August 28, 2005
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
|This issue of AVweb's AVflash is brought to you by ... Teledyne-Continental Motors (TCM)
POWERLINK FADEC CERTIFIED ON LIBERTY XL-2;
While airspace restrictions over the nation's capital are in the spotlight lately, the showdown over aviation security vs. the right to fly -- and the right to run an on-airport business -- continues to play out at local airfields around the country. Last week, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that the top prosecutor for Minnesota, U.S. Atty. Thomas B. Heffelfinger, said security at local airfields was too lax and a terrorist with a small airplane could fly it into the Metrodome, killing 3,000 people. Heffelfinger said the gates at Flying Cloud Airport are often open and anyone can enter unchallenged. Tim Anderson, of the state Airport Commission, however, said that security measures are in place. "There is a limit to how much can be done," he told the Star Tribune. "If you locked your gates, you just locked your business out." It's not practical for flight schools and maintenance shops to lock out their customers, he said, and the cost to guard the gates would be prohibitive.
The Minnesota report caught the ears of the folks at AOPA headquarters in Maryland, and Phil Boyer, AOPA president, promptly sent off a letter to Heffelfinger. "We respectfully believe that your quotes, if reported accurately, reflect significant misunderstanding about aviation security, and, in fact, are not consistent with the views and policies of the U.S. agencies responsible for ensuring the safety and security of the nation's general aviation airports," Boyer said. Boyer noted that a report last year by the federal Government Accountability Office concluded that "the small size, lack of fuel capacity, and minimal destructive power of most general aviation aircraft make them unattractive to terrorists." AOPA tried to speak directly with Heffelfinger about the issues, but had not succeeded as of late last week.
Coastal flying can be fun ... or a misdemeanor. The FAA already has revoked the pilot's certificate, and now the county is charging the pilot of a Cessna 152 who allegedly buzzed a crowded beach in Santa Cruz, Calif., last May with reckless flying. The pilot was observed flying as low as 20 feet off the ground (observations may vary) and sent terrified beachgoers diving to the sand. The misdemeanor charge carries a maximum penalty of one year in county jail. Arraignment is set for Sept. 23. Meanwhile, last Wednesday night, the pilot of a Piper PA-24 Comanche violated the 30-nm restricted airspace above President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas. It appears the Piper's pilot may face lighter sentencing. The aircraft was escorted to the ground by fighter jets. The pilot was questioned and released without charges. "I think maybe he just goofed," said Al Tribble, an FBI spokesman in Houston. He still faces FAA penalties, though.
JA AIR CENTER, YOUR GARMIN GPSMAP 396 SOURCE, IS LOOKING
Britain has published a "blacklist" of airlines banned from landing at its airports due to safety concerns, and France's Civil Aviation Authority now says it will publish its own list online this week. Concerns over airline safety have intensified after 330 people died in four crashes this month. Under the system now in place in Europe, each country conducts its own aircraft inspections, and other countries may not be informed about safety issues. The European Commission has said it will publish a similar list within the next six months, which will apply to all 25 countries in the European Union. Many authorities agree that a continent-wide list is long overdue. "We must start talking about the 'black sheep' of the profession," French Transportation Minister Dominique Perben told Le Monde last week. Perben is also advocating a quality "blue label" for airline companies that perform well, which could be established later this year. The public release of blacklists has been controversial. Aviation analyst Sepp Moser told Swissinfo the practice might do little to enhance safety. "Once [an airline's] name has been on the list they will be destroyed and there will be no incentive to improve the situation," said Moser. "The incentive will be to close down the airline and restart it under a new name, probably without rectifying the problem."
A shortage of FAA safety inspectors in the U.S. is also raising concerns about airline safety. A recent report by the Department of Transportation's Office of Inspector General concluded that the FAA needs to strengthen its oversight and monitoring of its inspectors and assess whether it can safely go ahead with the planned cuts of 233 safety inspectors. "We are down to the nub," Linda Goodrich, regional vice president for flight standards with the FAA inspectors union, told the Detroit Free Press last week. "We can't possibly provide the oversight we're required to do." The mechanics strike at Northwest Airlines is also raising questions about whether the FAA has enough staff to oversee the replacement workers. FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Cory told the Hartford Courant inspectors are working around the clock at Northwest's 10 largest repair centers. "We're maintaining close oversight on all aspects of the operation, including the training of those replacement workers and [their] performance," she said.
