AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 13, Number 26a

June 25, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Aviation Law in Action — In Brazil back to top 

Pilots Unlikely to Attend Brazil Hearings

The lawyer for two Long Island pilots accused of criminal charges in connection with a midair collision between their Embraer Legacy 600 business jet and a Gol Airlines Boeing 737-800 last September has told Newsday his clients will likely not return to Brazil to testify. Joel Weiss said Brazilian law allows ExcelAire pilots Jan Paladino and Joe Lepore to testify from their "home state" and they're willing to supply written, recorded or live video testimony. "We would like to tell our story," Weiss said. "We're willing to participate in accord with normal Brazilian procedures, which allows testimony to be given in the home state of the accused. But anything else amounts to an end run around the guarantees and protections of our extradition treaty with Brazil." The judge in the case has set Aug. 27 for the pilots' testimony and Aug. 28 to hear from four air traffic controllers also indicted in the collision, which resulted in the deaths of all 154 people aboard the Gol Boeing 737.

The judge has said he wants Paladino and Lepore in his courtroom, but he has not yet subpoenaed them. Weiss said that if a subpoena is issued, he would challenge it in Brazil's higher courts on the grounds that Brazilian law allows testifying in absentia for these kinds of charges. The pilots have been charged with what amounts to negligence for allegedly contributing to the cause of the crash by not noticing their aircraft's transponder wasn't working. If convicted, they could be jailed up to three years. Three of the four controllers face similar jail terms, but another has been charged with intentionally exposing the aircraft to danger and he could be put away for 34 years.

Brazilian Air Traffic Controllers Face Arrest

The president and vice president of the union representing air traffic controllers in Brazil are facing arrest after controllers staged a four-day work slowdown that caused numerous flight delays and sparked violence at some terminals last week. President Carlos Trifilio and Vice President Moises Gomes de Almeida will likely be arrested next week on charges of violating Brazil's military code of conduct by publicly criticizing the system in which they work. Both are military officers, as are most Brazilian controllers. Controllers want more pay, better equipment and a lighter workload (sound familiar?) and the slowdown was the second instance of job action by the controllers, who staged a brief strike in April on a holiday weekend.

By Friday, grumpy passengers, many of whom slept on overcrowded airport floors, had stormed airline check-in desks and scuffled with employees. Brazil's Finance Minister, Guido Mantega, made everything worse on Thursday by suggesting the air traffic control problems were a symbol of the country's growing prosperity, a notion denounced by the Brazilian media. The air force is looking at ways to fix the ATC problems, but nothing has been done so far.

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Controllers and the FAA back to top 

FAA Offers Recruiting Bonus for Experienced Controllers

The FAA is offering experienced air traffic controllers (military or civilian) a $20,000 signing bonus if they'll come back to the console for as little as two years. In an announcement on its own recruiting site and on the federal government's Office of Personnel Management site, the FAA is offering the carrot in what appears to be an attempt to get traffic-ready controllers in position to quell an increasing shortage of veterans. The ad specifies that only those who have worked as fully certified controllers for 52 consecutive weeks in the past two years will qualify for the bonus and that they will undergo training to bring them fully up to speed for the areas they'll work.

FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said the incentive is mainly aimed at attracting military controllers, and she said the competition is intense. The military is offering retention bonuses for its experienced controllers, and the private company that is training new recruits for the FAA is also looking for veterans. "This [the bonus] is just a way of remaining competitive," Brown told AVweb. In the meantime, she said, there is no shortage of raw recruits for entry-level positions and thousands have applied for the trainee jobs offered in a nationwide recruiting program.

The announcement appeared as the National Air Traffic Controllers Association released figures it says represent a massive increase in overtime payments at the Atlanta terminal radar approach control center (TRACON). According to NATCA, the FAA paid about $865,000 in overtime at Atlanta between October and March, seven times the amount spent in the same period last year. The union says the overtime has increased because the number of qualified controllers has slipped to critical levels. It quoted its representative, Jim Allerdice, as saying controllers are working exhausting schedules under difficult conditions compounded by severe weather. "We were already working six-day weeks and 10-hour days and then you throw the thunderstorms on top of that and you end up with extremely stressful and heavy, complex traffic periods," Allerdice said. "Having to do that for extended periods of time wears on you."

