Number 34a — August 22, 2005|
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The Top Headlines From AVweb's Expanded,
Illustrated News Coverage At AVweb's
BATTLES USER FEES
AOPA is repeating its mantra of "no user fees" as the FAA gathers
stakeholder input on its next five-year plan. In a letter to the agency, AOPA maintains the
so-called Flight Plan, which plots the agency's direction for the
coming half decade, has taken a turn toward general aviation user
fees, and President Phil Boyer clearly isn't happy about it. "The FAA
should never forget that GA is a critical customer -- especially since
the GA pilot is the only one who pays the bills out of his own
pocket," Boyer said. He said that while the Flight Plan doesn't
directly reference user fees, "it certainly lays the groundwork."
Although Blakey rarely misses a public opportunity to stress the
agency's commitment to maintaining the system of airports throughout
the country (she called it a "national treasure" at her Meet The
Administrator session at EAA AirVenture), the fact is that rarely a
day goes by that an airport somewhere isn't under intense pressure
because of development, noise or perceived nuisance, safety or, more
recently, security concerns. Although closures are still relatively
rare, Boyer reminded the FAA that "keeping airports open and operating
must continue to be a major role" of the agency. More...
As AVweb reported last week, Boyer took Russ Chew, the FAA's
Chief Operating Officer, out for a spin in Boyer's Cessna 172. But it
was more than a sightseeing trip. Boyer's Skyhawk is decked out in the
latest GPS/WAAS gear for satellite-based precision approaches. In the
Flight Plan comments, Boyer urges the addition of more GPS/WAAS
approaches at GA airports to improve their utility and efficiency but
noted that rules that were designed for major airports will prohibit
many GA facilities (many of which don't have ground-based ILS
equipment) from getting the GPS approaches. More...
737 SPECULATION, EVIDENCE
A Helios Airways Boeing 737-300 full of unconscious or semiconscious
crew and passengers ran out of fuel with a student pilot / flight
attendant at the controls before crashing in Greece last week,
according to a report in Flight International. The flight's cockpit
voice recorder has been recovered (in pieces), but its contents have
not been publicly disclosed. The magazine said it obtained an
exclusive interview with Capt. Akrivos Tsolakis, the head of the Air
Accident Investigation and Aviation Safety Board, who confirmed
earlier reports that a male flight attendant, identified by a
Macedonian news agency as Andreas Prodromou, who had a few hours of
private pilot instruction, managed to take the plane off autopilot and
begin a descent. If true, that might help explain the plane's final maneuvers, which included "a
descent from 37,000 feet to 2,000 feet and then an ascent to 7,000
feet," according to a report from The Associated Press.
One question that arises out of the flight-attendant-at-the-helm
scenario is why that flight attendant, who apparently managed to
disengage the autopilot, was unable to use the radio to call for help.
In fact, one aviation expert interviewed by The Associated Press
suggested the lack of communication was deliberate. "Someone knew how
to work the airplane," said Paul Czysz. "Obviously he didn't want to
contact the tower." However, the online version of a Bulgarian
newspaper, Information Agency Focus, quoting an unnamed technician for
Olympic Airlines, reported that there were radio problems with the
CONTAMINATION PROBED IN VENEZUELAN CRASH
The crash of a West Caribbean MD-82 last Tuesday in Venezuela seems a
little more straightforward but it's not without its share of mystery.
The pilots reported that both engines failed on the airliner, which
went down in northern Venezuela on a flight from Panama to Martinique,
killing all 160 people aboard. Officials are now wondering if fuel
contamination was to blame for the flameout (there was plenty of fuel
on board) and why, instead of gliding to earth, the plane hit the
ground in a 7,000-fpm dive. Colombian officials who inspected the
plane prior to the flight said it was airworthy. "It was a complete
inspection and the aircraft was ready to fly," Col. Eduardo
Montealegre, acting head of Colombia's Civil Aviation Department, told
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CITIES RELIEVERS UNDER PRESSURE
Possibly one of the most prominent examples of an urban airport system
of reliever airports is under intense scrutiny, in no small part
because the big airport's biggest customer is on the financial ropes.
According to The Associated Press, Minneapolis's Metropolitan Airport
Commission (MAC) is lifting every rock trying to find ways to cut
expenses at six reliever airports that, by all accounts, do a
remarkable job of keeping GA out of the way of the big iron at the
MAC's big airport, Minneapolis-St. Paul International (MSP). But even
though they are credited with infusing $1.4 billion into the local
economy, the little airports either lose money or barely break even
and, partly at the urging of financially strapped Northwest Airlines
that's caused fee increases and speculation that some of the airports
might be closed. Northwest mechanics went on strike Friday, with union
negotiator Jim Young saying the mechanics would rather see the airline
go into bankruptcy than agree to Northwest's terms according to CBS
HOPES TO SMOOTH SPORT PILOT TRANSITION
EAA is asking the FAA for some flexibility to smooth the transition of
ultralight aircraft and pilots into the new Sport Pilot/Light Sport
Aircraft regime. As it stands, pilots who try to follow the rules
could find themselves grounded for months because the system hasn't
quite caught up to the demands that need to be placed on it. Of
particular concern are the rules that apply to two-place ultralights
and so-called "fat" ultralights. As it stands, planes must make the
transition by Jan. 31, 2008, and pilots must be certificated by Jan.
