September 15, 2004
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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A New York congressman has pledged to work with general aviation groups and other members of Congress to address GA security concerns without unduly disrupting the industry. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) caused a big flap in Washington last week when he proposed a bill that would require airline-type security measures for all non-air-carrier aircraft. Weiner spokesman Anson Kaye told AVweb that on Wednesday, Weiner told the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure he would not introduce the bill as written and would consult with GA groups and other members of Congress on ways to achieve the bill's goals without crushing the industry. (Just maiming it.) Weiner's bill would have required the same level of screening for passengers on charter, air taxi and other non-scheduled services as is required for airlines. It would also prevent non-air-carrier aircraft from flying within 1,500 feet of any building or over a city with more than a million inhabitants. Aviation groups were naturally outraged.
While the effect of the proposed bill would be enormous, it had its start with a very narrow focus. Weiner told the House Committee on Wednesday that his primary focus was on helicopters but that he'd try to fashion a bill that accommodated the full range of GA security concerns. Weiner spokesman Kaye said, "There are a lot of people who are worried about how close those helicopters fly to their residences" in the city's taller buildings and that those concerns prompted the bill. Washington insiders told AVweb that Weiner's bill was a political long shot at best, and was unlikely to make it into the current legislative session, which ends in a few days. Weiner's comments on Wednesday virtually assure it won't see light of day in the current session. Said Kaye, "It seems appropriate to start thinking about how to make our skies safer from not only jumbo jets but from smaller aircraft."
Kaye said the congressman is not particularly worried about the practical implications of such a bill. He said it would be easy for the Transportation Security Administration to distribute their watch list to small aircraft operators. As for the physical screening of passengers and baggage, he said such measures are accepted as necessary. "For better or for worse, people are getting used to it," he said. AOPA spokesman Chris Dancy said his organization is willing to help Weiner modify his bill. "We'd like to work with Congressman Weiner to develop legislation that addresses his concerns but isn't a detriment to general aviation." Dancy said Weiner had obviously heard the concerns of the GA community. "We were pleased to hear him recognize that the original legislation was too broad."
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Instead of getting ready for the most anticipated race at the National Championship Air Races, Jon Sharp's Nemesis NXT team is trying to figure out what went wrong as the 400-plus-mph hopeful two-seat kitplane landed at Reno Stead Airport on Tuesday. Race spokeswoman Sue Putnam told AVweb the aircraft made what looked like a routine landing but the pilot "heard a bang" on the left side. "He tried to keep it on its right side as long as he could but of course it eventually came down and the landing gear collapsed and it slid along the runway," Putnam said. The Sharp team had hoped to showcase Nemesis NXT, a tiny composite taildragger sporting a Lycoming 540, in a highly touted match against Darryl Greenamayer's highly modified Lancair Legacy in the Sport Class. Pre-race speculation talked about speeds reaching 450 mph, faster than many of the Unlimited Class racers. The Sport Class is restricted to kit aircraft with reciprocating engines.
Although the cutting-edge Sport Class has been gaining a lot of attention in recent years, many who attend Reno go to see 60-year-old technology that can't be matched in terms of sheer gas-guzzling glory. Last year, Skip Holm, piloting Dago Red, a fully tricked-out P-51, broke the 500-mph barrier with a best time of 507 mph. John Penney, in the famous Rare Bear, a massive Grumman F8F Bearcat (maybe with a huge four-bladed prop this year) was always a close second and both planes are back this year. In fact, they're among 27 Unlimiteds signed up to race.
Putnam said they might have to pare the field back to 26 but that decision hasn't been made yet. She said entries are up in most classes (there are also biplane, Formula One, T-6 and jet divisions) and everything is set for a great event, including the weather, so far. "Eighty-two degrees and not a cloud in the sky," she said on Wednesday.
NXT, The Full Story (On-site coverage by Tim Kern)Jon Sharp, intrepid team lead for Nemesis, very somberly addressed the pilots' meeting within an hour after his craft's landing incident. He and his wife, Tricia, were obviously quite disheartened; the whole room was sympathetic -- they've all been there. "We had green lights, as usual," Jon said, meaning that his gear indicated "down and locked." "I lowered the tail just a little bit, and I heard a loud 'bang' on the left side." At the time, he didn't know just what kind of problem he had; all he knew was that he had a handful of raceplane, and a problem. "I tried to keep it on the right [keep the weight on the right main gear] as long as I could," he said. "Finally, the left wing went down, and I skidded," turning slowly to the left ... which probably accounts for the right gear's collapse.
"I got out as fast as I could" after it stopped, he said; the airplane was left of the runway and facing it. Jon was unhurt, but the airplane had to sit and bake for hours, as there was no way to retrieve it while the other events of the day were still going on. He had not had time to examine the airplane; all he had were his impressions. "It might have been a tire," he ventured. "I suspect a tire." Whatever really happened, though, he did not know at that time. The Sport Class has been waiting for the return of Sharp and his long-gestating racer. The new aircraft promised to add some spice to Reno's fast-growing Sport Class, as Jon's earlier (Formula 1) Nemesis had been so dominant in the 1990s, winning 47 of the 51 races it entered.
