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System Turned On Today
A major technological shift in air navigation became a reality today. The FAA flicked the switch on the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) signal, a crucial first step on the way to highly accurate satellite-based navigation in the U.S. “We’re just waiting for the avionics to catch up,” said FAA spokesman Greg Martin. WAAS uses a system of ground stations to analyze GPS signal errors and sends corrections to geo-stationary satellites. The result is guaranteed position accuracy to within three meters laterally and vertically, where standard non-augmented GPS with standard positioning service can be trusted to within about 100 meters. Martin said WAAS-capable GPS units will pick up the signal starting today but it will be at least a month before the full utility of the system comes into play. That’s still good news — the last deadline for WAAS’s initial operational capability schedule was the end of 2003. Martin said there are currently no GPS units certified for the vertical part of the WAAS signal, which is essential for instrument landings. However, Martin said there are several manufacturers aggressively pursuing the vertical certification, and GPS ILS approaches could be reality sometime in August or September. As an example, the UPSAT CNX-80 is expected to achieve certification shortly.
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Throws Its Hat Into The FAA’s Ring…
Boeing says it (with help from some other companies) has what it takes to make the National Airspace System (NAS) more efficient and safer. The company hopes to clinch a big deal with the FAA to design, produce and implement a new, fully integrated air traffic flow system that will maximize use of the capacity of the National Airspace System. Boeing’s Air Traffic Management business unit has formed a team to tackle this daunting project. Joining Boeing are Raytheon Inc., Metron Aviation Inc., KENROB, RLM Software and WSI Corporation. Boeing claims to bring extensive experience to the table with its “integration of large-scale systems and development of open-system architectures.” Raytheon is no stranger to FAA ATC systems, as it deployed the Integrated Terminal Weather System (ITWS), Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS) and Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS). KENROB is the system administrator for the FAA’s Enhanced Traffic Management System (ETMS) and RLM Software developed the ETMS communications infrastructure.
…But Can The NAS Be Fixed?
Has even the mighty Boeing bitten off more than it can chew? Although most aircraft seem to get from A to B each day, hardly a day goes by without some criticism of the system that manages all those flights. After all, the current ATC structure has been criticized for the use of older, unreliable equipment. Implementation of new technology, like STARS, is years behind schedule and often has developmental problems, although in the STARS deployment in Philadelphia, the kinks seem to have been worked out, largely due to the efforts of controllers themselves, according to the National Association of Air Traffic Controllers. In a news release, Boeing acknowledges the challenges ahead. “The current traffic flow management system has evolved over time from a number of subsystems and tools that are not fully interoperable. In addition, the constraints in capacity, performance and operational requirements the system now faces raise serious concerns at the FAA and among industry stakeholders about the overall future viability of the system.”
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Stupid Pilot Tricks, Spanish Style…
This installment of things you definitely should not do with an airplane comes from the Scottish Highlands. There, two Spanish pilots reportedly flew their ultralight under a road bridge, scaring the heck out of residents in the area. Witnesses spotted the light aircraft flying under the Ballachulish Bridge between Fort William and Glencoe. Air safety rules in Britain prohibit aircraft to pass within 500 feet of any “person, vessel, vehicle or structure.” Needless to say, the 30-year-old cantilever bridge, which is 60 feet above high water, is off-limits. The adventurous pilots were traced to a nearby airport, detained and given a Scottish-style tongue-lashing. We’re not sure how the event compared to the infamous exploits of Jurgio Kairio. (Do not try this at home … or anywhere else.) The Spanish duo was part of a group of Spaniards on a weeklong trip flying around Europe. Apparently, this was not Scotland’s only bridge-flying scare, as just three weeks ago a helicopter was reported to have flown under the 100-foot-high toll bridge linking the Isle of Skye to the mainland twice in two days. Last year a pilot narrowly avoided prosecution for flying his plane under the Skye bridge. His excuse: He was avoiding a flock of seagulls.
