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Recent reports raising concerns about the FAA's approval -- or lack of approval -- of many GPS units for instrument flight have raised questions that still are being sorted out. The
Aircraft Electronics Association says the confusion, arising from recently issued FAA Advisory Circular 90-100A, stems from the FAA's deletion of a paragraph in an update of the Aeronautical
Information Manual (AIM). The AEA said in a statement on Wednesday that FAA officials had told
them "this oversight should be corrected in the next 10 days." Alison Duquette, a spokeswoman for the FAA, told AVweb on Wednesday, "The FAA is working with the manufacturing community and AOPA
to resolve the issues. The bottom line is that the previous allowances still apply, so the operators can still fly using whatever GPS system they have." According to the AEA, the basic criteria for
VFR and IFR use of GPS as a supplemental means of navigation as described in the AIM is unchanged. "The Association is disappointed with the Agency's communications on this issue," the AEA said, but
added that it was pleased with the FAA's response to help to clarify the situation, and commended AOPA's Randy Kenegy for bringing the issue to light.
The fatal crash of a Grumman Turbo Mallard on Dec. 19, 2005, was caused by the failure and separation of the right wing, the NTSB said on Wednesday. That failure resulted from "(1) the failure of Chalk's Ocean Airways' maintenance program to identify and
properly repair fatigue cracks in the wing, and (2) the failure of the FAA to detect and correct deficiencies in the company's maintenance program." The airplane had just departed from Miami on a
regularly scheduled passenger flight to Bimini when it crashed into the shipping channel adjacent to the Port of Miami. Two flight crew and 18 passengers were killed, and the airplane was destroyed
by impact forces. "This accident tragically illustrates a gap in the safety net with regard to older airplanes," said NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker. "The signs of structural problems were there, but not
addressed. And to ignore continuing problems is to court disaster."
The Board found that neither the performance nor the appearance of the airplane would have provided a warning to the flight crew
of the right wing's imminent failure. The airplane was operating within its certificated design envelope and carrying normal aerodynamic loads when the wing separated. There was nothing the crew could
have done to regain control of the airplane after the in-flight separation of the wing, the Board said. As a result of the investigation, the Board issued two new safety recommendations calling on the
FAA to verify that airline maintenance programs include stringent criteria to address recurring or systemic problems, if necessary through comprehensive engineering evaluations; and, to modify
procedures for oversight of maintenance programs of carriers like Chalk's to ensure the continued airworthiness of the operator's fleet. The full NTSB report will be available on the Web site at
www.ntsb.gov in several weeks.
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In a letter sent Tuesday to follow up on questions arising from
a March 29 House Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee hearing on NextGen, Government Accountability Office Director of Physical Infrastructure Issues Dr. Gerald Dillingham reiterated that "the current
FAA funding structure can provide sufficient funding for NextGenwith some caveats." He said that the FAA itself has estimated that "if the current taxes remain in effect at their current rates,
revenues will continue to increase." According to projections prepared by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), revenues obtained from the existing FAA funding structure will increase substantially.
"Assuming the General Fund continues to provide about 19 percent of FAA's budget, CBO estimates that through 2016 the Trust Fund can support about $19 billion in additional spending over
the baseline FAA spending levels CBO has calculated for FAA provided that most of the spending occurs after fiscal year 2010," Dillingham noted. He said that how far this money will go to fund
ATC modernization is subject to several uncertainties, including NextGen investment costs, air-traffic volume, future NAS operating costs and future Airport Improvement Program appropriations.
Dillingham is also concerned about whether the FAA and other federal partners have the resources and capability to fill the aeronautical research and development that once was the domain of NASA,
which has all but been eliminated due to budget cuts at the space agency.
Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, vice chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, voted against the Nelson/Sununu
amendment that would have stripped the $25 user fee out of S.1300, the Senates FAA reauthorization bill, but he secured an exemption for many Alaskan aviators. The hotly debated anti-user-fee
amendment, supported by general aviation lobbying groups, was defeated by the committee by Stevens tie-breaking vote. "I am concerned that this legislation as originally drafted places an undue
burden on too many small carriers in rural parts of America, including Alaska," he said in a news
release. Stevens said he voted in favor of the bill even though it contained an aviation user fee, according to KTUU.com, because killing it would have forced discussion of FAA funding to start all over again. "I don't like the user-fee concept, but the way it's been worked out now, it is a
fair thing," Stevens said. Dee Hanson, executive director of the Alaska Airmen's Association, told AVweb on Tuesday that while she appreciates Sen. Stevens' work to exempt rural Alaskan
aviators, she fears the expansion of user fees both in Alaska and in the rest of the country. "Our members also fly in the Lower 48," she said. "An exemption is a temporary fix. We oppose changing
how the FAA is funded over to a user-fee basis, and the known fact is that user fees for IFR services have the potential to erode safety. We will continue to fight this."
