NewsWire Complete Issue
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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The Same, But Different
With Hurricane Katrina's mass destruction fresh in everyone's mind, the approach of Rita with Category 5 winds triggered a massive response -- only this time, instead of waiting till after the storm,
the chaos began even before the storm hit. Along the Texas coast, air ambulances and other aircraft from across the South converged to evacuate patients from hospitals, but dozens of flights were
delayed, grounded, diverted, and some simply turned back. Fuel supplies dwindled, heavy traffic gridlocked Houston Hobby Airport, and coordination efforts failed. "Hurry up and wait doesn't get the
job done," a frustrated Renae Taggart, a Fort Worth nurse, told a KRT reporter as she waited for a
flight to get her to Houston to pick up young patients. Airplanes were backed up 15 deep on the taxiways at Hobby Airport, and two- to three-hour delays to take off or land were common, KRT reported.
A crew from Miami Children's Hospital flew to Fort Worth to help in the evacuation, but after getting airborne for Houston, was told 15 minutes later to go back to Fort Worth. The frustrated crew
eventually flew home to Florida without having accomplished anything. "We're here to help, but we're doing nothing," said Michael Cogen, a Miami firefighter and paramedic. "We learned from Katrina,
but they obviously didn't iron out all of the bugs in three weeks," said nurse Sheila Perez.
In Beaumont, Texas, air traffic controllers in the tower worked overtime to help the military airlift 4,000 people, many of them sick and elderly, out of danger before Rita hit, the FAA said. Operation Brother's
Keeper, which organized relief flights after Katrina, offered to help aircraft owners to relocate their aircraft out of harm's way in advance of the storm. By the time Rita hit the coast, it had
weakened to Category 3 and veered to the north, sparing some of the more populated regions. But it also dumped enough wind and rain to do plenty of damage. As of Saturday morning, four airports were
listed as closed by the FAA. In Texas, David Wayne Hooks Memorial (DWH) and Southeast Texas Regional/Beaumont-Port Arthur (BPT) were closed; and in
Louisiana, Lake Charles Regional (LCH) and New Orleans Lakefront (NEW). The FAA issued NOTAMs advising all aircraft not participating in FEMA rescue operations to stay out of the airspace, due to the
high volume of helicopters and airplanes.
U.S. Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi last week introduced legislation that
would quickly make available up to $20 million right away to make emergency repairs at airports in the Gulf Coast region damaged by Hurricane Katrina. The money would help to jump-start repairs as
Congress works to allot millions more in the 2006 fiscal year that starts Oct. 1, Lott said. The money will go to public-use airports in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama. The bill also permits grant
funding to cover emergency operating costs incurred as a result of Hurricane Katrina by these airports. "Rebuilding and repairing our airports is critical to the economic development, vitality and
quality of life of our communities devastated by Hurricane Katrina," Lott said.
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Latest Incident One Of Seven
While last week's A320-stuck-nosegear incident attracted nonstop (some might say breathless, excessive and overblown) live TV coverage, it was hardly an unprecedented event. It's happened at least six
times before to Airbus aircraft, and each time the pilots made safe landings and nobody was hurt. Considering that about 2,500 A320s are flying, the number of incidents is not of concern, FAA
spokesman Greg Martin told The Associated Press last week. Records show that previous problems were
blamed on a software glitch, on aging O-ring seals, on a malfunctioning landing-gear control-interface unit, and on an improperly installed shock absorber, according to the Los Angeles Daily News. The FAA also was told in 1999 that the braking-and-steering control unit could rotate the nose
wheels if the valve to which the O-ring is attached fails, the AP reported. AVweb previously reported
on a similar incident that happened at O'Hare in November 2002. The FAA issued an Airworthiness Directive in December 1999 that required operators to fix possible faults with O-ring seals in the
landing-gear steering module.
The crew of the JetBlue flight that got all the attention took off from Burbank, Calif., bound to JFK in New York, last Wednesday, with 146 passengers and crew on board. The flight crew observed
illumination of a caution light upon retracting the landing gear after takeoff, the NTSB said. They consulted with officials from the airline and Airbus while holding for about three hours to burn off
fuel, and flew by a tower to get a visual check on the condition of the landing gear. It was decided to land at LAX, at least partly because JetBlue has a maintenance facility there. News reports
followed the incident live, and the reports were watched by the passengers on board, who were told to prepare for a bumpy landing. The NTSB said its investigators will examine the airplane, interview
the flight crew and other airline personnel, and review maintenance and service records. The cockpit voice recorder and digital flight data recorder were removed from the airplane and secured. Airbus
declined to comment on the incident, saying it would wait for the results of the NTSB investigation.
