Number 39b — September 29, 2005|
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The Top Headlines From
AVweb's Expanded, Illustrated News Coverage At AVweb's
WARNS OF PRIVATIZATION...
The federal government is softening up the aviation community and
public for a Canadian-style privatization of air traffic control, the
president of the controllers union alleged Wednesday. John Carr,
President of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA),
said the recent FAA public relations campaign alleging diminishing
resources (particularly from the Airline and Airway Trust Fund) and
rising costs is similar to the Canadian government's tactics in the
1990s that led to the formation of Nav Canada, the private company
that now runs the airspace system and charges user fees on a
cost-recovery basis. Carr alleged the FAA is "looking to the north" as
it prepares for its reauthorization and the expiration of the trust
fund in 2007. "The FAA's solution is user fees, privatization and
contracting out," Carr told a telephone news conference on Wednesday.
And NATCA will be bringing its views to a TV near you, very soon.
SAYS PRIVATIZATION NOT ON AGENDA...
FAA chief spokesman Greg Martin said the agency's position on
privatization is clear. "If we've said it once, we've said it a
hundred times, we have no plans to privatize air traffic control,"
Martin said. (A different issue than user fees.) He said Blakey has
two clear goals for her tenure. She wants to reduce the cost of the
controllers' contract and create a "stable and sustainable" revenue
stream for the agency. Martin said most of Carr's comments were "the
same old rhetoric" that has been debated before. The agency recently
asked the union to agree to speed up the current round of bargaining
but Carr said Wednesday the union is happy with the current schedule.
FAA (AND PUBLIC OPINION)
Carr said the Fly Us Safe campaign (cost unknown) is aimed at
educating the public on three main issues that threaten the safety of
air travel. He said the ads will address what the union claims is a
critical staffing shortage, poor progress on needed technological
improvements and withering staff morale. He said that despite FAA
promises to address staffing, the system is short 1,500 controllers
and only 13 were hired last year. Martin pointed out that 1,250 will
be hired next year. Carr said the FAA has cut technology programs and
is slow to implement others and he also noted that a recent survey of
government employees indicated that the FAA was the worst government
department to work for. More...
Its not-so-subtle nickname is the "Cirrus Killer" and, judging by the
smoke signals coming from Cessna in the past couple of weeks, we may
soon know something concrete about a new piston single the folks in
Wichita hope will address a situation many would have regarded as
unthinkable only a few years ago. At its current growth rate, Cirrus
could very well become the world's largest manufacturer of piston
singles. According to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association's
first-half report for 2005, Cessna sold 301 piston
singles while Cirrus sold 295. What's more, energized by new capital
and an overhauled marketing department, Columbia Aircraft (the former
Lancair Certified) is clearly in a race with Cirrus (and not Cessna,
Piper or Raytheon) for a share of what could be described as a new
light aircraft market. More...
THAT BE METAL OR PLASTIC?
Just what this new aircraft will be is, of course, the subject of much
speculation. And here, Cessna's reputation of being able to keep
secrets seems to be unchallenged. While some we talked to insist the
"new" aircraft will simply be a modernized version of the same basic
aluminum airplane, others are adamant that the company took a
clean-sheet approach to the project and it will be a composite
four-place with all the electronic bells and whistles. Something they
do agree on, however, is that it will retain the high wing, although
without struts. At one time, Cessna produced more than a dozen
different singles before it shut down the line in the 1980s.
SAYS BRING IT ON
Of course, no one is more interested in what a "Cirrus Killer" might
be than those in Duluth. Cirrus VP of Marketing John Bingham said it's
impossible to comment on what is now a phantom airplane but he's
hoping Cessna goes ahead with the project. "I think it will be good
for aviation and good for pilots," Bingham said. He said any time new
products that enhance safety and performance are introduced, the
industry as a whole benefits. Despite the moniker being used to
describe the new Cessna, Bingham said Cirrus isn't running for cover.
"We're confident about our position in the marketplace," he said.
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NAVY'S SECRET GA AIR FORCE
Even James Bond would have a hard time sorting this out. According to
an Associated Press report (reprinted by numerous military
publications), the U.S. Navy operated a small air force of private
aircraft for use in clandestine operations. Among the 33 aircraft it
contracted from 10 private companies were two Gulfstream bizjets
widely reported to be used by U.S. intelligence officials to carry
suspected terrorists to countries known to torture prisoners. The
process is known as "rendition" and two countries, Sweden and Italy,
that have had people plucked from within their borders for a flight
south and east, are calling it a criminal act. The other aircraft
pretty much cover the spectrum of mission capability and include an
unspecified Cessna, three C-130s, several other bizjets, two Boeing
737s, a Dash 8 and even a DC-3. More...
We can't remember the last time the FAA handed out new ratings without
requiring additional training but thousands of airline first officers
should be lining up for the new paper, but only if they fly
internationally. According to the National Air Transportation Association, the
agency has started issuing second-in-command (SIC) type ratings to
right-seaters on overseas routes. Now, as everyone knows, a first
officer has all the qualifications to fly the aircraft that the pilot
handling the controls has (although he or she might not have as much
experience). However, some member countries of the International Civil
Aviation Organization (ICAO) want to see it in writing.