The bill now would
specifically exempt all intrastate flights in Alaska from the $25 per-flight surcharge except those flights that both originate and terminate in airspace controlled by a terminal radar approach
control facility. It would also restore funding for Alaska airports and the state's Essential Air Service program, which ensures a minimal level of scheduled service to remote communities. Stevens'
staffers said the bill is far from a done deal, and it will be changed by other committees before it's complete, according to the Alaska Journal of Commerce.
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Cartoon airliners have to wait on the runway while corporate jets zip ahead of them and clog up the airways, causing delays for
travelers, according to ads produced by the Air Transport Association. The ads are being shown on the CNN Airport Network on TVs in passenger terminals around the country. "We pay while they play,"
says a sad airliner in one animated ad, as a pushy corporate jet cuts to the front of the line. Another ad says there are now twice as many corporate jets as commercial ones, and they are being
"subsidized by airline passengers' ticket taxes." (Click here to watch the ads online.) Ed Bolen, president of the National
Business Aviation Association, has written to CNN asking that they refuse to air the ads, since they are "false
and deceptive" and violate CNN's own standards for advertising. Bolen noted that at the nation's 10 busiest airports, general aviation operations account for less than 4 percent of traffic; GA
aircraft are not given priority over airlines; and the FAA has shown that airline delays are due to a multitude of factors, mostly "directly attributable to commercial airline business practices and
problems." Meanwhile, the latest print advertisement from the Alliance for
Aviation Across America, a coalition of general aviation groups, depicts airliners as sharks in a feeding frenzy -- "Washington's eating machines ... Devouring federal tax dollars." The alliance has
also produced a video ad it intends to run on the CNN Airport Network.
Gene Carswell, a former US Airways pilot, has filed suit in federal court in the District of Columbia, claiming that the airline discriminated against him on the basis of age when he was forced to retire at age 60. He also
alleges that US Airways, the Air Line Pilots Association and the AFL-CIO colluded to discriminate against him, and said the unions breached their duty of fair representation. He has published a Web site with updates on the suit, and he invites other US Airways pilots who were forced to retire as a result of the "age-60 rule"
to join the class action. ALPA recently changed its long-term position in regard to the age-60 rule, when the executive board (not the members as erroneously reported in Monday's AVwebFlash) voted to drop their opposition to a change so they could contribute to discussions about changing the rule.
It's expected that the FAA will change the regulations to conform more closely to international rules that now allow one pilot to be up to 65 years old as long as the other pilot is under 60.
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When ADS-B technology was deployed in remote parts of Alaska as part of the Capstone
project, accidents declined by about 40 percent. Now an Alaskan entrepreneur is helping developing aviation systems in China and Africa to leapfrog over the expensive step of installing conventional
radar and use ADS-B instead. "This is the air traffic management system of the future. It's the silver bullet," Robert "Skip" Nelson, CEO of ADS-B
Technologies, told the Alaska Journal of Commerce. "It's cheap and it's easy to install." It costs about $140,000 to install the ground-based transceivers and about $15,000 to equip each aircraft,
compared to $60 million for a radar installation and the manpower to run it, according to the Journal. Nelson said China has installed seven ground units and plans to equip 210 aircraft that will be
used at a Chinese university where 2,500 students are studying to be pilots. He is also working on ADS-B projects in Ethiopia and South America. China has liberalized its flight rules in response to
the deployment of the new technology, according to the Journal.
Pilot fatigue for years has been listed on the NTSB's "Most Wanted List" for aviation safety improvements, and the subject will be explored further in a hearing before the House Subcommittee on Aviation next week. This week, John Prater, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, talked to the Memphis Commercial Appeal about the issues. "[Airline pilots] are flying 15 to 25 percent more hours than they were before the bankruptcy era," he said. But worse are changes in the work
rules that determine time away from home and other details. "The work rules are really safety issues, and now we are seeing the impact," he said. The rules don't take into account the fatigue that
accompanies late-night shifts, he said. Also, more pilots are working extra routes now to make up for pay cuts imposed when airlines went into bankruptcy. "We're seeing a shortage of pilots coming to
the industry," Prater said, "because it no longer provides a lifestyle and benefits." The House subcommittee will review the "Most Wanted" list next Wednesday, June 6, at 10 a.m.
