NewsWire Complete Issue
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Interpretation, Final Rules, And The Root Of All Evil...
As AVweb reported Thursday, the TSA on Sept. 20 issued what it calls an "Interim Final Rule" regarding the reporting and record-keeping requirements
for flight training of foreign students. Reaction at first was a bit muted, but quickly grew to a crescendo of complaint by the end of the week as the alphabets got a better look at the rule and
prepared to let loose on the 30-day comment period. AOPA's somewhat critical take on Tuesday, based on an "initial review," by Thursday had morphed into a full-scale attack. "Unless TSA clarifies that U.S. citizens are exempt, AOPA believes the rule could be interpreted to mean that, starting next month,
they would not be able to complete flight training -- including flight reviews -- without first going through some type of TSA check," AOPA said in a news release. "It is absolutely essential that TSA
clarify, in writing, that this rule does not apply to U.S. citizens." Much
The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) contacted AVweb on Thursday to say its news release of Sept.
17, which expressed relief that the rule gives the TSA authority for the flight-school program (instead of the Department of Justice, "where the industry experienced numerous problems") didn't mean
the association doesn't have plenty of concerns about it, too. "GAMA believes there are issues that need to be addressed and corrected in the rule," GAMA spokesman Jeffrey Sural wrote in a e-mail. For
example, the rule should not apply to every flight school or instructor, but only those who train aliens and other designated individuals, Sural said. "GAMA will continue to work with the TSA, and
welcomes help from others, to correct the initial draft of the regulation," he said. "The TSA regulation is an Interim Final Rule. There is a 30-day comment period. ... Nothing is written in stone at
this point, and changes will be made." The TSA says that if the comments show that changes to the rule are necessary to address transportation security more effectively, or in a less burdensome but
equally effective manner, "the agency will not hesitate to make such changes."
Neither EAA nor AOPA believe it is the intent of the rule that U.S. citizens need to go through the background check and TSA application process -- but they also agree that the language of the rule is
so confusing and unclear that they fear it could be interpreted that way. "When the players are gone, the rules remain," EAA's Doug Macnair, vice president of government relations, told AVweb
on Friday. "It's good to be clear at the outset, so it's not subject to interpretation." Both EAA and AOPA also raised questions about the requirement for Certified Flight Instructors to register with
their local FSDO. "Are they coordinating this? Will the FAA be ready to do that?" asked Macnair. AOPA said there are 86,000 CFIs in the U.S. "We don't think TSA appreciates [that]," AOPA said. For
flight schools and instructors flying aircraft that weigh less than 12,500 pounds, the rule takes effect Oct. 20. At its Web site, EAA offers an outline of the rule, meant to help flight instructors and flight schools get familiar with its requirements.
The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) weighed in on Thursday, and agreed with
GAMA it's a positive development that the new rule establishes the TSA as the authority in charge of the flight-school program. "NATA has worked closely with Congress and the TSA for this transition
of authority from the Department of Justice for quite some time, and we expect the TSA to be much more responsive to the needs of our industry," said NATA spokesman Eric Byer. But NATA expressed
concern over the rule's notification, record-keeping and security-training requirements. "Imposing burdensome requirements on all flight-training providers, irrespective of their training capability
and clientele, is taking the definition of notification to an extreme," said Byer.
The rule does state that U.S. citizens need only to prove their status to be exempted from the TSA check, by showing a passport or other identification, which the flight school must keep on record for
five years. But the TSA's use of the term "candidate," which the TSA defines as "an alien or other individual designated by TSA who applies for flight training," seems to be causing confusion. Many of
the rule's stipulations that appear to apply to any "candidate" for flight training probably refer only to aliens. AOPA said it has been assured by TSA Administrator Adm. David Stone that the agency's
intent was to check foreign nationals who are seeking flight training, not U.S. citizens. Regardless, a slew of representatives from aviation industry associations, including NATA, GAMA, EAA, AOPA and
others, will meet with the TSA on Thursday to discuss their issues and to seek resolution. TSA spokeswoman Ann Davis told AVweb on Friday that she was aware that various concerns had been
raised, but deferred comment until after that meeting.