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COMPUTERS LESS PRONE TO HACKING, SAYS FAA
The FAA says its air traffic control computers are hack resistant in
part because they're so old. The Government Accountability Office
released a report this week saying the FAA's systems are vulnerable to
cyber-attack because the agency hasn't finished implementing
information security programs. The report says that while progress has
been made in protecting the systems, "it still has significant
weaknesses that threaten the integrity, confidentiality and
availability of its systems." The FAA contends that hackers wouldn't
know where to begin to crack the codes in some of the decades-old
hardware that is still in use. More...
AFSS CLOSES EARLY, IN MILLVILLE
Pilots in New Jersey say the decision to close an automated flight
service station (AFSS) -- the building's roof collapsed last month --
will cause safety concerns. The Millville AFSS was scheduled to close
in six to 18 months as part of the consolidation of flight service
facilities under Lockheed Martin's contract, which takes effect Oct.
4. But the building damage has prompted the company to move up the
closure and pilots claim that's hurting service. Wait times for
briefings average 20 to 30 minutes according to pilots who have
contacted AVweb. The closure will also leave 23 radio
frequencies unmonitored during the transition, something the National
Association of Air Traffic Specialists says is dangerous.
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MIXING BUSINESS WITH PLEASURE
South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds is defending his use of government
aircraft (which he frequently flies himself) to attend, among other
things, his son's high school basketball games, saying he always makes
sure some state business gets done at the same time if taxpayers are
picking up the tab. Now, according to an Associated Press report,
South Dakota is one of seven states that doesn't mind if its elected
officials mix a little pleasure with business when they take to the
skies as long as taxpayers aren't on the hook for it. But the cozy
deal that Rounds has with something called the Governor's Club, a
private fund of political contributors, might raise some eyebrows at
the FAA. More...
ACCESS RULES INCONSISTENT
Not all business aircraft are created equal in the eyes of the
security mandarins in Washington, and the National Air
Transportation Association (NATA) is hoping to change that. When
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) "opens" to general
aviation on Oct. 18, many charter aircraft will be excluded while
identical planes operated under corporate classification will sail
right through the red tape. NATA says its reading of the highly
restrictive rules shows that charter aircraft must operate under a
Twelve-Five Standard Security Plan (TFSSP), which is only available to
planes weighing more than 12,500 pounds, which is a pretty big
airplane (a King Air weighs less than 10,000 pounds).
PRIVATE SPACE PROJECTS
It's been almost a year since the Burt Rutan/Paul Allen collaboration
resulted in the first (and second) private manned space flight but
some of the dreamers and doers left in the dust by that well-funded
operation are still hoping to see the black sky themselves. The Countdown to the
X Prize Cup is being held Oct. 9 at Las Cruces, N.M., and visitors
will be able to see the various other means competitors for the
original X Prize had hoped to employ to win the $10 million offered in
the earlier competition. "We've created an event where everyone can
come, experience space and be part of the next generation of
spaceflight," says the event's Web site. More...
It's apparently within FAA regulations to drive a Jeep under an
Red Bull racing comes to San Francisco Oct. 8...
U.S. and Australia have signed a bilateral agreement...
host first qualifying event toward Sailplane Grand Prix...
asking the FAA to hold a public forum on Washington's ADIZ.
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 email@example.com. You're a part
of our team ... often, the best part. More...
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ARTICLES AND FEATURES ON AVWEB
The Savvy Aviator #23:
Maintenance records are a pivotal element
of your aircraft's maintainability and resale value. Are yours in good
shape? AVweb's Mike Busch says the FAA's regulations may not be
thorough enough when the time comes to sell the plane.
HAVE YOU SIGNED UP yet for AVweb's NO-COST twice monthly Business
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MEDICAL CERTIFICATION ISSUES? AOPA CAN
AOPA's Pilot Information Center
provides the answers that pilots need when they face the loss of their
medical certificate. In addition to providing counsel about what
to expect, AOPA's proficient experts have a direct liaison with the
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AOPA's web site allows you to research medical questions, has detailed
guidance about many medical conditions, includes AOPA's TurboMedical
interactive medical application planner, and features a comprehensive
listing of medications allowed by the FAA. For the best information
available about your medical questions, trust AOPA's Pilot Information
Center. Call (800) USA-AOPA, or go online to http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/aopa/med/avflash.
QUESTION OF THE WEEK ...
Privatization, risng prices, and those dreaded user fees this
week, AVweb invites you to peer into your crystal ball and tell us
which (if any) of these you see looming in the future of U.S.
aviation. PLUS: Results of last week's question on avgas prices (and
how much is too much to pay). More...
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PICTURE OF THE WEEK ...
Our spirits continue to soar this week, as "POTW" submission numbers
stay high as does the quality of images we're seeing in the
weekly stack. If you'd like to see your photo here and possibly
win a nifty AVweb baseball cap, available only through "POTW"!
submit your entries here. We'll share the best of each week's crop
with over 100,000 loyal AVweb readers and your picture may end
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world! (Plus, we really get a kick out of looking at airplane
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SHORT STACK HAS ARRIVED FOR PIPERS & GRUMMANS AT POWER
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