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The Top Headlines From AVweb's Expanded,
Illustrated News Coverage At AVweb's
BUDGET CUTS FUNDING TO 2,500 AIRPORTS
If there ever was an
example of why AOPA and other alphabet groups want the FAA to continue
to answer to Congress, the details of the latest FAA budget proposal
offer illumination. In what FAA Administrator Marion Blakey has called
"tough medicine for local programs," the agency has proposed cutting
more than $750 million from airport improvement activities, including
the $150,000 "entitlement grants" handed out unconditionally to more
than 2,500 small GA airports. AOPA President Phil Boyer says the grant is often
the only money small airports have for runway and equipment maintenance
and improvements. The agency tried something similar with the 2006
budget but Congress restored the funding. AOPA is tuning its strategy
for a similar result this go-around. More...
MUM ON FUTURE FUNDING
At the May 4 hearing, Blakey was
grilled repeatedly on the agency's plan to overhaul the funding basis
for the FAA. For more than a year, Blakey has been saying revenue
sources need to be based on the costs of providing services (read: user
fees) but she hasn't revealed any details about how that system might
work. AOPA's Boyer says implementing user fees is simply a method to cut
Congress out of the decision-making loop and hand control of the
airspace system over to the airlines. He also told AVweb in an
AVweb podcast earlier this month that any step toward user
fees in other countries has historically been just the beginning of an
industry-wide trend. At the May 4 hearing, Blakey did say that the
current system of fuel taxes seems to work for GA but she declined to
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FLIGHT SERVICES SAVINGS DOWN BY $500 MILLION
of Transportation's Inspector General will do a comprehensive audit of the FAA's contracting out of
the Automated Flight Service Station system and it's already got a
half-billion dollar discrepancy to investigate. When the contract was
awarded to Lockheed Martin last year, the FAA said it would save $2.2
billion over the life of the deal. Now that figure has been revised to
$1.7 billion -- an alteration that's piqued the interest of the
Inspector General. "We are aware of the difference and will be looking
into this as part of our review," IG spokesman David Barnes told
Government Executive. More...
GENERAL TO CHECK FSS MONEY, SAFETY, SERVICE
Of course, there
are huge financial implications in the audit, but money isn't
everything. The IG also intends to investigate whether the move has
impaired safety or adversely affected service (Lockheed Martin had
service guarantees built into the contract). Publications like
AVweb are often a sounding board for those types of issues. There
have been a few letters from pilots reporting service or safety issues
but, while passionate, they've been comparatively few and far between.
Whether that means pilots are being patient during the transition or
that Lockheed is so far living up to its promises, we suppose the audit
will tell. One group that has quite naturally been vocal through the
whole process is the National Association of Air Traffic Specialists
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NAVIGATION PERFORMANCE (RNP) IS SPREADING
A system devised by
Alaska Airlines and Boeing to help improve accessibility to notoriously
difficult airports in the 50th state could soon help ensure better
on-time performance on Lower 48 milk runs (relatively speaking). After
experimenting with Required Navigation Performance (RNP) systems at some
of the U.S.'s tougher airports (Palm Springs and San Francisco among
them) the FAA has decided the system can be implemented by any airline
that has the right equipment and training. "It's a game changer," FAA
Administrator Marion Blakey told The Wall Street Journal.
SHOULD SEE IMPROVED ON-TIME PERFORMANCE
As AVweb reported more than a year ago, RNP has
vastly improved accessibility to Palm Springs on the comparatively rare
occasions when the weather is down there. Because terrain prevents
implementation of a standard ILS, diversions were usually the only
option in bad weather. RNP allows Alaska Airlines to land at Palm
Springs with minima of 250 feet and three-quarters of a mile. But
terrain isn't the only obstacle that hinders operations and RNP will
find a use at airports surrounded by miles of flat expanses.
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NOT THE INTERNATIONAL LANGUAGE OF AVIATION?
English may be
the language of aviation but that shouldn't be a barrier to getting a
private pilot's certificate in countries that speak other tongues,
according to a spokesman for an international pilots group. John
Sheehan, secretary general of the International Aircraft Owners and
Pilots Association, says English should only be a requirement for pilots
who intend to fly IFR or in controlled airspace. The International Civil
Aviation Organization recently passed an amendment that would make
English proficiency a requirement for all pilots, regardless of the type
of flying they do. "While this requirement may be justified for those
using the IFR ATS system, it is difficult to justify for the casual VFR
user," Sheehan said in a news release announcing IAOPA's petition
against the proposal. More...
"VIRTUAL" RADAR AVAILABLE
Whether you're a flight school
operator who wants to keep tabs on students or the anxious partner of a
weekend warrior wondering when (if) your flying companion will be home
for dinner, a British company might have the answer. Kinetic
Avionics has developed a radio receiver and software package which
picks up Mode S and ADS-B signals from aircraft within 100 or so miles
(depending on terrain and antenna). In the case of ADS-B-equipped
planes, it displays them on the computer screen as a realistic portrayal
of an air traffic control monitor. Monitoring Times, a magazine which
caters to amateur radio buffs, recently reviewed the gear and says it works as
advertised, doesn't crash computers and can run on a modestly equipped
PC. AVweb recently
reported on another similar product, currently available.
Exxon Elite Prevents Piston Engine
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'N FUN CRASH WIDOW SETTLES LAWSUIT AGAINST FAA
The widow of a
Texas pilot killed in a midair collision on final to Lakeland Linder
Regional Airport the evening before the beginning of Sun 'n Fun in 2002
has settled her lawsuit with two defendants for a total of $700,000.
