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TSA Says No To Michigan’s Pilot Law…
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is the latest to say Michigan’s pilot background check law is illegal. The agency recently told AOPA, which is fighting the Michigan law in court, that individual states have no authority to require pilot background security checks and that power lies solely with the federal government. In a letter to AOPA, Assistant Administrator for Transportation Security Policy Thomas Blank wrote, “State-imposed measures to require criminal background checks on flight school applicants would create a patchwork of requirements in this area … It is TSA’s view that while such efforts by states are motivated by legitimate concerns for the security of the nation, they are nevertheless not permissible.” AOPA is naturally pleased with the TSA’s position on this issue. “This letter is powerful ammunition in our fight to strike down Michigan’s pilot background check law,” said AOPA President Phil Boyer. “And it ought to make other state and local lawmakers stop and think twice about their own inappropriate efforts to regulate aviation security and pilot licensing.” The FAA has also backed its position against the background check law.
…While The FAA Says Yes To Crawford’s TFR
AOPA has also worked with another agency on a different restrictive issue. The organization asked Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge to not support a DOD request to expand the TFRs around the president to 30 nautical miles. Unfortunately, it was a little too late for the upcoming holiday, as the FAA announced the area surrounding P-49 — the President’s home in Crawford, Texas — will expand to a 30-nm radius over the Easter weekend. The temporary flight restriction (TFR) will push out to a 30-nm radius below 18,000 feet beginning at 1400 local on Wednesday, April 16, and continuing through 1215 local on Monday, April 21. During the effective times of the NOTAM, practice instrument approaches are prohibited within the TFR. All operations (except military, law enforcement, and medevac) are prohibited in the 0- to 10-nm airspace below 18,000 feet. In the 10- to 30-nm ring, aircraft must be on an active IFR or VFR flight plan with a discrete transponder code assigned by air traffic control and must maintain radio contact with ATC. All such flights must be for ingress, egress, or transit only. No flight training, aerobatic, glider, parachute, hang gliding, ultralight, aerial application, or animal control operations are permitted.
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Law Enforcement On The Lookout For Missiles…
Ever since the attempted downing of an Israeli airliner in Africa, airports in the United States have secured their perimeters, sometimes using extreme measures. Still convinced that the possibility of a shoulder-fired missile attack is real, officials are adding extra security around their property lines. USA Today reported on an unreleased FAA study listing the use of airborne patrols, ground checkpoints, observation posts and high-intensity lights in areas adjacent to airports. This has caused the closure of many airport area parks, often used by enthusiasts and as popular lunch and coffee-break sites for workers. Now, the only people seen in those parks are police cars and, in some locations, National Guard troops. Some members of Congress have also proposed putting anti-missile systems on airliners. ”The damage a terrorist attack could do would be devastating,” said Sen. Charles Schumer, (D-N.Y.) ”Do you think anyone would fly for three to six months after an attack?”
So, how effective are these weapons? Once fired, a Man Portable Air Defense System (MANPADS) — which weighs about 35 pounds — will home in on the heat emitted from an aircraft engine, while traveling at more than 600 mph. According to USA Today, MANPADS have been used in 35 attacks against civilian airplanes in Africa, Asia, Afghanistan and Central America. Of those, 24 were shot down, killing more than 500 people. All but one of the planes shot down were prop-driven. A Congo Airlines Boeing 727, shot down in 1998, was the only jet. About 700,000 MANPADS have been produced worldwide since the 1970s with many reported to be in the hands of terrorist groups. This kind of data is what fuels Sen. Schumer’s plan to arm airliners with chaff, flares or other defensive systems. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge seems cautiously interested. ”I think the first public dollars we ought to expend should be to take a look at the technology itself to see if adaptation can be made,” he recently said.
…But Where Do We Draw The Line?
But the practical application of that technology in the typical urban environment of most U.S. airports raises another set of questions about how to address this potential threat. The problem lies with the flexibility and range of shoulder-fired missiles. According to the paper, most security experts agree many shoulder-launched missiles can hit an aircraft four miles away at altitudes above 10,000 feet, which definitely puts would-be shooters at an advantage. According to the FAA, that would give terrorists a 150-square-mile area around an airport in which to hide and fire at aircraft that are taking off or circling to land. So much for patrolling the airport fence line. However, there is some debate about this perceived threat. Some government officials point out the lack of specific intelligence on these weapons. “These weapons pose a threat, but there is no specific credible evidence that they are in the hands of terrorists in the United States or that they plan to use them to shoot down airliners,” says Brian Roehrkasse, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security. He might want to have a glance at Jane’s Intelligence Review‘s article on the subject, which claims up to 27 various guerilla and terrorist groups have the missiles.
