The aiREPORT [2013Q3]

The aiREPORT provides a random collection of links and concise summaries of news articles relevant to the impact of aviation, as compiled each week. It is presented as a research tool and historical record, aimed at identifying trends, while also revealing strategies repeated by FAA and others.

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Third Quarter, Week #13: September 22 — September 28, 2013

summary:

Top AvNews Story: a composite of two diverging realities … FAA faces an imminent and substantial budget shortfall with the new Fiscal Year, yet continues to throw money to contractors and airports, for projects of questionable merit. A father seeing this behavior in his kid would be concerned that the kid needs to break out of this bad habit of ‘buying friends’…

QUICKlooks:

  • 9/26/13: DoT’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics released a report showing that the number of passenger airline jobs dropped 2.6% from July 2012 to July 2013. [PDF], [BTS Post]
  • …A 63-yr-old captain on a United flight from Houston to Seattle became incapacitated, and the first officer took over. The flight was diverted to a landing at Boise, and the Captain died shortly after arriving at the local hospital. [article]
  • 9/27/13: Nearly all FAA news stories focused on the panel recommendation that use of electronics on airline flights should be relaxed.
  • 9/28/13: a Minnesota Public Radio article about UAV development/testing at Grand Forks. It reports that the Grand Forks County sheriff’s department is expanding its unmanned aircraft operations to include night flights. [article]

Airports in the News:

  • Wilmington, NC [KILM]: a U.S. Senator announced FAA had awarded $5.4M for runway improvements. The grant follows a $1M grant announced a week earlier, to acquire more land. This 1,800 acre airport has an FAA tower, 118 based aircraft and averages 124 operations/day; operations have declined 39% since 2007. [article]
  • Wickenburg, AZ [E25]: FAA funding has been approved for a $2.4M project, to build a midfield apron area next to the single 6,100′ x 75′ runway. The airport is just 100 acres and sits on scrub land west of town. It is home base to 34 small aircraft, and averages 99 operations/day. [article]

Links to Articles:

9-27-2013DoT’s Plan for FAA Staffing during FY2014 Appropriations Lapse
Due to the Congressional budget impasse, and in preparation for unfunded activities in the new Fiscal Year, DoT’s Acting CFO, Sylvia Garcia, compiled a report that identifies which positions will work, and which will be furloughed. It notes that 15,514 of FAA’s 46,070 employees are subject to furlough, though 2,490 furloughs from within the Office of Aviation Safety would be ‘recalled incrementally over a two week period’. The Office of Audit & Evaluation is subject to furlough, too.
9-24-2013FAA Furloughs, Tower Closures, ATC Privatization Back On The Table
With the new Fiscal Year, FAA faces the challenge of mending a $700M budget gap. EXCERPT: “There are conversations taking place among the stakeholders [about privatizing ATC],” Gerald Dillingham, civil aviation director of the U.S. Government Accountability Office, told Bloomberg. Paul Rinaldi, president of NATCA, said he would be open to such a discussion. “I don’t have the answers, but I do know the current system is broken,” he said. Legislation now under consideration in Washington, however, could extend the current government budget levels through mid-December, delaying any new cuts until next year.
9-24-2013Press Release – FAA Awards $17 Million in Environmental Grants to Airports
DoT Secretary Foxx announced $17M in grants to eight large airports, part of the VALE program. “This program supports President’s Obama’s efforts to combat climate change and reduce aviation’s carbon footprint,” said Secretary Foxx. “These funds will help airports around the country make the necessary investments that will reduce fuel costs and help protect the environment.” The funds will mostly go towards charging systems, alternative fuels vehicles, and more efficient climate control systems. “The FAA encourages airlines and airports to find creative ways to reduce aviation’s impact on the environment,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “We applaud these airports for their efforts to make their facilities environmentally friendly members of the community.” The Press Release also notes that VALE grants since 2005 have aided 33 airports with projects worth $161M.
9-22-2013FAA Consent, Money Needed for ‘Virtual Tower’
A system is under development to create unmanned control towers. This article discusses a recent test applied to an airport near a national Boy Scout Jamboree (evidently, scout leaders like to fly in?). The system is estimated to cost $3M, according to developer Quadrex Aviation in Melbourne, FL. Two key requirements to move forward are FAA approval, and FAA money.
9-22-2013Talks on Private Air-Traffic Control Turn Serious in U.S.
EXCERPT: Discussions about removing government management of the U.S. air-traffic control system are the most serious in two decades, prompted by budget cuts and uncertain funding for converting to satellite navigation.

Third Quarter, Week #12: September 15 — September 21, 2013

summary:

Top AvNews Story: a major PR greenwash, in FAA’s announced plan to spend $40M to develop fuel cells and hydrogen technologies. Given the large energy requirements of aviation vs. the relatively low energy potential of hydrogen, these fuel cells appear to be entirely impractical for aviation.

QUICKlooks:

  • 9/16/13: The Department of Energy (DOE) is opening a National Fuel Cell Technology Evaluation Center to further development of fuel cells and hydrogen technologies. [article]
  • … NY Senator Charles Schumer called on the FAA to choose an alliance known as NUAIR as one of the six drone test sites. NUAIR is said to include forty organizations in New York and Massachusetts. [article]
  • 9/20/13: Allegiant Air Travel reportedly grounded half of its MD80 fleet on Friday, after discovering they had failed to do annual inspections of their emergency evacuation chutes. [article]
  • 9/21/13: An emergency helicopter transporting a patient had a forced landing near Canton, MS, injuring the pilot’s back and sending the two medical crew members and the patient on to the hospital. The helicopter was operated by MedStat, which has bases in Winona and near Columbus. [article]

Airports in the News:

