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It appears that FAA Administrator Marion Blakey is backing off on her claim that "one hundred percent of our
major capital programs are on schedule and on budget," a statement she delivered in testimony to the House appropriations subcommittee on March 22. During a speech last Thursday at the Pratt & Whitney
Women's Leadership Forum, Blakey watered this statement down to "90 percent of our major capital projects" being on time and on budget. In her carefully crafted speech last week she also said, "Let me
tell you this: under our proposal, the majority of general aviation will never pay a user fee for air traffic control." The key word here is "majority," which might be a misnomer since AOPA has
discovered that the FAA's proposal would impose user fees for general aviation aircraft flying in Class B airspace. While pilots could fly around this airspace to avoid such fees, it would add
inconvenience and extra flying time, possibly resulting in additional operating expenses that could make the user-fee option more cost-effective.
Meanwhile, Blakey continues to link ATC
modernization with the proposed funding plan, even though the Government Accountability Office has previously debunked this relationship. In testimony before the House aviation subcommittee late last
month, GAO Physical Infrastructure Director Gerald Dillingham said, "The current funding structure has supported FAA as FAA's budget has grown, and it can continue to do so to fund planned
modernization." Despite this Blakey last Thursday maintained that "a stable revenue stream [i.e., user fees] is the only thing that'll fix [the aviation system] and the only thing that will enable us
to make the kind of investments we need to." Perhaps acknowledging the growing opposition in Congress for the FAA's funding overhaul plan, last week she promised to "push hard to reach a compromise."
However, even a compromised bill on FAA reauthorization could include $1 billion in tax increases per year "at a minimum," according to House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Republican
chief of staff Jim Coon.
The Alliance for Aviation Across America announced its arrival on Tuesday morning, launching an effort to expand beyond the
aviation community and include small businesses and rural areas in opposition to the FAA's proposed changes to its funding system. "Community airports that serve small towns are critical to our
security, our mobility during national emergencies, and to our local economies," said Niel Ritchie, president of the League of Rural Voters, at a press conference. "General aviation is a lifeline. The
FAA's proposal would impose severe economic hardship." The new Alliance aims to build support by working to publicize and explain the issues as well as by direct lobbying on Capitol Hill. The group's
Web site outlines the issues and invites readers to write to Congress.
Rol Murrow of the Air Care Alliance said that if expenses
go up, the first thing many pilots will have to cut are their public-service flights. He added that pilots shouldn't have to make safety-of-flight decisions influenced by cost. Like others at the
conference, he emphasized that the FAA's proposal would essentially hand over all power over the air traffic control system to the airlines and the FAA, cutting out GA and Congress. "Any scheme
permitting one class of users to run the system is bound to be unfair to all the others," Murrow said. Ken Meade, former inspector general for the Department of Transportation, added that there is no
justification for the FAA to propose such a drastic change in its funding mechanism. "I think the FAA has it precisely backwards," he said. "Existing funding streams are more than adequate to support
modernization. They should be spending their time defining exactly what this next-generation system is going to be."
If you're heading to Florida for the annual Sun 'n Fun air show starting on Tuesday, the FAA has the flight planning info
you need. The Notice to Airmen, available online, includes detailed arrival and departure procedures for Lakeland Linder Regional
Airport and for Lake Parker, the seaplane destination. Special rules are listed for ultralights, warbirds and instrument flights. Don't leave home without it! Also, don't leave home without bringing a
friend who is new to aviation. Prospective pilots who sign up with a mentor from AOPA Project Pilot will get into the show for free. "What
better way to get a prospective pilot hooked on aviation than taking them to one of the first great air shows of the spring flying season?" said AOPA President Phil Boyer. The newbies will also have a
chance at winning up to $5,000 for flight training from AOPA during the show. The free admission offer is available Tuesday through Friday, April 17 to 20. Limit one free student admission per
current pilot/mentor. And if you can't make it to the show, AVweb will be there with daily reports and podcasts to bring it all to your desktop.
