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The government announced Wednesday that "further investment cannot be justified at this time" to help LightSquared gain approval for its wireless broadband system and new GPS standards may be
coming, Inside GNSS reported. The words were delivered by U.S. deputy Secretary of Transportation John Porcari in an aviation subcommittee hearing. Porcari concluded that LightSquared's most recent
proposals were "simply not practical." LightSquared on Tuesday had asked the FCC to create technical standards that could protect GPS receivers from interference in the case that neighboring
spectrums, such as those eyed by LightSquared, were utilized. And there may be some movement in that direction, perhaps not in the way LightSquared had hoped.
LightSquared had previously suggested that GPS receivers could be built to prevent interference from the proposed ground-based LightSquared wireless broadband system. Manufacturers have objected.
One member of the Coalition to Save Our GPS, Trimble's vice-president and general counsel Jim Kirkland, has responded directly. The "suggestion that GPS manufacturers should have designed receivers to
accommodate a prohibited use is simply self-serving nonsense." The National Space-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) Executive Committee, on which Porcari also serves as co-chair, recently
proposed that "new GPS spectrum interference standards" would "help inform future proposals" for bands adjacent to GPS. According to Pocari, "We will ensure that any such proposals are clearly
communicated with stakeholders and are implemented without affecting existing and evolving uses of space-based (PNT) services vital to economic, public safety, scientific, and national security
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AOPA and EAA are on track to submit a request to the FAA within the next one to two months, asking the agency to allow more pilots to fly without a medical certificate, AOPA said this week. Once
the request gets to the FAA, however, the groups expect some delay, due to the recent resignation of Administrator Randy Babbitt and his replacement with an interim administrator. "AOPA and EAA
strongly believe the exemption they plan to request is the next logical step in the journey begun when the FAA permitted sport pilots to use the driver's license medical standard," AOPA told
AVweb this week. "Further, the associations believe the exemption will maintain or enhance aviation safety by improving knowledge and awareness of aeromedical factors through recurrent
education for all pilots utilizing the exemption, and by encouraging pilots to continue flying aircraft with which they are already familiar."
The joint proposal asks the FAA to exempt pilots flying day VFR for recreation, in single-engine aircraft with not more than 180 horsepower, from the third-class medical requirement. The proposal
also limits operations to aircraft with four seats or fewer, fixed gear, and a maximum of one passenger, among other limitations. To be eligible for the exemption, pilots would be required to have a
current driver's license and complete a recurrent online training program on aeromedical factors and self-certification, AOPA said.
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A Cessna 172 that was stolen in Concord, Calif., over the weekend, crashed Sunday afternoon near Fresno, killing the person at the controls, who NTSB investigators said was not certified to fly the
airplane. Felix Boston, of Walnut Creek, owned the airplane, and told the Fresno Bee he was unaware it was missing until he got a call from the NTSB. The 172 severed power lines and crashed into the
bank of a canal, just about a quarter mile from a new housing development. The person who died has not been identified, but a local TV station described him as "a parolee in his 40s or 50s."
Boston said he found a supply of snacks and energy drinks in the wreckage of his airplane. "For six years that's been my baby," he told the local KSEE News. "I mean ... you coddle it, you wash it, you put new leather interior in it. It's just so sad to
see somebody steal it and crash it like this." He also said the airplane didn't appear to be out of fuel when it crashed. The NTSB and local law enforcement are continuing to investigate.
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Long-term funding has finally returned to the FAA after a half-decade hiatus, and the bill will fund system upgrades, initiate a pathway for domestic drone use, and also address a key sticking
point -- rules that affect pilot unions. Last summer, Congressional-level disagreements over language that would alter how airline workers could unionize and operate in part led to a temporary shut-down of non-essential operations at the FAA. For some time, it was thought that an agreement on long-term funding for the FAA
would bypass labor issues, but the new bill does make changes to current union rules. For its part, ALPA criticized the bill for its inclusion of "provisions unrelated to aviation safety" but said
that "the compromise was necessary to set the stage for the passage of this extremely important funding bill." Other unions were not as accepting.
