March 9, 2006
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
Groups Outline Agenda For Future Of FAA
Congress must continue to have authority over the FAA, user fees must be avoided, and the general public -- which benefits in broad ways from a robust aviation system -- must continue to fund at least 25 to 30 percent of the FAA budget. So decreed Ed Bolen, president of the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), at a press conference yesterday, joined by Pete Bunce and Jim Coyne -- leaders of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) and the National Air Transportation Association (NATA). The three said they are willing to pay their fair share of running the system, but they are already doing that by paying fuel taxes, which are easy to collect and efficient to pay. Bolen said that commercial airlines, not general aviation users, drive up the cost of the national airspace system. "The airlines' hub and spoke system requires a structure that is like building a church with the capacity for Easter Sunday services," he said. "The size, scope, complexity, and cost are dictated by the commercial airlines." Allocating costs simply by activity would be unfair, the three said. Airline advocates have argued that a "blip is a blip," that it costs no more for ATC to handle a 737 than a Cirrus or a Citation. But the GA advocates say a blip at 7 a.m. at O'Hare is not the same as a blip at 10 a.m. at a smaller field -- it's the airlines that drive up system costs.
Taxi Into Position And ... Hold On ...
Transportation Norm Mineta added fuel to the fire on Tuesday morning when he emphatically told a House Appropriations Committee that no user fees on GA are under consideration (see AOPA's Web site for a video of his statement). Questions were raised at yesterday's press conference -- whether he meant piston aircraft only, as opposed to all segments of GA, which would include business jets. "It's a confusing situation," said Coyne yesterday. But he added that there is unanimous opposition among all segments of GA. "AOPA and EAA also are united against user fees," he said. Even if the FAA fees were to focus on bizjets and let the smaller operators off the hook, they know better than to think they wouldn't be next in line. "It's a Pandora's box," he said. Canada's system was cited as a precautionary tale. "GA in Canada have to pay both user fees and fuel taxes," Coyne said.
By March 20, air traffic facilities that want to continue to use taxi-into-position-and-hold (TIPH) need to notify the FAA, spokeswoman Laura Brown told AVweb on Tuesday. They don't have to eliminate the procedure. "They can keep using it," she said. But they will have to conduct a safety analysis to show it can be used safely, and also show that there is a safety or capacity reason to justify its use. "They should stop using it if they don't need to," she said. "But if they want to keep using it, they need to make the case for why to use it." The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), reacting to an FAA notice that went out last week, says eliminating TIPH would decrease safety, increase delays, and lower capacity. The policy will allow larger airports to get waivers and continue the procedure, while "hundreds of innocent other smaller airports" will have to abandon its use, NATCA President John Carr wrote in his blog yesterday. "This was a poorly thought out decision on the FAA's part. They are bowing to NTSB pressure because of a few high profile incidents," he wrote.
In a general notice (GENOT) sent out to air traffic facilities, the FAA says that air traffic managers must review the impact that airport configuration and local conditions may have on TIPH operations, and prepare a facility directive that prescribes local procedures. The GENOT (click through for the pdf file) also stipulates what staffing must be in place and how workloads can be distributed. The action followed a high-profile runway incursion that took place at Los Angeles International Airport last month. A departing Skywest turboprop was told to taxi onto the same runway on which a Southwest Airlines 737 had been cleared to land. At the same time, a taxiing Air Canada jet was told that it could cross the other end of the runway on its way to the terminals. The Skywest pilot saw the 737 on final and stopped short of the runway. The 737 landed without incident, but passed less than 300 feet from the Skywest airplane. The FAA also had issued a GENOT last August asking all ATC towers to review their use of the procedure.
