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The Top Headlines From AVweb's Expanded,
Illustrated News Coverage At AVweb's
GAO TAKES A LOOK AT THE FAA
The FAA has made some progress in improving the computer systems and
software that Air Traffic Control relies on, the federal Government
Accountability Office (GAO) said in a report released this week. But some areas still
need improvement. The GAO said it found that projects now underway
were, in general, technically strong but weak in management and fiscal
oversight. The report recommends that the FAA create a plan for
"implementing and overseeing process-improvement initiatives." Without
a strong commitment to improve, the report concludes, the FAA will
continue to suffer from cost overruns, schedule delays, and
performance shortfalls. More...
AUSTRALIAN AIRSPACE CHANGES IN FLUX...
Meanwhile, the rocky implementation of a new Air Traffic Control
system in Australia is getting even rockier. On Tuesday, the dispute
over the rules went to Federal Court, and outside the courtroom a
blindfolded air traffic controller and the brother of a man who died
in a plane crash in July met with reporters. The two, along with Dick
Smith, the former head of the Australian Civil Aviation Authority, say
that lives will be at risk if the country goes ahead with its plan to
reverse the safety rules that took effect last year. Smith, who helped
to draft the rules, has said the reversal, set to take effect on Nov.
25, will delay equipment upgrades at smaller airports and plunge air
services back into the 1930s. For now, it seems things will get
interesting on the 27th. More...
SAFETY IN DANGER OF BEING LOST IN THE NOISE
Australia's AOPA, the Australian Sport Aviation Confederation and
Recreational Aviation Australia have sided with Smith in the debate,
saying that a report cited to support reversing the airspace reforms
is "dangerously flawed," exaggerates risk, maligns the skills of
small-aircraft pilots and fails to establish that the reforms are
unsafe. Meanwhile, the Australian and International Pilots Association
and the Australian Federation of Air Pilots have jointly called for
the reforms to be reversed. Qantas CEO Geoff Dixon has urged the
dueling parties to find a solution. "A lot of people are taking very,
very strong positions on this, there's a lot of politics behind it and
I think it would be nice if we could sit down and get it done
properly," Dixon told The Australian. More...
AT THE NTSB
Three members of the NTSB have signed a letter to Chairman Ellen
Engleman Conners telling her they are not happy with policies she is
enforcing that restrict their travel, prevent them from hiring staff
and stifle them from talking with NTSB staff and the media. The board
members -- Carol Carmody, Richard Healing and Deborah Hersman -- said
they want freedom to speak with whomever they want. "It is crucial
that board members be able to work directly with professional staff
and have access to their expertise," they wrote in the letter, which
was obtained by the St. Petersburg Times. The members also said they
are concerned that Engleman Conners' effort to settle many of the
board's long-standing safety recommendations in too many cases means
settling for "lesser actions" that fail to address the original
EXPRESS CONCERNS ABOUT INFLUENCE
Engleman Conners did not respond to the Times story, but an NTSB
spokesman said the chairman hopes that "board members will continue to
focus on the important mission of the board rather than on
bureaucratic distractions." The board and Engleman Conners are
scheduled to meet in late October to discuss the issues under dispute,
according to Monday's International Herald Tribune. The Tribune also
said that board members' concerns include whether Engleman Conners is
too chummy with the agencies that the board oversees and too
susceptible to influence from the White House. A memo from Engleman
Conners to the board said their concerns had already been addressed,
the Tribune said, a response that Carmody described as
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STAR LOSES DOOR IN FLIGHT
When something went "whoomp" outside a home in Hartselle, Ala., last
Saturday, it turned out to be the door off an airplane. This week, it
was identified as the door from a Diamond Star based at nearby
Rountree Airport; the plane landed safely after the incident. Jeff
Owen, a spokesman for Diamond Aircraft, confirmed yesterday that the
door had come off in flight, and it's not the first time. "It's
happened several times," he told AVweb, and he added that the
only way it can occur is if the door is not properly latched. "There
are two monstrous pins that secure that door, and a system that will
tell the pilot, with an audio warning and a light on the panel, if the
door is unlatched," he said. He stressed that the system has one known
flaw -- the pilot has to close the door and secure the latch for it to
work. (Not that they're pointing fingers.) More...
CHUTE DEPLOYED FOR FOURTH SAVE
The pilot and passenger in a Cirrus SR22 escaped injury on Sunday afternoon
when they activated their ballistic chute and ... arrived ... in a walnut
tree near Stockton, Calif. The pilot, William Graham, 65, and his
wife, Barbara, 64, were en route to San Diego from Redding.
Preliminary reports say the aircraft encountered turbulence at about
14,000 feet and entered a spin. Graham turned off the engine and
deployed the chute. "The plane was intact," local fire chief Vic
Solari told The Record. "There was a huge, orange-and-white parachute
attached to the plane. ... It's just unreal. ... I was just amazed."
William Graham is a certified flight instructor who has been flying
for 25 years, the Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune reported yesterday.
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AIRPLANES FIGHT FOR RIGHTS
It's not legal to discriminate against small aircraft while giving all
the breaks to jets -- that's the argument of three tenants at
McClellan-Palomar Airport, near Carlsbad, Calif., who are about to be
evicted so a developer can build 19 new jet hangars. A complaint filed
with the FAA last month by the Pacific
Coast Flyers Club, the owner of a pilot-supply shop and a retired
airline pilot says the new lease was improperly handled by the county.
The project will leave 150 small aircraft homeless with nowhere to go,
resulting in "Prohibited Economic Discrimination," according to the
complaint. Demolition of the old buildings is set for Oct. 1.
