November 30, 2005
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
|This issue of AVweb's AVflash is brought to you by ... Sino Swearingen's SJ30-2
THE SJ30-2 IS THE WORLD'S FASTEST LIGHT BUSINESS JET
On Monday, FAA Administrator Marion Blakey said contract talks have stalled with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), and called for federal mediation to help the two sides reach an agreement. NATCA's current proposal "does not recognize the hard realities of an industry that is in financial trouble, real taxpayer concerns, and the fiscal challenges confronting this agency," Blakey said at a press conference. "After months of negotiation and extensive review of key issues, they just aren't moving on the issues at the heart of the negotiations," she said. Those issues include pay, scheduling, and work rules. "Moreover, NATCA's tabled proposal is out of touch with the current fiscal environment for the FAA and the industry we serve. At the very time when the taxpayer, the agency, and the industry can least afford it, NATCA wants even more money," Blakey said. NATCA's proposals would add $2.6 billion to the FAA's payroll over the four years of the contract, according to Russ Chew, FAA chief operating officer. The union's proposal also would limit the agency's ability to fund hiring of a new generation of air traffic controllers over the next decade, he said. The FAA's request seeks help from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) to reach a voluntary agreement. The FAA added that NATCA has asked for a 5.6-percent increase in compensation each year for the next four years, a shorter work day (seven hours plus a 30-minute paid lunch break), and 50 percent more sick leave. The FAA says controller pay has gone up 74 percent since the last contract, in 1998. The agency wants to hold the line on increases and to bring in new hires at what it calls "a more realistic" pay scale.
NATCA spokesman Doug Church told AVweb on Tuesday that the FAA action amounts to "a grandiose publicity stunt." Four and a half months is not much time to spend on a such a big, complex contract, he said the last contract took over a year to negotiate -- and NATCA had already scheduled talks with the FAA well into February. "The administrator had an idea that we should be done by Christmas, but that was never part of this deal," he said. Blakey's action "exposes the true agenda of the FAA," Church said to derail the negotiations and send the contract to Congress. Once the talks are in mediation, either side can declare an impasse if progress stalls. "Then Congress has to act within 60 days on the proposals from each side which they won't and then, FAA can impose their 'last best offer,'" Church said. The existing contract has expired, but remains in force as long as talks continue.
FAA spokesman Greg Martin told AVweb yesterday that while "progress is a subjective term," there has been virtually no movement on the substantive issues of the contract, in particular salaries and work rules. He said it is the FAA's goal to reach a voluntary agreement, which would be in everyone's best interest. But by calling for a mediator, the hope is to catalyze some forward motion. Ultimately, both sides need to agree to mediation, he said, and so far NATCA does not want to take that step. "We hoped that a mediator would get the two sides more fully engaged," Martin said. "The heart of it is, can we sustain the current contract, plus increases, plus improve the system and hire 12,500 new controllers?" It's been years since relations between controllers and the FAA have been this contentious, and there is a long way to go yet before any kind of settlement is reached. The very real issues that beg to be addressed -- the looming surge of controller retirements, lagging technical adaptations, and questions about how to finance the system will affect users of the national airspace for years to come. Reuters reports that, "If an impasse is declared by either side or by a federal mediator, the FAA can put its contract proposal before Congress for review. If lawmakers failed to act on the FAA's proposal within 60 days, the agency could then impose it unilaterally."
NEW MACH 1 HEADSET BY LIGHTSPEED: SMALLER CAN BE BETTER
Delta Air Lines is in deep financial trouble, everyone agrees the company has already lost over $2.6 billion this year -- but whether that trouble is due to market forces beyond the airline's control or bad decisions by management is now being worked out in federal bankruptcy court in New York. Delta is trying to convince the court that it needs to cut labor costs in order to survive a position opposed by its pilots, who say that if the court lets Delta void their contract, they'll strike. The pilots have offered $90.7 million in concessions, but the airline wants to impose $325 million in wage cuts. This week, Judge Prudence Carter Beatty asked Delta to defend its decision to spend $2.4 billion to buy back its own shares before it filed for bankruptcy in September, The Associated Press reported. "It is a question of if you had that money rather than had spent it that way, you might not be in the position you are in," she said. Beatty added that the buyback may have been undertaken to placate Wall Street's financial community, the AP reported. "I'm buying something worth nothing to me in order to make the stock-market price look good," she said. Delta's Chief Financial Officer Edward Bastian said further cuts are absolutely necessary. "We are losing cash at a fairly alarming rate. If we don't stop losing cash, we won't make it," he said. Another witness for Delta, Daniel Kasper, testified that competition from low-cost carriers and other market forces has driven down ticket prices while at the same time the airline is stuck with high labor costs. On Tuesday, the court gave the airline the OK to sell off some airplanes, including Embraer 120s, Boeing 767s and Boeing 737s, though it was unclear if the airline actually plans to sell any. Delta filed for Chapter 11 on Sept. 14.