The AOPA Air Safety Foundation (ASF) has released the 2005 edition of its Joseph T. Nall Report, a review and analysis of the past year's GA accidents. The report shows a historic low for aviation accidents in 2004, the ASF said. There were 6.7 percent fewer total accidents in 2004 than in 2003, and fatal accidents declined by 7.1 percent. "Although the accident rate is down this year, there is still work to be done," said Bruce Landsberg, ASF executive director. "Pilot error continues to top the list of accident causes." Nearly 25 percent of the 45 fatal weather-related accidents involved thunderstorms. The report emphasizes the importance of hazardous-weather avoidance and the need for pilots and controllers to work together. An online training program about thunderstorm avoidance is due to be released by the ASF this spring. The 2005 Nall Report can be downloaded online. The annual report is dedicated to the memory of Joe Nall, a member of the NTSB who died as a passenger in an airplane accident in Venezuela in 1989.
The NTSB on Tuesday asked the FAA to require turbine-powered helicopters that carry six or more passengers to be equipped with a terrain awareness and warning system. "It is well past time for the benefits from these standard safety devices to be made available to passengers on helicopter transports as they are on fixed-wing planes," said NTSB Acting Chairman Mark V. Rosenker. "More than 2 million passengers are carried on Gulf of Mexico oil industry operations alone." The recommendation is part of the NTSB's final report of a fatal helicopter accident in the Gulf of Mexico in March 2004. An Era Aviation Sikorsky S-76A++ crashed about 7:18 p.m., 70 nautical miles offshore of Texas. Although visual meteorological conditions existed, it was a dark night with very few external visual cues. The helicopter, with two crew, was carrying eight workers to an oil rig. All on board died in the crash. The safety board determined that the probable cause of the accident was the flight crew's failure to identify and arrest the helicopter's descent for undetermined reasons, which resulted in controlled flight into the water. "A terrain warning system would have given the pilots enough time to arrest their descent and save the lives of all aboard," Rosenker said.
Helicopters sit and wait on the factory floor in Stratford, Conn., as over 3,000 workers at Sikorsky Aircraft have taken to the picket line in a dispute over health-care coverage. The company proposed to double health-care co-payments right away and then hike them another 15 percent over three years, union officials told The Associated Press. Sikorsky says it's the same deal that salaried workers get. The workers sacrificed their paychecks and have been getting stipends from a union fund since the walkout began last month, but a few workers reportedly crossed the line to go back to work this week. Sikorsky says the raises and ratification bonus it has proposed amount to more than $16,000 over three years, while the higher health-plan contributions total about $3,500 for a family plan. "We hope you will reconsider your strike and come back to work," the company said in an ad posted on its Web site.
Contrails, those wispy white condensation trails that form behind airplanes, may seem harmless enough. Yet astronomers say they are one more problem making it harder for them to use their telescopes. While some contrails dissipate quickly, others can persist or even develop into high-level cirrus clouds. "We know from satellite imagery that clusters of contrails can last for two days," Danish astronomer Holger Pederson told BBC News. "If carried by the upper jet stream through the troposphere, they can travel hundreds of kilometers." Contrail proliferation, combined with the effect of a warmer and cloudier climate, could make ground-based astronomy impossible within 40 years, the experts told BBC. If that's not adequately guilt-inducing, "Flying kills," according to George Monbiot, a columnist for The (U.K.) Guardian. "We all know it, and we all do it." Airplane emissions hasten global warming, Monbiot says, and most airline travel is unnecessary and an indulgence of the wealthy. "Some 92 million Bangladeshis could be driven out of their homes this century [by rising sea levels], in order that we can still go shopping in New York," he wrote.
Sino Swearingen President Carl Chen, who had been credited with helping to bring the SJ30 small business jet quickly to FAA certification, has left the company. The company announced his departure last Thursday, saying he had left to "pursue other interests." But according to the San Antonio Express-News, Chen has filed suit against the company, saying he was fired due to political pressure from Taiwan. He is seeking $300,000 in back pay and benefits. Swearingen is on the verge of expanding its manufacturing capacity as it begins to fill almost 300 orders for the SJ30. Meanwhile, the bizjet has completed its required flight test in actual icing conditions, the company said this week. The test was done last Wednesday in Provo, Utah. The jet had to fly in a holding pattern for 45 minutes in actual maximum continuous icing conditions. The approval flight included another hour of flying in intermittent icing conditions, which resulted in a build-up of over 4 inches of ice on unprotected areas of the aircraft. "The flight characteristics and handling qualities were very good with this residual ice accumulation," said test pilot John Siemens. The SJ30 is equipped with electrically heated windshields and uses engine bleed-air heat to anti-ice the wings and engines. Pneumatic boots de-ice the horizontal tail. The test is one of two that remained for completion when the jet got its FAA Type Certificate last October. The second test is the approval of the airplane's interior. The SJ30 carries up to seven seats and is certified for single-pilot operations.
