NewsWire Complete Issue

November 20, 2003
By The AVweb Editorial Staff

This issue of AVweb's AVflash is brought to you by …

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Stop The Noise

Aircraft Noise Battle Becomes Lawsuit...

A long-simmering feud over aerobatic flying near busy Hanscom Field, just outside Boston, Mass., has reached a new level, as a group of local residents is pressing a million-dollar lawsuit against several pilots based at the airport, alleging that they are creating a noise nuisance. One of the pilots named in the suit, Steve Pennypacker, told AVweb yesterday that he and his partners are planning to sell their airplane, as a direct result of the pressure. "Flying is just a hobby for me," he said, "but my concern is that this can be used against other pilots. It's a sign that intimidation has won out over rational discussion." At Hanscom, conflict has deepened in recent years as the airport has been growing, while at the same time the surrounding communities have grown more densely populated and more affluent. Aviation companies from cargo outfits to regional airlines have faced opposition to growth at the airport, as they seek out alternatives to the crowding at Boston's Logan Airport. The aerobatic pilots in particular have come under increasing pressure as a local group called Stop The Noise has characterized them as "dirt bikers of the air," and pressed their case for quiet with the FAA and local officials. At least 30 complaints were filed with the FAA, but no violations of FAA regulations were found.

...May Set National Precedent...

Mike Goulian, a national aerobatic champion and president of Executive Flyers Aviation, is also named in the suit, and faces tough choices. "It's going to cost us at least $20,000 to $50,000 to fight this," he told AVweb yesterday. "That's a big expense. The worrisome part -- besides the money, and my future and my living -- is the precedent this can set for others nationwide." Goulian said that pilots had been to meetings with neighbors to try to find equitable solutions to their concerns. "We thought we had some good ideas, and had been making progress," he said. The lawsuit came as a surprise. He has no choice, he said, other than "to just keep fighting it." Pennypacker also said that local pilots have tried to find compromises to satisfy the property owners, but it's been a challenge. "If you look at a sectional chart, the amount of airspace available is really very small," he said. "We've been working with the FAA to try to get waivers and open up more space, but it's not easy." In the five years or so he's been flying in the area, he's seen practice areas go away. "This is not going to get any better," he said. Pennypacker is setting up a fund to help with the legal expenses, he said. Contributors can contact him at 508-472-2617.

...As Pilots Search For Long-Term Solutions

This latest conflict at Hanscom, pilot Peter Schmidt told AVweb yesterday, "has been a real wake-up call that it's time for the aviation community to do something proactive." Schmidt, who flies a Pitts, has formed the American Free Skies Association to seek long-term solutions to such conflicts by building bridges between pilots and the people affected by the airport. Education can make a difference, he says. "Some of the people who are bothered find the noise irritating because it scares them," he said. "They hear changes in the engine noise and think the plane is going to crash. Once they learn that what they are hearing is normal flight training procedures, some of that can be allayed." Pilots need to be educated as well, he said. "Pilots need to understand that sometimes these concerns are legitimate," he said. "And they need to understand the potential consequences if they are not addressed." The problem is not restricted to crowded New England, he said. A pilot in North Carolina was hit with a similar lawsuit just last week. "This is not a democratic way to resolve these disputes," he said. "We want to support pilots so that this kind of intimidation becomes ineffective."

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FAA's Extreme Makeover

Agency To Reinvent Itself...

On Tuesday, the FAA announced a major overhaul of its organizational structure, with the aim of making the agency leaner and more efficient. The new Air Traffic Organization (ATO) business structure will consolidate the FAA's air traffic services, research and acquisitions, and Free Flight Program activities, and focus on providing the best service for the best value to the aviation industry and the traveling public. "Today is the first phase of creating a true, performance-based air traffic organization," said Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta. The ATO was developed under the guidance of Russell Chew, a former American Airlines captain and executive who now serves as the FAA's first chief operating officer. The ATO will consist of five major service units: En Route & Oceanic, Terminal, Flight Services, System Operations, and Technical Operations. Also included within the organization's top level are five staff-level business groups: Safety, Communications, Operations Planning, Finance and Acquisition, and Business Services. "Our mission throughout each level of the ATO is clear -- to provide the highest value and quality air traffic services that our customers -- the aviation community -- should rightly expect," said Chew. "With Secretary Mineta's vision and support, Administrator [Marion] Blakey and I are putting together an organization that delivers on this mission by putting a premium on our employees and accountability for our performance." The agency also named several key executives who will head up the units within the new structure.

