June 8, 2006
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
FAA's Contract To Be Imposed On Controllers
"Under the terms of our statute, the FAAs proposed change takes effect as of today, and we will begin the process of implementing our proposal," said FAA Administrator Marion Blakey on Monday, setting in motion a new era in the long history of FAA relations with its air traffic controllers. Not since the days of the strike under President Reagan has the situation been so tense. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) wanted the FAA to wait until a bill in Congress was voted on -- a bill that would have suspended the deadline and sent both parties back to the bargaining table. Last night that vote was held ... and fell short of the required two-thirds tally by nine votes. Even if the bill had passed, quotes from the White House suggest President Bush would have vetoed it. "Legislative intervention now could increase the pay of federal workers who are already on average the highest paid in government, increase pressure on the deficit, and displace funding for modernization of the air traffic control system," the Bush White House said in a statement earlier this week, The Washington Post reported. The FAA also opposed the legislative effort. "We do not support changing the rules in the 11th hour and we do not support taking away from Congress a decision that will have significant budget consequences for the agency," FAA spokesman Geoffrey Basye told AVweb on Tuesday. "This is why, in accordance with statute, we announced yesterday that we will move forward with implementing our last and best contract offer, which will raise the current average salary and benefits from $165,900 to $187,000."
Light Sport Market Shake-up
Despite last night's disappointment, NATCA President John Carr noted that "a clear bipartisan majority" of the U.S. representatives voted in favor of the union's position that the contract negotiations should be reopened. "We hope the FAA has received that message," Carr said in a statement sent to AVweb last night. "NATCA will continue to pursue a legislative solution to this critical problem. We remain encouraged by the expressions of support from both sides of the aisle and in both Houses and we are confident that additional legislative avenues remain open. We're looking forward to pursuing all remaining avenues aggressively." Meanwhile, the FAA will move forward to impose the contract as it stands. New hires for ATC jobs will face a 30-percent lower pay scale than current workers. The union's control over work rules and staffing levels will likely be substantially eroded. NATCA has been predicting mass retirements by weary workers who have nothing to gain by staying. "The FAA has been prepared for retirements in the work force long before these negotiations even started," said Basye. "We have a comprehensive workforce plan that will ensure all of our facilities are staffed in a manner that guarantees safety and ensures we have the level of controllers required to deal with the traffic in the system."
With few recent mutterings regarding progress on its "Cirrus killer" design, Cessna is now (also?) studying the feasibility of developing and producing a light sport aircraft (LSA). The company said Tuesday in a news release it will display a full-scale proof-of-concept aircraft at EAA AirVenture next month at Oshkosh. "As the world's largest producer of single-engine piston airplanes, we believe we could bring unique capabilities to this exciting market," said Cessna CEO Jack Pelton. "Our extensive sales and service network could provide an important market advantage, which, in concert with our design and manufacturing experience, could make this an attractive extension of our product line," he said. No word yet on an attractive (or otherwise) pricing -- the decision to build, or not to build, will be made early in 2007. The company plans to unveil its LSA at a press conference at the EAA show on July 24, and will survey visitors at the show to ensure a Cessna-designed LSA would be responsive to market preferences.
FAA Sets Timetable For Return Of Capstone Services
AOPA says pilot numbers -- and new pilot starts -- are dwindling. The light sport aircraft category is the highest growth sector of general aviation, Cessna said. But that's not the only attraction of the market. "An important part of our thought process in looking at LSA is the value in terms of new pilot starts," added Pelton. "Experience has shown that Cessna brand loyalty is a powerful force in our success, and we believe this new category of aircraft could provide a conduit for new pilots to grow through the Cessna product line in the years ahead." Pelton said the company will evaluate through the year a spectrum of issues associated with entering the sector to determine if there is a favorable business case.
