NewsWire Complete Issue
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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FAA Demands $13.3 Million...
The golf course might win. A 20-year-old agreement between the feds and a city is now contested. It seems an FAA grant paid for (most of) the cost of 267 acres of land for future airport expansion in
Ocean City, Md. The FAA now claims that Ocean City isn't living up to its end of the deal and the FAA wants to be paid back for the land -- land that has since sprouted Eagle's Landing, a highly
acclaimed golf course owned by the city. Municipal officials in the resort community have warned the FAA to back off on its demand for $13.3 million in compensation for the federally funded,
city-owned land now known as Eagle's Landing Golf Course. Actually, the city has implied that if the FAA doesn't back down,
the airport might have to go. "The lack of a workable solution may force the town to ponder the future of the airport," Mayor Jim
Mathias told the FAA in a letter obtained by the Maryland Coast Dispatch. Eagle's Landing Golf Course is rated one of the top 75 public courses in the U.S. by Golf Digest and at least two of its holes
are barely a wedge shot from the nearest runway. The airport Web site even notes there's a "golf course on the field." The recent controversy has prompted some city council members to consider selling
the golf course to cover the cost of the FAA demands. There are about a dozen privately owned golf courses in the immediate area.
The golf course was built by the city, with FAA approval, on the condition that 10 percent of the revenue from the course (green fees are $69, with a cart, in high season) be put into an airport
improvement fund. The agreement also stipulated that any future airport expansion be carried out on the golf course land, which is what the land was purchased for in the first place. The FAA says
Ocean City broke the agreement by ensuring two runway expansions didn't encroach on the golf course. "Based on the information available, it is the FAA's determination that the Town of Ocean City has
not adhered to the interim agreement," wrote the FAA's Airports Division Manager William Flannagan in a Feb. 10 letter to the city. In the letter, also quoted by the Dispatch, Flannagan gave Ocean
City until April 10 to pay the $13.3 million (it's not known what the land originally cost) and also provide accounting records from the golf course, presumably to assess whether the airport
improvement fund was getting the 10-percent cut required under the agreement. The deal apparently soured in 2000 when city officials told the FAA they had decided not to plan any further improvements
to the airport. When the FAA and state transportation officials rejected that notion, the city came up with a new plan that included two safety-related runway extensions. However, a task force formed
to make the recommendations steered the runway renovations away from any intrusion on the golf course. The FAA reminded the city that doing so would breach the original agreement allowing the golf
course and threatened to cancel the deal. The city has since asked that the FAA reclassify the golf course as a "buffer zone" to protect residential areas from noise.
If the $13.3 million check and financial records aren't in Washington by April 10, Flannagan said he'll turn the affair over to the Office of Inspector General for an investigation. The FAA has also
threatened to cut off maintenance and upkeep grants for the airport, which the Dispatch says run between $100,000 and $500,000 a year. City officials said they were shocked at the ultimatum because
they thought they had already reached a compromise with the FAA. Mathias, the city mayor, remains curiously optimistic that some sort of compromise can be reached before April 10. "There's got to be a
reasonable place here," he told the Dispatch. But the FAA doesn't seem in a conciliatory mood and its rancor could hurt a couple of nonprofit groups. It's accusing Ocean City of subsidizing the Lions
Club and Humane Society by allowing them to lease parcels of the federally purchased land for below fair market value.
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Alphabet groups claim the FAA hasn't done its homework in a proposal to set a maximum 180-minute diversion time limit for the extended operations (ETOPS) of Part 135 aircraft (qualified commercial
aircraft could be allowed to fly up to three hours from any suitable landing site). In written comments on the Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking (NPRM), both the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) and National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) say the FAA can't accurately predict the fallout from the
restrictions because there is no comprehensive database of aircraft performance to determine how operators might be affected by such a rule. NATA has asked that further action on the rule be postponed
and that the comment period, which closed a week ago, be extended another 90 days. NATA's director of government and industry affairs, Eric Byer, said 180 minutes means different things to different
operators of different aircraft. For flight-planning purposes, operators would have to translate the three hours into the distance they could travel on a single engine in a particular make and model
of aircraft under a wide variety of circumstances. But the manufacturers haven't come up with those speed tables so the calculations are impossible, says Byer. "If data essential to analyzing the rule
does not exist, how could the FAA have reasonably determined the impact?" he wondered.
