The Top Headlines From AVweb's Expanded,
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REAUTHORIZATION COMES TO PASS
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...
BREATHES "SIGH OF RELIEF"?...
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...
STILL FINDS FIGHTING WORDS
"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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"VULNERABLE" TO TERRORISTS
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.
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.
EXPO PLANNED NEXT OCTOBER
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...
(WHERE ELSE?) HOSTS ICING STUDY
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
SELLS, MOONEY BORROWS
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...
AND MIDAIR TRAGEDY
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...
Airlines and GA might both benefit from airspace changes...
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.
new budget airline will soon be based at Dulles (IDA).
ARTICLES AND FEATURES ON AVWEB
CEO of the
Cockpit #26: The Most Complicated Airline Procedure -- Bidding For
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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FEEDBACK ON AVWEB'S NEWS COVERAGE AND FEATURE ARTICLES
Reader feedback on AVweb's news coverage and feature
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rules and information are at http://www.avweb.com/contact/newstips.html.
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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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