News in Brief
With Sun 'n Fun coming up soon, the first year of Special-Light Sport Aircraft manufacturing is about to wrap, and the new industry is making plans to expand. "I'm only guessing here, while we wait for federal N-number registrations to catch up," says Dan Johnson, EAA's LSA marketing consultant, in his sport-plane blog, "but I'd say deliveries of SLSA may have numbered 500 aircraft in 2005." Johnson says he expects to see at least twice that many deliveries in 2006. TL Sport Aircraft plans to quadruple production of the popular StingSport, and Flight Design has announced plans to double output of the CT next year. New Era Aviation, at Massey Ranch Airpark in New Smyrna Beach, Fla., has been named the StingSport dealer for Florida and the Northeast. Legend Aircraft is building a new plant in Texas to increase production, and Fly Italia-AveoUSA has a factory expansion in the works with plans to hire 150 additional workers to build its SportRider. A big LSA presence is expected at Sun ' Fun, April 4-10 in Lakeland, Fla., and AVweb will be there to report on all the new developments.
EAA's B-17 Aluminum Overcast flew on Tuesday afternoon, the first flight after 19 months of work to repair damage from a landing accident in 2004...
Gulfstream Aerospace will expand its manufacturing and service facilities in Savannah, Ga., investing $300 million over seven years and adding 1,100 jobs, the company said on Monday...
The Highland Lakes Squadron of the Commemorative Air Force will host its 16th annual air show on April 8, in Burnet, Texas, 50 miles west of Austin. B-25, B-17, A-26, AD-4, F8F, P-40, C-45, T-6, BT-13, BT-19, L-17, L-19, O-2, Great Lakes and the C-47 (Bluebonnet Belle) will be there, along with WWII re-enactors, food and retail vendors, and a Bluebonnet Festival...
Five Spitfires flew in formation above Britain on Sunday to mark the 70th anniversary of the airplane that became an emblem for the British and Canadian air forces in World War II...
Scammers are targeting aircraft owners, says AOPA, so beware. Scammers have contacted owners offering their aircraft for sale, offering deals that involve the owner sending them a check, then they vanish...
An FAA Airworthiness Directive mandates that certain MT-Propeller Entwicklung GmbH variable pitch and fixed pitch propellers with serial numbers below 95000, which have not been overhauled since April 1994, must be inspected and overhauled within 30 days.
AVweb's "FBO of the Week" contest is sponsored by Aviation Safety magazine.
We need your help to identify and acknowledge the best FBOs in the world. Whether it's your local FBO or a recent fuel stop, tell us what made it a memorable (or not so memorable) visit. Nominate your favorite FBO today.
Each week, the editors will select one winner and publish their comments and scores in the Monday AVwebFlash. The FBO will receive an award ribbon suitable for display, and you'll receive an AVweb cap for submitting the winner. We'll also post all of the winners on AVweb.com as a permanent reference.
Click here for complete contest rules and here to nominate your favorite FBO
As the Beacon Turns #99: Fuel for Thought
There's nothing like running out of fuel to put your pilot ego in check. Especially when you end up on the evening news because you set it down on an interstate highway. Real courage is when you stand up and tell your story to your fellow pilots, as Michael Maya Charles relates in his latest As The Beacon Turns column.
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/
Use the Best -- ASA 2006 Test Books, Software, & DVDs for FAA Exam Prep
*** PREVIOUS RESULTS ***
Last week, AVweb asked if the recent wave of recalls and retirements of Lycoming crankshafts has affected your opinion of the company and its products and practices.
