AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 13, Number 25a

June 18, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Top News back to top 

Blakey Turns Up Funding Rhetoric

FAA Administrator Marion Blakey is painting a bleak picture of the future of air travel if her controversial formula to fund the agency isn't adopted. In a speech delivered during the Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO) Day on the Hill late last week, Blakey told members of Congress that air traffic gridlock is on the horizon and the high-tech solution to the problem needs the funding that her user-pay-based proposal would provide. "If we're unable to have a financing reform bill in place by September 30, when the current set of taxes expire, the delays and the missed connections and the headlines are only going to get worse -- much worse," she said. "Without a reliable funding stream, the NextGen program will start to slow down, and when the bow wave of delays hits, it'll be too late." Others, including the Government Accountability Office, have questioned that view. (Click here to listen to the Reason Foundation's Robert Poole on why aviation user fees would be good for airspace users.) Blakey said she believes the recent headlines that say airline delays will increase this summer. She said the Next Generation Air Transportation System is crucial to accommodating growth in air traffic and the funding formula is crucial to the future of NextGen. "You can call it critical mass. You can call it gridlock. But whatever you call it, we all know that the problem is upon us," she said. "If you walk away from today with only one thought, let it be this: there are 109 days until September 30. Let’s get it done."

Air Traffic Controller Talks To Resume?

John Carr, the former president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, says high-level talks are under way to get NATCA and the FAA back to the bargaining table with the aim of hammering out a negotiated settlement. In his blog last week he wrote that a tentative agreement has been reached to return to the table in July to settle outstanding issues. Anything that can’t be resolved will go to binding arbitration, Carr said. NATCA spokesman Doug Church said FAA Administrator Marion Blakey and the new NATCA president Pat Forrey have been discussing a return to the bargaining table since last August, but perhaps to no avail. "Nothing has changed," Church said in an e-mail to AVweb. The FAA did not respond to our request for comment. Carr says the deal was brokered by Rep. Steve LaTourette, D-Ohio, and his sources tell him the FAA is going along with the return to bargaining because it is afraid Congress will directly intervene in the dispute and compromise its ability to autonomously handle its own labor relations. In April 2006, the FAA declared that negotiations were at an impasse and, after 90 days went passed without Congress intervening, it imposed its concept of what was fair on the union. To this day, NATCA refuses to call the deal a contract, opting for the term "imposed work rules." The imposed deal created a lower starting wage for new hires, implemented a dress code, made changes to overtime and banned the playing of radios in facilities. The FAA has insisted its deal is fair, but Carr says the threat of legislative intervention is driving the process, which he predicts will be stacked heavily in favor of the union.

FAA Research Bill Moving Through

While the bills to reauthorize funding for the FAA have grabbed a lot of attention recently because of the attempt by the Bush Administration to impose user fees on general aviation, there’s another FAA money bill making the rounds that may not be as controversial, but it will have some effects on GA. The Federal Aviation Research and Development Reauthorization Act of 2007 was introduced in the House on Thursday and earmarks $1.8 billion within the overall FAA budget to kick-start modernization efforts over the next four years. Rep. Mark Udall, D-Colo., chairman of the House Committee on Science and Technology’s Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, said in a news release that the airspace system must be modernized. “It is simply incapable, as currently designed, of handling large increases in traffic,” he said. “The bill before us takes several important steps to address this issue.” Much of the bill addresses structure and accountability, giving more clout to the Joint Planning and Development Office, an interagency body that has the daunting task of modernizing the system. The bill also makes it a requirement that the various agencies involved commit senior staff to work in the JPDO, and it sets performance standards for the work they do. There are environmental initiatives as well, which trickle down to GA. Tucked in all those six-, seven- and even eight-figure budgets is a $750,000 annual commitment to try and figure out how to make existing piston engines run properly on unleaded gas.

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News Briefs back to top 

Pitot AD In Works For Eclipse 500

The FAA this week is expected to issue the first Airworthiness Directive (AD) for the Eclipse 500 that will temporarily limit all flights in the very light jets to day visual flight rules to ensure flight conditions that do not allow the moisture in the pitot/AOA system to freeze. Eclipse says it has developed a solution to the problem but doesn't expect it to be certified by the FAA until the middle of next month. The fix includes changes to the internal pitot tubing routing to "provide positive drainage to a low point in the system," and Eclipse plans to begin retrofitting the entire fleet immediately after certification via a Service Bulletin. According to Eclipse, the AD limitations are more restrictive than the previous FAA-approved restriction, which required aircraft operations to be temporarily restrained to flights in visual meteorological conditions with an Eclipse company pilot or Eclipse-trained mentor pilot on board. "As always, our primary concern is for the safety of our customers, and the integrity of all Eclipse 500 aircraft," Eclipse President and CEO Vern Raburn said in a letter to customers. "We are working diligently to remove this limitation and resume complete flight operations as fast as physically possible."

