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Comair Flight 5191 crashed solely because of the negligence and wrongful conduct of Comair and its flight crew according
to a response by the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Airport Board and the airport corporation to a
suit launched by Comair against the airport and the federal government. Comair said the suit is an attempt to spread the liability burden that will result from the Aug. 27 crash, which killed 49 of
the 50 people on board. But the airport board says everything was by the book the morning the Comair flight took off from a general aviation runway that was too short for the Bombardier regional jet.
All the evidence might be moot in the case, however. In some cases, government entities are exempt from this kind of litigation through something called sovereign immunity. Comair lawyers
and some of the lawyers representing victims families claim that Kentucky law is unclear on that point. The airport board also claims that Comair has no business suing anyone, since it is its
insurance company, United States Aviation Underwriters, that will pay all the claims. Comair didn't return AVweb's request for comment over the weekend.
The airport board admits that construction work was underway but it claims that NOTAMs were properly created and distributed and that
signs leading to Runway 22, the main 7,000-foot runway that the flight had been cleared to, met all standards and that configuration of the taxiways and runways at the Airport were safe, open
and obvious to any pilots exercising ordinary care. The airport board further alleges that the Comair crew should have noticed they were on the wrong runway in time to abort the takeoff. The
statement also points out that hundreds of flights, including two airliners that immediately preceded Flight 5191, had no trouble getting to the right runway in the week prior to the accident. The
defense also claims the crew didnt have its full attention on the tasks at hand while taxiing, an allegation that could become clearer when some crucial evidence is released by the FAA and NTSB.
The NTSB hasnt released the cockpit voice and flight data recorder information yet (despite numerous requests by the media) and, while it has confirmed that the lone air traffic controller on
duty that morning cleared the flight to the correct runway, the FAA hasnt released the full exchange between the tower and Flight 5191.
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A panel formed by the FAA to advise on whether the agency should increase the mandatory retirement age of airline
pilots to 65 has essentially thrown the issue back on the FAAs lap. About the only thing the panel, made up of airline, union and pilot organization representatives, could agree on was that the
issue was contentious. The panel, which was struck Sept. 27 by FAA Administrator Marion Blakey, handed its report to the FAA on Friday but the agency hasnt released it. Panel members
are also not saying much but a report by Bloomberg News says six of the 10 panelists voted
against changing the age limit but four of those panelists were from the Air Line Pilots Association, which has long supported the so-called Age 60 rule. "It's basically a tie," Clay Foushee, a
Washington consultant who was vice president of operations at Northwest Airlines, told Bloomberg "It doesn't really help clarify the matter at all. It's a very politically difficult situation for the
administrator." The FAA has been under increasing pressure from some members of Congress and various pilots groups to increase the retirement age from 60 to 65. In a speech last year, Blakey signaled
a change in the FAAs formerly staunch defense of the rule by saying the agency was neutral on the issue. Legislation has been proposed to change the rule.
It's long been alleged by critics of Age 60 that it was imposed in 1960 at the behest of airlines who wanted to lower their labor and
training costs by getting rid of their highest-paid captains (all of whom earned their stripes on piston-powered airliners) to make way for younger pilots who'd already been trained on jets in the
military. Pilots unions remain generally opposed to increasing the age (there are exceptions, like Southwest's pilots' association) because it allows younger pilots to move up the seniority ladder
quicker. However, as the so-called legacy carriers slash salaries and gut their lucrative pension plans, there are signs that sentiment is changing. [more] Some pilots nearing retirement age have seen
their futures drastically changed when their bankrupt airline has been given permission to turn their pension plans over to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, which pays far less than many
pilots could have expected from their pension plans. Those pilots say they need to keep working beyond age 60 to secure their futures.
On Nov. 23, the International Civil Aviation Organization adopted a rule that will allow pilots to continue flying until age 65 as long as
there's someone younger than 60 in the cockpit with them. Just before that rule came into effect, the medical committee of the European Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) revealed it had come to the
conclusion that there was no medical reason to prevent airline pilots from working past age 60. The committee's opinion was discussed at Flight International's Crew Management Conference in Brussels
on Nov. 20. According to Flight International, aviation
medical consultant Dr. Ian Perry reportedly told the conference that the JAA medical committee has agreed that a fit 70-year-old should not be prevented from commanding a commercial air transport
aircraft on medical grounds. Another speaker, Dr. Jarnail Singh, said that in studies of the alertness of crewmembers on ultra-long-haul flights, age wasn't a factor.