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Meigs Field supporters went on the offensive last Sunday. About 150 attendees were on hand for a fundraising dinner sponsored by the Friends of Meigs Field (FOM). The goal of the Chicago event was to rally support for the fight against the closure of Meigs and gather donations to benefit the FOM’s legal defense fund. An anonymous $50,000 donation will be used to provide a dollar-for-dollar match to defense-fund contributions through May 16. A couple of organizations were on hand to offer their support and resources for the upcoming battle against Mayor Richard Daley. The evening’s special guest speaker was Jim Coyne, president of the National Air Transportation Association. Coyne noted that Sunday was the 260th anniversary of Thomas Jefferson’s birth, a man he said “cherished open public debate to result in the best outcome for the people.” EAA Executive Vice President Bob Warner was also on hand to represent the association and present an EAA contribution to the fund. “EAA members and Chapters have loyally supported Meigs Field over the years,” Warner said. “Meigs is one of our most active Young Eagles sites and provides an exemplary educational opportunity for the community. As a national organization, EAA needs to help prevent the stealing of our national transportation system’s vital infrastructure by local politicians.”
NOTE: Don’t forget to sign the online petition against the closing of Meigs.
Supporters are trying to save the Chambersburg Municipal Airport in Pennsylvania. Borough council members seem intent on selling the 93-acre airport this year to land developers. Airport supporters are considering several options to keep the airport open for the forseeable future. One option is to educate the local government on the field’s economic value and its ability to run profitably, like Chambersburg’s electric and gas utilities. Other ideas include the possibility of creating a municipal authority to buy the airport or finding a group of investors who might be willing to purchase the facility from the borough. The Gazette, a local newspaper, reported Council President Bill McLaughlin told airport supporters they have until the end of the year to prevent the sale. “You’ve got eight months,” he told airport supporters. “Bring us something that could change our minds.” While some hope has been raised, the supporters have an uphill battle, as McLaughlin has openly stated he believes the borough should rid itself of the airport. A 1989 study concluded it was not significant to the area’s economic development and that, financially, it was not in the borough’s best interest to continue operating the airport. The council has already decided to authorize the sale of the airport to the highest bidder at year’s end. The clock is ticking.
While the investigation of the Columbia crash continues, researchers are already working on the shuttle fleet’s replacement. The University of Florida is the lead institution in the Institute for Future Space Transport, which also includes researchers from six other universities in a $16 million initiative. The Associated Press reports researchers there are looking into new engine technologies (including the supersonic combustion ramjet), stronger and more reliable spacecraft (including ways to rid the shuttle of the troublesome fragile tiles), improved systems to monitor the health of the spacecraft and its life-support systems, and better ways to integrate all of the spacecraft’s complicated systems. To avoid the high cost of rocket launches, NASA and the university researchers are designing a spacecraft that departs from a runway, much like a conventional fixed-wing aircraft. The report indicates crew safety will be a critical factor in the research, especially after the Columbia and Challenger disasters. Operational costs are another concern. It costs U.S. taxpayers about $10,000 per pound to get the current shuttle design into space. NASA wants to reduce the next-generation shuttle’s costs to about $100 a pound. That would offer a huge savings, as the 2004 federal budget includes $1 billion for the Space Launch Initiative, dividing the money between the current orbiters and next-generation space shuttle technology. The three remaining shuttles — Endeavor, Discovery and Atlantis — are expected to keep flying until 2020.
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A little help may be on the way for thousands of laid-off GA workers. As companies continue to lay off staff in the post-9/11 slowdown that has pummeled the industry, congress is working on passing legislation that would offer up to 26 extra weeks of benefits as part of a supplemental spending bill. While the help will be welcome everywhere, nowhere will it be more valuable than in Wichita, which is coping with the economic and social impact of 12,000 layoffs from the concentration of manufacturing plants there. The assistance, which would cover aviation workers laid off after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, is part of the non-defense spending in the $80 billion bill to finance the war in Iraq. This legislation applies to everyone laid off in aviation after Sept. 11, 2001, not just to those who have exhausted their benefits. “This has been a tough time on our aviation industry, and I am pleased the Congress will extend unemployment benefits to workers who badly need help,” said Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Goddard).
