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The Top Headlines From
AVweb's Expanded, Illustrated News Coverage At AVweb's
WANT LASER PROTECTION (REALLY)
Some airline pilots say there should be some kind of system to inform
them of recent laser attacks and some fresh thought put into what can
be done to guard against them in light of a rash of incidents over the
past couple of weeks. "Pilots want a generalized warning and
training," Denis Breslin, vice president of the Allied Pilots
Association, told The Associated Press. "I think that's not too much
to ask." At least eight flight crews have reported being lased in
recent weeks. Although there have been hundreds of lasing incidents
reported over the years, the most recent ones follow warnings from the
Transportation Security Administration and FBI that terrorists might
be planning to use lasers against airliners. Terrorists ... as opposed
to the non-terrorists that seem to be doing it now. The FAA says it's
now working on a set of recommendations. More...
HAZARD, REAL OR PERCEIVED...
Now, it seems hard to believe that anything powered by a couple of AA
batteries could potentially bring down an airplane but the pilots of a
Citation lased while on approach to Teterboro Airport in New Jersey a
couple of weeks ago were sufficiently moved by the experience to help
local authorities track down the culprit. As AVweb reported on
Thursday, David Banach, of Parsippany, N.J., is now facing federal
charges under the Patriot Act for what his lawyer claims was an
innocent mistake. Banach was using a Jasper green
laser available over the Internet for $119 and sometimes used by
astronomy buffs to point out stars and galaxies in the night sky. The
green beam of light is apparently clearly visible as it slices through
the darkness. Despite the apparent effectiveness of the lasers, there
are those who doubt their danger. More...
MUCH MORE POWERFUL LASERS AVAILABLE
The laser used by Banach had five milliwatts of lasing power, the most
allowed without a license. Although potentially harmful to the retina,
such lasers aren't powerful enough to damage much else. Much more
powerful hand-held devices are available, however, and the licensing
issue is skirted by calling them "laser components" rather than
finished products. Wicked Lasers is based outside the U.S. (hence not
bound by the licensing requirements) and tells all its customers that
it's their responsibility to comply with those laws. Wicked Lasers
will sell you a "laser component" that's ten times more powerful than
the current FDA limit, will burn holes in black plastic and has a
range, they claim, of 20 miles.[ More...
JOB "OFFER" SLAMMED
The cheers have turned to jeers among National Association of Air
Traffic Specialists members as they get to the fine print of a
placement plan for some of the automated flight service station (AFSS)
workers who may (likely will) lose their jobs to privatization. You
see, while AFSS workers would be out on the street this year,
according to a news release issued by NAATS, there are no job
vacancies left for them in the current fiscal year. According to the
release, the FAA's Assistant Administrator for Human Resources,
Ventris Gibson, said the 435 new controllers that will be hired this
year would all come from outside the agency, which angered NAATS
President Kate Breen. "This year there are over 435 controller jobs
that could be filled by qualified employees within the FAA, employees
that the FAA may involuntarily separate [we think that means fire]
later this year," she said. More...
And while some of those who lose their jobs may eventually find
themselves back in the FAA fold, for some it's the end of the line. In
e-mails to AVweb, AFSS workers claim that career counselors are
advising them to dust off their resumes and not expect a job with the
FAA. According to Dave Vitko, who works at the Altoona AFSS, many of
his colleagues are within months of retirement, but the new system
could result in their being terminated before they reach the magic
numbers. "I, for one, will end up approximately three months short of
a 20-year controller retirement if the A-76 goes off as planned,"
Vitko said. In an interview with GovExec.com, FAA Administrator Marion
Blakey says the agency is doing all it can to help out the potentially
affected workers.[ More...
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ENDURANCE TESTED (SORT OF)
If ever there was a plane suited to being stuck in a holding pattern
for an hour (or 24), this is it. GlobalFlyer, the plane that Steve
Fossett hopes to fly solo around the world in a few weeks, was stacked
up near its destination of Salina, Kan., Friday on the repositioning
flight from Scaled Composites' headquarters in Mojave, Calif. "We were
kind of loitering around," said Fossett, who will spend about 80 hours
in the cockpit on the record attempt. Friday's flight was something of
a shakedown for the plane and was flown at 47,000 feet. The flight
profile called for a long, slow descent (400 fpm) and ATC elected to
let eight other planes land before allowing the descent.