What Is NXT? As a Sport Class racer, Nemesis NXT is a two-place machine that ostensibly has cross-country capability and comfort for both occupants. Its appearance at Reno was set to serve notice on the dominating Lancairs and the competitive Glasairs that something new was coming. Rumors, even last year, were floating about 400-mph laps. Anything at the 350 mark is fast enough to win in the current field.
What Else Is Out There? If NXT remains sidelined, Lancair driver Darryl Greenamyer seems poised to scoop up another trophy, but only if he beats out the rest of the field, currently including Mike Jones' Lycoming 580-powered Glasair plus entrants from a Swearingen SX300 to a White Lightning with two engines one to run the airplane, and another to run the supercharger!
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While various groups continue to press the government to allow airline pilots to fly beyond the age of 60, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association says allowing controllers to work beyond the age of 56 "is fraught with considerable problems of controller health, manpower distribution, and the general safety of America's flying public." Eugene R. Freedman, NATCA's policy counsel, was slated to speak before the Senate Special Committee on Aging on Tuesday. Congress recently directed the FAA to adopt rules to issue waivers to the age limit as a way of combating a retirement-induced exodus of controllers over the next decade, something Freedman describes as "a dangerous shortcut." Whether or not a staffing crisis is imminent still appears to be a point of some contention. The union says studies have shown that extending the careers of controllers would be "extremely dangerous." NATCA also maintains that increasing the number of grey heads in towers and centers won't be enough to forestall the looming controller shortage. The union wants the government to hire more recruits. The Senate and House are now looking over appropriations bills that would include $10 million to hire new controllers. NATCA President John Carr said that's a good start but much more will be needed to keep the consoles properly manned.
If your GA business is still in the 9/11 doldrums, maybe it needs a change of scenery. Uniworld LLC is urging you to pack a set of chopsticks (wooden ones ... metal ones may be confiscated at security checkpoints) and head to China for a couple of GA forums (which it is sponsoring) next year. Uniworld promises to put the movers and shakers of China's GA industry in the same room with those who know how to meet its allegedly burgeoning commercial GA needs, at the China GA Forum 2005 in X'ian March 16-18. Then, May 18-20 in Beijing, the recreational market will be examined in the China Ultralight Expo 2005. Uniworld Manager Andrew Edlefsen said China's economy is exploding and that means more applications for GA. Energy projects, infrastructure and other huge endeavors need aircraft to patrol, supply and survey. As agriculture modernizes, aircraft are being called on to help make it more efficient. The March forum will delve into those opportunities. The spinoff of all this wealth is that after a hard day winching the next superpower into the 21st century, millions of Chinese find themselves able to afford recreational flying. The May forum examines that market and Edlefsen says there's already an industry developing that needs products and services.
A BRAND-NEW AIRCRAFT FOR THE COST OF A SECOND CAR!
If you fly to help others (or even if you think it's a good idea that some people do) the Air Care Alliance is looking for a final political push to get some truly helpful legislation passed. The Volunteer Pilot Organization Act received a resounding 385-12 endorsement in the House on Tuesday. The bill expands and extends liability relief, similar to the Good Samaritan Act, to public-benefit flying, thus easing insurance burdens, or in some cases, making insurance available again. The trick is making sure it gets on the agenda of the rapidly dwindling legislative session. The Air Care Alliance is urging all volunteer pilots and organizations to phone, fax and e-mail their senators to ensure the bill is passed in the next few days. Otherwise, the whole effort will have to be repeated next year.
Two of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick's top aides are in Brussels today meeting with their European Union counterparts trying to put an end to what the U.S. claims are unfair subsidies to Airbus Industries. At issue is a section of an agreement between the U.S. and Europe that nails down how (and how much) governments can help aircraft manufacturers develop new planes. That section allows governments to lend companies money at below-market rates to fund up to a third of development costs. Europe has supplied such loans to Airbus; the U.S. has not done the same for Boeing and wants the provision scrapped. If negotiations don't work, the U.S. says it intends to take the case to the World Trade Organization. EU officials have said they'll discuss the issue but they want the U.S. to curb what it alleges are indirect subsidies to Boeing funneled through defense and NASA contracts. President Bush called for the latest discussions not long after Airbus announced it might develop a direct competitor to Boeing's 7E7 Dreamliner.
ATTENTION, RENTER PILOTS! DON'T BE MISLEAD BY COMPETITORS' ADVERTISING!
