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TOLD FAA LACKS ROAD MAP FOR NEXTGEN
The FAA says that the
current national airspace system won't be able to handle the expected
tripling of air traffic by 2025, and there's generally no disagreement
among stakeholders about the need for ATC modernization. But it is how
we get there that is the big problem. In opening statements before a
hearing Wednesday morning on ATC modernization, House Subcommittee on
Aviation Chairman Jerry Costello, D-Ill., brought up the FAA's poor
track record of previous ATC modernization projects and promptly added
that "vigorous congressional oversight" will be needed for NextGen. DOT
Inspector General Calvin Scovel testified that NextGen is a "high-risk effort" that
will "involve billion-dollar investments by both the government and
airspace users." During questioning, he submitted that the FAA and Joint
Planning Development Office (JPDO) need to have a detailed R&D plan
developed before Congress can properly appropriate funding for ATC
TAKES FSS COMPLAINTS TO LOCKHEED
When the FAA handed off the
Flight Service Station system to Lockheed Martin more than a year ago,
AOPA supported the change, expecting to see improved
service. But last week AOPA officials met with Lockheed to complain about long hold times, disconnects and
lost flight plans. "This is not the level of service pilots expect,"
AOPA's Andy Cebula told Lockheed officials at the meeting. "Lockheed and
the FAA must live up to the standards they set." Many of the problems
have been blamed on computer glitches and on temporary staff shortages
as workers are moved and retrained. Lockheed told AOPA that it plans to
work through all these transitions soon, and pilots should see an
overall improvement in quality by July. More...
ADDRESSES GARMIN GNS430W COMPATIBILITY ISSUES
issued a "Mandatory Service Bulletin" (MSB) regarding its
"Release 7 upgrade" due in the third quarter for Entegra primary flight
displays. The MSB responds to some pilots' apparent interim action of
using the displays in combination with Garmin GNS430 units upgraded to
WAAS-capable 430W, though the devices are not presently compatible,
according to the Avidyne. The software incompatibility is specific to
Avidyne's EXP5000 PFD and will be corrected in the Release 7 update due
later this year. Avidyne has not yet announced a specific release or a
specific price for the Release 7 update. Initial testing of the Garmin
GNS430W has shown that EX500 and EX5000 MFD units will eventually
function properly together. More...
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AIRCRAFT RECALLS FURLOUGHED WORKERS
this week started to call back workers who were furloughed in March, the
company said on Monday. "Essentially, we've spent the past six weeks
cleaning house on our production line, upgrading tooling and
implementing a number of lean enterprise practices to enhance
efficiency," said Columbia vice president of manufacturing Chris
Redgrave. The returning employees work in the assembly, upholstery and
subassembly departments. Redgrave said he expects to recall the
remaining laid-off workers soon. Columbia continues to deliver aircraft
at a rate of four per week. More...
FLIGHT IS NOW AIR CHARITY NETWORK
Angel Flight America, a
well-known national network of nonprofit groups that arrange free
flights for people in need, announced this week that it will change its
name to Air
Charity Network. "We are changing our name to better describe the
comprehensive services currently offered through our network as well as
those which may be added in the future," incoming Air Charity Network
Chairperson Christel Gollnick said. The announcement made no reference
to a court decision late last year in which Angel Flight Georgia was granted exclusive use of the name Angel Flight in
the Southeast U.S. Air Charity Network helps people in need get
life-saving specialized medical care. More...
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TOWER EVACUATED DUE TO FUMES
Air traffic controllers at
Washington Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, Va., were
evacuated after smoke and fumes were reported in the tower cab at about
10 a.m. on Wednesday. The controllers were moved to a nearby backup
facility for about three hours while the tower was aired out, and nearby
construction equipment, the source of the fumes, was moved away from the
tower. About five controllers were taken to the hospital to be checked,
according to Kieron Heflin, the facility representative for the National
Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA). "We ran operations out of
our little ramp tower, but we had no computer connections, no radar, no
flight plans. We had radios and yellow legal pads and pencils. It was
like working out of a tent," Heflin told AVweb. He said some
aircraft were delayed, but as far as he knows there were no
cancellations. "The computers that would keep track of all that weren't
available, so I don't really know," he said. More...
AMERICA PILOTS SEEK FEDERAL BENEFITS
Imagine if you worked as
a pilot for an outfit that was actually a secret project of the Central
Intelligence Agency -- shouldn't you be eligible for a federal pension
when it comes time to retire? That's what pilots and others who worked
for Air America during the Vietnam War are claiming. The U.S. government
has acknowledged that Air America was a "wholly owned subsidiary of the CIA," according to the Los Angeles Times, but employees at the time were
told only that they were working on behalf of an unnamed "client."
Pilots for Air America's 200 or so aircraft carried medical supplies and
weapons, and flew other dangerous missions throughout Southeast Asia
during the war. In the famous photograph of refugees climbing to a
rooftop to be evacuated during the fall of Saigon, those helicopters
were flown not by the military but by Air America pilots.
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AIRVENTURE TO CELEBRATE BEECHCRAFT'S 75TH ANNIVERSARY
and operators of aircraft built by Beech Aircraft Corporation and its
descendants have two major milestones to celebrate at EAA AirVenture in
Oshkosh, Wis., this July. Special activities, flights and exhibits will
mark the 75th anniversary of Beechcraft and the 60th anniversary of the
Beechcraft Bonanza. The festivities will include a mass arrival of
scores of Bonanzas on Saturday, July 21. On Sunday evening, pilots and
owners of all Beechcraft models are invited to join all those Bonanza
fliers, along with Hawker Beechcraft's own house band, the "Sons of
Beech," in the North 40 aircraft camping area for a barbecue and
celebration. "There is no better place to honor Beechcraft's
contributions than at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, where the whole world of
aviation gathers each year to celebrate the passion, devotion, and
ingenuity that the love of flight inspires," said Tom Poberezny, EAA
president and AirVenture chairman. More...
