The Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO), which is part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is working to strengthen its ability to detect radiation and nuclear devices in the
international GA environment. The DNDO is evaluating equipment that it will use to support this mission, according to a "General Aviation Fact Sheet" published by the DHS on Monday. The goal is to "further minimize the vulnerability of GA and private aircraft flights being used to deliver illicit
materials, transport dangerous individuals or employ the aircraft as a weapon," the fact sheet says. The DHS plans to screen aircraft at sites outside the border, to ensure that illicit materials do
not enter the U.S.
Some GA pilots are already encountering this increased scrutiny. Dave MacRae, who has flown back and forth across the U.S.-Canada border for decades, told AVweb this week that a Customs and
Border Protection officer in Buffalo, N.Y., swept his Cessna 210 for nuclear material last Sunday. It's apparently something anyone flying across the border had better get used to. MacRae shared his
thoughts on that with AVweb's Russ Niles, and you can hear their conversation in tomorrow's AVweb podcast.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Michael Chertoff made clear in a speech on Monday that he wants more scrutiny of general aviation aircraft that cross the U.S. border -- but while his
main concern appears to be with large corporate jets, his proposals don't distinguish between the different types of GA activity. Chertoff discussed his concerns at a meeting of the NATA Business
Aviation Roundtable, in Washington, D.C., and the industry was quick to respond. "We will continue to oppose any regulations that place restrictions on GA that outweigh the actual security threat," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "One size doesn't -- and shouldn't -- fit all." Chertoff's
plans include creating a partnership with overseas FBOs, in which the FBO will check boarding passengers against the manifests on file. The DHS is working with Signature Flight Support in Ireland and
Alaska, and plans to have the program in place by the end of this year.
The latest GA proposals follow an NPRM filed in September by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. That proposed rule would require
passenger manifests to be submitted over the Internet for all aircraft crossing the border into the U.S. The plan that has drawn opposition from GA pilots who fly from small, remote fields without
Internet access. Comments on the rule> must be filed by Nov. 19.
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That's the question raised by a Wall Street Journal commentary on Wednesday. The procedural
rules that would allow it to happen are complex -- the sausage factory analogy certainly applies -- but according to the WSJ, Congress could pilfer the $10 billion per year raised by airline excise
taxes (and GA fuel taxes) and use it to balance the budget so they don't have to impose higher taxes on the middle class -- as they would otherwise have to, under their own rules, to balance the
budget. This sleight of hand will be made possible only if the House allows general tax revenue to fund the FAA. Thus, according to the WSJ, there is a major political incentive for Congress to change
the FAA's funding structure, to solve their own political problems.
Meanwhile, the House passed a bill on Tuesday that would extend the authorization for most FAA programs through December, according to rotor.com. U.S. Rep. Tom Petri (R.-Wisc.), a member of the House Aviation Subcommittee, said the bill "simply
continues aviation programs under the same terms and conditions as were in effect on September 30, 2007," when the last full authorization expired.
The Air Force suspended non-mission-critical F-15 flight operations on Saturday, the day after the crash of a Missouri Air National Guard F-15C during a training flight. Preliminary findings indicated
that a structural failure of the aircraft may have occurred, the U.S. Air Force said. However, the accident is still under
investigation and the indefinite suspension of flight operations is a "precautionary measure," according to the Air Force. The Air Force flies more than 700 of the aging F-15 fighters, which date back
to 1975. They are gradually being replaced by the F-22 Raptor. The Missouri jet crashed in a wooded area about 120 miles southwest of St. Louis. The pilot ejected and was released from a hospital
Saturday after treatment for a dislocated shoulder, a broken arm and minor cuts.
Japan's air force has also grounded its fleet of some 200 of the fighter-bombers.
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At busy Newark Liberty International Airport, just outside New York, 73 flights landed after telling controllers they were operating with minimum or low fuel during six months this year, compared to
just five flights making the same declaration during a similar period in 2005. An additional 10 flight crews declared an emergency fuel situation, requesting to land immediately, according to WABC News. The WABC report blames cash-strapped airlines for pressuring their crews to carry minimum fuel, saving
money by cutting weight on the flights. "They're taking away the margin of safety," former NTSB Chairman James Hall told WABC. "Seeing numbers like that, the FAA administrators should be calling the
airlines in on the carpet and find out what's going on." WABC also cites anonymous reports from NASA's aviation safety reporting system in which one pilot says an airline's "fuel saving program takes
preference over safety," and another writes, "It's a case of dice rolling at its most dangerous."
Air traffic controller Ray Adams told WABC that in the last two years he's noticed an astounding increase in the number of flights coming into Newark under minimum or emergency fuel
"I heard this huge bang, and [the man next to me] said, that's our engine that's just fallen off. I couldn't believe it. He had to repeat it to me," passenger Ronel Derma told the Independent News. A Nationwide Boeing 737 was taking off from South Africa's Cape
Town International Airport on Wednesday afternoon when the right-hand engine separated from the wing. "The aircraft returned and landed ... without further incident," the airline said. The landing was
safe and none of the 106 passengers was hurt. "The plane started to shake a bit, but what was amazing was the staff and passengers, everybody was so calm," said Derma. "There was no hysteria, no
nothing, it was amazing."
The runway was closed briefly while the debris was cleared away but then the airport operations returned to normal.