Workers went on strike at Lockheed Martin Corp.’s aircraft manufacturing plant in Texas on Monday. About 4,000 workers began picketing outside of the company’s facility at 12:01 a.m., just as the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers’ contract with Lockheed Martin Aeronautics expired. Lockheed Martin spokesman Joe Stout told the Associated Press the plant, which operates around the clock making fighter aircraft, remained open Monday. He added the company would try to maintain aircraft production with nonunion salaried employees. Negotiators for Lockheed Martin and the union met over the weekend, but failed to agree on a proposed three-year contract despite Lockheed’s new higher wage and pension offer. The workers claim the proposed raises in the contract would be neutralized by increases in their medical and prescription drug payments. The workers voted 2,835 to 426 to reject the company’s offer, then voted 2,380 to 432 to strike. The union’s most recent proposal sought raises of 8 percent the first year and 6 percent in the following two years, a $1,500 bonus and pension payments of $70 a month per year of service. The previous contract was reached after an 18-day strike in April 2000.
When it rains, it pours, and the Asian airline industry has experienced a monsoon of late. First was the worldwide economic downturn, then the Iraq war. Now, SARS is taking its toll on the Asian market. The deadly flu-like virus has infected more than 1000 people in Hong Kong and killed 35 in the area, making China the hardest-hit of all countries affected by the mysterious bug. As a result, Asian airlines are feeling the crunch, as passenger loads plummet in response to fear of exposure to the disease. The World Health Organization’s recent call to avoid the region didn’t help much either. Cathay Pacific could consider grounding its entire fleet if passenger numbers continue to plummet, while Singapore Airlines is pondering cuts to staff and capacity in response to the outbreak. In a leaked Cathay Pacific memo, which was published on a Hong Kong Web site over the weekend, company officials said Cathay Pacific’s passenger numbers had fallen from 39,000 to 7000 a day. The Courier-Mail reports a senior executive said the airline was “hemorrhaging cash” at the rate of $6 million a day. Publicly, a company spokesperson downplayed the gravity of the situation. Last week, Singapore Airlines warned it may cut jobs for the first time in 20 years if SARS, and the Iraq war, continue to cut deeper into travel demand and its already low-level earnings.
Here’s a chance to own a swatch of history and help keep it in the air. On April 5, a hailstorm hit the Dallas-Fort Worth area, damaging two of the Collings Foundation’s prized possessions: its B-17 and B-24. The historic bombers were parked outside at the Addison Airport during the unforeseen storm and were significantly damaged by the hail. The foundation reports the fabric-covered ailerons and elevators on both planes were destroyed by the hail and wings were dented. The paint was also damaged on both aircraft. Now, the organization is launching a unique fundraiser to get the aircraft back in top-notch shape. The foundation borrowed some of the required control surfaces for temporary use, compliments of the Lone Star Flight Museum of Galveston, Texas, and the Commemorative Air Force Gulf Coast Wing in Houston, Texas, to keep the aircraft flying until permanent replacements can be found. To help fund the repairs the organization is offering a limited-edition series of framed 8x10s of each aircraft, which include a picture of the aircraft, its individual history, and a swatch of fabric from the plane’s control surface. Individual displays can be obtained for a donation of $150 per unit and the pair can be ordered for $275. For more information, visit the Foundation’s Web site.
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The move from the orange terrorism alert status to yellow has not made flying any easier, yet, As of AVweb’s deadline Wednesday, there was no change in the flight restrictions imposed during the orange-level threat. The FAA’s William Shumann said that while there could still be relaxations, there are no guarantees. “Pilots should not assume we will return to the flying status of before we went to Code Orange.”…
The Kansas Aviation Museum has cancelled its annual Aerodrome Days festival and will concentrate, instead, on involvement with celebrating the 100th anniversary of powered flight. The 2003 Wichita Aviation Festival, to be held Sept. 18-21, is scheduled to include an air show (including the Air Force Thunderbirds), hot-air balloon launches, fireworks, educational seminars, aircraft displays and helicopter rides…
North Carolina’s Aviation Hall of Fame will be going to Asheboro if a bill in North Carolina’s General Assembly passes. The bill was proposed in 2002 and 2001 and failed both times after groups in Fayetteville and Wilmington expressed interest in having the Hall of Fame…
The FAA may relocate its automated flight service station from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport to the Lorain County airport in Ohio. Michael Barth, the county airport’s able executive director, said this week the county airport is the ”first choice” of the FAA for the station. The county is thinking about building a 20,000-square-foot building at the airport to lease to the FAA as a home for the automated flight service station.