…Skydiving Plane Hit By Shotgun…
In another bizzare event to taint the wild blue yonder, a skydiving aircraft was possibly hit by a shotgun blast while taking off from a Long Island airport. Newsday.com reports the Cessna 182, owned by Long Island Skydiving Center in East Moriches, was hit by 20 shotgun pellets on Sunday. Bart Spadaro, owner of Spadaro airport (1N2) in East Moriches, believes someone on nearby County Road 51 fired at the plane as it was taking off from the airport with a load full of skydivers. Local police haven’t reached that conclusion and speculate it may have been shot while parked overnight. Spadaro fears the incident could be related to a dispute he’s been having with a rival skydiving group located at the airport. The good news is that no one was injured in the airplane. In fact, the dimples in the fuselage were only discovered after the aircraft had been parked after taking three loads of skydivers.
…And Zurich Residents Complain About Airplane “Noise”
There’s an international twist to the airplane noise complaints of people in Zurich, Switzerland. Neighboring Germany will ban flights over the southern part of its country. That will force airlines to use Zurich airports eastern approach over the densely populated suburbs to the citys north side. In response, about 10,000 people took to the streets on Saturday to protest the new German measures, which take effect in October. As the airport increases its use of its southern runway, residents fear additional air traffic will build over the city center and a densely populated northern shore of Lake Zurich. Residents claim their property values are already suffering. The weekly Swiss business magazine, Cash, recently estimated that the increased use of Zurich’s southern runway would see the city’s property lose between SFr1.1 billion and SFr8 billion ($0.8-5.8 billion U.S.) in value. Moritz Leuenberger, the Swiss transport minister, disagreed and said the criticism of the government “was unfair and misguided.”
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Has flying become mundane? We hope not, but if you want something with substantially more than your run-of-the mill spam can, you might want to check out a Russian company providing a true “out-of-this-world” experience. Moscow-based Kompas Hit Ltd. operates Fly The Legend, a service that provides adventurous clients the opportunity to fly in aircraft most of us have only seen in pictures. For example, the group offers rides in MiG 25s with the promise of an 80,000-foot, high-altitude flight to the edge of space. About $15,000 will get you in the back seat of this supersonic fighter. Are high Gs your preferred adrenaline rush? Kompas Hit also offers Su30 rides for about the same price. For a more relaxed experience, the company provides a variety of less stressful flight experiences with several helicopters and light aircraft in its inventory. Ah, what money will buy!
You may recall AVweb’s recent coverage of a missing African airliner believed to be in the hands of criminals or terrorists. Well, the Boeing 727 has reportedly been located — with a new paint job. The Guardian reports the jet turned up last week in Guinea after disappearing from Angola’s main airport more than a month ago. The missing plane had been the subject of an international search since it vanished from Angola on May 25. The last known flight of the jet was recorded shortly after it had been repossessed from Angola Air. Bob Strother, a Canadian pilot, reported finding the aircraft, which had been re-sprayed and now sports the Guinean registration of 3XGOM. However, the last two letters of its former tail number, N844AA, were still showing. While the plane is said to be owned by a member of West Africa’s Lebanese business community, Strother finds the registration change a bit too expeditious. “Whoever owns it must have some important friends to get it re-registered in two days: going by the book, the whole process usually takes a couple of months,” he told the Guardian.
AOPA has made its voice heard and it appears that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) commander is listening. Admiral James Loy says his agency and the FAA are reevaluating more than a dozen temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) set up shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and out of the dozens currently listed. “AOPA members are asking, ‘Isn’t it time for temporary restrictions to be lifted given the reduced threat level, ending of hostilities in Iraq, and phase out of Operation Liberty Shield?'” Boyer said in a June 25 letter to Loy. The next day Low wrote back saying the two agencies are “conducting a thorough audit” of the 16 TFRs AOPA asked be rescinded “to ensure that they are protecting the public in an efficient, cost-effective manner.” Two of the 16 TFRs, Whiteman AFB, near Knob Noster, Mo., and the Red River Army Depot, in Texarkana, Texas, have already been rescinded. A third that was not on AOPA’s original list in the Class E airspace over Valdez, Alaska, was also eliminated. So, when will the TFRs eventually be eliminated? “We’ll keep you posted,” Loy told Boyer in a handwritten note at the bottom of his letter.
