February 9, 2005
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
This issue of AVweb's AVflash is brought to you by ... LightSPEED Aviation
LIGHTSPEED AVIATION INTRODUCES NEW LINE OF HEADSETS
The Bush administration on Monday released its $13.8 billion FAA budget proposal for the next fiscal year, down 1.27 percent from last year. Cuts affecting general aviation include $600 million lost by the Airport Improvement Program. "The small GA airports that can afford it the least would be hurt the most," said AOPA's Andy Cebula. The FAA's research and development budget would be cut 13 percent, which could affect ongoing work to find a replacement for leaded aviation gasoline and develop associated engine technology. The facilities budget would be cut 3 percent, giving the FAA less to work with to maintain and modernize its equipment. "This isn't the final word on the budget, but a start," said Cebula. The proposal now is in Congress, where lobbyists and committees already have started to battle out the details. "With federal dollars as tight as they are, this will be a difficult session," Cebula said. "But we have a strong voice, and we will be heard." National Air Transportation Association President James Coyne also expressed concern over the cuts to the FAA. "The administration is neglecting to look at the big picture when it comes to analyzing our national aviation system," Coyne said. "Reducing much-needed funds for the FAA to modernize the air traffic control system only serves to worsen the problems we face today." Ed Bolen, president of the National Business Aviation Association, is disappointed that funding for runway construction has been cut. "Given that airport capacity is increasingly restricted, and runways are a key means of easing airport congestion, it is unfortunate that critically needed resources for building runways are being proposed for cuts," Bolen told AVweb yesterday. The fiscal year begins October 1.
The budget plan drew a swift response from the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), which was looking for proof that the FAA will deliver on its promises. The FAA said in December it will hire 1,249 air traffic controllers in fiscal year 2006 -- but the budget proposal showed a request to fund only 595 new hires. "Woefully inadequate doesn't even begin to describe this latest bait and switch," said NATCA President John Carr. FAA spokesman William Shumann told AVweb the FAA is not backing off from its commitment. The 595 new hires in the budget are in addition to the current workforce. The other 654 controllers to be hired this year will fill positions that already exist, as replacements for controllers lost due to attrition. The funding for those positions is already available elsewhere, Shumann said. NATCA spokesman Doug Church told AVweb he'd rather see it in writing. "Apparently, the FAA is asking us all to take their word for it that they'll actually replace all 654 they say will leave next fiscal year, which is tough to do when you consider this agency lost more than 500 controllers through attrition in fiscal year 2004 and hired only 13."
While funding to maintain the current aviation system is scarce, the system of the future is getting strong support. The proposed budget triples funding for the Joint Planning and Development Office, whose mandate is to transform the nation's air transportation system to meet the needs of the year 2025. The Transportation Department says the next-generation air transportation system will allow travelers to choose how, where and when they want to travel while making their experience as safe, secure and hassle-free as possible. The budget also requests $2.4 billion to improve and modernize the National Airspace System. Over at NASA, however, funding for aeronautical research faces deep cuts. In fiscal year 2006, funding declines from about $900 million to $852 million, with further declines projected through 2010. NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate conducts research into advanced propulsion technologies using hydrogen fuel; airframe and propulsion technologies for noise reduction; lightweight, high-strength structures; modern decision-support tools; revolutionary display and control systems; adverse weather countermeasures; adaptive controls; and advanced vehicle designs. In collaboration with the FAA, the directorate also conducts research in air traffic management technologies.
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FAA officials have asked leaders from the bizav community to attend a meeting on Feb. 18 in Washington, D.C., to address safety issues. A recent rash of GA accidents involving charter flights and bizjets has raised questions in the mainstream media about the safety of the sector, but the FAA has said this meeting is not in response to that but is part of a continuing review of the industry as a whole. The purpose of the meeting is to exchange ideas, FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown told USA Today. "If there are safety programs or best practices that some of the operators are using that they can share with the rest of the community, then we'd like to make that available to everybody," she said. Expected at the meeting are representatives from NBAA, the National Air Transportation Association, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, the NTSB, and others. NBAA's Steve Brown told AVweb yesterday that there is no formal agenda for the meeting yet, but he expects that issues such as pilot training, maintenance and aging aircraft will be addressed. "The record shows our safety level has been improving, but we're always looking for opportunities to improve further," he said. Over the last three years, FAA data shows there were 0.077 fatal accidents per million commercial airline flights, while business aviation had 0.33 fatal accidents per million flights, according to The Washington Post. Such comparisons can be misleading because GA flights are so diverse, operating under various sets of rules in a wide variety of equipment. Corporate jets flown by professional crews, for example, often match or beat the airlines' safety record.