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Australia's largest independent regional airline, Regional Express (Rex), announced on Monday it will
suspend one of its routes due to ongoing pilot shortages. "We are extremely disappointed that we have had to take this drastic action," said Rex Managing Director Geoff Breust. "However, given the
pilot shortage, we are faced with the choice of suspending some of our regular services to build up a reserve buffer or canceling [flights] each time a pilot calls in sick." To cope with the ongoing
shortage, Rex has started its own training academy, which will start next month with a class of 20 in a 32-week course. Breust called on the major airlines in Australia to follow Rex's lead and train
their own pilots, "instead of simply poaching massively from the regional airlines and the pilot training schools."
The Australian pilot shortage results from a tight labor market, lots of jobs elsewhere in Asia that offer faster promotions and tax advantages, and a wave of retirements, according to ABC News. Rex operates a fleet of 35 Saab 340 aircraft on 1,300 flights weekly to 25 destinations
from Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane. The airline expects to resume the cancelled route next March.
A certified flight instructor in India has been accused of selling his endorsement to commercial pilot applicants without conducting the required checkrides in at least 25 cases, the Times of India reported on Tuesday. The pilot candidates had been
trained abroad and applied for conversion to Indian licenses. The instructor should have checked each applicant's skills in night flying, day flying, and instrument procedures. Entries were made in
the applicants' logbooks that they flew in aircraft belong to a local charter company, but the company said its aircraft were never used, according to police. "It is very significant as the
authenticity of entries in the student's flight log books are never verified," an instructor told the Times. "These checks are the only means of knowing whether the student has actually taken any
flying training and whether he/she knows [how] to fly."
Air traffic controllers also signed off on the student logbooks, the Times said, but it is unclear whether those signatures were forged or if controllers may have colluded with the CFI and students
in the fraud.
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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 email@example.com. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.
AFSS Is Up to Speed. And Gaining Altitude.
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.
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Last week, we asked AVweb readers whether foreign companies
should be allowed to manage the flight operations of U.S.-based charter
airlines (as was the case with AMI Charter Jet).
Your answers ran the gamut, but the largest segment of readers (39%
of those who responded) gave it a stern No way although another
28% of you said Sure, as long as the U.S.-based company meets all the
For the complete breakdown of answers,
(You may be asked to register and answer, if you haven't already
participated in this poll.)
THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***
Now that Michael Chertoff has laid out the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's
plans to fortify borders against private airplane traffic, we want to hear what AVweb readers think. How much
general aviation cross-border security do you think is reasonable?
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.
Last Call for Mike Busch's West-Coast Seminar
Mike Busch just returned from conducting two sold-out Savvy Owner Seminars in Albuquerque and Tulsa and will be doing one final seminar in 2007: December 1-2 in Burbank, California. For 2008,
he'll be conducting four more in Austin, Chicago, Las Vegas, and Norfolk. Sign up for one of these classes and learn how to save thousands of dollars on maintenance costs, year after year. Do it
before your next annual inspection! For complete details (and to reserve your space),
AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Panorama Flight Service at Westchester County Airport (KHPN) in White Plains, N.Y.
"Panorama Flight Service goes out of their way to serve pilots and passengers," according to AVweb reader George Samara, who also raved about the princely treatment he received there:
They are the only FBO I know of that provides free: a flavored coffee service, a large container of Gorp Mix, a large container of Jelly Beans, a large container of small chocolates, and (for all
pilots) a selection of seven different kinds of cheesecake (which were awesome). Oh, and they also provide several kinds of free granola bars, and a great Crew Lounge with two computer terminals and
two phones. Did I mention that there are three phones in the lobby, too?
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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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 ***
You guys sure know how to warm a web site's heart during
the autumn months reader-submitted photos continue to arrive daily for
our "Picture of the Week" contest, and the quality is as high as its
ever been. This week saw nearly 160 submissions come our way (!),
so let's waste no time on chit-chat. On to the photos !
Photo by Jason
Used with permission of Bob Steinbauer
Montana Morning Shift Change
Bob Steinbauer of Billings, Montana
sent in this photo snapped by Jason Newby,
which takes the top spot as our "Picture of the Week." Watch your
inbox, Bob: We'll sending a pair of hats one for you and one for
Gary Grass of Vancouver, British
Columbia (Canada) tells the tale behind this rather ... er, unusual
[A] lone Snowy Owl spent two days perched upon the
wing of the Martin Mars. I was in my office when a colleague said,
"You have to see this." He and I went out in our crew boat and
spent the next 30 minutes marveling on the wonderful life
opportunities we share. The weather was "Walks Off," and the little
guy just thought the Grand Old Lady suited his needs.
(Alas, we didn't run the head-on shot, Gary this one was just too good
to pass up!)
Semi-regular contributor Jeff Randall
of Clyde, Texas returned this week with a batch of great photos
but none captured our imagination like this long line of troops
filing into a DC-10 at 3:15am "bound for Pope Air Force Base,
North Carolina, and then on to Iraq."
Stay safe, fellas and thanks.
More new photos are waiting for you on AVweb's home page,
in our "POTW"
slideshow. Don't miss 'em!
Look all you want, but don't forget to
send us your
photos, too! (Where do you think we get all these cool
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.
Shop From Your Computer for Perfect Pilot Gifts
When purchasing gifts for family, friends, and flying buddies, go to AVweb's Holiday Shopping Page. AVweb is the perfect place to find the right gifts for pilots
and aviation enthusiasts. And for yourself forward the link as a hint to what you want!
It's easy online,
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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.
The AVwebFlash team is:
Publisher Timothy Cole
Editorial Director, Aviation Publications Paul Bertorelli
Editor-in-Chief Russ Niles
Contributing Editors Mary Grady Glenn Pew
Features Editor Kevin Lane-Cummings
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