Deborah Morrison is collecting $650,000 from the FAA and $50,000 from
Sun 'n Fun's insurance company despite findings by the NTSB that both pilots ignored
instructions from air traffic controllers, who saw the potential for a
collision. Jerry Morrison was flying an RV-6 that was struck by a Piper
Clipper (PA-16) flown by Stephen Pierce on final for Runway 27 right.
The NTSB found Morrison ignored directions from ATC to slide left to
line up with Runway 27 left and Pierce ignored instructions to "keep it
THOSE WHO HAVE, THOSE WHO HAVEN'T YET
The great thing about
gear-up landings is they almost never result in any fatalities, unless
you count dying of embarrassment. Somehow you expect guys like retired
Capt. Dale Snodgrass (Top Gun grad, Navy Fighter Pilot of the Year) to
be outside the grasp of "those who have and those who will," but "Snort"
was at the helm of a vintage F-86 that went aluminum on concrete at
Davis Monthan Air Force Base in March and it's been determined the only
failure was Snodgrass's. "It's hard to believe that a guy with all that
experience would not put down his landing gear," retired Maj. Jack
Boileau, a former F-86 driver, told KVOA News. Snodgrass declined an
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JUST MISSED TORNADO
The UK Airprox (aircraft proximity) Board
has called for the development of a lightweight (presumably
battery-powered) transponder that can be installed on gliders after one
came within a whisker of being obliterated by a Tornado fighter/attack
jet flying at 450 knots. The Tornado and the glider passed within 50
feet of one another at 9,000 feet above the Scottish Highlands last
October. Glider pilot David Smith told the board inquiry he felt a
"terrific thump from the slipstream and could smell the kerosene fumes"
after the jet, one of 10 involved in an exercise, passed overhead. And
while the world waits for an electronic solution, a British Air Force
spokesman suggests that, in the meantime, adding a splash of color to
gliders' paint scheme would help. More...
MAY DEBUT THIS YEAR
Jet-A (and lots of it) may be used to
help fight forest fires this season. Two companies developing aerial
bomber firefighting aircraft, so-called supertankers, from old airliners
say they expect to have all approvals in place to accept firefighting
contracts. In fact, Omni Air International says its DC-10 is ready to go to work, while Evergreen
Aviation still has a few hoops to jump before its 747-200can tackle blazes. The aircraft represent a
quantum leap in aerial firefighting capability. The DC-10 can carry up
to 12,000 gallons of retardant or water (more than triple the capacity
of the largest existing tankers) and the 747 can pack up to 24,000
gallons. Though they can't fill on the fly, they can get to and from the
fire at 500 mph. Firefighting experts say the jets will have their uses
but they're not a magic bullet. More...
Columbia Simplifies Buying & Selling All
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160 TRAINER GETTING ATTENTION
A New Zealand company says its
decision to create a purpose-built two-place training aircraft is paying
Aviation recently sold 12 aerobatics-friendly Alpha 160A aircraft
and took options for 14 more from CTC Aviation, one of Britain's largest
flight training companies. It beat Cessna, Diamond and Piper offers for
the deal. The 160A is an updated version of the French-built Robin
R2160. Company spokesman Richard Sealy said the world needs more
trainers and some of the touring aircraft now being pressed into that
kind of service don't have the strength and durability to handle the
job. Alpha bought the rights to the Robin designs in 2004 and says it's
updated and improved what was already a well-respected design.
Meanwhile, Evektor, another manufacturer to watch, says it's
considering building a U.S. assembly plant to handle a surge in demand.
Vandals did $1 million damage to lights at Mobile
Pilots union workers on strike against union...
recommends oil cooler quarantine...
Flight attendant convicted of
setting fire in lav...
Two die when Cessna 150 crashed in
Tomcat tail from Florida crash washed up on Irish
Engine installed in Sportjet. More...
Attention, Cessna Owners
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entry. The AT165/C also features pressure altitude display with hold
alert, along with three independent timers with audible alert. For more
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Now: Take today's
news with you via AVweb's downloadable podcasts. Find exclusive
interviews featuring Adam Aircraft's Joe Walker, FAA administrator
Marion Blakey, Cirrus Design's Alan Klapmeier and more.
AVweb's Podcast index, is available online -- pick and
choose your particular interets, or subscribe
free to AVweb's podcasts and receive them automatically
for listening on your computer, iPod, or while traveling with any MP3
player. You'll hear things you won't find anywhere else.
Join NAA and Help Shape the Next Century of
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HAVE YOU SIGNED UP yet for AVweb's
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See What ATC Sees -- And Then See What They Do
The AVweb Edition of Flight Explorer is the
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Power Flow's Short Stack Approved for Pipers
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Preview Highlights: The June Issue of
"The Failures of SBT" -- applying
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Your Estate Safe?" -- stacking the odds in your favor; "Getting ATC's
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The following exchange occurred between my student,
the tower, and me at KLVK on 05/08/06...
(Student): Livermore tower Cessna 1234 at Sierra ready to taxi
25R with India.
Tower: Roger N1234 taxi to
[Student gives me the "Huh? You read it back,"
Cessna N1234 (Instructor): Tower N1234 confirm
you want us to taxi to 25R. We don't have enough fuel to get to India.
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 Russ Niles (bio).
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