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The number of serious runway incursions has been dropping, the FAA said this week, and in fiscal year
2010, which ended on Sept. 30, there were just six serious incursions, half the number recorded in 2009. Overall, incursions have dropped 90 percent since fiscal year 2000. "The entire aviation
community can be credited with the remarkable success achieved in runway safety," the FAA said. Since 2007, the agency has coordinated an "intense effort" to expedite the installation of new
technologies at airports, conduct outreach, retrain pilots, develop better air traffic procedures, and improve airport infrastructure such as lighting, signage and markings.
A runway incursion is defined by the International Civil Aviation Organization as any unauthorized presence on a runway, regardless of whether or not an aircraft, vehicle or pedestrian presents a
potential conflict to an aircraft authorized to land, take off, or taxi on a runway. Incidents are ranked in four categories determined by how narrowly a collision was avoided. The FAA has been
implementing several new technologies to help minimize the risks. Red runway status lights installed in pavement help to prevent unsafe crossings at runways and taxiways. Radar-based systems provide
automated alerts and warnings to controllers. Better detection technology provides controllers with a clearer picture of targets on the airport surface. Moving-map displays in the cockpit give pilots
a better sense of their location on the ground. The efforts seem to be working. "Each year, runway safety continues to improve," the FAA said.
Bird strikes are a perennial problem for aviators, but in Santa Barbara, Calif., airport managers found that improving bird habitat near the airport actually helped prevent bird-aircraft conflicts.
Workers reconfigured a 10-acre wetland area to restore tidal flows. They found that the new habitat attracted small shorebirds such as sandpipers, which tend to fly in low numbers close to the ground
and rarely head inland across the runways. In contrast, the unrestored area had provided only seasonal standing ponds, which attracted migratory waterfowl such as Canada geese and mallards, which
often flew across the runways. The habitat change has reduced the number of wildlife strikes, the airport said,
enhancing both aviation safety and environmental preservation.
The project was a win-win for Santa Barbara, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor told Miller-McCune. However, he said the agency doesn't see that airport's success as a template for others. "It's a good project for Santa Barbara," he said. "A similar project at
another coastal airport could have the exact opposite effect." At least one other airport has shown interest in trying the new strategy -- the Naval Air Station at nearby Point Megu, where bird
strikes are a recurring problem.
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All summer long, events around the country will honor the 100th anniversary of the start of naval aviation. The centennial marks the U.S. Navy's first purchase of an aircraft, a Curtiss seaplane,
in 1911. Celebrations will take place this month during Marine Week in St. Louis and at the Rhode Island Air National Guard Air Show; in July, events are set for Rochester, Detroit, and Seattle, as
well as EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh; and in August and September, events are planned for North Dakota, San Diego, Memphis, and more. Details for all events are listed at the Centennial of Naval Aviation
Along with the Navy, the U.S. Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and NASA are participating in the commemoration. The Blue Angels' appearance
at a June 11-12 event in Evansville, Ind., has been cancelled, but the Navy has not yet released the team's schedule for the rest of the summer. Several appearances have been scrubbed since the
team's commanding officer stepped down after flying a lower-than-normal maneuver in May.
Recently, AVweb's Paul Bertorelli spoke with photographer Erik Hildebrandt about a book he produced for the centennial; click here to view the video report.
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A team of engineering students at Northeastern University in Boston have developed a system that allows a pilot to operate a flight simulator with brain waves. The pilot exerts control of a
simulated airplane by looking at specific points on an array of LEDs mounted on Plexiglas in front of a television screen. "Typically, a pilot has a joystick and a throttle and those allow him or her
to do a myriad of things," said Mike Nedoroscik, the team leader. "We were able to identify the absolute essential controls and write them into the software. We've been able to achieve up to eight
commands, which allowed us to fly the plane and do a couple of flight maneuvers." The project has drawn interest from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and inspired a team at Honeywell
Inc. to pursue similar research, according to the university.
