessary for a safe flight," said Shumann. Concerned Part 91 operators may feel more comfortable using only the "official" sources listed above -- regardless of the type of operation. The Washington ADIZ has been there for six months now, and while it has not been decreed a permanent fixture, "There is no indication that it is going to go away anytime soon," says Shumann. So for pilots not only in the Northeast, but anywhere, it goes without saying: check NOTAMS and choose your information sources wisely. And if you ever do find an otherwise friendly F-16 off your wing, don't forget your intercepting signals, and intercept procedures.
Could Monday's incursion of White House airspace by a Mooney pilot actually be a blessing in disguise? It may turn out that way if it highlights what's becoming an increasing frustration for the FAA -- and GA pilots. Since Feb. 10, when the ADIZ was put in place in Washington, it has been violated more than 600 times. "Frankly, we're a bit frustrated that pilots are still violating it, and we don't know why," the FAA's William Shumann told AVweb yesterday. "It's on the charts, it's on our Web site." Pilots who violate the ADIZ (so far none have been discovered to be full-fledged evil-doers, or even to harbor any ill-intent) generally get a 30- to 90-day suspension of their certificate, Shumann said, but each case is handled individually. The range of possibilities does include revocation. It might be more understandable that pilots can be tripped up by Temporary Flight Restrictions that appear with no warning (like those that follow the president), but it seems it would be tough to miss the ADIZ and the FRZ. The FRZ has been violated much less often than the ADIZ, Shumann said.
The invisible wall in the sky that is the Washington ADIZ again proved incapable of preventing involuntary penetration, but was not bark without bite. A pair of F-16 fighter jets scrambled from Andrews Air Force Base to intercept Monday's most famous wayward pilot. Officers armed with shotguns prowled the White House lawn. Vice President Dick Cheney and other top officials rushed to a secure location. (President and Mrs. Bush were out of town.) Once the Mooney pilot complied with the jets' intercept signals, the incursion was deemed not a threat, and the plane continued to its planned destination of Siler City, N.C. After it landed, Secret Service agents interviewed the pilot and searched his plane; they found no weapons and let him proceed on his way. According to the Associated Press, the pilot, Mark Whitnell of Jacksonville, Fla., had bought the plane in Pennsylvania and was flying it to Florida. He told Secret Service officers he had been unable to contact the fighter jets, the AP said. Jean Mitchell, a spokeswoman for the Secret Service, told The New York Times the pilot had thought he was abiding by the flight restrictions around Washington, not realizing they had been changed after the terrorist attacks. The Secret Service was satisfied that he had not intended any harm, Mitchell told the Times.
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The Concorde's life as an airliner may be over, but its life as a paperweight is just beginning. At least three separate auctions of Concorde bits and pieces and memorabilia are coming up in the next few weeks, so get those checkbooks and mouses greased and ready. Internet bidders can shop via eBay thanks to a group called Concorde Collectables, whose auction is already underway online, through Nov. 16. As of Tuesday, 27 bidders had raised the price on a pair of original Day-Glo-orange seats up to 530 pounds -- that's about USD $885. Only six folks, though, had worked up an interest in the much-cheaper Dunlop wiper head. Other items for sale include a nosewheel and tire, an airspeed indicator, even a fuel pump and a servo valve. All items in the Concorde collection come with a Certificate of Authenticity personally signed by Cmdr. Douglas Kingsford-Hale, MBE, according to the auction site.
To buy your leftovers direct from Air France or British Airways, though, you'll have to hop across the pond. Air France is holding an auction of 218 lots, via Christie's, in Paris on Nov. 15, and BA will hold its affair in London, with Bonhams auctioneers, on Dec. 1 -- just in time for holiday shopping. Christie's sale includes a radome, captains' seats, motors, souvenirs, and photographs. BA also has a radome on sale, and expects it to attract as much as 35,000 pounds. Among the 120 lots from BA are a Machmeter, a 12-place Concorde dinner service, a case of wine , and a Wedgewood ashtray. The ashtray is one of several items expected to fetch a "moderate" price, which Bonhams says "will ensure the sale remains accessible to all Concorde aficionados." Proceeds from the airline sales are going to charity. If you can't make it to London, BA offers some consolation in the form of an online Concorde store that sells models and prints, key chains, and jewelry -- but no actual artifacts.