Under the rule, operators would be required to remain within 180 minutes of an "adequate airport" on all flights outside the continental U.S. But by meeting additional ETOPS operational and equipment
requirements, the FAA would permit a 240-minute (four-hour) single-engine diversion. In its comments, the NBAA echoed NATA's concerns about the lack of information and also caught a major inaccuracy
in the FAA's assessment of economic impact. The NPRM says that no flights beyond 180 minutes' diversion range are now permitted, so the new rule will actually give operators willing to pay extra for
the 240-minute standard more flexibility and save them $777 million over 10 years. Contrarily, the NBAA and NATA say no such 180-minute rule exists and that the FAA routinely allows flights beyond
that time limit and therefore the economic analysis is without basis. The NBAA says that the costs of compliance to the new rule could put some small operators out of business. Among them would be air
ambulance operators who fly from Hawaii to the West Coast, some of whom would be beyond the 240-minute cap. It suggests an exemption for those operators. The General Aviation Manufacturers Association
agrees with the 180-minute diversion limit but suggests the new regs be phased in.
Meanwhile, an important emergency landing site in the Pacific Ocean that figures in ETOPS planning for airline flights and long-range business aircraft flights will remain open ... at least until
Sept. 30. Midway Island's airport was to have closed on Jan. 30 because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which used to maintain it, ran out of money. The Department of Transportation came up with
$3.2 million to keep it open until the end of the current fiscal year. FAA spokesman William Shumann said beyond that date the fate of the field is unknown. The runway at the former U.S. Naval station
showed its value last Jan. 6 when a Continental Airlines Boeing 777, with 279 passengers aboard, was forced to land there with engine trouble. The diversion came about three weeks before the scheduled
closure of Midway and prompted a hurried response from the Department of Transportation. On Jan. 27, Sen. Dan Inouye (D-Hawaii) announced the funding had been secured for the balance of the current
fiscal year. "The emergency landing earlier this month, which ensured the safety of the nearly 300 people on board, dramatically underscores the importance of this runway," Inouye said in a news
release. "Midway currently serves as the only emergency landing facility in this region of the Pacific."
|CESSNA PILOTS ASSOCIATION (CPA) HAS OPENINGS IN APRIL 16-18 SEMINAR!|
There are a few
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mention this AVflash, or go online for more information on courses, seminars, and the benefits of CPA membership at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/cpa/avflash.
A place that calls itself "Lethal Country" might not be your first choice in an emergency but a Mooney pilot says the folks at Cannon
Air Force Base in New Mexico (slogan: "America's Most Lethal Warfighting Team") likely saved his life. Dr. George Carlson wasn't having the best of days in the left seat after he hit a power line
while trying to land in stormy weather at nearby Clovis Municipal Airport. The impact caused radio problems but Cannon controllers were finally able to guide him to a safe landing on the base.
"Protecting human life is job number one here in 'Lethal Country,'" said Col. Lee Wight, Operations Group Commander for the 27th Fighter Wing based at Cannon. "Our controllers spared no effort and
showed great skill ..." Carlson spent the night at the base and later told public relations staff that he was in serious trouble before the military stepped in. He said he was almost out of fuel,
suffering spatial disorientation and icing up when the Cannon controllers found a way to communicate with him using his transponder. "They saved my life. Without them, I would surely have crashed."
Carlson was on a flight from San Francisco to Ardmore, Okla.
