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The Top Headlines From AVweb's Expanded,
Illustrated News Coverage At AVweb's
SANS PILOTS CAUSE CONCERN...
When the U.S. Border Patrol began late last month to fly two Hermes 450 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to help
patrol the Arizona-Mexico border, the deployment raised questions about
collision avoidance. "UAVs pose a significant threat to air traffic
along and near the border," one AVweb reader, a professional
pilot based in Tucson, wrote to us last week. "Not only for my company,
but also for the many GA airplanes that transit the border, and the
airlines coming from Mexico on descent to Tucson." AOPA also expressed concern, asking the FAA to establish an
industry committee to address UAV operations outside of restricted
airspace and to develop aircraft certification standards dealing with
collision avoidance. More...
ARE CLOSELY MONITORED, BORDER PATROL SAYS...
Collision-avoidance concerns underwent an extensive review prior to
deployment, and precautions are in place, U.S. Border Patrol spokesman
Roger Maier told AVweb last week. The approval process requires
that the UAV operator satisfy the FAA that the UAV provides an
"equivalent level of safety" compared to a manned aircraft. The UAVs now
are flying pre-programmed routes that are filed 24 hours in advance with
airspace officials, added Andy Adame, spokesman for the Border Patrol's
Tucson sector. Both FAA and military air traffic controllers in the
region are informed of the route in detail, Adame said. The UAVs are
equipped with onboard cameras that provide around-the-clock images in
real time to ground control stations, which are monitored constantly, he
ASTM DEVELOPS STANDARD FOR ONBOARD SENSOR
In March of 2002 and April of 2003, Proteus (a Scaled Composites design)
flew as a NASA test-bed for UAV see-and-avoid
technology with success. In 2002, the equipment (a Goodrich Skywatch HP
Traffic Advisory System) sensed transponder-equipped aircraft and
directed Proteus to avoid them. In the later tests an Amphitech OASys
35-Ghz primary radar system sensed the non-transponder-equipped aircraft
involved in the test and relayed their positions to ground-based pilots
who made course corrections as needed to avoid collisions. Last week, ASTM
International (formerly the American Society for Testing and
Materials) said it has completed a report to establish the fundamental
design and performance specifications for an airborne sense-and-avoid
(S&A) system for UAVs that would make it easier for them to operate in
the National Airspace System. More...
SAYS CO DETECTORS NOT NECESSARY...
When the NTSB late last month asked the FAA to consider making CO detectors
mandatory in GA aircraft, AOPA's Air Safety Foundation (ASF) was quick to
respond, saying that such a requirement is not necessary. "We found just
10 accidents caused by CO poisoning in fixed-wing singles since 1993 in
our ASF GA accident database," said Bruce Landsberg, ASF executive
director. (Some dispute the figure, citing difficulty in correlating
statistics with often-ambiguous but still dangerous CO-induced
degradation of pilot performance.) "That's one a year. While we agree
that an FAA-approved CO detector could be helpful, putting the money
they would cost into pilot education on the much more common killers,
such as low-level maneuvering flight and continued VFR into instrument
weather, would be much more effective." More...
SENSE PREFERRED TO MANDATES
The FAA last week told AVweb that it would be premature to
comment in detail on the NTSB recommendation, because they had not yet
had time to review it. "What we can say, is that we'll look at this
seriously, as we do with all NTSB recommendations," said FAA spokesman
Paul Takemoto. "We implement a large majority of NTSB recommendations --
they find our actions 'acceptable' 84 percent of the time -- 90 percent
on urgent recommendations." Aviation columnist Mike Busch said in an
e-mail to AVweb this weekend that while he disagrees with the ASF
on the magnitude of the problem, he agrees with their position that the
NTSB recommendation to mandate "FAA-approved" CO detectors in every
cockpit might be a bit over the top ... and vastly increase the cost of
the otherwise-affordable product. More...
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DUE FOR OVERHAUL, RESEARCHERS SAY
The way Notices to
Airmen are written is confusing to pilots, and it can be difficult
to extract important safety-of-flight information from the mass of data,
researchers at the University of Central Florida, in Orlando, have
found (winning them our thanks ... but possibly also our, "Gee, you
think so?" award). "This is critical information, yet the way it's
transmitted is vintage 1960s or 1970s at best," said Florian Jentsch,
research director, who is also a CFI. "As a result, it's an extremely
confusing system, and it's very difficult to find what you need." The
notices should be written in "plain and simple" language instead of
abbreviations that can confuse even experienced pilots, the researchers
found. They also said the notices should be better organized so pilots
can sort the data on their own and easily find important information
pertaining to their flights. More...
AIRCRAFT TO REOPEN TOMORROW AND SHOW AT AIRVENTURE
"We have funds to carry us to certification and beyond," Safire
Aircraft CEO Camilo Salomon told AVweb on Thursday, saying
also that his workers will be back on the job tomorrow. "We just closed
[on our financial deal] yesterday in Geneva," he said, talking on his
cellphone from a noisy street in Europe. "We have a very strong investor
group behind us now, and we don't expect any further problems." He said
he would be back in the U.S. today. While the financial problems that
prompted a month-long shutdown of the Florida company will delay the
first flight of the Safire Jet -- which was expected in September --
Salomon said he doesn't expect "significant slippage" in the production
schedule overall. More...
