Number 48a — November 28, 2005|
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The Top Headlines From AVweb's Expanded,
Illustrated News Coverage At AVweb's
TAKES CREDIT FOR AIRLINE SAFETY...
In an unusually acerbic letterpublished in Friday's USA Today, FAA
Administrator Marion Blakey claims that the near-perfect airline
safety record of the past four years (several fatal commuter-line
crashes don't appear to count in either Blakey's or USA Today's
reckoning) is the result of the "enormous effort and singular focus by
the FAA and the industry to achieve a historic safety record." Blakey
was responding to a USA Today editorialthat appeared the previous day that, in
directly addressing airline passengers, asserts that they "have a
right to know what's going on beneath the silvery skins of all those
GOOD, GETTING BETTER, SAYS BLAKEY...
In her letter, Blakey said the FAA has moved away from a "checklist"
approach to safety programs to a risk-based system in which inspectors
can spot safety trends and then direct carriers to adjust their
in-house safety programs to solve problems before they result in a
crash. Blakey also appears to dispute Mead's suggestion that
foreign-based maintenance contractors are under-inspected or that the
inspections themselves are somehow deficient because they are carried
out by the host country's aviation authorities. She claims that while
U.S. maintenance shops undergo 30 audits a year, foreign operators get
checked an average of 74 times a year, and in countries that have
bilateral agreements with the U.S., contractors must maintain FAA
certification to work on U.S. planes. But the editorial was skeptical
of the FAA's defense of its safety programs. More...
THE FEARS REALLY LIE
While the focus appears to be on maintenance outsourcing, FAA
officials privately admit that their greatest fear of an accident has
nothing to do with a mechanical failure. Sources have told
AVweb in the past that they consider the greatest risk for
another airliner disaster to be on the ground and not in the air. And
according to an FAA study, a cluster of three California airports,
John Wayne, Long Beach and LAX, rank first, second and third in both
the outright number of incursions and the number of incursions per
100,000 flights. Because LAX caters almost exclusively to airliners,
the FAA is most concerned about its incursion rate, which is fueled by
its design. Aircraft must cross active runways to get to the terminal.
Boston's Logan Airport has also had an unusually bad year for
incursions (15 so far) and officials are taking action.
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ISSUES AIRBUS NOSE GEAR AD...
Two months after the made-for-television landing of a JetBlue A320
with the nose gear cocked 90 degrees to the runway centerline (most
prior incidents didn't make TV news), the FAA has issued an
Airworthiness Directive (AD) that requires inspection of the nose gear
on about 200 U.S.-registered planes and will likely affect another 650
in other countries. Although the landing at LAX, with smoke and sparks
pouring from the twisted gear, provided a major ratings boost for the
news channels, no one on board suffered a scratch. And while the
authorities know that the combined failure of some lugs and the
braking and steering control unit led to the wheels being misaligned,
they don't know why and further ADs may follow. More...
EXPLODING FUEL TANKS GET MORE TIME
And while no one has so much as broken a nail because of the nose gear
issue, hundreds have been killed because of exploding fuel tanks and,
according to the FAA's proposed AD, more such calamities are
"virtually certain to occur." The agency has issued a Notice of
Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that will not require the installation of
specific hardware to address fuel-tank explosions, but rather will set
flammability standards for the ullage, the space in the tank not
occupied by fuel. It will be up to manufacturers and airlines to meet
those standards, something the FAA says was not thought practical a
few years ago but which is now economically viable. More...
ADVERTISING BAN CHALLENGED IN HAWAII
A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will soon
decide whether Hawaii has the legal authority to allow the city of
Honolulu to ban aerial advertising. An anti-abortion group is
appealing the ban, which has been in place since 2002, so it can pull
above the beaches and other populated areas of the city 50-by-100-foot
banners adorned with images of aborted fetuses. The Center for
Bio-Ethical Reform argues that airspace is a federal responsibility
and the state, which has passed legislation supporting Honolulu's ban,
has no business trying to regulate it. It would appear the FAA thinks
the same way. More...
