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The Top Headlines From AVweb's Expanded,
Illustrated News Coverage At AVweb's
SALES UP (ECONOMY IS UP?) ... FINALLY
Finally, there's some evidence the long-anticipated (and, perhaps,
optimistically forecast) recovery in the aviation industry may have
begun. The General Aviation Manufacturers Association's (GAMA's) first-quarter delivery and billing stats show
healthy increases on both sides of the ledger for the full range of GA
aircraft. Some cautious observers may be quick to point out that figures
for last year were so deeply in the tank that these hopeful signs should
be put in perspective. However, improvement is improvement and GAMA's
figures do point to an overall 21.1-percent increase in billings and
9.7-percent increase in shipments over the first quarter of 2003.
BREAKS VITAL TO RECOVERY...
The perspective granted by recent history may offer a glimpse at just
how "recovery" is relative. Compare Friday's figures with those of the first quarter of 2001 and you might want to put
away the champagne in favor of a shot of scotch. The recent improvement
compares with overall sales from the early 2001 boom by reaching a point
that's 15.8 percent lower. There were 642 sales in the first quarter of
2001 compared to 541 in the same period in 2004, and billings are off by
35 percent (currently $2.38 billion vs. $3.64 billion in 2001). As
tenuous as the good news is, GAMA President Ed Bolen said he hopes
Congress will play a big role in maintaining the current momentum by
renewing a key tax incentive. More...
SEE THE TREND
Another way to gauge recovery (albeit unscientifically) is by the number
of aircraft in the air. AVweb columnist Don Brown works at Atlanta
Center (ZTL) and he says record-high traffic has caught everyone's
attention there. "As far as the controllers at Atlanta Center can tell,
the recovery is already here," Brown told AVweb. He said it's not
uncommon for special events in the Southeast (like The Masters and Sun
'n Fun) to push the traffic count to around 10,000 operations per day.
But on an ordinary weekday in late April, the count hit 10,175. "I
believe it to be the first time ZTL broke 10,000 operations in one day
without a special event occurring in our airspace," Brown said.
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CONTINUES CRUSADE FOR GA USER FEES
Northwest Airlines is suggesting one or two Minneapolis-area reliever
airports could be closed or some 2,000 private aircraft owners could be
charged to reduce the financial toll on airlines using Minneapolis-St.
Paul International Airport (MSP). The airline is the biggest customer of
the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC), which runs MSP and six GA
airports in the Twin Cities area. The MAC is currently subsidizing
operations at the small airports (the subsidy varies between $1.3
million and $7.9 million, depending on who's calculating it) with
revenues from MSP. Northwest, as MSP's biggest tenant, claims the
subsidies indirectly affect its bottom line and at a MAC meeting last
week, the airline said it wants the subsidies to end. More...
PROTEST COST INCREASES
Of course, GA pilots in the area are opposed to the airline's position
and AOPA President Phil Boyer was at the meeting, along with hundreds of
potentially affected pilots. Boyer even met with Minnesota Gov. Tom
Pawlenty on the issue. Boyer told the commission that Minneapolis'
system of hub and reliever airports is a model and it shouldn't be
dismantled "just because ... Northwest Airlines ... finds itself in
economic difficulty -- again." He said the fee increases being pushed by
Northwest would put rates well above the national average.
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FOR RENOWNED PILOT
Tributes are pouring in for a respected aerobatic pilot who died in a
crash in Florida on Friday. Ian Groom, 58, was practicing a flat spin,
which he'd earlier said was his signature maneuver, but for unknown
reasons his Su-31 didn't recover and crashed into the Atlantic about
2,000 feet offshore from Ft. Lauderdale. Groom was quickly recovered
from the crash site but rescue workers couldn't save him. Groom was
preparing to perform in the annual Air and Sea Show, which went ahead as
scheduled. Saturday's air show was dedicated to Groom, and the Canadian
Armed Forces Snowbirds flew a missing-man formation in tribute. Although
Groom was best-known for his aerobatics career (in 2002 he set a world
record flying 57 snap rolls in 26 seconds), he also helped others avoid
WAKES DOZING 767 PILOT
An All Nippon Airways pilot is being tested for a sleep disorder after
he nodded off twice on a March flight -- with a government flight
inspector in the cockpit. In fact it was the inspector, on board for a
routine review, who noticed the 50-year-old pilot was dozing about five
minutes after the Tokyo-to-Yamaguchi-Ube flight reached altitude. The
inspector told the co-pilot, who woke the pilot. A few minutes later,
the pilot was back in dreamland and the co-pilot yelled at him to wake
him up. "I was bathed by the sun and dozed off in spite of myself," the
unidentified pilot is quoted as telling airline officials, according to
the Asahi Shimbun newspaper. More...