An Elephant For LSA MallTom Poberezny, EAA president, welcomed Cessna to the show, saying, "This is another step toward expanding the light-sport aircraft marketplace." Cessna's mock-up will be displayed at the LSA Mall, alongside all the other aircraft already available under the new rule. For those manufacturers now in the market, "This announcement is both exciting and more than a little scary," says marketing consultant Dan Johnson, who has worked to organize the Mall for EAA. Cessna does seem to be playing catch-up, he said, noting their similar late entry into the VLJ market, after others had tested the waters. And "big companies are often less nimble than small players," he added. In any case, Cessna's interest lends credibility to the LSA segment, Johnson said. Speaking on behalf of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association, Johnson added that LAMA "welcomes Cessna to the party." It's a "neat thing" that Cessna will have a presence at the LSA Mall, he told AVweb yesterday. And while some of the less-robust manufacturers may suffer from the added competition, Johnson said, he thinks the stronger companies will in fact benefit from the added exposure.
Next Thursday, air traffic controllers in Anchorage can resume the use of ADS-B information to separate traffic in the remote Bethel, Aniak, and St. Mary's areas of southern Alaska, the FAA says. The service was discontinued last month while the FAA reviewed its separation standards. The FAA now says ADS-B targets will be separated from each other by a minimum of five nautical miles. But non-radar separation standards will be applied between an ADS-B target and a radar target. That is, the "procedural" methods now being used, as if there were no target on the scopes, will remain in place. On July 15, the FAA will begin an operational evaluation to determine what minimum separation standard it will accept between an ADS-B target and a radar target. On or about Aug. 15, the FAA plans to expand the operational validation of mixed ADS-B and radar procedures to the Dillingham and King Salmon areas. ADS-B has been deployed in Alaska as part of the Capstone project to provide radar-like services in areas where no radar is available. The ADS-B signals appear on ATC scopes as different-colored targets, to distinguish them from true radar returns. The Capstone project has been credited for dramatic safety improvements in Alaska, and the FAA has committed to expanding the use of the system in the lower 48.
Rick Thompson, NATCA's regional representative in Alaska, told AVweb that before last month, controllers had been working on the understanding that ADS-B and radar returns were to be treated the same. But recent communications from the FAA had referred to a "mixed environment" and it became clear that not everyone was on the same page. Controllers asked for clarification, and that's when the FAA made the decision to suspend the program pending a review of the standards. Safety advocate Felix Maguire expressed concern that due to structural changes in the FAA, decisions that affect Alaska now are made in Seattle or L.A. or D.C. But the underlying problem "is a breakdown in the collaboration and collegiality that we established and fostered between the FAA and aviation industry over the past 10 years," he told AVweb last week. "Prior to that, both sides were always at loggerheads. We changed that. It was out of this professional respect that Capstone was born and thrived." A return to the pre-Capstone status quo is not acceptable, Maguire said. "I think the folks in D.C. are now getting to understand that."
Meanwhile, ADS-B is also being used in Australia, a place similar to Alaska in its dependence on small aircraft for transport across huge, empty areas. But Dick Smith, a prominent businessman and former chairman of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, has raised questions about the security of the system. Smith said that a hacker using inexpensive gear could create false aircraft returns to appear on a controller's screen, creating "total chaos in the air traffic control system," The Australian reported on Tuesday. Smith said he learned about the susceptibility from FAA officials. FAA spokeswoman Tammy Jones told AVweb on Tuesday that the Washington office had given out no such information. Transport Minister Warren Truss recently met with Smith, and a spokeswoman told The Australian that his concerns are "being considered" and "and we would point out that no decision about [expanding] ADS-B has been made, nor is a decision imminent."
Just in time for summer, it's Batman meets James Bond ... not at the movies, but up in the skies. A German company, ESG, introduced its prototype of a jet-powered wing that will enable parachutists to fly over 100 miles from the airplane to a landing site. Designed for the military, the system enables paratroopers with a new degree of versatility. The wing is now being tested sans jet engines, but still has a glide distance of about 25 miles with jumps from 32,000 feet. It also enables jumpers to operate at night and in bad weather, using a stabilization system to deal with adverse wind conditions, ESG said. And the next version of the system will have even more capability. The jet-equipped wing, which will weigh about 66 pounds, will have a cargo compartment. The jumper would have to be supplied with oxygen and thermal clothing. Of course, no new gizmo is without predecessors. Swiss pilot Yves Rossy jumped with a similar contraption in 2004, and flew horizontally for over four minutes at about 100 knots, using small jet packs for power.