...With What Effect On GA Services?...

It's too early to say what the ultimate impact of these changes will be on the GA pilot, FAA spokesman William Shumann told AVweb yesterday. But initially, "pilots won't see any difference," he said. "They will still be talking to the same people at air traffic control and at the Flight Service Stations." Any changes that occur would be gradual, he said, and won't begin until the initial in-depth analyses of the organization have been completed. FAA Administrator Marion Blakey said in Tuesday's news release, "The ATO will bring about lasting change in how we manage our air traffic services, systems and resources." But those changes "will be invisible to the flying public," said Shumann. "The aim is to deliver better service at lower cost to taxpayers," he said. "Pilots now are not paying directly for those services, and that is not going to change."

...And Meets Mixed Reaction From Alphabets

The General Aviation Manufacturers Association applauded the new structure and staffing. "The FAA has put together an outstanding leadership team and we look forward to working with them as they move towards achieving their goals," said GAMA President Ed Bolen. National Air Traffic Controllers Association President John Carr was even more enthused, calling the initiative "bold and smart" and COO Chew "innovative and thoughtful." AOPA President Phil Boyer was a bit more circumspect. "AOPA will be paying close attention to the ATO," said Boyer. "We want to make sure GA continues to have access to the system, that the FAA continues its long-range work to develop new approaches where none currently exist, and that funding for the new organization does not become user-fee-based."

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NTSB Blames Crew In Wellstone Crash, Seeks Stricter Charter Oversight

The flight crew was to blame in the crash last year of a Raytheon (Beechcraft) King Air 100 carrying Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone and seven others, the NTSB said Tuesday. Neither icing nor crew fatigue were factors, according to the board's findings. The flight crew failed to maintain adequate airspeed on approach, stalled, and did not recover. "This tragic accident ... points out the need for more aggressive action to improve safety in the on-demand charter industry," said NTSB Chairman Ellen Engleman. The crew members, according to the report, both had shown below-average flight proficiency, and the charter operator had not trained them properly. The King Air, operated by Aviation Charter Inc., was on a flight from St. Paul to Eveleth, Minn., when it crashed on approach to the Eveleth-Virginia Municipal Airport on Oct. 25, 2002. The airplane was destroyed and there were no survivors. The NTSB said the flight crew failed to maintain an appropriate course and speed for the approach to Eveleth and did not properly configure the airplane at the start of approach procedures. Both crew members, the NTSB said, had "previously demonstrated serious performance deficiencies consistent with below-average flight proficiency." It could not be determined which crew member was flying at the time of the accident. Also, the charter company was not training its pilots in crew resource management in accordance with its FAA-approved training program. Consequently, the NTSB recommended that the FAA make such training mandatory for Part 135 on-demand charter companies that conduct dual-pilot operations. The FAA also should conduct en route inspections and observe training and proficiency checks at all Part 135 on-demand charter operations, the NTSB said. Additionally, the board recommended that the FAA convene a panel of experts to determine the feasibility of requiring that low-airspeed alert systems be installed in airplanes engaged in commercial operations under Parts 121 and 135, and act accordingly on the panel's findings. A synopsis of the accident investigation report, including the findings, probable cause, and safety recommendations, can be found at the NTSB Web site. The complete report will be available in about six weeks.

FAA Bill, The Money, The Programs, The Jobs...

