May 12, 2004
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Though proposed Oct. 22, 2003, and blasted with the majority of 2,225 written statements offered through two comment periods -- including comments from the U.S. Small Business Administration, comments from AOPA and comments from EAA -- it was last Tuesday that saw the first public meeting held by the FAA in D.C. on the proposed rules for air tour and sightseeing operations. Nearly all comments so far submitted have said the FAA offers "no justification" for the rule, its conclusions are unsupported and its impact would be economically destructive for more than scores of businesses -- AOPA estimates it would force 1,370 to close their doors. Representing the interests of larger pilot groups, most alphabet groups are calling for the rule to be withdrawn entirely. Expect another public meeting, May 21 in Las Vegas (for details, scroll to page four). FAA officials had hoped to use the first meeting as a forum to collect information not previously submitted in writing ... at least they got it in a different form. In short, the kinder, gentler, customer-service-oriented FAA got an earful. "... There is no justification provided" for "the implementation of new restrictions on private pilots engaged in charitable, or community events, or aircraft demonstration flights," wrote EAA.
Though inspired in part by a special investigation report by the NTSB it appears application of 11 safety recommendations has gone somehow askew. Wading through a steady tide of condemning comments from industry advocates, the trail of quotes left by the latest public meeting implies serious problems with the FAA's administrative process. "The very foundation of this proposal, as written, is so flawed that it would only be prudent for the FAA to withdraw the NPRM," EAA offered. "[I]t harms both general aviation businesses and charities" and "is bad policy, is not justified by safety data, and should be withdrawn," AOPA said. "[The FAA should] withdraw the rule until the agency is able to obtain adequate data," the U.S. Small Business Administration submitted. National Air Transportation Association President James Coyne emphasized "the FAAs inability to support the rulemaking with hard data." Coyne's group also called for "a complete withdrawal of the proposed rules." Encouraging, ain't it.
LIGHTSPEED HEADSET OWNERS! FEEL LEFT OUT?
Next time, Bombardier Aircraft Engines might consider bringing a note. The upstart piston-engine division of the aerospace giant was a puzzling no-show at EAA Sun 'n Fun a few weeks ago (even while Superior Air Parts was marching out its certified 180-hp submission to the mo-gas burning field) and that naturally set tongues wagging. Rest assured, says marketing guy Luc Gaspe de Beaubien, there was a good reason for the absence of its Murphy Moose, fitted with a prototype 300-horsepower V-6 engine, at the second-largest aviation business gathering in the U.S. "A very important Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) called to say that they were in (Florida) and could they borrow the plane," said Gaspe de Beaubien. "I said 'Of course.' I'm very happy with that decision." Bombardier's absence was particularly poignant in light of Superior Air Parts' unveiling of its new certified engine, which, like Bombardier's, can run on unleaded automotive fuel. Gaspe de Beaubien said that up until two days before Sun 'n Fun, he had full intentions of setting up at the weeklong show but business had to come first. He stressed the company would not miss AirVenture 2004 in Oshkosh, where he promised new information on the company and its products.
Meanwhile, the affable Quebec native (he's goalie for his recreational hockey team) assured AVweb that the test engine is "surpassing our expectations." The V-300T has a little more than 300 hours on it now hauling around the big (3,500-pound) boxy Moose and Bombardier says it's impressed the manufacturers (including six certified OEMs) who have flown it. Gaspe de Beaubien said the mill routinely rockets the Moose up at 2,000 fpm. "Give me empty fuel tanks, a 160-pound pilot and a headwind and I'll show you 3,000 fpm," he said. Gaspe de Beaubien won't say who has been eyeing up the engine (which will have a 220-horsepower, non-turbo stablemate) but he promised more information will be available later. He also said a broader range of horsepower choices is inevitable. "We're building a business, here. You can't build a business on one horse." The high-revving (3:1 gear ratio) mills come with an engine-management system that also controls propeller pitch. They're liquid-cooled and Bombardier is targeting 2005 for European and U.S. certification. The engines will be built at Bombardier's Rotax plant in Austria and distributed by Bombardier Aircraft Engines in the U.S.