Judge Beatty has made a few remarks that raised eyebrows, even before the trial started, and the Air Line Pilots Association, which represents Delta's pilots, tried to get her to recuse herself from the case. She reportedly said it was "really weird" that anyone had agreed to pay such "hideously high" pilot salaries in the first place. She also said the only "good thing" about pilots is they must retire at age 60. But in response to ALPA, she said the remarks were just jokes, and declined to step down. Sources familiar with Beatty told USA Today that despite her eccentricity, she's a "brilliant" judge. "She can recall any facts in any case she has ever read," said Matthew Bergman, a New York lawyer who clerked for Beatty in 2000."
INSIDE TRADE-A-PLANE IS A PILOT'S ULTIMATE CHRISTMAS LIST
A brand-new restricted area, with a radius of one nautical mile, has been established above Vice President Dick Cheney's new home on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, about 30 miles east of Washington. The airspace, designated as of Nov. 22, is in force at all times, whether or not the vice president is in residence. AOPA has complained that the airspace is already congested and the restrictions shouldn't be imposed any more often than necessary. Cheney's official residence is on the grounds of the United States Naval Observatory in Northwest Washington, which is under permanently restricted airspace. The airspace above Cheney's home in Wyoming is in force only when he is staying there, but restrictions above President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, are continual.
Have an idea to promote aviation safety, education, or GA airports? The Wolf Aviation Fund wants to hear about it, and they have small-scale grants available to help support your endeavor. The process is fairly informal, and the deadline is Dec. 15. Proposals are welcome from individuals and nonprofit groups. More than 100 projects have received funding in the last few years. Last year, the fund supported about 40 projects, including organization of the first-ever national Leadership Conference for Aviation and Space Education; production of a video that promotes Idaho's wilderness airstrips; two safety projects for volunteer pilot organizations; and a new Girl Scouts program that works with Women in Aviation International to encourage young women to get involved in aviation. The Alfred L. and Constance C. Wolf Aviation Fund was created to help individuals work together in support of general aviation. The fund's seven main program areas are -- developing public policy and airports; networking and mutual support; development and alternative resources; communications, media, and community relations; general aviation technology, safety, and noise; outreach: improving public understanding and perception; and aviation and space education. Grants have been distributed since 1992.
AIRCRAFT SPRUCE CARRIES PLANE-POWER ALTERNATORS
"They're cash-flow machines," analyst Ray Neidl, of Calyon Securities, told The Associated Press about regional airlines, in a Tuesday story. Although not all regionals are doing well, Mesa doubled its profit over the last fiscal year, Skywest profits are up 41 percent and Republic is up by 63 percent. Many of the regional carriers operate under contracts with major airlines, which guarantee minimum revenues and pay some costs, and the regionals don't have the expensive union contracts and pension obligations of the majors. "We have a good business model ... we're cost effective," Mesa CEO Jonathan Ornstein told the AP. For the first six months of 2005, U.S. regional airlines carried 73.1 million passengers, flew 31.53 billion revenue passenger miles, and completed 2.6 million departures, according to the Regional Airline Association. Regional airline revenue passenger miles totaled 17.07 billion during April - June 2005, a 20-percent increase over the same period in 2004, the association reported last month.
