August 25, 2004
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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In the U.S., mainstream media continue to look for holes in aviation security and The Arizona Republic recently discovered the 12-5 rule, which exempts aircraft weighing less than 12,500 pounds gross from security checks. It seems a couple of local operators have started scheduled service using Cessna Caravans (8,210 pounds) and that had the Republic reporter busily hunting down local experts, like retired FAA director and now aviation consultant George Williams. "You don't have to have a 737 to make a big bang," he said. But the operators themselves have taken steps to try and ensure security. Bruce Tully, of Dynasty Air, said that passengers are put through metal detectors at destinations that have them and staff have been trained to help them recognize suspicious behavior or baggage. But Williams said voluntary compliance isn't enough and suggested airports require use of security devices by all passenger-carrying companies as part of their leases.
There's no point in letting security get in the way of passenger convenience and scheduling, at least in the eyes of Australian lawmakers. While scheduled passengers from Boise to Biloxi are shedding their shoes and (our favorite) opening their belt buckles, the Aussies have directed security staff at 146 "regional" airports not to use their newly issued handheld metal detectors unless ordered to do so by Canberra. Major airports will continue screening all passengers. But it seems the government is willing to rely on intelligence reports (gasp) to let them know when to dust off the metal detectors at the smaller fields. "You assume that your intelligence sources are likely to pick up any increased activity or indications of a rise in the danger levels and we'd respond to that," said Transport Minister John Anderson. As part of a new security package, staff at the regional airports were supplied with and trained in the use of handheld metal detectors but told not to use them unless advised of a threat. Anderson said checking all passengers all the time in the hinterlands would "slow things very considerably and unnecessarily." Other measures include the establishment of four SWAT-like response teams scattered around the big country, the requirement for hardened cockpit doors on planes capable of carrying more than 30 passengers and a two-year trial of security cameras at smaller airports. The opposition party has slammed the new measures as a "flawed, Band-Aid approach to regional aviation security."
And, just to show how utterly useless those devices can be in the face of even a modest amount of imagination and preparation, British newspaper reporter Anthony France atoned for NBC's ham-handed attempt at a security breach by lying his way into the cargo hold of a Thomas Cook Vacations Boeing 757, which was being prepared for a flight to Majorca, with a fake bomb. "Had I been one of Osama Bin Laden's terrorists, I could have wiped out more than 220 British passengers ... and thousands more on the ground," he exulted in the Sun after his escapade. France, using fake references and bank details, got a job as a baggage handler at Birmingham International Airport. He then walked through a metal detector that chirped the evidence of bomb-making stuff hidden in his shoes. The security personnel accepted his explanation that steel-toed shoes had set off the machine and he was allowed to go to work. After assembling the fake bomb in an airplane washroom, he joined four other baggage handlers in loading the plane and reportedly took a picture of himself inside the cargo hold with the device. The UK Department of Transport is investigating but there's no word on whether NBC is trying to hire France.
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If it wasn't hard enough threading your way through all the TFRs, NSAs and other acronyms for places you're not especially welcome, the military (specifically the Navy) wants even more airspace. The Navy is under fire in both North Carolina and California for trying to get huge blocks of air (two in North Carolina and one in California) designated as military operations areas (MOAs). Now, an MOA doesn't ban GA traffic but it does add another level of anxiety, particularly for inexperienced pilots, who might want to fly through, Wade Brabble, a North Carolina pilot who works at a small airport, told The Washington (N.C.) Daily News. "Eastern North Carolina is just gettin' blocked off from general aviation," he said. GA pilots are allowed to fly VFR through MOAs and military controllers will usually provide separation, provided it's solicited. But while local pilots might be used to flying in MOAs (it's part of the cross-country training for students) all those hash marks and restricted areas on the sectionals can be intimidating for transient pilots because they aren't up on the regulations and may never have talked to a military controller, Brabble said. "Pilots just don't want to go into areas where military aircraft might be," he said.
AOPA has joined the battle and has accused the FAA of not providing proper notification of the 30-day comment period regarding the Navy's intentions in North Carolina. AOPA spokeswoman Heidi Williams told the Daily News it only heard about the plan because a member who was "one of the very few to receive notification" faxed it to AOPA headquarters. The FAA maintains all concerned parties, including AOPA, were notified but that some of the letters were returned as undeliverable. Williams said that considering the massive opposition to the MOAs, poor distribution of the notices "forces us [AOPA] to wonder if the lack of notification was deliberate." For its part, the Navy contends that military and GA can coexist safely as long as everyone is following the rules. Spokesman Dan Brown said military controllers know the whereabouts of all military aircraft within the MOA and GA pilots can contact the controllers with their intentions. When military controllers are too busy to deal with GA pilots, VFR rules apply, with pilots ensuring their own separation. "If (civilian pilots) are out there flying and that MOA's active, they can fly through that MOA VFR," Brown said. "Pilots that use MOAs know that it's unrestricted to general aviation." Transient pilots are advised not to become bug spatter on the windscreen of some high-speed military hardware.