BA announced this week that the very last, final, no-more-after-this Concorde flight ever in history will be from Heathrow, via the Bay of Biscay, to Filton, Bristol, on Nov. 26, as the last flying Concorde returns to its birthplace at Airbus UK. Meanwhile, the final homes for each of the fleet have been announced. One of the Air France airplanes has been donated to the National Air & Space Museum, and arrived in Virginia this summer. Two of the BA birds will also come to the U.S.: one arrived in New York this week en route to the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum, and one has already flown in to the Museum of Flight in Seattle. Air France also gave one airplane to the Auto & Technik Museum Sinsheim in Germany, but the rest of its fleet will stay in France -- one at the Air and Space Museum outside Paris at Le Bourget, another to be featured in a future aeronautics theme park in Toulouse, and one will be on display at the Roissy - Charles de Gaulle Airport, near Paris. The rest of BA's Concordes will go on display at Airbus UK in Bristol, Manchester Airport, the Museum of Flight near Edinburgh, Heathrow Airport, and Grantely Adams Airport in Barbados.
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On Monday, the U.S. Senate voted to let cargo pilots carry firearms and stun guns in the cockpit. The measure would amend the law already in effect that allows pilots of passenger airlines to participate in the Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) program administered by the Transportation Security Administration. The vote comes on the heels of a report last Friday that terrorists may be planning to use cargo planes -- possibly seized overseas -- against American targets, possibly inside the United States. No specific information about a potential threat was received, the Homeland Security Department said. The bill now must be passed by the House and signed by the president before it can take effect. Bob Lambert, president of the Airline Pilots Security Alliance, welcomed the move. "Although there are still some serious flaws in the administration of the FFDO program, we are pleased that the Senate has seen the wisdom of arming cargo pilots as a last line of defense against acts of air piracy and terrorism," he said in a news release on Tuesday. Lambert also made use of the opportunity to critique the TSA: "We call upon the TSA to stop putting up roadblocks to an effective FFDO program and begin implementing the clearly stated will of Congress."
With time running out for this session of the U.S. Senate -- scheduled to adjourn on Nov. 21 -- pressure is building to get some action on the FAA reauthorization bill, which has stalled over the last week or so. NBAA, an advocate for passing the bill, on Tuesday urged its members to contact their senators and request their support for swift passage of the act. While some GA lobbyists say they can live with the current version of the bill -- which includes $100 million in cash relief for small GA businesses hurt by 9/11 and airspace restrictions -- the National Air Traffic Controllers Association continues to staunchly oppose it, holding out for more explicit protection from privatization. Whatever your take on it, your senators won't know unless you tell them. The Internet makes it easy to contact your senator via e-mail. And it's also easy to find out how your representative voted in the House. The bill has been controversial mainly because an early version contained language that would prohibit any privatization of air traffic control, and that language disappeared in the version now in play in the Senate (although an interim measure naming 69 towers that could be privatized was ditched).
Yesterday marked two years since American Airlines Flight 587, an Airbus A300-600, crashed in Belle Harbor, N.Y., killing all 260 people on board and five on the ground. The NTSB released an update this week on its investigation, saying it has tested a bolt like those in the A300-600 tail fin, and the bolt did not fail until it was subjected to a load beyond its design ultimate limit. The board said its final report will not be completed until sometime in the spring of next year. Meanwhile, N.Y. Gov. George Pataki pledged on Sunday to build a "suitable and fitting" memorial to commemorate those who died. An impromptu memorial has grown at the site, but it is on private property, and it is not yet clear where a site will be found for the permanent monument.