They don't happen like this every day. No one was hurt last Thursday near Gulf Shores, Ala., when the towline pulling a teenage girl on a parasail behind a boat crossed the line on an advertising
banner being towed by an airplane. The banner-tower quickly released the banner and it fell harmlessly away. The age and identity of the girl were not immediately known. There was a second parasailor
being towed by the same boat but her line didn't come in contact with the banner. The parasailors were about 300 feet above the water at the time. Steve Vrondran, owner of Perdido Key Parasail, told
the Mobile Register it's the first incident of this nature that he's heard of and the banner-towers and parasailors generally give each other a wide berth. "The canopies are 37 feet in diameter and
brightly colored. Usually they see them and go around them," said Vrondran. "If we don't think they're moving, we'll move." The two groups will meet with city officials to see if there's a need to
beef up safety and operating regulations.
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The General Accounting Office (GAO) made "completely inappropriate" comments about security at general aviation airports in a report that should have been confined to concerns about aerial
advertising, says the National Air Transportation Association (NATA). As AVweb told you earlier this
month, the GAO released a report examining the potential security threat of allowing banner-towers to resume operations at sports
stadiums. "The report the GAO was tasked to accomplish was on aerial advertising flights, not on security at general aviation airports and the supposed inconsistencies in background checks," said Eric
Byer, NATA's director of government and industry affairs. "Considering that the GAO is in the midst of conducting an investigation into general aviation airport security, the comments are completely
inappropriate." While the report said the TSA doesn't seem very worried about banner-towers, it did find gaps in the screening processes used to check out the banner-towing pilots. It said that
factors were identified that could limit the effectiveness of the background checks and there were inconsistencies in the gathering and processing of the information. The GAO concluded there were a
variety of factors that make general aviation vulnerable to terrorist attacks. Banner-towers remain banned from stadium overflights thanks to a congressional order contained in a recent appropriations
Sometimes you see the wreckage and wonder how anyone got out alive. If this Beech Baron had been flying a few inches to the right, we likely wouldn't be wondering how Robert Hollis Gates, of
Tehachapi, Calif., managed to land the plane safely after a midair with a Cessna 180 last Jan. 16. The Baron lost a section of fuselage, but Gates walked away with cuts and bruises. The 180 broke up
in flight and the pilot, 40-year-old David Lazerson, a civilian test pilot instructor at Edwards Air Force Base and deputy director of the Joint Strike Fighter Integrated Test Force, was killed.
According to the NTSB report, Gates said he was in cruise climb between 5,500 and 6,500 feet near Tehachapi when he saw the right gear leg of the Cessna coming at him from one o' clock. He ducked,
then saw a dirt strip and managed to set the Baron down. AVweb wasn't able to reach Gates.
Australian pilots may face random drug and alcohol testing after an investigation determined that drugs
and alcohol might have contributed to a crash that killed a charter pilot and his five tourist passengers in 2002. Cause of the crash was an engine malfunction on takeoff, followed by a low-level
stall in a turn by the Cherokee Six on Hamilton Island. The probe by the Australia Transport Safety Bureau said pilot Andrew Morris, 27, of Brisbane, had consumed alcohol and a painkiller called
Panadeine the night before the crash and had only seven hours of sleep. He also had the active ingredient in marijuana in his system. That was enough for the bureau to recommend testing, noting that
road, rail and marine workers are subject to alcohol testing. Australia's AOPA said testing is unnecessary. President Ron Lawford said most pilots don't use drugs or alcohol prior to flight. Last
year, Qantas staff at Sydney walked off the job when the company initiated drug-testing trials, saying it was a violation of privacy. Still, Transport Minister John Anderson said it's something worth
looking into. He commissioned a review of the topic.
Sixty years later, Henry Ford's dream has been fulfilled ... well, sort of. Ford wrote Orville Wright in 1943 reminding him that if he ever wanted to part with the airplane that flew at Kitty Hawk,
Ford had just the place for it in Dearborn. Well, the (mostly) original Flyer went to the Smithsonian instead and the Henry Ford Museum now has the replica that didn't fly in Kitty Hawk last November.