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and the Association of Professional Flight Attendants were among those that opposed the bill. The bill allows a 2010 ruling by the
National Mediation Board to stand, allowing airline workers to unionize by gathering a simple majority from those voting. That particular issue had been a sticking point in Congressional negotiations.
But the bill now also increases (from 35 percent to 50 percent) the number of worker signatures needed for unions to indicate their support for an election. Run-off elections would also be allowed
between the two choices on a ballot that gathered the most votes -- even if one choice represents a person and the other represents the option of no union. These issues were resolved in Congress
without seeking input from labor groups. Labor issues aside, the bill directs $11 billion to upgrade from radar to GPS at the nation's 35 busiest airports buy 2015. It also marks 2015 as a deadline
for the FAA to create regulations for testing and licensing commercial domestically operated drones.
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A plan to fly to 120,000 feet in a helium balloon then parachute back to Earth is back on schedule this week after a long hiatus, Red Bull said on Tuesday. The Red Bull Stratos team is working with
Col. Joe Kittinger to break the record he set 52 years ago for the longest jump. The effort began in 2005 but was put on hold in
2010 while a legal challenge was sorted out. The dispute was settled out of court, a Red Bull spokesperson told AVweb, and the team is now making final preparations for the record attempt, to
take place in Roswell, N.M. Felix Baumgartner, a certificated helicopter and balloon pilot and record-setting B.A.S.E. jumper, will make the jump.
Kittinger was an Air Force test pilot working with the space program when he made his record jump from 102,800 feet in 1960. He set three records that have never been surpassed -- the fastest
freefall, at 614 mph; freefall from the highest altitude; and longest time in freefall, 4 minutes and 36 seconds. At the time, he also set a record for highest manned balloon flight, but that record
was broken in 1961 during a Navy test flight to 113,740 feet. The Stratos team aims to break all four of those records. Specially developed camera systems will document the mission from the balloon
and from the ground, and will webcast the jump live online at redbullstratos.com. Click
here for a five-minute video about the project.
Hollywood's aviation films often prove disappointing to aviators -- though it might be argued that a bad flying film is still better than none -- and another one now in the works, starring Denzel
Washington, provides a fresh chance to see if Hollywood can portray the life of a pilot in a way that rings true. Flight, which started production last October, tells the story of an airline
pilot, played by Washington, who becomes a hero after coping with an in-flight emergency but then is revealed to have problems with drugs and alcohol. The director is Robert Zemeckis, who also
directed Forrest Gump, Back to the Future, and Cast Away.
The movie started filming last October and is expected to be released late this year. Screenwriter John Gatins told MTV News the movie has an old-school, adult atmosphere. "It's an R-rated drama," he
said. "It's like a movie from the '70s that the studios don't really make anymore." Others in the cast include John Goodman, Don Cheadle, and British actress Kelly Reilly. According to Wikipedia,
Washington spent some time at Delta Air Lines in Atlanta to train for the film.
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Four nominees were named last week by the National Aeronautic Association for the 2011 Robert J. Collier Trophy, which honors the "greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America."
The nominees are: Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, the Lockheed C-5M Super Galaxy, the Gamera human-powered helicopter, and Pipistrel's Taurus G4 electric-powered airplane. "We are very proud of the
nominations we received for the 2011 Collier Trophy," said NAA Chairman Walter J. Boyne. "Each of them -- in their own way -- mark significant progress in the advancement of aviation and
aerospace on the planet, and we certainly welcome them to the Collier selection process."