Safety Alert: Do You Know How to Transit through Class B and A TRSA?
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Murphy Aircraft of British Columbia, Canada, will be showing its
new four-seat Murphy Yukon kit aircraft to the public for the first time this July at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis. The Yukon is the original concept design behind two of the company's high-wing
taildraggers -- the Super Rebel and the Moose. "We started this aircraft 10 years ago," said Darryl Murphy. "This is an aircraft that will allow families and friends to leave for weekend fishing or
camping expeditions -- an 'SUV of the skies.'" The all-metal Yukon is similar in size to the four-seat Moose, but by replacing the Moose's radial engine with a standard 180-hp Lycoming O-360 or
equivalent it will burn about half the fuel. It will also be available with either tricycle or tailwheel gear. The aircraft weighs in at 2,550 pounds gross and can carry a payload of 1,150
Paul "Ed" Yost, 87, who designed and flew the first modern hot-air balloon in 1960, died Sunday at his home in Taos, N.M., from natural causes. Yost updated the Montgolfier brothers' concept from the 1700s
with modern technology, designing an onboard propane-burner system and incorporating modern materials to build a durable envelope with maneuvering vents and deflation ports for landing. He was a
co-founder of Raven Industries, which for many years was the leading manufacturer of sport balloons, and also helped to found the Balloon Federation of America. In 1963, Yost piloted the first balloon
flight across the English Channel with crewmember Don Piccard, and in 1976 he attempted to cross the Atlantic Ocean solo. He didn't make it, but he designed and built the Double Eagle II, which made
the first Atlantic crossing two years later. He was the recipient of many awards and set numerous aviation records. Yost was working to have a national monument designated near Rapid City, S.D., at
the Stratobowl, a site in the Black Hills where stratospheric research balloons were launched in the 1930s. The site has been called
the place where the Space Age was born. (Click here for a 2004 NPR interview with Ed Yost at a Stratobowl
balloon launch.) Others in the ballooning community have vowed to continue these efforts and to make Yost's dream a reality.
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to work early and had started the radio recorders. At 5:19 a.m. the pilot reported that he was 7.5 miles from the airport and was inbound on the Runway 31 localizer. No further transmissions were
received from the aircraft.
Look and See?
The airplane crashed 1.25 miles southeast of the Dubuque Airport at approximately 5:22 a.m. The pilot was killed in the crash when the aircraft impacted trees and an embankment on the side of a county
road. Because of the foggy conditions, the airplane was not located until 7:11 a.m. The elevation of the crash site was 1,100 feet.
The airplane struck a stand of trees about 25 feet above the ground and then the road embankment that was located about 166 feet from the initial impact. The heading from the trees to the embankment
was 320 degrees.
One witness reported to local police that he had driven by the scene at 6:40 a.m. and that it was very foggy. He saw debris in the roadway and thought it was from a tree that had fallen down. He
stopped at the next farmhouse and was going to report a tree in the roadway, but there were no lights on and it appeared that no one was home. He continued on his way but when he heard about the
accident on the radio, he returned to make his report.
One of the responding police officers reported that while en route to the scene, "fog conditions were very much present," adding that visibility ranged from 50 to 100 feet at times.
A review of the Localizer Runway 31 approach plate shows an inbound track to the runway of 312 degrees. A pilot is to maintain 3,100 feet until the final approach fix of ZILOM, a locator outer marker.
Once past ZILOM, the pilot may descend to 1,540 feet, which is 478 feet above the touchdown zone elevation (TDZE). An ADF or DME is required for this approach in order to identify ZILOM and with the
glideslope out, it was necessary to time the approach from the final approach fix.
The pilot held an Airline Transport Pilot certificate for multiengine land aircraft and he had a valid first class medical. His employer reported to the NTSB that he had about 15,000 hours total
flying time, 2,000 hours in make and model and that he had logged 88 hours in a Baron in the 90 days preceding the accident. He also had 2,400 hours of night flying and about 800 hours of flight in
actual instrument conditions.
