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The Top Headlines From AVweb's Expanded,
Illustrated News Coverage At AVweb's
POLITICS VS. FIRE SAFETY?...
Despite two reports saying that large air tankers may be unsafe to fly,
federal and state representatives are mounting pressure on the FAA to
get 33 grounded heavy fire-bomber aircraft in the air in time for the
forest fire season. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) said Thursday he and other
members of the House Resources Committee are meeting with the FAA on
Tuesday to ask the agency to do an "emergency review" of the planes. "I
think you saw bipartisan support to get these tankers flying," Walden
told the Bend Bulletin. That may mean quickly passing legislation to
give the FAA the authority to certify the highly modified aircraft, many
of them decades-old ex-military planes. More...
CONCERNS RAISED IN 2002...
This week's controversy erupted from an April 23 NTSB report on the crashes of three air tankers (two
C-130As and a PB4Y2 Privateer) in the 2002 firefighting season. It said
"no effective mechanism currently exists to ensure the continuing
airworthiness of these firefighting aircraft." But an earlier
report (finished in December 2002 and apparently ignored for the
2003 firefighting season) commissioned by the Forest Service and Bureau
of Land Management paints an even more disturbing picture of the state
of the large tanker fleet and suggests the government's penny-pinching
ways have created a culture where unacceptable risk is taken for
OWNERS SLAM "SHODDY" NTSB REPORT
Of course, the people whose livelihood depends on flying these airplanes
don't agree with the reports and say they are needlessly being put out
of business. "We have a maintenance program that exceeds the airlines,"
Aviation CEO Mark Timmons told The Missoulian. "What we have here is
a very shoddy research paper by the safety board and most of the people
who have read it are horrified." Timmons said the NTSB only looked at
the practices of one company involved in the 2002 crashes (Wyoming-based
Hawkins and Powers) and extrapolated the findings to the whole industry.
"In doing so, they presented a report with all sorts of fallacies and
incorrect information," Timmons said. At least one U.S. company, Air
Tractor, could benefit. More...
ADDRESSES ATC STAFFING CRISIS?
Most of us have heard about the potential for a staffing crisis in the
air traffic control system as Reagan-era controllers reach retirement
age, but could technology supply part of the solution? A few days after
controllers mount their annual legislative conference and "Hill visits"
in Washington, D.C., NASA's Langley Research Center will unveil a
technology-based system that might (one day) put some air traffic
control decisions in the cockpit. The Distributed Air/Ground Traffic Management system
allows pilots to "plan their own routes and safely and seamlessly fit
into the traffic flow," according to a NASA press release. Researchers
and pilots will use simulators to show the system to reporters at a news
conference May 20 but a live test of the system is planned for June.
TAKE THE HILL
Today and Tuesday, hundreds of air traffic controllers are in Washington
for their annual show of lobbying strength, and their message this year
is that a staffing crisis is fast approaching. In a news release, the
National Association of Air Traffic Controllers (NATCA) says the
controller shortage is an accepted reality throughout the federal
agencies involved. "We must act now to hire and train more controllers
to avert a looming shortage," NATCA said. Sen. Frank Lautenberg
(D.-N.J.) brought that message to his constituents in a news conference
last Thursday. More...
THE PILOT INSURANCE CENTER (PIC) IS YOUR BEST
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PRIVATE MANNED SPACEFLIGHT A SUCCESS
Since we've been visiting space for more than 40 years it's almost hard
to believe that this kind of "first" was still open. Last Thursday, Mike
Melvill went into the record books as the first pilot to take a
privately funded aircraft into space. The 62-year-old test pilot rode Scaled Composites'
rocket plane SpaceShipOne to an altitude of 40 miles (211,400 feet)
after being dropped from its mother ship, the White Knight, over the
high desert just east of Los Angeles. He then glided the unique craft to
a landing at Mojave Airport. "Watching the blue sky go completely black
was the highlight of my career," Melvill told reporters.
BENEFIT FROM WASHINGTON SECURITY
We all know about the effect of the seemingly permanent security
measures imposed on GA airports in the immediate area of Washington,
D.C. But all that lost business had to go somewhere and several area
airports -- just outside the ADIZ -- are booming. Take Frederick, Md.,
for instance. According to the Gazette newspaper, revenues have almost
doubled since 9/11 and traffic is up 20 percent. Compare that to
Washington Executive/Hyde Field, where revenues are less than 10 percent
of pre-9/11 levels, said manager Stan Fetter. But rather than knuckle
under, Fetter said the airport is actually expanding, building new
hangars in the hopes of attracting pilots who don't mind dealing with
the transponder, communication and security measures imposed on them.
Meanwhile, federal authorities cracked the door a little on the
operations of the little-known agency charged with keeping the skies
over D.C. clear of unauthorized aircraft. More...
