May 19, 2004
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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After many months of meetings, the Transportation Security Administration has released a set of general aviation airport "security enhancements." This document had the potential of being extremely onerous for GA and all who dwell therein but almost surprisingly, it isnt. "This is not one-size-fits-all," General Aviation Manufacturers Association VP of Government Affairs Brian Riley tells AVweb. "No one set of rules would fit all 5,000 public-use airports, nothing would be broad enough. [The] TSA is allowing airport operators to determine what would be best at their particular facility." What the "Security Guidelines for General Aviation Airports" does is give airport managers information about what other airports similar in size and proximity to population centers are doing, and how they can do it, too. The TSA stops short of insisting that these so-called "best practices" be implemented, which is good news for airport managers wondering where money for video surveillance and alarm systems might be found. "We feel the average airport is already doing about 90% of what it should be [doing according to the report]," says Riley.
How exactly do you know what your local GA airport should be doing? Obviously, those busy paved aerodromes near larger cities and potential targets are expected to do more than grass strips surrounded by pastures and farmland. The 48-page document includes a type of scoring system to determine what sort of security your facility should have and offers a number of suggestions. The suggestions range from keeping an eye on aircraft renters to establishing an on-airport "community watch" program. An amazingly reasonable sentence warns airports that "Expending resources on an unnecessary security enhancement (e.g. complete perimeter fencing, and access controls) instead of a more facility specific, reasonable, and more effective method (e.g. tiedown chains with locks) may actually be detrimental to an airport's overall security posture." The TSA says the security guidelines are a living document that will change 'over time and with input. Version 1.0 will eventually give way to version 2.0, after additional hoped-for give-and-take between the Office of Homeland Security, airport managers and aviation's alphabets. Airport managers are encouraged to read the document and send in their thoughts and concerns to GAInfo@dhs.gov with "GA Airport Security" in the subject line. The TSA is also using the opportunity to remind pilots and others at GA airports to call GA-SECURE (1-866-427-3287) if they ever see anything at their local field that seems out of place or otherwise troubling.
Based on what we're seeing on the local evening news during this May ratings sweep, general aviation aircraft and airports are an increasing danger to life, liberty and the pursuit of terrorists. Thankfully, compelling promos and artfully edited sound bites haven't convinced the TSA that a total GA lockdown is needed. Look at page 10 in the just-released TSA security guidelines and you will see this: "[The] TSA has not taken a position that GA airports and aircraft are a threat, in and of themselves." One aviation official who asked to remain unnamed told AVweb, "GA is probably five or six on the list now. After the railway bombing in Madrid, the TSA is starting to look a lot more closely at rail lines." Confirmation comes from TSA Deputy Administrator Stephen McHale, who told Inside FAA, "General aviation is not much of a threat. We don't want to spend a lot of money or time on an area that the threat is not that great or current."
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GA pilots and airplane owners may have gotten a break from the TSA, but there is still danger afoot, warns Steve Cunningham of the General Aviation Legal Defense Fund (GALDF). The GALDF was formed in response to the Massachusetts group Stop the Noise, which has been busy suing pilots who have the audacity to fly over their homes. "I have never seen this in America, never," Cunningham tells AVweb. "We [the GALDF] want to go on the offensive ... we intend to try these people [Stop the Noise] in the court of public opinion." The fund hopes to raise $100,000 to help pay legal expenses for those pilots entangled in the Stop the Noise lawsuit, and spread the word that airplane liberties are just the first rights that may be lost if the lawsuit succeeds. The landowner-filed court action claims that legal GA flights over homes, towns and property are a "nuisance." Landowners are also demanding to be compensated for their alleged inability to use their property. In addition, the plaintiffs want the pilots to purchase tracts of property and limit their flying to those "air corridor" areas only. The suit doesn't allege any violation of Federal Aviation Regulations, and in fact, the FAA has found none. But anyone can file a lawsuit for any reason, and regardless of who's right or wrong, attorneys' fees still add up.
