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Volume 9, Number 19aMay 5, 2003

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The Top Headlines From AVweb's Expanded, Illustrated News Coverage At AVweb's NewsWire.

A new advisory from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) says that terrorists have tried to use small aircraft for attacks abroad, may attempt to use them in the U.S., and that one explosives-laden small aircraft would have the destructive capacity of "a medium-sized truck bomb." The Transportation Security Administration says intelligence suggests al-Qaida has "a fixation with using explosive-laden small aircraft in attacks," and that security is currently so lax around GA -- especially charter operations -- that such a mission would be relatively easy to complete. But one unnamed staff member at the House Transportation Committee told United Press International (UPI): "There is an unwarranted fixation on the part of some of these security people with small planes" and "... a lot more willingness to restrict the movement of small planes than there is of large trucks." More...

The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) says the advisory's wording shows the DHS' profound lack of understanding of GA and charter operations, calling the verbiage a "breathtakingly reckless portrayal" of charter and GA operations. In a pointed letter to Undersecretary Asa Hutchinson, NATA President James Coyne says the advisory "contains contradictory, misleading and, in our opinion, factually incorrect statements regarding charter and general aviation operations." Coyne noted the DHS' assertion that all a terrorist needs is an "established line of credit" to get hold of an aircraft and the department's apparent belief that some charter operations allow customers to fly the plane themselves. Coyne wasn't alone in frustration. More...

The FBI has enlisted the aid of 18,000 state and local law personnel agencies to watch out for, among other things, airplanes flying too close to nuclear power plants. In this case (again), according to the Associated Press, the FBI doesn't have any specific threat in mind, it just wants to keep the local gumshoes on their toes. The FBI circular followed the release of new security rules by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission aimed at preventing terrorist attacks on nukes. Many of the protective measures are classified. However, just to be helpful, the FBI suggests that any nuclear plant official who thinks an airplane is flying too close should report the tail number to the FAA. The report doesn't elaborate on the practical benefits of such reporting in the case of an attack. Meanwhile, the FAA has cancelled a so-called "permanent TFR" around the home of the Air Force's B-2 bombers. More...

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Look out Lycoming and get ready Continental, Bombardier is apparently pushing its way into your sandbox. Bombardier, which makes Rotax engines for light and ultralight aircraft, has developed a line of engines aimed squarely at the mainstream GA market. A very cryptic statement from the company says the "engines will deliver what pilots and aircraft manufacturers have been demanding for over 30 years." Which, of course, depending on who you ask, could be anything, but might imply a line of mid-horsepower, certificated engines with advanced electronic controls that run on unleaded fuels, weigh less, last long and require little maintenance ... then again, maybe not. Bombardier plans to offer its definition at a formal unveiling July 29 at EAA AirVenture 2003 ... but you may find out sooner. More...

The new engines will be built in Austria and distributed through a newly formed company called Bombardier Aircraft Engine Corporation. It will operate independently of the existing engine business, which will keep right on making its popular line of small engines for ultralights and light aircraft. The company has reassured manufacturers, service outlets and end users that it's business as usual for supply, service and support and that the new engine company will not overlap the Rotax market. More...

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Beleaguered aerospace workers in Wichita got a small break last week, one they might technically not be entitled to, but welcome nonetheless. Thanks to some furious lobbying by one of their congressmen, Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Goddard), the Department of Labor has agreed to apply an unemployment insurance benefit extension for laid-off airline workers to those who have lost their jobs at Wichita's four aviation manufacturers. "It's a done deal," Tiahrt told The Wichita Eagle. The package will give the workers an extra 26 weeks of benefits, even if their claims have already run out. It was part of a $3.1 billion aid package aimed at airlines affected by 9/11 and the war in Iraq and there were fears it wouldn't apply to the Wichita workers. More...

Flying to Alaska can now be the start of an even bigger adventure. The FAA has issued a NOTAM opening a VFR route from Alaska to Russia. Route B-369 takes the venturesome GA pilot from Nome to Provideniya, a 275-nm trip that includes 39 miles over open water. Alaska Region FAA staff have been working on the route for three years and hope it eventually leads to a safe VFR route to Japan. But before you start packing your fur hat, be mindful that the legendary Russian bureaucracy must have its due. More...

Making history can be easier, in some ways, than re-creating it, as three aerospace engineers are finding out in California. Michael Aten, Scot Hazel and Ben Barackman have been pulling their hair out trying to build a replica of the glider the Wrights built before they strapped an engine on the contraption. The glider weighs just 115 pounds but it's taken the engineers six months of evenings and weekends to build. It made its first public appearance at the Wings Over Gillespie air show last weekend and will eventually hang in the San Diego Aerospace Museum. More...

