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The FAA has an uphill battle to convince its masters that a user-fee-based system is the best way to tackle the funding challenges of the
next decade, according to a report from the Department of Transportations
Office of Inspector General (OIG). And even if the agency can make the case for user fees (which, because they arent taxes, dont require Congressional oversight) the OIG says that
shouldnt mean unfettered access to that big pot of cash. We believe that any proposal to give FAA more flexibility and additional funds needs to be accompanied by strong oversight
mechanisms to ensure funds are spent efficiently, says the report, which is entitled "DOTs Top Management Challenges" (FAA reauthorization ranks second). Notwithstanding its cautious
stance, however, the OIG seems to think that user fees offer the best hope of creating the sort of funding base that offers adequate investment for new technology while creating incentives for users
to make more efficient use of the system. The report appears to agree with FAA Administrator Marion Blakeys oft-repeated sentiment that the current system of excise taxes isnt directly
linked to the cost drivers within the agency. User charges can provide incentives for users to be more efficient in their use of FAA services and for FAA to control costs, the report says.
These incentives become stronger the closer the charges approximate cost-based fee-for-service charges and the degree to which there is appropriate user oversight of the charges and their
expenditure. However, given the rancorous debate over the user-fee issue and the FAAs checkered past in financial management, the OIG suggests the agency has a fight on its hands to
convince Congress to give it the enormous powers such a sea change would provide. Should FAA determine that a user charge can be developed that promotes the efficient use of FAA services, it
faces a formidable challenge in making the case for change and obtaining consensus on what that change should entail, the report says. To meet this challenge, FAA would need to demonstrate
clearly and convincingly why the current excise tax financing mechanism is not adequate and how its proposed solution would fix this problem.
Although no one seems to dispute the FAAs need to hire 11,000 new air traffic controllers over the next 10 years to cover
the retirement bulge that has already begun, the OIG would like the FAA to figure out exactly where the new recruits should be deployed and just how much this hiring push is costing. The report notes
that the original hiring plan, released in 2004, didnt define those issues and, while the agency is working on a location-by-location assessment of staffing requirements, its still
ignoring the cost issues. In fairness, the agency was missing some key financial information on the cost projections because, until earlier this year when it imposed a contract on air traffic
controllers, it didnt know what salary and benefit costs for new hires would be. Now that those costs have been established, the OIG wants to see real numbers. While much of the limelight has
been on controller issues, the OIG is also reminding the FAA that a shortage of safety inspectors is looming. The report says that 1,008 of the agencys 3,628 inspectors are eligible to retire
now (thats 28 percent) and by 2010 slightly more than half (1,820) can pull the pin. The agency has asked for money to hire 116 new inspectors in the 2007 budget. Just as FAA has
recognized the need to address an expected surge in controller attrition, it must also ensure it closely monitors retirements and takes steps to hire and train the next generation of safety
inspectors, the report says. FAA will need to carefully evaluate its inspector staffing levels to ensure it can sustain sufficient oversight in light of the potential attrition within that
Air travel is growing, more aircraft are projected to be flying to more places and the OIG wonders how the agency is going to
cope with the surge in demand for its services. Making better use of its existing resources will help, but the report says major investments will be needed to accommodate the demand. For now, it says,
nothing increases capacity like concrete and asphalt. There are about a dozen major runway projects underway at the moment and the report says the agency has to ensure they get done. Meanwhile, the
search for technological answers to growing traffic continues and the OIG seems apprehensive about what it terms the high risk proposals currently being discussed for the Next Generation
Air Traffic System (NGATS). The report says the FAA estimates it will need an extra $4.4 billion over the next six years to start implementing NGATS, but that estimate doesnt say how or where
the money will be spent. Whats perhaps more significant to the aviation industry and individual pilots is that new gear will be needed on airplanes to use the system. Industry has already asked
for details on the type of equipment needed and the schedules for implementation and the OIG says the FAA must get that information together.
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The FAA needs to spend up to $100 million, and fast, to make sure the lights, computers and consoles stay on at its most important
air traffic control facilities, according to a report by the Department of Transportations Office
of Inspector General (OIG). The OIG was responding to a request from Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., to investigate a power failure at Los Angeles Center, as well as repeated failures of the ILS and the
intentional disabling of the Airport Movement Area Safety System (AMASS) at LAX. In his letter to Boxer, DOT Inspector General Calvin L. Scovell III says the power problems at Los Angeles Center could
be repeated at other major ATC facilities and the FAA needs to fix the problems sooner rather than later. Last July 18, a traffic accident knocked out power to the center and surrounding area. The
centers backup system activated and ran for about an hour before a component failed and the screens went blank. A technician tried to bring the system back online manually, but that caused
another failure. More than 300 flights were affected. Scovell said in his letter the subsequent investigation revealed that similar weak points exist in the backup systems of other major ATC
facilities and failures could occur at them as well. The OIG recommended the backup systems be redesigned to reduce the number of single-point failure sites and that staffing be reviewed to make sure
technicians have the time and resources needed to do the work. Our work shows that a national program is required to solve this problem and prevent its reoccurrence at other locations,
Scovell wrote. However, he also noted that theres no money in the FAA budget for the project and the agency estimates the cost to be from $75 million to $100 million.