Cunningham and crew have set up a Web site and are encouraging that donations be made, because any pilot could be targeted next, and he or she will need your help. Though the case could be tossed out of the courtroom in Massachusetts, this type of thing will probably not end there. Cunningham tells AVweb that people from Wisconsin, California and other states have come to meet with the Stop the Noise group. He is urging even those who have never flown in a small airplane or considered flying lessons to take notice. "ATVs, motorcycles, snowmobiles, they're all at risk if this lawsuit sets a precedent," he says. Cunningham, the former president and CEO of the U.S. Aerobatic Foundation, took the volunteer GALDF position about a week ago, and is fully committed to fighting back. "My desire," he says, "is to get as many folks behind this as I can. If they [Stop the Noise] prevail, I think it is a death knell for general aviation."
LIGHTSPEED CUSTOMERS HIT THE JACKPOT WITH NEW PHONE JACK FEATURE
Adam Aircraft Industries, currently based in Pueblo and Centennial, Colo, is looking to head south with its A700 Adam Jet, according to the Dallas (Texas) Business Journal. Centennial Airport manager Robert Olislagers confirms to AVweb that Adam is looking, and has been for some number of months. Olislagers says Colorado has precious few economic development dollars to dole out and that has hamstrung his efforts to secure the A700 final assembly facility at Centennial Airport. Olislagers is high on the company and the A700 personal jet. "I think whoever comes out of the gate first with a microjet will make a significant impact. It is something we desperately wanted to keep here, but we had nothing to offer." According to the Dallas Business Journal, the Big "D" does have enticing incentives in the form of rent support, training grants and low-cost loans. Adam officials are reportedly close to signing for a 120,000-square-foot facility at Love Field. It doesn't hurt that the company already has a Dallas connection. According to the Journal, Dallas oilman Ray Hunt purchased $7.5 million in company stock in April, making him the second-largest outside investor. Adam founder Rick Adam tells the Journal he is optimistic that the A700 shop could employ 300 to 400 people by 2008, and he hopes to have it up and running by December of this year. For the time being, at least, the A500 production facility that employs about 290, and other offices, will remain in Colorado. Olislagers is worried that won't last. "Rick Adam is one of the most astute business people I know," he tells AVweb. "If he sees a competitive advantage by being somewhere else, he will move."
As Olislagers bemoans his lack of economic incentives in Arapaho County, there is debate in Denver as to whether the state is competitive in developing an aviation industry. However, the concern seems centered on Denver International Airport (DEN) and airline expansion. The study finds that new commercial aircraft and airplane parts that go on commercial aircraft should be exempt from Denver's 3.5% sales and use tax. The study also finds that more study is needed. Airlines that purchase planes for delivery to Denver regularly get socked, as do those paying for maintenance and repairs. Denver-based Frontier Airlines has begun accepting delivery of its new planes in Arizona instead of Denver, which saves them $1.3 million per plane. Though the study states, "Aviation is critical to the economic success of Colorado and the metro Denver region," no mention is made of general aviation. As the study continues, hopefully that omission will be discovered and rectified.
GETTING THE MOST OUT OF THE AIRCRAFT IN YOUR CLUB?
It took no less than the U.S. Congress to get the FAA, NTSB and Forest Service in a room together to come up with a plan that might get at least a portion of the country's grounded fire-tanker fleet back in the air. Last week, the Forest Service grounded 33 tankers after the NTSB raised serious concerns about their airworthiness. But once they were grounded, there they sat. The NTSB can't inspect and certify planes, and the FAA doesn't have jurisdiction over the firefighting birds. A request from concerned congresspersons compelled the FAA this week to agree to help the Forest Service come up with an inspection system of its own. FAA spokesman Les Dorr wouldn't speculate on whether the effort would put any airplanes back in the air in time for the wildfire season. Dorr said the Forest Service has "some pretty formidable challenges" in coming up with a credible inspection system because it lacks so much service history on many of the planes. Without knowing how (or how much) the ex-military tankers were used, Dorr said it's difficult to determine their fitness for the extreme maneuvers encountered in firefighting. However, any hope at all that the tankers might be back in service cheered politicians from fire-prone states. Rep. Richard W. Pombo (R-Calif.) likely spoke for all in saying, "Any air tankers returned to service before this summer's wildfire season will really help firefighting efforts on the ground." Others are calling on the White House to force the FAA to take over inspection of the firefighting fleet to get the planes back in the air.
