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Printer-Friendly Version

February 5, 2004

NewsWire Complete Issue

By The AVweb Editorial Staff

This issue of AVweb's AVflash is brought to you by ... LightSPEED Aviation

AUX AUDIO ON LIGHTSPEED HEADSETS
The ability to use your aviation headset like a standard stereo headphone seemed an obvious benefit to us. Although some pilots do not immediately see the benefit of this feature, many find it indispensable. As PDAs become more prevalent in the cockpit, the ability for these devices to give audible warning and advise will increase the value of this headset feature. As noted in prior AVflashes, LightSPEED is the first headset company to offer this integrated feature. This Auxiliary Audio Interface is standard on the QFR XC2, 20XL2, 20 3G, and the 30 3G models. These headsets also feature "Com Priority Muting," which automatically turns down the Auxiliary Audio source should the headset detect input from the intercom. Find the model right for your flying needs at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/litspeed/avflash.

The Budget Squeeze

ATC Cut Say Controllers...

Last week, we told you a $100 million provision for relief to GA, previously written into the FAA's reauthorization bill, was gone, but that Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta would like to triple airspace capacity -- more airports, radar and runways (maybe we should just stop closing airports). This week, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) President John Carr says the budget introduced by the White House includes a 16 percent funding cut for air traffic control facilities and equipment. "The White House is saying two entirely different and contradictory things," Carr said. "You cannot modernize the system and add capacity by announcing there will be vastly less money to pay for it." Carr said the budget doesn't seem to bear out any threefold expansion in capacity over the next 20 years, but noted that the administration is pouring millions of dollars into improving the air traffic system in Iraq. He called the domestic plan an "empty election year promise that sounds good but doesn't add up to anything more than fuzzy math."

...But Some Programs Prosper...

Certainly not all aviation-related programs are looking at cuts, however. In fact, the budget provides for whopping increases in spending on some technical development systems that are years or even decades from completion. A good example is the NEXCOM system, which will eventually amalgamate all aviation communications into a single, integrated digital service. Funding jumps from $102 million this year to $172 million for 2005. Likewise the En Route Automation Program (ERAM), which will get $264 million in 2005, compared to $185 million this year. ERAM will replace the 30-year-old system that now keeps tabs on high-altitude traffic. Costs appear to have been reigned in on some notorious budget-busters like the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) and Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS). STARS and WAAS have been lumped in with the Integrated Terminal Weather System as a single budget item and their total bite out of the 2005 budget is $313 million, up only $2 million from this year. Mineta has singled out STARS as a critical factor in his capacity-increase goals but the plans to add 14 of the state-of-the-art terminal control systems falls short of even the scaled-back plans for the system. There were supposed to be 30 new STARS systems installed this year under the original schedule and that was chopped to 18 and now 14. Only Philadelphia has a fully operational STARS system, which, according to both the government and unions, works well.

...Weather Changes Forecast

It also looks like there are changes coming to the way that controllers get their weather information, as part of the FAA's drive to minimize weather delays. In an internal memo obtained by AVweb, the National Weather Service (NWS) will reorganize its Central Weather Support Units (CWSU) system, which is the link between the latest weather information and the air traffic controllers. The less-is-more theme appears to be applied here, as well. In his assessment of the NWS plan, John Kies, the FAA's manager of Air Traffic Tactical Operations, notes there won't be any more money for the increased services so some CWSUs will likely have to be cut. "The NWS has agreed, de facto, to consolidation of the current configuration of the CWSUs," Kies wrote. The NWS has agreed to provide hourly forecast updates to terminals and to modernize and standardize its communications and display systems. It's also hiring a scientific officer to help in the development of new technology and staff will get regular training and assessments. The revamped system will operate around the clock.

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Yes, Virginia, There Is GA Security

Audit, Planning Money Budgeted...

It seems like lots of people talk about GA security but the state of Virginia is actually doing something about it. The state legislature is expected to pass $1.5 million in funding for a statewide audit of security planning and procedures at each of the 59 airports it certifies. Now, $1.5 million wouldn't cover the cost of a single baggage scanner at a major airport, but Charles Mcfarlane, Virginia's director of aviation, said the budget will go a long way toward implementing basic security measures at GA airports. "What's not appropriate is doing nothing," he said. Mcfarlane added that the measures must be kept in context with the level of risk. "I don't think the primary threat is a general aviation airport. But even a remote possibility that an airplane could be used in an attack suggests we should have minimum standards." He noted that many small airports in Virginia are only a few minutes of flying time from Washington, D.C. If the worst does happen, he said, the public would have the right to ask if the state had done anything to prevent it.