DOT Inspector General Scovell is also recommending that the potential impact of construction work on airport systems be considered
when new projects are planned. At least part of the problem with LAXs ILS and AMASS system was traced to the construction activity on one of the airports four runways. The ILS suffered
five failures in July and August. It was apparently a run of bad luck, compounded by the age of some of the components and corrosion damage from LAs salty (not to mention polluted) air. Even
when the gear was working, however, interference by the construction equipment caused some approaching aircraft to lose the ILS signal. Meanwhile, sometime before July 26, the AMASS gear was shut off
because of all the false alerts triggered by the construction machinery. On July 26, there was a near collision on a runway that the AMASS system should have detected had it been turned on. Scovell
said AMASS doesnt work that well, anyway, and will be replaced by a new ground movement monitoring system. He said the FAA doesnt see any sort of common thread between the three issues,
but Scovell said they must be individually monitored for safetys sake. Taken together, these incidents in Southern California underscore some important lessons, he said. Runway
construction can have an unintended but significant impact on critical systems. Careful planning is needed to prevent negative effects of the construction. Aging equipment in harsh environments
requires proactive monitoring and troubleshooting, especially after system failures, to eliminate subsequent outages.
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Some high-profile organizations have issued statements condemning the so-called criminalization of aircraft accidents and are
calling on the worlds aviation authorities to pull the focus of accident investigations back to cause rather than blame. The protracted confinement and threat of criminal charges against two
American pilots over the collision between their Legacy 600 business jet and a Gol Airlines Boeing 737 (the 737 crashed, killing all 154 aboard) in Brazil has prompted the International Federation of Air Line Pilots' Associations and a multinational group of aviation industry organizations from the U.S. and Europe to call on governments to leave
criminal proceedings out of accident investigations unless there is evidence of extremely egregious behavior (like flying drunk or sabotage). They agree that the threat of prosecution
stifles the free flow of information that not only helps establish cause, but also could help prevent future accidents. The international group, represented by the Flight Safety Foundation, British
Royal Aeronautical Society, the French Acadamie Nationale de lAir et de lEspace and the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization (CANSO), which represents 40 aviation services providers
including the FAAs Air Traffic Organization, listed nine cases where airline executives, pilots, mechanics and other workers involved in air crashes are facing hard time in prison if convicted
of the charges against them. The group says the paramount consideration in an accident investigation should be to determine the probable cause of and contributing factors in an accident.
The pilots group says Brazilian authorities should release all the information they have on the Legacy/Gol accident and, in the meantime, the Legacy pilots should be allowed to return to the
The lawyer for American pilots Joe Lepore and Jan Paladino says a preliminary report into the collision of their Embraer Legacy
business jet and a GOL Boeing 737 fails to establish a cause for the accident and it could be 10 months or more before one is established. In news release, Robert Torricella also noted the report
clearly shows the pilots held their assigned altitude and did not perform the stunts that some Brazilian officials alleged occurred before the collision, which caused the 737 to crash,
killing all 154 on board. Torricella also notes that Brazilian Air Force Col. Rufino Antonio Da Silva Ferreira noted that flight plans are not necessarily the final word on determining an
aircrafts flight profile, but he stopped short of explaining that air traffic control guidance supersedes them. The Legacy was assigned 37,000 feet by ATC even though its northwesterly track
should have put it at 36,000 feet, which was what the crew had flight planned. Its still not clear why they were assigned the unusual altitude. Regardless of why all that happened, Torricella
said keeping the pilots in a Rio de Janeiro hotel room for almost a year while the investigators sort those and other questions out is not fair. "Joe and Jan have done everything asked of them and
each gave three lengthy statements within roughly the first 72 hours after the accident. They have since been held in Brazil for almost seven weeks without just cause. Enough is enough. It is time
that they be permitted to return home to their families," Torricella said. The preliminary report also reveals that there were dozens of unanswered radio calls between controllers and the Legacy
leading up to the accident but doesnt offer any explanation for them. It also doesnt answer why collision avoidance gear on both airplanes apparently failed to alert their respective crews
of the pending collision, according to Reuters.