Jack Francis, 61, was flying his Cessna 185 with his wife and another couple on board on Sunday afternoon, heading home to Park Valley, Utah, from Jackpot, Nev., when his heart began to fail. He was still 80 miles from his destination airport and knew he physically couldn't make it. So Francis put the Cessna down safely on a highway. The aircraft ran off the pavement and hit a fence, but the three passengers were unhurt. Francis died later that day. "He basically saved these other three peoples' lives by landing the plane on the highway," Utah Highway Patrol spokesman Derek Jensen told the Salt Lake Tribune.
The safety record of general aviation in New Zealand has come under scrutiny, with questions raised about the 2003 crash of a Piper Chieftain that killed eight people, including the pilot. Two others were seriously hurt. The official report on the accident was completed by the Transport Accident Investigation Commission last year, and concluded that pilot error was the most likely cause. But a report filed last week by coroner Richard McElrea cited the Civil Aviation Authority's inadequate oversight of the small charter company as a major factor. "One man, one aircraft and one part-time assistant were not a safe critical mass and the safety process of the CAA should have detected that and prevented the flight in question," McElrea said. The pilot had been cited in 20 prior incidents. On Tuesday, CAA chairman Ron Tannock vowed that the report would be heeded and changes are in the works. When the coroner's report was released last week, families of the deceased said they had no faith its findings would be heeded. Tannock said the CAA will adopt all the safety recommendations in McElrea's report. "In practice, there has been shown to be a shortfall and the lessons of the crash ... not only in terms of pilot conduct, but in terms of the regulator's role, are apparent and must be addressed," McElrea said.
It's the largest peacetime airlift in the world, according to Cessna. Coming up July 1, 400 Citation jets from around the country will fly into the Des Moines International Airport, carrying athletes and coaches to the 2006 Special Olympics USA National Games. A Citation will land or take off every 60 to 90 seconds during a 12-hour period. "All the work leads up to that moment when a Citation door opens and an athlete steps out smiling from ear to ear," said Jack Pelton, Cessna CEO. The fleet will return on July 8 to carry the Olympians home. The first Citation Special Olympics Airlift took place in 1987 with about 130 jets. Similar airlifts took place for the games in 1991, 1995, and 1999, but this year's is the biggest. Corporations and individual Citation owners and operators donate the aircraft, pilots and fuel for the event.
2020 is not that far off, only 14 years away, and air traffic above Europe is expected to double by then. Eurocontrol, the agency that manages Europe's airspace, is working on plans to cope. Those plans include not only upgrades to hardware and software, but a rethinking of the system's administrative structure. A Single-Sky vision mandates that airspace sectors will be determined by traffic flows rather than international borders. The change would create additional capacity and improve efficiency, Eurocontrol says. The Europeans also are experimenting with ADS-B technology. By 2020, the system should be able to operate with fewer ATC centers, according to Defense Daily. Machines would "talk" to each other, so pilots and controllers would need to communicate only if deviating from the plan. Most flights would proceed from start to finish without a need for that kind of handling. Europe now has close to 8.5 million flights per year and up to 28,000 flights on the busiest days, according to Eurocontrol.
News in Brief
When the idea of fractional ownership for single-engine piston aircraft was introduced, it was greeted with plenty of skepticism. But now it's an accepted part of the GA landscape, and continuing to grow. Aviation Consumer's June issue analyzed the financial difference between single ownership and fractional, and found that for pilots who fly from about 50 to 250 hours per year, fractional plans can work. Pilots also appreciate having fewer worries. "The number one benefit we heard from fractional owners was the pleasure of not dealing with the details of ownership," the article said. Of course, the big operators like AirShares Elite and OurPlane aren't the only option for the part-time owner. Flying clubs have been around for decades, and AOPA recently added a flying-club section to its Web site. The section features information about starting a flying club, finding an aircraft, club operations, costs, taxes, and insurance. There are also tips on how to manage relationships with the FBO and other club members and how to effectively promote the club. And at the sport-flying end of the spectrum, Let's Fly has organized over 200 cooperatives with buy-in costs as low as $2,900.