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It seems airline passengers can’t get a straight answer on the issue of compensation for the development of blood clots on long-haul airline flights. Known as Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), this condition is characterized by the formation of deadly blood clots after long periods of immobility. Last week, Britain’s Court of Appeal upheld a lower-court ruling that passengers cannot sue airlines for compensation after developing DVT. At the same time, a U.S. federal judge says he will allow two lawsuits filed by two passengers to proceed against Continental Airlines , Air France and American Airlines. In the British case, the court dismissed the case filed by two dozen passengers who sought an appeal of a High Court ruling in December. This latest ruling said DVT could not be classed as an accident under the Warsaw Convention, the international agreement that regulates compensation for death and injury during air travel. In the U.S. action, the plaintiffs claim the airlines failed to warn passengers that sitting down for extended periods in cramped quarters could cause DVT. The airlines, however, argue that the allegations have “no factual basis.” A hearing on the lawsuits is set for July 22.
At least one U.S. airline is relaxing its policy on cellphone use by passengers. Continental Airlines announced it will allow customers to use their cellphones sooner after an aircraft lands. While departure and in-flight phone use policies will remain unchanged, the airline says the devices will be permitted for calls after landing pending approval from flight attendants. Apparently, the airline didn’t need to wait for the results of an ongoing FAA study, which is examining what effects, if any, in-flight cellphone use will have on aircraft operations. The RTCA, an aviation study group, will investigate the problem and issue its initial report by November. If you happen to fly Continental in the meantime, enjoy the couple extra minutes of chat time.
Avjet has reached an $11.7 million settlement with the families of three people killed in the crash of a Gulfstream III flying into Aspen’s Pitkin County Airport on March 29, 2001. All 15 passengers and three crew members were killed when the jet crashed into sloping terrain about 2400 feet short of Runway 15 during a night instrument approach in snow showers. On Monday, just over a year after NTSB recommendations were issued, the families of Marissa Witham and brothers Joseph and Jose Aguilar agreed to the settlement. The deal was reached after a Los Angeles jury, on July 2, found Avjet Corporation and pilot Robert Frisbie negligent and held responsible for the wrongful deaths of Witham and the Aguilars. The suit claimed the defendants “knowingly flew into the face of danger when they attempted to land under unsafe, stormy weather conditions at Aspen Airport. Not only did they violate the airport’s night landing curfew, but they disregarded nearly twenty federal, state and local regulations.” A statement by the plaintiffs’ attorney added, “If their deaths are to have any meaning, it is our hope that today’s resolution will send a clear message to pilots and private air charter companies everywhere to obey the air safety rules and regulations intended for the publics protection.”
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As AVweb recently reported, general aviation plays an important role during the busy fire season. Once again, GA aircraft have proven themselves over stubborn fires located in the Cucamonga Canyon above Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. Helicopters initially directed ground personnel to hot spots, which were reachable via foot. Additional air support helped get the blaze under control by Saturday evening. By 8:30 p.m. there was no active fire, but the burn was 50-percent contained, Peters said. Earlier, Los Angeles County fire personnel responded to a smaller blaze at 1:19 p.m. in Diamond Bar, another L.A. suburb. Approximately 40 firefighters and three helicopters responded to that blaze.
In last Monday’s edition, we incorrectly identified Jim Crook as a spokesman for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. Crook is actually with the Air Traffic Control Association. We apologize for any confusion caused by this error.
