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FACES CONGRESSIONAL INQUIRY OVER PILOT SAFETY SURVEY
into hot water over the weekend when The Associated Press reported that the agency
refused a Freedom of Information Act request to release the results of a
pilot survey on aviation safety, citing concerns that the report could
reflect badly on the aviation industry. U.S. Rep. Brad Miller, D-N.C., a
member of the House Committee on Science and Technology, wrote to NASA
Administrator Michael Griffin that possible damage to the image of the
airline industry "does not appear to fall within any of the exceptions"
in the FOIA, The New York Times reported. Griffin said on Monday he had just been made aware
of the FOIA request and would immediately review the matter. "NASA
should focus on how we can provide information to the public -- not on
how we can withhold it," he said. Meanwhile, the House Committee on
Science and Technology said it also wants to take a look at those
records, according to Reuters, and plans to hold a hearing on the matter
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AVOID "U" WORD IN STURGELL REACTION
The White House
announcement that Robert Sturgell will be nominated as the next FAA
administrator drew quick reaction from the GA alphabet groups. Sturgell
has been with the agency long enough that the players are familiar with
him and his stand on the issues. None of the major groups mentioned the
user fee issue, which Sturgell has presumably played a major role in
developing. Sturgell demonstrated his support for user fees under oath
at a Congressional committee hearing last month saying that the way the FAA is funded
needs to change. "A cost-based funding structure is essential to
transforming the aviation system," he said. With that thorn conveniently
buried for the moment, the groups found plenty to like about Sturgell's
AOPA and EAA said they welcomed the nomination.
"Bobby Sturgell understands the issues that face EAA members and has
been engaged in those issues as deputy administrator," said Tom Poberezny, EAA president. "Bobby has had
the opportunity to join us at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh over the past
several years, so he is very familiar with EAA and our members'
enthusiasm for flight." AOPA President Phil Boyer also said he is okay
with the choice. "We've worked closely with Bobby for more than five
years and have found that he understands aviation from the pilot's
perspective," Boyer said. "He was particularly helpful in pushing
through some of the latest changes that made the Washington, D.C., Air
Defense Identification Zone a little easier for pilots to negotiate."
The National Business Aviation Association said: "Bobby Sturgell is a
distinguished aviator with a strong government background ... NBAA looks
forward to working with him." More...
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DRAMA UNFOLDS IN TOWER TAPE AUDIO
A reader sent us the tower
tape clip (MP3) of the exchange between a smooth, professional
air traffic controller at Republic Airport on Long Island and the pilot
of a Piper Saratoga who'd been in a midair collision with a Cessna 152
last Sunday. As we reported
on Monday, both pilots were able to land their aircraft without
incident but the tower tape reveals just what it takes to recover two
damaged aircraft on the same runway during a busy period at a large GA
airport. The first call from the Saratoga pilot comes about 2:15 on the
audio file, but listen to the whole thing to get a feel for what the
controller was up against in getting the damaged aircraft on the ground
without anyone else (including a student launching for his first solo)
getting in the way or into trouble. More...
Zulu Time ... From
See the ANR headset everyone's talking about at
DISPUTE FAA STAFFING STANCE
Last week the FAA issued a press
release saying it had exceeded its hiring goals for air traffic
controllers in the last fiscal year, attracting 1,800 new air traffic
controllers and was on track to meet its long-term goals.
Were getting a lot of enthusiastic new recruits who are
interested in becoming air traffic controllers, said [then-]Acting
Administrator Bobby Sturgell. Controller hiring, training and
staffing is a major priority and we are on track to meet future traffic
needs. However, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association
says that while there may be bodies in the buildings, that doesnt
mean the number of qualified air traffic controllers is reflected in
those figures and the manpower crisis it has long predicted is upon us
as the most experienced controllers head for the exits. Our system
is on the brink of a total breakdown, NATCA President Pat Forrey
told a teleconference on Monday. More...