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The FAA is proposing changes to the ratings of aircraft technicians under Part 145 by all but eliminating the so-called "class" structure of ratings and replacing it with more comprehensive
and encompassing general ratings. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which has been under construction for about five years, was published last week and appears to fundamentally restructure the
qualifications standards for technicians to reflect modern aircraft construction. For example, the airframe rating has four subclasses (small composite construction, large composite, small all-metal
and large all-metal) but in those ratings, which were drafted in 1962, the term composite refers to aircraft that have a mix of metal, wood and fabric in their construction and not to the modern
definition of carbon fiber and resin. The new rating doesn't make a distinction between the size and construction of aircraft and effectively means that a certificate holder will be qualified to work
on anything from a Piper Cub to a Boeing 787. The FAA said its research showed that the maintenance capabilities didn't vary with the type of construction and that weight is no longer an accurate
measure of the airplane's intended use or its complexity. The new ratings do away with horsepower limitations on reciprocating engines but they continue to distinguish between piston and turbines. The
old "radio" rating would be replaced with a more general "avionics" rating that would allow the certificate holder to work on a variety of communications, navigation and radar gear.
The NPRM also looks at the general operation of repair stations and recommends some changes to ensure best practices and
compliance with regulations. For instance, the new rule proposes to set in stone the requirement that a repair station have "permanent" quarters from which to operate. It won't preclude mobile repair
capability but is designed to ensure that fixed facilities exist where technicians can operate comfortably and safely. The new regs would require a repair station to designate a "chief inspector,"
something many already do. The regs also propose to tighten up the application procedure to weed out bad actors in the industry. New regulations would prohibit anyone who was in a leadership position
at a repair station that had its certificate revoked from simply reapplying under another name. The new rule is intended to prevent incidents such as the case of the chief inspector of a station that
had its certificate pulled who got a new certificate and directed employees in the improper maintenance of propellers. One of those props came apart in flight and caused a fatal crash.
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You can now get the latest general aviation news from AVweb -- the world's premier independent aviation news source -- as it happens at AVweb.com. Or sign up for our news feed and have the most recent headlines pushed directly to your RSS-based news reader. Either way, you'll be
able to read the same concise, but comprehensive, news stories that you've come to expect from AVweb. And for major breaking general aviation news, AVweb will send out news alerts via e-mail to keep
subscribers informed. Dont worry -- you'll also continue to receive AVwebFlash every Monday and Thursday morning.
The Pilot's Lounge #107: Penny Foolish, Pound Stupid How can someone spend a lot of money and even more time restoring an old airplane
to a glorious work of flying art and then not spend the money it takes to make it safe? AVweb's Rick Durden is shaking his head in The Pilot's Lounge...
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Atlanta's Class B airspace changed in October through direct final rule action, and EAA Wednesday publicized its
discontent with the FAA's choice to exclude general aviation from that rulemaking process. According to EAA, exclusion of affected parties disregards the FAA's own guidelines for "input by those who
will be affected by rule changes." The FAA contends that actions were taken to "enhance safety and to prevent significant air traffic delays in the National Airspace System," but EAA made clear its
position that such reasoning in this case is not supported by "valid and legal reasoning" and it fears that such action could be used to set a precedent. In a four-page letter to the FAA, EAA questions the "enhanced safety" benefits noted by the FAA and states that the rule
does not explain how the airspace changes would improve traffic delays. The FAA plans to conduct a review of the Atlanta Class B airspace in 2007. EAA is asking for assurance "that general aviation
will be an active and vital component" in that, and all future airspace reviews.
A town hall meeting held in Teterboro this week to discuss traffic patterns at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey
(the ILS approach takes aircraft directly over Hackensack Hospital) and safety and security concerns was "an outstanding exchange between the members of the community surrounding Teterboro Airport and
the airport operators and tenants," according to National Air Transportation Association (NATA) President James K. Coyne. Residents not attuned to aircraft noise, emissions and traffic were introduced
to new technologies including Required Navigation Performance and the elimination of circle-to-land approaches aimed at improving safety while also addressing quality-of-life issues for groundlings.
Other steps have already been taken to improve airport/community relations. Among those in attendance were local mayors, representatives from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and some 50
others, hosted by the Teterboro Airport Industry Working Group Co-Chairs James K. Coyne and Joseph Fazio, along with long-time airport critic Rep Steven Rothman (D-N.J.), according to a NATA release.