MANUFACTURER SUED DESPITE CORRECT WARNING
Honeywell and four other U.S. companies involved in the manufacture and
distribution of an onboard Traffic Alert Collision Avoidance System
(TCAS) were named last week in a suit by families of Russian victims who
died in a midair collision over Germany in July 2002. The suit alleges
the pilots' training and instructions to operate the system were
inadequate. The official report found that if both crews had
followed the TCAS instructions, they would have been safe. The TCAS
advised the Russian pilots to climb while a controller told them to
descend; the pilots descended and crashed into a DHL cargo plane, which
was descending in response to its TCAS warning. More...
"HEAVY" AIR TANKERS RETURN TO SERVICE TODAY
Five P-3 Orions will return to service fighting fires in the Western
U.S. today. The Forest Service had cancelled its contracts with its fleet of 33 aging
tankers in May, after an NTSB report on three fatal crashes raised
concerns about a lack of safety guidelines for the firefighting
aircraft. To establish a set of guidelines, the Forest Service has hired
DynCorp Technical Services, of Fort Worth, Texas. So far the five P-3s
have passed, and DynCorp has three more reviews in progress. The new
criteria include a maximum of 19,000 hours of operation for each
aircraft. The five P-3s cleared for service, which are owned and
operated by Aero Union Corp. in Chico, Calif., are the youngest
of the fleet, and have 3,000 to 7,000 hours of operation left.
TO OFFER PRIZES FOR NEW SPACE TECHNOLOGY
Inspired by the excitement and progress generated by the Ansari X Prize, NASA is
establishing a cash-prize program (possibly up to $20 million in 2005)
of its own, called "Centennial Challenges." The program is designed to
tap the nation's ingenuity to make revolutionary advances in support of
the Vision for Space Exploration and other goals, NASA said. At a
workshop in Washington, D.C., last month, NASA invited engineers,
scientists, officials from the X Prize Foundation and others to
brainstorm and help establish priorities and parameters for the program.
NASA spokesman Michael Braukus told AVweb last week that the
conference generated a lot of ideas, and they are now under review.
FIELDS OPEN FOR CAMPERS, MORE EVENTS ANNOUNCED
EAA's Camp Scholler opened up at 6:30 a.m. on Thursday,
and folks were already waiting in line to get a spot for AirVenture ...
which doesn't even start until July 27. A steady stream of campers
arrived throughout the day, EAA said. The afternoon air show lineup has
also been announced, featuring Patty Wagstaff, Sean Tucker, Soucy/Stokes
Wing Act, Liberty Parachute Team, and the AeroShell Aerobatic Team,
along with many others. SpaceShipOne designer Burt Rutan and test pilot Mike
Melvill are scheduled to arrive at the show in a Beech Starship, and
will participate in several forums and events. More...
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PILOTS WIN WORLD BALLOON CHAMPIONSHIP
The nine-day-long World Hot-Air Balloon Championships wrapped up this
weekend in Australia. Two German pilots, Markus Pieper and Uwe
Schneider, finished at the top of the competition, with Australian Paul
Gibbs coming in third. "It's a big deal," Gibbs told The Age. "It's like
the Olympics coming to your country." It was the first time the event
was held in the Southern Hemisphere, and also the first time that a
German team has won the top spot. Winds grounded the pilots for several
days, but in the end they were able to complete the competition, which
drew about 100 pilots from 38 countries. Johnny Petrehn of the U.S. came
in fourth. More...
Proposed fee changes at Australian airports worry GA advocates...
Sen. John Rockefeller (D-WV) called aircraft "killing machines"...
Pennsylvania legislature working to outlaw drunken flying...
Round-U.S. flight to raise money for at-risk kids launched
FAA last week awarded $13.5 million for traffic-flow computer
Senate to vote on $14 million for hiring air traffic
Jamail Larkins to appear with David Letterman on Thursday night.
NEWSTIPS ADDRESS ...
Heard something that 130,000 pilots might want to know about? If it
caught your eye, it will probably interest someone else, too. Drop us
a line. Submit news tips via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
ARTICLES AND FEATURES ON AVWEB
CEO of the
Cockpit #34: Ground Control to Captain Tom
Say what you want about whether unionizing pilots is good or bad for
aviation, it is an established tradition at many airlines. AVweb's CEO
of the Cockpit wonders if that tradition should be established for the
newest private "space" pilot.
of Air Forces
In this age of multinational forces -- peacekeeping and otherwise -- it
is more important than ever for military pilots to practice with
aviators from other countries. Once a year, in a huge, Canadian military
reservation, aircraft from around the world join forces in simulated
combat to prepare for future battles.
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FEEDBACK ON AVWEB'S NEWS COVERAGE AND FEATURE ARTICLES:
mail this week about TFRs for presidential candidates and national
conventions, federal inefficiency and much more.
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Candor in Caldwell...
Super Cruiser: Caldwell tower, Super Cruiser N### has just
departed Morristown, I would like to transition your airspace to the
CDW: Super Cruiser transition approved at or above 1700.
(About 5 minutes later...)
CDW: Super Cruiser, say again aircraft type.
Super Cruiser: Caldwell tower, I am a PA-12, 1946 Piper
Cub Super Cruiser, just a bit old and slow.
CDW: Roger ... not unlike some of us in the tower, today.
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