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*** PREVIOUS RESULTS ***
We received over 80 pictures last week. Congratulations to this week’s winner, Paul Damian Baca, of Haslet, TX. His photo, titled “Trojan Phlyers”, was taken at a fly-in for the North American T-28 Trojan aircraft in Breckinridge, TX. Paul’s group, the “Trojan Phlyers,” are based at Hicks Airfield in Ft. Worth, TX with three of these aircraft performing aerobatics at events all over the United States. Great picture Paul! 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.
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*** PREVIOUS RESULTS ***
We received over 400 responses to our question last week on Sun ‘n Fun. A large group (41 percent) of those responding indicated they have attended Sun ‘n Fun on several occasions. Following that group, 27 percent have never attended but plan to go sometime soon. It is interesting to note that 19 percent of our respondents don’t ever plan on attending the event.
To check out the complete results, including comments, go to https://www.avweb.com/qotw.
*** THIS WEEK’S QUESTION ***
This week, we would like to know your thoughts on the Concorde’s upcoming retirement. Please go to https://www.avweb.com/qotw to respond.
Have an idea for a new QOTW? Send your suggestions to email@example.com. Note, this address is ONLY for suggested QOTW questions, and NOT for QOTW answers.
BizAv: April 17, 2003
AVweb’s expanded coverage of business/corporate aviation continues with Cessna trimming fat, Bombardier adjusting corporate strategy, an update on EBACE 2003, the BizAv AD watch and more.
Charlie Summers jokes that it takes two medical examiners for his exam — each looks into one of his ears and if they can see one another he passes. Charlie flies a one-of-a-kind armor-plated T-28 into thunderstorms — on purpose, for a living — for the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology Institute of Atmospheric Sciences. In this month’s Profile AVweb’s Joe Godfrey talks with Charlie about the program, the airplane and what we can learn from the inside of a level-six cell.
Mag Timing is Easy as One, Two, Three
There are several easy ways to time a magneto, as well as specific how-to data. The staff of Light Plane Maintenance describes a common and accurate way.
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ATTENTION IFR STUDENTS & CERTIFIED IFR PILOTS! DON’T MISS THE MAY ISSUE OF IFR REFRESHER MAGAZINE
May issue highlights: Logbook Proficiency-does your proficiency reflect your experience?; Getting back into the clouds after a winter layoff; GPS Tricks: The En Route Hold; Flying PRM Procedures; Forecasting Your Ride; and Quiz your understanding of basic pilot/controller communications. Don’t delay, order your personal subscription at https://www.avweb.com/sponsors/belvoir/ifrref
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DON’T READ THIS IF YOU DON’T CARE ABOUT YOUR AVIATION SAFETY
Aviation Safety Magazine is aptly named, it brings each pilot, every month, information to use in flying safely. The May Aviation Safety issue contains: Breathe the Thin Air; an overview of using auto fuel; Transition Training; Ferry Flights-The Long Way Home; The Stall/Mush Trap; plus, accident reports, service difficulties and real-life experiences in the air, all in the May issue of Aviation Safety. Order your subscription at https://www.avweb.com/sponsors/belvoir/avsafe
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HUMAN FACTORS IN AVIATION ACCIDENTS AUDIOTAPES DISCUSSES THE HUMAN SIDE of why accidents happen and what can be done to prevent them. The tape discusses in-flight decision making, error chains, personal limits, personality traits, and other elements than can lead to disaster. Brian Jacobson, author of Flying On The Gages, will give you something to think about. Order online at https://www.avweb.com/sponsors/odyssey
HOWARD FRIED TELLS FAY GILLIS WELLS STORY WITH HISTORICAL HEART
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