For the official cause, the NTSB could find nothing mechanically wrong with the airplane and eventually determined that the "pilot continued flight into known adverse weather and disregarded the
minimum descent altitude. Additional factors were the conditions conducive to pilot fatigue, fog, and night."
Let's examine what may have happened to cause the Baron to crash so close to the airport. Keep in mind that we don't know what really happened, and the NTSB report doesn't help us with any information
regarding what the pilot may have done differently. Still, the report includes enough food for thought from which we can learn and hopefully prevent a similar accident from occurring again.
The biggest red flag that's immediately obvious is the issue of duty time and fatigue. The pilot reported for work at 2 p.m. on Oct. 22
-- the day prior to the accident -- for his first leg from Festus, Mo., to Dubuque. He departed Festus at 2:30 p.m. and landed at Dubuque at 4:04 p.m. Ten minutes later he departed KDBQ for
Davenport, Iowa, where he arrived at 4:37 p.m. Seven minutes later, he was back in the air on his way to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He landed there at 5:10 p.m.
He was on the ground at Cedar Rapids for an hour and seven minutes. He departed at 6:17 p.m. for Chicago's Midway airport where he arrived at 7:23 p.m. At 7:47 p.m. he departed Midway and landed at
Indianapolis at 8:58 p.m. At 9:45 p.m. he departed Indianapolis for St. Louis, arriving there at 11:04 p.m. In St. Louis, after being on duty for approximately 9 hours, he got a break. He was on the
ground until 2:55 a.m., or nearly four hours.
That would have been enough time to get something to eat, check the weather for the next leg and perhaps catch a nap. But was it enough of a break?
Sometimes a one- or two-hour nap is worse than no sleep at all, especially if it occurs during the hours you normally would be sleeping. Waking up after a couple of hours of rest when you normally
would sleep through the night may leave you more tired than you would have otherwise been.
After the four-hour break, the pilot departed St. Louis for Chicago's DuPage Airport, landing there at 4:05 a.m. Thirty minutes later he was back in the air for the last leg of the trip to Dubuque,
where the accident happened. At the time of the accident, the pilot had logged 8.1 hours of flying since he left Festus the day before.
NTSB investigators looked at the Baron pilot's schedule for the days prior to the accident and found that on Oct. 19 he had a day off, on Oct. 20 he worked 16.1 hours with only 4.3 hours of flight
time, and on Oct. 21 he was off again.
One problem with those who work similar schedules is that even on days off there are family issues and activities that are likely to take place during the day, which scrambles the pilot's sleep
schedule even when he is not working. We don't know enough about the Baron pilot's other activities to know how much rest he got on his days off.
At the time of the accident, the pilot had been on duty for approximately 15.4 hours, so there was a definite fatigue factor in play.
Investigators were able to retrieve the pilot's kneeboard, on which he had written the Dubuque weather, including a 0956Z (4:56 a.m. local) timestamp. The written notes showed the visibility at 1/4
mile with few clouds at 100 feet and on overcast layer at 500 feet.
Had the flight been conducted under Part 135, the pilot would not have been allowed to attempt the approach because the visibility was below minimums. Under Part 91, however, he could fly the approach
and "take a look," so to speak.
The pilot may have felt that the weather was "within reason" when he left KDPA, even if the visibility was low. Perhaps with a few clouds at 100 feet and the 500-foot ceiling, he may have thought he
had a chance to make the landing at DBQ even
though no glideslope was available. But upon arrival and finding that the ceiling was now variable at 100 feet and the visibility was still 1/4 mile, the pilot should have decided there was no point
in flying the approach at all.
The accident occurred because the pilot allowed the aircraft to descend below the 1,540-foot minimum descent altitude (MDA). The touchdown zone elevation for Runway 31 is 1062 feet and the crash site
elevation was 1,100 feet. Did he descend intentionally below MDA or was he so intent on looking out the window for the runway environment that he didn't pay enough attention to the altimeter?
If there was an autopilot on board, did he let it fly the approach? With no glideslope available, that would have required that he manually fly the pitch mode and stop the aircraft's descent at MDA.
Once he set up his rate of descent he may have been looking out the window for the runway environment and because of his fatigued state he didn't check the altimeter and allowed the airplane to fly
into the ground.
