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FEES WOULD GENERATE LESS INCOME
The FAA's proposed
reauthorization legislation, the Next Generation Air Transportation System Financing
Reform Act of 2007, revealed Wednesday, claims a new financing
structure is necessary for the FAA to build an efficient and safe air
transportation system for the future. Airlines and air travelers would
pay less, but operators of business and general aviation aircraft would
pay more. "Our proposal will make it easier for airports, airlines and
controllers to keep pace with the skyrocketing demand for air travel,"
said FAA Administrator Marion Blakey, in a news release. "With over a billion passengers
expected in the air by 2015, we have to act now or risk gridlock in our
skies and on our taxiways." Yet the plan shows that under the proposed
change to user fees, total revenue for the agency would actually
decline. The FAA's data shows that the new proposal would yield $600
million less in FY2008 than the current tax structure and over $900
million less from FY2009 to FY2012, according to Rep. Jerry Costello,
D-Ill., chairman of the House Subcommittee on Aviation.
FINDS FAA USER-FEE PLAN "DISTURBING"
long-anticipated new funding plan, revealed Wednesday morning, calls for
a changeover to user fees, as expected -- but the agency ran into
immediate and widespread opposition at a hearing later in the afternoon before the House
Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Rep. Vernon Ehlers,
R-Mich., called the proposal "dead on arrival." Many on the panel
questioned whether the plan would promote safer skies. Rep. Sam Graves,
R-Mo., maintained that it would, ironically, because it would "rid the
skies of general aviation aircraft." Along with others on the panel, he
questioned the need for drastic hikes in the fuel tax -- from 19 or 21
cents per gallon to 70 cents -- and called the plan "terribly
disturbing." Questions were raised about why the change to user fees
would apparently result in even less money to support the airspace
system, which already is strained and in need of technological upgrades.
NBAA RESPOND TO FAA PLAN
AOPA President Phil Boyer said he was "very
encouraged" by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's
reactions to the FAA's proposed reauthorization blueprint. The hearing
featured "a lot of blunt, outspoken dialogue," he said, and he expects
all 535 members of Congress will closely scrutinize the FAA plan, and
consider its effect on their constituents. The general public may have
only a vague idea of what GA is, Boyer said, but "the members of
Congress get it -- they understand GA." And AOPA plans to talk to all of
them, one by one. Ed Bolen, president of the National Business Aviation
Association, said it's too early, though, to tell the "overall
reaction" of Congress to FAA Administrator Marion Blakey's proposal.
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OF GA AIRPLANES SOAR
On Monday, the General Aviation
Manufacturers Association (GAMA) unveiled its
2006 summary of shipments and billings in Washington, D.C., and
there was good news all around. GA airplane shipments were up across all
types to reach 4,042 units, or 12.9 percent more than in 2005, with
billings up 24.1 percent to a record of just under $18.793 billion. A
record 28.3 percent of shipments landed outside of North America. Though
piston aircraft sales jumped 11.6 percent higher than in 2005 and
turboprop shipments spun up 11.5 percent, the strongest growth came from
the 885 business jets delivered, driven partly by modest fractional
growth but largely due to corporate operators who shunned airline
security delays and sought door-to-door routing to fill out their fleet
to 25,383 aircraft. Interestingly, more aircraft are flying less time
overall -- GAMA estimated that flight hours are down 30 percent since
their highs of the early 1980s, possibly from ever faster aircraft and
more efficient routings. More...
BUNCE: GREAT YEAR AHEAD FOR AVIATION
Manufacturers Association (GAMA) President Pete Bunce emphasized that
nearly 30 percent of GA shipments are now exports, and the appetite for
aircraft in China, India and Russia will continue to drive revenue. In
the meantime, GAMA expects North American air carriers to continue to
lose business in small communities in favor of GA, and more corporate
operators will seize ongoing advantages in safety, performance,
productivity and cost efficiencies. This week, however, the FAA will
reveal its complete plan for agency reauthorization and its associated
user-fee proposal, and Bunce cautioned that these strong indicators for
growth could evaporate if user fees remain a central part, bringing
"long-term damage." Bunce has directed GAMA to fight the call by the
airlines for user fees based on an aircraft's time in the air traffic
control system rather than on its size or its number of departures. "Do
we really want to create an IRS within the FAA to collect those fees?"
