April 7, 2004
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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The Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) submitted its comments late last week on the FAA's proposed new rules for commercial air tours, and its verdict was succinct: "[The FAA should] withdraw the rule until the agency is able to obtain adequate data." The GA groups were quick to applaud the suggestion. "We hope the FAA will take the SBA's comments to heart and pull this proposed rule," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. EAA Vice President Earl Lawrence agreed. "EAA and SBA have submitted essentially the same conclusions with regard to the lack of available data to substantiate the massive changes the proposed rule calls for," Lawrence said. The FAA's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), published last October, would require sightseeing tours that now operate under Part 91 to be certificated and to comply with new rules regarding low-level flight, visibility and over-water ops. The NPRM also proposes new rules to cover flights during charitable events. The proposed rules would affect sightseeing flights, including those conducted by flight schools, flights in unique aircraft such as EAA's B-17 bomber and Ford Tri-Motor, and vintage-aircraft flights around the country. The proposed rule eliminates an existing exemption for Part 91 sightseeing flights, requires all air tours to operate in accordance with either Part 121 or Part 135, sets new pilot flight-hour requirements for certain charitable flights, and establishes several new operational and equipment standards for existing commercial air tours.
The SBA lays out a detailed rationale to support its opposition to the FAA proposal. For starters, the FAA does not adequately explain any reason that it needs a new rule, or cite any data to show how the changes would improve safety, the SBA said. Also, the FAA's basis for estimating the impact of the rule is inadequate, the SBA said, because there is no clear means to quantify the number of Part 91 operators who would be affected. The actual incidence of small operators forced out of business is likely to be in the thousands, the SBA said, not the 700 "marginal" businesses estimated by the FAA. Also, the SBA is skeptical of FAA claims that small operators wouldn't see any change in their insurance costs. Further, the six-month grace period would probably not be adequate to certify operators without causing a backlog and downtime, costing them even more money, the SBA said.
The SBA concluded that the FAA needs to start over, and try harder to clarify its reasoning and support its assertions with solid data. The SBA suggested a few alternatives that the FAA should consider, such as requiring Part 91 operators who conduct sightseeing flights to report insurance coverage to the local FSDO. That would achieve the FAA's goal at much lower cost to the operators than the current proposal, the SBA said. The FAA should also take into account regional differences, for example, higher accident rates in Alaska, as well as differences in helicopter and airplane accident rates, rather than analyzing them all together. The SBA concluded that the FAA should conduct additional research and outreach to identify affected small operators, allow the industry to participate more fully in the development of the rule, determine the potential economic impacts of the rule, and identify less-burdensome alternatives.
YOU TOO CAN BE A WINNER WITH SCHEYDEN, AVIATION'S
Big changes have taken place at the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), and the folks in charge now are trying to reassure the membership that all's well. In the wake of President Shelley Longmuir's sudden departure last week, Donald Baldwin, chairman of the board, is serving as interim president until a new president is hired. Baldwin wrote in a letter to members on Monday, "Perhaps understandably, the staff is concerned that the membership is concerned -- both with how NBAA is weathering abrupt change, as well as for NBAA's future." But Baldwin is upbeat, concluding that the "NBAA's best days are yet to come." Before joining the NBAA last June, Longmuir had more than a decade of experience in domestic and international aviation, most recently at United Air Lines, where she was senior vice president of international/regulatory and governmental affairs. Longmuir also had held positions with the U.S. departments of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Justice. "Under Shelley's leadership, NBAA has been a dynamic force advocating for the business aviation community in Washington," Baldwin said Monday. "We appreciate her service to the organization and wish her the best in her future endeavors. Shelley's contributions will be missed, but we must remain as focused as ever on the increasingly complex business aviation issues faced by our members. I'm confident that the team we have in place will continue to serve our organization at the highest levels." When the NBAA hired Longmuir last May, Baldwin was chairman of the selection committee. "Shelley brings tremendous talents to NBAA and was selected from among nearly 100 highly qualified candidates," he said at the time. "Her ability to work effectively with people across the political and professional spectrum, her proven track record of leading effective coalitions, and her natural optimism, make her the right person at the right time for NBAA."
