November 16, 2005
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
|This issue of AVweb's AVflash is brought to you by ... Trade-A-Plane
THE GIFT THAT KEEPS THEM FLYING
On Tuesday, the FAA released its latest version of its Flight Plan, setting strategy and priorities for the agency through 2010, and Administrator Marion Blakey made her annual "State of the FAA" speech to the staff, carried by satellite to field offices around the nation. She listed the FAA's achievements for 2005 -- coping with Hurricane Katrina, launching DRVSM (Domestic Reduced Vertical Separation Minimums), zero airline fatalities, and the privatization of Flight Service Stations. The failures were in lowering the GA accident rate and reducing reports of operational errors for Air Traffic Control. To improve the accident rate, she said, the FAA will continue to work with the GA Joint Steering Committee -- a government/industry group that studies accidents and makes recommendations to improve safety. To address the operational errors, Blakey said, "We are working to develop a metric that measures risk, not just number of errors. We're also working to develop an automated reporting system for the terminal area." An automated system would help develop a baseline and a more accurate and reliable source of information on how the system is performing, Blakey said. What she didn't say was that it would also relieve controllers of the responsibility for reporting errors. In the New York TRACON (Terminal Radar Approach Control), for example, reports of errors spiked earlier this year after the FAA imposed a new schedule aimed at slashing overtime at the facility.
Blakey said the FAA must deal with three immediate challenges -- building a next-generation air transportation system that incorporates new technology, operating more like a business and changing how the FAA is financed. "They are all interrelated," Blakey said. "Each depends on the other." She also cited the ongoing contract negotiations with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA). "We cannot and will not sign a contract that we cannot afford," she said. "The outcome of these negotiations will fundamentally affect the future of this agency. We want a deal that's fair and equitable. ... And we're hopeful that we'll reach a voluntary agreement." The future financing of the agency may be the biggest challenge, Blakey said. "The taxes that fuel the trust fund will expire in 2007. ... What we need is a constant, stable revenue stream that's related to the actual cost of the services we provide."
NATCA didn't even wait for Blakey to give the speech before going on the attack. In a news release sent out the day before, NATCA predicted Blakey would paint a "rosy picture" of the state of the nation's aviation system -- a picture that NATCA sees very differently. NATCA cited inadequate staffing, outdated and broken-down equipment, and management denials that safety issues exist. On Tuesday, AOPA chimed in that the new Flight Plan is still improperly focused on user fees. "There is a fundamental disagreement between the FAA and AOPA about whether the aviation trust fund is running out of money," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "As I testified before Congress, even the White House Office of Management and Budget is forecasting continued growth in the fund, and the fiscal year 2005 numbers bear this out." The Flight Plan also ignored the effects of temporary flight restrictions and ADIZ proliferation on GA, AOPA said. But it did have some good things for GA in it: "Customers want us to move faster to develop WAAS approaches for [smaller] airports or allow contractors to develop them. And we are," said the FAA. And something that will have long-term implications for aircraft owners: The FAA promised it would make a decision about nationwide implementation of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) by July. ADS-B can replace aging and expensive radar and secondary beacon systems. AOPA is participating in FAA planning activities to ensure that any ADS-B implementation is acceptable and affordable for GA users. The FAA also acknowledged an improving long-term trend in GA safety. "Through the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Air Safety Foundation, we've made online safety courses available on specific topics, including runway safety, night flying, and mountain flying," the FAA Flight Plan said.
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A bright-yellow taildragger with a black lightning-bolt stripe means "Cub" to many aviators, but with a kit industry awash in Cub-a-likes just who has the right to use those colors and that name for production aircraft has come into dispute. Cub Crafters, of Yakima, Wash., has filed a lawsuit in federal court in Texas against American Legend Aircraft Co. , claiming that Cub Crafters has rights to the names "Cub" and "Legend," plus the yellow-with-black design. Cub Crafters builds the Sport Cub light sport aircraft (LSA) and the Part 23-certified Top Cub, and has been rebuilding Cubs since at least 1986. Legend Aircraft, of Sulphur Springs, Texas, builds the Legend Cub LSA that went on the market just this year. In a 10-page complaint, Cub Crafters asks the court to stop American Legend from infringing on its trademarks, and stop it from competing unfairly with Cub Crafters and "diluting the distinctive quality of Cub Crafters trademarks." Further, Cub Crafters wants American Legend to pay over all profits from selling the disputed merchandise, plus pay damages and attorneys' fees.