The pilot of an Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt helped guide a pair of pilots in a Piper light twin to a safe landing after their radios and instruments failed in the clouds over Germany, Stars & Stripes reported on Tuesday. Twenty minutes after taking off from The Netherlands on Nov. 15, an electrical wire in the Piper Chieftain broke. Pilot Naim Fazlija and co-pilot Artan Berisha, who had five passengers on board heading for Switzerland, used a handheld radio to send a Mayday to German air traffic controllers. Minutes later, controllers sent help: a U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt piloted by Maj. Peter Olson. "It just pops out of the clouds and I was like, 'Wow, incredible,'" Berisha told Stars & Stripes. "Seeing that aircraft come up to us, it was like Jesus Christ came back. It felt really, really good." Olson, an A-10 weapons tactics officer with the 52nd Fighter Wing based at Spangdahlem Air Base, and another pilot were about 30 miles east of Hahn Airport on a midafternoon routine training mission when controllers asked for help. The Piper pilots, who were about 25 miles south-southeast of the airport, had no navigational capability. "After I found them, I just kind of went up next to them and I talked to them on the [handheld] radio. I said, 'Hey, I'm here to help. I want you to follow behind me and I'll take you into Hahn.'" The planes flew as close as 50 feet apart, at about 140 knots. "I spent a lot of time looking for him because we'd go into a cloud and I'd lose sight of him and he'd lose sight of me," Olson said. "I'd be worried that he would possibly bump into me." Berisha and Fazlija, who both worked for the U.S. military as translators in Kosovo before becoming pilots, safely landed the plane at Hahn. They stayed two days until the electrical problem was fixed and then flew to Switzerland. Berisha was impressed with Olson. "He was an awesome pilot," he said. "He was great." Fazlija, who owns the plane and transports mostly corporate passengers, said even though he has a lot of flying experience, the incident was nerve-racking. "Of course, I was afraid," he said. "It was possible you could crash. You don't know 100 percent it will be OK."
LYCOMING ENGINES BY TELEDYNE & TEXTRON:
If a new Garmin G1000 cockpit is on your holiday shopping list - or even if you just wish it were - now you can start learning all the details about how to use it before you get into the air, using a CD-ROM course on your home computer. King Schools this week released a new interactive four-hour program, "Cleared for Flying the Garmin G1000." After finishing the course, pilots will not only understand and be able to use the enormous capabilities of the glass cockpit G1000, but they'll also know the quickest and most efficient way to do things and how to avoid the "gotchas" that can lie in wait for the unprepared, said Martha King. The course covers VFR and IFR operations, navigation, communications, loading and activating instrument approaches, departure and arrival procedures, systems, what to do when things go wrong, and best operating procedures. Interactive questions follow each lesson. Students can operate a simulated G1000 on their computer to practice using the system as they will in the airplane, King says. The price is $249.
Thielert, the German company that has attracted a lot of attention with its diesel engines for small aircraft, now is offering shares in the stock market. The company made its initial public offering on Nov. 17, with a share price of 13.50 Euros, and rose 2.2 percent on the first day of trading. Interest in diesel power has been growing, since the engines are efficient and economical, and sales rose 55 percent in the first nine months of this year. The U.S. military has ordered engines from Thielert for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. Diamond uses them in its DA40 and DA42 TwinStar. The IPO was expected to raise as much as $173 million, which the company plans to invest in expanding in the U.S. Theilert says its Centurion 1.7 diesel engine offers much lower operating costs than traditional avgas engines. The diesels are certified for installation in many common small aircraft including the Cessna 172 and Piper PA28. The FAA certified the engines in October 2003, and they are also certified in Europe and China, which Thielert says all together covers 90 percent of the world market.
PROTECT & SHINE YOUR AIRCRAFT
The Department of Defense will continue to produce its FLIP charts for aviators for two more years, AOPA said on Tuesday...
SpaceX has scrubbed its rocket launch till at least mid-December, due to technical glitches...
The 70th anniversary of the Douglas DC-3 gets celebrated at Hiller Aviation Museum, San Carlos, Calif., on Dec. 17. Lectures, photos, videos and a DC-3 fly-over...
A 12-ounce part fell off an aircraft landing at Detroit Metropolitan Airport on Saturday, hit the roof of a home and left an 8-inch hole in the ceiling; nobody was hurt...
A Gulfstream IV with White House chief of staff Andrew Card as 12 others on board made an emergency landing in Nashville on Saturday after smoke was detected in the cockpit; nobody was hurt...
If you're feeling philanthropic the Astronaut Autograph Club, benefiting the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, is accepting applications for its limited 2006 enrollment. Membership, at $499 per year, gets you an autographed photo of a U.S. astronaut every month. All money raised goes to scholarships for exceptional college students pursuing advanced degrees in science or engineering...
...Or the Aero Club of New England welcomes tax-deductible donations to its aviation scholarship fund.
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.
|AVEMCO IS COMMITTED TO SAFETY AND SAVINGS|
Avemco's Safety Rewards Program allows pilots to improve their flying skills and reduce their insurance premiums at the same time. By completing a course in King Schools' CD-ROM Practical Risk Management series, and by completing Avemco-approved recurrent training, pilots can receive up to 10% off their annual insurance premiums. For details about Avemco's Safety Rewards Program and to discover how you can take to the sky with increased confidence call (888) 241-7891, or visit Avemco DIRECT insurer of general aviation aircraft and pilots since 1961 at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/avemco/avflash.