Controllers' Dispute Delays FAA Funding Bill

The Washington Post says Democrats' attempts to turn back the clock on the FAA's relationship with its air traffic controllers are behind the delay in getting the controversial FAA reauthorization bill introduced in the House of Representatives. The bill was expected to be in the House by late last week, but is now anticipated for introduction sometime in the coming week.

According to the Post, Democratic members of the House Transportation bill are trying to include language that would roll back the imposed deal on the controllers and force the administration to return to contract bargaining. As AVweb reported last week, FAA Administrator Marion Blakey has now confirmed that discussions are going on between the FAA and the union to try and resolve outstanding issues that would allow the bill to proceed. "It's one of those things that is a side discussion," she told the Post. "It's unfortunate it is coming into play on the reauthorization bill."

The package was imposed on the union last September after the FAA declared an impasse in contract negotiations. In addition to a two-tiered wage system, the deal included work rules that have rankled some union members. The Post's sources have said that the president will veto any bill that includes a return to contract negotiations. The current discussions center on more than 200,000 grievances filed by union members. "When you are talking about very significant amounts of money, that makes this a complicated challenge," Blakey told the Post. FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown told AVweb that the talks are continuing.

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News Briefs back to top 

Bidding War for Piper Heats Up

Indian River County and the city of Vero Beach, Fla., have upped the ante to keep Piper Aircraft in Vero Beach and that presumably has kept the company's current home town in the running for an increasingly high-stakes competition for the storied planemaker. According to TCPalm.com The civic governments have approved a package that includes the purchase of the existing factory for $23 million and construction of a new facility for manufacturing the PiperJet at a cost of $17 million, which would be leased back to Piper rent-free for eight years. The state is also chipping in $20 million.

In the ninth year of the lease, Piper would pay $2.5 million in rent and in year 10 it would go up to $3.4 million, after which increases would be based on the consumer price index. Piper announced last week that it had dropped Tallahassee, Fla., and Columbia, S.C., from its list of potential sites and now Vero Beach, Albuquerque, N.M., and Oklahoma City, Okla., are the only places in the running. Albuquerque and New Mexico are reportedly offering about $70 million in incentives and Oklahoma about $35 million -- in cash. After the jet plant is operational, Piper will employ more than 1,500 workers.

Propeller Overhauler Convicted of Fraud

An Arkansas man who runs Mena Aircraft Propellers Inc. in Mena, Ark., has been convicted of fraud and making false statements concerning aircraft parts in connection with activities at his former business, Millennium Propeller Systems Inc. at Lancaster Airport near Dallas. According to bizjournals.com, John Wentzell Downs lost the FAA certification for his former business but kept on repairing and rebuilding propellers without letting customers know he was no longer certified. Downs also backdated maintenance records before he lost his FAA qualifications, although he testified that he didn't do that intentionally. One customer was billed $2,250 for work Downs was not legally qualified to perform.

Downs will be sentenced on Sept. 21 and could face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He started Mena Aircraft Propellers in August 2006, but it's not known if that shop has proper certification. The report did not specify why Downs lost certification for his former business.

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News Briefs back to top 

Sporty's Mustang Sale Raises $500,000

An anonymous buyer has paid almost $500,000 extra for the privilege of jumping the line to buy a Cessna Citation Mustang. When the Mustang was first announced, Sporty's Pilot Shops owner Hal Shevers was among the first to put down a deposit and he got the 13th position. Rather than keep the twinjet (and give up his existing larger Citation), Shevers bet that there would be others who would pay a premium for being among the first to take delivery of what Cessna calls its "entry-level jet."

