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The Top Headlines From AVweb's Expanded,
Illustrated News Coverage At AVweb's
THE CURRENT SYSTEM IS UNSUSTAINABLE...
A congressional hearing yesterday explored the question of what to do
about the ailing Aviation Trust Fund as the House
Aviation Subcommittee began to examine options. The Fund, which
supports airports and the airspace system as well as FAA operations,
is suffering from a dwindling reserve (which could be gone by 2008).
The law that authorized the current funding structure, which depends
largely on an airline ticket tax, expires in 2007. (The future of the
fund beyond that is now under discussion. No decision has yet been
made to dissolve it.) "That [ticket-tax] approach will not sustain us
into the future," FAA Administrator Marion Blakey told the panel
yesterday. "I see a need for fundamental change." More...
"Tying fees to the cost of providing service protects both FAA and the
customers who use FAA services," Blakey said. "We also believe that a
cost-based revenue structure would provide incentives to our customers
to use limited resources efficiently and to the FAA to operate
efficiently, as stakeholder involvement can help us ensure that we are
concentrating on services that the customer wants and is willing to
pay for." But, Blakey said, those fees don't necessarily have to be
user fees. "I want to be clear. I am not at this point advocating user
fees, or endorsing new excise taxes, or urging debt financing, or
seeking a bigger share of the General Fund." More...
SAFETY CONCERNS AND THE "BUREAUCRATIC NIGHTMARE"...
Considering that GA represents just 2 percent of the contributions to
the Trust Fund, they were pretty well represented at yesterday's
hearing. AOPA President Phil Boyer told the subcommittee that a user-fee system would
denigrate safety. "A piecemeal system of fees and charges gives pilots
a direct financial incentive to avoid using the safety features and
programs provided within the National Airspace System," he said.
National Air Transportation Association (NATA) President James Coyne
told the committee that user fees could be more trouble than they're
worth. "A system of user fees could add greater confusion and
inefficiency to the air transportation system, cause a bureaucratic
nightmare for both government and industry, jeopardize safety, and
ultimately result in less revenue," he said. NBAA President Ed Bolen
agreed, saying that the current fuel-tax system is
fair and easy to use. More...
NATCA URGES, LEAVE THINGS ALONE
Wait a minute.... according to National Air Traffic Controllers
Association (NATCA) Executive Vice President Ruth Marlin, there is no crisis in the Aviation
Trust Fund. Marlin told the committee yesterday that "we should not
underestimate the strength of the current FAA funding system and we
should not tamper with it lightly. The Trust Fund is a stable and
strong source of revenue. We should keep it that way by rejecting
radical changes based on a manufactured 'crisis.' ... All indicators
point to continued and future growth in Trust Fund revenues." NATCA
maintains that the Trust Fund surpluses have provided a valuable
source of stability, allowing aviation investment to continue through
periods of brief decline. More...
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PILOT'S EYES, INSTRUMENTS, AND LEARNING...
study at the University of Southern California suggests that the
best way for pilots to train is to first learn on clear, low-clutter
displays, which allow the eye to focus and quickly identify targets or
patterns. When that training is followed by drills on "noisy,"
high-clutter displays, the eye quickly adapts. Research subjects who
were trained in the opposite way -- starting with noisy displays then
switching to simple ones -- didn't show the same progress. "That was a
huge surprise to us," said researcher Zhong-Lin Lu. "Now you can
simplify training a lot. ... High-noise training comes for free."
SOON, BIONIC VISION?
Meanwhile, scientists at Stanford
University are having some success with experimental technology
that would allow people with vision loss to "see" again. The technique
involves implanting a chip into the retina. The chip receives signals
from a video camera that is mounted on a pair of goggles. The chip
bypasses damaged photo-receptors and allows the eye to detect
direction of motion and perceive colors, contrast, and brightness
levels. The Stanford design has the potential to achieve a visual
acuity of 20/80, researchers say, which would provide functional
vision for reading books and using the computer, but not enough for
flying -- even a third-class medical requires 20/40 vision -- at least, not yet.