PowerLink FADEC Certified on Liberty XL-2; Is It Right for Your Aircraft? Liberty Aerospace is the first certified piston-powered aircraft with PowerLink FADEC as standard equipment. PowerLink FADEC is now also available for several additional
certified and experimental aircraft, including the A-36 Bonanza and VANS RV series. Find out how you can bring your aircraft into the state-of-the-art
» Visit Teledyne-Continental Motors in booths N-093-102 at Sun 'n Fun
According to Eclipse Aviation President and CEO Vern Raburn, the Eclipse 500 fleet (five customer and five test airplanes) has
been temporarily restricted to only visual meteorological conditions flight operations after a teething problem was found with the very light jet's pitot/static system. In a letter to customers sent Monday night, Raburn outlined the problem: "Eclipse 500 aircraft have experienced three in-flight events in which
pitot pressure was lost on both left and right primary air data sources, resulting in the loss of airspeed indications on the Primary Flight Displays (PFDs). The standby airspeed indication was not
affected, and continued to function properly." Since all aircraft regained the function of both air data systems when at warmer temperatures, Eclipse believes the problem lies in internal
condensation, due to departures from high-humidity environments, collecting and freezing in -- and thus blocking -- the pitot tubing. The start-up manufacturer plans to modify the pitot-heat system to
increase the temperature and work to mitigate moisture collection in the tubing. Raburn didn't say when the fix would be ready, but he did promise an update in two weeks. In an accompanying customer letter, Raburn gave another update on the overall Eclipse 500 program. He noted that the five VLJs delivered to date
was below Eclipse's goal, though he expressed optimism that deliveries will accelerate by the end of June, with seven Eclipse 500s in the FAA inspection pipeline. All's well on the Avio NG front,
Raburn says, and a testbed has begun using "production configuration hardware and software to validate functionality and systems integration." Meanwhile, Raburn said the company will soon have "major
news" to announce regarding a new flight-training vendor.
The FAA hasn't reviewed the duration of aviation medicals since extending the duration of third-class medical certificates from two years
to three years for individuals under age 40 in 1996, and it believes it's time to do so again. On Tuesday, the agency issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would increase the duration of validity
from six months to one year on first-class medical certificates for individuals under age 40 and from 36 months to 60 months on third-class medical certificates for individuals under age 40. However,
there would be no change for the second-class validity standard since the "existing U.S. medical certificate validity standards for commercial pilots under age 40 in a multi-crew setting currently are
the same as" those of the International Civil Aviation Organization. According to the FAA, the changes to the first- and third-class medical renewal periods reflect the "FAA's assessment of the
current, appropriate interval for younger airmen," as well as "decrease routine workflow thereby allowing the FAA to focus on the most safety-critical certification cases and provide more efficient
service to other applicants waiting to be processed." At the same time, the FAA notes that the rulemaking action also provides an "opportunity to make certain minor, but necessary, amendatory
modifications." There appear to be no showstoppers in these "minor" modifications, which would remove a reference to a nonexistent FAR 67.5, delete a specific section to address military flight
surgeons holding the AME designation and change the words "give the examination" to "perform the examination" in FAR 67.405, among other alterations.
Aircraft Spruce at the 33rd Annual Sun 'n Fun Fly-In Aircraft Spruce will be at Sun 'n Fun in Lakeland, Florida for the annual fly-in. Visit their location in Hangar B, booths 4-9 for show specials and vendor demonstrations. Promotions will
apply to a vast selection of products, including Bose, Flightcom, J.P.I., Tempest, LP Aero, Sennheiser, LightSPEED, Rosen Sunvisor, and Unison. No-cost shipping available on show orders (doesn't
apply to oversize or hazardous goods). Call 1-877-4-SPRUCE, or
» Visit Aircraft Spruce & Specialty in booths B-004-009 at Sun 'n Fun
The NTSB said on Tuesday it wants the FAA to modify
the way it schedules air traffic controller work shifts to minimize disrupted sleep patterns and fatigue. The Safety Board said controller fatigue has been an ongoing concern, but the issue was raised
again after last August's fatal crash of a Comair regional jet on takeoff from Lexington (Ky.) Blue Grass Airport. The controller who cleared the Bombardier CRJ-100 for takeoff had worked from 0630 to
1430 the day before the accident, took a two-hour nap in the afternoon, then returned to work from 2330 until the accident occurred at 0607 the next morning. "Such limited sleep can degrade alertness,
vigilance, and judgment," the NTSB said. While the Comair accident remains under investigation and the role of controller fatigue is unresolved, four other recent incidents "provide clear and
compelling evidence" that controllers suffer fatigue due to their work schedules and that fatigue has contributed to errors, the Board said. The solution, says the NTSB, is for the FAA to train
managers about the dangers of fatigue so they can devise better schedules. Also, the NTSB has asked the FAA and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association to work together to ensure schedules
provide rest periods long enough for controllers to obtain sufficient sleep and minimize disrupted sleep patterns. The Safety Board also believes the FAA should require air traffic controllers to be trained in resource management skills that will improve controller judgment, vigilance
and safety awareness. NATCA welcomed the NTSB's report and said, "This initiates a discussion that we must have regarding the overall tired, overworked and understaffed workforce that controls the
nation's air traffic."