Since the legal matter is pending, neither party was willing to say much about it. Todd Simmons, spokesman for Cub Crafters, told AVweb in an e-mail that "Our company policy is not to comment specifically on legal matters or pending litigation. ... We are bringing a variety of internal and external company resources to bear on protecting the integrity of the intellectual property that we have invested in and developed over our twenty-five year history. Any current proceedings toward that end are consistent with similar efforts and actions taken in the past." Tim Elliott, spokesman for Legend Aircraft Co., told AVweb on Tuesday: "We believe that the lawsuit and their claims have absolutely no merit. We intend to continue our strong defense of the case." The case is scheduled to go to court in August 2006.
WATCH LIGHTSPEED'S MACH 1 HEADSET VIDEO ONLINE
How tough is it? Well, on Friday you might have run into FedEx pilots picketing outside your local FedEx Kinko's store when you stopped by for some copies. The pilots, who are members of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), have been working without a contract for more than a year. They say the company's record profits now are going only to executives and investors, while workers no longer get a share. Meanwhile, pilots at Delta Air Lines are threatening to strike if the company succeeds in an effort to void their contract in bankruptcy court. A pilot strike would be equivalent to "murder-suicide," the company said Monday, since it would likely shut down the carrier and put it out of business for good. Monday, Northwest Airlines pilots chose a different strategy. Northwest pilots agreed to take a 24-percent "temporary" pay cut, on top of a 15-percent reduction from a year ago. The agreement gives the pilots two more months in which to negotiate a longer-term agreement.
Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that would change the law that governs foreign ownership and control of U.S. airlines, and the proposal has caused an uproar. Continental Airlines called the proposal "a blatant attempt to circumvent the law that DOT has been unable to convince Congress to change." The DOT proposal is intended "to satisfy the European Union that its citizens will be allowed to control U.S. airlines," Continental said in a news release. ALPA's president, Capt. Duane Woerth, agreed, and added that members of Congress are "very unhappy with the administration's jurisdictional grab." Woerth also said that "U.S. airlines themselves are all over the map on whether they support this -- or oppose this -- or even understand it."
THE SJ30-2 IS THE WORLD'S FASTEST LIGHT BUSINESS JET
Flight Standards District Offices in Southern California are slated for consolidation, and this will mean moving about two dozen inspectors out of the FSDO at Los Angeles International Airport, the FAA said yesterday. "No jobs are being lost nor is headcount being reduced; we are simply going to be moving our aviation inspectors closer to where the work is -- which is generally not at LAX but elsewhere in Southern California," FAA spokesman Donn Walker told AVweb. The announcement has caused some concern among staffers at LAX, according to an inspector who spoke to AVweb. "This is one of the busiest offices in California, and customer service is excellent right now, because we're right at the perimeter of the field. If we're moved to another office, even just 25 miles away, that can mean an hour and a half travel time in local traffic," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity. He added that "a lot of people in the office are upset about this," and he doesn't see any valid operational reasons, or any benefit to the customers, in making the change. He also expressed concerns about whether the other FSDOs in the region have space to accommodate the LAX inspectors.
There are 27 FAA inspectors currently working in the LAX office, three of whom are scheduled to retire this year, plus several support staff. "Unlike in the past, there are currently no Part 121 air carrier certificates being managed at the LAX FSDO," Walker said. "That greatly reduces the need to have a large Flight Standards presence near the airport. Employees who now work at the LAX FSDO will be able to work at other Flight Standards locations in the area, which in many cases will reduce commute times and put them closer to where their actual work is. We don't have a timetable yet for this; right now this is just in the planning stages. The bottom line: This will have absolutely no effect on our customers."
Sandel Avionics and Kollsman, Inc., announced last week they will work together to develop advanced heads-up displays for GA cockpits. Initial efforts will focus on integrating Sandel's advanced displays with Kollsman's small-footprint heads-up display, the MicroHUD, the companies said in a news release. A follow-on program will add Kollsman's new GAViS, a heads-down, forward-looking infrared capability, to Sandel's display products. In both cases, the object will be to reduce the size and cost of these advanced display technologies, making them available to corporate and general aviation. The companies said the new technology has the potential to bring a new level of situational awareness and safety to GA, including the emerging very light jet market and the legacy business and GA fleet. "We are tremendously excited about this joint development program, which gets us all closer to a safer and more capable cockpit, and for the opportunity to work with Kollsman and their tremendous engineering prowess in these areas," said Gerry Block, Sandel's president. Randy Moore, Kollsman's executive VP, said Sandel is the "ideal partner" to bring their MicroHUD and GAViS programs to the corporate and GA markets. Sandel is a private company based in Vista, Calif. Kollsman, a subsidiary of Elbit Systems, is based in Merrimack, N.H.
