Number 47a — November 21, 2005|
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The Top Headlines From
AVweb's Expanded, Illustrated News Coverage At AVweb's
60 RULE GOING AWAY?
Is there life after 60 for airline pilots? By the end of next year
there may be, as long as they're willing to share the cockpit with a
(relatively) young whippersnapper. The Senate Committee on Commerce,
Science and Transportation passed a bill last Thursday that would allow
airline pilots to keep flying until their 65th birthday as long as
another qualified pilot under the age of 60 is also on duty in the
cockpit. The so-called Age 60 Rule has been in effect for more than 45
years and the FAA has resisted (sometimes vigorously) attempts to
scrap it. Last July at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, FAA Administrator
Marion Blakey reaffirmed her position that the rule was here to stay,
but Congress could change all that. More...
PENSION OVERHAUL PLAN PASSES...
As the committee was finishing its work, the full Senate was busy
ratifying a bill that, among other reforms, would allow
pilots caught in the various airline pension-scheme defaults, either
completed or imminent, to qualify for the full rate offered by the
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, the federal agency that bails
out bankrupt pension plans. Under current regulations, only those who
retire at age 65 qualify for the maximum PBGC benefit of about $45,000
a year. Airline pilots, who must retire by 60, are only eligible for
about $29,000. An amendment by Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, would
qualify pilots for the full $45,000 if their pension plan goes bust.
But the bill also contained provisions to make it easier for airlines
to keep their pension funds afloat. More...
PILOTS UNION THREATENS "MURDER-SUICIDE"
Of course, all the congressional help in the world won't help the
legacy carriers if they can't help themselves and it seems like pilots
at both Delta and Northwest are willing to pull the pin on their
respective airlines. When it comes to concessions, pilots have the
most to give and they've given up a total of $1.2 billion in wages and
benefits to try and keep the struggling carriers afloat. The pilots,
all members of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), have indicated
they're running out of patience with demands that they work for less
and are threatening to go on strike, even though they agree with
Delta's prediction that a strike would result in a "murder-suicide"
for the airline. "Is it a real threat? Yes it is," said Mark McClain,
chair of the Northwest branch of ALPA. More...
SUGGESTS MORE FAA OUTSOURCING
The Government Accountability Office is suggesting the FAA back away
from rejigging its core funding mechanisms and, instead, concentrate
on making do with less. And contracting out heads the list of ways the
FAA could get its financial house in order while coping with major
funding, technology and human resource challenges. "Some experts, and
GAO's work, suggest that FAA pursue near-term options, such as
contracting out more services," the report's synopsis reads. "After
establishing a sound financial management record, FAA could pursue
options for greater financial management flexibility." The synopsis
doesn't pinpoint which services could be outsourced but it is critical
of the FAA's current approach to saving money. More...
OUTSOURCED MAINTENANCE NEEDS MORE OVERSIGHT...
You could forgive the FAA for being confused on the outsourcing issue.
While the GAO seems to be encouraging it, the other government
watchdog that monitors the agency was sending a different message. Ken
Mead, the Department of Transportation's Inspector General, testified
before the Senate Transportation Committee that more and more airline
maintenance is being outsourced and he said that means the FAA needs
to step up its inspection of third-party maintenance facilities. He
said outsourcing isn't the issue. "It is that maintenance, wherever it
is done, requires oversight," he said. He said the FAA was warned two
years ago about shortcomings with maintenance subcontractors and
promised to increase inspections but has been slow to do so. Mead is
particularly concerned about the increasing amount of maintenance
being done in other countries. More...
PROGRAMS GOOD, COULD BE BETTER
The GAO also took a look at the FAA's safety oversight system and,
while it had to acknowledge the extraordinary safety record of U.S.
commercial air operations, that doesn't mean there isn't room for a
little tweaking. For instance, the GAO thinks the FAA spends too much
time doing "traditional inspections" of airlines and not enough time
looking for potential risk factors. The GAO also suggests beefed-up
training for inspectors to ensure they understand the complex aircraft
they are inspecting and, while it says the FAA training programs are
generally good, there is a lack of evaluative standards to go with
A Maryland pilot who hopes to circumnavigate the globe via the two poles says
someone apparently poured lacquer thinner into his aircraft's fuel
tanks. "This is a hard thing to wrap my mind around," Gus McLeod told
the Baltimore Sun. "I can't believe I would be so important that
someone would want to hurt me." McLeod told the Sun he left his Firefly,
a modified Velocity, outside his hangar one night with a can of laquer
thinner on the ground beside it. He found the empty can the next day
but apparently didn't suspect the new whereabouts of its contents. On
a shakedown flight on Oct. 16, he experienced engine problems and upon
landing found yellow goo in the fuel lines. Later tests confirmed the
presence of laquer thinner in the fuel and inspection of the
fiberglass fuel tank revealed they'd been partially dissolved,
resulting in fuel-line blockage. More...