Instead of pocketing the cash, however, he decided to put it to good use via the Sporty's Foundation, which funds scholarships and outreach programs to help maintain the supply of new pilots entering the system. "Our business is small airplanes and The Sporty's Foundation is dedicated to supporting scholarships and programs for individuals pursuing a career maintaining these aircraft," Shevers said in a news release.

The sticker price on Shevers' Mustang was about $2.6 million, and that was the upset price on an online auction run through Sporty's Web site. The winning bidder is paying $3.117 million for the aircraft and will have it by the end of the month. He or she will be trained by FlightSafety International and the type rating is included in the price. The foundation is emphasizing youth-related programs and scholarships and has already granted money to help the Aircraft Electronics Association's education fund.

Lamborghini Owner Sues over Collision with FBI Plane

Does the concept of "see and avoid" apply to car drivers on airports? What about the notion of right of way at taxiway intersections? According to The Associated Press, both will be up to a judge to decide in a lawsuit launched by an Aurora, Ore., pilot and airport business owner against the FBI. Marlowe Treit is suing the FBI over a May 2006 accident in which the low-slung Lamborghini he was driving on a taxiway was sliced open by the prop on the FBI's Cessna 206 as it was crossing the taxiway at Aurora State Airport.

Treit claims his little black car had the right of way on the privately owned taxiway where the collision occurred. In a statement to the NTSB, the unidentified agent taxiing the plane says he didn't see the car until "out the left side window of the aircraft I saw a small black sports car dart from under the prop moving to my left, gushing fluid."

The ventilated Lamborghini hasn't been driven since and Treit is suing for $105,000. He claims the pilot should have seen him. However, the NTSB sees it slightly differently and gave probable cause for the accident as "the failure of both the pilot of the aircraft traveling on a taxi lane and the operator of the automobile driving on a taxi lane to maintain an adequate visual lookout and their failure to see and avoid one another."


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News Briefs back to top 

Boeing Blinks, Airbus Takes Lead

With the home-field advantage, France-based Airbus appears to have vaulted ahead of Boeing in terms of aircraft orders thanks to some large contracts signed at the Paris Air Show. USA Today is pegging Airbus's 2007 order total at about 600, including a staggering 400 announced at Le Bourget. Boeing has gathered about 510 orders in the first six months of the year. Many of Airbus' orders are for older narrow-body designs like the A320 and A330. The majority of Boeing's orders are for the ubiquitous 737 but its latest project, the 787 Dreamliner, might be just starting to gather steam.

The first Dreamliner will be rolled out in less than two weeks and is sold out until 2013. Airbus' rival for that market, the A350XWB, won't even be ready for delivery until at least 2013. Airbus continues to feel the effects of delays with its A380 Super Jumbo, which is about two years behind schedule.

The Aerotoxic Cockpit

Pilots at the U.K.'s Houses of Parliament on June 18 made a case that airline pilots and cabin crew are being exposed to toxic oil contaminants that are ultimately rendering them victims of "aerotoxic syndrome" and medically forced into retirement, according to NewScientist.com. As a result of the complaints, two investigations are being opened that will follow 1,500 pilots and study the cabin air supply on commercial airliners to seek out any foundations for aerotoxic syndrome. Pilots make the case that the compressed air drawn off engines may be compromised by oil if an engine seal leaks or fails.

Susan Michaelis, a former pilot, believes toxic tricresyl phosphate can leak into the cabin and cause lasting health effects. Michaelis carried out a survey of 250 pilots and reported that 8 percent had to be retired on health grounds relating to air contamination, according to NewScientist.

Symptoms allegedly caused by long term exposure include "neurological and respiratory problems, memory loss, difficulties with speech, and chronic fatigue." The specific contamination is represented in a "dirty socks" smell, according to Michaelis.

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News in Brief back to top 

On The Fly

Glacier Girl is on her way to England. The famed P-38 entered Canada (track progress here) on Saturday on the way to completing its 1942 mission to bolster Allied forces in Europe. The airplane and seven others were forced down in Greenland due to weather, and Glacier Girl was recovered and restored in the late 1990s ...

