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The Top Headlines From AVweb's Expanded,
Illustrated News Coverage At AVweb's
USER FEES, AND THE FAA'S PLAN...
During a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, John Carr,
president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA),
said he believed the FAA's 10-year air traffic controller staffing
plan announced on Tuesday could lead to general aviation's being
charged for services provided by the FAA. "This is the kind of report
that opens the door to user fees," Carr said. Under the plan, the FAA
hopes to hire a total of 12,500 new controllers over the 10 years to
replace 11,700 who will likely retire. But user fees for GA are
not part of the plan (at least not yet). FAA chief spokesman
Greg Martin told AVweb Wednesday that any suggestion of user
fees being implemented in the near future is wrong. "No, not at this
time. Let me be emphatic about that," he said. More...
NEW MATH: COST SAVINGS, EFFICIENCY REQUIRED...
Martin (of the FAA) told AVweb that to get the funding required
for the hiring program from Congress, the agency -- and the union --
will have to sharpen their pencils. "These are times that present some
very valid fiscal constraints and challenges," Martin said. "We cannot
show an unwillingness to work smarter and control our costs. These
times of expansive budgets are gone." Martin said the whole aviation
industry is suffering financially and that that has a direct,
bottom-line impact on the FAA: "We are not exempt from the same fiscal
challenges." But Carr (of NATCA) suggested that much of the report was
structured to soften up the union for the next round of contract
negotiations, due to start next year. "That's patently false," said
Martin. (Can't we all just get along?) More...
TO BATTLE SERVICE CUTS...
Carr said the union will "trump" a component of the plan that will cut
hours of operations at 34 yet-to-be-named towers. He said reducing
service will inevitably lead to flight delays, and the report
acknowledges that if the hiring goals are not met, safety
considerations will take precedence over capacity. "We need to tell
the flying public to take a good book to the airport because they're
going to be there awhile," he said. He said he believes the impending
staffing crisis will result in GA's being unwelcome at some airports.
"I think you're going to see GA squeezed away from urban areas," he
said. "I think that's dangerous." Carr also criticized plans to allow
some controllers to work beyond the mandatory retirement age of 56.
SAYS "I TOLD YOU SO"
Then there are some who say that there is no shortage of controllers
-- just a shortage of will (and/or money) to hire them. Professional
Air Traffic Controllers Organization Inc. (PATCO) President Ron Taylor
pointed out that when then-President Clinton lifted the ban against
hiring controllers fired in 1981 by then-President Reagan (thus
precipitating the current situation) more than 5,000 of the fired
controllers applied to get their jobs back. Taylor said 846 were
actually hired. Some PATCO members are trying to get the courts to
force the FAA to rehire them. Taylor joined Carr in criticizing the
FAA for dragging its feet in hiring new controllers. "This latest
scramble to hire desperately needed controllers only shows that this
agency has been out of control for 23 years," Taylor said.
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Call an easyJet pilot a good stick and you may get more than you
bargained for. Those saucy British have been at it again, baring all
for charity calendars, and this time around it's a bunch of jet
jockeys, minus the jockeys. "It isn't every day you can wander around
the airport naked without being arrested," said Capt. Tim Burns, who
fleshed out the scheme with First Officer Gareth Blakely. The calendar
proceeds, with carefully posed images of pilots on the tarmac, on the
runway, and in the ... cockpit ... will go to the National Society for
Epilepsy. Meanwhile, the theme appears widespread -- a popular
aviation charity was also the benefactor of a no-secrets display, this
one by some Australian women. More...
AIRCRAFT HELP OUT
Of course you don't have to get down and dirty for a good cause. About
140 Michigan pilots took part in Operation Good Cheer this year to deliver a dozen
truckloads of gifts throughout the state to foster children. This
great excuse to fly began in 1980 (for pilots -- the charity itself
has been around since '71) with a single pilot who went to 16
different airports. "We love to fly and there's nothing better than
flying with a purpose," said West Line Cessna 210 pilot Mark Neal.
Mother Nature wasn't as charitable, however. Some of the pilots bucked
50-knot headwinds to make the deliveries, which ultimately found their
way to 4,800 young abuse and neglect victims. But the good cheer
didn't end there. In yet another unrelated charitable event, the Candy
Bomber has struck again, this time on North Carolina's Outer Banks.
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CERTIFICATE MAY MOVE GA CLOSER TO FREEDOM
The TSA appears to be opening restricted airspace and airports a crack
for business aviation. According to the National Business Aviation
Association's (NBAA's) Web site, Rear Adm. David Stone, the assistant
secretary of Homeland Security, said the TSA Access Certificate (TSAAC
-- used to grant waivers for some international operations) will
likely be modified. The result would be a certificate that could be
used to grant waivers for business aircraft flying into
security-restricted airports and airspace in the U.S. NBAA President
Ed Bolen said it's the first time the TSAAC has been publicly
discussed as an option for domestic GA operations. Meanwhile, AOPA is
lamenting the resignation of Adm. James Loy as the Department of
Homeland Security's second-in-command. More...