CPA MEMBERSHIP IS THE BEST $45 YOU CAN SPEND ON YOUR
With more than 12,000 active members, the Cessna
Pilots Association (CPA) is the world's biggest and best aviation "type
club" for Cessna pilots and owners. Members receive a monthly magazine,
a weekly e-mail newsletter, technical support by a full-time staff of
A&Ps with tremendous expertise in all Cessna models, model-specific
buyer's guides and systems courses, a group aircraft insurance program,
and access to CPA's giant online knowledge bank and popular online
member forums. Join by calling (805) 922-2580 and mentioning this
AVflash, or by clicking here: http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/cpa/avflash.
TWIN, WITH G1000, CERTIFIED
The first "aircraft-level" certification for Garmin's G1000 glass cockpit system is a reality --
in Europe -- as is the first diesel-powered twin. The European Aviation
Safety Agency (EASA) conferred type certification on the Diamond DA42 at the Berlin Air Show. It was the
newly formed EASA's first new aircraft certification. The G1000 system
comes standard in the DA42 and is what Garmin calls the "first truly
integrated, all-glass flightdeck in this aircraft class." You don't have
wait in line to buy a TwinStar to get the G1000, however.
SETTLES SUIT, MOONEY SETTLES IN
Raytheon has settled a pending lawsuit by its shareholders out of court.
The company, which maintains the suit was without merit, nevertheless
agreed to pay $210 million in cash and $200 million in stock to stop the
class action suit. The deal has to be approved by the courts. Raytheon
said it expects its insurance carriers to pick up $75 million of the
tab. Raytheon said it is "pleased to put the uncertainty of the class
action litigation behind it" and that the decision is "in the best
interests of its shareholders." In the meantime, Mooney Airplane Company
is moving ahead with a three-year business plan the company says has
been endorsed by its employees and groups representing the owners of
about 8,000 aircraft. More...
FLIGHTMAX EX500 WITH INTEGRATED DATALINK-TRAINING SOFTWARE
Avidyne's FlightMax EX500 provides the best
value MFD/Datalink solution available for G.A. And it's the easiest to
use. To prove it, Avidyne has put together a new FlightMax EX500 trainer
which allows you to "fly" user-defined flight plans and retrieve
"datalinked" graphical weather and TFRs all along the route and
randomly access virtually all pages and functions of the EX500, just as
you would on the real product. Download your no-cost EX500 Training
Software at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/avidyne/avflash.
TAX BREAK PASSES SENATE
Perhaps the single most important factor in the aircraft business's
tenuous recovery (according to some) appears to be headed for an
extension. The Wichita Eagle is reporting that an extension of the bonus
depreciation tax incentive for airplanes is part of a tax package that
has been passed by the Senate. Bonus depreciation allows businesses to
depreciate large purchases (like airplanes) much faster in the first
year, thus reducing the net cost of the purchases by reducing the
company's tax bill. More...
MAY FUND REPLACEMENT HANGARS
In an uncharacteristically generous move by a state aviation official
(and one that might get him in trouble with colleagues in other states)
John Roeller is trying to convince the Florida Department of
Transportation to pay $3 million for hangars to house planes displaced
when a Tampa-area airport closes in October. Pasco County is selling
Tampa Bay Executive Airport to an unnamed developer and owners of the
100 or so airplanes there have until Oct. 1 to find them new homes. The
hangars would likely be built at the three closest publicly owned
airports at Zephyrhills, Clearwater and Hernando Airport. "That's our
effort now, to try to scrape up money to fill that gap," said Roeller,
the state DOT's representative for the Tampa area. Just because he's
asking doesn't mean he'll get the money, however. More...
NOT ALL AIRCRAFT AUDIO PANELS ARE CREATED
PS Engineering is general aviation's audio
specialist, and they proven it product after product. PS Engineering's
PMA8000 is not only a complete audio panel system, but will also act as
the control head for their next generation of in-flight entertainment
systems and is designed to be a direct plug-and-play replacement for
Garmin's GMA340. For complete details, go to http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/ps/avflash.
FLOATS ANOTHER 747 IDEA
Boeing has served (tentative) notice that it's not quite ready to
surrender the jumbo market to Airbus. The Chicago-based plane-maker is
floating the idea of an "advanced" and slightly stretched version of the
34-year-old 747 that would seat 450 passengers on long-haul flights.
Airbus's super-sized 380 will seat 550 on two decks and has already
attracted 129 firm orders. Boeing has been trying to find interest in a
revamped 747 for almost a decade (the last renovation of the design was
the 400 series in 1989) without success. The "A" model would potentially
make use of currently vacant space for conference rooms and other
amenities. But its biggest advantage might be its (relatively) small
A Harvard student says his award-winning project is the first step
toward a flying motorcycle...
Delta Air Lines pilots have agreed to help keep the airline's biggest
planes in the air this summer...
The Professional Helicopter Pilots Association will host its first Human
Factors Safety Conference...
EAA has posted the AirVenture NOTAM online...
Pilots are flocking to Haifa, Israel, for the country's annual
A cargo pilot was killed Friday when the MU-2 he was flying crashed.