It appears that Dubuque was an airport that he flew into often, and perhaps he felt he was familiar enough with the surroundings that he could safely test the minimums. The crash site was in direct
alignment with the runway. Alas, we'll never know the answer to these questions.
Know Your Limits
So, what can we learn from this accident? First, there are no requirements under Part 91 regarding flight or duty time so it is up to each pilot to know what his limits are and to be certain to
operate within them. Those limits may need to be adjusted for events that occur, such as weather unexpectedly going down to IFR limits.
While the effects of fatigue can and do make their impact on a single pilot flying in VFR conditions, flying an instrument approach in poor weather conditions requires a great deal of concentration. A
fatigued pilot may be slow to react to stimuli, or in some cases he may fail to react when required.
When low IFR conditions occur and there is no close-in alternate that is forecast to meet or exceed your personal limitations, stay on the ground until the weather improves. You can't crash an
airplane that is sitting on the ramp outside the FBO while you are waiting for the weather to get better.
Don't be fooled by temporary improvements, either. If the weather shows signs of improving, wait long enough to determine that the improvement will continue and that it is not simply the beginning of
intermittent low conditions that will still have an impact on the approach at the end of the flight.
Above all, don't fly when conditions are ripe for fatigue in the cockpit. If you have had a long working day and are scheduled to go home after the meetings are over, stay overnight if you are not up
to the task at hand. Over the years I've known too many pilots who had the "go no matter what" mentality. Most of them are no longer with us.
More accident analyses are available in AVweb's Probable Cause Index. And for monthly articles about IFR flying including accident reports like this
one, subscribe to AVweb's sister publication, IFR Refresher.
NEW PRODUCTS: MAY 2007
This month AVweb's survey of the latest products and services for pilots, mechanics and aircraft owners brings you a VFR flight bag, Camloc measuring tool, video downloads and much more.
Pilot Journey Isn't Just for Students & Instructors; There's Something for Everyone
You know Pilot Journey's Discovery Flight program converting leads to students. However, all pilots can find something at Pilot Journey: Pilot e-mail accounts, pilot eCards; a
pilot cruise with seminars; AvCareers, where position wanted and positions available are listed; and much more.
is the pilot's choice online.
AVweb posts audio news on Mondays, plus a new in-depth interview each Friday. In last Friday's podcast, you'll hear how pilot Mark Bent
is helping to change the world. And AVweb's podcast index includes interviews with DayJet's Ed Iacobucci; Pogo Jet's Cameron Burr; Teal Group's Richard
Aboulafia; Air Journey's Thierry Pouille; 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; and Avfuel's Craig Sincock. In Monday's podcast, hear about Brad Whitsitt's crosswind training
simulator. Remember: In AVweb's podcasts, you'll hear things you won't find anywhere else.
At the Sun 'n Fun Fly-In a few weeks ago, AVweb's Russ Niles got to left-seat in Herpa's DC-3, courtesy of Incredible
Adventures. Join us for what some would call the experience of a lifetime, as Dan Gryder guides us (carefully) through the flight.
Find Your Next Aircraft on ASO!
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Last week, AVweb asked whether sentences of up to five years
for pointing a laser at an aircraft were reasonable.
Responses were split pretty evenly among both extremes, with 40% of
those who responded saying that yes, this affects aviation (and
airmen's) safety and requires a strict deterrent and another 39% of
you saying first-time offenders should get only probation.
A complete breakdown of the responses can be viewed
here. (You may be asked to register an answer, if you haven't already.)
THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***
This week, AVweb wants to hear a little about your aviation shopping,
specifically how you choose a new headset. Besides price and
features, what is the biggest influence in deciding which aviation
headset you will buy?
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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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." Want to see your photo on AVweb.com?
Click here to submit it to our weekly contest.
*** THIS WEEK'S WINNERS ***
Last week saw a very strong pattern in "POTW"
submissions and you know how we love a pattern! With that in
mind, we strained to find an equally strong theme this week, but we were
forced to concede defeat. (Although there were a lot of
submissions from Texas.) Alas, we'll have to settle for "lots of
good pictures" as this week's theme. We think you'll agree that
Donald Reid's Ponderous Polly
fits that "theme" nicely and kicks off today's visual feast as our
"Picture of the Week."
Jody B. Smyers of Lubbock, Texas
must know we're a sucker for retirement flights. In this case, the
retiring iron is a B727 FedEx has donated to the Lubbock Preston Smith
International Airport for fire and rescue training.
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.