JET LIVES AGAIN
The single-engine, very light Vantage jet, which was built by Burt
Rutan's Scaled Composites and flew way back in 1996, has
been reborn. It's now morphed into a twin-engine very light jet (VLJ)
living in Brazil. The original owners, Visionaire Corp., sank into
bankruptcy with $35 million in debt. In 2003, Matt Eller of Eviation bought
the company's assets for $441,000. Eller now has brought the prototype
to Brazil, where former Embraer engineer Guido Pessotti is studying it
and working to create a new, certifiable two-engine prototype called
the EV-20 Vantage. The ambitious plans call for a roomy "air-limo"
cabin that can seat up to eight passengers, offer a max speed of 436
knots, cruise at 51,000 feet, and take its first flight by December,
aiming for joint Brazilian and U.S. certification in September 2006.
60: AGING PILOTS LOSE AGAIN
The long-running battle among professional pilots to rescind the FAA's
"age-60 rule" met a major roadblock on Monday when the Supreme Court
declined to hear the case. A dozen pilots were trying to appeal a
lower-court decision that the rule does not constitute age
discrimination. The pilots argued that as long as they are competent
and healthy they should be able to continue to fly. The effort had
seemed to be gathering support recently when Southwest Airlines filed a "friend of the court" brief, arguing that
the rule is arbitrary and deprives the airline of its most experienced
pilots. Apparently the court was unmoved. More...
PILOTS PICKET SHAREHOLDERS
Over 70 NetJets pilots formed a picket line outside the
Berkshire Hathaway shareholders' meeting in Omaha, Neb., on Saturday.
The pilots passed out leaflets about their ongoing efforts to
negotiate a contract with the fractional airline, a subsidiary of
Warren Buffett's conglomerate. "Our issues have seemingly fallen on
deaf ears," pilot Alan Hayes said in a news release. "While all of
these investors are enjoying the fruits of our labor, our pilots
struggle to make ends meet." Hayes said that NetJets pilots, who are
represented by the Teamsters union, are paid about half of the
industry average compared to other pilots flying the same equipment.
The pilots have been negotiating since 2001, when their last contract
came up for renewal. More...
RAISE QUESTIONS FOR A380
One-quarter of the huge new Airbus A380 will be built from various
composites and advanced materials -- 22 percent
carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic, and 3 percent "glare," a glass
fiber-aluminum laminate, which is being used for the first time on a
civil airliner. These materials, and the expectations that their use
will increase (Boeing's 787 will be built almost entirely of
composites) and that more very large airliners will be built, has
raised questions at the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA). "We're
concerned about the capability of operators to conduct non-destructive
testing (NDT) of these materials," said Dave Hayes, of ALPA's A380
Project Team. "If you hit them with a catering truck, which happens
all the time in the real world, what have you damaged?"
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HAPPY ENDING FOR CALIFORNIA AIRPORT
It's pretty rare that we hear about a threatened airport, and then
find out that the threat has subsided and all's well. But that's just
what happened in Los Angeles County, when the Regional Planning
Commission voted 4 to 1 on April 20 to retain Agua Dulce
Airpark as a public-use airport. Some neighbors had asked that
usage of the airport be restricted, and airport owner Barry Kirshner
was prepared to accommodate them. Then he started to get reaction from
the larger GA community, including the state Aeronautics Division, and
realized that cutting off public access was not the answer. An FAA
attorney told the commission that the county's proposed restrictions
on the airpark would likely be pre-empted by federal law anyhow.
"Today the commission recognized that Agua Dulce Airpark is a
community asset and valuable resource," Kirshner said, after the vote.
MONITOR DATA CHANGE UPSETS OWNERS
In the days of Internet forums, companies have to be careful about
riling their customers -- those customers are likely to start chatting
online, find other disgruntleds and build a crescendo of bad feeling.
That seems to be what's happening with some users of JP Instruments'
(JPI's) engine-monitor units. JPI has encoded the data output of its
monitors so it can't be read by third-party software that owners would
use to collect parameters and monitor the condition of their engines.
Whether this is to protect itself liability-wise or to discourage
competitors is unclear, but it has certainly made some customers
unhappy. It seems the company is working on a fix, which may require a
fee from users to translate the file format and perhaps leave those
customers less than satisfied. More...
|AVEMCO IS COMMITTED TO SAFETY AND
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same time. By completing a course in the King Schools CD-ROM,
Practical Risk Management series, and Avemco-approved recurrent
training, pilots can receive up to 10% off their annual insurance
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RACE CLASSIC 2005 EXTENDS ENTRY DEADLINE
Race Classic will launch this year from Purdue University, in
Lafayette, Ind., on June 21. This annual cross-country race for women
pilots, the only one of its kind, will cover more than 2,000 nautical
miles. The round-robin route includes stops in Wisconsin, Nebraska,
Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Ohio, and finally
circles back to Indiana on June 24. Entries are limited to fixed-wing
aircraft from 145 to 570 horsepower. Each airplane is flown by a team
of two pilots, and is handicapped based on speed. There's some good
news for procrastinators -- the entry deadline has been extended to
May 8. More...