he posed, saying that fuel taxes are a more efficient way to pay. Bunce
argued that an FAA budget based on user fees is inherently unstable
compared with a regular contribution by the general fund of the
treasury, since operations vary with world security, economy and
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TO FAA: LET'S NEGOTIATE
Pat Forrey, who took over as the
National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) president last
fall, on Tuesday called for the FAA to return to the bargaining table
and work with the controllers to address problems with staffing, hiring
and work rules that the union claims threaten air safety. "We're losing
controllers at a rate of three per day," he said. "We now have 1,100
fewer controllers than we did in 2003." Further, he noted that more
controllers are reaching 20 or 25 years of service, enabling them to
retire, and at the same time they are finding fewer and fewer incentives
to stay. Under the FAA's imposed "jailhouse work rules," they won't get
any raises, Forrey said, and they are being poorly treated. Issues such
as having to take vacation time to go out for a cup of coffee, being
unable to get time off for family events and vacations, too much
overtime and changes in training procedures have all added stress to the
job, he maintained. Forrey has been working hard in the halls of
Congress to build support for new contract negotiations.
RESPONDS TO NATCA
"We don't believe we have imposed
'jailhouse' work rules," FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown told AVweb
on Tuesday. She also disagreed with NATCA's claims of "inadequate
staffing" at facilities around the country. "The 'authorized' number
they quote is from a 1998 contract," Brown said. The FAA is working on a
new set of numbers to determine appropriate ATC staffing levels based on
statistical models, she said, and will release those numbers in March.
She added that under the old NATCA contract, the FAA was not able to
respond quickly enough to changes in traffic. Events such as the entry
or exit of airlines at specific airports can drastically affect traffic
very quickly. "Now we can be more flexible" to respond to such changes,
she said. More...
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TO BE LEFT OUT IN COLD
"Doc" -- the B-29 Super-Fortress that
sat in the desert of Mojave for 42 years, was used for missile target
practice (but never hit) and has now nearly been rebuilt and restored
from the ground up by a team of devoted volunteers -- will face new
adversity when it is pushed out of its current home, unfinished and into
the winter elements of Wichita, Kan., by week's end. "Boeing has been
great, but they need the facility," project spokesman John Shark told
AVweb Monday. The Wichita forecast calls for sleet, turning later
to snow this week -- not the warmest greeting for a 60-percent restored
aircraft if it is, as expected, rolled onto the open-air facility of the
Kansas Aviation Museum on Friday. "This is the last B-29 in the world
that can be saved and restored to flight," Shark said, which makes it
living competition, in both attention and charity, with the only other
(sometimes) flying B-29, Fifi. Like Fifi, Doc's primary obstacle is
money, but unlike Fifi, Doc doesn't have the recent flight experience to
inspire donations. What it does have is new parts, though. " We're going
to have a brand-new aircraft," said project manager Cliff Gaston, "It
wasn't patched or repaired; it was done new." But for the dream to
survive it will need new help, and soon, and two funds are now open to
the public. More...
GERMAN AIRPORT MUST CLOSE
Despite efforts from business
owners who wanted to keep Germany's historic Tempelhof Airport open, a
court in Berlin this week said it must close by Oct. 31, 2008. The
airport was the scene of the post-World War II Berlin Airlift, and it
was popular with travelers because of its convenient location near the
city center. The court said the closing won't infringe on the rights of
the airport's FBOs and caterers because they have plenty of time to move
to a new airport, Bloomberg News reported on Monday. The court's
decision allows no appeal. More...
-- THE DARK SIDE OF A LEGENDARY AIRCRAFT
When a lovingly
crafted Messerschmitt Me 262 replica built in the U.S. was
shipped to Germany to fly in an air show last summer, the event stirred
up memories -- and they weren't all positive ones. The airplane itself might be an engineering marvel and a
joy to fly, but an Austrian journalist, writing for the Jerusalem Post,
recalls its dark human history. "Almost all the Me 262s that actually
went into service with the Luftwaffe were built in one of the most
horrendous concentration camps of the Nazi regime," writes Anshel Pfeffer. "The fact that an unknown
number of slave laborers, estimated at between 35,000 and 50,000, were
murdered or died of malnutrition, disease, freezing and work accidents
while building the Me 262 ... goes unmentioned," he says.
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BIZ EXPANDS WITHOUT VLJS
Linear Air, an air-taxi company
based at Hanscom Field, just outside Boston, Mass., is expanding into
the Caribbean, and moving forward with its plans to be among the leaders
in the very light jet (VLJ) air-taxi market...although so far, it has
been operating without any VLJs. While waiting for its first Eclipse
jet, now expected in April, the company has been flying Cessna Grand
Caravans with luxury interiors. This week, the company announced it has
been certified by the French government to offer charter service to the
French West Indies, including the island of St. Bart's. The company also
has attracted new investors with $2.5 million in funding, for a total of
$6 million to fuel its VLJ plans. More...