NATCA vs. FAA
The contract negotiations between the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) and the FAA that started in July promise to be difficult and contentious -- the two sides were far apart going in, and dueling press releases already have been fierce and frequent. Now they are at
odds over the schedule for the talks. NATCA last week rejected the FAA's request to meet five days a week and conclude negotiations before Christmas. The ending date is "arbitrary and artificial,"
said NATCA President John Carr, and would violate the ground rules agreed to by both sides. The FAA's proposal followed a complaint by NATCA on Sept. 8 that the FAA was setting a "slow pace" that was "disruptive and counterproductive." The FAA's deputy administrator for strategic labor-management
relations, Joe Miniace, proposed the faster timetable for negotiations in a Sept. 15 letter to the union. "We want to move quickly because the taxpayer cannot afford this contract much longer,"
Miniace said. The existing contract, signed in 1998, was to have cost the FAA $200 million for the first three years, but the actual cost exceeded $1 billion, the FAA said. NATCA has said the FAA
inflates controllers' salary figures by using standard federal benefits.
Delta Air Lines said last week it will eliminate up to 9,000 jobs -- about 17 percent of its work force -- by
the end of 2007, as it struggles to restructure under Chapter 11. The staff cuts and other belt-tightening measures will save $970 million annually, the company said, which is about one-third of the
way to its cost-cutting goal. Pay scales will also be cut by 7 to 10 percent for most workers. The fleet will be reduced by 80-plus aircraft by the end of 2006, and the number of aircraft types in
operation will be cut from 11 to 7. The airline has already cut 24,000 jobs since 2001. Captain John Malone, chairman of the Delta pilots' union, said
the pilots are being asked to bear a disproportionate share of the cuts. "This once great airline cannot successfully recover if the central focus of the recovery plan remains on pay and benefit cuts
from the employees who made it great. Operational efficiencies and revenue enhancements must be a greater part of the plan," Malone said.
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China (which might ban news services like AVweb) will likely lift a longtime restriction on
flying below 3,000 meters (about 10,000 feet) as soon as 2010, Zhang Hongbiao, the president of China Aviation Industry Corp II, said last week, China Daily reported. China's official air-traffic agency declined to comment on the statement. The
strict control over low-altitude airspace has long been regarded as a bottleneck in the country's aviation development. Zhang said the infrastructure is now in place to allow for air-traffic
management at those altitudes, and predicted that opening the airspace would trigger a huge demand for helicopters and light airplanes in both the private and government sectors. China began issuing
civilian pilot licenses in 1996, and so far almost 300 pilots have been certified.
The NTSB last week cited the FAA's "inadequate medical certification ... and follow-up" as a factor in an
Alaska crash that killed a pilot. The pilot was flying alone carrying cargo in a twin turboprop Beech C-45H en route to Kodiak in June 2004. After holding for 45 minutes waiting for weather to
improve, he was cleared for an ILS approach, but he never landed. Searchers found the airplane had impacted a nearby island. The NTSB blamed the pilot's failure to follow the correct missed-approach
procedures, but also noted traces of cocaine, alcohol and over-the-counter cold medication found in his system. The FAA knew of the pilot's substance-abuse problems and should have done more to follow
up, the NTSB said. The pilot had a long history of drug and alcohol problems, and had landed on a taxiway in Anchorage in January 2004, according to the NTSB report. Willis Simmons, the FAA's regional
flight surgeon in Alaska, told the Anchorage Daily News, "I don't know that we knew he had substance-abuse problems.
He had a history of substance-abuse problems. There's a difference."
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Pilot Harry Butler wondered why more than a dozen law-enforcement officers surrounded his Cessna Citation 501 after he landed at Georgetown County Airport in South Carolina on Thursday morning. He'd
lost his radios en route and returned to have them checked out, but that hardly seemed to explain it. It turned out that when he had asked his co-pilot to change the transponder code to 7600 to alert
controllers that he'd lost the radios, it was set accidentally to the code for a hijacking. FBI agents and FAA officials questioned the two for about two hours, then let them go, according to The Sun News. A similar false alarm occurred recently in Australia, when a King Air pilot inadvertently used a "secret code word" during radio communications that
triggered concerns about a possible hijacking in progress. The country's national terrorism emergency plan kicked into full gear, an emergency command post was set up in a bunker in Canberra, the
nation's capital, and the plane was tracked by radar and real-time satellite images as it flew from Brisbane to Melbourne.
