NewsWire Complete Issue

February 27, 2004
By The AVweb Editorial Staff

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California Dreamin' (Of A Sunny Day)...

Rain Washing Away Runways

Rampant (and perhaps record-setting) rains in southern California have wrecked about one-third of the 2,650-foot runway at Santa Paula Airport, a busy, privately owned public-use GA field about 20 miles northwest of Los Angeles. Santa Paula is home to about 300 planes, many of them vintage. The banks of the Santa Clara River have been eroding since a five-day storm in January, and the (unusual for California) persistent periodic downpours have since made it worse. Last Tuesday, the overflowing river was cutting away at its banks and threatening hangars as well as the runway, and the airport closed. "Our effort now is to save what we've got left, with the hopes of repairing the damage and reopening this airport someday," airport director Bruce Dickenson, whose grandfather founded the airport in 1930, told The Los Angeles Times. AOPA has pledged to help airport officials work through the maze of state and federal assistance programs. "Seeing this vibrant airport literally washed away has been painful for pilots everywhere," said AOPA President Phil Boyer, who committed the resources of AOPA's Washington, D.C., office and the AOPA California regional representative to help.

...As Money Trickles In...

On Saturday, officials announced they had secured a $6 million federal grant to be split between the airport and an erosion-control project. "This is all very good news," Rowena Mason, president of the Santa Paula Airport Association, told The Ventura County Star. "Businesses [at the airport] keep asking us whether they need to move. The flight school has temporarily left for Oxnard Airport. This has been devastating." The field is home to an aviation museum, 25 businesses, and about 100 workers. About $250,000 already has been spent on emergency repairs. The remaining part of the runway -- about 1,200 feet -- may reopen as early as today, for limited use by local pilots with special circumstances. But damage is expected to worsen as the waters recede. The rate of rainfall so far could make this wettest year on record for Southern California.

...Corona Airport Recovers -- In Time For More Floods

Meanwhile, Corona Municipal Airport, about 20 miles east of Los Angeles, reopened after a devastating flood last month, but had to close again as the water keeps coming back. "They just got done cleaning up the mud, repainting the taxiway and runway markings, fixing the gates, inspecting the buildings, restoring water and power, and reopening the airport to traffic," says local CFI Ron Rapp, when the flooding returned. Corona reopened for limited use over the weekend, but more rain was expected. "The upside is that if that airport wasn't on a floodplain, the way property values are, it would have been developed a long time ago," Rapp told AVweb. This year's trouble could have long-term implications. The airport is prone to flooding when winter storms and mountain meltwater overfill a nearby reservoir, Rapp told AVweb on Saturday, but this year is the worst it's been in at least a decade. "Many of the master leaseholders lost tenants on the field, including both private pilots and businesses that chose not to rebuild here," said Susan Brunner, of the Corona Pilots' Association. About 400 GA aircraft are based at the field.

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Ever Consider Lying To The FAA?

Student Pilot Gets Five Months In Prison

Whatever your reason may be ... A man who lied on his FAA application for a Student Pilot certificate was sentenced to five months in prison by a U.S. District Court in Winston Salem, N.C., earlier this month. Tony Cox, 45, of Burlington, N.C., was sentenced on a felony count of falsifying the application by failing to disclose a prior drug conviction for possession of cocaine. The Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigated the case. The FAA assisted and provided key testimony in the trial and sentencing phase on implications for aviation safety from the offenses, the OIG said in a news release. Cox was also ordered to pay fines and assessments of $600 and to serve five months of home confinement following his prison term and a three-year term of supervised release.

...Despite Conventional Wisdom...

While it might be expected that felons can go to prison for aviation-related crimes such as selling bogus aircraft parts, many aviators presume that the penalty for lying on an FAA application would be the revocation of the certificate. However, Harry Hobgood, assistant U.S. attorney in the North Carolina case, said that pilots shouldn't be surprised that a lie could result in criminal charges. "Drug usage is a big deal to the FAA," he told AVweb. He said that Cox's omission was found in standard cross-checking of the application. "This was not a minor omission. This was about as egregious as it gets," he said. He said Cox had been in jail twice before on drug charges. "I think you can expect a lot more of this," Hobgood added, citing security concerns. "9/11 was a wake-up call."