PROTECT & SHINE YOUR AIRCRAFT
Boeing has gone back and forth for years on the fate of its 747 line, but Monday the company announced a decision -- they will go forward with the 747-8, stretched and upgraded, available as a freighter or a 446-seat passenger jet. The company already has orders for 18 freighters, which will be 18 feet longer than the current 747-400 version. Those orders are worth $5 billion. "The 747-8 will use the technologies of the 787 Dreamliner to ...offer greater fuel efficiency, improved operating economics, and be more friendly to the environment with reduced noise and emissions," said Alan Mulally, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Both versions of the new 747 will feature GE's 787-technology GEnx engines, meet Stage 4 and QC2 noise requirements, have reduced emissions, offer lower trip costs and have an upgraded flight deck and an improved wing, Boeing said. The 747-8 Intercontinental passenger airplane will be stretched 11.7 feet compared to the 747-400 to accommodate 34 additional seats in a typical three-class configuration. It will have a range of 8,000 nm. "The 747-8 also fits easily in today's aviation infrastructure, flying into more than 210 airports worldwide without additional, expensive infrastructure changes required," Boeing added in its news release ... a clear swipe at Airbus, which has required airports to adapt to its new super-sized A380.
Taking the private space industry to the next phase beyond suborbital tourist flights, SpaceDev announced yesterday that it has a plan for a six-passenger vehicle that could provide routine, safe crew access to the International Space Station -- replacing the Space Shuttle -- for a fraction of the cost of traditional programs. SpaceDev said if funding is forthcoming, multiple manned suborbital test flights could launch by 2008, and manned test flights to orbit by 2010. SpaceDev, of Poway, Calif., built the hybrid rocket motor that powered SpaceShipOne. CEO Jim Benson said yesterday the ship could also be used for tourist flights. The orbital version of the SpaceDev Dream Chaser would launch vertically from a launch pad on the side of three large hybrid boosters. Unlike the Shuttle, it would not use cryogenic propellants, avoiding the dangers of foam insulation and ice. It would use scaled-up versions of the rocket used on SpaceShipOne. SpaceDev believes this combination should save time and money, and could result in a safe and affordable vehicle.
|THE COLUMBIA 350 & COLUMBIA 400 HAVE A NEW CORPORATE NAME|
The Lancair Company has re-branded itself as Columbia Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation. The manufacturers of the Columbia 350 and Columbia 400, the world's fastest certified piston aircraft, made the change as part of an ongoing campaign to develop a unique identity for these premium aircraft. The schedule for the Fly Columbia Tour, an interactive Columbia experience, is posted online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/columbia/avflash.
The FAA has listened to the concerns of EAA and the air show community, and an updated list of changes to air show policies shows that most of EAA's recommendations will be included when the policies are updated, EAA said on Monday. "We are very pleased that FAA worked with EAA, the International Council of Air Shows and other groups as the agency developed these policy statements," said Earl Lawrence, EAA's vice president of industry and regulatory affairs. The tweaks mean that warbird shows will still be able to enter the show airspace from different directions, when flying above 1,000 AGL. Media photographers will still be allowed to approach closer than the general public. Also, landmarks will still be OK to use as corner markers for airspace boxes when practical. "FAA has worked with air show and aerobatic groups to maintain the best level of air show safety in the world, while not causing unnecessary costs for air show organizers or hampering displays of historic and vintage aircraft," Lawrence said.
Over $100,000 was raised for Katrina victims during the recent National Business Aviation Association annual meeting in Orlando. The meeting was originally scheduled for New Orleans...
The FAA issued an NPRM on Monday that would require more than 3,200 large passenger jets to reduce flammability levels of fuel tank vapors....
Investigators have posted an update on the Air France accident on Aug. 2 in Toronto, when an Airbus A340 overran the runway and caught fire...
AVweb columnist Rick Durden, now executive director of LightHawk, explains it all to the eco-masses in a Grist magazine interview...
At least eight times in the last six years, pilots have mistaken Taxiway Tango for Runway 16R at Seattle-Tacoma Airport, The Seattle Times says. The NTSB wants FAA to do something about it...
The Sport Pilot Tour stop in Dallas drew its best crowd yet, with about 700 visitors. Next stop is Dec. 3 in Camarillo, Calif.
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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.
As the Beacon Turns #95: I Am The Master
Now that glass cockpits can be found in even the most traditional of planes such as Cubs, AVweb's Michael Maya Charles is very concerned that we're forgetting who's actually in charge of flying the aircraft.