"The bottom line is that this was issued as a final rule, so at the very least, CFIs should begin familiarizing themselves with its requirements," AOPA spokesman Chris Dancy told AVweb on
Friday. On Oct. 5, two TSA Web sites -- one for flight schools and one for flight-training candidates -- will be available for applications and instructions. The TSA will also be staffing a help desk at
703-542-1222. E-mail questions are also being accepted at AFSP.firstname.lastname@example.org.
FAA Expands Program To Expedite Special-Issuance Medical Renewals...
A new program that took effect earlier this month allows Aviation Medical Examiners (AMEs) to expedite the renewal of special-issuance first-, second- and third-class medical certificates. The
program, called AME Assisted Special Issuance (AASI), means that once an application requiring a special issuance (SI) for one of 20 specified conditions is reviewed and issued by the FAA, pilots then
can go to their AME for a renewal, provide all the necessary medical reports, and if the condition has not changed, walk out the same day with another valid SI medical. The AASI program was
implemented in 2002 for third-class SI medicals, and has now been expanded. In effect, it bypasses the often time-consuming review by the FAA Aeromedical Certification Division in Oklahoma City, which
receives thousands of applications and medical reports each day and processes about 450,000 every year. The Federal Air Surgeons Medical Bulletin credits AOPA with proposing the program.
Before the new rule took effect, AMEs had to get permission from the Federal Air Surgeon, a regional flight surgeon, or the manager of the Aerospace Medical Certification Division to issue medical
certificates to a person who has a medical condition that requires a special issuance. Under the new rule, the first time the special issuance is requested, it still must follow that procedure. But
now, subsequent renewals -- for certain specified conditions -- can be approved by the AME. The conditions that qualify for the streamlined renewals include: Arthritis, asthma, atrial fibrillation,
chronic lymphocytic leukemia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, colitis, colon/colorectal cancer, diabetes Type II, glaucoma, hepatitis C, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, lymphoma and Hodgkin's
disease, migraine headaches, mitral or aortic insufficiency, monocularity, paroxysmal atrial tachycardia, prostate cancer, renal calculi, and sleep apnea. For more details on each of these conditions,
go to the FAA Web site.
Legislation that would give the FAA six months to issue new pilot certificates with photo ID passed the powerful Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday and was sent to the full Senate, AOPA said last week. "AOPA has long advocated for such a move but believes that the six-month time frame for
implementation is unrealistic," AOPA said in a news release. The bill would require the FAA to assign designees -- most likely aviation medical examiners -- to take official photos. "The task is still
a daunting one, and our goal is to make sure that pilots don't face an inconvenience to have their pictures taken," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "The bottom line is that Congress is forcing the
FAA's hand on photo-ID pilot certificates, which AOPA believes will be an enhancement." The legislation would provide the FAA with $50 million to develop and implement a photo ID for pilots that is
resistant to tampering, alteration and counterfeiting. It would also include biometric data or other unique identifiers to ensure authenticity.
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Jeanne Hits Weary Florida...
Early yesterday, Hurricane Jeanne battered the East Coast of Florida, the fourth hurricane in six weeks to affect the GA-heavy state, where the damage tally already is up to about $15 billion. Jeanne
crossed the coastline near Stuart, with 120-mph winds, drenching rain and huge waves. The winds tore off rooftops and made missiles of debris left over from Frances, which tore through the same area
just three weeks ago, damaging hundreds of airplanes and hangars. More than a million people lost power in yesterday's winds. Where electricity is out, obstruction lights on towers are also out, and
many airports and towers are shut down. Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami, told the Associated Press it was the "first time ever that we know of" that two hurricanes
landed so close in place and time. Later yesterday, the storm was weakening and moving across
the peninsula toward Tampa, and was then expected to work its way northward.