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The FAA says its streamlining the process of turning around airworthiness directives from other countries on aircraft that are
flying in the U.S. Last week, the agency issued two ADs on TBM 700 aircraft that relate to problems found in France one and two years ago, respectively. France issued an AD in 2005 regarding loose rivets in the tail assembly and, a year earlier, French authorities ordered inspections of a tail
attachment fitting after corrosion was found on an aircraft in service. Chances are that the work on U.S.-registered aircraft has already been done because manufacturer EADS Socata issued mandatory
service bulletins for both problems, but the catch-up AD from the FAA formalizes the actions prescribed by those MSBs. The ADs contain a preamble paragraph that says the FAA is implementing a system
to streamline the processing of Mandatory Continuing Airworthiness Information (MCAI) received from other countries into rules that mean something in the U.S. The streamlined process will allow
us to adopt MCAI safety requirements in a more efficient manner and will reduce safety risks to the public, the AD says.
A Tallahassee firm hopes to become the city airports second FBO but, as there always seems to be, there are a few wrinkles
to iron out. Eagle Aircraft Group has applied to open fueling and maintenance facilities to compete with Flightline Group, which has operated Tallahassee Regional Airports only FBO for decades.
However, it appears that before Eagle Aircraft can open its doors, it will need concessions from the company it intends to compete with. Both companies have their eyes on an old FedEx hangar and it
will be up to council to decide how the property is used. According to the Tallahassee Democrat, the city has already struck a deal with Flightline to demolish the FedEx hangar to make way for a hotel development. Eagle Aircraft wants the city to allow it
to use the hangar as part of its FBO. Eagle spokesman Steven Leoni described Flightline as a "good operator," but he also said the community would benefit from having a second FBO at the airport.
"That would be good for Tallahassee. Competition is always good, he told the newspaper.
Mark Your Calendars! LoPresti's After-Thanksgiving Sale One Day Only LoPresti is clearing out extras, customer returns, and items dinged in shipping (repaired as good as new but can't be sold as new). Sale is on limited quantities and ONLY on
Friday, November 24th. When the items are gone, they are gone.
to view what's available and order by e-mail, 12am to 11:59pm (EST) on Friday, November 24th only.
The FAA has issued a special
airworthiness information bulletin (SAIB) explaining the hazards posed to aircraft operation with automotive fuels that contain alcohol. EAA and other aviation groups have been warning about the
increased use of ethanol in fuels. The alcohol is a substitute for chemical oxygenates MTBE and ETBE that have been linked to environmental concerns. But while ethanol may be safer for the
environment, its toxic to airplane engines and the FAA says that if you cant find alcohol-free mogas for your STCd aircraft engine, youll have to switch back to 100LL. Alcohol
increases the risk of vapor lock and can also introduce water into the fuel system as it cools at higher altitudes. Its also corrosive to rubber seals used in aircraft fuel systems and reduces
the amount of power available from the fuel. Although oil companies are required to prominently label their fuels that contain alcohol, if theres any doubt about its presence, the SAIB includes
a simple test that anyone can perform to determine if there is alcohol in fuel.
Cessna Caravan operators and pilots who want to beat the rush can register now for an online training package that will likely be mandated by the FAA for those who operate in known icing. The curriculum was
developed by Cessna with help from the Regional Air Cargo Carriers Association in response to a series of Caravan accidents where icing may have been a factor. Hundreds of Caravans are in use by cargo
companies and are exposed to icing conditions almost every day during the icing season. Cessna insists the aircraft is safe as long as it's operated according to the limits set in the POH and the
training course reinforces the knowledge of those limits. The course is divided into five sections with a quiz at the end of each section. Students must pass the exam with 80 percent or better in all
five sections to obtain a certificate of completion from Cessna. The training course takes two to three hours to complete. Although the course is aimed at Caravan operators, it offers general
knowledge that can be applied to flying any kind of airplane in icing conditions. There's a $20 fee for the course.
Doc Blue's Emergency Medical Kit Don't Leave Home Without It!
Do you carry a first-aid kit in your airplane or car? AVweb's Dr. Brent Blue says drugstore first-aid kits are packed with mostly useless stuff. Dr. Blue has assembled a traveling medical kit for
dealing with all sorts of medical problems, based on his long experience as an emergency room doctor, frequent traveler, pilot, outdoorsman, and dad. It would cost more than $500 to duplicate this
kit, but it's available on sale from Aeromedix for $333. Order by calling (888) 362-7123, or
The U.S. government is expected to release a confiscated video on Dec. 21 that may contain images of the final moments of the crash of an airliner into the Pentagon on 9/11. The Web site Flight77.info claims its freedom of information request resulted in the decision to release the video
Piper is providing financial incentives to those whod like to fly a prop-driven Piper while waiting for a PiperJet to be built for them. Anyone who buys a Meridian before Dec. 31, 2006, gets a
$100,000 credit toward a $2.2 million jet if they order the jet sometime in 2007. A $50,000 credit will be offered with sales of other Piper models
WSI has released a new weather forecast tool it says will provide accurate, hour-by-hour forecasts of terminal weather conditions at thousands of airports worldwide. Hubcast was developed in
conjunction with the FAA to help ATC, operators and ground services anticipate and prepare for weather events
A United Boeing 737 and an Atlas Boeing 747 cargo plane came within 35 feet of each other during a runway incursion incident at OHare Airport in July. Earlier reports suggested the distance
between them was 300 feet but the NTSB says the airliner crew rotated early on its takeoff run to barely miss the cargo plane, which had been cleared to land on an intersecting runway...