In the race to make all things technology-accessible, your Friendly Aviation Administration has launched a program called Fly FAA Wireless. All you need to have the information at your fingertip is a personal digital assistant (PDA) and a, well, fingertip. FAA Fly Wireless contains all the downloadable latest on weather at the nation's largest airports, plus information on flight arrivals and delays. This version is mainly for the flying public, not pilots, but will tell anyone who queries whether they are going to miss their next connection. FAA chief Marion Blakey says the service will prevent some traveler inconvenience. "Air travel is expected to come roaring back this summer," meeting or exceeding the level before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Blakey told the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee aviation subcommittee. Complaints of delays and cancelled flights will likely come roaring back, too.
GO TO MARV GOLDEN FOR ALL YOUR PILOT NEEDS AVIONICS TO WATCHES!
One big thing has changed in the wake of the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Terrorists intent on taking over commercial airliners had better be prepared for a hair-pulling, screaming, kicking, multi-passenger set-to. We've all reassured ourselves that we would fight in that type of situation, but exactly what should we do if we're sitting wedged between two other pax and someone pulls out a weapon? Authors Mark H. Bogosian, Michael K. Regan and Tommy L. Hamilton tell you in a new book entitled, "Never Again: A Self-Defense Guide for the Flying Public." The book was assembled in 2002 for consideration as a federal cockpit- and cabin-defense manual, and goes through a number of easy-to-follow self-defense tactics and techniques. Though the book is drawing kudos from airline pilots and members of law enforcement, one blog critic says the book that claims it "just may save your life one day" instead manages to just "scare the s**t out of anyone who reads it." We'll let you be the judge, but it's hard to imagine anything scarier than what happened on 9/11.
Despite a week that began cool, wet and windy, Sun 'n Fun officials in Lakeland, Fla., confirm things ended well. By the last of the seven-day run at Lakeland's Linder Regional Airport, some 160,000 visitors had walked through the gates, 5,000 airplanes had come to visit, and 501 commercial exhibitors -- a record number -- had set up shop. Sun 'n Fun President and convention chairman John Burton says there is no way an event the size of Sun 'n Fun could happen each year without the 2,500 dedicated volunteers. With the 30th SnF behind them, organizers are already planning for number 31, and you should be, too. The dates to write on your 2005 calendar are April 12-18.
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The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) has unveiled a plan to reduce aviation ground-related accidents by 50% over the next five years. The first step is to help FBOs, airports and airlines worldwide with software to benchmark accidents and incidents. NATA says a still-to-be-formed Stakeholder Advisory Board will ensure that every aspect of improving ground operations is addressed...
Boeing Co. says a 100-page contract that offers a 3-percent general wage increase in year one with a $3,000 signing bonus, a $2,000 payment in the second year and another 3-percent increase in year three is its final offer to machinists in St. Louis. The two sides met in marathon negotiations after Boeing's original offer, which the union called "a slap in the face." No word whether the final offer has gotten final approval...
A snockered stripper got past security in Scotland and climbed aboard a private jet to doze. The 22-year-old clambered over a barbed-wire fence and wandered along the runway in Aberdeen until finding the cozy cockpit and passing out for eight hours. The just-barely-clad missy told police upon her arrest that if they couldn't prevent her from boarding, they're not going to have much luck with terrorists...