Cirrus owners raised $105,000 to support the Red Tail Project during their fourth annual migration to the factory in Duluth, Minn. The project aims to bring the story of the Tuskegee Airmen to school kids across the U.S....
Air traffic controllers in Opa Locka, Fla., must climb a ladder 33 feet to go to work in their temporary control tower in a converted trailer. The controllers were moved out of their dilapidated old tower, but a new one might take three years to construct. The Miami Herald said controllers can't see the whole field from the trailer and it would be dangerous in a storm...
The Sky Arrow 600 Light Sport Aircraft is now available in a disabled-pilot version. Brakes and rudder can be operated by hand controls. The airplane can also be flown with rudder pedals. The Sky Arrow is built in Italy...
This year's Latin American Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition, set for Sao Paulo, Brazil, in August, has been cancelled due to construction delays at the airport. A new date will be set soon...
AirCell has won an exclusive right to provide air-to-ground wireless broadband services in the U.S. Expect rollout for airliners and bizjets sometime next year.
Check AVweb.com tomorrow for the podcast link at the top of the page.
Online Now: Exclusive interviews featuring New Piper's Jim Bass, Excel Jet's Bob Bornhofen, 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 pleasure, 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.
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The Savvy Aviator #32: 2006 Aging GA Aircraft Summit
The average GA airplane is now more than 35 years old. The FAA believes this represents a significant threat to safety, but most owner associations and type clubs disagree.
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Avidyne Introduces Large-Format Version of MHAS6000
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AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to LEBANON AVIATION SERVICES at KLBO, Lebanon, MO.
RON BAAKE wrote in to tell us, "THEY ARE FRIENDLY, THEY HAVE A VERY CLEAN FACILITY WITH FREE FOOD AND DRINKS. THEY ARE WILLING TO HELP YOU OUT WITHOUT QUESTION. THEY HAVE CONVENIENT HOURS."
Keep those nominations coming.
Click here to nominate your favorite FBO and here for complete contest rules
AVweb is actively seeking out the best FBO's in the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here next Monday!
Savvy Owner Seminar Comes to Sporty's Pilot Shop, Batavia, Ohio!
*** PREVIOUS RESULTS ***
Last week, AVweb reported that the Cessna 172S that lost its propeller in the skies over St. Augustine, Florida at the end of May had experienced a crankshaft failure and that the crankshaft was a Lycoming. In light of recent crankshaft developments, we asked our readers if this was a cause for concern, especially where Lycoming is concerned.
Your responses were split across the entire spectrum of possible answers:
21% of those who responded were not concerned with the crankshaft failure, agreeing with our statement This doesn't necessarily have anything to do with Lycoming parts or its manufacturing process. This segment was the largest of those who have replied to our poll at press time but only by a thin margin.
18% were at the other end of the spectrum, saying this incident made you extremely concerned about Lycoming's ability to produce a reliable engine.
Another 18% cited the fact that this crankshaft failure was different than those mentioned in Lycoming's recalls. (It occurred at a different place on the crankshaft.) This, our readers said, made them more concerned, not less concerned.
17% of respondents said they were very concerned about Lycoming and left it at that.
13% admitted to us that they fly older airplanes or ones that aren't affected by the Lycoming crankshaft issue.
And 12% said they were not particularly concerned, because this failure wasn't one of those behind the recent Lycoming recalls.
For real-time results of last week's question, click here.
*** THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***
2006 has been full of exciting announcements, innovations, and power struggles. This week, AVweb wants to know which of the hottest happenings in general aviation is at the top of your watch list.
Click here to tell us which story (from our short list) has you most excited.
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Use this form to send QOTW comments to our AVmail Editor.