REJECTS USER FEES -- FOR A YEAR
Congress has decided to maintain the status quo in funding the FAA and
that means no user fees, at least not yet. The funding bill passed
last week by Congress continues to bankroll the agency through the
Airway and Airports Trust Fund and from general revenue. "Congress,
acting as the board of directors for the FAA, has once again decided
that the fairest, most responsible way to pay for aviation's benefits
to all citizens is through excise taxes and general fund
contributions," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "And that's why we
want to make sure that Congress retains oversight of the FAA."
SCARE OVER TURKEY
From what we can make of a Turkish news report, warplanes from that
country were scrambled to force down a German airliner that passed
over on its way from Egypt to Munich -- but they apparently failed to
intercept it. According to a somewhat sketchy translation of the Zaman
Daily News, the A321 (airline unknown) reportedly crossed over Turkey
without contact with air traffic control. The fighters were scrambled
but, for reasons yet unexplained, didn't find the airliner. The news
service quoted unnamed government sources describing the operation as
a "fiasco." More...
ADVENTURER CLAIMS BALLOON ALTITUDE RECORD
An Indian textiles tycoon is claiming to have established a new
altitude record for hot air balloons. Vijaypat Singhania says he flew
the specially designed balloon to 21,300 meters (70,000 feet) in a
five-hour flight that covered about 150 miles on Saturday. "When I
broke the record, I was euphoric. I screamed quite loudly," Singhania
told The Associated Press. "This goes to show to the world that we are
not bullock cart drivers, but we can compete against the best of the
world." Instruments sealed within the balloon's capsule must be
analyzed to determine the exact height of the flight.
SUPERIOR ENGINE GETS PRODUCTION CERTIFICATE
Generally, if it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck ... well,
you know the rest. But the devil's in the details and as much as this
engine looks (and presumably sounds) like a Lycoming 360, Superior Air
Parts says its Vantage engine is "the newest FAA certified
180-horsepower piston engine." Last week, the FAA granted Superior a
full production certificate for the engine, which was certified in
April. Although in form it appears to be a Lycoming, Superior says
there are significant improvements in design over the 50-year-old
example and demand is strong for its "new" engine. More...
Military aviation history isn't always about planes and pilots.
Sometimes it's soaked into a patch of red paisley carpet or etched
into a slab of wood. For pilots and crew who headed into harm's way in
the Western Pacific, the watering hole known as The Cubi Bar at Cubi
Point Naval Air Station in the Philippines was the closest thing to
home. And now, anytime they're in the Pensacola area, they can visit
their old haunt, check to see that their squadron plaque is still
hanging and maybe play a game of shuffleboard. After Subic Bay closed
in the early 1990s, the National Museum of Naval Aviation had the bar
dismantled and shipped to Pensacola where it was reassembled down to
the last detail. More...
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Attempt to surpass record paper airplane flight stopped
Flight 93 the movie is currently Flight 93 the web
NetJets pilots have reached a contract with
SpaceX looks to reschedule Falcon 1 launch.
NEWSTIPS ADDRESS ...
Drop us a line. Heard something that 130,000 pilots might want
to know about? If it caught your eye, it will interest someone else.
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 28, 2005
Reader mail this week about light guns,
fuel prices, TSOs and more.
ARTICLES AND FEATURES ON AVWEB
The Pilot's Lounge #94: It's The
There's a new aviation myth running around the
Internet. It involves a conveyer-belt runway and misuse of
aerodynamics and ... well, it's better if AVweb's Rick Durden explains
it all himself in The Pilot's Lounge.
GAMI CUSTOMERS RAVE ABOUT A SMOOTHER RIDE AND SAVING
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tell me I had spent my money wisely. The motor is notably smoother and
more responsive, with mixture totally controllable." "I put my GAMIs
in my 470 and love them. I run LOP; couldn't before. My airplane uses
less fuel on a trip than some SUVs!" Check out GAMIs for your
airplane at Sun 'n Fun, or go online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/gami/avflash.
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IN THE "SPOTLIGHT". Sign up today at http://www.avweb.com/profile/
I was practicing night landings when another aircraft departed the
airport to the southeast. This is the communication I heard between
that aircraft and the tower...
Departing Aircraft: Uh, Tower, N1234. Are you talkin' to
this traffic out here? He's headed straight for us.
Departing Aircraft: Scratch that ... (timidly) ... we're
looking at a planet. More...
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