Video footage of Peter Besenyei's win in Perth and Kirby Chambliss's overall win of the Red Bull Air Race World Series is now available on the Web.
Our best stories start with you. If you've heard something that 130,000 pilots might want to know about, tell us. Submit news
tips via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.
New VFLITE Computer-Based Training for Your GPSMap 496!
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Garmin® GNS 530/430; GPSMap 396, 296 & 196; as well as Lowrance® AirMap 2000C, 1000 & 500 portables. Windows and Mac compatible.
AVweb reader Stan Poelstra was literally floored by the FBOs low fuel price and high level of service.
"We stopped here twice. The first time, on the way to Florida, the FBO owner lowered the price of fuel of the self serve while I was fueling to $3.25. He said he just got the new quote so he would
give it to me. On the way back two weeks later, the price was the same but it was so windy one could hardly stand up, so my wife and I stayed over night. They gave us the use of the courtesy car that
afternoon and overnight. No charge, just lots of smiles and thank yous for stopping. Wow!
AVweb is actively seeking out the best FBOs in the country and another one, submitted by you, will be
spotlighted here next Monday!
Buy 2 Cases of Exxon Elite in November and Receive an ExxonMobil Cash Card Worth $20.00!
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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/.
Pilot Journey Isn't Just for Students & Instructors; There's Something for Everyone
You know Pilot Journey's Discovery Flight program converting leads to students. However, all pilots can find something at Pilot Journey: Pilot e-mail accounts, pilot eCards; a
pilot cruise with seminars; AvCareers, where position wanted and positions available are listed; and much more.
is the pilot's choice online.
AVweb posts audio news on Mondays, plus a new in-depth interview each Friday. In Friday's podcast, you'll find an interview with Cirrus Design cofounder and CEO Alan Klapmeier, who addresses the rash of fatal accidents in
October involving Cirrus pistons. And AVweb's podcast index includes interviews with Cessna chairman, president and CEO Jack Pelton, Spectrum Aeronautical
chairman Linden Blue, Adam Aircraft chairman Rick Adam and New Piper CEO Jim Bass. In today's news summary, hear about how the DOT
Inspector General supports aviation user fees, the looming air traffic controller shortage, a call condemning "criminalization" of aviation accidents, Eagle Aircraft bids to open a second FBO at
Tallahassee Airport and more. Remember: In AVweb's podcasts, you'll hear things you won't find anywhere else.
If You Have a Calendar Event, AVweb Wants to Hear from You!
AVweb's no-cost Calendar of Events is available to everyone who has an event to post! Remember, over 160,000 subscribers turn to AVweb for their news. Make sure they know about your upcoming
AVweb's Russ Niles was on hand at Aviation Nation last week and brought back a terrific clip of the Osprey CV-22 making its public debut.
We thought everyone would like to see it, so we're sharing it here as AVweb's "Video of the Week":
Don't forget to send us links to any interesting videos you find out there. If you're impressed by it,
there's a good chance other AVweb readers will be too. (Plus, we like watching videos.)
The Used Aircraft Guide Can Save You Thousands When Purchasing an Aircraft
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Returning to Princeton, N.J., in a Seminole, I was proudly clipping along at 140 knots and can only assume that my deep voice and professional-sounding tone led to us appearing to be more
than we were:
Seminole: "New York approach, Seminole Two Two Eight, 5,000."
Approach: "Seminole Two Two Eight, Morristown altimeter 30.08. Proceed direct Solberg, maintain 5,000. Were you given any speed restrictions? If so, you can resume normal speed.
Seminole: "Direct Solberg, 5,000, Two Two Eight. And we're a Seminole. This is normal speed."
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Power Flow Is Now FAA-Approved for the Diamond DA40
The Power Flow Tuned Exhaust System is now standard equipment on all 2007 Diamond DA40 aircraft. Benefits include: Speed increases of up to 8 knots; 15% more climb; or, go the same speeds and
save up to 1.2 gallons per hour. Starting in October, existing DA40 owners can retrofit their aircraft. For complete details,
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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 Contributing Editor Russ Niles (bio).
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a letter to the editor. (Please let us know if your letter is not intended for publication.)
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