Over 50 people held a candlelight vigil in a parking lot across from Teterboro Airport on Thursday night to protest the noise and publicize their concerns about health hazards from airport operations.
Most were local residents and officials from the neighborhoods that surround the busy airport. "What they turned this airport into doesn't belong in the most densely populated part of southern Bergen
County," protestor Craig Lahullier told NorthJersey.com. The airport handles about 200,000 takeoffs and landings per year. That's an average of one every two minutes, 24 hours a day, Lahullier said. The Port Authority,
which runs the airport, has promised to reduce flights by 10 percent. The Authority also plans to spend $10 million to install a 300-foot-long "arrestor bed" at the end of Runway 6,
to contain overruns. In February, a jet that overran the runway crossed six lanes of a highway and crashed into a warehouse. Twenty people were hurt, including two in a car. Arrestor beds at JFK have
stopped three jets that overran runways, including a 747.
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The pilots of a chartered Lockheed L-1011 were headed for Lima, Peru, last Tuesday when they told air traffic control they were low on fuel and would have to divert to the northern coastal city of
Piura. Emergency crews were scrambled, and the jet landed safely ... just in time for the 300 Gambians on board to make it to the nearby soccer match where their home team was competing. "It truly was
a scam," Betty Maldonado, a spokeswoman for Peru's aviation authority, told The Associated
Press. "They tricked the control tower." The Air Rum jet had been chartered by Gambian President Yahya Jammeh. The passengers were allowed to attend the game, but the jet was held pending a
decision by the authorities on what penalties they would levy against the charter operator.
The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) will host a ceremony tonight in the U.S. Capitol Building in
Washington to bestow this year's Public Benefit Awards, which recognize the contributions of those engaged in flying to help others. Bill Boulton, who has flown more than 150 flights for Angel Flight
in Oklahoma, will receive the Distinguished Volunteer Pilot Award for his work. Stephan Fopeano, of Los Angeles, California, won the Distinguished Volunteer Award for creating the Angel Flight
Information Database System. Angel Flight West and LightHawk both won Outstanding Achievement awards. The Champion of Public Benefit Flying Award goes to Alaska Airlines, for contributing about $3.5
million to Angel Flight West over the last 20 years. The awards were created in 2003 in a partnership between the NAA and the Air
The EAA Sport Pilot Tour will stop at Collin County Regional Airport in McKinney, Texas, about 25 miles north of Dallas, on Nov. 12. AVweb's story last Thursday had less precise information about the location...
Construction is complete for Dulles Airport's new tower; 25 stories tall, it will open next
A 1,000-foot-long model of a space elevator was tested
successfully in Washington State last week. A competition is set for Oct. 21...
A Virgin Atlantic flight from Tobago to London was delayed when the first officer failed to show;
his body was found in a hotel room where he had apparently hanged himself...
Evektor has chosen Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-21 turboprop engines to power its EV-55 aircraft...
Operation Brothers Keeper is launching its own Web site as of Monday, check www.vacationrentalsforfamilies.com for
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
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AVmail: September 26, 2005
Reader mail this week about fuel prices, pay for retired airline pilots, entering the DC ADIZ in Arizona and much more.
The best time to support a threatened airport is before it gets threatened. That means those of you who think, ''My airport is just fine,'' had better read what this city councilman has to say and
then start organizing.
CEO of the Cockpit #49: Coonass Says Goodbye
These days even retired airline pilots feel the pain of broken airlines. AVweb's CEO of the Cockpit tells the story of his southern buddy left behind by an unfeeling, MBA-managed legacy airline.
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Heard on the tower frequency at a major Southwest hub...
Tower: Southwest 972 Position and hold runway 28
Pilot Reply: You're 90 degrees off ... (pause) ... Northwest 972 will position and hold, runway 28
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|NAA OFFERS FIRST COLLIER TROPHY MEDALLION|
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|KITPLANES EDITORS FLY A SPORTSMAN 2+2|
THROUGH ALASKA & WESTERN CANADA
the October Kitplanes magazine, they say it was the best-built airplane for the conditions they encountered. Plus in this issue: "Skyranger II" a new take on this high-wing,
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