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Volume 9, Number 48aNovember 24, 2003

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

In the rest of the world, there are winners and losers, but in the magical spin machine that is Washington, D.C., somehow there are only winners ... if you believe the talking heads. A blizzard of self-congratulatory words are flowing from combatants on all sides of the privatization controversy that had held up passage of the FAA Reauthorization Bill -- the money (for GA), jobs and programs it represents -- until late Friday. The Senate, by unanimous consent, suddenly passed the bill after months of political trench warfare, when FAA Administrator Marion Blakey extended a slim and short-lived olive branch. Blakey agreed, in writing, to a one-year moratorium on expansion of the contract tower program or any other privatization move. Apparently that was enough for the bitter foes engaged in dispute to all claim victory. More...

FAA spokesman Greg Martin told AVweb the one-year privatization ban was an easy compromise for the agency to make since it had no immediate plans to expand the contract tower program or any other aspect of ATC. Throughout the debate, Martin insisted that the privatization provision merely provided long-term flexibility needed to address looming staffing issues (as large numbers of Reagan-era controllers near retirement age). The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), which has long said it would settle for nothing less than a permanent moratorium against further privatization, found reason to cheer Friday's events. "The American public can breathe a sigh of relief for now," said NATCA President John Carr in a release. "Congress has declared that selling out air traffic control to the lowest bidder will not be tolerated." Not for another year, anyway. More...

"NATCA President John Carr has snatched defeat from the jaws of victory," said long-time NATCA adversary Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.). "He traded job-protection guarantees for 94 percent of our controllers in exchange for a letter from the administration restating the same thing that's been said for two years now." Mica, the aviation subcommittee chairman, called the bill's passage "a great win for the Bush administration and for our hard-hit aviation industry." He also chided Carr, suggesting NATCA's membership, on the whole, was better off with the original conference committee language and calling the campaign against the privatization language "a significant and costly failure" by Carr and the union leadership. Privatization wasn't the only contentious issue in the bill. More...

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Although federal authorities can't seem to stop violations of the most secure airspace in the country around Washington, government mandarins continue to fuss about the terrorism potential allegedly posed by the U.S.'s "19,000 general aviation airports." According to MSNBC, Cathleen Berrick of the General Accounting Office (GAO) recently told Congress that GA is "far more open and potentially vulnerable than commercial aviation" to terrorist activity. The foundation of that vulnerability is the fact that almost none of the passengers and gear aboard GA flights undergo any type of screening. However, despite the GAO's apparent concern, it doesn't seem like metal detectors and X-ray machines will be coming to your local airport anytime soon. More...

In the eye of the security storm around Washington, FAA officials brace for a rash of airspace violations whenever good VFR weather happens on the weekend. And if it's not enough that F-16s and Blackhawks are sent in pursuit of the numerous real targets that blunder into the Washington zones, sometimes they have to chase phantoms, too. Last Thursday, Vice President Dick Cheney and some staff were sent wherever important folks are sent in a security alert after what might have been a flock of geese set off the high-tech alarms watching the White House. More...

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An Airworthiness Directive was issued concerning possible metal fatigue in T-34 wing spars after a crash in 1999, and now the FAA is checking maintenance records on a Texas Air Aces T-34 that lost a wing during aerobatic maneuvers last Wednesday. The tandem military trainer, built in 1965 by Beechcraft, lost its right wing at about 7,000 feet where company President Don Wylie and William J. Eisenhauer were doing some flying. Both died when the plane crashed in a wooded area near Lake Conroe. Texas Air Aces provides simulated aerial combat rides and trains pilots in upset recovery. Another T-34 was also involved in the flight but returned safely to the airport. Company officials told the Houston Chronicle that they had "complied fully" with the AD but declined to say what, specifically, had been done to the airplane that crashed. More...

The airplane classification hasn't been formally created but already the first convention of light-sport aircraft (LSA) manufacturers and suppliers is being organized. The U.S. Sport Aviation Expo will be held at Sebring Airport in Florida Oct. 28-31, 2004. "We are extremely excited about the advent of the light-sport aircraft category and the new sport pilot certificate and we look forward to this opportunity to display these aircraft and other products ..." said Expo Chairman Bob Wood. The new aircraft and certificate rules continue to grind through the approval process at the Department of Transportation. There's no firm estimate of when they will be finally enacted. More...

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Well, every place has to be famous for something and Montreal's propensity for freezing drizzle has earned it the starring role in a new aircraft icing study. Researchers from North America and Europe, including NASA and Canada's National Research Council, will be loading five airplanes full of high-tech gear to see if they can better predict icing conditions. The $2.4 million Alliance Icing Research Study will run from now until February. The decked-out airplanes will fly from Ottawa, Cleveland, Ohio, and Bangor, Maine, to Montreal at different altitudes when icing conditions are likely, and the data will be compared. More...

With the FAA paying deserved attention to the maintenance of aging aircraft, companies still selling new aircraft are reporting good news this week; Mooney and Cirrus both had reason to celebrate. Cirrus set a sales record by delivering 62 planes in October and brought its three-month total to 222 airplanes. By comparison, it took Cessna a full year to sell 559 piston singles in 2002. Cirrus Marketing VP John Bingham said the news isn't just good news for Cirrus, it's good for the whole industry. "We're breathing new life into an industry whose growth was projected to be flat for a decade," he said. Over at Mooney, a $5 million cash infusion is breathing more life into its resurrection. More...

You know you're having a bad day when the tail of your helicopter flies past the cockpit. The day gets considerably better when you get to tell the tale to friends and family. An instructor and student walked away without a scratch after they apparently severed the tail of the MD-500 with the chopper's own rotor during a training flight from the Greenville, S.C., airport. Instructor Jordan Gipe told The Greenville News he believes one of the rotors "flopped down" and hit the tail while he and the student were practicing autorotation. "It's not a good feeling," said Gipe. He managed to keep the spinning chopper level as it settled into some trees. Not so lucky were two Rhode Island men killed in a midair collision last week. More...

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Airlines and GA might both benefit from airspace changes...
The 21st century version of the Wright Flyer has flown...
Just in case you wanted to, American aircraft can now overfly Iraq.
Four more aviation legends have been admitted to the National Aviation Hall of Fame.
A new budget airline will soon be based at Dulles (IDA). More...

CEO of the Cockpit #26: The Most Complicated Airline Procedure -- Bidding For Christmas
AVweb's CEO of the Cockpit has flown his share of Christmas trips. This year he is off for the day but has no shortage of advice to more junior pilots on how to spend the Yuletide at home.


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Reader feedback on AVweb's news coverage and feature articles:

Reader mail this week about the air tour NPRM, the Washington FRZ/ADIZ, new noise regulations and more.


AVweb's AVscoop Award...

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


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When I called the Oakland FSS today for a preflight briefing and asked about TFRs in the area I received probably the best explanation so far of what the blanket National Security NOTAM meant in practice: "Just the usual one that's been in place for a while, you know, don't be makin' pylon turns around the Golden Gate bridge..." More...

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