The co-pilot's diary has been found in the wreckage of the Helios Boeing 737-300 that crashed in Greece two weeks ago, and it's expected to document problems with the aircraft and the airline. "[My father] once told me that if any of it ever got out the company would close," the co-pilot's son, Yiannis Charalambous, said at his father's funeral last week, when the diary was still missing. The ongoing investigation has also determined that four people were in the cockpit when the airplane crashed, contradicting earlier reports that only the co-pilot and a male flight steward, who was trying to control the aircraft, were found there. Recent reports said the co-pilot and another unidentified male were in the cockpit, along with two female flight attendants. All 121 on board died in the crash, which has been blamed on a loss of pressurization in the cabin.
BOSE OFFERS COMPLIMENTARY AEROSHELL® FLIGHT JACKET
Eclipse Aviation launched its fifth and final conforming flight-test aircraft, N506EA, last Wednesday in Albuquerque. The jet will be used for function and reliability testing under accelerated usage conditions. "We now have all five of our FAA-conforming flight-test aircraft in various stages of flight testing and will be building flight hours at an unprecedented rate over the coming months," said Eclipse CEO Vern Raburn in a news release last week. The flight-test fleet has accumulated nearly 300 flight hours, while demonstrating a maximum speed of 285 knots, stall speed of 67 knots and service ceiling of 41,000 feet, the company said. N506EA will be on static display at AOPA Expo in Tampa, Fla., from Nov. 3 to 5 and at the National Business Aviation Association Convention in New Orleans from Nov. 15 to 17. Also last week, Speednews reported that Airbus will become the first big-airplane manufacturer to adopt friction stir welding production. Eclipse was an early adopter of the technique, which welds aluminum without melting it and replaces the use of rivets. Airbus plans to use friction stir welding on its A340s, and on a larger scale in the assembly of the A350, Speednews said.
A Snowbirds CT-114 Tutor jet crashed in a field in Thunder Bay, Ontario, last Wednesday afternoon, after the pilot ejected. Pilot Andrew MacKay was practicing a routine maneuver prior to an air show when something went wrong. According to early reports, the engine flamed out while the jet was inverted, MacKay ejected, and the jet crashed. MacKay was treated for injuries and has been released from the hospital. The team has been grounded, but may be flying again by this weekend, when it is scheduled to perform at the Canadian International Airshow in Toronto. The accident has reignited debate in Canada over whether the team costs too much money and if the 30-year-old Tutor jets are getting too old to be safe. Last December, Snowbird Capt. Miles Selby died when his CT-114 Tutor jet crashed in a field near Mossbank, Saskatchewan, after a midair collision with a teammate's jet. The second pilot ejected safely. The team was grounded briefly but when investigators found no evidence of mechanical failure, they were back in the air.
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New Mexico's new Spaceport Authority met for the first time last Wednesday to start making plans for a new commercial spaceport in the state. "Now we move into implementation," Spaceport Authority Chairman Rick Homans told Space.com after the meeting. A site of 27 square miles, about 45 miles north of Las Cruces, has already been designated as the Southwest Regional Spaceport. The Authority will begin work on an environmental impact assessment within the next month, Homans said, and hopes to have an FAA license to operate as a spaceport by the end of next year. Homans said the Spaceport Authority plans to work with private companies that "want to get in on the ground floor of this industry and become financial partners with the state in building and operating the spaceport." Michael Kelly, vice president of the X Prize Foundation, told Space.com the first meeting of the Spaceport Authority was "a milestone transition, from the decade-long efforts of the Spaceport Commission to an official, established spaceport program having the full commitment of the state." The New Mexico site has great potential for hosting commercial space tourism activities, Kelly said.
FAA officials met with representatives from the sport-pilot industry last week at the EAA Aviation Center in Oshkosh, Wis., to discuss maintenance issues for light sport aircraft (LSA). Progress was made in the ongoing effort to make it easier for schools to train repairmen. "The repairman and maintenance courses are among the final pieces remaining to complete the basic [LSA] infrastructure," said Earl Lawrence, EAA's vice president of industry and regulatory affairs. The group agreed to use experts from the ultralight industry as instructors, and the FAA said it will allow class sizes of up to 25 students, which will make the courses more affordable. Among those at Oshkosh for two days of discussions were officials from FAA headquarters in Washington, D.C., and the FAA Sport Pilot Office in Oklahoma City.