VOLUNTARY CHANGES IMPROVE RUNWAY SAFETY
The U.S. aviation
community has made significant progress in efforts to improve on-airport
safety in the last two months, the FAA said on Monday. "Recent close
calls at some of our nation's busiest airports show that action must be
taken to reduce the risk of runway incursions and wrong runway
departures," the FAA said in a statement. Representatives of airlines,
airports, air traffic control and pilot unions, and aerospace
manufacturers, met with the FAA in August and agreed to work together to
improve cockpit procedures, airport signage and markings, air traffic
procedures, and technology. The FAA's statement includes a progress
report on what actions have been taken. The list includes new taxiway
markings at 52 large airports and 24 smaller ones, the completion of
runway safety reviews at 20 major airports, the expansion of recurrent
training requirements to more airport users such as FBO operators and
airline mechanics, a review of taxi clearance procedures, and the
expansion of a voluntary reporting system for safety issues.
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|... And a Few More Immediate Safety Concerns||back to
CRIMINALLY BAD LANDING?
The pilots of a 737 that crashed in
Indonesia in March, killing 21 people, should be prosecuted, Australia's
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said on Tuesday. Five Australians died
in the crash. A report by Indonesia's National Transportation Safety
Committee, released on Monday, found that during the approach, 15
warnings and alerts were sounded by the Ground Proximity Warning System
and the copilot called for the pilot in command to go around. The PIC
ignored all those warnings, flew a steep, fast approach, and touched
down at an airspeed of 221 knots with only 5 degrees of flap, 87 knots
faster than the landing speed for 40 degrees of flap. "The copilot did
not follow company procedures and take control of the aircraft from the
PIC when he saw that the pilot in command repeatedly ignored the GPWS
alerts and warnings," according to the report. Downer said in an ABC World interview that based on that report, he
would like the Indonesian authorities now to look into the possibility
of prosecutions. More...
PILOT QUITS, CITING "SECURITY MADNESS"
Picture the last time
you flew commercial and stood in line to remove your shoes before
reporting to the gate. Now imagine being an airline pilot in uniform,
and going through those same lines up to 10 times a day. In Norway, some
airline pilots are running out of patience with the system. One pilot
delayed a departure when he refused to take off his shoes and reportedly
shouted "I am no terrorist!" Another senior pilot chose to retire early,
citing "security madness" as the reason. "He is happy to be retired and
finished with this," Tom Erik Liverud, head of Widerøe airline's
pilot union, told the newspaper Adresseavisen. "This is a marked contrast to some
years ago when pilots were sad to give up their dream jobs when they
passed 60." More...
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There are lots of options available on a
Gulfstream 550 but Boeing intends to make the flight deck crew one of
them. Lacking a suitable platform of its own, the Chicago-based company
has purchased one of the $43 million state-of-the-art bizjets to turn it
into a drone for maritime surveillance. If its successful, Boeing
could win a $4 billion contract to build the Broad Area Maritime
Surveillance (BAMS) program. More...
FLIES AGAIN, AT LAST
After years of struggling to raise $12
million to restore a retired Avro Vulcan, volunteers and aviation
enthusiasts last week got their wish -- the four-engine, 110-foot
delta-wing bomber took to the skies at Bruntingthorpe airfield in
England, 14 years after its last flight. The impressive-looking aircraft
was one of three British V-Bombers designed to drop nuclear weapons
during the Cold War. The fleet fought in the Falklands War and was
retired in 1993 -- and until last week, none had ever flown again. The
bomber will now undergo rigorous testing so it can be certified to fly
by the Civil Aviation Authority. "It is hoped that once this has been
achieved, the aircraft, once the UK's deadliest weapon, will be used to
entertain and educate crowds up and down the country by showcasing its
amazing grace, power and maneuverability," says a news release from the
Vulcan to the Sky
AFSS Is Up to Speed. And Gaining
The new automated flight services system is here. Revolutionizing flight
service operations. Reducing legacy sites. Bringing 15 upgraded sites
and three hubs online. Retaining 1,200 specialists. Marrying local needs
with national information sources. The result: ever-improving levels of
performance. And a future of efficient, effective service that give
general aviation pilots more flexibility than they've ever thought
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ROLLER 1, FALCON 0
If you've ever wondered what happens when
an expensive business jet collides with an asphalt roller, you might ask
Sony Corp. Their Mystere Falcon 900 was taxiing for departure from
Teterboro Airport last Sept. 28 when the left wing clipped the machine
on a taxiway. According to the NTSB preliminary report, neither the captain of the
Falcon nor the roller operator claimed to see the other coming. No one
was hurt but we suspect it ruined a lot of people's day. (Click through
for photos.) More...