Longmuir, who had been at the helm only since last June, resigned effective April 1, along with Bob Warren, executive vice president and chief operating officer. In a statement issued last week, Longmuir cited a "difference in vision for leadership" in her departure from the association, and said she was "proud of the progress I made at NBAA as president and CEO." The statement cited Longmuir's work on securing access to restricted airspace for GA aircraft as her "signature effort." Meanwhile, two veteran staffers who had left the week before have returned to their positions -- Bob Blouin, senior vice president, operations, and Cassandra Bosco, senior manager, media relations. Their departure apparently brought things to a head in the upper ranks of the organization, leading to the decision that instead Longmuir and Warren should be replaced. Blouin has been with the NBAA since 1997, and Bosco since 1988. "This is a time of transition for our organization," Baldwin said Monday, "but we have great bench strength and talent within our staff, and a long tradition of effectiveness in Washington. We know that those elements will remain in place as we move forward ... It's a new week, and the mood is positive and hopeful."
As for the future, a search committee headed by NBAA Vice Chairman Ken Emerick already has begun working to identify a new NBAA president and CEO. "We will conduct a thorough search, on a timetable to be determined," said Emerick. Other members of the committee include NBAA board members Sylvia Jennings, James Cooling and Aaron Hilkemann. Spencer Stewart, an executive search firm, has been retained to provide support for the committee. The timetable and criteria for the search are now under development. Emerick asked yesterday that NBAA members send in their recommendations to the committee. "We would like to pursue an accelerated, open process as we conduct the search for the next NBAA president and chief executive officer," Emerick said. "I am asking that NBAA members provide recommendations to the Search Committee in the form of qualifications or nominations for the position. We will consider all of this important feedback as we work to identify the best candidates to recommend to the Board." This input is being requested in electronic form to be emailed directly to email@example.com or submitted online at http://www.nbaa.org/next.
MARV GOLDEN DISCOUNT PILOT SUPPLIES HAS EVERYTHING YOU NEED
When French writer and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupery flew off alone into a July night in 1944 and vanished, his mysterious end became an integral part of the story of his life. Now, hundreds of pieces of a wrecked Lockheed Lightning, found on the Mediterranean seabed off the coast of Provence, have been positively identified as the airplane he was flying that night on a wartime spy mission. French authorities confirmed the find yesterday, based on a serial number found on a piece of the tail. Saint-Exupery is beloved in France as the author of "The Little Prince." No body was found, and so far the wreck has not revealed any cause for the crash. "This was our holy grail," Philippe Castellano, president of an association of aviation buffs who helped authorities identify the debris, told the Associated Press. "We never even imagined this." Castellano said some Saint-Exupery fans resisted the effort to identify the wreck, preferring to keep the mystery alive. "In the end, I think everyone is satisfied," he said. "We didn't find a body, so the myth surrounding his disappearance will live on." Saint-Exupery also wrote poetic novels based on his flying adventures, such as "Wind, Sand, and Stars" and "Night Flight." A new opera based on "The Little Prince" opened in Houston, Texas, last year.
The wreck of a Navy Corsair that was salvaged from a North Carolina swamp in 1990 is now the subject of a court battle in Minnesota. Late last month, the U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Navy seeking the return of the Corsair from aircraft restorer Lex Cralley. The Navy is not saying why it is suddenly interested in the wreck, but aircraft historians say it has been identified as a rare Brewster F3A-1 model, perhaps the only one of its kind. Cralley says he registered the aircraft with the FAA as a "non-airworthy model" and has been slowly working on its restoration. Cralley told the St. Paul Pioneer Press he's rattled by the lawsuit, but intends to fight it. The Corsair could have a value in the millions of dollars. The plane was on a training flight on Dec. 19, 1944, from the Cherry Point Marine Corps Training Station when it crashed. The pilot died and Navy personnel stripped the downed aircraft of its weapons and other equipment before leaving it, according to people familiar with the history of the plane, the Pioneer Press reported. The Navy suit seeks the return of the airplane, the cost of returning it and compensation for "any damage to or alteration of" the aircraft. AOPA said it appears the Navy would like to make an example of Cralley to clear the way for the pursuit of another two dozen warbirds restored and owned by aviation museums.
AEROBATIC CHAMPION KIRBY CHAMBLISS DEPENDS ON OREGON AERO TO ELIMINATE PAIN
Little ultralight aircraft might seem to us like the least likely vehicles of fear and destruction, but apparently not everyone sees them that way. Last week, after Hamas threatened to destroy the Knesset building in Jerusalem, one member of that legislature worried that terrorists might attack by air, landing on the long flat roof with gliders or ultralights. In Australia last week, a man was jailed after he allegedly "buzzed" his ex-wife's home in his ultralight, scaring her and the neighbors. And Canada's intelligence leaders recently warned that terrorists might use ultralights or remotely piloted vehicles to threaten Canadian troops and their allies. Canada's Auditor General also released a report recently on the country's anti-terrorism initiatives, and found them wanting. Top among the aviation-related concerns was a lack of scrutiny of airport workers with access to aircraft.