FAA TEAM UP FOR "SMART SKIES"
NASA and the FAA on Wednesday
agreed to work together on an education project that aims to foster the
development of students' skills in science, technology, engineering and
math. Their first undertaking is a NASA curriculum called "Smart Skies," an
online air traffic control simulator for grades 5 through 9. It
introduces students to the concepts of controlling air traffic while
teaching them skills in math and problem-solving. The effort will
contribute to the development of a diverse, qualified aviation and space
workforce for the future, according to NASA. Air traffic controllers at
FAA's Oakland, Calif., facility helped to develop the program.
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CRASH DUE TO KITE STRING?
A Philippines air force UH-1H Huey
was carrying four people over the central island of Cebu when it crashed
April 28 on a public street with nylon kite string entangled below its
main rotor. Seven people on the ground were killed, as were two of the
helicopter's crew. Lieutenant General Horacio Tolentino said a captain
aboard the helicopter told him the aircraft was flying perfectly just
before landing, and "there was no problem with the engine ... [the kite
string] caused the stoppage of the rotor," he told ABC news. Though
terrorists have used kites as anti-helicopter tactical weapons in the
past, and kite flying is banned in the area, the general said last week
that in this instance no blame was being assigned as no malice was
HAZARDS IN THE SKY?
If the thought of kite strings and blimp tethers sharing your airspace gives you the
jitters, just imagine if this project comes true -- the deployment of
massive wind generators in the jet stream, with cables stretching
thousands of feet to the surface. The generators would take advantage of
the high speeds of winds aloft to create electricity. Just a tiny
fraction of the power available there could provide all of the world's
energy needs, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Bob Thresher, of the U.S.
Department of Energy, told the Chronicle that the biggest obstacles may
not be technical, but financial. "There's a tremendous advantage in
going up [toward the jet stream] because there's much more energetic
winds," he said. However, "you have to be able do it very cheaply
because the cost of [ground-based] wind energy has come down so
dramatically, it's becoming competitive with conventional sources."
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Senators Daniel Inouye and Ted Stevens have signed on
to alternative FAA reauthorization bill...
CAFs upgraded B-24
will be unveiled Saturday morning in Midland, Texas...
An AA-5B pilot
was "wrestling" with a passenger when they crashed, NTSB
National Institute for Aviation Research opened a new lab in
AeroPalm now has terrain and conflict information...
pilots have completed Eclipse 500 type training, 26 more in
Quest Aircraft hired Steve Zaat as director of
customer service. More...
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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 hear an interview with Air Journey's Thierry
Pouille. And AVweb's podcast
index includes interviews with Epic Aircraft's Rick Schrameck;
Cessna's Jack Pelton; Embraer's Ernest Edwards; LAMA's Dan Johnson;
Piper's Jim Bass; DayJet's Ed Iacobucci; AOPA's Andrew Cebula; Hawker
Beechcraft's Jim Schuster; Avfuel's Craig Sincock; Comp Air's Ron Lueck;
and VistaNav's Jeff Simon. In Monday's special
podcast, hear Kay Crites of the Commemorative Air Force. Remember:
In AVweb's podcasts, you'll hear things you won't find anywhere else.
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OF THE WEEK: AIRVENTURE 2007 R.S.V.P.S, PLEASE
seemed to be down this year at Sun 'n Fun, so we'd like to know about
your plans for EAA AirVenture. Are you planning on attending the annual
air festival in Oshkosh in July? Tell us. Plus: Find out what
AVweb readers had to say about the quality of AFSS
post-consolidation, in the results report from last week's poll.
OF THE WEEK: ST. THOMAS MUNICIPAL AIRPORT
AVweb's "FBO of
the Week" ribbon goes to St. Thomas Municipal Airport at CYQS in St.
Thomas, Ontario, Canada.
AVweb reader C. Moon says he
visited the FBO twice and was impressed both times.
St. Thomas, Ontario, twice, and both times I've received first-class
service -- in one case beyond expectation. The first time the starter
gear on my Cardinal sheared, grounding my copilot and I late on a Sunday
afternoon. The airport was deserted, save for the manager. Rather than
have me call my wife to make a 100-mile pickup journey, he pulled a 172
out of the hangar and had us on the way immediately. No fuss, no
paperwork, no check ride. And no 100-mile car ride back with a
less-than-pleased spouse. Last Sunday I paid a return visit. The crew
car was made available to my wife and I for the entire afternoon to tour
the area. No charge and no paperwork, just a friendly greeting and hand
over of the keys. We will return again. This airport operates as a model
of how one dreams what personal flying can be."
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!
OF THE WEEK: AVWEB'S FLYING PHOTOGRAPHY SHOWCASE
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." The volume of "POTW"
submissions that arrive in our box each week continues to fluctuate as
the weather warms up here in the U.S. but, by happy coincidence,
every time the number of photos drops off, the quality
goes through the roof. This week was no exception, with only 54 photos
finding their way to us. Thankfully, there's no shortage of oohs
and ahs in this week's batch, starting with a fantastic (if
unsettling) weather photo from Philip
Clifton of Raleigh, North Carolina. (Do yourself a favor and
click through to view Philip's photo full-size there was just too
much majesty to fit into our tiny little "winner" box here.)
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 Editor In Chief Chad
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
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