FROM SPACE THE NEXT EXTREME SPORT?
It takes a certain
kind of person to enjoy jumping out of airplanes -- or off of mountains,
or out of balloons, or from bridges -- and those people look like cash
cows to the new space-tourism industry, according to New Scientist magazine. That's because while most
people will be satisfied with a once-in-a-lifetime trip into space,
extreme-sports enthusiasts -- also known as adrenaline junkies -- will
keep coming back for more. In anticipation of that market, entrepreneur
Rick Tumlinson has started a company called Space Diver, to develop and
promote the sport. But the thrill-seeking also has a practical side.
Equipment developed to allow skydivers that ultra-long thrill can also
be used as safety gear in an emergency. One scenario for how it would
work: The space-suited diver would ride on a platform atop the rocket
into space, then simply push away to begin the descent. The diver would
then free-fall until about a mile above the surface, then deploy the
parachute for safe landing. More...
THAT DIESEL AIRPLANE WORKING OUT FOR YOU?
magazine, Aviation Consumer, is conducting a research project on
diesel aircraft engines. If you're flying one, we would like to know
what your impressions of it are. Has the performance been what you
expected? How about the economy? We would also like to know about
service history. For a questionnaire, e-mail email@example.com.
The editorial staff will get right back to you. More...
THE FLY ...
University of North Dakota instructor and student
die in crash ...
Embraer celebrates 300th E series delivery
Pilot accused of flying drunk turns in his certificate.
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FLIGHT SIMULATOR X FOR PILOTS: CHAPTER 13 -- WEATHER
two flight instructors wrote a book on how to use Microsoft Flight
Simulator X to enhance pilot training and to provide sim-only pilots a
guide to making their flying more realistic. AVweb will publish several
chapters from this book, beginning with this chapter on weather.
OF THE WEEK: LOCKHART AVIATION SERVICE (SASKATOON AIRPORT ESSO, CYXE,
AVweb's "FBO of
the Week" ribbon goes to Lockhart Aviation Service's Saskatoon Airport
Esso at CYXE in Saskatoon, Canada.
Jim Hinnen stopped in on a fishing trip and couldn't recommend
Lockhart highly enough:
Owner/manager [Douglas Lockhart]
... directed us to phones, parked and tied us down, helped with baggage,
and even ... suggested hotels where they had a better rate, then called
[the] hotel for rooms and transportation. You could not have any better
(friendly, courteous, helpful) service anywhere. Also, no tie-down
charge! [I] tried to tip them, and they refused, saying our business was
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!
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Join NAA and Help Shape the Next Century of
It's a great time to join the National Aeronautic Association
), the nation's oldest aviation organization. At $39 a year,
NAA membership is a terrific value for any aviation enthusiast! Members
receive the Smithsonian's Air & Space
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OF THE WEEK: AVWEB'S FLYING PHOTOGRAPHY SHOWCASE
With well over 100 submissions to our
regular "Picture of the Week" contest and nearly two dozen real
contenders for the top spot, life is good. Impossible as it might have
been, we've managed to pick five of our favorites to share with you here
but don't forget there are a dozen more to see in the "POTW"
slideshow on our home
page right now! Whatever you do, be sure to check out the large-size
version of this week's winning photo from Michael Palmer of Prudhoe, Northumberland
(U.K.). Trust us: The thumbnail versions don't do it justice, and users
with widescreen monitor configurations will want to snag this as desktop
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THE AVWEBFLASH TEAM
AVwebFlash is a weekly
summary of the latest news, articles, products, features, and events
featured on AVweb, the
internet's aviation magazine and news service.
AVwebFlash team is:
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
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
Navigate. Communicate. More...