The FAA is investigating two suspected incursions of a temporary flight restriction around a nuclear power plant in Alabama that was being visited by President Bush. One aircraft, a Piper PA-28, was escorted to a landing by two F-22 fighters, but a Cessna 303 reportedly ignored the military aircraft ...

Pilots in Southern California are being reminded to avoid flying over the Hollywood Bowl and John Anson Ford Amphitheatre during summer evenings to prevent disruption of open-air concerts. The FAA is adding the reminder to ATIS recordings ...

Barrington Irving, the 23-year-old Miami pilot, is back on U.S. soil and looking forward to completing his round-the-world flight there on Wednesday. Irving landed in Houston on Sunday after a three-month odyssey that included a lot of weather delays ...

Honda Aircraft will break ground on its new aircraft plant in Greensboro, N.C., on June 27. The 358,000-square-foot plant will employ 283 workers ...

The Air Taxi Association (ATXA) has been formed to promote the interests of the growing list of air taxi operators. Dr. Bruce Holmes, DayJet's director of aeronautical research, is the first chairman of the board ...

A small single-engine airplane that departed from the German city of Brohmte was intercepted by a French Mirage 2000 and operations at France's Orly Airport were interrupted Thursday after it was determined the German aircraft was headed toward controlled airspace over Paris without radio contact.

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New on AVweb back to top 

AVmail: Jun. 25, 2007

Reader mail this week about regional airline pilots, user fees and a replacement for the FAA's Marion Blakey.

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

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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.

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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 Vince Scott explain how he used a little electronic wizardry when his engine ate an exhaust valve at 7,000 feet in IMC. And AVweb's podcast index includes interviews with Reason Foundation's Robert Poole; SATSair's Sheldon Early; 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; and AOPA's Andrew Cebula. In today's podcast, hear NBAA Southeast Rep. Harry Houckes on aviation issues affecting the region. Remember: In AVweb's podcasts, you'll hear things you won't find anywhere else.

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FBO of the Week back to top 

FBO Of The Week: Great Lakes Air

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Great Lakes Air at K83D in St. Ignace, Mich.

AVweb readers Andrea and Tim Olson said the FBO's staff and service were outstanding.

"We had just touched down and were still rolling out down the runway when we were greeted over the Unicom with a very friendly 'Hello, Welcome to Great Lakes Air, will you be needing any fuel today?' At the fuel pump (with very reasonable fuel prices for the area), the staff was friendly and truly enjoyed talking aviation. The staff brought the courtesy car around to the plane, and even helped me unload the plane and pack the car while my husband, the pilot, 'talked planes.' The courtesy car was available for us to have until the next morning, so we were able to enjoy the Mackinac Bridge, see the area sites, and have a great dinner. Sally, the resident Golden Retriever, was very well behaved and kept our young daughters busy while we paid for fuel. A family friendly, reasonable, well maintained FBO located in a beautiful part of Michigan, in it for the love of aviation."

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: In-Cockpit Prop Failure Video from the 1991 Reno Air Races

Recommend a Video | VOTW Archive

Our last couple of "Video of the Week" clips have been light-hearted and funny, but this week we swing the pendulum in the other direction, with a scary incident of prop failure during the 1991 Reno Air Races. The in-cockpit video comes from YouTube user karenmorss:

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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 the Shreveport Downtown (KDTN) Airport, from a student pilot still very green on the radio.

N3AB: Uh, Downtown Ground, this is Cessna Three Alpha Bravo, will be taxiing to the north practice area, negative radar.

Downtown Ground [amused]: Cessna Three Alpha Bravo, I guess that would be quite a long taxi, wouldn’t it?

N3AB [after a short pause]: Uh, Downtown Ground, Cessna Three Alpha Bravo, uh, say again?

Ground [chuckling]: Cessna Three Alpha Bravo, never mind, taxi to runway one four.

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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 Editors Russ Niles (bio) and Glenn Pew (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.