The Navy may have learned something in the PR department with its attempt to create an MOA in California's Central Valley. AOPA says the Navy has launched a "sophisticated campaign" to establish the MOA over Lemoore Naval Air Station near Fresno. Williams said there is already plenty of special-use airspace in the area and no need for any more. The new area would be 30 miles wide and 70 miles long with vertical limits of 5,000 to 35,000 feet. "And the Navy is getting its ducks in a row on this one," according to AOPA's Web site. "They have begun a sophisticated public outreach, including a Web site, and have already convinced some California legislators to introduce resolutions supporting the MOA." Not everyone is convinced, however. The Navy is inviting comments on the proposal. The city of Hanford, whose airport is within the proposed MOA, sees the designation as a "restrictive presence for both VFR and IFR traffic transiting the area." In a letter to the Navy, the city asks that a GA corridor be established or that the base of the MOA be raised to 15,000 feet.
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The National Business Aviation Association is hoping Trenton, N.J., will use a carrot instead of a stick to deal with perceived noise problems at busy Trenton Mercer Airport (TTN). The airport authority has instituted a voluntary curfew period between midnight and 6 a.m. to quiet down the neighbors. But while it's asking aircraft operators to be nice, it's threatening those that don't play along with publishing their N-numbers. NBAA Interim President Donald E. Baldwin said in a letter to the authorities that the move seems to be "a punitive and discriminatory attempt indirectly to transform a nominally 'voluntary' curfew into a coercive one." Baldwin likes the Teterboro and Westchester approaches better. We can understand why. Instead of vilifying noisemakers at TEB and HPN, they reward those who comply with the voluntary curfew in place there. Every year, TEB and HPN authorities hand out Good Neighbor awards to operators who don't fly when most of us are trying to sleep. Baldwin told the Trenton folks that the positive reinforcement not only works, it generates "goodwill, rather than confrontation, between the public and business aviation community."
Officials of Sibir Airlines, Russia's number-two carrier, appear to be suggesting a suicide bomber brought down a Tu-154 in one of two almost-simultaneous airliner crashes on Tuesday. The airline released a statement saying its pilot triggered a hijack transponder alert just before the crash. "The message was generated right before all contact was lost with the plane and it disappeared from radar screens," the statement read. The airline also said the wide distribution of wreckage suggested the plane exploded in midair. But there were no problems reported on a Volga Aviaexpress Tu-134 that took off from Moscow's Domodedovo Airport about an hour after the Tu-154. The planes crashed within minutes of one another about 500 miles apart. The Tu-154 crashed near Rostov-on-don in southern Russia and the Tu-134 went down near Tula, south of Moscow. Russian authorities aren't confirming the hijack or terrorism angle but the FSB security service is investigating the crash, something it wouldn't normally do unless terrorism is involved. Chechen rebels who have been fighting Russian occupation of their homeland have denied responsibility for the crashes.
OREGON AERO CUTS COCKPIT CLUTTER
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is objecting to an FAA Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that had drawn widespread opposition from aviation businesses. The SBA says the proposed rule to require drug testing by aviation subcontractors "lacks a factual basis." The rule would require any business working on materials or finished items that will end up on air carrier aircraft to adopt the same kind of anti-abuse programs as fully certified repair stations, which have sign-off authority. As AVweb reported last week, the Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA) and 13 other associations and companies are opposing the rule. The SBA told the FAA the proposed rule presents a serious economic hardship to many companies because profit margins are already low in the various trades. It said the agency didn't do its homework in assessing the impact of the rule and urged it to solicit public comment and consider alternatives before proceeding.
Three people died in the collision between a Thorp T-18 and a Citabria about 100 yards off a Malibu, Calif., beach on Sunday. The crash occurred about 5:30 p.m. off El Matador State Beach. One plane fell about 100 yards off the beach while another fell close to shore. The body of the Citabria pilot washed ashore while the two occupants of the Thorp were recovered inside the aircraft. The night before in Sterling, Colo., a pilot and his 10-year-old son escaped their burning Commanche after a landing mishap. The gear collapsed and the aircraft caught fire while sliding down the runway. The plane was written off. Meanwhile a couple who fell ill on flight through New Hampshire earlier this month have died. Their non-certificated daughter landed the plane. William Truman and his wife Diana both collapsed during the flight, forcing their inexperienced daughter Jennifer to take the controls and land the aircraft. Although carbon monoxide poisoning was initially reported as the cause of their illness, hospital officials in Lebanon, N.H., have confirmed that both of the elder Trumans suffered from strokes on the flight and eventually died from complications, William on Saturday night and Diana on Sunday.
ATTENTION, AIRCRAFT CLUB MEMBERS! GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR CLUB?
Danish authorities say a failed pitch change structure on a Hartzell propeller not due for overhaul for another year and a half was a contributing factor in the crash a Socata that killed four people earlier this month. The plane crashed along the coast on Aug. 6 and investigators discovered one of the propeller blades was turned 180 degrees from the proper position because of the broken hardware. The Danish Civil Aviation Administration report says that with one blade reversed, severe vibrations would have occurred. The Danish agency said Hartzell had earlier issued a service letter (HC-SL-61-226) regarding a modification of the "pitch change knob" on that type of propeller (HC-C3YK-1BF) at the next overhaul. The prop on the crash plane was due for overhaul in 2006. AVweb wasn't able to find an FAA Airworthiness Directive on the problem.