A bus and a plane collided at Russia's Sheremetyevo-1 airport, injuring nine. The Russian Tu-154 aircraft with 69 passengers on board hit a platform bus carrying 43 passengers on a runway. Both the plane and the bus will be out of service for a while. No word on why a bus was on the runway...
Women in Aviation International chose the Adam's Mark Hotel in Dallas, March 10-12, 2005, for their next convention. The international conference, which will feature the theme "Alliances," is expected to draw more than 2500.
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PACK UP AN AEROSHELL FLIGHT JACKET KIT BAG AS THE PERFECT GIFT FOR DAD!
Quiz #81: Know Your Limits
The freedom of flight is only limited by your imagination and a few thousand federal regulations. Let's navigate down to the regulatory minimums without slipping too many surly FAR bonds.
TRAINING STARTS HERE!
Last week, AVweb asked our readers to tell us how the FAA is doing (particularly in light of the Air Tour NPRM). You responded with a clear voice, 450 of you saying that groups like NATA, EAA, AOPA, and the SBA are important groups for mitigating the FAA's influence and making sure the pilot's interests aren't lost in the shuffle. That accounted for 79% of our respondents, with 15% of you taking an even more disapproving stance on the FAA. Only 6% of respondents (33 people!) said we should give the FAA a chance on NPRM.
This week, AVweb wants to know what you see in the future for 100LL fuel. Click here to share your opinion.
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It's been over a month since Sun 'n Fun, but photos from the Florida fly-in continue to dominate our "Picture of the Week" feature. This week's winning photo was taken at the show by Robert Blais of Granby, Quebec. Congratulations, Robert your AVweb baseball cap is on its way!
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"Sunrise Behind a DC-3 at Sun 'n Fun 2004"
Robert Blais of Granby, Quebec captured this week's winning image at Sun 'n Fun
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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.
Lorraine Morris of Poplar Grove, Illinois took this shot from
a C-195. This is what happens when photographers fly in pairs.
"Air Force One Short Final"
Colby Morgan of Greenwood, Arkansas captured the
Presidential jet coming into Fort Smith on May 11, 2004
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SELL YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY ON FLYING WITH A FLYING CARPET
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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.
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.
FIRST-TIME PILOTS ARE USUALLY SPEECHLESS; THEN THEY CAN'T STOP TALKING
It starts with Be A Pilot, the national learn-to-fly program sponsored by the General Aviation community. Since 1997, over 200,000 people have registered to take their first lesson at one of the 2,114 flight schools nationwide. Give the gift of flight. Register for a low-cost $49 first flying lesson at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/beapilot/avflash.
ATTENTION, SOUTHERN REGION RESIDENTS!
OurPLANE, in conjunction with Banyan Aircraft Services at Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport, will host an open house May 22-23. Stop by to see how you can have a brand-new aircraft for the cost of a second car with fractional ownership. Choose from Cessna, Cirrus, and Raytheon aircraft. For more information, go to http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/ourplane/avflash.
DA42 TWIN STAR CERTIFICATION: LOTS OF FIRSTS
Diamond's DA42 Twin Star marks some significant milestones: First Aircraft Type Certification by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA); first piston aircraft to incorporate new propulsion, avionics, and airframe technology; first modern jet-fuel/diesel-powered twin-engine aircraft; and first certified application of the fully integrated Garmin G1000 glass cockpit. See for yourself at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/diamond/avflash.
KITPLANES THE MAGAZINE FOR DREAMERS AND THE SERIOUS BUILDERS
The July issue of Kitplanes magazine features: Advice from Grand Champion Sky Raider designer Brian Raeder; Italy's Tecnam Echo is built in record time; an RV-4 with a fully retractable landing gear is possible; the personal outer beauty of some special homebuilts; Oregon Aero explains their seat that will ensure crash protection; taking a look at the day when fly-by-wire could be in a homebuilder's future; and the third part of "Build a SeaRey." So, dreamer or serious builder, don't miss a single issue of Kitplanes magazine. Order online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/belvoir/kitplanes/avflash.
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