For most workers, taking a break to visit the restroom is not a big deal. But if you are an air traffic controller, and you've been
at your post over two and a half hours, and the only other worker on duty is a trainee not qualified to take over for you, well, it could mean that two Southwest 737s will have to fly holding patterns for 18 minutes. That's what happened at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport last Friday, according to
the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA). Before leaving the tower to go to a restroom, the controller called the Boston Tracon and asked them to hold incoming flights, NATCA said. The
controller was scheduled to work alone from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Also, while the controller was away, the trainee answered a call from a pilot of a Lifeguard Flight that was requesting to taxi for
takeoff to Teterboro, NATCA said. The trainee told the pilot he would have to wait 10 minutes for the controller to return. The pilot said he had lungs on board. "Is there anything you can do?" The
trainee said no.
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An update to the Air Defense Identification Zone over Washington, D.C., is due by July, but the details are continuing to be worked
out and that date might be extended, AOPA said on Monday. At a briefing for local pilots held last week, some
FAA officials suggested the final ADIZ could end up smaller than the current one. A circle extending for 30 nautical miles from the VOR at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport was one scenario
discussed, which would exclude four Maryland airports -- including Martin State and Baltimore-Washington International -- from the ADIZ. The circle might include some "notches" to ease access to other
general aviation airports within the zone. Pilots and controllers at the meeting expressed concerns about the radio procedures that would be required to navigate the airspace. However, no decisions
have yet been made. "At this point, we have no official or even unofficial word that this is the final alternative," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "Our staff continues to maintain close contact with
the FAA, Transportation Security Administration, and the Department of Defense, just a few of the many agencies involved in the ADIZ decision making." The FAA is still reviewing more than 22,000
comments to its ADIZ proposal, AOPA said.
The FAA on Monday published its final rule regarding how it will compensate aviation businesses in the Washington, D.C., area that suffered financial losses due to airport closures following 9/11. Congress has
provided up to $17 million for reimbursements, with no more than $5 million to go to the three Maryland airports: College Park, Potomac Airfield and Washington Executive/Hyde Field. Also eligible for
funds are Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) and Washington South Capitol Street Heliport. Signature Flight Support's DCA facility has claimed more than $5 million in losses in the 9/11
aftermath. The procedures take effect on May 9. The businesses can be reimbursed for the difference between the income they could have reasonably expected during the shutdown period and the income
they actually earned. A number of commenters from businesses at Hyde Field asked that they also should be reimbursed for losses when the airport was shut down due to a violation of post-9/11 security
rules. They argued that most of the delay in reopening was due to slow government response, not the violation itself; and in any case they were not responsible for the violation. The FAA, however,
said the closure was caused by the violator, not by the government, and denied reimbursement.
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» Visit Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association (AOPA) in booth SNF-010 at Sun 'n Fun
On a clear morning in July 2004, a Piper Navajo flown by a retired airline pilot who had more than 32,000 hours of logged flight time
hit a forested ridge in Ticonderoga, N.Y. The airplane was torn apart and burned, and the pilot and his passenger both died. The NTSB said in its recently released final report that it cannot find a cause for the crash. No pre-crash mechanical or structural failures could be
documented, and the cause of death for both on board was listed as "undetermined." However, the NTSB notes that in the days before the crash, the passenger, who was under investigation by the FBI on
suspicion of fraud, unsuccessfully tried to obtain millions of dollars in life insurance. He had also been "acting in an increasingly unusual manner," according to an FBI agent quoted in the NTSB
report. "He began to take less care in his personal hygiene and attended work less often. His business appeared to be suffering increasing financial difficulties prior to the crash." The pilot was
president of the air-charter company that operated the Navajo. He had an agreement with the passenger to provide flight service as an alternative to repaying a loan.