Edsel Ford II didn't see it as a consolation prize when The Wright Experience aircraft was officially unveiled in Dearborn on Friday. "Sometimes you don't get what you wish for in life. Sometimes you
get something better," he said. That spin was made possible by the fact that the plane in the Smithsonian is a re-jigged and repaired version of the original machine. The first Flyer was damaged in a
flood and crashed twice and the ensuing repairs required parts that were not original equipment. Therefore, in Ford's (and EAA's) estimation, the replica is actually "a far more accurate
representation of the original plans than is the repaired and modified one that hangs at the Smithsonian," according to the EAA release. Can't wait for the letters ...
Next time you flip on your GPS, pause for moment to consider what's running it. The U.S. Air Force Space Command launched its 50th GPS satellite on Saturday to replace one that's nearing the
end of its life. The tab? $45 million for the satellite, plus whatever it costs for the ride from Cape Canaveral to geosynchronous orbit via a Delta 2 rocket...
The Indian air force is free to put weapons on 66 "trainers" it bought from Britain, according to the Times of London. The British government won't normally sell such hardware if it thinks it
might be used as a weapon (India and Pakistan are in an uneasy truce) but Indian newspapers said the $2 billion deal was contingent on the air force doing what they wanted with the nimble little jets.
For the record, India says the planes will be used as advanced trainers to prepare pilots for its crash-prone Mig-21s...
Montreal-based Bombardier will keep its military pilot training division after winning a $270 million contract to train Canadian CF-18 pilots. U.S.-based L-3 Communications, which makes F-18
simulators, is a partner in the bid. Training will take place at Canadian Forces Bases in Cold Lake, Alberta, and Bagotville, Quebec...
Two Marine pilots successfully landed at 102 Virginia airports in a single day to raise money for Angel Flight East. Lt. Col Lindy Kirkland and Maj. Rob Krieg flew a Cirrus more than 1,600
miles last Wednesday, completing the mission in a little over 16 hours...
Four winners of the National General Aviation Awards have been named. They are Doug Stewart, of North Egremont, Mass., the CFI of the Year; Gary Goodpaster, of Cincinnati, Ohio, the Maintenance
Technician of the Year; Keith Lewis, of Spartanburg, S.C., the Avionics Technician of the Year; and Walt Schamel, of Winter Haven, Fla., the Aviation Safety Counselor of the Year. FAA Administrator
Marion Blakey will present the awards at EAA AirVenture 2004
A cockpit voice recorder found at the UN didn't come from a missile attack that killed two African leaders. Authorities say the black box contains 30 minutes of normal cockpit conversation in
French. When the box was found in a file cabinet at the U.N., initial speculation was that it was from a Falcon business jet carrying the presidents of Burundi and Rwanda that was hit by two missiles
while landing at Kigali 10 years ago.
Reader mail this week includes a rebuttal from Atlantic Aviation about the de-ice debacle, airline subsidies for GA, traffic jams at Nantucket and more.
The Pilot's Lounge #72: PAMA -- A Maintenance Organization For Fixers And Flyers
If Rick Durden's column last month got you nervous about finding a good mechanic, one solution is to look for the professional
organization of those mechanics. PAMA supports, advocates, educates, and promotes our unsung heroes of aviation -- the Aviation Maintenance Technicians.
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Overheard while approaching the control zone in Wellington, New Zealand.......
ZKxxx: Request entry into the zone with Charlie 1021, currently 20 miles to the south west at 2500.
Wellington Tower: Cleared to enter the zone via the Sinclair Sector 1500 feet or below.
ZKxxx: Cleared to enter the zone via Sinclair at 1500 or below.
(A few minutes later...)
Tower: ZKxxx, suggest you descend to 1500 immediate to avoid a fast approaching pile of paperwork.
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