March 27, 2005
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Animosity is worsening at the New York Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON), and now N.Y. Sen. Charles Schumer has called on Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta to intervene, citing fears that the dispute between the FAA and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) could become a threat to safety. "The bottom line is, errors are increasing [a point the FAA disputes], air traffic is increasing and staff numbers are steadily decreasing; in my book this could be a recipe for disaster," Schumer said last Thursday. "This is not about pointing fingers, it's about finding solutions." The bitter dispute between NATCA and the FAA is "endangering the millions of New Yorkers, Americans and world travelers who fly in and out of area airports," according to Schumer's news release.
The FAA has sent a "tiger team" to the TRACON to investigate the situation, Schumer said. Its full report is expected sometime this week. The dispute began after the FAA changed overtime procedures in January, and the number of "operational errors" spiked. "What we believe we have is a rogue group of employees engaged in a shakedown," FAA spokesman Greg Martin told Newsday. (Translation: The FAA believes the increase is in reported errors is the direct result of employees protesting their recently imposed inability to log overtime -- not a sudden lapse in safety.) NATCA spokesman Doug Church told AVweb the trouble is a lack of staffing and the result is an increase in errors. "The FAA has failed to adequately staff the New York TRACON to handle the traffic demands. Traffic is up more than 5 percent. But staffing is down." The facility is short nearly 50 controllers from the number the FAA agrees the staffing level should be at, Church said. "They are running the shifts short, and errors are on the rise."
THE BOSE AVIATION HEADSET X DELIVERS AN UNMATCHED COMBINATION
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The next month, according to the FAA, is critical for safe icing operations. Late last year, the NTSB recommended all pilots perform tactile testing for ice on flying surfaces, and the FAA now warns icing accidents/incidents are just as prevalent or more prevalent during the months of March and April as in November, December and January. Specific to Cessna Caravans, an FAA Airworthiness Directive (AD) effective tomorrow requires operators of all Cessna Caravan model 208 and 208b aircraft to modify the Airplane Flight Manual (AFM) to assure that the pilot has enough information to prevent loss of control while flying in icing conditions. The AD is the result of six accidents in the previous two icing seasons and nine events in the past few months involving Caravans in ice, the FAA said, and perhaps with some special attention to an NTSB Alert Letter. The AFM revisions vary somewhat according to model and engine type, but include a warning that the stall-warning system has not been tested in all icing conditions and should not be relied upon in icing conditions; a note that takeoff is prohibited with any frost, ice, snow or slush adhering to the wings, horizontal stabilizer, control surfaces, propeller blades and engine inlets; and a note that a tactile check is required in addition to a visual check.
The NTSB had raised concerns about the Caravans and icing back in December. The safety board asked the FAA to require that all pilots and operators of Cessna 208 Caravan series airplanes carefully check for ice and/or snow on the wings and tail before any flight when temperatures are conducive to frost or ground icing. Also, pilots of Caravans equipped for flight into known icing conditions should be required to undergo annual training on ice safety, the NTSB said. The NTSB based its recommendations on a study of 26 icing-related accidents and incidents involving Caravans between 1987 and 2003, which resulted in at least 36 fatalities.
JA AIR CENTER, YOUR GARMIN SOURCE, IS PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE A NEW LOWER PRICE ON THE GARMIN GPSMAP 296 WITH TERRAIN ONLY
Garmin issued a service alert on Wednesday warning users of some of its brand-new GNS 430 and GNS 430A units not to use them for IFR operations. It was the company's second service alert this month to include those units. The panel-mounted units have a problem that could cause the unit to trip the aircraft circuit breaker, rendering the unit inoperative, Garmin said. Only units manufactured between Feb. 23, 2005, and March 21, 2005, are affected. If you have an affected GNS 430 unit, contact your local Garmin authorized service center immediately, and they will make arrangements to modify or replace the unit, Garmin said. The GNS 430 is a WAAS-upgradeable IFR GPS, Com, VOR, LOC, and glideslope with color moving map all in one unit. The 430A version has a 16-watt instead of 10-watt radio.