Another meeting is also in the works -- NBAA says it has requested a meeting with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to discuss the concerns of state officials who have called for reductions in flights at Teterboro Airport (TEB). Last Tuesday morning, a Challenger CL-600 aborted its takeoff roll on Runway 6 at TEB, crossed a road and hit a warehouse, injuring 20. Another CL-600 ran off the opposite end of the same runway after an aborted takeoff in December 2003. NBAA said it wants to work with the Port Authority to define options that enhance safety without diminishing capacity at TEB.
IN PRINT AND ONLINE, TRADE-A-PLANE GIVES YOU THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
How will space tourists be assured of safety, without strict federal rules that could stifle the industry's growth? Consensus industry standards are the answer, according to Michael S. Kelly, chairman of the FAA's Reusable Launch Vehicles Working Group. Kelly testified yesterday afternoon before the U.S. House Aviation Subcommittee. The hearing addressed the status and future of the U.S. commercial space transportation industry and the role of the FAA in providing safety oversight. The standards, which Kelly compared to voluntary Underwriters Laboratory approval for electronic devices, will assure the public that their spaceflight provider is safe. It's vital that the FAA strike the proper balance of protecting the public without stifling the industry's growth, said U.S. Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.). "Our [House Science] Committee is watching this process like a hawk," he said.
Although voluntary standards are likely to prove safer than government regulation, Kelly said, it's inevitable that there will be accidents and fatalities. "I do not share the view of many in industry that the first fatal accident will spell the end of personal spaceflight. Such a thing has never happened in all of history ... It is contrary to human nature." However, when it comes to regulation, even the smallest of stumbles could add years of delay in the development of the emerging industry, Kelly warned. At last count, Virgin Galactic had 14,000 reservations, he said. The FAA has already licensed four commercial launch facilities, in California, Florida, Virginia and Alaska, and several more are in the works. The U.S. commercial space transportation and its associated services and industries already fuel more than $95 billion in economic activity per year delivering satellites to orbit, and support over a half-million jobs, FAA Administrator Marion Blakey said at yesterday's hearing. The demand for such launches is waning, however, and competition is dropping the prices, leaving space tourism as the economic driver of the industry's future.
Meanwhile, a group of space entrepreneurs announced on Tuesday they are organizing a new Personal Spaceflight Federation to promote growth and safety in their new industry. The federation will work with the FAA as it develops industry standards for passenger safety and crew training. "In 2004, there were only 15 worldwide commercial space launches," said Gregg Maryniak of the X Prize Foundation, one of the organizers. "Personal spaceflight promises a much larger market and will provide the demand that the industry needs to grow and economize." Initial members of the group include Burt Rutan, Scaled Composites; John Carmack, Armadillo Aerospace; Elon Musk, SpaceX; and Alex Tai, Virgin Galactic. Also represented are XCOR, the X Prize Foundation, t/Space/HMX, Pioneer Rocketplane, Mojave Spaceport, Space Adventures, and the RLV Working Group of COMSTAC, the Department of Transportation's industry advisory committee. Membership is open to all U.S. nonprofit and commercial entities developing suborbital commercial passenger travel. The 8th Annual FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference, "Ready for the Next Giant Leap," kicks off today in Washington, with sessions on regulation, training and technology.
PROTECT & SHINE YOUR AIRCRAFT WITH A NAME YOU KNOW & TRUST AEROSHELL
With the FAA set to start hiring hundreds of air traffic controllers this year, the question arises, where will all those new hires come from? Part of the answer is, from the ranks of the U.S. military -- which has some Air Force officials already starting to fret. "We're certainly looking at it," Sgt. Donald Ball of the Air Force Flight Standards Agency at Andrews Air Force Base (Md.) told Stars & Stripes. "We're concerned, but it's kind of hard to speculate." The FAA lures the military controllers with higher salaries, generally from about $70,000 to $120,000. Ball said the service retains 53 percent of its first-term airmen as controllers, but by the 10-year mark, 75 percent are gone. To head off the possible exodus, Ball said the Air Force is now reaching out to controllers, extolling the benefits of the military over civilian work, emphasizing the free medical care, housing allowances and other enticements not offered by the FAA, and offering bonuses to those who re-enlist. "It's called re-recruiting, and we're doing that currently," he said.