Independent Review Of FAA Sought

Kentucky Democratic Rep. Ben Chandler has presented a bill calling for an independent review of the FAA’s progress on safety programs. Chandler suggested that the agency is dragging its heels on safety programs and he wants the National Research Council to find out what the real progress is on things such as runway safety, air traffic control staffing and other safety-related concerns. “We simply cannot afford to wait any longer for the FAA to act,” Chandler told the Lexington Courier-Journal. “The FAA must be held accountable on their promises to bring added safety measures and equipment to airports across the nation.” Chandler said the crash of a Comair regional jet at Lexington Airport last year points to the need for increased scrutiny of the FAA’s commitment to safety programs. “The Comair crash last year made it clear that improved safety measures for air traffic controllers and pilots are desperately needed in airports throughout the United States,” he said.

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News Briefs back to top 

ADS-B Now Operational In Alaska

The FAA declared Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) to be fully operational in Alaska on May 31, and now it's working on the rest of the country. Following "extensive technical analysis," the agency determined that ADS-B is a far more accurate way to keep airplanes from banging into each other. "The evaluation found that over 96 percent of ADS-B data had at least 10 times better accuracy and integrity than the minimum required to support today's separation standards," the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization said Thursday. Of course, Alaska has a leg up on the rest of the country since it's been using government-funded ADS-B systems as part of the Capstone Project aimed at reducing the state's high crash rate. Many Alaska-based aircraft have had the required equipment installed at the government's expense, but this is unlikely to happen elsewhere and the system will likely be mandatory only in high-traffic areas until it's more widely installed by aircraft owners. ADS-B requires onboard equipment that broadcasts the altitude and position of aircraft so they can keep tabs on each other rather than relying on air traffic control and radar. However, all aircraft have to have the ADS-B gear before they can see and be seen using this new technology system.

ADS-B Coming To Colorado Ski Airports

Deployment of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) and Wide Area Multilateration around Yampa Valley and Garfield County Airports in Colorado is expected to make it safer and more convenient for skiers flocking to the area's ski resorts. Sensis Corp., which was awarded the contract to install the systems, says the implementation will also save millions of dollars worth of fuel used in holding patterns and the indirect routing that the topography of the area dictates with ground-based radar systems. According to the release, radar coverage drops at 17,000 feet in the mountains and that means aircraft have to maintain a 30-mile separation, resulting in the holds. With the new gear, Sensis says the aircraft will stay on the radar screens to the ground, permitting a five-mile separation. All 10 airports in the area will be covered by the new system.

Eclipse Aviation Makes Gains In Gainesville

On Friday, Eclipse Aviation officially opened its Southeast Eclipse Service Center at the Gainesville-Alachua County Regional Airport in Florida. The 61,000-sq-ft complex, which is Part 145 compliant and fully operational, is the second Eclipse maintenance center to come online but is the first one outside of the company's headquarters in Albuquerque, N.M. "Today is a great day for Eclipse Aviation, the City of Gainesville and our customers in the Southeast," Eclipse COO Peg Billson noted during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. "The enthusiasm for the Eclipse 500 in this region has been incredible…[and] it is also an honor to be a part of the state of Florida's ongoing efforts to build a progressive aviation infrastructure that generates economic development and business growth for its communities." The new facility includes a 45,000-sq-ft hangar that can hold up to 12 Eclipse 500s at a time, a 10,800-sq-ft maintenance floor and a 5,400-sq-ft customer service area. Currently, there are about 20 employees at the Gainesville facility, though Eclipse plans to have 65 employees there by year-end. Technicians in this facility will be able to perform all Eclipse 500 scheduled and unscheduled maintenance, including work on the Eclipse 500's Pratt & Whitney Canada PW610F engines. Eclipse plans to open additional centers in Albany, N.Y., and Van Nuys, Calif., by year-end, with expansion into other regions planned later on.


