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The Top Headlines From AVweb's Expanded,
Illustrated News Coverage At AVweb's
STRIKES A GROWING CONCERN...
Welcome to migration season. The birds are out there -- even (and in
some cases, especially) after dark. The conflict between aircraft and
birds is a real and growing problem -- about 60,000 bird strikes to U.S.
aircraft were reported to the FAA from 1990 to 2003, and perhaps
four times that many went unreported. A 12-pound Canada goose struck by
a 150-mph aircraft, says the Bird Strike Committee USA, generates the force of a
1,000-pound weight dropped from a height of 10 feet. Damage to aircraft
is estimated at $400 million per year, and up to 400 (human) deaths have
been blamed on collisions with birds. During the spring and fall
migration, activity levels are high. Now new radar systems, being tested
in Alaska, Scotland and elsewhere, might help to mitigate the hazard.
WARNING SYSTEMS UNDER DEVELOPMENT...
Warning systems that try to locate and track birds in flight and
communicate real-time information to pilots are still experimental. The
Laboratory, in Panama City, Fla., is working on an automated
ground-based radar system to detect birds at a Scotland military base.
Jerry Grimm, director of the laboratory, told AVweb the system is
capable of detecting a bird as small as a sparrow up to two nautical
miles away. But the equipment is subject to all of radar's limitations
and glitches, such as clutter, slow update rates and poor resolution of
small targets. Still, "it's giving a very good indication of where the
birds are," Grimm said. More...
FAA MAPS HAZARD ZONES, AND OTHER CRITTERS INTRUDE
The FAA is working to develop a wildlife-hazards advisory system that
would integrate radar data with the Bird Avoidance Model, or (it's not
April 1, yet) BAM, that has been used with some success by the U.S.
military. (There also exists a military Bird
Aircraft Strike Hazard ... [BASH] team.) The BAM approach is not a
real-time detection system, but depends on collecting and analyzing data
to document and predict the presence of birds and map known bird strikes
so hazardous areas can be delineated and aircraft can choose flight
paths that avoid them. The FAA's BAM maps are available online,
and classify the risks at low, moderate or severe. But birds are not the
only wildlife that conflict with aircraft -- many airports are having
problems with deer on the runway. More...
REPORTS SLIGHT INCREASE IN GA ACCIDENTS IN 2003...
The number of fatalities in general aviation accidents rose slightly
last year -- from 581 in 2002 to 626 in 2003, the NTSB
reported Monday. However, the overall accident rate increased only
slightly, from 6.69 per 100,000 hours of flight time to 6.71. That
overall rate has generally been decreasing since 1984, when it was 10.84
per 100,000 hours. After a steady decline to a low of 6.5 in 1999, the
rate has gone up and down slightly in the last few years. The
fatal-accident rate has remained fairly steady since 1984, fluctuating
between 1.16 and 1.84 per 100,000 hours. In 2003, 695 fatalities were
reported for all of civil aviation, so GA accidents accounted for 90
NUMBERS ARE ONLY HALF THE STORY
The NTSB numbers need to be interpreted with a grain of salt, says Bruce
Landsberg, executive director of AOPA's Air Safety Foundation. "Although the NTSB reports
rates to two decimal places, that implies a far greater level of
accuracy than the system can possibly measure. The slight change [in the
overall GA accident rate] may be due more to the FAA's downward revision
in the estimated number of flight hours last year than to any real
decrease in safety." To put the increase into perspective, AOPA says,
there were six more fatal GA accidents in 2003 than in 2002. "The fact
remains that the GA accident rate is 60 percent lower than it was in
1970," said Landsberg. More...
CEO SUGGESTS GA USER FEES
While analysts predict high jet-fuel prices and weak domestic revenue
will further cripple the struggling airline industry this year, at least
one airline may be taking aim at general aviation to share its costs.
"As the system works today, you, the commercial airline passenger, are
subsidizing private aircraft ownership. This is not right." So claimed
Richard Anderson, CEO of Northwest Airlines, in an editorial titled "Fairness for
All Airport Users," published in the March 2004 issue of Northwest's
onboard magazine. Anderson said taxes and user fees account for up to
one-quarter of the cost of an airline ticket, but private aviators are
not paying their fair share of the costs of our aviation infrastructure
-- essentially, getting a free ride on the backs of air travelers. AOPA
was quick to respond, and has set up a meeting between Anderson
and Phil Boyer for April 2. More...
ZEALAND CRASH AND, AGAIN, QUESTIONS ABOUT CELLPHONE USE
The old debate over the effect of cellphones on
airplanes is back in play, as investigators in New Zealand face
questions about a fatal accident last June, during which a cellphone was
apparently turned on in the cockpit. Eight people died when a Piper
Chieftain crashed just over a mile from the runway at Christchurch
Aerodrome. The official report by the Transport Accident
Investigation Commission (TAIC), released last month, concluded that the
pilot became distracted at a critical stage in the ILS approach,
conducted during light rain, a low overcast, and darkness. But the Aviation Industry
Association (AIA) said the possible effect of the cellphone was not
adequately investigated. More...