....Lights, Cameras, Fences

The Virginia plan (assuming the General Assembly includes the money in its final budget) will be first to assess what, if any, security measures are in place at each of the airports. Even the smallest facilities will be checked. Macfarlane said each facility will be asked to develop a security plan and document procedures. For many, the audit will reveal the need to spend some money on equipment and facilities. Macfarlane said proper fencing, identification systems, lighting and cameras are the most likely items to be installed at smaller airports. It's not clear whether part of the $1.5 million will be used to help the small airports finance these improvements but it seems likely that most of the cost will be borne locally. Chesterfield County Airport has already implemented its plan and beefed up its security infrastructure.

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Cargo Pilots Armed, Controversy Fully Cocked

After a yearlong battle to be included, cargo pilots can now apply to carry guns on their flights. However, the expansion of the Federal Flight Deck Officers (FFDO) program seems to have stirred up more criticism than it has calmed. The TSA announced the move on Tuesday, about a month after the president signed it into law as part of the FAA Reauthorization package. "Expanding the FFDO program [to cargo pilots] adds yet another layer of security ... to protect against those who would do us harm," said Acting TSA Administrator David Stone. But pilots groups and even pilots who have already been through the program apparently fear the it has a better chance of ending their careers than stopping a terrorist act. Pilots groups maintain that the TSA has never liked the idea of guns in the cockpit and was forced into it by legislators. They say the TSA, as the system's sole administrator, is trying to actively discourage pilots from going through the gun training by demanding an intimidating array of psychological and personality testing. Former military pilots are hardly impressed by a system that previously allowed them command of nuclear weapons but now may refuse them a sidearm for "psychological reasons." The TSA also tells prospective applicants that if they find anything amiss in the tests, they'll report it to other authorities, including the FAA, which might affect their flying privileges. About 1,200 of the U.S.'s 100,000 airline pilots have passed the course and they are told not to discuss the program or they could face dismissal. A few have spoken anonymously and most complain about the requirement to carry the gun in a lockbox instead of having it more readily available in a holster.

Pilot Liability Protection Planned

A proposed law will also make volunteers who fly cancer patients to treatments and sick children to medical appointments fit the legal meaning of the term Good Samaritans. The House and Senate Judiciary Committees are now reviewing the bill, proposed in 2002 by Rep. Ed Schrock (R-Va.) to include volunteer pilots in the Volunteer Protection Act of 1997, the so-called Good Samaritan Act that protects volunteers from liability in their endeavors to help others. The Air Care Alliance is now looking for help from other volunteer pilot groups to help push the law into reality. "It is apparent that the biggest need now is for additional sponsors to sign on for both the House version of the bill and its companion in the Senate," the Air Care Alliance said in a statement. Information packets will be sent to groups likely to benefit from the legislation and the groups, and their members, are asked to contact their congressional representatives to press for support. Members of the judicial and aviation subcommittees are thought to be especially useful in this effort.

GETTING THE MOST OUT OF THE AIRCRAFT IN YOUR CLUB?
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Adopt A Pilot?

Southwest Airlines is beginning the seventh year of its Adopt-A-Pilot program, in which fifth-grade students across the country get to follow the travels of one of 450 volunteer pilots who take them along for the ride in a variety of ways. Some communicate by e-mail or send postcards, giving clues and asking students to figure out where the messages originate. Others take digital pictures of a toy they take to various U.S. cities while some get their passengers involved by asking them to write notes to class members. Along the way, the kids learn about the math, science, writing and geography skills involved in air travel that can be applied to other areas of their lives. Each pilot takes a class for four weeks. They meet the kids personally in their schools and then take off for their far-flung destinations, including the kids in the whole process. The kids chart "their" pilot's travels in supplied curriculum materials and the pilot supplies daily flight statistics that the students compile. Each class can enter a national contest in which they script, direct and produce a three-minute video depicting the careers each student hopes to pursue. Southwest spokesman Greg Crum said teachers notice increased self-esteem and more awareness of career possibilities in students who have taken the program.