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News Briefs back to top 

Cape Air Resumes Schedule

Three days after Hyannis-based Cape Air grounded most of its fleet of Cessna 402 aircraft, the airline was expecting to operate an almost normal schedule this weekend. Now the big question is what is causing crankshaft counterweights to wear out prematurely in the big Continental engines that power the aircraft. According to the Cape Cod Times, there’s been speculation that a directive to pilots to reduce power settings to save fuel might have something to do with it, but the airline says the engines are being operated within limits and that that part of the engine shouldn’t be affected by power settings. "We have parts on an aircraft engine that wore faster than we would have expected," Cape Air CEO Dan Wolf said. "It could mean anything." Although the airline is flying again, work continues to replace the counterweights in the engines of its 49 Cessna 402s. By Friday, 19 aircraft had been completed, and it could take two weeks to finish the job. The abnormal wear caused two engine failures within a few days of each other in late May. Jim Goddard, Cape Air’s vice president of maintenance, said the aircraft are safe and said the airline makes maintenance a high priority. "We spend more money on the safety end of our operation than other people do," Goddard said. The FAA is monitoring the situation, but hasn’t issued any advisories or directives.

Doctors Pressured On Airport Closure

Doctors who work for University of North Carolina's Area Health Education Center (AHEC) say they've been pressured to not oppose the university's plan to close the on-campus airport that allows them quick deployment to far-flung areas of the state. The university wants to close Horace Williams Airport to make way for a new research center, but the doctors say moving the airplanes they use for their medical outreach programs to Raleigh-Durham International will take up valuable time. AOPA paraphrased one doctor as telling a state legislative committee that supporting the airport could negatively affect his career. He was among about a dozen people who spoke at a joint appropriations committee hearing on the airport closure last week. Closing the airport is considered a major step in the university's fulfilling its closure plans, something AOPA has been fighting for two years. "It's clear that this airport is a vital asset to the community, AHEC and the university," said Greg Pecoraro, AOPA vice president of regional affairs. "These doctors aren't in an easy position, yet they are standing up for Horace Williams because it provides them the fastest response time for medical flights."

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News Briefs back to top 

Light Sport Aircraft Type Club Launched

The light sport aircraft (LSA) segment might have reached another milestone in the last few weeks. It appears the first type club (the first we've heard of, anyway) has been formed for owners of Flight Design CT aircraft and is doing all the things that type clubs do, including hosting fly-ins, holding seminars and generally gathering like-minded souls together. Flight Design has sold more than 200 aircraft in the U.S., the most of any LSA manufacturer. The first national CT fly-in was held in May in McMinnville, Ore. There were 13 aircraft flown to the event and other owners, from as far away as New York and Texas, took commercial flights. The fly-in was hosted by Roger Heller, who also looks after the CT owners online discussion group. Tom Pegihny, the U.S. distributor for the high-wing composite aircraft, and Oliver Reinhardt, from the manufacturer's German head office, were on hand, as were technical representatives for companies that supply components. McMinnville is the home of the Evergreen Aviation Museum, which houses the Spruce Goose, and delegates attended a barbecue under the wing of the massive flying boat.

"Unruly Behavior" Feared As Canada Adopts No-Fly List

At least one Canadian airline is concerned that a measure intended to make flying safer could actually spark some security problems in the terminal. A no-fly list of unknown length, but containing a lot of very common names, will be used to screen airline passengers in Canada starting today, and Air Canada’s security chief is concerned about the reactions of customers who will inevitably be unjustly flagged by the measure. Yves Duguay told a Parliamentary commission looking into the 1986 Air India bombing that he’s concerned about "unruly behavior" from passengers who have the same names as the known terror suspects and violent criminals that are included. "The situation could be very tense, and we need to have an authority figure in place to defuse that situation. So we want to make sure that we have a police presence," Canadian Press quoted him as saying. As of today, airlines will cross-check all passengers against the secret list, and those who match will have to be interviewed by a Transport Canada official who will decide if they can board. There is currently no mechanism in place to remove a name from the list, which the Canadian Press says is thought to contain fewer than 1,000 names. Just how the list will be consulted and distributed isn’t clear.

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News In Brief back to top 

On The Fly

DayJet now has five Eclipse 500s in its fleet and expects this number to swell to seven by the end of the week. It plans to launch per-seat, on-demand service in Florida by the end of next month...

Brig. Gen. Robin Olds, considered by many to be one of the best fighter pilots ever to wear a uniform, died Thursday at his home in Steamboat Springs. He was 84. Olds was a triple ace who had a total of 16 victories in World War II and in Vietnam...

A new FBO is scheduled to open at Lexington Blue Grass (Ky.) Airport in October. Air 51 will offer all the usual services, in addition to amenities like Lexus courtesy cars...

The Perlan glider Steve Fossett and Einar Enevoldson used to set a record last year will be on display at EAA AirVenture next month. The glider reached 50,699 feet riding mountain waves over Argentina.