NASA has established the National Space-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing Advisory
Board, and AOPA President Phil Boyer has been appointed as a member. "GPS has become a public utility like electricity or water," Boyer said. To help oversee that infrastructure, the board brings
together experts to provide advice on policy, planning, program management and funding. Boyer is the only board member from the general aviation sector. The board had its first meetings last week in
Washington, D.C. "I left with a new understanding of how ... so many industries and consumers across the board now depend upon GPS," Boyer said. "Nearly 90 percent of our members tell us they use GPS when they fly, and many GA pilots are flying
instrument approaches to smaller airports using the enhanced vertical and horizontal guidance from the GPS-WAAS system," said Boyer. He added that GPS is "a silent utility that must be protected,
continue to be government funded and remain freely available without user fees."
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Ballistic Recovery Systems this week logged the 200th and 201st save thanks to its whole-airplane parachute recovery systems. A Cirrus SR22 pilot pulled his BRS chute over New Mexico, marking
the 200th life saved, and a German Ultralight pilot became the 201st such save...
The first RQ-4 Block 20 Global Hawk unmanned aerial system has successfully completed its first flight.
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.
HAVE YOU SIGNED UP yet for AVweb's NO-COST weekly business newsletter, AVwebBiz? 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. Sign up today at http://www.avweb.com/profile/.
AOPA Aircraft Finance Program Lowers Rates
In light of increasing costs to general aviation, the AOPA Aircraft Finance Program has lowered interest rates in several loan segments, making aircraft ownership more affordable. AOPA
Aircraft Financing can expedite an aircraft purchase with an easy application process and quick credit decision. From light sport aircraft to very light jets, or any aircraft in between, make the
AOPA Aircraft Finance Program your choice for financing. Call 1-800-62-PLANE, or
» Visit Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association (AOPA) in booth SNF-010 at Sun 'n Fun
AVweb.com, the worlds best Web site for general aviation news and information, is now even better thanks to a redesigned home page. The
revamped home page has more content, easier navigation, a more user-friendly podcast interface and better graphics to complement AVweb's real-time general aviation news, incisive commentary and
unparalleled feature reporting.
Avidyne TAS600 Because Two Antennas Are Better than One!
Whether you're flying in a busy terminal area, navigating a long cross-country, or hovering over a city, seeing and avoiding traffic requires having the right information in real time.
Avidyne's TAS600 Traffic Advisory Systems, with dual-antenna technology, provide significantly improved signal coverage and target tracking, enabling faster updates and enhanced
performance over single-antenna systems, for maximum safety. Avidyne's TAS600 Series makes active-surveillance traffic alerting affordable.
AVweb posts audio news on Mondays, plus a new in-depth interview each Friday. In last Friday's podcast, you'll find part one of an
interview with AOPA's Andrew Cebula on aviation user fees. And AVweb's podcast index includes interviews with Hawker Beechcraft's Avfuel's Craig Sincock; Comp
Air's Ron Lueck; Expedition Aircraft's Jim Schuster; VistaNav's Jeff Simon; Andrew Hamblin; Eclipse Aviation's Vern Raburn; NBAA's Ed Bolen; 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; and aviation forecaster Richard
Aboulafia. In Monday's special podcast, hear part two of AOPA's Andrew Cebula discussion with AVweb about aviation user fees. Remember: In
AVweb's podcasts, you'll hear things you won't find anywhere else.
If You Live in One of These States, Mike Busch Is Coming to a Town Near You
California, Ohio, Maryland, Massachusetts, Georgia, New Mexico, and Oklahoma are states where Mike Busch will be offering his acclaimed Savvy Owner Seminar. In one information-packed weekend,
you will learn how to have a safer, more reliable aircraft while saving thousands on maintenance costs, year after year. For complete details, and to reserve your space,
Last week, AVweb asked readers what they think of the Eclipse
500, now that five of the VLJs have made their way into the hands of
Readers' opinions were varied, with 36% of you saying it was mostly
hype (no different than any other airplane), with a very
comparable 34% of readers calling it somewhat revolutionary
(based on our answer options).