CLOSURE CITED IN AIRLINER SCARE
The closure of Meigs Field (for security reasons, remember?) has been
implicated in an incident that gave a Chicago baseball stadium full of
people a collective case of the jitters. The FAA is investigating
whether an ATA Boeing 737-800 was dangerously (or illegally) low when it
passed over U.S. Cellular Field on approach to Midway Airport on
Thursday. According to CBS 2 Chicago, the closure of Meigs eliminated
restricted airspace that had previously kept aircraft approaching Midway
away from the stadium. Of course, that doesn't really explain why the
737 was, according to the FAA, just 700 feet AGL when it was still 6.5
miles from the runway. More...
WHEEL PLAN SPARKS REVIEW
Pilots using busy Teterboro Airport (TEB) in New Jersey are used to
sharing the crowded airspace with other pilots -- but with Ferris-wheel
riders? A major amusement park proposed for an area just south of TEB
would include a 400-foot-tall Ferris wheel that would encroach more than
100 feet into the navigable airspace 11,000 feet south of the runway,
according to Bill Leavens, AOPA's eastern region rep. The giant ride
would also penetrate the VFR Traffic Pattern Airspace climb/descent area
by 66 feet for category C and D aircraft. Another proposal would also
have pilots dodging an antenna farm not far from the amusement park,
Leavens said. Fun, fun, fun. More...
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TO THE RESCUE OF SPACE PROBE
Some Hollywood stunt pilots are helping NASA ensure a three-year, $200
million experiment doesn't shatter on the floor of the Utah desert.
Somehow, NASA designed an experiment that can withstand the rigors of
launch, spend three years in space and survive re-entry, but might not
survive a parafoil landing. The Genesis
probe carries almost-pure silicon plates to gather solar wind
particles, which (scientists hope) will give clues to the origins of the
universe. The plates are fragile, so to soften the return to Earth when
the probe releases a capsule full of them on Sept. 8, the plan is to
grab the parachuting capsule in flight and lower it gently to the ground
with a helicopter -- and they've been testing it. More...
WORKER BIDS ON SYSTEM CONTRACT
Some people carry signs, others might launch lawsuits, but Jay Wade
prefers a more direct approach to possibly saving his job. The
51-year-old Tennessee flight service specialist is launching a bid to
take over the whole FSS system through the A-76 competitive outsourcing
process now underway. To accomplish his goal, he'll merely have to
convince the FAA that his company, Wade &Associates LLC, is more
qualified to run the $500-million-a-year system than some of the biggest
names in aviation technology and services, including Raytheon, Lockheed
Martin, Northrop Grumman and Computer Sciences Corp., not to mention the
existing FSS organization, which recently teamed up with Harris Corp.
for a bid. Wade told Government Executive Magazine he has unique
qualifications for the job. "This contract manager has personally done
over 150,000 pilot weather briefings without a single weather-related
accident, so I think I'm profoundly qualified," he said.
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PILOTS GET PUBLIC BENEFIT AWARD
When the skies were empty of civilian aircraft over North America on
Sept. 13, 2001, some volunteer pilots took to the air on a unique
medical mission. Last week Lifeline Pilots was honored with the National
Aeronautic Association's Public Benefit Flying Team award in a ceremony
in Washington, D.C. The Lifeline pilots, Lyle Clapper, Norbert Ptaszek,
Ward and David Montgomery and Mark and Donna Turek, were granted special
permission to fly live skin tissue and blood platelets from St. Paul,
Minn., to medical centers in Costa Mesa, Calif., and Bethesda, Md.
Lifeline Pilots normally flies financially distressed patients to
distant medical care but the Sept. 13, 2001, flights "took our mission
to a higher level," said Executive Director Keith Laken.
NTSB wants rescue workers trained to recognize and disable ballistic
British group trying to get a Concorde flying...
Kalamazoo Air Zoo opened May 1...
Pilot preoccupied with injured passenger, missed dispatch's message on
EAA lobbies OMB on Sport Pilot rule. More...
ARTICLES AND FEATURES ON AVWEB
As the Beacon
Turns #76: Who Cares?
Remember some of those questions you were asked on your pilot knowledge
test or even in the oral exam -- the questions that were totally
irrelevant to what you really need to know to fly safely? They're still
around, even in the exams for the airlines. AVweb's Michael Maya Charles
has been having answers to such questions force-fed in his MD-11 ground
FEEDBACK ON AVWEB'S NEWS COVERAGE AND FEATURE ARTICLES:
mail this week about Sport Pilot delays, the future of new aviation
technology, Garmin's pricing policy and more. More...
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From our brain burps file...
Tower: Fokker 170, hold position.
Fokker 170: Uh... I don't know how to do that.
Manila Tower: [Airliner] 2, hold position. Fokker 170, continue
approach, cleared to land. More...
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STOP WONDERING OR WORRYING WHERE YOUR
FRIENDS ARE IN THE AIRSPACE
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KITPLANES GOES TO THE PITTS THE MODEL 12,
THAT IS IN THE JUNE ISSUE
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