The center of gravity was well forward of the allowable limit in a Bombardier Challenger CL-600 corporate jet that crashed last month in Teterboro, the NTSB said in an update released last week. A simulator programmed with the aircraft's takeoff trim settings and weight and balance would not rotate for takeoff at the defined rotation speed, the NTSB said. A lawyer for Platinum Jet, operator of the CL-600, told The New York Times that the CG was no different than on many other flights (which might raise a few eyebrows), and would not have prevented the jet from taking off. Meanwhile, another Challenger CL-600 ran off a runway in Tupelo, Miss. , on March 9. The gear collapsed, but no one was hurt. The captain told the NTSB he was unable to move the control column aft to rotate. That airplane was heading for Teterboro. There were five passengers on board the Tupelo jet, plus two pilots. The aft movement of the control column beyond the neutral position felt as if it was locked against a stop, the pilot told the NTSB. Another CL-600 crashed in Montrose, Colo. , last November, killing three of the six people on board.
ADAM, CIRRUS, DIAMOND, LANCAIR, LIBERTY ...
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Adam Aircraft was conducting hot-weather testing of its A500 twin-prop at Fort Myers, Fla., on March 16 when the airplane experienced a left main gear retraction during landing rollout. There were no injuries and minimal damage to the aircraft's left wingtip and tail boom. The FAA OK'd the airplane to fly home to Colorado two days later. On Saturday, Adam said the cause of the retraction was a malfunction in test equipment that was installed on the aircraft to simulate excessive electrical loads. Adam noted that the incident demonstrated that the twin tail boom and high-strength carbon-fiber construction of the A500 prevented any damage to the engines or props. Adam Aircraft said it does not foresee any significant delay to certification as a result of this event. (Last October the company predicted the first customer delivery of an A500 before the end of December 2004, so it could be implied that certification is already behind schedule.) Since the equipment that caused the problem is not part of the production aircraft, no changes in the design will be necessary. The FAA has approved a repair plan and the damaged aircraft is expected to return to the flight-test program late next week. The company said it will continue to make progress on the seven remaining FAA reports still outstanding of the 242 reports required. Of those seven reports, testing has been completed on cabin smoke, engine cooling and fuel substantiation. Reports on these tests are awaiting FAA approval. Successful completion and approval of carbon monoxide, windshield defog, and functionality and reliability tests and reports are expected within a few weeks, and will conclude the remaining requirements for initial type certification, Adam said.
The FAA has delayed by one year the date that its final rule will take effect requiring all aviation repair stations to have an approved training program. The new effective date of Section 145.163 will be April 6, 2006. The delay was necessary, the FAA said, because it had extended the comment period on its Advisory Circular that provided guidance on creating the training programs until March 22, 2005. The FAA says it needs more time to review the comments and make changes. The Aircraft Electronics Association said it was pleased with the delay. The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) also welcomed the change. "We appreciate the FAA recognizing that rushing this process does no one any good, not the repair station or the inspector with whom they are working on their Part 145 training program," NATA Vice President of Government & Industry Affairs Eric Byer said last week. "Given the ambiguity of FAR 145.163, the draft AC constitutes the FAA's only guidance for the development of training programs for repair stations certificated under Part 145." The revised notice from the FAA is to be published in today's Federal Register.
FOR AVIATION PROFESSIONALS WHO WORK WITH YOU ON YOUR AIRCRAFT INSURANCE,
A new event set for June 2-5 in Tunica, Miss., aims to bring Reno-style pylon air racing to the eastern half of the country. Veteran Reno racer Steve Dilda has been named air boss for the Tunica Air Races. So far, the organizers expect to offer competitions for Unlimited Class, T-6 Class and Formula One aircraft. According to the organizers' Web site, 50 racers will compete. The show will also feature aerobatic performances and fly-bys by various airplanes including a B-24, several P-51 fighters, a B-25 and a P-47. The races will conclude with the awarding of cash prizes and the presentation of "The Tunica Cup." The Tunica Air Race Association, a public-private partnership between the Tunica Tourism Foundation and JL Images Entertainment from Brentwood, Tenn., is organizing the event. Tunica, a 30-minute drive south of Memphis, Tenn., is a resort area with plentiful casinos, hotels and golf courses.
The FAA has announced its national General Aviation Awards for this year, honoring aviation professionals for their contributions to safety and education. Recognized for this year are John Teipen, of Missouri, CFI of the Year; Michael Church, of California, Aviation Safety Counselor of the Year; Michael Branham, of Arkansas, Aviation Maintenance Technician of the Year; and Charles Hanner, of Nebraska, Avionics Technician of the Year. The awards will be presented by FAA Administrator Marion Blakey during EAA AirVenture 2005 in Oshkosh, Wis.