...Prosecutors Will Prosecute

Since 1998, the OIG has won convictions in more than 150 cases related to aviation safety, with total fines assessed of more than $27 million. Those investigations generally fall into four categories: the illegal manufacture or distribution of aircraft parts that do not meet FAA standards; charges of falsifying airman or mechanic certificates; false statements regarding the condition of aircraft or filing false aircraft certifications; and shipping or allowing the shipping of hazardous materials by air without proper certification. The OIG lists a digest of its convictions online. Some examples from that list: A Texas pilot got three months in jail in February 2003 for lying about a past DUI charge on his airman medical application. A Florida man was sentenced to a 15-month prison term in April 2004 for piloting a plane without a legitimate airman certificate and flying a plane with an unapproved modification to its fuel system. Another Florida man received 13 months in prison in January 2004 for making and using forged documents to get a job as a flight instructor under an assumed name. Yet not all convictions result in prison time. In March 2004, a Florida man who lied about his previous criminal convictions on an FAA application was ordered to spend four months in a halfway house and was prohibited from participating in aviation activities for two years. In September 2003, a man whose FAA certificate had been revoked in 1998 after a federal conviction for drug trafficking was fined $500 in a Wyoming federal court for operating an aircraft without a pilot's certificate.

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Condition Green For Global Flyer

As of our deadline, conditions were looking good for a launch this afternoon for the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer from Salina, Kan. Veteran record-setter Steve Fossett aims to fly the long lanky aircraft solo around the world without stopping, a trip expected to take about 80 hours. Fossett completed a successful taxi test last week, described as a "dress rehearsal" for today's takeoff. The route -- subject to change, of course -- leads from Kansas, past Chicago and Gander, Newfoundland, then across the Atlantic. The route crosses Europe and heads southeast across the Persian Gulf, then across India, China, Japan, and the Pacific. The airplane will return to the U.S. just south of Los Angeles and head for Salina. It will be flying at about 45,000 feet, so to catch a glimpse of it passing by, plan to use a telescope and watch for a lone condensation trail. The launch window for today is between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. local time. The airport has posted information for anyone who wants to view the launch in person.

GA Safety Record Reaches New High, AOPA Says

Last year's preliminary GA accident data from the NTSB shows the fewest GA accidents since record-keeping began in 1938 and the lowest number of fatal accidents since 1945, AOPA said last week. The number of GA accidents in 2004 dropped 8.4 percent compared to 2003, and the number of fatal accidents declined 11.4 percent, AOPA said. The numbers also improved for flying during instruction. There were 17 fatal instructional accidents in 2004, half the total of 2003. Total instructional accidents were down almost 12 percent.

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Airport Versus FAA

Apparently, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is operating under a different set of fiscal rules than the FAA. The FAA objected when the management of Gerald R. Ford International Airport, in Grand Rapids, Mich., doubled their rent after a 10-year lease expired back in September 2002. The airport wanted the FAA to pay $50 per square foot for its 3,000 square feet of prime terminal space, which the airport said was the going rate. After two years of stalemate, the FAA has agreed to pay $274,000 in back rent, after the airport threatened to sue, the Grand Rapids Press reported on Thursday. The FAA will vacate the premises ... which now will be rented to the TSA, which had no problem with the rental rate. The FAA had used the space for employee breaks and training. So where do they go now? "We'll squeeze" into the control tower, FAA spokesman Tony Molinaro told the Press.

FAA Revamps CVR/FDR Rules

The FAA on Thursday proposed new rules for aircraft that are required to carry a Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) and Flight Data Recorder (FDR) . New CVRs will be required to hold two hours of data instead of the current 15 to 30 minutes. Magnetic tape must be replaced with digital data storage, which is more durable and reliable. The FDR must record data more frequently and store 25 hours' worth of information. The CVR must have an independent backup power source good for at least 10 minutes. "Good data is often the key to deciphering what went wrong in an aircraft incident or accident," said FAA Administrator Marion Blakey. "Increasing the likelihood that recorders yield crucial data improves overall safety by giving us the chance to analyze these events." Implementation could cost the industry up to $420 million. NTSB Chairman Ellen Engleman Conners said in a statement she is "gratified" by the changes, which have long been lobbied for by the safety board. However, the FAA needs to go further, in the NTSB's view -- cockpit video recorders should be required, FDRs need to do a better job of data sampling, and smaller, for-hire turbine-powered aircraft should have some kind of safety recorders installed. The Air Line Pilots Association said it welcomes the new rules, but expressed concern over how the data will be used. "Current legislation provides only limited protection against abuse and misuse of the information, and no rules exist to prevent airline management from using data for disciplinary action, rather than for enhancing aviation safety as was the original purpose," Capt. Terry McVenes, ALPA's executive air safety chairman, said in a statement. ALPA has long expressed opposition to cockpit video cameras.