DIFFERENT KIND OF SNOWFALL
If you don't think a wrecked Piper Aerostar could be worth $24 million
you've probably never packed one with cocaine (and that's a good
thing). Wheeling, W.Va., police are looking for the Aerostar's pilot
after the plane crashed on airport property. It was carrying 520
pounds of the drug, some of it wrapped as Christmas gifts. The plane
apparently crashed about 10 p.m. last Saturday but wasn't found until
about 12 hours later. (The tower there is closed at night.) The
alleged pilot, who police have identified but not yet found,
apparently flagged down a passing motorist and paid him for a ride to
a local motel with notes peeled from a wad of $100 bills.
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PILOT RECORDS ONLINE
Those hoping to obtain a sport pilot certificate or instructor
certificate in the coming year can now get their certified training records
online from the EAA Web site ... provided they previously registered
with EAA before the Sept. 1, 2004, deadline. The records must be
presented before pilots can take the written and practical tests for
the certificates. The written tests can be taken at authorized
centers now but it will be a few weeks before the first flight
tests are done. The FAA hopes to have the first crop of examiners
certified in January. More...
FLIGHT RULE IN EFFECT
The TSA alien flight-training rule is now in full effect but efforts
continue in the background to make it "less intrusive," according to
an AOPA spokesman. The organization's government specialist Andy
Cebula said any non-U.S. citizen beginning training for a new rating
or certificate must be registered with the TSA and undergo background
checks. It's up to their flight instructors and/or flight schools to
determine the citizenship of their students and make sure non-U.S.
citizens go through the security mill. More...
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PUSHES (AGAIN) FOR CAROLINA BASE
The U.S. Navy claims it has met all environmental and legal
obligations to establish a 30,000-acre training base in North
Carolina. It filed a 77-page document supporting its claim as part of
an appeal in a tangled legal proceeding over the base. However, an
environmental group and two county governments are accusing the Navy
of massaging the data to make the base look like it fits better than
it really does. There is major opposition to the base, which would
include an 8,000-foot runway. It will be used for carrier training of
F/A-18 Super Hornet pilots. Among the most contentious issues is the
location of a nearby wildlife preserve. More...
THE LIFT, HALF THE DRAG?
claims to have designed a wing with "twice the lift and half the drag
of anything in the world." The wing is just one of the improvements
Bill Montagne has made to the basic Super Cub design to create the Mountain
Goat, which (hauling a 1,330 pound useful load off the ground in
300 feet) he touts as the ultimate bush plane. Montagne has tweaked
engine performance and added safety features to the plane, which he
says is now unmatched in performance. He claims a 10-knot reduction in
stall speed over the Super Cub and a top end of almost 150 knots on
180 hp, in an interview with the Associated Press. More...
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Web site will follow Santas progress
Couple died when
plane hit tower wire near Fullerton, Ca.
compliance date for fractional operators
Mike Busch to
conduct piston seminar for PAMA delegates. More...
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 email@example.com.
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ARTICLES AND FEATURES ON AVWEB
The Savvy Aviator #13: Putting
Compression In Context
The differential compression check is
one of the quickest, easiest, and most useful tools we have for
measuring the top-end health of a piston aircraft engine. Yet many
owners, mechanics, and even the FAA seem confused about how to perform
the test properly and how to interpret the results. It's not rocket
The Night Before Christmas -
A retelling of the 19th-century story,
especially for aviators. This has been floating around the Internet
for years in various forms -- and probably was passed around as
photocopies for years before that. More...
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QUESTION OF THE WEEK ...
This week, AVweb looks at some numbers and posits a logical deduction:
Air traffic controllers suffer mandatory retirement at 56 because
scientific data suggests there's a sharp decline in sight, hearing,
and other necessary skills as people hit their mid-50s; and science
offers no evidence to justify relaxing the retirement age. "It's a
function of physiology," according to National Air Traffic Controllers
Association President John Carr. At the same time, airline pilots
suffer mandatory retirement at 60 (and in many countries, 65). This
may suggest that, in the eyes of regulators, pilots have the less
physiologically demanding job. In very simple black-and-white terms,
what do you think? PLUS: Results of last week's question on biometric
identifiers for mechanics. More...
PICTURE OF THE WEEK ...
Want to guess this week's theme? It's holiday pictures, of course
and, surprisingly, Middle America. One in five "POTW"
submissions in this round came from Ohio, Indiana, or Illinois. Good
work, folks thanks for putting us in a festive mood!
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