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The 2004 fire season might be a bit hotter since Monday's announced termination of contracts accounting for 33 heavy water bombers. The Forest Service and other federal agencies dropped the contracts citing "unacceptable risk" even as one of those aircraft last Friday worked a fire near Hot Springs. Motivation behind the move comes from three fire-fighting aircraft crashes from 1994-2002, the loss of seven crew members, and a subsequent April, 2004, list of safety recommendations from the NTSB (see AVweb's previous coverage). The NTSB's claim that the current heavy air-tanker rate is approximately $4,000 per flying hour might not have helped save jobs for the aging (some near 60 years) aircraft. A spokesman for the Forest Service says the government still has access to nearly 500 other aircraft for the purpose of fire fighting. With 33 aircraft capable of dropping more than 1,500 gallons per minute now out of the loop, that larger fleet of smaller aircraft still may seem like little consolation to some folks in wild fire country. But we do know one company that might not be so upset.
It's not clear whether a collection of alphabet groups know something the rest of us don't but no fewer than six of them have penned a joint letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee urging continued funding and possible expansion of the Contract Tower program. The National Business Aviation Association, the American Association of Airport Executives, the Regional Airline Association, the National Air Transportation Association, the Cargo Airline Association and the National Association of State Aviation Officials wrote Ted Stevens, chair of the appropriations committee, recommending the $86 million for contract towers be maintained in 2005 and that $7 million be included in the budget for expansion of the program. The contract tower program now provides FAA-approved control services at 223 smaller U.S. airports and was recently lauded by the Department of Transportation's Inspector General for its safety record and cost-effectiveness. It should be noted that the National Association of Air Traffic Controllers, which staffs FAA towers, was highly critical of the Inspector General's findings during a budgetary scrap over the inclusion of some FAA towers in the contract program. The groups' letter doesn't appear to kick over that hornet's nest but suggests the extra $7 million be used to bring cost-sharing contract towers to airports that don't now have control services.
DIAMOND AIRCRAFT ANNOUNCES DIAMONDFEST 2004
The city of Georgetown, Texas, is having a fresh look at building a control tower at its airport after a midair collision injured two pilots and wrecked their planes last Sunday. "I think they need a tower out here," pilot John Middleton told KXAN News. Middleton said he was just setting up for touchdown on Sunday when the collision occurred. Bot he and the pilot of the other aircraft, Andrew Wright, were taken to the hospital, where Wright remained for at least overnight. It was the fourth serious incident at the airport in two years. The Georgetown city council has turned down earlier proposals to split the cost of a tower 50-50 with the FAA, but that split has since changed. The FAA has sweetened the pot, and is now offering to pay 90 percent of the construction cost -- and that has the wheels turning at city hall. "I think right now there's more interest," said city manager Tom Yantis. Meanwhile, the FAA is investigating the cause of the crash.
In a fine example of letting the buyer beware, the Scottsdale (Ariz.) city council is considering putting up signs near its airport warning prospective buyers of neighboring homes what they might be buying into. "I think it is a brilliant plan, and I will suggest the council pursue it," Councilman Bob Littlefield, chairman of the city's subcommittee on aviation issues, told the East Valley Tribune. "If we did this it would be 100 percent clear, and we wouldn't have to worry if real estate agents are disclosing the noise issue." The signs are one option in a noise study being done by the FAA at the increasingly busy resort city's airport. As more and more subdivisions sprout from the desert around the airport, the number of noise complaints has skyrocketed but, in contrast to some other communities we can think of, Scottsdale officials appear refreshingly unmoved by the complaints. "If you don't want to get sea spray on your house in San Diego, don't buy a house next to the ocean," Airport Commissioner John Mack said. "Just as if you don't want aircraft noise, don't buy a house next to an airport."
OREGON AERO: MAKING GENERAL AVIATION FLYING PAIN-FREE
No. They're not all doing badly -- but some of those that have been around for a while aren't doing so hot. But Delta Air Lines has served notice it may have to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing high fuel costs and the need for greater pay concessions from pilots. In a securities filing Monday, Delta focused on the concessions being asked of pilots, who are the highest-paid in the industry. Delta wants the pilots to take 30-percent pay cuts and give up other concessions but the pilots have offered to take 9 percent and to forego a scheduled raise. The pilots' union issued a news release on Monday saying it wants to help cut costs and has tried to negotiate with management. Meanwhile, US Airways says it might have to file for bankruptcy a second time as the long-predicted airline recovery seems to be faltering. Although traffic is up, high fuel prices and cutthroat competition are keeping most airlines out of the black. Even consistently profitable Southwest is concerned about fuel prices but it's the budget-seat drain on revenue that's the biggest concern for the industry in general, according to industry analysts. Jamie Baker, an airline analyst for J.P. Morgan, told USA Today that airline revenue recovery has always matched general economic recovery but it's falling behind in this cycle.