Mystery Crash Confounds Nigerians

Last Friday, witnesses claimed to have watched a plane, possibly a Beech 1900, fall into the ocean. But since none of the air carriers operating in the area have reported any of their planes missing, air traffic controllers didn't have anything on their scopes and searchers haven't found any wreckage, a search has been called off. The National Air Safety Initiative (NASI) had classified the crashing object as a UFO, said NASI Executive Director Jerry Agbeyegbe. "Certainly an object was sighted crashing into the ocean, we have termed it for now as a UFO," Agbeyegbe told Reuters. "The fact that no aircraft is missing even makes it more demanding for government to resolve the mystery, certainly it should be viewed from the angle of national security," NASI told the Daily Times of Nigeria. The National Air Safety Initiative has issued a statement condemning the government's decision to call off the search, saying the very lack of physical evidence should make the investigation even more compelling. "We have advised [the]government to intensify [the] search until we are absolutely sure that it was not a plane." Initial reports from the crash scene indicated evidence of wreckage but searchers now say there's nothing there. "We are tired of looking at water. We are now convinced that there was no plane crash," Emmanuel Ijewere, president of the Nigerian Red Cross, told Reuters.

DIAMOND ENGINEERS REDESIGN DA40 PANEL TO OPTIMIZE FORM AND FUNCTION Diamond's DA40 is the platform for the first certified installation of Garmin's new integrated glass panel. The G1000 offers better situational awareness by rolling the functions of conventional panel-mounted instruments into two 10-inch sunlight-readable displays, including digital audio, a WAAS-capable IFR GPS, VHF navigation with ILS and VHF communication, 8.33-kHz-channel spacing, Mode S, solid-state attitude and heading, a digital air data computer and optional weather and terrain data all hooked up to a Bendix/King KAP two-axis autopilot. The jet-style, laser-etched polycarbonate overlay adds the final high-tech touch. For more information on the DA40, and Diamond Aircraft's other innovative aircraft designs, go to http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/diamond/avflash.

UFOs Abound

Maybe the Martians are upset that we've introduced ATVs to their planet or maybe it's a slow news week. Regardless, there is no shortage of UFO sightings around the world this week. It's all grist for the mill for the biggest UFO convention of them all, coming up July 1 in Roswell, N.M. Thousands of people watching the annual Snowdown Parade, in Durango, Colo., saw and heard a low-flying aircraft of some sort buzz the parade route twice. In Australia, a municipal worker caught what looks like a flying saucer on his digital camera and three Canadians told their local newspaper about seeing a bright hovering object near Moncton, New Brunswick, last summer. At least the Colorado incident seems easily explained. Most thought the craft was too small to be a piloted aircraft but Terry Fiedler, event coordinator for the Snowdown Light Parade, said, "I saw it go over. I'm guessing it was just somebody coming into town and buzzed the parade because they knew it was going on." Regardless, organizers in Roswell will welcome alternate opinions during the three-day event, which will have a 1940s retro theme, taking the town back to its glory days of alien autopsies and mysteriously dying sheep. Up to 40,000 people are expected at the festival, in which all the townsfolk are encouraged to re-enact the styles and conventions of the 1940s. Astronaut Edgar Mitchell and UFO researcher Stanton Friedman will be the guests of honor.

Aerobatic Pioneer Dies

Duane Cole, one of the pioneers of modern aerobatic competition and the air shows that give it an audience, has died at the age of 89. Cole died of natural causes at his home in Burleson, Texas. Cole spent his whole life in aerobatics and air shows and wrote nine books on the subject. Wayne Handley, who legitimately wears the mantle of aerobatic legend himself, said Cole was, "A giant. He had a very profound effect on the aerobatic world," said handley. "He loved aerobatics saw their value and preached the gospel of safety." Cole has a special place in the hearts of EAA members. He was the 48th member after he got his certificate in 1938. He became an instructor two years later. He performed in most AirVenture air shows until he lost his medical 10 years ago. Cole earned numerous awards, including National Aerobatics Championships in 1962 and 1964. He is survived by his wife, Judy, who performed as his wing rider, as well as their son and daughter. The funeral is on Sunday in Burleson.

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On The Fly...

Wreckage of a missing air ambulance was found in Hawaii Monday. The pilot and two paramedics were on their way to Hilo to pick up a patient when the plane crashed at the 5,000-foot level in an area of dense foliage and rugged terrain. All three died...

A modern design will take on the warbirds in the Unlimited Class at this year's Reno Air Races. The Wildfire Unlimited Air Racer uses modern aerodynamic design and all the ponies of a Pratt and Whitney R2800 engine to challenge the brawny WWII planes that dominate the class. Dave Morss will fly Wildfire...

A consortium of U.S.-based companies is being formed to enter the Chinese GA market. Uniworld LLC is putting the group together to take advantage of the recent opening of GA by the Chinese government. Small-to-medium aviation companies are being sought to attend a conference in Beijing May 24 to May 27...

Singapore Airlines launched the longest scheduled nonstop flight Tuesday when it started service between Singapore and Los Angeles. Flight time from Los Angeles to Singapore is more than 18 hours...

