February 23, 2006
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
Security measures have increased at airports around the country in the last few years, with fences, cameras and I.D. badges required in places that once were open to all -- yet it seems that small airplanes still are not protected from thievery. Last year, 11 GA aircraft were stolen and 68 were burglarized, according to statistics compiled by the Aviation Crime Prevention Institute (ACPI). The total value of the stolen airplanes is $950,000, and the 183 stolen items were valued at $550,000. Florida has the highest number of burglaries, followed by Georgia, according to the ACPI. The stolen aircraft were a Cessna 210 in Arkansas, two Cessna 182s in Arizona, a 182 and a Beech 23 in California, a 172 in Texas, three Cessnas in Mexico (two 210s and a 206), and a Piper Seneca III in the Bahamas. Also, a Bell 206, crated on a shipping dock, went missing in South Africa.
Controller Hiring Dispute
As of Monday, a thief with a taste for avionics apparently is working his (or her) way south along Interstate 95, the ACPI said. Reports began a few weeks ago in the Northeast and the most recent report came last Friday from Freeway Airport in Bowie, Md., near Washington, D.C. Late-model Bendix/King and Garmin units are the preferred choice of thieves overall, and GPS units have become very popular, says the ACPI. Owners of airplanes with that kind of equipment may want to beef up their vigilance or anti-theft protection. The ACPI is a non-profit organization working to reduce aviation-related crime through education and by facilitating cooperation between the aviation industry and law-enforcement agencies. A new Web site is under construction that will help to quickly disseminate information about stolen aircraft and thefts, as well as offering theft-prevention advice.
With a wave of controller retirements looming, the FAA had announced plans to hire 1,249 new controllers in fiscal year 2006. That plan now has been cut back by as many as 300. "This is a very disturbing development," Doug Church, spokesman for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) told AVweb yesterday. "This agency is simply not keeping up with current attrition trends." Congress has told the FAA to cut its budget by 1 percent, said Church, but the cutback in hiring would be 25 percent. "These are positions that the FAA themselves said in December of 2004 were critical," said NATCA President John Carr. More than 15,000 FAA air traffic controllers currently staff 315 facilities across the country.
The FAA is reviewing its budget in order to meet the congressional mandate to cut back by 1 percent, FAA spokesman Greg Martin told AVweb yesterday, and has made no determination as yet regarding how that might affect the controller-hiring target. "We're evaluating the entire landscape of our needs and priorities," he said. "We continue to work hard to fulfill a plan in which we will hire more controllers than we lose by attrition." Preparing for and hiring replacements for pending controller retirements is "an important priority" for the FAA, he said. Martin also noted that when the hiring plan was announced in 2004, it was expected that the plan would be updated on an annual basis.
Direct-To Avionics (D2A) announced Tuesday a full recall of the Crossbow 425EX AHRS used in experimental Chelton Electronic Flight Instrumentation Systems (EFIS), saying the AHRS has been "plagued by performance and reliability problems" and will not be used in future units. The component will be replaced by the Pinpoint Inertial GADAHRS (GPS / Air Data / Attitude and Heading Reference System), which D2A said has proven to exceed all of its performance and reliability parameters. D2A is the exclusive distributor of Chelton's experimental EFIS line, and also participates in the development and evaluation of future Chelton systems for both certified and experimental aircraft. "Direct-To Avionics is committed to providing the best, most reliable, and most accurate components for our Chelton EFIS systems. Our customers want to know that when they're flying with their families, they're flying with the highest quality, best performing equipment available," said Kirk Hammersmith, president of Direct-To Avionics, in a news release.
Nav Canada was set to start imposing new user fees on March 1, but on Monday announced a delay. The agency has decided that it needs more time to review the voluminous input it received during the comment period, which ended Feb. 10. A new decision on how to proceed is expected in April, Nav Canada said. For the time being, status quo will prevail. Adam Hunt, a spokesman for the Canadian Owners & Pilots Association (COPA), told AVweb on Tuesday the announcement was not unexpected. Nav Canada has received "a very high volume of correspondence from COPA, our members and many other aviation industry associations and companies vehemently opposing Nav Canada's proposed introduction of new fees," Hunt said. "That naturally will require more time for Nav Canada and their board to look at the letters received and their options before proceeding. COPA is very interested to see what Nav Canada's next announcement will be."