Few things are more beautiful than an F-15 -- unless it's off your wing with a pilot making hand signals at you. To avoid this unpleasant (and unnecessary) experience during campaign season, no flight (not even a local sightseeing hop) should be made without checking for one of the myriad of temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) that are cropping up at the whim of campaign organizers. If you're in a swing state, be extra vigilant. The predicted list of campaign-related TFRs for the coming weeks gives but a taste of things to come. According to the NBAA's compilation (AOPA also keeps track) there's a TFR in place for St. Louis on Friday and we can expect them in Topeka, Atlanta, and Baton Rouge on May 17. New Orleans and Savannah get their turns on May 21. Of course, no two TFRs are the same and it's vital that pilots know all the details before going anywhere near one. The FAA provides continuously updated (every 15 minutes) TFR information and flight service stations should be right up-to-date as well.
WHAT COULD YOU DO WITH $100? IF YOU FLY REGULARLY, TAKE A MOMENT
The inventor of the flying car has died but Robert Fulton's dream lives on. Fulton, an adventurer (he rode a motorcycle around the world in 1937) and explorer died last Friday at the age of 95. He began working on the Airphibian in 1946. It became the first certified aircraft that could also be driven on the road. One of the 11 examples survives in the Smithsonian...
Twelve passengers and crew were injured when an American Eagle flight blew a tire on landing at San Juan, Puerto Rico. The Super ATR turboprop was carrying 26 people on a flight from Mayaguez when the mishap occurred. The FAA is investigating...
A Miami man has been ordered to stay off airplanes after the Southwest Airlines flight he was on diverted to Norfolk, Va., because of his alleged behavior. A man is accused of attempting to take a swing at a flight attendant at the culmination of a series of confrontations with cabin staff...
The Savvy Aviator #5: Owner-Assisted Annuals
There's no better way for an owner to get savvy about his aircraft than to assist with an annual inspection. In fact, AVweb's Mike Busch strongly urges every aircraft owner to go through the process at least once, preferably early in his ownership tenure. Mike explains what's involved, and offers some alternatives for owners who simply can't spare the time.
PACK UP AN AEROSHELL FLIGHT JACKET KIT BAG AS THE PERFECT GIFT FOR DAD!
Last week, AVweb asked readers about that modern medical marvel, LASIK eye surgery. This week, AVweb's merry webmaster paid a ridiculous amount of money for new glasses and is seriously rethinking his own position on the matter. But it's not his opinion we care about it's yours, and the vast majority of you (72% of respondents) are either too conservative to take a chance on LASIK or are waiting a few more years for the technology to prove itself. Only 12% of respondents confidently responded that they're convinced of the benefits. And of the 54 AVweb readers who reported having LASIK surgery, 51 regard it as one of their best decisions, and 3 consider it a mistake.
This week, AVweb wants to know what you think of the FAA. (Never let it be said that we don't ask the big questions.) Hold tight to your mouse and click here to tell us what you think.
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Note: This address is only for suggested QOTW questions, and not for QOTW answers.
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Submit a Photo | Rules | Tips | Questions
Current POTW Winner | Past POTW Winners
As we head into baseball season proper, AVweb's readers are stepping up to the plate in our "Picture of the Week" contest! "POTW" Weekly Winner Winston Wright of Tallahassee rounds third base with a beautiful formation-flying shot. Loading up the bases behind Winston are Rodney Armstead and Eric Cobb. Bases are loaded, and you readers are next at bat don't let the team down; send us your "POTW" entries today. (If you're a weekly winner, we'll send you a nifty AVweb baseball cap just like the one Winston Wright is getting!)
Due to privacy issues, AVweb does not publish e-mail addresses of readers who submit photos.
"Marchetti Formation Over Daytona Beach"
It takes a bit of luck and a bit of skill to get a great formation shot from the air,
and Winston Wright of Tallahassee, Florida did a fantastic job with this week's
winning photo, shot "from a Turbo Bonanza with the back door off"
here to view a large version of this image
Click here for a medium-sized version
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.
"Frouga Over Maryland"
Rodney Armstead of Laurel, Maryland
snapped this pic from within formation
"Fill 'Er Up"
Eric Cobb of Solvang, California sends this photo
of a fire-fighting copter lifting off after refueling
(Interestingly, lots of this week's photo entries were related to aerial fire-fighting.)
To enter next week's contest, click here.