The manufacturers of very light jets (VLJs) are taking a hard look at the unique risks that exist for their (future) products ... and it's a very long list. The National Business Aviation Association has compiled the list as part of its recommended training guidelines for VLJ pilots. Many of the anticipated risks occur because the jets will be operating on high-altitude airways and at high-traffic airports, where they will be mixing it up with much bigger jets. The VLJs will face jet-blast encounters on the ground, wake turbulence in the pattern and en route, weather hazards and aerodynamic challenges unique to high altitudes, and the stresses of single-pilot operation in a complex environment. The training aims to minimize those risks, and NBAA urges VLJ pilots to fly with an ATP-rated "mentor pilot" until they are proficient in all flight regimes. The decision as to when a VLJ pilot can fly solo "should be collaborative with the pilot, training provider and insurance underwriter," says NBAA. The FAA, Adam Aircraft, Cessna Aircraft, Eclipse Aircraft, training providers and insurance providers worked with NBAA to develop the guidelines. NBAA defines the VLJs as jet aircraft weighing 10,000 pounds or less, certificated for single-pilot operations, and with some or all of these features: advanced cockpit automation, automated engine and systems management, and integrated autoflight, autopilot and flight-guidance systems.
|HEADSET CAUSING HEADACHE?|
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On Sunday night, the pilot of a Cirrus SR-22 en route from Reno, Nev., to Oakland, Calif., at about 16,000 feet, told controllers at Oakland Center his wings were icing up and he was going down. The wreckage, the parachute and the pilot's body were found early Monday in a remote area of the Sugar Bowl Ski Resort. Local officials said the chute had been deployed with the airplane in a 350-mph dive and tore the airplane in half, a notion rejected by Cirrus. Bill King, a Cirrus spokesman, told the Duluth News Tribune that it would be impossible for the parachute to do that. The pilot's name has not been released. The crash was the third fatal accident involving a Cirrus in just over three weeks.
There's no end of innovation in the world, and here are a few interesting gadgets for aviators that we've run across lately. The Flightcell unit, made in New Zealand, allows pilots to use a cellphone or satphone through their headset, while remaining connected to the radios -- perfectly legal down under, but in the U.S., cellphones aloft are still (technically, at least) a no-no. The TeleType WorldNavigator brings GPS and Victor airway navigation to a Pocket PC. And for desktop flyers, Horizon Simulation adds photographic scenery to your Microsoft Flight Simulator, so you can practice that VFR cross-country flight across a "picture perfect" landscape. The photographic add-ons are available for San Francisco and Sacramento, as well as England, Wales, and Paris. FYI: AVweb offers a "What's New" feature, once each month showcasing some of the items we run across. Feel free to bookmark the archive.A visit there will cost you just as much as the rest of AVweb's Web site ... (nothing).
EXTENDED HOURS AND ONLINE SERVICES KEEP AVEMCO FIRST
Survivors of a crash of a Cessna 180 skydiving plane in Pennsylvania last October say they don't fault the pilot ... even though he was flying with a revoked medical for a heart condition, had vision corrected to no better than 20/40, clipped trees on takeoff from his own 1,515-foot grass strip (its condition is listed as poor in the NTSB's report), and was at the controls for the subsequent fatal crash. Emil Kindelberger, 81, was denied a medical on May 27, 2003, after being diagnosed with coronary artery disease requiring a bypass. He apparently continued to fly skydiving customers and they remain supportive of him. "Emil is Beaver County legend material," said Cecil Smith, who still suffers neck pain and sleepless nights from the accident. "It's sad that something like this happened at the end of his career." Another skydiver, Nancy Elm, died in the accident. Kindelberger and skydiver Timothy McGraw were also injured.
There's still time to participate in the engine-shop survey being conducted by Aviation Consumer, AVweb's sister publication. If you haven't already responded, they'd like to hear from you about your recent experiences with engine overhauls or factory remans. You don't have to be a subscriber; simply log on to AviationConsumer.com and tell them what you think.
In the last issue of AVweb we got our Challenger accidents mixed up. A previous incident in which the pilot reported he couldn't rotate the airplane on takeoff happened at Teterboro in December 2003, not in Colorado last November as we stated.
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The Collier Trophy for 2004 goes to SpaceshipOne. The prestigious trophy is awarded by the National Aeronautic Association...
Peter Bunce has been selected as the new president for the General Aviation Manufacturers Association. Bunce was formerly with the Pentagon and the U.S. Air Force. He replaces Ed Bolen, who is now president of NBAA...
A 747 pilot for Pakistan Airways was arrested after he failed a breath test for alcohol at Manchester (England) Airport Saturday...
Some British politicos are calling for compulsory random breath tests for pilots...