(LESS TOLERANT) REACTION TO TSA ALIEN TRAINING RULE
As AVweb reported Monday, the TSA has issued a new rule about background checks for foreign flight
students, and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association
welcomed it as fair and balanced. But on Tuesday, AOPA published its
own analysis of the rule, and found it wanting. "It
applies unnecessary training and burdensome recordkeeping requirements
to every flight school and every single flight instructor, whether or
not they're training foreign students," AOPA President Phil Boyer said
in a news release. "If that's really TSA's intent, they've gone too
far." AOPA said it's talking to the TSA to clarify the intent and
applicability of the rule, while AOPA's legal and regulatory experts
continue a line-by-line analysis of the document. More...
LET GA SWING YOUR VOTE
Anyone who is still uncertain whether to cast a vote for President
Bush or John Kerry can check out AOPA Pilot's October issue to read up on their
views about general aviation ... but it's pretty tough to discern much
difference in their responses. The strongest distinction we could find
was in regard to the air traffic control system. Is privatization on
the agenda? Mr. Bush's response could be interpreted as hedging a bit:
"FAA Administrator [Marion] Blakey has said that the administration
has no plans to privatize the air traffic control system." Kerry's
language is a bit more direct: "I oppose privatizing the air traffic
control system." More...
ANNOUNCES SPACE PROGRAM
SpaceDev, a California company that has provided
components to Scaled Composites' SpaceShipOne, has started its own
project to develop a reusable, piloted, suborbital spaceship. SpaceDev
is not aiming for the X
Prize, but says it is looking at a long-term program that could be
scaled up to transport passengers to and from low earth orbit,
including the International Space Station. The "SpaceDev Dream Chaser"
would take off vertically and glide back to earth for a horizontal
runway landing. "This project is one small step for SpaceDev, but
could evolve into one giant leap for affordable, commercial human
space flight," said CEO Jim Benson in a news release on Monday.
USES FOR YOUR HELICOPTER
Helicopter pilots have discovered all kinds of useful, and profitable,
niches for their flying machines, but New Zealand farmers may be
popularizing a new use for the big eggbeaters -- they can help keep
their precious grape vines warm at night. Many of the vineyards on the
South Island are tucked into valleys and slopes where a gentle airflow
prevents frost from forming. But on the plains of Marlborough,
according to The Nelson Mail, late winter can bring overnight
inversions that trap cold air near the surface and ruin the delicate
vines with frost. The solution -- hire a helicopter or two to beat
about all night long and mix up that atmosphere. Apparently, if a
vineyard has $120,000 worth of grapes at risk, paying $4,000 or so for
a night of wind-whacking makes sense. More...
Proposed AD affects some New Piper aircraft with
Lake Tahoe contract tower to close Oct. 1; city
cites budget crunch...
Hurricane Jeanne is growing stronger and
heading close to Florida...
"Oshkosh 2004" premieres tonight on
Discovery Wings channel...
JFK Jr.'s 1977 Cessna Skylane online
auction starts Nov. 10...
Delta Air Lines and pilots agreed to let
retired crew return...
Save Concorde Group said petition has
reached target of 20,000...
Updated Concorde for Flight Simulator
2002/2004 due Oct. 29. More...
If you missed Reno, or just don't know what that means, click through
Expanded Reno coverage (an updated Reno wrap-up and extended image
NEWSTIPS ADDRESS ...
Drop us a line. Heard something that 130,000 pilots might want
to know about? If it caught your eye, it will probably interest
someone else, too. Submit news tips via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
ARTICLES AND FEATURES ON AVWEB
The Cessna, The Sky ... and the
Cartoonist: Chapters Two and Three
Our intrepid student aviator
and artist, John Ewing, continues his flight training and is hit with
academic work that challenges his semi-retired brain. Attitude flying,
however, is a bit more intuitive, although we catch him making engine
noises in a silent airplane.
What's New -- Products and Services
This month, AVweb's
survey of the latest products and services for pilots, mechanics and
aircraft owners brings you charts for PDAs, EFIS, autopilot
interfaces, videos, survival knifes and more.
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QUESTION OF THE WEEK ...
This week, we'd like to know a little bit about how and where you
prefer to get your regular dose of AVweb. Do you rely on our AVflash
newsletter, read the NewsWire on AVweb.com, or use some combination of
the two? Chime in with your reading preferences and help us out!
AOPA'S STEVE ELLS RATES MIKE BUSCH'S OWNER SEMINAR
Steve Ells, AOPA Pilot's West Coast
Editor and a career A&P/IA, recently attended Mike Busch's "Savvy
Owner Seminar" in Seattle. Here's what Steve had to say:
"Mike Busch has a wealth of knowledge and can save you a ton of money
on maintenance while keeping your airplane safe and ready for
stress-free flying. I found his seminar invaluable and
I'm an A&P!" Mike will be giving just two more seminars this
year: One in Albany, NY the weekend of October 2-3 and the other
in Long Beach, CA on October 24-25 (immediately following AOPA
Expo). You'll need to register pronto to get in on either of
these seminars, so visit http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/savvy/avflash.
PICTURE OF THE WEEK ...
Every once in a while, a theme emerges from your photo submissions
without any stretch of the imagination on our part. This week's clear
theme was "skylines" more specifically, skylines and
stormfronts. Would you believe that one out of every four "POTW"
entries was a skyline photo? C'mon, 'fess up you guys got
together and planned this, didn't you? ... Fine, just sit there and
stare we're on to you, and we'll catch you before this is all
over. In the meantime, take a look at three of the best horizon photos
plus one extra pic, just for good measure. More...
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|KITPLANES MAGAZINE DISSECTS THE LIGHT-SPORT
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