Submit a Photo | Rules | Tips | Questions | Past POTW Winners
We'd like to kick off this installment of
"Picture of the Week" with a hearty thank you to all those who
took time to re-submit their pictures after last week's server issues.
Many of you mentioned re-submitting in your comments, and some photos we
recognized from the mangled remnants of your first attempt.
Between the new submissions and re-submits, we received well over 100 "POTW"
entries this week. Choosing a winner was tough, and it became even
tougher once we narrowed it down to the Top Three. An eye-catching pic from Ralph Finch
and Dan Kluepfel of
Davis, California eventually emerged as our top pick but only after we
changed our minds 30 or 40 times
carefully considered all the candidates.
As this week's winning contributors, Ralph and Dan will receive official AVweb baseball caps sporting the site's logo to shade their eyes this summer. We'd love to see your photos and maybe even send you a hat of your own. To enter the weekly contest, submit your photos here.
*** THIS WEEK'S WINNERS ***
"Ercoupe over Golden Gate"
Dan Kluepfel and Ralph Finch of Davis, California took to the skies for this amazing shot of an Ercoupe soaring above San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. After all those X-Men 3 commercials, it's nice to see the famous landmark in all its serene (intact) majesty.
Credit where it's due department:
|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.|
"Beats Workin' for a Living"
An AVweb reader who wishes to remain anonymous sends greetings from the back of a C-130 "somewhere in the Pacific." We loved the photo and very nearly named it our "Picture of the Week."
In hindsight, maybe it's best we didn't an AVweb hat might wreak havoc with our mysterious submitter's secret identity.
Regarding Anonymous Submissions:
"Riding with the Warbirds"
Dave Bier of La Grange, Illinois writes, "I had the extreme good fortune of riding in a WWII Corsair recently (back where the radio equip used to be) and snapped this picture as we formed up with a B-25, an SBD Dauntless, a Wildcat, and a Bearcat (not pictured off our right wing). The planes were in town for an airshow. Incredible experience!"
E.J. Gonzalez of Portsmouth, Virginia was on-hand when billionaire record-setter Steve Fossett stepped out of Virgin Atlantic's much-celebrated Global Flyer. E.J. reports that Fossett received a well-earned round of applause as he touched ground for the first time.
"Florida Fire Control"
This time of year always sees a hefty rise in the number of fire-fighting photos submitted to our "Picture of the Week" contest. Not that we're complaining fire-fighting machines like this Boeing 107 lend themselves to some really exciting photos. Thomas W. Sawyer of Ocklawaha, Florida tells us this helicopter works fire control in the Ocala National Forest and was on its way to another mission when he snapped the photo.
"The Go/No-Go Decision"
Based on this photo from Jeff Brooks of Flushing, Michigan, it looks like the decision's already been made.
Jeff writes, "After tying down all the aircraft on Western Michigan University's ramp, I decided to get some pictures of the incoming storm and, to my surprise, caught a beautiful shot of Mother Nature at its finest."
|Kids in the Cockpit
Long-time "POTW" readers know we can't resist pointing out the trends in our weekly submissions and this week's photos featured a surprisingly high number of cockpit photos. (Eighteen, to be exact.) Of those, we had three great-looking "kids in the cockpit" photos.
Now, there are two kinds of "POTW" reader (according to the letters we receive) those who are about to shout "Oh, cute! Honey, come here and look at this!" and those who will go, "Oh, no, three pictures with no airplanes in them."
You can both consider yourselves warned.
Tina Nelson of San Carlos, California put her niece, Julia Dellenbach, at the stick of a 747 at KSQL's Hiller Aviation Museum and this the result.
"Where to, Captain?"
Another Tina (Tina Madovoy of Clarksville, Tennessee) had the same idea this week. This is her 7-month-old son "taking his first ride in a Cessna 152."
"Aviators in the Making"
Rajeev Pandey of Corvallis, Oregon is taking things a bit slower with his two sons, ages 3 and 5 years old. Not only did he wait until they'd mastered walking and talking to begin their training, but he also started them out on a cockpit familiarization trainer at Oregon's Evergreen Air Museum (home of the Spruce Goose).
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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