IF YOUR CELL PHONE CAN SURF THE NET, IT CAN
RECEIVE AVIATION WEATHER AND NOW MUCH
WxServer works with virtually any internet-enabled
phone, and any nationwide wireless carrier. WxServer gives you
up-to-the-minute aviation weather information such as the NEXRAD, METAR,
TAF, and satellite images. Now WxServer includes airport frequency
listings, fuel availability, and quick-dial links to FBOs, rental cars,
and taxis. SPECIAL OFFER: This month, AVweb readers receive $10
off the regular annual subscription rates, and CFIs can sign up for the
WxServer Referral Program at no charge! 10-day No-Cost Trial. See for
yourself at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/wxserver/avflash.
ARTICLES AND FEATURES ON AVWEB
Lounge #74: Getting The Rust Off Without Declaring Bankruptcy
If it has a been a winter without much flying, you're probably itching
to jump into the plane. But if you want to do it safely, you'd better do
some work to get back in the game. AVweb's Rick Durden has found ways to
keep the cost of refresher training down, and put fun back in your
READER FEEDBACK ON AVWEB'S NEWS COVERAGE AND FEATURE
mail this week about the start of firefighting season, housing
developments at airports, FSS privatization and more. More...
TAKE TO THE AIR THIS SPRING, WITH PILOT GETAWAYS
Pilot Getaways magazine's latest issue brings
you places to explore around the country. Fly to a day at the beach in
Martha's Vineyard; sample the biergartens of Fredericksburg, Texas; take
a sunset tour of San Francisco; or head for a backcountry strip on a
lake; and much more. Pilot Getaways has expanded again, with
technical content on aircraft that will get you where you want to go.
Subscribe today for the best in aviation travel information at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/pilotgetaways/avflash.
Everybody's a critic...
Overheard on a busy training day while joining the traffic pattern at
Caldwell airport, N.J...
Tower: Cessna ###, traffic at your one o'clock and 1,200.
Cessna ###: We've got a Piper flying an extremely tight pattern
... or a go-around.
Tower: Piper ###, traffic, a Cessna, at your five o'clock and
Piper: We've got a Cessna flying and extremely wide downwind ...
or landing somewhere else. More...
WINGX FOR THE POCKET PC NOW HAS OVER 270 AIRCRAFT
WingX Version 1.4 for the Pocket PC now has over 270
predefined aircraft models; graphical ramp, taxi/runup, and flight fuel
weight-and-balance calculations; route planning with the latest FAA
database of airports and navaids; and more. WingX has AC61-65D
endorsements (great for CFIs); NWS Contractions; and local no-toll FSS
numbers in addition to FARs 1, 43, 61, 91, 119, 141, 830, and the
Pilot/Controller Glossary. WingX has a powerful E6B, now with wind chill
calculations. WingX will remember expiration dates, too. For a limited
time, WingX is on sale for $39.99 30% below regular price. Take a
look at screen shots and download the demo at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/hiltonsoftware/avflash.
Sponsor News and Special Offers
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LET YOUR FAMILY KNOW WHEN YOULL BE
Sign up for the AVweb Edition of Flight Explorer. It's
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BLUE'S EMERGENCY MEDICAL KIT DON'T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT
Do you carry a first-aid kit in your airplane or car?
AVweb's Dr. Brent Blue says drugstore first-aid kits are packed with
mostly useless stuff. Dr. Blue has assembled his own traveling medical
kit for dealing with all sorts of medical problems, based on his long
experience as an emergency room doctor, frequent traveler, pilot,
outdoorsman, and dad. It would cost more than $500 to duplicate this
kit, but it's available on sale from Aeromedix for $333. Order online at
LONGER DAYS AND WARMER WEATHER MEAN IT'S TIME TO GO
If you do the bulk of your flying in the summer
months, this is an excellent time to upgrade your aircraft's panel. Take
advantage of Bennett Avionics' quality used avionics and professional
service. You CAN have the equipment you need in time for all your
summer trips, with Bennett Avionics. See for yourself at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/bennett/avflash.
COULD BE THE WINNER OF A NEW PIPER FOR A TWO-WEEK GREEK ISLES
Global Aviation is sponsoring a fantastic contest: Order
a sterling silver, numbered aviation key for Father's Day (June 20), and
Dad will be entered in a drawing for an all-expenses-paid use of a new
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BUYING OR SELLING AN AIRCRAFT?
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NAVAL RESERVE FROM 9-to-5 TO MACH
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AVIATION CONSUMER'S JUNE ISSUE REPORTS
The best aircraft tires; how the new ProxAlert R5 traffic
alerter stacks up; know what to look for in an insurance company;
satellite radio for under $250; online flight planners; and the "Used
Aircraft Guide" reviews the Commander 112/114. If you are looking for
unbiased reviews and reports, Aviation Consumer is the magazine
for you. No advertising, just straight talk. Order your subscription at
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