Nedoroscik and a team of five students worked on the project for two semesters, supervised by engineering professor Waleed Meleis and Deniz Erdogmus, a brain-computer interface expert. Using an
open-source flight simulator called FlightGear, the group designed a system that can distinguish between eight commands at a rate of two seconds per command, achieving accurate results about 80
percent of the time. Erdogmus gave the group access to his equipment, which allows a user to control computers or robots with signals from different parts of the body.
EAA AirVenture Oshkosh: The World's Greatest Aviation Celebration July 25-31
It's gonna be a big year at Oshkosh. We're celebrating 100 Years of Naval Aviation all week long. Plus: Special tributes to Bob Hoover and Burt Rutan, a Monday concert by REO
Speedwagon, the return of the Saturday night air show, and innovation in the air with the Electric Flight Prize competition.
For more information or to buy your tickets online and save,
Delta Air Lines worked to rebound from negative publicity Wednesday after soldiers returning from Afghanistan aboard a Delta flight appeared in a YouTube video explaining they were charged $200
each by the airline for carrying extra bags. Part of the problem appears to be that the soldiers understood their travel orders to mean they were authorized to check up to four bags free of charge.
The airline says active military are allowed to check three bags free of charge while flying in coach. The soldiers say the airline collected a total of at least $2,800 from the 34 soldiers on the
flight. Delta later offered an apology.
Note:AVweb has edited the audio to remove the names of the soldiers involved.
"In the case of today's situation, we would like to publicly apologize to those service men and women for any miscommunication regarding our current policies as well as any inconvenience we may
have caused," a Delta spokeswoman said on a company blog. The airline "will be reaching
out" to the soldiers to personally address their concerns and will "work to correct any issues they have faced," the spokesperson said. Stars and Stripes quoted a spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign
Wars (VFW) who said, "We know this is a business issue and that the troops will be reimbursed if they are authorized additional baggage in their orders, but the shock of even being charged is enough
to make most servicemen and women simply shake their heads and wonder who or what it is they are protecting."
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Inventor Chris Mullin, with help from the Air Force, is developing smart sunglasses that identify the brightest spots in a wearer's field of view, dynamically darken that specific area, and follow
the light source, leaving the rest of the view less affected. The glasses work by putting liquid crystal displays in the lenses themselves. That technology is coupled with a pinhole camera
sensor and programming built into the frame. Together they identify glare and react by applying more sun filtering to the LCD in that area of the lens, even as the wearer turns his or her head. In
practice, wearers see a dark non-opaque spot hovering over the sun, or any other source of glare that exceeds a programmed threshold. The prototype is still relatively bulky and may challenge popular
fashion sense, but the concept has earned attention (and funding) from the Air Force.
Both the Air Force and Army have subsidized inventor Chris Mullin's efforts through annual six-figure Small Business Innovation Research contracts that he's won for the past six years. The military
initially pushed the design toward darker lenses, but when they asked for clear lens options, Mullin recognized other potential markets. The glasses currently use batteries, but Mullin imagines one
day offering solar-powered units. The inventor estimates that he's about $5 million away from an initial run of 24,000 consumer glasses he says he could have built in about one year. He estimates the
initial product could hit the market at a retail price close to $500. If the technology is met with demand, Mullin believes the cost of the technology could drop, allowing prices to fall closer to
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The Transportation Department's recent decision to dismantle the BARR (Block Aircraft Registration Request) program, which allows
aircraft operators to block identifying data from public flight-tracking systems, now faces a legal challenge from general aviation advocacy groups. NBAA, AOPA, and EAA said on Monday they will seek
an injunction to prevent the DOT decision from taking effect and will ask the courts to invalidate the new policy altogether. "The DOT ... appears to have simply ignored the thousands of individuals
and companies that voiced their strong and principled opposition to this change," said NBAA President Ed Bolen.
Bolen said the BARR decision is "an alarming development" with implications that extend well beyond aviation. "This is the first time an agency has claimed the public's interest in 'open
government' requires public dissemination to anyone with an Internet connection of wholly personal and private information simply because it happens to be in the government's possession." Bolen said
BARR retains widespread support from both Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate. "Unfortunately, the Administration's sudden, unilateral decision to curtail the program forces us to look
to the courts for help in preserving the privacy, competitiveness and security of Americans and American companies while Congress reviews the program," Bolen said.
