NATA Urges LORAN Upgrade

It may not be as flashy or capable as GPS but Long Range Aids to Navigation (LORAN) is almost bulletproof when the going gets tough, and thats why the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) is urging the federal government to improve it. The feds have asked for opinions on what to do with LORAN, a ground-based system that uses the time difference of low-frequency radio signals between the receiver and ground stations to plot the position of the receiver. Although GPS is now the favored navigational aid for everyone from pilots to hikers, NATA says its also vulnerable to disruption from weather and terrorists, while the long waves of RF from LORAN are hard to jam. LORAN provides a critical back-up should GPS malfunction or become unavailable, NATA says in its comments to the Department of Transportation.

Freight Company Blames ATC For Taxiway Collision

The owner of two small cargo aircraft that collided at Milwaukee General Mitchell International Airport last Wednesday says both pilots were complying with instructions from the tower. One of the pilots was slightly injured when the Cessna 402 and Beech 99, both owned by Freight Runners Express, came together at the intersection of three taxiways just off the airports main runway. "Both aircraft were operating in controlled areas under explicit instructions of air traffic control," Freight Runners said in a statement quoted by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "Neither pilot was notified by [air traffic control] of the impending conflict at the intersection, which would have prevented this accident." The NTSB hasnt decided whether it will investigate.

Vietnams First Homebuilt Set To Fly?

Vietnams flying farmers (well, technically, they havent really flown yet) are at it again and this time, according to VietNamNet Bridge, it looks like they might actually put some air between themselves and the ground. As AVweb reported in 2004, Tran Quoc Hai and Le Van Danh from Tay Ninh Province cobbled together a helicopter from salvage parts and a Russian truck engine, and the Vietnam government (perhaps wisely) confiscated it before it they could test fly it properly, although they said at the time theyd hovered it about 18 inches above the ground. Undeterred, the duo started construction on another aircraft, which looks a little like a recycling bin with a rotor, but which they say is much improved over the first one. Now comes word that the countrys prime minister has decided to give his blessing (and you thought the bureaucracy was tough in North America and Europe) to a test flight, provided the ministry of defense and other relevant agencies agree the chopper is airworthy.

Soccer Squad Under Aerial Surveillance

The British media is buzzing about a covert video and photo surveillance mission thats worthy of an Ian Fleming novel. But unlike a Fleming book, theres nothing as paltry as the future of mankind at stake. This plot has shaken and stirred something far more important-soccer (or, as they prefer to call it in Britain, football). According to the Daily Mirror, a highly modified Cessna 172 has been flying over the heavily guarded training complex of Manchester United as the lads practice and set tactics for future matches. United appears to be the team to beat in Britains top league and the video and still pictures taken during the astonishing spying mission could be invaluable to rival clubs, the newspaper speculated.

A Strange But Familiar View

After presenting himself to the cabin crew, Stephen Brown was asked to sit in one of the front passenger seats while the right-seat pilot switched sides. He then transitioned from a 182 cockpit to the glass screen spectacle that is a modern airliners command post. Gosh, theres a lot going on in there compared to a 182, he said. Brown said the pilot introduced himself as a 28-year veteran of this world. At that moment I was probably the least nervous person on the plane, he said. Brown said it was obvious the pilot was more than capable of safely landing the plane himself but the concept of cockpit resource management dictates that two sets of eyes, hands and feet are better than one and, despite his relative lack of experience, he was able to make a contribution.

150-Hour Cessna Pilot Helps Out In Continental Emergency

Stephen Brown says he has no intention of abandoning his successful air conditioning business in Albuquerque, but hes done something most private pilots havent. The 47-year-old 182 pilot was asked to take the right seat of a Continental Airlines Boeing 757 after the captain collapsed at the controls (he later died) shortly after takeoff from Houston bound for Puerto Vallarta 10 days ago. Brown, along with his wife and some friends, was among 210 passengers heading on vacation when, less than an hour into the flight, Brown said he knew something was terribly wrong not long after a flight attendant asked if there was a doctor on board. Anyone who could see up front could see them pulling one of the pilots out of the cockpit, Brown told AVweb in an exclusive interview.

Liberty Honors Symphony And Tiger Deposits

Symphony Aircraft and Tiger Aircraft customers may be down but they're not necessarily out. Liberty Aerospace, which came on the scene roughly concurrently with the now-bankrupt Symphony and Tiger, is offering to honor the deposits of customers of its former competitor toward the purchase of a Liberty two-place touring aircraft. "The exit of these two companies is a tremendous loss to the aviation community," Keith Markley, chief operating officer of Liberty Aerospace, said in a news release. "Pilots and the rest of the industry have a strong history of working together and our wish is to keep the aviation community flying by delivering to those who still desire a new aircraft."

AVmail: Jan. 29, 2007


AVmail: Jan. 29, 2007
Reader mail this week about the Comair crash, ATC staffing, user fees and more.

Superior’s New President And (Soon) Certified Engine

Frank Thielert, the CEO of Thielert AG, announced that Kent Abercrombie has been selected as the new president of Superior Air Parts. Abercrombie joined Superior in December of 2000 as the director of finance and was promoted to V.P. of finance in September 2005. Last year Superior experienced 25-percent growth, and further growth is expected since Superior aims to offer the four-cylinder 220-hp angle-head XP400 engine as a certified product, according to the company. Thielert AG, whose diesel engines have won industry acclaim for efficiency serving in the sleek Diamond TwinStar, acquired Superior last spring.

NTSB: OSU King Air Crash Leaves Legacy Of Safety

An NTSB recommendation resulting from its investigation of a January 2001 King Air crash that killed all aboard -- two crew and eight members of the Oklahoma State University basketball team -- has borne fruit. NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker praised the "admirable work" of the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) and other student athletic organizations as "above and beyond" for the creation of a 64-page "Safety in Student Transportation" guidance manual that has since June been distributed to some 9,200 presidents of colleges and universities, athletics directors and business and risk managers at educational institutions across the country. If officials implement the policies, "We will have gone a long way toward making something good come out of a tragic accident," said Rosenker.

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