  • New Orleans, LA (Lakefront Airport [KNEW]): a ribbon-cutting ceremony will happen on 9/28, for the dedication of the restored art deco Terminal Building. It was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina flooding in 2005. The 1933 structure was vastly ‘modernized’ in 1964, and many of the early architectural details were removed. They are being restored in the reconstruction. [article]
  • Birmingham, AL (Shuttlesworth Airport [KBHM]): FAA is awarding $8.8M, a part of the $201M airport terminal expansion aprojects. The local Congressperson quickly praised the awards. $6M will go toward security upgrades, while $2.8M are ‘VALE’ funds, to go toward low emission ground vehicles. The busiest airport in Alabama, KBHM has an FAA tower open 24/7 and averages one takeoff every ten minutes. [article]
  • Wiley Ford, WV (Greater Cumberland Regional Airport [KCBE]): FAA has awarded a grant worth $2.3M, to be used to acquire six parcels of land, remove obstructions, and relocate some taxiway threshold areas. The airport has a $59M development plan, with a goal to complete it by 2017. FAA funds are expected, at the current 90% subsidy rate. This airport in western Maryland averages twenty takeoffs per day, mostly for local pattern traffic. It is the home base for 55 aircraft (42 single-prop, five twin-prop, two jets, one helicopter, and five gliders). If the full airport plan is developed, the FAA will have invested nearly one million dollars per private plane at the airport, and most of this money will be from airline passenger taxes. [article]
  • Boston, MA [KBOS]: A flood of noise complaints in Milton has prompted FAA to spend an extra six months studying the impact of a flight path change out of Logan Airport.The NextGen change, implemented in June, sends more departing flights from Runway 33L over Milton and neighboring towns. The routes are concentrated more precisely, this magnifying noise impact for those who live under the routes. Thus, in the first month, complaints increased six-fold. [article]
  • Chatham, MA (Chatham Municipal Airport, [KCQX]): an FAA Deputy Regional Administrator speaks at a town meeting where roughly a hundred residents expressed opposition to the noise impact of local parachute operations. An ongoing conflict at this location, right at the elbow of Cape Cod. [article]

Links to Articles:

9-18-2013FAA rule change will make things more noisy
A blog by and for residents of Queens. They are impacted by noise from both LaGuardia and JFK Airports…. “You can’t hear yourself think because every time it stops, it starts again,” one resident said. The Federal Aviation Administration is planning to change its rules so it can change flight plans without any environmental review. The rule change will lead to more noise pollution for Queens and Nassau County, Rep. Steve Israel said. “This is a bad rule for our quality of life, it’s a bad rule for our environment, it’s a bad rule for people who live in the vicinity of New York’s airports,” Israel said. The congressman also relabeled the FAA “The Federal Arrogant Administration.”
9-18-2013Risk of Flight Delays Returns as FAA Weighs Controller Furloughs
Alan Levin at Businessweek writes about what various aviation officials are saying, in anticipation of the new Fiscal Year. Levin notes: “Seventy-one percent of the FAA’s operations budget — a $9 billion pot that pays for air-traffic control, safety inspections and aircraft certification — goes to salaries, according to CRS. Air-traffic controllers are among the highest paid government employees, earning an average of $108,000 per year, according to 2010 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Huerta has told Congress it will be difficult to reach spending goals without furloughs. The FAA employs about 45,000.” Actually, FAA salaries may average much higher than that. Controllers at the slowest ATC facilities top out around $100K, but controllers at the biggest facilities and the busier towers top out well over $120K/year. In fact, hundreds of controllers max out on the federal payscale at ~$180K. And, and even higher percentage of managers are maxing out their federal pay.
9-16-2013Tax cut spurs job growth in Indiana
Officials from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and top Indiana Senate and House leaders gathered inside the expansive hangar of Eagle Creek Aviation Services here Friday to mark the nearly-instant success of a tax reduction for general aviation businesses. The bill passed earlier this year and eliminated a gas tax that can save aircraft owners about 40 cents per gallon, as well as a 7% tax on aircraft parts and labor. The taxes were stifling Indiana’s aviation businesses, as aircraft owners bypassed the state to avoid hefty fuel and repair taxes, according to GA officials. [Note: Pennsylvania passed similar legislation, too; what happens when all states give all aviators tax breaks?]
9-15-2013FAA cuts red tape for UAS at Yosemite Fires
GANews posts an article that has FAA working hand-in-hand with the military, NPS and California authorities to approve use of a drone to help in the fires. Not discussed is why NPS and Interior are not simply allowed to tell FAA they have an emergency, have shut down the airspace, and will fly drones if they need to.

Third Quarter, Week #11: September 8 — September 14, 2013

summary:

Top AvNews Story: FAA reports that controller errors in 2012 more than doubled over the number of similar errors in 2011 … Flying Magazine posted a good article (and reader comments) about the fact that, despite many pleadings and other efforts by both FAA and NTSB, the accident history for Summer 2013 turned out very poorly … and, the same old background noise related to FAA funding of local airport projects and the claimed enormous economic benefits thereof; appears to be that time of year, again (end of FY) …

QUICKlooks:

  • 9/9/13: Aviation NGO leaders are commending the Governor of Kansas for proclaiming September is ‘Aviation Appreciation Month’. (Note: He is doing so as part of an organized campaign to generate proclamations and build positive news releases; that campaign comes from those same NGO’s … sort of a PR vortex). [link]
  • … Europe’s air traffic controller unions are urging their members to take strike action against fresh Single European Sky legislation. The ATCEUC is calling on it’s 14,000 members to join a pan-European action day on 10/10/13. They want to call attention to their concern that the European Commission is attempting “…to deregulate every profession that ensures the passenger safety.” This is very reminiscent of the relationship between FAA and NATCA, during the dark years 2005-2009 (when  FAA imposed a split payscale and dress code). [link]
  • 9/10/13: GA blogger Bob Collins posted that his many efforts to renew his medical exam have failed, as FAA just delivered their decision. Sadly, his flying days are over. Bob goes on to discuss that he came down with Meniere’s Disease, how it impacted his flying, and his effort to gain a fresh new look, including his need to eventually sell the RV-7 he built and loves to fly. [link]
  • … Senator Tom Harkin in Iowa announced that $3.2M in FAA/AIP funds have been awarded for two projects at two airports, in Davenport and Ankeny. Iowa is famous for pork production (pun intended). IowaPork.org says that in 2008 there were 8,300 hog operations in the state, accounting for nearly a third of U.S. pork production. [link]
  • … an article details the advantages a Connecticut realtor is finding by using drones to produce aerial images. He believes he can fly up to 400′ above the ground,. FAA has expressed concerns in two areas: altitude of flight (which seemingly is fine at 400′, unless he is close to an airport), and the possibility that the drone imagery is a commercial activity. (note: it is not clear why FAA should want/need to control low altitude drone use on the basis of whether or not it is a commercial activity). [link]
  • 9/13/13: yet another article (this one at GovExec) about the sequester budget stalemate, filled with quotes by FAA officials, NGO leaders, and Rinaldi at NATCA. [link]
  • … Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington issued a news release talking up the groundbreaking of a new Center of Excellence to be based at WSU Tri-Cities. A quote: “This landmark investment will help the jet biofuels industry take flight … From farms to airports, green jet fuel means jobs for Americans. This investment impacts every sector of the American economy. It secures and grows our aviation competitiveness by controlling the costs of jet fuel, protects our environment by reducing carbon emissions, and keeps our nation safer by reducing our dependence on foreign oil….” [link]

Airports in the News:

  • Destin, FL (Destin – Ft. Walton Beach Airport [KDTS]): FAA has grounded Timberview Helicopters from conducting air tours, due to multiple safety violations. The company can re-apply if/when they correct their violations. [link]
  • Norwood, MA (Norwood Memorial Airport [KOWD]): the airport manager sent a letter to his two senators and one congressman, urging a plan be expedited to restore certainty to FAA funding and prevent any further sequester threats … and to keep the contract tower at Norwood open past 9/30/13, which is the end of the current Fiscal Year. Norwood’s tower is open 9-hours per day, and the airport is said to average 273 operations/day. However, there are many airports around the country that have 200- to 500+ daily operations and function just fine without a control tower. [link]
  • New York City (LaGuardia Airport [KLGA]): Janet McEneaney, president of Queens Quiet Skies, said the group is now working on establishing itself as an advocacy group for all of Queens, not just the northeast sector. Seeking help from the Governor, in the problems she and others are having with FAA, she added, “The airlines and the Port Authority do not vote — we do.” [link]
  • Gulfport, MS (Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport [KGPT]): The Airport Authority Chairman announced a $4.7M FAA/AIP grant for various projects, including drainage, fencing, taxiway widening, and terminal improvements. He thanked both the FAA and the Mississippi Congressional delegation. [link]
  • Farmingdale, NY (Republic Airport [KFRG]): FBO Atlantic Aviation filed a complaint that upstart FBO Talon Air is getting preferential treatment from state officials. Talon owner Adam Katz is a real estate developer and reportedly a generous political donor. FBO’s provide fuel and other services at airports. Needless to say, monopoly FBO’s have an easier road to profits, so it is not uncommon for FBO’s to try to manipulate FAA and/or other officials (and the rules) to protect their turf. [link]
  • Le Roy, NY (Le Roy Airport [5G0]): an FAA grant was announced by U.S. Representative Chris Collins, a successful business entrepreneur who also served as the Erie County Executive (an elected office) from 2008-2012. The fatal Colgan crash at Buffalo happened in early 2009, during his term. The announced FAA grant provides $137K for removal of trees at Le Roy Airport. This airport has a single 3,800′ runway, is home to 19 aircraft (17 single-props and two twin-props), averages only 20 takeoffs per day (mostly for local pattern traffic), and is 14-miles west of the Rochester Airport. […Q: why is FAA funding being used for this tree removal, and why so much money? Can’t little airports like this exist without FAA handouts?…] [link]
  • Greencastle, IN (Putnam County Airport [4I7]): FAA is granting $3.55M, mostly for the removal of a hump in the single runway. This airport averages 19 takeoffs per day, and is home to 28 aircraft (19 single-props, three twin-props, two jets and five helicopters). It is less than 30-miles from two large controlled airports, at Indianapolis and Terre Haute. [link]

Links to Articles:

9-12-2013FAA reports increase in air-traffic mistakes
A USA Today article by Bart Jansen, providing statistics showing the number of errors by controllers in 2011 more than doubled in 2012. There were 4,934 events where aircraft got too close to each other. ATO COO David Grizzle says no problem: he believes ATSAP and newly introduced technologies are the reason for the increase.
9-12-2013Remember Huerta’s Summer Safety Plea? How Did We Do?
Stephen Pope blogs that Mr. Huerta’s plea and many other efforts (including by NTSB) produced no apparent improvements. Two quotes: “…it appears that, in general, we failed Huerta’s test – miserably … our poor safety record is one of the undeniable factors hamstringing the entire GA community – more so than the high price of avgas, government TFRs, outdated certification standards or a host of other negative factors – although these certainly don’t help either. But if we don’t solve our safety problem first, there’s not much hope for the future of GA – at least not the vibrant, thriving GA so many of us yearn for.” Kudos to Flying Magazine for posting the facts. Let’s hope FAA and pilots everywhere will fix this problem, so we can truly have a thriving GA sector that enriches our lives, with far fewer accidents and far fewer impacts as well.
9-12-2013FAA’s GPS Satellite Plan for Friendlier Skies
A video interview of Pam Drew of Exelis, a contractor with an award of $1.8B to participate in the $40B NextGen project. Essentially, this interview is a sales pitch that seeks to explain NextGen and justify the cost. She notes that the radar systems refresh the image every 12-seconds, but the new NextGen will update roughly every second, allowing for ATC to pack in more airplanes per mile, which should reduce delays, too. In the middle of the interview, the reporter makes reference to FAA’s old radar technologies, dating back to WWII. This implies the present radars are clunky, which is a very erroneous misrepresentation. They are vastly updated and supplemented with extensive systems for managing flight and weather information, detecting hazards, etc. And every one of these improvements was grandstanded before Congress and the Public, to gain support to spend billions every year … a decades-old pattern.
9-12-2013FAA grants Lockheed contract extension
Three days after announcing a $221M contract extension to Lockheed Martin for GA Flight Services, FAA made a very similar announcement: the Lockheed Martin contract to support Oceanic ATOP has been extended. The extension is worth as much as $500M for eight years.
9-11- 2013FAA uses faulty single-variable model to make air traffic control tower repair decisions
This is a brief analysis of a recent GAO Report, which found FAA was not being diligent when deciding which ATC facilities needed repairs. A quote: “In 2012, a consultant for the ATO developed the statistical model based on inspection results of 134 inspected facilities. The model ‘uses one variable–age of the facility–to estimate the facility’s condition,’ the GAO report says. In one instance, eight air traffic control towers, each 17 years old, were identified as having the same condition, including the Los Angeles International Airport tower.”
9-11-2013FAA, Industry Continue Push to Eliminate Sequester
A short article touching on recent speeches and statements by Huerta, Blakey, Heinrich (Rockwell Collins), and NATCA, all united in pursuit of FAA protection from possible future sequester cuts.
9-9-2013FAA extends Lockheed GA flight planning role
FAA awarded $221M, extending for two more years the contract to provide services formerly provided by the Flight Service Station personnel. Lockheed Martin has held the contract since 2005, when the FSS function was first contracted out, and the FAA personnel either retired, went to work for Lockheed Martin, or found jobs elsewhere at FAA.
9-9-2013Hawaii Awarded $23 Million From FAA and FTA for Airport Projects
A Hawaii Senator announced seven grants, mostly from FAA, including numerous airport projects and a statewide airport system study.

Third Quarter, Week #10: September 1 — September 7, 2013

summary:

Top AvNews Story: A Judge has rejected airline arguments that the testimony of FAA Whistleblower Christopher Monteleon and the Report compiled by consultant (and former FAA official) Nick Sabatini are irrelevant in trials related to the Colgan 3407 crash in Buffalo. Attorneys representing families of the deceased will have access to these resources. … Also, many more news releases appeared, with elected officials grandstanding about the FAA/AIP money coming home for their constituents. And, lots of what appears to be early maneuvering, to get Congress to exempt FAA from a repeat of last Spring’s sequester debacle…

QUICKlooks:

  • 9/3/13: Helicopter Association International president Matt Zuccaro said HAI is evaluating its legal and political options in the wake of a federal court decision upholding the authority of the FAA to mandate the “North Shore Route” for helicopters transiting New York’s Long Island. [link]
  • 9/4/13: FAA has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to make it legal for some pilots to fly down to 100′ above the touchdown zone elevation without seeing the airport, before they must execute a missed approach. The current is 200′ (generally). The new standard would apply to crews using enhanced forward vision systems (EFVS) using a real-time image of the flight environment while flying on straight-in precision approaches. [link]

Airports in the News:

  • Cedar Rapids, IA (The Eastern Iowa Airport [KCID]): FAA has announced a $5.2M AIP award for construction of a new taxiway. The new ‘Taxiway Echo’ will parallel the north end of crosswind Runway 13/31, along the east side, and will replace a portion of current Taxiway Delta. The airport averages 153 operations/day (four takeoffs per hour of ATC service), with roughly 30 daily commercial passenger departures. Airport operations have declined 33% since the peak in 1999. News articles from earlier this year expressed concern the project would be delayed by the FAA budget sequester.
  • Telluride, CO (Telluride Regional Airport [KTEX]): A new ATC aircraft tracking system has been activated, which will allow controllers at the center in Longmont to ‘see’ flights below 12,000′, all the way to the ground. The system uses ground-based and satellite-based technologies, and should substantially reduce delays during heavy traffic periods in the ski seasons ahead. [link]
  • Butler, PA (Butler County Airport, Scholter Field [KBTP]): $1M in FAA and state funds will be used to acquire 4 acres and widen the taxiway. This airport is home for roughly 100 GA aircraft, has no control tower, and averages 200 operations per day. Nearby airports include Pittsburgh (KPIT), Alleghany (KAGC), Beaver (KBVI) and Zelienople (KPJC), and are all substantially underutilized. [link]
  • Louisville, MS (Louisville Winston County Airport [KLMS]): FAA will pay 90% of the $734K needed for construction of a new terminal building. This airport has twelve based aircraft and averages 21 operations per day. It is midway between Tupelo and Meridian, both of which have control towers at very slow airports (averaging 150 ops/day). [link]
  • Fort Meyers, FL (Southwest Florida International Airport [KRSW]): A coooerative effort aimed at reducing residential noise impacts began on 8/1/13. The preferred runway for the hours of 10PM to 6AM changed from Runway 6 to Runway 24. The tower closes at 10PM. [link]

Links to Articles:

9-6-2013FAA faces air controller shortages: report
FAA is saying that the requirement to double-staff overnight ATC shifts (after the rash of sleeping controllers in early 2011) is creating a shortage of controllers. FAA also says they are planning to hire 11,700 new air traffic controllers by 2021, to replace those lost to budget cuts and retirement. The Dot-IG says FAA controller training has become less efficient; controllers averaged less than two years of training just a few years ago, but now the average is nearly three years to fully train..
9-6-2013FAA Cuts the Red Tape to Let UAS Work Yosemite Wildfire
An FAA News Release putting a positive spin on their working with the Department of Defense and the California National Guard to quickly approve use of a drone to aid in monitoring the fires at Yosemite National Park.
9-4-2013It’s a bird; it’s a plane; no, it’s another annoying helicopter
Some good background information on the long history of helicopter noise impact (and safety concerns) related to helicopters in the Hudson River area. Discusses an 8/27/13 symposium held at Teterboro Airport, attended by Senator Menendez, Congressman Sires, and many other local officials. Some say it the problem is beyond tourist helicopters, which supposedly cease at 7PM. The problem is said to be later traffic using the Paulus Hook Heliport and the repair facility at Kearny. A quote: “The quality of life of our residents has suffered due to the constant noise being generated by these aircraft, and we are all concerned about the frequency and dangerously low altitudes at which these helicopters are flying over our neighborhoods.”
9-3-2013Judge grants access to internal review, FAA inspector in advance of trial in 2009 plane crash
Fifty people died when Colgan Flight 3407 (flying as Continental Connection) crashed into a house in Buffalo in 2009. The accident investigation unveiled very troubling details about pilot pay, pilot fatigue, FAA blocking of Whistleblower concerns, etc. The airlines used a bankruptcy to delay the release of critical records. OF 40 filed lawsuits, all but eight have been settled through mediation. A trial is set to start on 3/4/14. Shortly after the crash, Colgan hired Nick Sabatini (FAA’s Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety, who had just retired on 1/3/09) to look at their operations and draft a confidential report. The airlines did not want to share the report, and claimed the report was irrelevant because the work culture at Colgan had changed. U.S. District Judge William Skretny disagreed;  he said the report was potentially relevant because it was unlikely that the culture at Colgan had significantly changed in the weeks after the crash. Additionally, the Judge approved testimony by FAA inspector Christopher Monteleon, a Whistleblower who had warned of Colgan problems prior to the crash. Judge Skretny agreed with attorneys for the passengers’ families, who said Monteleon may have information that is either new or fills gaps in other witnesses’ testimony.
9-2-2013Alabama and Tennessee team for effort to land 1 of 6 FAA drone test sites
FAA holds the authority to decide which six locations will be designated for drone development, research. (Perhaps this authority should be reassigned, for drone activities below a low altitude such as 1,000′ and at least five miles from airports, so that FAA is no longer in the loop?)
9-2-2013FAA deferring ERAM functionality as money runs out
The program, En Route Automation Modernization, replaces the 4 decades old high altitude radar tracking system known as Host; currently, ERAM is operational either full- or part-time at 16 of 20 air route traffic control centers. FAA officials told  auditors that sequestration will significantly impact ERAM implementation, although the report doesn’t say if they anticipate missing the 2014 deadline.
9-1-2013AIN Blog: Torqued: What If Aviation CEOs Were Held Accountable for Employee Safety Violations?
John Goglia (former NTSB member) with yet another interesting blog. This time, he discusses a recent court action that held former New Jersey Governor and Senator Jon Corzine accountable for the malfeasances of a subordinate employee that resulted in massive financial losses for investors. Goglia then suggests: why not extend accountability for aviation blunders up to the levels of management, especially when management creates the culture and pressure that often precipitates errors, accidents, and other system failures?
9-1-2013FAA’s 2014 Budget Remains Unresolved
An AIN article by Paul Lowe, noting that Congress went on their summer break with no evident progress toward resolving the sequester threat. Looks like another round of primetime sequester reactions coming soon…
9-1-2013Industry Lobby Groups Prepared To Take On FAA
A review of the growing distrust of FAA officials, as expressed a month ago at Oshkosh. The opening paragraph: “The alphabets are angry. Reflecting the growing frustration of their members, presidents of the trade associations tasked with representing general aviation interests showed up at this year’s EAA AirVenture with both barrels loaded full of criticism for the FAA and for the congressional oversight of the agency. The rhetoric was a marked shift from the traditional message of cooperation with the FAA. Other than controllers and their supervisors, top FAAofficials, including agency Administrator Michael Huerta, were conspicuously absent from this year’s AirVenture, allegedly because of federal budget sequestration. It was the first time an FAA Administrator has skipped the event in many years.”

Third Quarter, Week #9: August 25 — August 31, 2013

summary:

Top AvNews story: the DoT-IG report, connecting controller fatigue to FAA staffing practices. Also, there is still lots of posturing by FAA and elected officials, to win support from taxpayers by announcing recipients of this years rounds of billions of AIP dollars…

QUICKlooks:

  • 8/26/13: NBAA, AOPA and other alphabet groups commended the Governor of South Carolina for her recent declaration of  ‘South Carolina Aviation Week’.
  • The state of Pennsylvania announced that $5.4M in mostly Federal funds will be invested in fifteen small airports across the state. Much of the money will go for obstruction removal and/or studies to studies and designs related to future obstruction removal.
  • 8/27/13: GA News reports that Cessna made their first test-flight of their newest bizjet, the Citation M2, being produced in Independence, MO
  • A GA News article reports: Arkansas Governor, and a few Arkansas mayors, declare August is ‘GA Appreciation Month’.
  • 8/28/13: Some American Pilots Make A Measly $20 Per Hour. A BusinessInsider article that lays out how much pilots are paid for the various regional/commuter lines, and the major airlines too. It breaks down pay at first year, after five years, ten years, etc.
  • 8/30/13: The President of the National Air Transportation Association, Tom Hendricks, spoke at a town hall sponsored by the Napa Air Center, at [KAPC]. An article in the Napa Valley Register covers some aviation lobby concerns.