ISSUES UAV POLICY
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are rapidly
being developed and deployed, and the FAA on Tuesday published a UAV policy to outline how these aircraft can be
used in the National Airspace System. The rules vary depending if the
UAV is operated as a public aircraft (operated by the government), a
civil aircraft or a model. Public aircraft operate under individual
Certificates of Waiver or Authorization (COAs), which are issued after
an FAA review of the program and its safety protocols. More than 50 COAs
have been granted in the last two years, and a record number are
expected for 2007. Civil aircraft must operate under experimental
airworthiness certificates. Guidelines for operation of model aircraft
are found in FAA Advisory Circular 91-57. Such aircraft may only
be used for sport, and not for commercial or business purposes, the FAA
notes. More policy statements can be expected as the technology and its
applications continue to develop. More...
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A Bonanza broke up above Savannah, Ga., on Friday,
ATI is offering Rotax classes for aircraft owners at
Sun 'n Fun...
CubCrafters received an FAA production certificate on
Two Iowa men face charges for harassing deer with an
Russell Chew, who's leaving the FAA, will be VP at
Hawaiian Air Lines...
Aspen Avionics has a new president and
JA Air Center will build a new FBO facility at KARR, near
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AVweb posts audio news on Mondays, plus a new
in-depth interview each Friday. In last Friday's
podcast, you'll find an interview with NBAA's Ed Bolen. And AVweb's
podcast index includes
interviews with Open Air's Michael Klein; Air Excursions' Cable Wells;
Stephen Brown; NATCA's Paul Rinaldi; AOPA's Kathleen Vascouselos; Maule
Air's Mikel Boorom; Professsional Aviation Maintenance Association
president Brian Finnegan; aviation forecaster Richard Aboulafia; NORAD;
Bill Lear, Jr.; NATA President Jim Coyne. In Monday's news
summary, hear about the new air-tour rule, Honda setting up shop in
North Carolina, the fight over bankrupt Symphony Aircraft's intellectual
property, ATC staffing levels and more. Remember: In AVweb's podcasts,
you'll hear things you won't find anywhere else.
Brought to you by Bose Corporation. More...
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 event:
Post it online!
OF THE WEEK: ST. CHARLES FLYING
AVweb's "FBO of the Week"
ribbon goes to St. Charles Flying Service at K3SQ in St.
AVweb reader Nick Ruemker said the FBO helps
to make flying fun again.
"St. Charles Flying service is by far my
favorite FBO I have experienced. The staff is always striving to go
above and beyond to help anyone learn to fly and enjoy flying. It is a
small business made of people who enjoy flying and the atmosphere that
it brings to a small airport. This FBO is a great place to hang out and
do some hangar flying or to just walk in and see who wants to go flying.
Their prices are the lowest I have ever seen after flying in the
Seattle, Denver/Colorado Springs and St. Louis areas. I would absolutely
recommend this FBO to anyone who wants to enjoy the process of learning
to fly and enjoy flying afterwards."
Keep those nominations
coming. For complete contest rules, click here.
actively seeking out the best FBOs in the country and another one,
submitted by you, will be spotlighted here next Monday!
Answering 14 Questions Can Help AVweb
Serve YOU Better!
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an online survey with only 14 quick questions. The answers to these
questions will help AVweb
better serve our subscribers' needs and
interests. You will not be added to any list or sent unwanted e-mails.
Please click here to take the
OF THE WEEK
Each week, we go through dozens (and
sometimes hundreds) of reader-submitted photos and pick the very best to
share with you on Thursday mornings. The top photos are featured on
AVweb's home page, and one photo that stands above the others is awarded
an AVweb baseball cap as our "Picture of the Week."
As much as
we love action, adventure, and a cool airplane shape, nothing beats the
perfect balance of color and atmosphere a balance that drove this
photo from Cary, North Carolina's Stephen
Foster to the top of the stack this week. As this week's
"POTW" winner, Stephen will receive a handy (and not-too-bad-looking)
AVweb baseball cap in the mail. Plus, his photo will be seen by everyone
who wanders past the office this week, since we've made it our new
desktop wallpaper. More...
THE AVWEBFLASH TEAM
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 Mary
and Glenn Pew (bio)
and Special Correspondent Roger A.
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
Have a product or service to advertise
on AVweb? A question on marketing? Send it to AVweb's
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
Aviate, navigate, communicate.