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*** PREVIOUS RESULTS ***
Being a commercial pilot isn't quite as glamorous as it once was. Given the emphasis on lay-offs and shrinking retirement funds in recent years, we wondered if there was any romance left for what was once considered a dream job. So last week, AVweb asked how many of you still dream of flying the heavy iron.
Apparently, it's not that many. Only 35% of those who responded answered with an emphatic YES, the best place for an office is still in the cockpit.
The rest of you agreed that commercial-jet piloting has lost some of its mystique though for different reasons. 10% of you said the job had lost its appeal because of the shrinking financial rewards. Another 20% blamed the inescapable politics that have crept into the cockpit pilots have to tread carefully among the agendas of unions, management, and maintenance these days. And the final 35% of our respondents said that commercial piloting is just too unstable a career.
*** THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***
We all have to learn them. Sometimes our instructors even help us remember them.
Have you ever used them?
Have an idea for a new QOTW? Send your suggestions to email@example.com.
This address is only for suggested QOTW questions, and not for QOTW answers or comments.
Use this form to send QOTW comments to our AVmail Editor.
BENNETT AVIONICS WILL MAKE YOUR HOLIDAY
Submit a Photo | Rules | Tips | Questions
Current POTW Winner | Past POTW Winners
The holiday season is upon us, and the spirit of giving is alive and well among "Picture of the Week" contributors! This week saw submissions soar upward of 100 again, with 46 photos making it into our "final round." There were so many eye-popping, dynamic photos we should have included a pair of 3-D glasses with this installment of "POTW"!'
So what are we gabbing for? Settle into your big comfy leather office chair, and let's look at some pictures!
Due to privacy issues, AVweb does not publish e-mail addresses of readers who submit photos.
copyright © Erik
"Last of the Big Cats"
Erik Hildebrandt of Stillwater, Minnesota sends us
this week's winning photo of the Navy's recently
retired F-14 Black Lion Tomcats. Erik's a professional
photographer who's cropped up in "POTW" before although
this is his first top spot. To see more of his work, visit his web site.
Click here to view a large version of this image
AVweb continues to receive a large number of excellent images for our POTW contest. Here are some of the runners-up. Click on the links below to view larger versions.
Used with permission of William T. Griffin
"Two Ways to Travel in Southeast Alaska"
William T. Griffin of Buckley, Washington
puts it all in perspective, with this shot
taken on June 4 in Wrangell, Alaska.
Used with permission
Balloon enthusiasts have rediscovered
"Picture of the Week" in recent months,
and we couldn't be happier. This week,
Charles Green of Martinez, Georgia joins
the ranks of "POTW' Top Three Contenders.
We warned you it would be
a big week for "POTW," so
don't leave yet many great
photos are yet to come!
Used with permission of Gavin Conroy
"Robin Jumps Over the Moon"
One of three moon-themed contenders,
Gavin Conroy's photo from Blenheim,
New Zealand barely edged out the others.
(Although we did consider a special
lunar-themed "bonus pictures" section.)
copyright © Lisa
Lisa Salazar of Port St. Lucie, Florida had
her camera handy during a recent heritage flight.
"Makes my heart skip a beat," she writes.
Ours too, Lisa.
copyright © Al
"Isn't This What It's All About?"
Al Hallonquist of Hobe Sound, Florida
had a hard time dragging his grandson Blake
away from the Stuart (Florida) Air Show last week.
How hard? Well, Al had to let young Blake
sit on the roof while they packed the car,
so he wouldn't miss the end of the show!
Used with permission of Bob Graham
Bob Graham of Raleigh, North Carolina
reminisced with us about 1989's Hurricane Hugo,
which destroyed his Skylane. "This is the last flight
she took, with the help of a big crane," Bob writes.
Used with permission of David Bier
David Bier of La Grange, Illinois
has been keeping some interesting company:
"I was lucky enough to ride the USS Nimitz
(as a civilian) from Pearl Harbor to San Diego,"
he writes, "and snapped this picture of an F-18
Super Hornet coming over me on the fantail."
"End of the Day"
We'll wrap up this week's installment of "POTW" with
an image from Dennis Pearce of Wichita, Kansas.
The photo was taken at this summer's
AirVenture Splash-In at Oshkosh
To enter next week's contest, click here.
A Reminder About Copyrights: Please take a moment to consider the source of your image before submitting to our "Picture of the Week" contest. If you did not take the photo yourself, ask yourself if you are indeed authorized to release publication rights to AVweb. If you're uncertain, consult the POTW Rules or send us an e-mail.
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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Today's issue written by News Writer Mary Grady:
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