In the Senate on Monday, Republican leaders tried to force a vote on the stalled FAA reauthorization bill, but failed to garner enough support, as their motion failed 45-43. Democrats, much to the satisfaction of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), are standing fast for guarantees that would restrict privatization of more control towers. NATCA President John Carr called upon President Bush to work with Congress to break the deadlock. "The administration ... has undermined the will of the Congress and held up the FAA Reauthorization bill -- jeopardizing tens of thousands of jobs and critical air safety functions," Carr said in a statement Monday night. The controllers say privatization would compromise aviation safety, but the Transportation Department says contract towers do not compromise safety and operate more efficiently. This summer, both houses of Congress passed a bill that would have prohibited any further contract towers, but the language was changed in a conference committee. President Bush has said he would veto the final bill if it contains privatization prohibitions.

Security Measures For GA Airports

On Monday, the General Aviation Airport Security Working Group released its final report on GA security to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The goal of the Working Group, made up of representatives from GA alphabet groups such as GAMA, AOPA, EAA, NATA, NBAA, and more, was to develop guidelines for security at the nation's GA airports. The group recommended that pilot certificates should include photos, specific threats should be better disseminated, the TSA should reward airports for terrorism-related convictions, and federal funds should be allotted to build more hangars. Overall, the report concluded that GA airports are so diverse, the best approach is to proceed case by case, but outlined general practices that can be followed. "Local airport officials and pilot communities have the best perspective on the security needs at their airports," said AOPA's Andy Cebula, a member of the group. The report also recommended that unfunded mandates to airports, states, general aviation businesses, manufacturers and pilots should be avoided, and that GA should not be singled out and asked to follow security procedures that are beyond those being adopted by other transportation modes. The report includes a comprehensive outline of recommended practices regarding personnel, aircraft, facilities, surveillance and communications.

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CRM Well Beyond The Cockpit

Crew resource management may be old news to pilots, but the concept is now making waves in other industries where communication among workers can mean the difference between safety and disaster, The (U.K.) Herald reported Monday. Techniques that pilots use to help avoid accidents are being adapted to reduce the risk of mistakes in hospital operating theaters, nuclear plants, fire departments, and prisons, where teamwork is critical. A CRM research center in Scotland has been working to adapt aviators' methods to the medical professions. "The skills are about recognizing the potential for human error, knowing your own limitations, and the effects of fatigue and stress on your performance," Dr. Nikki Maran told The Herald. "We have started team training with anaesthetists and accident and emergency physicians and surgeons all on the same course." Prof. Nigel Webster, at Aberdeen University, said, "The situation for anaesthetists in operating theaters is fairly similar to that of airline pilots in that things can go disastrously wrong very quickly and can ultimately result in the death of a person." The researchers have been working to design simulators for training health-care professionals in real-life emergency clinical situations. "In the airline world, [CRM] looks at how the various members of the flight crew work together and how to get the best from the team," Webster said. "This is what we hope to achieve with the [health-care] simulator. It provides an excellent environment in which to train junior anaesthetists, particularly in rare procedures, without risk to real patients and as such we can look at how best to improve working practices."

GA Meets Communist China

In Shanghai this week, businessman Li Linhai expects to take delivery of his brand-new Robinson R-44 helicopter, the first light aircraft bought for private use on the Chinese mainland. Li will fly his helicopter for business trips and family visits, he told the China Daily. Despite the high cost of flight training, about $241 per hour, demand is growing, and another businessman has already placed an order for the first private light airplane. China aviation authorities are mapping out regulations on the application for the purchase of planes and for takeoff procedures, according to China Daily, and the market for light planes in China is projected at 10,000 in the next 10 years. Until recently all private flight was banned in China. Private enterprise is growing, and China now has more young millionaires than any country other than the United States, the BBC reported this week. Ultralight flying already is popular among the sporting crowd.