Three restorable WWII aircraft are being sold by an Australian museum. The PBY Catalina, Vultee Vengeance and Vought Kingfisher were to have been restored by the Whale World Museum in Western Australia but it doesn't have the resources.

New Articles and Features on AVweb

_______
COLUMNS
Say Again? #32: ATC 203 -- IFR En Route
Time to go back to school with AVweb's Don Brown. This time, he's discussing the pitfalls of IFR en route planning, especially short hops and requests for "direct-to." Get your charts handy and get ready to cruise.

_______
REVIEWS
Telex Airman 850
You've moved on to heavier iron, and now you want to ditch the clunky old headset for one of those fancy, light-as-a-feather headsets you see the pros wear in the movies. Too bad the cockpit is too loud for you to hear anything. Enter the Telex Airman 850, a lightweight headset with the benefits of the latest ANR technology yet requiring no batteries to operate. Jeremy Jankowski puts the newest entry to the market to the test.

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Business AVflash

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AVweb's Question of the Week ...

*** PREVIOUS RESULTS ***

While the number of airports in the U.S. continues to shrink, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta talks about tripling the airspace capacity. Last week, we asked AVweb readers what they thought about the GA closing crunch. An overwhelming 67% of respondents felt the FAA should intervene to protect airports. The other 30% of QOTW respondents thought the responsibility for these airports lay elsewhere — with local governments, residents, and individual pilots. Despite the differences, almost everyone (except five readers) thought that someone should take action to save our GA airports.

*** THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***

This week, we would like to know your thoughts on the missing $100 million for GA businesses in the wake of 9/11.

To respond to this week's question, click here.

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.

PILOT GETAWAYS MAGAZINE'S SPRING REVIEW
Just like in every issue, Pilot Getaways' Spring Issue leads you to some aviation-friendly destinations around the country. A grass strip on Cape Cod, an international airport in San Francisco, a WWII-themed hotel in Texas — even a gravel bush strip in the California mountains. Don't miss out on the best information for flying with your airplane. Subscribe today at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/getaways/avflash.

AVweb's Picture of the Week ...

Amazing shots keep pouring in from AVweb and AVflash readers! This week, we had to overlook some truly amazing shots — but this photo by Bob McEachern, whose images are available at www.aerophotobob.com took the prize.

Submit a Photo | Rules | Tips | Questions

Current POTW Winner | Past POTW Winners

Due to privacy issues, AVweb does not publish e-mail addresses of readers who submit photos.

*** THIS WEEK'S WINNERS ***

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.

This Week's Winner

"What a Ride"
Photo by Bob McEachern, whose images are available at www.aerophotobob.com

This Week's Second Place - Travis Whittier

"Bombs Away!"
Travis Whittier of Glendale, AZ
medium
large

This Week's Third Place Winner

"Columbia, SC Icing Reported"
Kerry D. Bedsworth's photo of the Tuesday morning ice at CAE
Medium
Large

To enter next week's contest, click here.

Sponsor News and Special Offers

Access to AVweb and AVflash is provided by the support of our fine sponsors. We appreciate your patronage.


SHOPPING DEALS

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SPONSOR NEWS

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IFR REFRESHER MAGAZINE'S MARCH ISSUE HIGHLIGHTS:
"The Performance Price" — with the monetary price comes recurrent training and proficiency to pro pilot standards; "Getting Out in One Piece" — some tips on helping you plan and execute the departure you want; "Understanding the Clearance" — a review of ATC clearances with tips to help you sort them out before accepting them; "A Good Guide to Bad Skies" — reviewing the CCFP; "Of Lions and Lambs" 00 refresh your knowledge of surface analysis charts; and "Strike One, and You're Out" — tower construction may soon impact the approach minimums at our airports. Subscribe today at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/belvoir/ifrref/avflash.

PILOTS WHO HAVE READ IFR: A STRUCTURED APPROACH BY JOHN ECKALBAR HAVE COMMENTED:
"Perhaps the most useful aviation training publication I have encountered in almost 40 years" (Fredric Boswell); "The GPS chapter alone is worth getting the book. ... It is certainly the best instrument flying book I have ever read" (Fred Scott); "If one book could help you make the leap from a bit player to a skilled conductor of instrument flight, this is probably it" (AOPA Pilot, November 2003). With the help of this book, you will establish your own personal standard operating practices for IFR, including incorporation of checklists, flows, callouts, briefings, and the "fly by the numbers" method of aircraft control. For more information and to order online, go to http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/skyroad/avflash.

_____________________________________
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 Russ Niles:
http://www.avweb.com/contact/authors.html#rniles
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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