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Remember that post-9/11, war-induced, economy-in-the-toilet downturn the aviation industry is battling? Someone forgot to tell Garmin and the company just kept making money. In fact, while many businesses were trying to keep their other foot out of the grave, the avionics company posted a record 23-percent revenue increase in the first quarter of 2003 (compared to the same period during 2002). Revenue increased to almost $124 million from $101 million and profits increased to $41.5 million from $26.8 million. "Overall demand for our products continues to expand," said CEO Dr. Min Kao. More...

An F-15 pilot broke the rules but didn't violate safety procedures when he rocked the normally quiet town of Geneseo, Ill., with a fly-past on Feb. 13. Maj. Whitney Sieben was subjected to "administrative action" for failing to ask the Oregon Air National Guard if he could use their airplane for an aerial tribute to his dying grandmother. And while Jean Sieben (who died 11 days later) and the rest of the Sieben clan were all ready for the jet display, the rest of the town wasn't. The police received more than 100 calls about the incident, which occurred shortly after the terrorism alert status in the U.S. had been raised to orange and the country was preparing for war in Iraq. More...

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The FAA has made a couple of minor text corrections to an Advanced Notice Of Proposed Rulemaking concerning the application of standard airworthiness certificates.Owners of Schweizer Model 269D helicopters must inspect the aluminum horizontal stabilizer endplates for cracks, fretting and bending after reports of loose endplates and one coming off in flight.Fuel boost pump wiring on Cessna 441s must be repetitively inspected for chafing. It will eventually have to be replaced with a better wiring harness.Leaky fuel selector valves in Extra 300 series aircraft may have caused structural damage in the wings of the aerobatic planes. The FAA has issued an AD NPRM addressing the issue. More...

At least one Wichita aircraft manufacturer expects to do a roaring trade this year. The Ullman Aircraft Co. has successfully flown its Panther kitplane and hopes to have the kits on the market by the end of the year. The Panther is an all-metal, four-place, high-wing aircraft that cruises at 200 knots. After five years of development, the prototype flew March 29 and it's flown twice since. Bill Ullman, his son Brian, and their only employee, Harold Bowser, drew on the experience of other Wichita aerospace colleagues to design the Panther. More...

Peter M. Bowers, who designed the Fly Baby homebuilt, died April 27.The NBAA has chosen five people to receive its First Century of Flight Award.WW. Boisture Jr. resigned as chairman of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.An air race commemorating Glenn Curtiss' will celebrate its first race victory. More...

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While flying between Ft Worth TX and Baton Rouge, LA I had to make a fuel stop as the Yak has only a 31 gallon tank to keep wayward Russian trainees close to home. I chose Many,La for a quick turn around and then on to BTR. After landing in Many, I taxied up to the pump, jumped out and streched my legs. While enjoying the small airport environment on this beautiful day, the silence was broken by the sound of 3 turbine Air Tractors coming in at low level and landing. They taxied smartly up to the parking area close to the fuel pumps and spun around into their parking spots and shut down their engines. All three pilots jumped down from their Air Tractors and started walking toward me.One of the pilots yelled out "Do you speak English?" in his thick Texas accent. All could think to say was "Nhyet". More...

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AVweb's AVscoop Award...

Congratulations and an AVweb hat go out to Scott Higgins, this week's AVscoop winner. Submit news tips via email to Rules and information are at

New Articles and Features on AVweb

Make Me A TAF
You may need a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows. But it doesn't take a TWEB dweeb to decode the forecasters' IFR secrets, as discussed in this article from the February 2003 issue of IFR Magazine.

As the Beacon Turns #63: The Silence of the Lambs
There is lot of passion for flying amongst pilots, but sometimes not enough passion to get out there and stop others from taking away our freedom to fly. AVweb's Michael Maya Charles stirs those passions in this month's column.

Reader feedback on AVweb's news coverage and feature articles:

Reader mail this week includes comments about improper props, perilous GPS and more.

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FLYING MAGAZINE'S JUNE ISSUE REVIEWS PILOT CURRENCY REQUIREMENTS; Cheap Jets Available Now; 10 Tips to Manage Summer Flying Safely; Minimizing Risks of a Midair Collision; plus all the columnists you've come to know and trust. Order your subscription online at

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