The Sudanese government blamed a parts shortage due to U.S. sanctions for a Sudan Airways 737 crash Tuesday that killed 115 of 116 aboard. The Boeing had minutes before left Port Sudan for the capital, Khartoum, when it crashed into an uninhabited area just outside a Red Sea coast airport. The only survivor, a three-year-old boy, was found in a thorn bush and burned over 15 percent of his body. He lost his mother and part of his right leg in the crash…
Raytheon plans to show off its new Beechcraft line at EAA’s AirVenture Oshkosh. The entire Beechcraft product line will be represented, starting with the Beechcraft Bonanza and Baron, and including the King Air family — the 350, B200 and C90B — as well as the Premier I bizjet, which is making its second appearance at Oshkosh…
Data collected by the Rand Corp. indicates U.S. military pilots are flocking less to the airlines but that the Air Force faces a continuing pilot shortage. The current state of the airline industry and increased incentives by the military have slowed attrition to the air carriers. The Air Force has also enacted new policies — such as advanced notice on deployments and additional stipends — to help support airmen and their families. According to the study the shortage of Air Force aviators will continue through 2020…
The Kansas Aviation Museum has asked Raytheon to donate a Starship to its aircraft collection. The museum also would like to acquire two other aircraft from Raytheon — a 1900A and a Beechjet. The interest in the Starship, which Raytheon says will scrap along with others in the fleet, stems from what museum officials claim is a “technology transfer” aircraft used to develop new design concepts.
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*** PREVIOUS RESULTS ***
We received over 90 pictures last week. Congratulations to this week’s winner, Naresh Sharma, of Eindhoven, The Netherlands. His photo, captures three types of aircraft in one single shot. The plane, glider, and ultralight were photographed at a barn field in Italy. Nice picture, Naresh! Your AVweb hat is on the way.
To check out the winning picture, or to enter next week’s contest, go to https://www.avweb.com/potw.
**Due to privacy issues, AVweb does not publish e-mail addresses of readers who submit photos.
*** PREVIOUS RESULTS ***
We received over 300 responses to our question last week on using anti-depressant medication. The majority (62 percent) of those responding never have taken n anti-depressant before flying and think it is unwise to do so. About 20 percent indicated they don’t take this type of medication, but don’t see a problem if someone does. Only 3 percent of our respondents say they do take anti-depressants quite frequently before flying.
To check out the complete results, go to https://www.avweb.com/qotw.
*** THIS WEEK’S QUESTION ***
This week, we would like to know your thoughts on flying during the July 4th holiday weekend. Please go to https://www.avweb.com/qotw to respond.
Have an idea for a new QOTW? Send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Note, this address is ONLY for suggested QOTW questions, and NOT for QOTW answers.
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PLANE & PILOT’S AUGUST ISSUE IS PACKED WITH INFORMATION & ENTERTAINMENT Featured is: “The 10 Most Undervalued General-Aviation Airplanes; “Looking For Lions”; “Are Leasebacks Back”; and “Project Bonanza, Part 1”. This Project Bonanza airplane will be displayed at the American Bonanza Society’s AirVenture booth 278-280. Log on now to learn more about Plane & Pilot magazine, and click on the circular “Win These” button to enter to win an aircraft document portfolio from Sporty’s or a $100 certificate good towards a Saircorp organizer console and/or accessories at https://www.avweb.com/sponsors/ppm
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IFR MAGAZINE’S AUGUST ISSUE HELPS YOU “GET YOUR IFR STUFF TOGETHER” along with other articles on: “UPSAT Challenges Garmin”; “Keep Cool and Keep Moving”; “ATC Blends the Rules”; plus editor Paul Berge invites the flying world to enjoy the Midwestern skies going to or from AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. And, the insiders “Briefing” page, and On The Air. IFR pilots and IFR want-a-bees can all use what IFR magazine has to offer at https://www.avweb.com/sponsors/belvoir/ifrmag
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Let’s all be careful out there, okay?
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