31, 2007, if they want their flight experience counted while
qualifying for the certificate. The problem is that once an airplane
is registered, it must have an airworthiness certificate. Also, sport
pilot flight tests must be done on registered aircraft. Because the
system is so new, there aren't many Designated Airworthiness
Representatives (DARs) or Sport Pilot Examiners to handle the initial
influx. The U.S. Ultralight Association has asked for a two-year
extension on both deadlines but EAA says there's a better way.
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FLIGHT PLAN SUFFIXES COMING
If your airplane has some of the latest electronic gear, your
flight-planning nomenclature is changing. Effective Sept. 1, 2005, the
FAA is adopting several new suffixes to be used in identifying the
navigation gear on board. The new designations apply specifically to
RNAV and RVSM capabilities. There are also some significant changes to
the definitions of certain suffixes that already exist. The FAA has published a table of the new suffixes and
definition changes and it's important to note that the new suffixes
should not be used until Sept. 1. A flight plan containing any of the
unfamiliar letters will likely be rejected before that date.
VISION THROUGH SHADED CONTACTS?
If they can make a shortstop see the ball better off the hitter's bat,
could Nike MAXSIGHT colored contact lenses help a pilot
pick out potentially conflicting traffic or see the runway better on
an ILS approach? The sports megalith, in conjunction with Bausch and
Lomb, has developed contact lenses in both prescription and
non-prescription formats that it claims help athletes perform better.
Two "sports-specific" tints have been developed that are said to
improve key aspects of vision on the field and court and, from the
product description, it seems like they might help in the cockpit,
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LAND NEAR HOUSTON
Pilots in the Houston area are beginning to wonder what it will be
like to share the airspace with a fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles
slated for deployment at Ellington Field. The Air Force has announced
that 12 Predators will be based at Ellington as it prepares to take
away the F-16s currently attached to the 14th Fighter Wing of the
Texas Air National Guard. Ellington is in the middle of some pretty
busy and complex airspace. It's actually within Houston's Class B and
is seven miles from William P. Hobby Airport and 24 miles from George
Bush Intercontinental. "I wonder how the UAVs will integrate with
normal piloted traffic in this very busy airspace," inquired an
AVweb reader who tipped us to the story. More...
FLIES TWO HOURS MISSING FIVE FEET OF WING
British officials are wondering how the pilot and passengers
(including two aircraft mechanics) on board a Cessna 210 could fly the
plane for two hours without realizing -- or expressing particular care
-- that a five-foot section of one wing was missing. The unnamed
pilot, from a community called Dozy (we couldn't make that up),
apparently hit a tree on takeoff from an airport in Ireland on his way
to deliver the mechanics to a broken Boeing 767 in Portugal. The
collision took off more than a third of the wing, including a fuel
tank. It wasn't until the plane ran low on fuel over the English
Channel that the pilot realized something was wrong and made an
emergency landing at Jersey International Airport. He recalled the
takeoff collision but said he thought the plane had been "struck by a
little bird." More...
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VOLTAGE POWERED 'CHUTE
Well, at least he had his seatbelt on. Powered parachute pilot Don
Beatty, of Great Falls, Mt., dangled upside down from the seat of his
machine for almost three hours on Saturday after the chute got tangled
in a 230,000-volt power line near Great Falls. He was finally rescued
by a crane after emergency crews scratched their heads for awhile on
how best to get him down without killing him. The pilot said pilot
error was the cause of the mishap. "I've been flying around here for
seven years," Beatty said. "I just screwed up." He said he was
watching combines harvest a field below when he flew into the line. He
was tired and cramped but otherwise unhurt and declined an ambulance
Two U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds made airborne contact,
Cessna CEO Jack Pelton named vice chairman of the
Three Fla. officials aboard a Cessna that hit a turkey
An aviation high school is born in Riverside, Calif.
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. You're a part
of our team ... often, the best part. More...
ARTICLES AND FEATURES ON AVWEB
Professional "Contract" Pilots
-- Are You Protected?
Professional pilots are always covered by
an aircraft owner's insurance, right? Well, if not, it's enough to be
qualified under the open-pilot clause, right? Short answer: Nope. Read
this article by the V.P. of an aviation insurance agency and then
check the fine print on the insurance policy.
What's New -- Products and
Services for August 2005
This month AVweb's survey of the
latest products and services for pilots, mechanics and aircraft owners
brings you high-altitude training, an airplane cleaning kit, an
extremely lightweight headset and much more.
FEEDBACK ON AVWEB'S NEWS COVERAGE AND FEATURE ARTICLES:
Reader mail this week about the price of avfuel,
FAA rules on hangar rent, eminent domain and more. More...
ATTENTION, BARON AND CESSNA 310 OWNERS NEWS FROM
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GAMI CUSTOMERS RAVE ABOUT A SMOOTHER RIDE AND SAVING
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injectors, then we installed the GAMIs. I didn't need the EDM 700 to
tell me I had spent my money wisely. The motor is notably smoother and
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Identification by dialect...
While enjoying a chartered King Air flight, a fellow passenger and I
were passing time trying to guess from what part of the country the
crew originated. The conversation came to an abrupt end when we
noticed one of the landing lights seemed to be shining oddly skyward,
Voice In The Cockpit: Look there, one landing light is
My Friend: Deep south?
Me: I'll take that bet. More...
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|COMING IN THE SEPTEMBER ISSUE OF LIGHT PLANE
Finding electrical shorts in an airplane's
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