For the full breakdown of last week's
THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***
The FAA proposed this week to raise the validity of third-class
medical certificates from 36 months to 60 months for airmen under 40
years of age. In your opinion, does this action go far enough?
Have an idea for a new "Question of the Week"? Send your suggestions to
NOTE: This address is
only for suggested "QOTW" questions, and not for "QOTW" answers or comments.
Use this form to send
"QOTW" comments to our AVmail Editor.
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AVweb reader Benjamin Marsh liked the service so much at the FBO that he dreams of going back.
"Dennis and Jean, the owners, offer extremely personable service and genuinely care about their customers. Dennis, a high-time tailwheel pilot, welcomes everyone from cub pilots to jet jockey's at
the FBO. Dillon's does get trainsient traffic; however, most is recreational due to its world-famous fishing and hunting. Yet prices are extremely low unlike other recreational airports. The FBO even
offers a beautiful C172 for rental at only $82/hour wet. Overall, this FBO is a dream come true for any fisherman planning a trip this summer to the Beaverhead, Big Hole, Ruby or Madison Rivers, but
still wants to stick to his budget. I can only dream of a flight back to Dillon."
AVweb is actively seeking
out the best FBOs in the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here next Monday!
IFR, the Magazine for the Accomplished Pilot IFR magazine presents readers with monthly doses of straightforward, irreverent, pull-no-punches articles and advice, and hair-pulling, pencil-breaking, skill-sharpening quizzes
all to add to your confidence and renewed proficiency for today's flying in the complex IFR system.
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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."
*** THIS WEEK'S WINNERS ***
Picture submissions crept back up to more comfortable
territory this week, and with more pictures came a tougher time of
choosing our favorite. As always, we resorted to a top-secret and
very scientific algorithm flashing reader-submitted pictures in front
a select group AVweb editors at 3-millisecond intervals and charting the
increase in electrical impulses across the surface of the skin.
It's a method that never fails, and the photo that made us tingle the
most this week came from Lisa Salazar
of Port St. Lucie, Florida.
We'll be away from the submission box next week, on
assignment at Sun 'n Fun in Lakeland, Florida but that doesn't
mean you should stop hitting that submit button! While
we're out seeing the sights, we'll be counting on AVweb readers
to send us
photos of their airborne antics and fancy flyers.
With Sun 'n Fun just around the corner, there's no better way to kick
off the air show season than with a "Picture of the Week" featuring the
AeroShell Aerobatic Team thanks to Lisa
Salazar of Port St. Lucie, Florida.
Lisa, we'll be dropping one of those coveted (and official!) AVweb
baseball caps into the mail but if you stop by the booth at Sun 'n
Fun, I'm sure we can scare one up to give you in person!
H.B. Wise of Arlington, Texas
snapped this pic at the Texas Rangers' home opener. "What could be
more inspiring than opening day baseball and low-level jet noise?" asks
H.B. to which, frankly, we have no answer.
(Unless you count "weather warm enough for opening day," which
applies in places a bit north of Texas this week.)
Refueling photos never fail to get a woo-whee out of us.
Christopher Starr of Grand Rapids,
Michigan submitted this one on behalf of "a gentleman I work with [who]
took a familiarization flight recently on a KC-135." The 135 in
question was from the 927th Air Refueling Wing, and the F-15 from
Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.
Jerry Malin of Matthews, North
Carolina sent us a couple of shots from Charleston, South Carolina's
perennial tourist destination, the USS Yorktown. Strangely,
we chose the one with the fewest planes ... .
Want more? Visit the "POTW" slideshow on our
home page for more reader-submitted photos!
A quick note for submitters: If you've got several
photos that you feel are "POTW" material, your best bet is to submit
them one-a-week! That gives your photos a greater chance of seeing
print on AVweb, and it makes the selection process a little easier on
us, too. ;)
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,
send us an e-mail.
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 Mary Grady (bio) and Editor In Chief
Click 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 here.
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 here.