A cross section of aviation companies has proposed a set of guidelines to ensure free and equal access to vital aircraft component maintenance manuals. "This diverse group agreed on solutions to address a long-standing problem: component maintenance manuals are often unavailable, particularly for components installed on aircraft," said a statement from the Aeronautical Repair Station Association. A total of 11 companies, representing manufacturers, airlines and aircraft repair outfits, combined to create the Joint Industry Policy on Instructions for Continued Airworthiness. The policy asks that the FAA require component manufacturers to create basic repair manuals for their products and to make them available to anyone who might need them for a reasonable cost.
AEROSHELL KNOWS WHAT PILOTS WANT TO PROTECT & SHINE THEIR AIRCRAFT
The revolving door at NBAA swung again on Monday. The organization announced that Senior Vice President, Operations Bob Blouin resigned effective Aug. 31. That's the day before their new president, former General Aviation Manufacturers Association President Ed Bolen, takes over. See AVweb's Business AVflash for details...
It's still a man's world in the cockpit, according to a German magazine survey. Aero International discovered that only about 2.5 percent of commercial pilots are women. It's a slight increase over a few years ago, the magazine said...
Britain's National Gliding Championships continue through Aug. 29 at the Norfolk Gliding Club. Competitors will race up to 500 km across the country each day on courses set up according to the weather...
In upstate New York, pilots mourn Bill Law. Authorities are still trying to determine a cause for a crash that claimed the well-known Rochester pilot and businessman. Bill Law reported engine trouble before the plane went down last Friday in Clarkson, N.Y. The FAA says the plane had recently undergone maintenance.
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DA42 TWIN STAR CERTIFICATION: LOTS OF FIRSTS
What's New -- Products and Services
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SCOPED OUT NEW AVIONICS AT OSHKOSH & FOUND THEM WAY ABOVE YOUR BUDGET?
Last week, still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Charley, AVweb asked our readers about their aircraft insurance. As it turns out, our you're a pretty well-insured group: 70% of those who responded carry full hull coverage (moving or stationary, in the air or on the ground), plus liability insurance. 20% of responses were evenly split among the other options we described: Liability only, liability with static ground coverage, and liability with in-motion ground and static ground coverage. A single person registered as carrying only static ground coverage.
And the last 10% of those we surveyed? They chose our answer It's not required by law, and I'm not that paranoid.
This week, one of our readers wants to know how you feel about Sport Pilot training. Specifically, should Sport Pilots have to complete spin training?
Glenn from Washington writes:
When I acquired my Private Pilot License in 1946 I was required to have spin training and demonstrate spin recovery. Most of the training planes were Aeronca 7ACs or J-3 Cubs. Because of their straight wing design they were prone to spin if air speed was low and controls were crossed, as in landing configuration close to the ground. In 1949 the rule was changed. Many of the planes that qualify for the Sport Pilot License are the same old planes that were used in the late 1940s.
What do you think? Should Sport Pilot training include spin training?
Have an idea for a new QOTW? Send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: This address is only for suggested QOTW questions, and not for QOTW answers.
COMPLIMENTARY WEEK OF ADVERTISING ON ASO!
Submit a Photo | Rules | Tips | Questions
Current POTW Winner | Past POTW Winners
It's uncommon for the jaded staff of AVweb to gush and fawn over any of the stories we cover but you've watched us do it all summer with regards to "Picture of the Week." Not only is the number of submissions climbing steadily, but the competition is getting more fierce, too. Of the 94 pictures we received this week, at least 30 were seriously considered for a Top Three spot. (Normally there are only 10 photos in the final round!) Nevertheless, Tom Barrows of Indianapolis, Indiana rose to the top of the heap, narrowly edging out some other (truly amazing) images. When you see Tom's Oshkosh photos, you'll agree that his first-prize AVweb baseball cap was well earned.
For those keeping score, Indiana has supplanted Michigan as the unofficial "POTW" submission capital of the world. And the world's no small place, with more international entries coming into POTW headquarters these days!
Due to privacy issues, AVweb does not publish e-mail addresses of readers who submit photos.
copyright © Tom Barrows
The talented Tom Barrows of Indianapolis, Indiana takes
top honors this week with a 25-second timed exposure shot
of the Aeroshell Square grounds at AirVenture.
(That's the Super Constellation we're looking at here.
For Tom's shot of the A-10, click here.)
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.
David E. Gillingham of Evanston, Indiana sends us this
photo of a Hawaii Air National Guard (HANG) F-15
"somewhere north of Oahu ... shot from the observer's
station of a KC-135 on a training mission."
copyright © Matthieu
"... #&@! ..."
We've all been there but Mathieu Chassaing of Gallargues, France
has the photos to prove it. He writes, "Down in Mali. The good
old Pratt died on me." And yes, Mathieu did get the sympathy vote ... .
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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