A Mitsubishi MU-2 turboprop that crashed near Pittsfield, Mass., about 5:30 a.m. on March 25, fell nearly 12,000 feet in less than a minute, the NTSB reported in its preliminary findings, released on Saturday. Several witnesses said they watched the cargo aircraft descend in a flat spin, making grinding, whining or howling sounds. It impacted the ground intact, in an upright position, with both engines turning. The ATP-rated pilot, who was alone on board, was killed. The conditions at the time were VMC, and the pilot had filed an IFR flight plan. The pilot's last communication was routine, about nine minutes before the crash. He was told by New York Center to switch to Boston, but he never called them. The aircraft, operated by Royal Air Freight of Michigan, had departed from Pontiac the night before, at about 11:30 p.m. local time. The pilot, Brian Templeton, 33, of Michigan, flew from Pontiac to Rockford, Ill., picked up cargo, and then flew to Hagerstown, Md. He dropped off a portion of the cargo at Hagerstown, and was en route to Bangor, Maine, at about 17,000 feet, when the accident occurred. Two AIRMETs were issued for occasional moderate rime to mixed icing conditions, the NTSB said. One of the AIRMETs was valid between the freezing level and 18,000 feet, and the other was for the southern section of the area, from the freezing level to 22,000 feet. A PIREP was also issued indicating icing and low-altitude turbulence. Investigators examined the cockpit overhead switch panel and found the right pitot/static heat was "on" and the stall heat was "on." The remainder of the overhead switches, which included: propeller de-ice, engine intake heat, windshield anti-ice, and wing de-ice, were all in the "off" position. Both tip tanks were ruptured; however, a substantial amount of fuel was observed on the ground, in the area of both tip tanks. The outboard and inboard fuel tanks on each wing remained intact, and approximately 60 gallons of jet fuel were drained from the tanks. The NTSB did not state a probable cause for the crash, which remains under investigation pending a final report.
OURPLANE FRACTIONAL OWNERS BECOME MORE PROFICIENT WITH ADVANCED TRAINING
A private jet charter company flying out of California's Van Nuys Airport allegedly used the planes to transport illegal drugs and promoted its service as friendly to drug traffickers, authorities said last week. Eight suspects, including a co-owner of the company, SmoothAir Aviation, were arrested after a yearlong investigation focusing on the company's ties to drug traffickers in Mexico. Clarence Adolphus, 46, of SmoothAir, allegedly assured drug traffickers his flights were not subject to searches and inspections required at major airports, according to the U.S. attorney for California's Central District. Last November, government agents seized 20,000 tablets of the drug ecstasy and 345 pounds of marijuana from a SmoothAir jet leaving for Atlanta. Investigators then tapped Adolphus' cellular telephones, as well as phones used by some of his clients who are suspected of being high-ranking members of a large drug-trafficking organization based in Guadalajara. The defendants are charged with multiple conspiracies to distribute controlled substances, money laundering and structuring cash transactions. Two employees of SmoothAir were among those charged, and one suspect remains a fugitive.
The Lancair Company announced on Monday it will receive FAA certification of its new turbocharged Lancair Columbia 400 at the Sun 'n Fun Fly-In in Lakeland, Fla., next week. The company says the new airplane will be the world's fastest certified piston single. "We feel confident that the Columbia 400 will be faster than any current certified piston-powered aircraft on the market -- fixed-gear or retractable, single-engine or twin," said Lancair Vice President Tom Bowen. "The aircraft has an amazingly broad flight envelope." Several senior FAA officials will be on hand to award Lancair the certification at a press conference Friday, April 16, Lancair said.
FLIGHTMAX EX500 WITH INTEGRATED DATALINK-TRAINING SOFTWARE NOW AVAILABLE
If you're planning on flying into Lakeland, Fla., for Sun 'n Fun, be on the alert for large formation skydiving over Zephyrhills Airport between April 14 and April 18, sunrise to sunset. Zephyrhills (ZPH) is located 16 nautical miles northwest of Lakeland, on Lakeland's 332-degree radial. The airport will be the site of a world record attempt involving 140 skydivers and seven jump aircraft. Getting caught in the middle could prove ... messy.
The FAA has issued a launch license to Scaled Composites for its flight test program, Space.com reported yesterday...