Airports in the News:

  • Moline, IL (Quad City Airport [KMLI]): Elliott Aviation has petitioned the courts to be allowed to intervene in a lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed after the state granted a property tax exemption to the company leasing facilities at the airport. The tax exemption effectively reduces tax revenues for local schools by $150K.
  • Mobile, AL (Mobile Downtown Airport [KBFM]): Airbus is making progress on development of its first U.S. production facility, intended to do final assembly of the A320 model. The plant has a planned opening of 2015 and will hire 1,000 workers.

Links to Articles:

8-29-2013FAA takes up Hudson County complaints about low-flying tourist helicopters
Elected officials continue to pressure FAA to clean up the noise problem created by helicopters in the New York City area. In this story, the lead advocates are Senator Robert Menendez and Congressman Albio Sires.
8-29-2013Quiet Air-Traffic Towers Should Be Closed Nights: Report
A Bloomberg article by Alan Levin, summarizing the DoT-IG report issued on 8/27/13, discussing controller fatigue and the potential to close down some towers during the very slow overnight hours.
8-29-2013New FAA Rule Gives Embry-Riddle Students Advantage for Airline Jobs
Embry-Riddle announced that FAA granted their students special status, so that they may promote into airline pilot jobs at 1,000 hours, instead of the new minimum 1,500 hours. Prior to these new minimums, pilots with only 250 hours were eligible. One consequence of these new rules is that flight training will tend to become more concentrated at those 4-year aviation institutions with intensive training programs. Embry-Riddle has major campuses at Daytona Beach, FL and Prescott, AZ.
8-28-2013Op-Ed: Why We Need a National Airline Policy
A short opinion article by Sean Kennedy, a Senior VP at Airlines for America (A4A). He notes that ten major airlines reported $1.6Billion in profits during the first half of the year, and these funds are being reinvested. But, he warns, the rate of taxation in the U.S. commercial aviation system is too high, and needs to be reduced. The comments lean against Mr. Kennedy, but the article is well worth reading in that it provides all sides of the larger debate.
8-27-2013FAA Investigates After Drone Crashes In Virginia
Three spectators at the Virginia Motor Sports center are injured when a hexacopter drone used for capturing video images crashes, after losing its battery power. FAA has been aggressively shutting down university programs and drone aerial photographers, while giving oil companies approval to use drones in Alaska. Oddly, riskier activities near crowds have been ignored until accidents happen. Q: since drones operate so low to the ground, should the authority to manage their use be taken away from FAA, and given to a different agency, perhaps one more focused on public safety?
8-25-2013Remembering Paul Poberezny
A tribute piece by Kent Misegades, at GA News. Mr. Poberezny passed away on  8/22/13, at age 91. He founded the Experimental Aircraft Association in 1953 and was a legendary advocate (as well as respected father figure) for those interested in building their own airplane.

Third Quarter, Week #8: August 18 — August 24, 2013

summary:

…just a slow week, as if everyone is away on their late Summer vacations…

QUICKlooks:

  • 8/20/13: AOPA announced that the new AOPA President is Mark Baker. He replaces Craig Fuller, who announced his decision to leave earlier this year.
  • Years of noise complaints are prompting San Francisco’s Supervisors to consider an ordinance to ban aerial advertising. The article mentions AWP Counsel Naomi Tsuda, and note FAA’s chronic opposition to such local control.
  • NBAA complained that FAA’s required ‘disclaimers’ are discouraging pilots from wanting to use data contained in Safety NOTAM’s; FAA assures they are repairing the excessive disclaimers.
  • 8/22/13: American Petroleum Institute (API) reports that 18.9 million barrels per day of petroleum products were delivered in the U.S. in July, up 1.7 percent from last year, and the highest level for July in three years. Jet fuel was up 2.3%, to 1.5 million barrels/day.

Airports in the News:

  • Casa Grande, AZ ([KCGZ]) has said no to paying FAA money for controllers at their annual Fly-In, on October 24-26. Just as they did for other large GA events this year, FAA is demanding funds to cover overtime, lodging, etc.
  • Columbus, OH (Port Columbus International Airport [KCMH]) will inaugurate a new south runway this week and FAA Administrator Huerta will visit. The article also notes an $80M project to overhaul the terminal building.
  • Le Mars, IA (Le Mars Municipal Airport [KLRJ]) is home to 19 single-props, one jet,  and five ultralights, using a single 4,650′ runway. The community must cease construction of a 140′ tall water tower, because FAA says it is too high and creates an airport hazard. The airport averages 15 takeoffs per day, and is 27-miles north of the Sioux City airport.

Links to Articles:

8-23-2013AMR, US Airways Seeking Trial in U.S. Antitrust Lawsuit
The Department of Justice is challenging the proposed airline merger, and is pushing for a February hearing. The airlines and their unions want to move that up to November, as the merger is considered a critical element of American’s strategy for exiting their current bankruptcy.
8-22-2013Proposed AD could have devastating effect on GA
The Airworthiness Directive relates to cylinders installed on more than 6,000 Continental engines. Sometimes it looks like FAA imposes strong regulations against GA, to look effective overall, while ignoring larger, real problems in commercial aviation (e.g., the cargo pilot fatigue issue). EXCERPT: Officials with all of GA’s alphabet groups want more information before filing their formal comments. The FAA needs to be more forthcoming with information, says Hackman. EAA and AOPA are exploring avenues for getting more information, including asking for public hearings. Another is to ask for an extension on the date comments are due to the FAA. Currently, Oct. 11, 2013, is the deadline for comments.
8-21-2013Consultancy ‘Won’t Interfere’ With New President’s Job: AOPA
AOPA assures that their newly appointed President, Mark Baker, will serve AOPA fulltime, and not be distracted by some occasional consulting work related to his previous job. He was CEO at Orchard Hardware Supply, with 79 stores in California. The company is wrapping up a $205 Million bankruptcy and simultaneous sale to Lowes, and the package before a Bankruptcy Judge includes bonuses paid to the top five executives. Forty percent of the bonuses went to Baker, who “…pocketed more than $800,000 in bonuses for his part in steering the bankruptcy sale to a successful conclusion.” (Hmmm; is there really such a thing  as a successful bankruptcy, and should the management be rewarded? this seems very much like the too-big-to-fail banks and finance debacles of recent years). According to the Federal attorney opposed to the bonuses, all Baker and others had to do to collect was show up for work.
8-20-2013FAA Grants Restrictive Young Eagles Exemption
In response to a petition filed by EAA in the spring of 2012, the FAA recently granted a partial exemption from sections of 14 CFR 61.113, allowing pilots to receive compensation for flights under the EAA Eagle Flight and Young Eagles programs. While the petition included sport and recreational pilots, the FAA exemption applies only to pilots holding private pilot certificates or higher. Allowable compensation will include the cost of fuel during documented quasi-commercial flights, including the fuel used for transportation to such events.
8-19-2013No one injured in small plane crash on Marion Lake
A Cessna C172 flying over the Oregon Cascade Mountains loses power. The 28-yr-old pilot makes a forced landing onto shallow Marion Lake. He and a 47-yr-old male, plus two children ages 12 and 13, swim to shore as the aircraft sinks below the water surface.

Third Quarter, Week #7: August 11 — August 17, 2013

summary:

Top AvNews story: the fatal UPS crash at KBHM. Almost as big was the filing by DoJ, seeking to stop the American – US Airways merger … which led the Judge for the American bankruptcy to say ‘whoa!’.  Background noise from the ‘aviation-equals-jobs’ contingent, perhaps timed to coincide with congressional officials back home on recess (great time to shake hands with constituents at late summer fairs).

QUICKlooks:

  • The Governor of Arkansas declared that August is ‘General Aviation Appreciation Month’. This is the latest in a series of state proclamations being generated by an NBAA.org PR campaign that provides pre-fab text used to generate photo-opportunities for elected officials.
  • GAMA organized a ‘rally’ in Albuquerque, in which aviation manufacturers are touting their contributions to the economy.
  • 8/13/13: The U.S. DoJ filed a lawsuit seeking to stop the proposed merger of American and US Airways.
  • 8/14/13: On the same day the world news was reporting hundreds killed when Egyptian officials cracked down on protesters, a commercial accident in Birmingham, AL: UPS Flight 1354 crashed at 4:49AM, one mile before the start of the runway, and two pilots died.
  • 8/16/13: a financial analyst critical of DoJ’s lawsuit against the American-USAirways merger notes that Southwest controls 93% or more of passenger flights at Chicago-Midway, Dallas-Love, and Houston-Hobby airports.
  • 8/17/13: Harris Corp. announced FAA has awarded it $150M for an ATC communications contract. The larger half of the $481M contract was issued a year ago.

Airports in the News:

  • Belmont, MS (Tishomingo County Airport, [01M]) has been awarded a $468K FAA grant to buy four parcels of land, needed to eventually extend the runway to 5,000′. The airport averages 13 takeoffs/day and is home to eleven airplanes.
  • Rogers, AR (Rogers Municipal Airport, [KROG]) is the home base for twenty corporate aircraft used by Wal-Mart. A Bloomberg article assesses the extent of public subsidy at this airport.
  • Scotts Bluff, NE (Western Nebraska Regional Airport, [KBFF]) announces FAA AIP funds will cover 90% of $1.6M in terminal and airport improvements.
  • Hudson, NY (Columbia County Airport, [1B1]) received an 8/6/13 letter from FAA advising they need to condemn part of a golf course and cut down six acres of trees adjacent to the airport. The rural airport 25-miles southeast of Albany has 29 based aircraft and a single runway that averages 27 takeoffs/day.
  • Connellsville, PA (Connellsville Airport, [KVVS]) also received a letter from FAA airport officials for non-compliance. The airport authority is working to clean up a problem of tenants using airport facilities to store trailers, rolls of artificial lawn, and other non-aviation items … which violates FAA’s rules. Non-compliant airport authorities fear legal action by FAA.

Links to Articles:

8-15-2013Aviation Experts Question Whether Culture Had Role in Asiana Crash
The problem of subservience within airline flight crews came up with the deadly KAL accident in Guam. This article analyzes that angle, and includes comments by former NTSB Chair Jim Hall.
8-15-2013Judge postpones decision on American Airlines bankruptcy exit plan
The American Airlines bankruptcy proceedings may be on hold. Judge Sean Lane listened to five hours of hearings on Thursday, but based on the DoJ lawsuit challenging the propoed merger with US Airways, he is postponing any decisions. All parties have until the end of next week to produce pleadings as to why he should not postpone. One of the isues discussed today was the propriety of giving $19.65M to American CEO Tom Horton as a golden parachute when the merger is closed. Other creditors feel this is not fair, in view of their losses.
8-13-2013American’s Horton: Court battle ‘will likely take a few months’
The American Airlines CEO is due to receive a $20M golden parachute as part of the merger with USAirways. Problem is, the airline is going through bankruptcy, and some believe this $20M payment is improper. Also, the merger is being challenged, including a DoJ lawsuit. This blog includes a copy of Mr. Horton’s ‘jetwire’ message sent to the ‘American Team’.
8-12-2013Cylinder-removal AD would increase costs, decrease safety
AOPA news article expressing opposition to FAA’s proposed AD; includes links to the proposal as listed in the Federal Register, and to the NTSB recommendations behind the AD.
ARCHIVES: 11-3-2012Lab releases global aviation emissions dataset
A global emissions dataset for civil aviation emissions is now available. The dataset contains three-dimensional gridded emissions for (scheduled) civil aviation for 2005. This dataset represents the most current estimate of global aviation emissions that is publicly available. It is intended to be of use to researchers in areas including atmospheric modeling and aviation and the environment. For example, it is currently being incorporated into the standard release of the community atmospheric chemistry-transport model GEOS-Chem. Includes a color global map showing routes, impacts. (Seed for an article?)
ARCHIVES: 3-1-2012Study released on the costs and benefits of desulfurizing jet fuel
MIT led the study, funded by FAA. Includes a world map projecting the amoung of aviation impact.