Not surprisingly, they have. 40% of those who responded to our survey said their opinion of Lycoming has taken a beating in light of recent news and another 15% expressed stronger disapproval, choosing our answer I can't believe a company like that is still in business.
Not all of you were ready to give up on Lycoming, though. A substantial portion of respondents said the news had not impacted their view of the company. 25% of you told us that Lycoming is bound to have some mis-steps in the complicated business of parts manufacturing and that their engines are still top-notch, while another 17% applauded the company for taking proactive steps to resolve potential problems.
Only 11 readers, however, were willing to go so far as to say the "crankshaft crisis" has actually bolstered their faith in Lycoming.
*** THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***
Unions good or bad for the aviation industry? Ballot-stuffing aside, what do you think?
Click here to answer
(No, you don't get a grey-area third option this time.)
Have an idea for a new QOTW? Send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
DA40 Diamond Star a Fleet Favorite
Drop us a line. If it caught your attention, it will probably interest someone else, too. Submit news tips via email to email@example.com. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.
Submit a Photo | Rules | Tips | Questions | Past POTW Winners
"Picture of the Week" submissions were down a bit this week numbering less than 50 for the first time in ... um, in recent memory. Nevertheless, there were quite a few noteworthy submissions, including this week's winning photo from Jason Apol of Hopkins, Michigan. Jason's winning shot was fairly representative of this week's entries, too most of which were taken at night and with prolonged exposures.
But let's not leave Jason to do all the heavy lifting on his own. We'll need your participation to get "POTW" numbers back up, so don't forget to submit your aviation photos. If your photo is chosen for our top spot, you'll end up with a sharp new AVweb baseball cap. (Look for yours in the mail soon, Jason.)
*** THIS WEEK'S WINNERS ***
"Blue Moon Arrow"
Jason Apol of Hopkins, Michigan tops this week's contest entries with a sublime (and well-staged!) evening photo. Jason tells us that he got the crisp colors by using a 10-second exposure and a mag light to illuminate the edges of the craft.
The plane is courtesy of Jason's flying club, Dodgen Aircraft.
|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.|
"SFO Landing, Runways 19"
Since 1957, Robert Matheson of Millbrae, California has been able to gaze out on San Francisco International's Runway 19.
We can't vouch for his level of peace-and-quiet, but we're in awe of the view.
"Over Griffin, GA"
Inspired by last week's photo of Washington National Airport, Henry Holden of Randolph, New Jersey went to the closet and dug up this treasure. The photo was taken from a DC-3 and shows an aerial view of Georgia's Griffin-Spalding Airport. "To get this shot," Henry writes," I pushed the window back and almost lost the camera." (We believe it. You can practically feel the Vertigo in this black-and-white shot.)
We received quite a few instrument-panel shots this week probably inspired by last week's photo from Michael Burnett. This one, from Brian Hallin of Mundelein, Illinois, really caught our eye. This was another extended-exposure photo (30 seconds), which is why you can see the traces of movement on the autothrottles. (Thanks for pointing that out to us, Brian.)
"Cough It Up, Big Guy"
Trey Carroll of Knightstown, Indiana had his camera handy last year at AirVenture, where he snapped this shot of John Lane firing up the Corsair. It's a lesson we'll repeat again before this year's show: Keep your camera with you at all times when traveling to Oshkosh.
"Headed Back to Sacramento"
Terry J. Wallace of Sacramento, California takes us home with this week in more ways than one.
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).
Click here to send a letter to the editor. (Please let us know if your letter is not intended for publication.)
Comments or questions about the news should be sent here.
Have a product or service to advertise on AVweb? A question on marketing? Send it to AVweb's sales team.
If you're having trouble reading this newsletter in its HTML-rich format (or if you'd prefer a lighter, simpler format for your PDA or handheld device), there's also a text-only version of AVwebFlash. For complete instructions on making the switch, click here.
Freedom, independence, responsibility.