To help with the recovery, the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) has collected contact information for aviation businesses hurt
by the storms in Florida and neighboring states. NATA suggests that business owners in need of relief contact the Small Business Administration (SBA) at 800/621-3362, to see if they qualify for
federal disaster assistance. The SBA Web site has information on how to apply for a disaster loan and an online
list of disaster-recovery centers in Florida. For more information, contact Beth Van Emburgh at NATA, at
email@example.com. Also, NATA says that Kip Bonar, president of Ranger Jet Center in Kissimmee, Fla., a general contractor, has offered assistance to help repair FBOs that were damaged. For
more information, contact Judy Bennett at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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When rumors arose last week that Aerion Corp. has a supersonic business jet in the
works, AVweb tried to track it down. The company is listed as a member at the National Business Aviation Association's (NBAA) Web site, under the Aerospace Design and Engineering category,
based in Reno, Nev., and is headed by Brian Barents, the former CEO of Learjet and Galaxy Aerospace. A call to Aerion last week was referred to spokesman Jeff Miller, head of an independent PR
company. Miller invited us to attend a press conference at NBAA's upcoming annual meeting in Las Vegas, Oct. 12-14, but declined
to divulge or confirm any other information about the company or its plans until then. As CEO at Galaxy, Barents negotiated a joint venture with the Pritzker Organization and Israel Aircraft
Industries to market their business aircraft, and later negotiated the sale of Galaxy to Gulfstream Aerospace (General Dynamics). At Learjet, he negotiated the sale of Learjet to Bombardier and
remained as the company's CEO until 1996.
Williams International, of Walled Lake, Mich., has received the FAA Type Certificate for its FJ33-4A-15 turbofan engine,
the company announced on Sept. 13. At the same time, the company said it is within a few months of completing the certification testing of yet another previously undisclosed new small turbofan engine,
which it will unveil at next month's NBAA convention in Las Vegas. The newly certified FJ33-4A-15 weighs less than 300 pounds and
has a thrust rating of 1,568 pounds. Most testing was completed over a year ago, Williams says, but it delayed the final certification program to incorporate its dual-channel, full authority digital
engine control (FADEC), sensor suite, and software. Three of the very-light jets in development are reportedly using the FJ33-4 engines -- Adam Aircraft's A700, Diamond Aircraft's D-Jet, and Aviation Technology Group's two-seat Javelin. "We couldn't be more pleased with the results of our development and certification program," said Gregg Williams, president of
Williams International. "We achieved all performance goals with large efficiency and temperature margins, and all certification testing went extremely well. We believe we also achieved an industry
first, in that, other than software mods, we did not have to make any configuration changes to the engine from the beginning of the program. This validated our decision to make the very first engine
from full-scale production tooling. In addition, all certification and durability testing was conducted at speeds and thrust levels well above the initial certification levels, and we expect the
engine to have a trouble-free entry into service."
Airships seem to be getting a lot of attention lately, not only as a warm fuzzy way to advertise or give tours, but as a weapon of war. Last week, a blimp leased by the U.S. Army and loaded with
sensors and cameras flew missions above the Maryland countryside, to test its usefulness as an
airborne sentry post. Meanwhile, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced early this month it will invest $10 million to build a giant new airship, called Walrus, which would be capable of transporting 500 to 1,000 tons of military payload across 6,000 miles within four days. The
ship would have a hull length of 600 to 1,000 feet, according to Aeros, an airship company that is working on the Walrus concept.
DARPA hopes the airship will be available for flight tests in 2008. Interest in the capabilities of airships has been ignited by the recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to Aeros.