Vandals smashed 15 runway lights about 2:30 a.m. Saturday at Arlington (Wash.) Airport.
Drop us a line. If it caught your attention, it will probably interest someone else, too. Submit news tips via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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RESOLVE TO BECOME MAINTENANCE-SAVVY IN 2005!
What's New -- Products and Services for January
This month AVweb's survey of the latest products and services for pilots, mechanics and aircraft owners brings you a handheld nav/com, a pilot's PDA with GPS, an oil filter wrench and much more.
The Cessna, The Sky ... and the Cartoonist: Chapters Thirteen, Fourteen and Fifteen
The dreaded crosswind takeoffs and landings -- new students learn to dread them, while old-timers seem to seek them out. But they weren't the most challenging aspect of the day for our cartoonist/pilot: What do you think you get when you mix a stiff breeze with a light plane and a fence?
SEE CLEARLY METHOD IMPROVES & STRENGTHENS VISION NATURALLY
*** PREVIOUS RESULTS ***
Last week, AVweb asked (totally anonymously) if our readers had ever taken a drink of alcohol within the eight-hour window before a flight.
Much to our relief, 90% of respondents said no. (So much for our big advertising contract with Anheuser-Busch.)
The remaining 10% were split evenly among our other possible answers:
I'm sure I've had a sip within the eight-hour window. (3%)
The rule is about being impaired and I've never flown while impaired, eight-hour rule notwithstanding. (4%)
At the time, I didn't think so but in hindsight, I may have made a mistake. (3%)
*** THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***
In October, Lockheed Martin (the contract's lowest bidder) will begin its takeover of flight service stations. What's your prediction for the future of FSS?
Click here to answer
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AVweb hopes you all enjoyed the Super Bowl or whatever it was you were doing this week instead of submitting photos to our weekly "Picture of the Week" contest!
Sigh. We guess it was inevitable we'd eventually have a "normal" week again one with only a couple dozen submissions to choose from. But guess what? Even though the quantity of submissions lagged a bit this week, the quality was at an all-time high. We had 11 top-notch contenders for this week's first-prize baseball cap, but when all was said and done, we had to give the cap to the pic that made us say, "What the?"
Due to privacy issues, AVweb does not publish e-mail addresses of readers who submit photos.
Used with permission of Simon Holland
"Coyote Prop Warmer"
Simon Holland of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin sends
us this photo of two prop warmers that are sure to catch
your eye and maybe even start a protest or two direct
from the January 29 EAA Oshkosh Pioneer Airport Ski Fly-In.
(No, we're not sending him a coonskin cap.)
here to view a large version of this image
Click here for a medium-sized version
Radomir Zaric of Charlotte, North Carolina
sends us this shot of the Southeast RV Squadron
practicing formation flying. Looking good, fellas!
Used with permission of Eric Cobb
"Up, Up, and Away"
"POTW" veteran Eric Cobb of Solvang, California
is back with another eye-catching photo for us.
(If there's a joke out there about what happens when the
EAA meets AAA, this is certainly the punchline.)
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.
"POTW" submissions have dropped a bit*, but we'll
overlook it and deliver some bonus pictures, anyway.
Despite a drop in quantity, quality stayed high. We
had almost as many final-round contenders for this week's
hat as we would during a much busier contest week.
*You like the Super Bowl better than us, don't you?
Used with permission of Yvonne Egge
"Young Pilot Must Start Somewhere"
Yvonne Egge of Fairfax, Virginia hit the photo
albums this week and sent us a picture of her husband
fueling an airplane in 1961, when he worked as a line boy
at the Hershey Airport in Pennsylvania. "The very handsome
young man ... learned to fly there, got all his ratings, and
went on to become an airline pilot," writes Yvonne.
"He is now an investigator for the NTSB."
Used with permission of Gerald Murray
"Ahh, Winter Flying!"
Gerald Murray of Floral Park, New York
was preparing for take-off from Long Island
at 7:45am on a Saturday during "the Freeze"
(Gerald's caps) when he snapped this photo.
We're cold, tired, and re-thinking the whole
trip just from looking at this photo ... !
Used with permission of Kenneth Kessler
Kenneth Kessler of Anacortes, Washington
writes, "Living in the San Juan Islands is great,
but it does get messy in winter."
Used with permission of Lakshmi Vempati
"POTW" favorite Lakshmi Vempati
of San Luis Obispo, California takes us
out in widescreen glory with an amazing shot of the
fog and mist over SLO before an early morning flight.
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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Today's issue written by News Writer Mary Grady:
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