Boeing's 787 is a clean-sheet design launched in 2004, with first delivery in September 2011. Composite
materials are used for 50 percent of the structure, and it runs on all-new jet engines that contribute to its fuel efficiency. The Super Galaxy is an upgraded version of the C-5, with a digital avionics suite and more than 70 improvements to the airframe and systems, including new F138-GE-100 engines. The
airplane set 41 world aeronautical records in one flight in 2009, when it carried a payload of 176,610 pounds to an altitude of more than 41,100 feet in 23 minutes, 59 seconds. The Gamera, designed and built by students at the University of Maryland, lifted off and hovered for 11.4 seconds in July 2011, setting a new world
record for duration of a human-powered helicopter flight. The twin-fuselage Taurus G4 won NASA's $1.35 million prize last year in the Green Flight Challenge. The winner will be selected by a panel of 31 leaders from the aviation and aerospace industry, and the announcement will be made at an awards ceremony on March 13.
Hawker Beechcraft's board of directors has named high-profile corporate fix-it man Steve Miller as new CEO of Hawker Beechcraft Inc., shifting former CEO Bill Boisture to the role of chairman of
the company's operating subsidiary Hawker Beechcraft Corp. Miller was tapped to take over as chairman of American International Group (AIG) 18 months ago to help it continue its return to
profitability and pay back more than $130 billion bailout money to the U.S. government. Known as "The Turnaround Kid" on Wall Street (he's 70), Miller has headed up companies like Bethlehem Steel and
Delphi Corp. as they emerged from bankruptcy. Hawker Beech is still solvent but it has asked creditors for concessions on the terms of its operating line of credit.
As we reported in December, the company announced it was close to breaching terms that require its cash flow to
increase during the term of the loan. Tough times have strangled cash flow at many aircraft manufacturers and analysts expected Hawker Beech to get those concessions. Boisture has also led a
high-profile campaign to get the Air Force to reconsider its decision to go with Embraer's Super Tucano over the Beech AT-6B as its new light air support aircraft.
Who do you like for aviation's most prestigious prize for, as the Collier folks say, "the greatest
achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America, with respect to improving the performance, efficiency, and safety of air or space vehicles, the value of which has been thoroughly demonstrated
by actual use during the preceding year"?
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Building out its base, that's what. And the only way to go is toward a broader, more general interest aviation audience that's not interested only in homebuilding. But on the AVweb Insider
blog, Paul Bertorelli asks if that doesn't make it look just like AOPA? And do we need to belong to both?
Experienced airplane people say FAR 23 is a good guideline to build safe, flyable airplanes. If the Gippsland GA8 is an example of that, they're right. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul
Bertorelli offers some thoughts on why the Airvan is such a nice flying airplane.
A practical flying car with everyman usability has so far eluded the public, but we may have already been introduced to a design that could lead to a breakthrough. Some of the major
challenges of producing a point-to-point simple and safe to operate vehicle are technological in nature. Autonomous navigation (enter the destination, press a button, and allow the vehicle to
navigate, communicate with, and autonomously avoid other aircraft) may be one key to safely organizing masses of flying vehicles in the same airspace. And as society progresses, the gap between the
dream and reality may be shrinking.
AVweb's newest "FBO of the Week" is Golden Eagle Aviation at Moton Field Municipal Airport (06A) in
Tuskegee, Alabama. Reader Billy Tyndall tells us how an unplanned stopover made Golden Eagle a standard by which other FBOs are measured:
On a cross-country flight in my Sport Cub from North Carolina to Arizona, I encountered adverse weather and landed at Moton Field Municipal Airport in Tuskegee, Alabama to wait it out. The rain which
arrived took three days to pass, and during that time the staff at Golden Eagle Aviation made those days the most enjoyable of the trip. Sylvester and Minnie run the FBO with such personality and
warmth that transient pilots immediately feel at home. They helped us with the standard FBO offerings, such as avgas, computer access, and coffee, and went further to see that we found the cultural
and culinary assests of Tuskegee, which were many. When it was time to leave, Sylvester improvised an apparatus to preheat the cold engine in the Cub, even though the climate in Tuskegee doesn't
normally require preheating engines. He went the extra mile to get us back in the air, and we'll remember his FBO for their caring actions!
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