The working group has agreed to comply with a Stage II aircraft ban, a nighttime curfew between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., implementation of a Safety Management System and enhanced
The manager of Barnstable Airport in Hyannis, Mass., says he's looking forward to the results of an audit by FAA officials
last week. "I think it will help us," said Airport Manager Quincy "Doc" Mosby. "I'm positive that we'll do fine." For whatever reason Barnstable, which is served by a handful of regional airlines
flying to Cape Cod and nearby islands, is one of just two airports in the U.S. chosen by the FAA for audit this year, according to the
Yarmouthport Register. A lawsuit launched by one of the airport's tenants, Rectrix Aerodrome Centers, over the alleged improper use of airport funds might have something to do with it, but the FAA
isn't saying. According to the Register, Rectrix claims it was prevented from selling jet fuel at the airport when regulations that would have permitted the sales were concealed by the airport.
Regardless of the rationale, the agency appears to be serious. Two staff from Washington and two from the regional office in Burlington, Vt., spent four days going over the airport's 2005 records and
having a look at land use at the airport. The FAA provides airport improvement funds for the airport and, in turn, the airport agrees to abide by the strings that come attached to that money,
generally to ensure the airport remains open to the public and the money is used for the aviation facilities for which it was intended. "We reserve the right to perform audits whenever we feel it's
necessary," FAA spokesman Jim Peters told the Record.
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The Government Accountability Office wants the NTSB to tighten up its operation on several fronts while doing more
in-depth analysis on transportation safety issues. The GAO recently completed a report on the internal practices of the NTSB
and found, essentially, that it was very busy investigating accidents and had not fully implemented so-called "leading management practices" in seven identified functions. The best definition for that
process we could find is that functions are codified and written down so that all staff (theoretically) follow the same game plan. At any rate, the NTSB says it agrees it needs to pull up its socks in
that area and also that it should do more safety studies when it sees trends developing in accidents. It's done four such studies in the last six years. On the financial side, the GAO says the NTSB's
money-losing training center should either be made more effective or closed. The NTSB operates a standalone training facility, but, according to the GAO, most NTSB staff get their training elsewhere.
Just who uses the NTSB facility isn't clear, but it lost $3.9 million last year. The GAO says the NTSB should either use the facility itself to reduce outside training costs (and thereby reduce the
deficit) or more drastic measures should be considered. "Potential strategies to increase revenues or decrease costs could increase the cost-effectiveness of the training center; however, vacating the
space may be the least-cost strategy," the report said.
Aerobatic performer and competitor Patty Wagstaff was named the first winner of the Greater Miami Aviation Association's Amelia Earhart
Award recognizing outstanding achievement in aviation by women. Another new award, the Neil Armstrong Award for aerospace leaders, went to Peter Diamandis, the CEO of the X Prize Foundation, which
sponsored the competition for privately funded space exploration won by SpaceShipOne in 2005. The awards were handed out as part of the association's Wright Brothers Memorial Awards Gala Evening on
Nov. 17. "We are the oldest aviation association in the U.S., and we are honoring women in aviation for their contribution through the years for the first time," Association President Oscar Garcia
told the Miami Herald. Garcia said the new Neil Armstrong award "is meant to inspire the young." Other awards handed out included the Wright Brothers Memorial Award, which went to Capt. Vito
La Forgia. Enrique Cueto, CEO of LAN Airlines, got the Corporate Achievement Award. Peter Dolara won the Juan Trippe Award for dedication to aviation in Latin America and the Caribbean, while Embraer
chief Mauricio Botelho won the Glen Curtiss Award for contributions to the air transport business.
Inspiration for all those little airports out there looking for industry to help justify the business case for their existence
comes from Three Rivers, Mich. The small community (8,000) has been chosen by the Clifford Development Group and Hov-Aire as the site for facility to install FADEC-controlled Williams FJ44 engines in
Citation II aircraft. The mod, which is expected to be STC'd in 2007, boosts performance and range in the older-model Cessnas. The program was announced at the National Business Aviation Association's
convention in October. The company will be expanding a building at the existing airport industrial park and Three Rivers officials are naturally delighted to host the enterprise. "We are elated to
have them choose our community, after being courted by many others. Our efforts to draw quality employers to our great airport/industrial site is now paying off," stated City Manager Joe Bippus.
Human remains have been recovered from the wreck of a Halifax bomber that was shot down in Poland in 1944. Ground penetrating
radar was used to pinpoint the hulk of the four-engine bomber that was on a secret mission to supply Polish resistance forces. It was brought down by anti-aircraft fire, killing five Canadian and two
British crewmembers. "It turned out that there is only a few tons of scrap, but we also found personal belongings, badges, maps, containers with ammo and cardigan pullovers," Piotr Sliwowski, chief
historian of the Warsaw Rising Museum told CanWest News. "The most
important were, of course, human remnants which gave it another, deeper dimension." The discovery was especially poignant for surviving relatives of the crewmen, some of whom attended a ceremony in
2002 honoring the young men in the plane. After 62 years, the pain of loss is still felt, said Catherine Jolly, of St. Catharines, Ontario, whose brother George Chapman was among those killed. "We
knew so very little about what happened to my brother, and my parents were so badly hurt when nothing could be told, that we never spoke of him," she said. It was originally believed that the bodies
of all on board had been buried in a war cemetery in Krakow. The bones found with the wreck will likely be interred there.