AID BOUNCES SIGNALS FROM TERRAIN
A Hood River, Ore., company has received $7 million in government
funds to study the effectiveness of an innovative system designed to
allow for precision approaches to airports where terrain or other
constraints prevent the use of conventional navaids. Advanced
Navigation and Positioning Corp. (ANPC) says the Transponder Landing
System actually uses the rough terrain as part of a system that tracks
an aircraft's position in the airport's terminal area and sends
course-correction instructions to the cockpit. "By measuring and
accounting for the radio signal reflections off of surrounding
obstacles and terrain, the system is able to ensure guidance accuracy
in areas erstwhile unable to support a precision approach," said Pete
Kinkhead, the company's marketing director. More...
FAA ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS ARE ON THE
Legal claims for airspace incursions have increased
over 150% all requiring legal counsel. That's why pilots
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A LOAF OFFERED TO MECHANICS
A bankruptcy judge has held his nose and decided that US Airways
mechanics will be better off with lower-paying jobs rather than no
jobs at all. But the International Association of Machinists and
Aerospace Workers can still likely accomplish the latter by going on
strike. On Thursday, Judge Stephen S. Mitchell said US Airways could
cancel its existing contract with its mechanics as a cost-cutting
measure, but not until the union votes on the revised contract Jan.
22. In handing down his ruling, Mitchell conceded it wasn't fair to
the workers. "But the question is, will there be any jobs left at all
at the end of the day?" That type of question may be weighing heavily
at United Air Lines where many current workers ponder the security of
their positions and retired pilots ponder the loss of their pensions.
TRAINING RULE RELAXED A LITTLE MORE
Alphabet groups continue to chip away at the hassle factor involved
with the TSA's alien flight training rule. An interpretation released
by the TSA last week significantly limits the circumstances under
which proof of citizenship and background checks will be required for
those flying aircraft weighing less than 12,500 pounds. To trigger the
requirements, the TSA now says a pilot has to be undergoing flight
training that "substantially enhances piloting skills." That means
initial flight training, or multi-engine or instrument tickets,
according to AOPA spokesman Andy Cebula. There's a major deadline
looming for flight instructors. More...
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G-V DISAPPEARS FROM RECORDS
On Dec. 27, The Washington Post ran a story about a V that's been seen
landing at military airports around the Middle East. The story alleged
that the plush jet was actually being used by the spymasters to take
terrorism suspects to countries where, when prisoners are
interrogated, amenities like the Geneva Convention are not strictly
observed. The story included the N-number (N379P) and the name of the
owner (Premier Executive Transport Services Inc.) Go ahead, look them
up on the FAA's database . We did. Assuming the Post got the
name and number right, someone's been tinkering with the FAA database.
LANDING WAS THE PITS
Accidents happen, but it certainly appears that something went off the
USAF paper trail to cause an accident like this. First, we can't
confirm exactly what happened here (and we'd love to hear from anyone
who can) but based on the number of sources from which we obtained
these photos and text, it sure looks like somebody removed a section
of runway in Iraq and didn't inform the people who might expect to use
it. The C-130 was landing on the night of Dec. 29 (it may have been a
special-forces plane) when it hit the pit and instantly became a
runway hazard itself. No one was killed but there were several
injuries and the plane is a goner. Those of you with PowerPoint will
want to see it with your own eyes. More...
In our Jan. 6 edition of AVflash, we incorrectly described James
Schuster as the new president of the General Aviation Manufacturers
Association. He's actually the chairman of the board of directors.
FAA delayed seat-removal rule until Aug. 31...
Reno/Tahoe will get
Christian groups sending aircraft, pilots to tsunami
Inauguration will close D.C. to most GA traffic.
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.
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ARTICLES AND FEATURES ON AVWEB
As the Beacon Turns #85: The Lost
Art of Stick & Rudder
Did you think airline pilots -- flying
planes with heavy-duty landing gear and doing crabbed landings --
never have to worry about stick-and-rudder skills? Wrong. AVweb's
Michael Maya Charles and some fellow pilots commiserate on the lack of
basic flying skills in this month's As The Beacon Turns column.
FEEDBACK ON AVWEB'S NEWS COVERAGE AND FEATURE ARTICLES:
Reader mail this week about frost contamination, lasers, and still
more about controller and pilot retirement ages. More...
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Flying with the wife.
Me: Skyhawk N##1, four miles south of the field,
entering left downwind runway 22.
Other Pilot: N##2 crossing mid-field. I dont see you, do
you have your lights on?
ME: We are all lit.
Wife: (over the intercom) That didn't sound right.
Me: Just to clarify, the plane is lit, not the pilot.
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