The effort to choose a new site for a central Texas GA airport is stumbling. Monday, the city council of Taylor voted against hosting the airfield, the second of three proposed sites to balk...
An Australian astronomer asked GA flyers to help search for impact craters from a recent meteor shower...
A proposal now under consideration would rename a California airport in honor of Jacqueline Cochran, a founder of the WASPs and the first woman to break the sound barrier. At the time of her death, in 1980, Cochran held more speed, altitude, and distance records than any other pilot, male or female, in aviation history...
The American Civil Liberties Union is suing to challenge the TSA's no-fly list, saying that innocent travelers are stopped and searched repeatedly for no reason...
The Aircraft Electronics Association Convention last month set records for exhibitors and attendance...
The Save Concorde group wants to name April 9 "Concorde Day" in honor of the SST's first flight 35 years ago...
The Navy will transfer the former aircraft carrier ex-USS Oriskany (CV 34) to the State of Florida for use as an artificial reef.
IF YOUR CELL PHONE CAN SURF THE NET, IT CAN RECEIVE AVIATION WEATHER!
What's New -- Products and Services
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MIKE BUSCH'S SAVVY SEMINAR COMING TO VAN NUYS, HARRISBURG, & OSHKOSH!
*** PREVIOUS RESULTS ***
Last week, AVweb asked our readers which air shows they'll be attending in 2004. As it turns out, you're a well-travelled bunch: 29% of our respondents said they'll be hitting more than one show this season! Of those who are attending only one show, EAA AirVenture is the destination of choice no surprise, eh? with 16% of you heading to Oshkosh this summer. Another 11% of readers will be attending the Reno Air Races, and 9% will stop by Booth #C-034 to say "hello" to the AVweb crew at Sun 'n Fun. (You will stop by and see us right?)
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AVweb readers keep sending us terrific photos from their airborne adventures and we keep publishing them here. If you thought last week's photos were great, wait until to you see the photo Jamie Lawrence of Maui Helicopters submitted this week!
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"Rainbow Over Paradise"
Jamie Lawrence of Kihei, Hawaii took this photo
one morning on the North shore of Molokai
Click here to view a large version of this image
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 larger versions.
"Little Toot Fly-By Fun"
Phil Witt's friend Tommy Meyer snapped this
shot of Witt doing a close fly-by to test a new camera
"F-15 Over Turkey"
John D. Bond of the 122nd Fighter Squadron
prepares a for a Norther Watch mission in Iraq
Stay safe out there, John
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GAMIJECTORS CAN CUT AIRCRAFT FUEL BILLS BY 20 PERCENT!
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COMM 1 ANNOUNCES INTERACTIVE NAV & VOR/NDB SIMULATOR TRAINING PROGRAM
Comm 1 Radio Simulator programs contain comprehensive tutorials and fully interactive two-way radio exchanges with ATC which you can experience from the safety and privacy of your computer. Build skills and confidence on the ground while saving money and aggravation. Select the programs right for your flying needs by visiting Sun 'n Fun Booth #C-061, or order online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/comm1/avflash.
GIVE MOM SOMETHING TO TICKLE HER FUNNY BONE & SHOW HER LOVE OF FLYING
For Mother's Day, the Carprop is perfect! The Carprop is a free-spinning propeller mounted on the front of a vehicle to indicate the driver's enthusiasm for flying. As the vehicle moves, the propeller spins but when parked, the propeller goes horizontal so it doesn't interfere with the license plate numbers. For the pilot (or enthusiast) who has everything, the Carprop is perfect! APRIL SPECIAL: Complimentary sunglasses with any order placed online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/carprop/avflash.
LAZY BUZZARD GOES RACING!!!!
Lazy Buzzard has decided to send his pilot racing. Come late summer, the Lazy Buzzard Pitts Special will be tearing around the pylons at the Reno Air Races. Check out the site to see the Lazy Buzzard airplane and other great stuff! Watch for Lazy Buzzard at air shows throughout the year. Be a part of it all and support Lazy Buzzard in his quest for Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness and Speed. Online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/lazy/avflash.
IFR REFRESHER'S MAY ISSUE HAS YOU MAKING THE RIGHT DECISIONS
Highlights in the May issue of IFR Refresher include: what can happen when you don't fly the procedure; cool reasoning on the old question "to go or not to go"; a review of back-to-basics holding procedures; flying in Lake Tahoe wx; soggy skies in Lubbock; and flying legally smart. If these topics catch your IFR attention, then order IFR Refresher at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/belvoir/ifrref/avflash.
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