The man best known for organizing the private space race is making weightlessness available to anyone with $3,000 and, we hope (as will their fellow passengers) a strong stomach. Peter Diamandis, the founder of the X Prize competition, is behind the Zero Gravity Corporation, which just got FAA approval to sell tickets on NASA-style parabolic flight profiles (aboard a 727-200) that give customers a brief period of weightlessness and a rather unique view. The FAA signed off on the flights on Tuesday and tickets are on sale for flights that will be conducted on a two-week tour that will visit New York, Los Angeles, Reno, Dallas, Atlanta, Detroit and Florida. Passengers spend a full day in a program led by a former astronaut and then board a modified Boeing 727-200, which flies a roller-coaster flight profile between 22,000 and 32,000 feet. We hope the modifications include easy clean interiors because even the most experienced pilots training for the space program lost their lunches in the NASA flights. They nicknamed the KC-135 they used the Vomit Comet.
A couple of British pilots have a load of bull to give their insurance carrier and they're not fooling around. Tony Cooper and Lisa Kingscott's vintage Auster J1N airplane suffered about $18,000 in damage earlier this month when some young bulls developed a taste for the fabric covering. The bullocks ate a large section of the 1946 aircraft's fuselage. "I was speechless. I've never seen anything like it," Kingscott told the Daily Mail. Kingscott and Cooper, who own the plane with three others, have always landed in the same field on their frequent visits to Herfordshire (where else?) to see friends. Maybe not anymore. They didn't pay any attention to the bulls on the latest visit and went off to have lunch. Instead of flying home, they had to dismantle the aircraft and take it away on a trailer. A farm group spokesman told the Daily Mail he's not surprised by the incident. "Cattle are very inquisitive and would certainly have gone to the plane and sniffed it, then licked it," said Ian Johnson, spokesman for the National Farmers' Union. "Clearly there was something in the construction that appealed to their taste buds."
IF YOUR CELL PHONE CAN SURF THE NET, IT CAN RECEIVE AVIATION WEATHER
Up to 800 flights were affected when the radio system went down at California's main enroute air traffic control center on Tuesday. The radios went silent at the Air Route Traffic Control Center in Palmdale, just north of Los Angeles about 4:40 p.m. causing numerous delays, cancellations and diversions. Controllers were back at their mics after a few hours but traffic didn't return to normal until early Wednesday...
The NTSB is examining a light bulb from the top of a 500-foot television tower in Florida to see if it played a role in the crash of an insect-spraying aircraft last Saturday. Witnesses to the crash of the Vector Disease Control Piper Aztec told the NTSB the light wasn't on when the plane clipped the top of the tower near Lakeland, killing both men on board...
John Salamone has had his first day in court. Salamone, you may remember, faces a string of charges relating to a wild flight over Pennsylvania and New Jersey last Jan. 15. The prosecution has accused Salamone of being drunk and high on valium in the four-hour flight in which the aircraft he is alleged to have been flying almost collided with several airplanes and flew close to a nuclear power plant...
A Long Island charter company owner has his pilot and mechanic certificates back after an NTSB law judge overturned an FAA Emergency Revocation Order. The agency accused Air East owner Michael Tarascio of falsifying aircraft records and pulled his tickets Aug. 10. Judge William R. Mullins said there was no evidence Tarascio violated any regulations...
An "unusually large" number of Delta Air Lines pilots are considering retiring in October rather than ride out the airline's current financial crisis. The Air Line Pilots Association says many pilots are worried about the future of the airline, which is looking for $1 billion in wage and benefit concessions.
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Say Again? #40: ATC 105 -- Phraseology
You've got plenty to learn when becoming a pilot -- and one of the more intimidating things is talking on the microphone. But proper phraseology can save your life, and it's easier to learn when you're new. AVweb's Don Brown has another in his basic communication courses in this month's column.
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No lightning photos this week, we promise! Like most everyone, we've seen enough storms for a while so it's blue skies and easy flying in this installment of "Picture of the Week." Navah Samra takes home top honors for a photo celebrating 80 years of the RCAF. Your official AVweb baseball cap is already winging its way to the Great North, Navra!
Don't forget to send us your best aviation photos we enjoy 'em all, not just the handful that make it onto this page!
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Used with permission of Navah Samra
Navah Samra of Calgary, Alberta (Canada) takes home first prize
with a photo taken at the Abbotsford Air Show celebrating
80 years of the Royal Canadian Air Force
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.
"If You Can Read This, You're Too Close"
Lacey Hartje of Redmond, Washington brings us another exciting
ultralight photo, this one taken with a wing-mounted camera
Used with permission of Steve Hughes
"Thunderbird Memorial at USAF Academy"
Steve Hughes of North Bend, Washington took this photo
while visiting his son at the academy during a Parents' Day
Used with permission of Robert Tyson
Robert Tyson of Flower Mound, Texas writes:
"I took this photo in October of 2003 at KROW. This is the
left wing of a MIG-17 owned and operated by George Cambron.
Tragically, both George and the jet were lost in March 2004.
For your sense of humor and love of aviation, thank you, George."
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.
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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