Jamie Weller, 36, of Nottingham, U.K., is working to pass all the tests required to qualify as a hot-air balloon pilot -- but his hardest obstacle may be to obtain a medical certificate. Weller lost most of his vision due to a genetic condition that deteriorated when he was in the Royal Navy. He's taking lessons anyway, and says flying gives him a sense of freedom and achievement. "My safety person -- my co-pilot -- acts as my eyes," he told the BBC News. The co-pilot warns Weller about obstacles and advises him about landing areas. "I use my other senses ... I feel the balloon and respond to the balloon as I am flying it. I feel the wind in my face that gives me input on wind direction. ... It's always been a dream for me to fly -- it is such an achievement for me to do this." The Civil Aviation Authority told the BBC they are reviewing Weller's case and will do what they can to accommodate his desire to fly. The agency said it has supported many disabled flyers in gaining a license, "providing the necessary safety levels can be achieved."
Pilot Jerry Shiffer, 68, died on Nov. 29, when his twin Cessna 425 crashed in Montana. The same day, at his home field in Urbana, Ohio, the first pieces of a wrecked B-17 bomber arrived, ready to be assembled and restored to flying condition. Shiffer had planned to create a museum to showcase the airplane and its place in history, and now his three children will oversee the completion of the project. "This is something Dad wanted, and Dave and Eric and I want to see it completed," Shiffer's daughter, Andrea Tullis, told The Associated Press. Shiffer's sons, Dave and Eric, are both pilots, and plan to learn to fly the bomber. The restoration process will be directed by warbird veteran Tom Reilly, and is estimated to take eight to ten years. Visitors and volunteers are welcome at the hangar, at Grimes Field. The project's Web site includes a Web cam showing progress on the restoration.
Space Adventures said last week it has entered into a joint venture with Prodea, a private investment firm founded by the Ansari family (the same Ansaris who funded the $10 million X Prize). The company also has partnered with the Federal Space Agency of the Russian Federation to develop a fleet of suborbital spaceflight vehicles. The space transportation system, called Explorer, consists of a carrier aircraft, the M-55X, and a rocket spacecraft. It will have the capacity to carry five people into space, Space Adventures said. The company subsequently announced it has entered into agreements to build spaceports in the United Arab Emirates and in Singapore. "The Ansari X Prize inspired and enabled the future of private spaceflights by proving that the necessary technology can be developed commercially," said Eric Anderson, CEO of Space Adventures. Anousheh Ansari and Anderson agreed in a statement, "Our visions for opening the space frontier are completely aligned. This joint venture will enable millions of people to realize their dreams of spaceflight."
Young people who belong to Aviation Explorers can apply for up to $10,000 in scholarships to advance in their aviation career. The National Aviation Exploring Committee will this year award five scholarships. The scholarships include $10,000 to help finance a course of study leading to an aviation profession; three $3,000 awards to study avionics, maintenance, or aviation management; and $3,000 to train for a Recreational or Private certificate. Sponsors for the scholarships include AOPA, Cessna, Frasca, Garmin, and Sporty's Pilot Shop. Aviation Exploring is a national youth development program open to young men and women ages 14 to 20. The scholarship application requires three letters of recommendation and a 500-word educational plan. Applicants under 18 must have parental or guardian approval. Deadline is March 31, and the awards will be announced on July 1.
Sixty-three of America's first African-American fighter pilots will receive honorary degrees from Tuskegee University today, as part of the Sixth Annual Tuskegee Airmen Convocation. The event recognizes the Tuskegee Airmen's exemplary combat performance during World War II, which included the destruction of 260 enemy aircraft while not losing a single bomber to enemy fire in more than 200 combat missions, a record unmatched by any other fighter group. The Tuskegee Airmen comprised about 1,000 pilots who trained at Tuskegee in segregated units from 1940 to 1946. Sixty-six airmen were killed in action, 32 were taken prisoner, and 850 medals were awarded to members of the group. Following today's convocation, the National Park Service, Tuskegee University and the Tuskegee Airmen will host a groundbreaking ceremony at the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site at historic Moton Field airport, where the airmen trained.
A controller at LAX last week mistakenly cleared three aircraft at once for the same runway...
Plans for a new GA airport in Virginia have stalled due to landowner opposition...