Additionally, the need has been amplified by a key change in U.S. military doctrine referred to as the "10-30-30" objective, Aeros said: to be able to deploy to a distant theater in 10 days, defeat an
enemy within 30 days, and be ready for an additional fight within another 30 days. DARPA envisions using the airship as part of a plan to transport an entire battle-ready Unit of Action from its U.S.
base to near enemy lines, termed "from fort to fight." The Walrus air vehicle would dwarf every aircraft in existence today, Aeros said.
The annual Powrachute Extravaganza, held in Columbus, Kan., Sept. 16-19, had a new theme this year as hundreds of powered
parachute enthusiasts from across the nation gathered to fly, and showed an eagerness to learn more about the FAA's new Sport Pilot and Light-Sport Aircraft rules. EAA said it answered questions "nonstop" at its tent during the event, and EAA and many others led forums on
the topic. On Saturday, more than a hundred powered parachutes took to the early morning air, and 80 of them launched in record time -- 11 minutes, 21 seconds. Instructors introduced hundreds of
newcomers to powered parachute flight, EAA said, and Powrachute debuted a prototype totally enclosed PPC. Organizers of the event, now its sixth year, say they hope to grow to feature 800 to 1,000
aircraft. "We are gaining on that goal every year," Powrachute President Eddie Johnson told The Morning Sun.
"IT'S LIKE HAVING A NEW AIRPLANE"
"My airplane uses less fuel on a trip than some SUVs." "General Aviation
Modifications' (GAMI) injectors pay for themselves with the fuel savings. A big bonus is how much smoother the engine runs." "Customer service is just that
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Following its successful test flight in June, the American Mojave Aerospace team, led by Burt Rutan and backed by Paul Allen,
plans to launch its first official flight in pursuit of the $10 million Ansari X Prize on Wednesday. This week's launch will be followed by a
second required flight, tentatively set for Monday. The public is invited to both launches -- gates open at 3 a.m., parking passes cost $20. For those who can't make it to Mojave, the launch will be broadcast live on the Internet
starting at 6 a.m. PST on Wednesday, and AVweb will be on site to deliver coverage in our regular Thursday edition. In other X Prize news, the Canadian da Vinci Project, the closest team on Rutan's heels, has postponed the launch planned for Saturday (Oct. 2) in
Saskatchewan. The da Vinci team said a key component of the spacecraft was not ready, and will cause a delay of several weeks. "We're still a go for launch," said Brian Feeney, leader of the project.
"We've made milestone progress since the early August arrival of our title sponsor, Golden Palace.com, and we intend to prove that Canadians can and will put a man into space." Starting Sunday, the
Discovery Channel will broadcast a series of programs about the X Prize competition, called "Black
Sky: The Race for Space."
The first Russian SparrowHawk two-place kit-built gyroplane has flown successfully, Groen Brothers Aviation announced on Thursday...
AirVenture Oshkosh starts one day early in 2005, shifting its schedule to a Monday-through-Sunday format. The event will run July
Two U.S. Forest Service workers survived an air crash
although all on board had been reported killed....
"Wing Nuts" debuts tomorrow night on Discovery Channel, an eight-part series about the
MotoArt custom airplane-furniture business in California, which AVweb wrote about last year...
A flood on the Susquehanna River caused by Hurricane Ivan left a half-dozen airplanes high and dry, captured in an unusual photo.
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CEO of the Cockpit #37: Pilot Lounge and Politics
It's the final push to the election, and politics have entered the sacrosanct world of the airline cockpit, and the not-so-sacrosanct pilot lounge. AVweb's CEO of the Cockpit reports on the latest
Drop us a line. If it caught your attention, it will probably interest someone else, too. Submit news tips via email to
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Reader mail this week about FAA budget cuts, Cirrus parachutes (and the pilots who use them), and more.
"Overheard this one while in the pattern at PBH..."
Pilot: Price County traffic, Experimental #### will be going down in the lake off the end of 01.
Unicom: Will notify Sheriff's department immediately. Hang on!
Pilot: ...........Uh, negative.........we're an Amphibian.
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