Business aircraft traffic is now within 10 percent of the April 2008 peak and while that's good news for some parts of the industry, the manufacturing side is still in the doldrums in many sectors.
USA Today quoted JSSI CEO Lou Seno as saying flight hours took a big
jump in the first quarter of the year. He said the 1,300 customers for whom JSSI manages aircraft, on average, flew 11.4 percent more hours and the trend continued into April, which saw a 7-percent
increase over March. "We are not back to late '07, early '08 levels, but we're really off the bottom of where we were," says Lou Seno, president and CEO of JSSI. "In the fall of 2008, following the
decline of the financial markets flying literally fell off the charts, and because of the economy and everything else, it has been slow to recover. But the recovery we're seeing has been
encouraging." While bizjet owners are using their aircraft more, most are still not in a buying mood.
The latest report from the General Aviation Manufacturers Association showed business jets were among the weakest categories for deliveries in the first quarter compared to 2010, which was hardly a
banner year. Most analysts believe the manufacturers have another tough year ahead of them before there's enough confidence among business leaders to start updating their equipment and the glut of
used aircraft currently on the market gets back to normal. "It appears that people are getting back to doing business and out using their airplanes for the purpose which (they're) meant to be
used," Seno said. "For guys who have to go out and make it happen, the only way to do it is in a corporate airplane, where you can get in and make five stops in one day."
Aviation advocates working with the TSA last year made progress in lessening the impact of TFRs on Hawaii's airport businesses
during a presidential visit, and now six GA groups are asking the TSA to loosen its grip nationwide. In a letter (PDF) to TSA Administrator John Pistole, the groups ask for procedures that would allow general aviation operations at near-normal levels while still addressing the security
measures necessary to protect the president. Plans already in place at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport allow GA aircraft to share the airspace with the president, the groups said, and those
procedures could be implemented elsewhere.
The impact of TFRs as they are currently imposed is not inconsequential. "For instance, a fixed base operator at Chicago's Midway Airport loses an average of $60,000 in revenue daily when the
president visits the Chicago area," says the letter. "Also, helicopter air tour operators In Hawaii and Las Vegas experience losses in excess of $150,000 during each presidential visit." Presidential
TFRs typically stop or severely limit GA operations at airports within a 30-nm radius of the president's location, causing serious financial consequences for GA operators while allowing commercial
airline flights to continue. The letter was signed by the leaders of NBAA, AOPA, EAA, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Helicopter Association International and the National Air
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One reason so many people die in stall-related accidents may be that we don't have good training doctrine to detect and respond to loss of power incidents on takeoffs. And we persist in the notion
that turning back to the runway is never a good idea. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli offers a different viewpoint.
Paul Bertorelli's been looking at the numbers from a single year of GA accident fatalities and he shares his findings on the AVweb Insider blog. When you look at the numbers,
says Paul, it's not easy to see any low-hanging fruit because there isn't any. Stall-related accidents still kill the most pilots every year, but plain, unimaginative loss of control is a close
second. And don't even get him started on the bad judgment calls.
There are only a few LSAs that qualify for true STOL status, and Eastman's CH750 is one of them. With full-span flaperons and leading-edge slats, it won't win any beauty contests, but
it could excel at some short landing contests. In this video, Aviation Consumer editor Paul Bertorelli takes a spin with Eastman's Gary Webster.
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Originally posted to YouTube by Cindy Monohan/cinziava
Don't forget to send us links to any interesting videos you find out there. If you're impressed by it,
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AVweb reader Bill Johnson testified to the FBO's stellar service, from big things all the way down to the small:
On a recent business trip to Dothan, I had need of some ramp maintenance for my C310D. Thank goodness I had chosen Flightline of Dothan as my arrival point. Don Smith and his staff were friendly,
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AVwebFlash is a weekly summary of the latest news, articles, products, features, and events featured on AVweb, the internet's aviation magazine and news service.
The AVwebFlash team is:
Publisher Timothy Cole
Editorial Director, Aviation Publications Paul Bertorelli
Editor-in-Chief Russ Niles
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