FAA and ICAO agreed this week to new international standards for aviation English proficiency, including a Standard Aviation English Test, to be in place by March 2008...
Washington Dulles Airport to get $200 million for a new runway...
EAA's Sport Pilot Tour stop in Mesa, Ariz., last week set a record for attendance and number of sport aircraft on the field...
The NTSB this week published its final report on the fatal crash Corporate Airlines Flight 5966 in Kirksville, Mo., in October 2004.
Quiz #104: Preflight This
No person shall begin a flight without ensuring that most of the aircraft parts are attached in an airworthy fashion. That inspection requires more than a laminated checklist, so let's preflight the logbook, fuel, and pilot's airworthiness.
No Muss, No Fuss Oil Changing
If you're interested in changing your own oil and oil filter -- and pilot-certificated owners are allowed to -- don't treat it as an easy job even if you've done it on your car. Complexities abound and errors are costly. AVweb presents a basic outline of the process, as well as an in-depth description of how to deal with that oil filter.
Radar contact. Paul Berge identifies the differences in meaning for both VFR and IFR pilots when a controller says "radar contact." He also tells you what it doesn't mean for any pilot engaged in either type of flight. Click through to learn.
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Bring Digital Audio Technology to Your Aircraft
*** PREVIOUS RESULTS ***
Last week, AVweb asked how many of our readers would like to fly for a living.
As it turns out, visitors to a G.A. web site still think it's a pretty good gig but the margin is shockingly slim! 44% of those who responded answered yes, while another 39% of you said These days? No, thank you.
And those readers who already work as pilots? 12% of our total respondents copped to being pilots who are happy with their jobs, while another 4% said That's my job, but I wish it weren't.
*** THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***
Will there or won't there be a shortage of controllers? The FAA is walking a new tightrope under a stricter budget, and NATCA believes trouble is on the horizon. What do you think?
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Submit a Photo | Rules | Tips | Questions | Past POTW Winners
Steve Ratchford of Norcross, Georgia kicks off this week's installment of "Picture of the Week." With all the excitement of recent winners, Steve took a different approach to his submission, and won the top spot with a quiet, subdued photo of his airplane's tire? (There's more to the photo than that, of course.)
We'll be sending Steve and Alex a matching pair of AVweb baseball caps. Just don't get any grease on 'em, O.K., boys?
For a shot at one of these hats and the international fame that comes with being a "POTW" finalist be sure to send us your own photos.
*** THIS WEEK'S WINNERS ***
"Mechanic in Training"
More youngsters putting in time of the family plane: Steve Ratchford of Norcross, Georgia enlisted the help of his four-year-old son Alex to change the tires on their Columbia 400 and took home this week's top spot.
|AVweb continues to receive a large number of excellent images for our POTW contest. Here are some of the runners-up. Due to privacy issues, AVweb does not publish e-mail addresses of readers who submit photos.|
Daniel Valovich of Hot Spring, Arkansas had a couple of photos in this week's top ten contender pile but it was this blue-sky cargo drop that kept fighting its way to the top of our pile. Daniel seems to spend a good bit of time at Little Rock Air Force Base, where this photo was taken.
Erwin Stam of Medemblik, North Holland (Netherlands) returns to the contenders pile this week. Jets, missiles, and action-packed flying machines are quickly becoming Erwin's trademark not that we're complaining.
"Floatplane from Underneath"
Scott and Kim Huntington of Santa Maria, California drew our eyes to the sky with this underbelly shot of Kim's floatplane check ride. (The seabird belongs to Terry Campbell of NorCal Aviation.)
"KC-97 Wreck at Volk Field, WI 1978"
We don't like to dwell on crash site photos, but sometimes they're a keen reminder of the high cost of flying. Jean Aker of Gaithersburg, Maryland sent us this shot, taken with a Canon FTb/ql 35mm camera with 50mm lens.
Speaking of cameras (and camera tricks), Jared Yates of Wilmington, North Carolina achieved this effect by changing the zoom while the shutter was open. But, as Jared points out, the effect is nearly identical to what you see and feel after a long day of staring at screens and gauges.
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.Names Behind The News
AVwebFlash is a twice-weekly summary of the latest news, articles, products, features, and events featured on AVweb, the internet's aviation magazine and news service.
Today's issue was written by news writer Mary Grady (bio).
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