A story in Monday's edition of AVweb said the FAA intends to dissolve
the Airports and Airways Trust Fund at the end of the agency's current
funding allocation in 2007. In fact, FAA spokesman Greg Martin told
AVweb that the Trust Fund expires in 2007. The future of the fund
beyond that is under discussion in the FAA and with stakeholders in
the industry, and no decision has been made to dissolve it.
Metroliner apparently exploded above New Zealand Tuesday, two
EAA Southwest Fly-In coming May 12-15 to Hondo Airport,
New 757s are no more, old ones are converting into freight
Hops & Props fundraiser for youth at EAA AirVenture
Museum May 14...
ABC News to air a segment about legislation that
would restrict NWS...
Gulfstream G150 made its first flight on
Monday, in Israel...
The New York Times takes a look at medical
An airliner in Japan landed on a closed runway on
|AVIDYNE'S CMAX APPROACH CHARTS TAKE SITUATIONAL
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Charts, which can be displayed on Avidyne's FlightMax EX500 or
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optimum orientation. CMax even shows runway incursion hotspots
and improves taxiway awareness, reducing the need for "progressives"
at unfamiliar airports. With CMax, youll know exactly
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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.
ARTICLES AND FEATURES ON AVWEB
Regional Accident Analysis: Know
Your Local Risk Factors
Savvy pilots are always interested in
learning how to avoid potential risks. However, most accident data is
summarized on a national basis and may understate the risk of some
factors in your local area. Max Trescott found profound differences in
accident causes in the San Francisco Bay Area and explores how you can
discover unique risks in your area.
What's New For May
This month AVweb's survey
of the latest products and services for pilots, mechanics and aircraft
owners brings you an adjustable LED emergency light, an experimental
Light Sport Aircraft, visors, simulators and much more.
HAVE YOU SIGNED UP yet for AVweb's NO-COST twice monthly Business
AVflash? Reporting on breaking news, Business AVflash also focuses on
the companies, the products and the industry leaders that make
headlines in the Business of Aviation. Business AVflash is a must
read. Watch for a Business AVflash regular feature, TSA WATCH: GA
IN THE "SPOTLIGHT". Sign up today at http://www.avweb.com/profile/
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QUESTION OF THE WEEK ...
This week, AVweb wants to know what you think of all this talk of
"user fees." Are you scared yet? PLUS: Results of last week's question
on taildragger currency. More...
LAST CHANCE TO SIGN UP FOR MIKE BUSCH'S INDIANAPOLIS
Mike advises that there's still space for a few
more aircraft owners in his Savvy Owner Seminar in Indianapolis
on the weekend of May 14-15. Additional seminars are scheduled
in Frederick, MD (October 22-23) and Long Beach, CA (December 10-11).
Mike's seminar will teach you how to have a safer, more reliable
aircraft while saving thousands of dollars on maintenance costs. For
seminar details and to reserve your spot, go to http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/savvy/avflash.
PICTURE OF THE WEEK ...
With Sun 'n Fun squarely behind us, the number of "Picture of the
Week" submissions is beginning its steady summer climb and we
love it! Keep those photos coming; we need 'em to get in the proper
summer spirit. This week's top prize an official AVweb baseball
cap goes to Mark Wuennenberg of Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Congratulations, Mark just think of your new cap as a (very)
late birthday present. More...
|Sponsor News and
Access to AVweb and AVflash is provided by
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|SEE CLEARLY METHOD IMPROVES & STRENGTHENS VISION
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|STOP WONDERING OR WORRYING WHERE YOUR
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|SUBSCRIBE TO IFR REFRESHER AND
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|CFIs DISCOVER THE SECRETS TO SUCCESS IN GREG
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|MODERNIZING YOUR KT76 DOESN'T GET ANY
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|THE SHORT STACK HAS ARRIVED AT POWER
Power Flow Systems, manufacturers of tuned
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|PILOTS COMMENT AFTER READING IFR: A STRUCTURED
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