AVweb's Newstips Address ...

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 newstips@avweb.com. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.

AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

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New On AVweb back to top 

The Pilot's Lounge #114: The FSS Mess, Privatization and the Lack of Personal Responsibility

If you haven't had the pleasure of experiencing long hold times, lost flight plans and lack of local knowledge while getting an FSS briefing, you've surely read about it here on AVweb. Is there a danger here?

Click here to read Rick Durden's column.

AVmail: Jun. 18, 2007

Reader mail this week about scarce carbon fiber, AFFS and low-time regional pilots.

Click here to read this week's letters to the editor.

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AVweb Audio News -- Are You Listening back to top 

AVweb Audio News

AVweb posts audio news on Mondays, plus a new in-depth interview each Friday. In last Friday's podcast, you'll hear SATSair's Sheldon Early talk about how his company proved the air-taxi model using Cirrus SR22s. And AVweb's podcast index includes interviews with Epic Aircraft's Rick Schrameck; AOPA's Randy Kenagy; Eclipse Aviation's Vern Raburn; Xwind's Brad Whitsitt; BoGo Light's Mark Bent; 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; AOPA's Andrew Cebula; Hawker Beechcraft's Jim Schuster; and Avfuel's Craig Sincock. In today's podcast, hear Robert Poole of the Reason Foundation explain why aviation user fees would be good for airspace users. Remember: In AVweb's podcasts, you'll hear things you won't find anywhere else.

Attention, LSA Builders & ROTAX 912 Engine Operators
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FBO Of The Week back to top 

FBO Of The Week: Vail Valley Jet Center

Nominate an FBO | Rules | Tips | Questions | Winning FBOs

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Vail Valley Jet Center at KEGE in Gypsum, Colo.

AVweb reader Snorri Snorrason said the FBO is tops in his book.

"Great setup with remarkable pilot accommodations. A lobby that makes your grandma feel comfy, and staff so helpful it feels like a five-star hotel. We had to stay the night for maintenance, which was taken care of promptly as soon as our part came in. We took the courtesy Hummer to town for dinner, and while the FBO closed down we were allowed to use the recliners and TV till the next morning. A brilliant experience with top-notch staff. They are the number-one FBO in my book."

Keep those nominations coming. For complete contest rules, click here.

AVweb is actively seeking out the best FBOs in the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here next Monday!

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Video Of The Week back to top 

Video of the Week: Their War, Our World, Your Videos — The Transforming Boeing 747

Recommend a Video | VOTW Archive

What's summer without a few big-budget, special-effects-heavy, totally-unbelievable blockbuster movies? In the spirit that brings us films like Fantastic Four and Die Hard — and, most especially, Transformers, which opens in two weeks — we think it's time to bring you something totally off-beat and just darn cool. Presenting, from the Japanese film The Returners (and thanks to a tip from AVweb reader Gerald Avella), a transforming 747:

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If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

Betting starts now on how many AVweb readers will ask Boeing staff at AirVenture when the new transforming jet goes into production!

Don't forget to send us links to any interesting videos you find out there. (Try as we might, we can't seem to goof off enough to see all the videos on the Web!) If you're impressed by it, there's a good chance other AVweb readers will be too. And if we use a video you recommend on AVweb, we'll send out an official AVweb baseball cap as a "thank you."

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The Lighter Side Of Flight back to top 

Short Final

Overheard in IFR Magazine's 'On the Air' Section
Overheard in IFR Magazine's "On the Air"

Overheard at DFW:

Dallas/Fort Worth Clearance Delivery: Nine Eight Two Sierra Yankee stand by to copy clearance.

N982SY: Nine Eight Two Sierra Yankee ready to copy.

Clearance Delivery: Nine Eight Two Sierra Yankee is cleared direct Rockport, after departure fly runway heading at or below 2,000 expect 10,000 in 10 minutes, contact Dallas Forth Worth Departure 125.2, squawk 2351.

N9800Y: Nine Eight Two Sierra Yankee fly runway -- hey, if you guys don’t hold still and be quiet, your mother and I will be flying to the Bahamas without you for spring break next week and you’ll be in Dallas with the babysitter. Am I clear?

Clearance Delivery: Oh no. Can I please go too, daddy?

N9880Y: Sure, come on. Guess I forgot to turn loose of the transmit button. Sorry.

Names Behind The News back to top 

Meet 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 Editor Russ Niles (bio) and Editor In Chief Chad Trautvetter.

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 sales team.

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.

Aviate, navigate, communicate.