A Reminder About Copyrights: Please take a moment to consider the source of your image before submitting to our "Picture of the Week" contest. If you did not take the photo yourself, ask yourself if you are indeed authorized to release publication rights to AVweb. If you're uncertain, consult the POTW Rules or send us an e-mail.
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AVIATION CONSUMER, THE PILOT'S INDEPENDENT CONSUMER MAGAZINE
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GO TO MARV GOLDEN FOR ALL YOUR PILOT NEEDS FROM AVIONICS TO WATCHES!
Marv Golden Pilot Supplies is the pilot's one-stop shop for everything aviation. MAY SPECIALS: Great deals on the Lowrance Airmap 500 and 1000. Check out the new Vertex VXA-300 Transceiver and the Marv Golden MG Golden Eagle line of headsets. Order online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/marvgold/avflash.
"IT'S LIKE HAVING A NEW AIRPLANE"
"My airplane uses less fuel on a trip than some SUVs." "General Aviation Modifications' (GAMI) injectors pay for themselves with the fuel savings. A big bonus is how much smoother the engine runs." "Customer service is just that SERVICE!" These are what GAMI customers have to say about GAMIjectors. Go online to find out how to save fuel and time by buying injectors that pay for themselves at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/gami/avflash.
PILOT'S AUDIO UPDATE
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FLYING MAGAZINE'S JUNE ISSUE IS TYPICAL FLYING
Starting with the new Cessna Citation XLS on the cover, Flying Magazine's June issue covers articles on: "That Approach to Landing"; a look at Piper's new 6X and Saratoga with Avidyne's FlightMax Entegra glass cockpit; fractional ownership; and columns written by aviation's top journalists. Order your personal subscription (with AVweb special prices!) at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/flying/avflash.
SOFT LEATHER HOLDS YOUR IDENTIFICATION IN STYLE!
Pilotmall.com is offering a complimentary soft leather ID holder with a stamped airplane on the cover (a $19.99 value) with any order of Pilotmall's quality leather flight bags, backpacks, or Scheyden sunglasses. Show your style and save now at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/pilotmall/avflash.
LEARN ALONGSIDE A PRO WITH FLYING CARPET: THE SOUL OF AN AIRPLANE
Icing! Thunderstorms! Mountain Flying! Learn alongside 2000 CFI of the Year Greg Brown as he masters these and other tough cockpit challenges in his new classic book, Flying Carpet: The Soul of an Airplane. Best of all, Flying Carpet is no musty textbook but a rollicking aerial road trip that will keep you riveted to your seat. AVweb Exclusive: Order online for an autographed copy, at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/paperjet/avflash.
GIVE DAD FUNCTION & BEAUTY IN A CHASE-DURER TIMEPIECE + A SPECIAL OFFER
Chase-Durer, makers of world-renowned watches, is offering their perfectly balanced, platinum-toned pen with gold accents for only $30 (regularly $90) with any watch purchase. Beautiful and functional timepieces for both men and women with Chase-Durer workmanship and quality. Order today in time for Father's Day (June 20) at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/chasedur/avflash.
JOIN PLANE & PILOT MAGAZINE FOR A WEEKEND OF FLYING FUN & EDUCATION!
Come to the TECHNOLOGY FOR PILOTS Seminar Series. What better way to spend a day or weekend than talking about flying and learning more about how to be a better, safer pilot and how to use the new aviation technologies? The first regional seminar will be held at the Hilton Burbank Airport Hotel September 25-26, 2004. The program will include more than 25 seminars over the weekend and a social event on Saturday evening at the Million Air FBO, with many new aircraft on display. For more information and to register, call (310) 820-1500 ext. 118 and mention this AVflash, or go online to http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/ppm/seminar/avflash.
YOU'RE NOT AS SAFE AS YOU THINK YOU ARE WITHOUT AVIATION SAFETY MAGAZINE
For example, the June issue of Aviation Safety magazine will feature: "How to Make That 'To Go or Not to Go' Decision in a Thunderstorm"; "Landing Accidents are Predictable and Preventable Find Out How"; you'll want an engine monitor after reading "An Engine Near Miss"; "Hangar Fires"; Garmin's new GPSMap 296 is "A Poor Man's TAWS"; plus much more. For your subscription. Order online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/belvoir/avsafe/avflash.
AVflash is a twice-weekly summary of the latest aviation news, articles, products, features and events featured on AVweb, the Internet's Aviation Magazine and News Service. http://www.avweb.com
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