PLAN RHETORIC CONTINUES USER FEE FOCUS
The FAA's annual revision of its five-year planning document, called
its Flight Plan, continues the much-disputed tack that the existing
funding structure for the agency, through the Airway and Airport Trust
Fund, is falling short and a new method of funding is needed. AOPA
President Phil Boyer said the fund is actually growing but the FAA is
under intense pressure from airlines and from within the
administration to establish a fee-for-service system. AOPA is also
suggesting Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta was a little less
than forthcoming when he told those attending his Q&A session at AOPA
Expo earlier this month that "From my perspective, it will not be a
user fee" that will dig the FAA out of the mire. More...
NPRM AFFECTS BONANZAS, NAVIONS
About 2350 Beech Bonanzas, T-34s and Navions with certain prop and
engine combinations will fall under a proposed Airworthiness Directive
that will require immediate replacement of the prop on about 500 of
the affected aircraft and RPM limits on the others. Based on test data
supplied by McCauley, the FAA issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemakingcovering
3A32C406/82NDBX and D3A32C409/82NDBX propellers, installed
on Continental IO520, TSIO520 or IO550 engines,
saying McCauley's testing "identified stress conditions that affect
the fatigue life and damage tolerance" of the props. AOPA is
challenging the NPRM, saying there's no accident data to back up the
proposed AD. More...
60 YEARS, IT'S STILL A MYSTERY
Perhaps proving that no good mystery can be left that way, NBC News,
without uncovering a shred of new information or evidence, is,
according to the Palm Beach Post, "rekindling speculation" on what
happened to a flight of five Navy Grumman Avengers that went missing
60 years ago off the coast of Florida in what became known as the
Bermuda Triangle. Congress also voted to commemorate the anniversary
with a resolution that passed 420-2 (Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, and
Rep. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., voted against). "Perhaps someday we will learn
what happened and lay this mystery to rest," said Florida Republican
Clay Shaw, who put the resolution forward. Apparently, the latest
television probe, which will air Nov. 27, doesn't do that.
ACCEPTS SUSPENSION FOR COLLISION WITH SKYDIVER
The pilot of a plane that collided with a skydiver, causing fatal
injuries, has agreed to accept a nine-month suspension of all of his
aviation certificates. But William J. Buchmann's lawyer, R. Patrick
Phillips, says the 57-year-old pilot is not admitting that he violated
any regulations, despite accusations by the FAA that he flew the
aircraft in a "grossly careless or reckless manner" when it struck his
longtime friend Albert "Gus" Wing over Deland Airport last April. "Our
view is that this was an accident and nothing more," Phillips told the
Orlando Sentinel. And while they mourned the loss of Wing, colleagues
and patrons at Skydive Deland, including Wing's family, are rallying
behind Buchmann, who's being kept on at the skydive center, doing
ground jobs, while he serves the suspension. "He's one of the best,
most competent pilots that [has] ever worked in our industry," said
Skydive Deland owner Bob Hallett. More...
AIRLIFT CARRIES SPECIAL ATHLETES
About 2,500 Special Olympics athletes will arrive in style at the U.S.
Special Olympics National Games at Iowa State University next July. A
fleet of 400 privately owned Cessna Citations will fly the athletes
from 35 states to the Games. All of the flight time, pilot time and
fuel will be donated by the owners of the planes. Cessna is
coordinating the effort, called the Citation Special Olympics Airlift.
A sign-up sheet is available by going to the link provided on the airlift information page. More...
ELT in delivery truck sparked search...
King Air's belly landing
caught on camera...
Flight 93 movie started production in
Hooters pushes out of Rockford. More...
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...
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FEEDBACK ON AVWEB'S NEWS COVERAGE AND FEATURE ARTICLES:
November 21, 2005
Reader mail this week about the EZ
Rocket, light guns and more.
ARTICLES AND FEATURES ON AVWEB
CEO of the Cockpit #51: Cockpit of the Apes
free-enterprise economy is Darwinian and if legacy airlines are
dinosaurs, what are the little mammals and what are the cockroaches?
And which will survive longest? AVweb's CEO of the Cockpit ponders
this in the hypoxic cockpit of a 777 in this month's column.
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What to bring to the table when entering the pattern...
ATC: N1234, confirm you have current ATIS.
N1234: N1234 has Whiskey.
(Unidentified pilot): In that case, welcome to the
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|AVIATION SAFETY'S DECEMBER ISSUE
"Mean What You Say" listening is just as
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