"During this meeting, EAA and industry officials emphasized to FAA the vital importance of effective and practical regulations for light-sport aircraft maintenance," said Lawrence. "Using safety and practicality as our cooperative goals, we made great progress to revise the previous policy that was first unveiled earlier this year." Currently, light-sport aircraft can be maintained and inspected by an FAA-certificated airframe-and-powerplant (A&P) mechanic or authorized repair station. However, the FAA rule also provides for individuals to earn a light-sport repairman/maintenance rating to do the maintenance and annual condition inspection for any light-sport aircraft, as well as other condition inspections. Lawrence expects a revised procedure to be available from FAA by the end of the year.
A NEW RELEASE OF THE BEST AVIATION WEATHER SERVICE FOR CELL PHONES
With sunshine and beach traffic, it's high season for banner towing, but pilots have had a run of trouble this summer. Last week, pilot Blake Prosser, 24, lost power in his 1953 Piper Pa-18-105 and ditched into the ocean off Myrtle Beach. He escaped from the airplane and was quickly rescued, and the airplane was towed to shore. Earlier this month, a banner tower in the same region made a precautionary landing on a golf course after an oil light came on, and in May, two pilots died in a crash while practicing banner pick-up maneuvers. At Long Beach Airport, in California, a banner-towing company was banned from operation after two incidents in one weekend. One airplane lost its banner above a residential neighborhood; the banner hit power lines, triggering a power loss. Another airplane ditched off Rancho Palos Verdes. Nobody was hurt in either incident.
Only loggers are as likely as pilots to get killed on the job, according to a report released last Thursday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Both professions had a fatality rate of 92.4 per 100,000 workers for 2004, the BLS said, ranking above fisheries workers (86.4 per 100,000), and structural iron and steel workers (47 per 100,000). A total of 109 pilots died on the job. Of those, 22 were flight crew for airlines and 87 were commercial pilots. The numbers were down slightly from the 2003 data, when 114 pilots died on the job.
PROTECT & SHINE YOUR AIRCRAFT
The FAA will hold a job fair Wednesday in Albuquerque to recruit new air traffic controllers...
Symphony Aircraft Industries, of Quebec, announced last week a cash infusion of $3.3 million to fuel company growth. The company builds the certified two-place Symphony 160...
Air Expo '05 set for this weekend, Sept. 3 and 4, at NAS Patuxent River in Maryland; the Blue Angels headline the show...
A new, not-yet-released report on the Concorde reportedly says safety oversight was inadequate in the years leading up to the fatal crash in Paris in 2000 and reiterates that in seven of the incidents "the fuel tanks were pierced with one or more holes" when tires failed
A 1968 Cessna 172K, N79008, was stolen July 14 from New Braunfels, Texas; it was the sixth aircraft reported stolen this year. Contact the Aviation Crime Prevention Institute with information at 800-969-5473 or email@example.com...
ATC tapes released last week show confusion among controllers and pilots during a near-collision at Kennedy International Airport last month. An Israir passenger jet crossed a runway while taxiing, and an Airborne Express DC-8 that was taking off managed to lift off early to miss it...
The FAA last week said child-safety seats will not be required aboard airliners; the NTSB expressed dismay...
A government decision to spend $1 million on office space for airport staff in Saskatchewan met with opposition, but officials said that was the most cost-effective option.
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. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.
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CEO of the Cockpit #48: If This Is Coffee, Bring Me Tea -- If This Is Tea, Bring Me Coffee
GA pilots know what it's like to try and survive on vending-machine food. But when you make it to the majors, you can count on first-class meals in flight and in the hotels. Well, maybe if you were a pilot in the 1960s ...
AVmail: August 29, 2005
Reader mail this week about flying with a broken wing, better vision with shaded contact lenses and more.
ATTENTION, CESSNA OWNERS AND PILOTS
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ISN'T IT ABOUT TIME YOU CHOOSE SOMETHING EXTRA?
Courtesy of our sister magazine, IFR:
Returning home from the West Coast a few years ago, we landed in Flint Mich. The Midwest had weeks of rain and overcast skies that summer and I got this on departure...
"Bonanza Five Four Seven Zero Victor, when vou get on top would you look out to the southeast and tell me if you see a big bright light?"
-- Don Sanderson, Bear Creek, Pennsylvania
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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