MARY DILDA RELIES ON OREGON AERO FOR PAIN-FREE
The crowds at the Sun 'n Fun Fly-In will experience
the aerobatic magic of Mary Dilda again this year, and she credits
Oregon Aero for helping her concentrate when performing. She uses an
Oregon Aero Pilot SoftSeat Cushion, Aviation Helmet Upgrade,
and Shock-Absorbing Insole Inserts. Oregon Aero also has upgraded her
headset. "It's the most comfortable gear I've ever worn," says Mary.
"All of these products have helped remove pain or discomfort inside and
out of the airplane. Now I can completely concentrate on my performance
without worrying about physical stress." Visit Oregon at the Sun 'n Fun
Fly-In (Building A, 40-42) and check out all of their products online at
GA AIRPORTS GAIN GROUND AS ECONOMIC ENGINES
Sometimes it feels like nobody (except pilots) loves an airport, but in
fact plenty of folks out there appreciate that a bustling airfield
creates jobs and even enhances quality of life. In Bogalusa, La., the
city administration lobbied hard for years to convince not a reluctant
public, not reluctant business, but a reluctant FAA that they wanted
their airport to grow, and finally came home this month
with $3.4 million. The tide has turned in Salt Lake City, as well, where
momentum is building to develop the long-neglected No. 2 airport to
attract corporate jets. And Albuquerque plans to invest a $3.13 million
federal grant to expand the two runways at its Double Eagle Two airport, in hopes of attracting
more general aviation traffic. More...
ADAMANT AGAINST NAVY AIRFIELD IN N.C.
While some older, neglected airports may be getting a second look from
their communities, the challenge of finding a site for a new airport is
not getting any easier. In North Carolina, the Navy's effort to build a
landing field in a rural county so its F/A-18 Super Hornet jet pilots
can practice carrier landings has drawn opposition from every
conceivable quarter, for every conceivable reason -- it would be noisy,
it would take 33,000 acres of land off the tax rolls in a poor county,
it would destroy wildlife habitat, it would endanger migratory birds
(and pilots), and it would force family farmers off their land with
inadequate compensation. So said a long line of opponents at a hearing
in rural Washington County last Saturday. More...
CONCORDE SET TO TRAVEL BY SEA TO SCOTLAND
The Brits just can't get over their love affair with the late great
Concorde, and now they are looking forward to a final epic journey of
one the sleek birds, bound for the National Museums
of Scotland (NMS). The NMS announced on Monday its plan to transport
G-BOAA, the first-ever Concorde to enter service, from Heathrow Airport
to its final home at the national Museum of Flight, just outside
Edinburgh. The complex 10-day plan calls for G-BOAA to travel via
highway to the River Thames, then sail by barge to London, where it will
make a dramatic final salute to the London public as it is lifted above
deck outside the Houses of Parliament. The barge will then continue
under Tower Bridge and out to the North Sea, where it will embark on the
longest section of its journey, up the east coast to Scotland.
BALLOONIST REACHES RECORD ALTITUDE, BUT FACES FAA FALLOUT
British adventurer David Hempleman-Adams may have set an altitude record
Tuesday in Colorado when he reached 42,000 feet in his open-basket
Roziere balloon, a hybrid gas/hot-air design, but in the process he ran
into some flak from the FAA. It seems that although Hempleman-Adams
maintained radio contact with ATC during the flight, the FAA says he
should have made arrangements with them in advance before invading the
flight levels. The record attempt will be verified by the Federation
Aeronautique Internationale, which could take several months.
A man apparently committed suicide by jumping from a Cessna 172...
Cessna's Citation XLS has received FAA program approval...
Adam Aircraft appointed Joe Walker as president of the company...
NBAA posted online its report on the cost of restricting GA
Air Journey offers flying tours to Bahamas before or after Sun 'n Fun.
ARTICLES AND FEATURES ON AVWEB
Interactive Quiz #79: Let's Be Clear On This
The bedrock of air traffic control is the word "clear." Whether cleared
for takeoff or cleared for an instrument approach, understanding the
forces that this word unleashes clearly puts you in the accomplished
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QUESTION OF THE WEEK ...
Bird strikes are they a nuisance or a genuine hazard in our
airways? Take this week's poll to register your opinion. Plus: Results
of last week's AVweb poll on aircraft storage costs. More...
PICTURE OF THE WEEK ...
Welcome back to "Picture of the Week," where AVweb readers take over the
site to share their amateur aviation photos. This week's photos were a
bumper crop, and we had to leave several amazing shots on the
cutting-room floor. (If only there were room for all of them!) But one
photo stood out as this week's winner Robert Westwater's photo of
the legendary Charles Lindbergh "before he became famous." According to
Mr. Westwater, the photo came from his wife's great aunt, whose husband
was a good friend of Lindbergh. More...
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