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Spectrum Aeronautical has received Organizational Designated Airworthiness Representative (ODAR) status with the FAA, allowing it to perform in-house airworthiness inspections of the two business jets
it has under development. Spectrum says the responsibility came earlier in the aircraft development process than is usual...
Galvin Flight Services will host the Pacific Northwest debut of the Diamond D-Jet mockup from Dec. 4 to Dec. 8. The full-scale mockup will be on display at Galvin's executive terminal at Boeing
U.S. Customs has set up an inspection center at Santa Maria Airport on California's central coast. The office opened Dec. 1 and regular hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday with call outs
available seven days a week...
An Atlanta man died when the Cirrus SR22 he was flying crashed near Charlotte-Douglas International Airport in North Carolina. George Vrana, 61, was at the controls when the plane crashed. It was
raining at the time but cause of the crash is still under investigation. The airplane was managed by Air Shares Elite, which sells fractions in Cirrus aircraft...
Dr. Jon Jordan, the FAA's former Air Surgeon, is being recognized by his alma mater. The West Virginia University graduate will be presented with WVU's Eberly College of Arts and Sciences Alumni
Recognition Award in a ceremony on Dec. 9. He joined the FAA in 1969 and has held various posts in Washington before retiring earlier this year.
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 email@example.com. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.
AVmail: Dec. 4, 2006
AVmail this week about safer, shorter runways, WAAS upgrades, TCAS troubles in Brazil and much more.
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AVweb posts audio news on Mondays, plus a new in-depth interview each Friday. In Friday's podcast, you'll find an interview with Eclipse Aviation CEO Vern Raburn. Honda v-p Jeffrey Smith, who talked everything HondaJet
with AVweb at Honda Aircraft's open house last Monday. And AVweb's podcast index includes interviews with Honda Aircraft's Jeffrey Smith; Cirrus Design
cofounder and CEO Alan Klapmeier; Cessna chairman, president and CEO Jack Pelton; Spectrum Aeronautical chairman Linden Blue; and Adam Aircraft chairman Rick Adam. In today's news summary, hear about how Lexington Airport denies any liability for the Comair crash, the age-60 commission deadlocked on
extending the retirement age for airline pilots, rules for maintenance facilities and technicians could get more strict, a bomber that crashed some 62 years ago was unearthed and more. Remember: In
AVweb's podcasts, you'll hear things you won't find anywhere else.
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/ .
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AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to TAC Air at KTYS in Knoxville, Tenn.
AVweb reader David Stone said he literally got a warm reception from the facility's staff upon his departure.
"I showed up Wednesday before Thanksgiving with my wife and two sons. TAC Air had crew waiting with a luggage cart and even unloaded the plane. What wins my nomination, though, is TAC Air employees
pulling the plane into a heated hanger Saturday morning after I called to have the plane pulled out front. The plane was covered in frost, and they saved me an hour and did not charge me a dime."
AVweb is actively seeking
out the best FBOs in the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here next Monday!
It's a Small Gift That Gives Big All Year Long
Give a membership gift to the National Aeronautic Association (NAA), our nation's oldest aviation organization. At $39 a year, NAA membership is a terrific value for any
aviation enthusiast! Members receive the Smithsonian's Air & Space and NAA's Aero magazines, plus access to aviation records, product discounts, and much more. Call (703) 527-0226
Following up on last week's theme of challenging landings, we've got an air strip in Courchevel, France that you'll have to see to believe. Not only does the PC-12 pilot in this clip have contend
with mountainous slopes, but he only has 550 m (1,800') to do it.
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. And if we use a video you recommend on AVweb, we'll send out an official AVweb baseball cap as a "thank you."
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Overheard while flying practice approaches at Sioux City, Iowa:
Tower: "Skylane Eight Seven Charlie, cleared for the approach; caution, waterfall in the area."
Short silence, presumably while the Skylane pilot questioned passengers on the transmission.
Skylane: "Eight Seven Charlie, say again?"
Tower: "Skylane Eight Seven Charlie, cleared for the approach; caution, waterfall in the area."
Again, short silence.
Skylane: "Ah, cleared for the approach, but what do you mean by the waterfall caution?"
Tower: "Waterfall, you know: Ducks and geese...Waterfoul."
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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,
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 Editors Russ Niles (bio) and Glenn Pew (bio).
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