CFI of the Year John Teipen is involved in all levels of aviation education from soaring and seaplanes to academics and CFI refreshers. He teaches at St Louis Community College and works as a CFI specializing in tailwheel and upset/spin training in his 1969 Bellanca 7ECA Citabria. Aviation Safety Counselor of the Year Michael Church is the chief flight instructor and president of Sunrise Aviation, a Part 141 flight school at Santa Ana's John Wayne-Orange County Airport. He regularly makes presentations to the non-flying public about airports, flight training and aerobatic flight. The FAA frequently calls upon him to provide remedial training to pilots as a substitute for certificate enforcement action. He is a contributing editor to both "Private Pilot" and "Pacific Flyer."
Aviation Maintenance Tech of the Year Mike Branham served in the Air Force and the U.S. Coast Guard. Since 1999, he has worked with Wal-Mart Stores' corporate fleet, and now is maintenance manager, helping to maintain more than 20 corporate aircraft including Lear 31s, 35s, 45s, a Global Express and a Challenger. Avionics Tech of the Year Charles Hanner is an avionics line team leader at the headquarters facility of Duncan Aviation at Lincoln Airport in Lincoln, Neb.
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Western Africa may not be the first place most pilots consider for a tourist destination, but the government of Ghana is working to change that. The country hosted its first annual Hang Paragliding festival over the weekend. About 21 pilots flew in the Kwahu-Atibie Mountains in the country's eastern region, where tourism officials hope to promote the event in concert with the Easter festivities of the local Kwahu people. Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, minister of tourism and modernization of the capital city of Accra, received the pilots at his office and thanked them for taking part in the event. He asked the pilots to help Ghana to become established as a venue for paragliding, though the sport is foreign to locals, and attract more pilots to the country. He said the event would be a "recreational, refreshing and rewarding addition to our calendar and culture." The Kwahu region, known as "the Switzerland of Ghana," has the scenery and sights to become a honeymoon spot for tourists, according to GhanaWeb.
The FAA and the U.S. Air Force will hold a briefing this week on their draft regulations for commercial rocket launches...
The Transportation Security Administration made "inaccurate statements" about its handling of personal information about 12 million airline passengers, according to an Office of Inspector General report released Friday...
Six people from Rhode Island died when a Pilatus PC-12/45 crashed in Pennsylvania on Sunday...
Diamond last week delivered its first two DA42 TwinStars to a French customer, and the first North American TwinStar is on its way to Florida via the North Atlantic...
The FAA will issue a directive today for airlines to check the rudders of Airbus A310s and A300-600s, after the rudder on an Air Transat airplane became detached in flight. American Airlines and FedEx use those aircraft...
A Midwest Airlines baggage handler rode in the cargo hold from Milwaukee to Philadelphia on Friday after he was shut inside by mistake...
Sino Swearingen Aircraft Corp. has launched a third test aircraft, and says it is on schedule to achieve FAA certification for its SJ30 twinjet by the end of this year...
How bad do you want a flying job? Booming growth in India is causing a pilot shortage, and foreign pilots are being hired at a fast clip to fly 777s and other aircraft.
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GAMI CUSTOMERS RAVE ABOUT A SMOOTHER RIDE AND SAVING FUEL
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From The CFI #6: Examiners Are Human, Too!
Hard to imagine, but some people actually want to be the butt of insults and fear-inspiration -- and (really) make a contribution to aviation by becoming a Designated Pilot Examiner. They're less of an FAA enforcement officer and more of a souped-up flight instructor, as AVweb's Linda Pendleton explains in this month's column From The CFI.
AVmail: March 28, 2005
Reader mail this week about control tower operations, the airline pilot retirement age, ATC staffing shortfalls and much more.
TURN A CHECK FROM THE IRS INTO AN ILS OR GPS!
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ASA MEETS THE NEEDS OF SPORT PILOTS
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Overheard while waiting for takeoff on Runway 29 at Oakland California:
Airliner 123: Airliner 123, waiting in sequence.
Oakland Tower: A little too much information, 123 ... but I'll bet you look adorable in sequins.
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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Fly it till every part stops.
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