Personal Locator Beacon Credited With First Lower-48 Rescue

A Cleveland man who got snowed in while camping in the Adirondack Mountains in New York last week was rescued by a UH-1 Huey helicopter thanks to the help of his personal locator beacon (PLB). The rescue marks the first such use of a PLB in the contiguous United States. About 10 a.m. on Nov. 14, Carl Skalak, 55, was faced with frigid weather, four-foot snow drifts and a frozen river that he had paddled in on. He activated his beacon, and after being routed through various agencies, the helicopter was dispatched to his coordinates with a medical team. "I am profoundly thankful for all those who were willing to put themselves in harm's way on my behalf," said Skalak. "Many terrific people worked together to make this mission a success." The system worked just as it was supposed to, said NOAA officials. Prior to July, PLBs had only been available for use in Alaska under a test program to evaluate their usefulness in search and rescue. The success seen in Alaska paved the way for the technology to be used throughout the rest of the nation.

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On The Fly...

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds celebrated their golden anniversary in style. The celebration was part of this year's Aviation Nation 2003 air show, held Nov. 15-16 at the Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nev. World of Wings, the event's promoter, worked with the military to put on a one-of-kind event. AVweb's partner AirsideTV.com will offer a special video wrap-up of the event...

Two pilots were killed when their Cessna 180 collided with a Piper PA 28-181 about 100 feet above the runway at Westerly, R.I., on Sunday. The three people aboard the Piper suffered minor injuries...

A fifth runway at Boston's Logan Airport got the go-ahead Tuesday after 30 years of delays...

The TSA this week issued security directives to require random inspection of air cargo...

An Osprey V-22 is in Nova Scotia for several months to undergo development of de-ice and anti-ice systems...

U.S. House members protested beer logos on Loudenslager airplane at new NASM museum.

New Articles and Features on AVweb

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SPECIAL EVENTS
Learning To Fly Again For The First Time
Building a painstakingly accurate reproduction of a 100-year-old airplane is one thing -- figuring out how to fly it, and not get killed in the process, is quite another. That's the challenge faced by The Wright Experience team as they prepare for the once-in-a-lifetime celebration of flight on December 17 at Kill Devil Hills.

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Business AVflash

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AVweb's Picture Of The Week...

*** PREVIOUS RESULTS ***

We received over 100 pictures last week. Congratulations to this week's winner, Vess Velikov, of San Jose, Calif. His photo captures the unique beauty a shiny the Pacific Coast Air Museum’s P-51D displays. This picture was taken at Wings Over Wine Country Airshow. Great picture, Vess! 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.

*** THIS WEEK'S WINNERS ***


Click here to view a medium-size version of this image
Click here to view a large version of this image

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.

"Canadians Honor Curtiss Pitts"
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"Concorde Arrives At Museum of Flight"
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AVweb's Question Of The Week...

*** PREVIOUS RESULTS ***

We received over 300 responses to our question last week on flying personal jet aircraft. About 14 percent of those responding felt those pilots transitioning to these aircraft should have previous turbine experience, at least 1,000 hours flight time and a Commercial certificate. About 31 percent felt some of these skills sets were necessary, while 27 percent felt none were applicable.

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 joining aviation organizations.

Have an idea for a new QOTW? Send your suggestions to qotw@avweb.com. Note, this address is ONLY for suggested QOTW questions, and NOT for QOTW answers.

Sponsor News and Special Offers

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SPONSOR NEWS

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NTSB REPORTER BRINGS YOU THE FACTS! Why would a pilot who had lost an engine and was about to be going down tell ATC that everything was fine and dandy? Could he have been worried about possible paperwork and an FAA investigation which might follow? While we'll never know what was going through his mind, you'll be fascinated to see the transcript of communications between the pilot and Air Traffic Control. It's in the November issue of NTSB Reporter. Order a subscription for yourself or as that perfect Holiday gift at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/ntsbrepo

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We Welcome Your Feedback!

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

Letters to the editor intended for publication in AVmail should be sent to mailto:editor@avweb.com.com. Have a comment or question? Send it to mailto:newsteam@avweb.com.

Today's issue written by News Writer Mary Grady:
http://www.avweb.com/contact/authors.html#mgrady
AVweb's editorial team: http://avweb.com/contact/authors.html.

Have a product or service to advertise on AVweb? A question on marketing? Send it to AVweb's sales team: mailto:sales@avweb.com.

Let's all be careful out there, okay?

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