HAVE YOU SIGNED UP yet for AVwebs NO-COST twice monthly Business AVflash? Reporting on breaking news, Business AVflash also focuses on the companies, the products and the industry leaders that make headlines in the Business of Aviation. Business AVflash is a must read. Watch for a Business AVflash regular feature, TSA WATCH: GA IN THE "SPOTLIGHT". Sign up today at http://www.avweb.com/profile/
|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.
MIKE BUSCH THE SAVVY AVIATOR IS THE PERFECT HOLIDAY GIFT
Quiz #101: Risk Analysis
Flight involves risk. ATC and AFSS supply information, but only the pilot-in-command can analyze potential threats and make the go/no-go call. Winter offers lots of decision-making material, some of which might stick to your pitot.
|ASO A BETTER WAY TO SELL YOUR AIRCRAFT SHARE|
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*** PREVIOUS RESULTS ***
Last week, AVweb was curious just how many of prefer to fly IFR, how many fly VFR, and how many prefer to mix and match depending on the situation.
As it turns out, not many fence-straddlers answered our poll. A full 37% of those who responded chose Instrument Rules (IFR) hands down, and the second largest group (28%) were content to fly by Visual Flight Rules (VFR).
A small (but significant) 5% of respondents told us they prefer to fly IFR and then cancel if not direct-routed. And a slightly larger portion (10%) told us they plan VFR flight and switch to IFR while aloft if the weather dictates.
The remaining 20% of respondents prefer to fly VFR with flight following.
*** THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***
This week, AVweb wants to know about your longest cross-country flight. Aside from the absolutely necessary stops (refueling, sleeping and potty breaks), what's the longest distance you've ever flown? All answers in nautical miles, please!
Click here to answer.
Have an idea for a new QOTW? Send your suggestions to email@example.com.
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Use this form to send QOTW comments to our AVmail Editor.
|DOES SANTA NEED A P2 SKY BUDDY? YOU BET HE DOES!|
Sky Buddy makes a great gift for any aviator. With a twist of a knob, Sky Buddy helps pilots remember heading and altitude assignments. It's practical, portable, and helps pilots avoid potential ATC violations. The bright LED display is easy to read and can be dimmed to suit any lighting situation. Order directly from P2, Inc. (1-888-921-8359) by December 31, 2005 and get one for ONLY $285. You'll SAVE $60 off the regular retail price of $345. Learn More at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/p2inc/skybuddy/avflash.
Submit a Photo | Rules | Tips | Questions
Current POTW Winner | Past POTW Winners
Submissions to "Picture of the Week" took a slight dip this week a normal occurrence in the days following Thanksgiving. Nevertheless, we got to enjoy some stunning landscapes (and even a few air show pictures) before awarding this week's top prize an official AVweb baseball cap to Todd Wade of Kansas City, Missouri. Don't let those jets blow your new cap out to sea, Todd!
Due to privacy issues, AVweb does not publish e-mail addresses of readers who submit photos.
Ronald Todd Wade
"Stating the Obvious"
Todd Wade of Kansas City, Missouri
probably had to hit the deck to get this shot
from the north end of Charles Wheeler Airport
(MKC) at the 2004 Kansas City Air Show.
here to view a large version of this image
Click here for a medium-sized version
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.
New Zealand's Gavin Conroy returns this
week with a photo of "the amazing DH-2"
(perfect adjective) coming in for a landing
in Omaka, New Zealand. Apparently this
was a practice run for the DH-2's flight
at the upcoming Christmas Wings air show.
Used with permission of Ryan Lunde
"Flyin' with the Tiger"
Ryan Lunde of Laramie, Wyoming
got this nifty shot while he and friend Chris Prause
were flying formation over Texas with Flying Tiger
Bruce Bohannon. "He slowed down to Champ
speed very easily," reports Ryan.
with permission of
"The Right Stuff"
Richard Shankland of Gig Harbor, Washington writes,
"This is not really for the 'POTW' contest. Rather, it is the only way
I had to show you the picture associated with your Jato/Ercoupe
article of 11/24/05. The picture came from my Dad's aviation
album, which dates back to WWII." Official entry or not, Rich,
we think a few readers might get a kick out of this as well.
Thanks for sharing!
Used with permission of Don Mortensen
"Wautoma Morning Fog"
These early risers have the right idea
avoiding Oshkosh air traffic and restrictions by
flying into nearby Wautoma Airport during AirVenture.
Don Mortensen of West Jordan, Utah seems to know
the trick well and had his Pentax digicam handy on his
2004 trip to AirVenture. Hope to see you there in '06, Don!
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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