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With Australia's airspace about to undergo radical change as of Nov. 27, controversy over the new rules is intensifying. Aviation industry experts have raised concerns about the change, which will make the system more like the one in the U.S. Air traffic controllers say the new system will pose a significant safety risk. Pilots complain they have not yet been informed of the new procedures they will need to follow. Other critics add that Australia's radar coverage is inadequate. Transport Minister John Anderson said this week a comprehensive training and education package would enable pilots to move safely to the new arrangements. Anderson added that all pilots will receive an initial subscription to new improved charts for their area of operations.
In a statement issued last Friday, the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum responded to a recent petition that said the museum's exhibit of the Enola Gay fails to address the "disturbing issues" raised by the use of the atomic bomb. The museum's statement includes the full text of the display label, and notes: "This type of label is precisely the same kind used for the other airplanes and spacecraft in the museum. Its intent is to tell visitors what the object is and the basic facts concerning its history ... allowing visitors to evaluate what they encounter in the context of their own points of view." A spokesman for Peace Action said his group would prepare a response to the NASM statement, but it had not arrived at AVweb by press time. The NASM statement continues: "The exhibit plan at the Udvar-Hazy Center, including the Enola Gay label and text in its section, does not glorify or vilify the role this aircraft played in history. We invite the public to come and see the exhibition and share their impressions with us." The exhibit, in the new Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles Airport in Virginia, opens to the public on Dec. 15.
It seems to be the time of year that folks are in the mood to make lists, and airline pilots are getting onto some of them. AVweb told you last month that a federal report found a job as a commercial pilot to be one of the top 10 most dangerous jobs in the U.S. Now a financial writer for CBS, Chris Plummer, has come up with a list of the top 10 most overpaid workers -- and guess who's on it? Airline pilots come in at number 9, just above wedding photographers and just below West Coast longshoremen. Plummer claims no statistical proof for his ranking, just his opinion, but with "input from compensation experts." He notes that an airline pilot's job is mostly automated, and the folks who really should be getting the big bucks -- the ones who keep all those passengers from falling out of the sky -- are not the pilots but the mechanics. Then again, the mechanics remain safely on the ground. We wonder if those compensation experts took that into account?
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A Learjet crashed shortly after takeoff from St. Louis Downtown Airport yesterday morning. All four on board survived, and reportedly "walked away" from the site. Early reports said it appeared the engines were not working properly and the pilots landed in a field, and then the aircraft caught fire and was destroyed...
EAA will announce today in Oshkosh the name of its one-millionth Young Eagle...
FAA proposed new rules for extended aircraft operations (ETOPS) that will allow aircraft with two engines to fly more direct routes...
PBS's Nova debuted a documentary about the Wright brothers and the Wright Experience this week...
Registration now open for 2004 Women in Aviation International Conference in Reno, Nev., March 11-13.
Congratulations and an AVweb hat go out to Kenneth Steamer, 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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We received over 100 pictures last week. Congratulations to this week's winner, Christopher Snow, of Glendale, Ariz. His picture titled "Starship Graveyard" captures a rather unusual
and eerie sight. Raytheon recently started scrapping the remainder of the Beech Starship fleet and our winner happen to come by the temporary holding area for the fateful aircraft. On Nov 11, 03 he
flew his Cessna 152 Aerobat from Phoenix (DVT) down to Pinal Airpark (MZJ) to take some pictures of Starships in a desert graveyard waiting to be parted out and scraped. Great picture, Christopher!
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.
" Glasair III"
" My Ozark 3 Departure"
*** PREVIOUS RESULTS ***
We received over 300 responses to our question last week on our readers preferred aircraft to fly. Over 80 percent of those responding fly certified fixed-wing general aviation aircraft (Piper, Mooney, Cessna etc), while only 6 percent said they fly homebuilts (plans or kits). On a smaller scale, only one percent of the respondents indicated they flew ultralights with the same result for our rotorcraft subscribers.
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 flying personal jet aircraft.
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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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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