The proposed rules, which affect aircraft with 10 or more seats, take effect for new aircraft starting in 2008, and most aircraft must comply by 2010. The FAA estimates the cost of implementing the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking at $256 million to $420 million, over 20 years. To read all 88 pages of the full NPRM, click here.

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Lancair Fly-in And Cirrus Road Show

Not everyone can make it to the big air shows to check out the latest new airplanes, so Cirrus has packed one of its aircraft (minus the wings) into the trailer of a giant 18-wheeler and is taking it out to the nation's blue highways. The Cirrus Road Show launched in January and will continue through November, with stops in Stockton, Calif.; Knoxville, Tenn.; New Haven, Conn.; and lots more. Visitors can climb into the cockpit, check out the avionics and get a feel for the side control yoke. "If that's not enough, we can set up a demonstration flight for you at a nearby airport," Cirrus says. For pilots who already own a Lancair, or want to mingle with those who do, they can fly in to Scottsdale, Ariz., March 31-April 3. Owners will mix seminars with social events in the desert sun. If you need to know how to "expand the Columbia flight envelope" or "fly your Columbia IFR like the pros," or just indulge in some Southwestern cuisine and socializing, they have an agenda for you.

Air Shows Ahead ... Sun 'N Fun Posts Arrival Info

Like gardeners with their seed catalogs, aviators wile away the gloomy winter hours dreaming of air shows to come. Sun 'n Fun is the traditional season opener. This year's event in Lakeland, Fla., April 12-18, is sure to bring sport planes out to play and "EAA's Sport Pilot experts will be available to help people fully explore this exciting new avenue of access to personal flight," according to an EAA release. Expect expanded coverage from AVweb. A full slate of workshops and forums, a night air show, a balloon launch, and the splash-in at Lake Parker are all set to go. The arrival procedures are online now, and a share-a-flight page is posted for those with a spare seat or in need of one. EAA AirVenture Oshkosh (July 25-31) also has a new online rideshare feature, for travelers arriving by air or land. So there's no excuse for missing either event, but if you can't make it, AVweb will be there to cover both of them for you. For those flying to Oshkosh, the NOTAM should be out in May sometime, but meanwhile, EAA has lots of info online for your planning purposes.

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On The Fly...

NATCA responds to AVweb's story on the New York Terminal Radar Approach Control facility, in today's Avmail...

Structural failure due to metal fatigue was blamed for the 2002 breakup a China Airlines 747, in a Taiwan report. A crack was incorrectly repaired, the report concluded...

New software adds four light aircraft to Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 -- the PA28-161 Warrior, PA38-112 Tomahawk, Cessna 152 and twin-engine PA34-200T Seneca II...

A report featuring an airborne salute of WWII aircraft to Gen. Paul Tibbets is scheduled to air on CNN at 10 p.m. (ET) tomorrow night...

Space Shuttle to resume flight in late May.

Reader feedback on AVweb's news coverage and feature articles:

AVmail: Feb 28, 2005
Reader mail this week about armed pilots, the Lycoming lawsuit, understaffing at N.Y. TRACON and much more.

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New Articles and Features on AVweb

Motor Head #5: Is Franklin Gone For Good?
It isn't always true that the "best" products are the ones that succeed. Franklin engines are still loved by many, but it looks like there won't be any new ones. AVweb's Motor Head, Marc Cook, looks at what we'll miss with the loss of Franklin, checks out Japanese manufacturing and brings news on the rotary front.

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AVweb's Business AVflash

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Short Final...

Somtimes they're a little busy...

Overheard inbound to EAA's AirVenture, Oshkosh, 2003, where only the controllers on the ground speak and pilots respond by rocking their wings.

Controller: Bell Helicopter, Fisk Approach. If you read, rock your wings.


Controller: Right... OK, I guess you really don't have any wings. Bell Helicopter, if you read, transmit.

Helicopter: I read you, Fisk.

Controller: Roger, enter left traffic for runway 36, welcome to Oshkosh ... you've earned your wings today.

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