Third Quarter, Week #6: August 4 — August 10, 2013

8-10-2013MSU to FAA: All university money is ‘public money’
Lansing State Journal has been investigating use of the state aircraft fleet, to establish whether money is being well-spent or wasted. The state has two Beech King Airs and two Beech Barons, three of which are based at Lansing. When an MSU athletic official goes on a recruiting trip, he/she may submit purchase orders and fly on the state’s aircraft. This article summarizes a FOIA response in which the reporter asked the state to produce a copy of a letter they had to send to FAA, to explain what appeared to be a state-run airline service for state employees. The article includes a link to a 189-page PDF showing the trips flown in late 2012 and early 2013. FAA concerns developed in January, when the state began offering a flat-rate $450 roundtrip for any officials wanting to travel between Lansing (the capitol, on the Lower Peninsula) and Marquette (on the Upper Peninsula). The airlines offer indirect routings with plane changes in Detroit and/or Chicago, priced at $1,200 to $2,400 roundtrip. Related past articles at: [1]  [2]
8-10-2013General aviation on the upswing in Tri-Cities
A business writer for a paper in northeast Tennessee offers an article about the economic stimulus brought by general aviation. He cites FAA studies and material produced by NBAA.
8-9-2013Local airports benefit From FAA grants
Plumas County announces that FAA is awarding $230K for projects at three remote airstrips. Each averages 10-20 takeoffs per day.
8-9-2013Experts say stricter FAA rules for pilots too costly, won’t improve safety
The new rules were prompted by the Colgan crash at Buffalo in 2009. The article offers opinions from flight academy officials, veteran pilots, and others. It claims that pilots earn $250K yearly, yet the pilots at Buffalo were earning very little (the co-pilot earned $17K). The article also casts a fear that air service at smaller towns will be the first casualty of this new rule.
8-9-2013China’s Silly New Policy Shows It Can’t Handle Its Booming Aviation Market
China’s passenger airlines are seeing a 20% annual growth rate (in passenger counts) and the twenty most delayed airports in Asia are all in China. Passengers are even fighting. So, authorities have adopted an ‘unrestricted takeoff’ policy to get flights in the air, regardless of the likelihood of delays enroute or at the arrival airport.
8-8-2013FAA restricts Charlotte Douglas runway over safety concerns
Citing safety concerns, FAA is restricting use of the cross runway, RY05/23, which has been used for noise abatement during operations between 11PM and 7AM. THe current airport information advertises departures RY23 and arrivals RY05 as the preferred runway usages.
8-8-2013Aviation manufacturing taking off again
GA orders are up substantially from a year ago, and leaders such as Pete Bunce aat GAMA are encouraged, but still concerned about the lag behind other aviation sectors. In terms of money, orders are now back to 2008 levels.
8-6-2013Passenger Defiance of FAA Rules Boon to Accident Investigators
CHristine Negroni reports on how airline passengers using their personal electronic devices are capturing images and other data are helping investigators. What they record is reveal the details behind accidents like the Southwest nose-gear crash at LaGuardia.
8-6-2013Air Traffic Control Newsletter #105
Bob Poole discusses the 7/17 congressional hearings (and has links to both the DoT-IG Scovell and FAA Adminstrator Huerta written statements). He also discusses how the sequester threat is stirring new perspectives, and a growing sense that the status quo is failing.
8-4-201310 Maine airports get FAA grants

Third Quarter, Week #5: July 28 — August 3, 2013

8-3-2013NTSB to hold seminar on lessons learned from homebuilt accidents
NTSB will host a seminar focused on accidents involing experimental amateur-built (E-AB) aircraft. Earl Weener will speak. The articles notes this type of aircraft now accounts for 10% of thee GA fleet but is involved in 15% of accidents and 20% of fatalities.
8-1-2013FAA Official: Budget Cuts Driving FAA Reform
Focuses on impact of the sequester threat; has quotes by John Allen.
8-1-2013FAA awards grants to 6 rural Arkansas airports
The flood of repeated news stories about grants to small airports continues. This one amounts to only $1.2M total, but is directing taxes on airline passenger tickets to be used at sleepy country airstrips used primarily by ag spray operators.
7-31-2013Feds give laid-off Boeing workers a big helping hand
A federal program designed to support the outsourcing of U.S. jobs to other parts of the world provides up to 30-months of unemployment for displaced Boeing employees. The article discusses the history of outsourcing, the role of the unions, etc. After increasing its Washington workforce by about 14,000 over three years, Boeing in the first half of 2013 laid off more than 1,100 employees.
7-31-2013FAA rule increasing co-pilot training hours effective Thursday
This rule increased the hours requirement from 250 to 1,500, though it is less for intensive programs by big operators (like the private flight academies in Florida). The Colgan crash in early 2009 precipitated this rule, which was pushed by Congress in 2010, three years ago.
7-30-2013EagleMed Reaches Level 2 of FAA SMS
An air ambulance service participates in an FAA Safety Management Systems program, aimed at building public confidence. The credibility of the service (as well as the agency) is at stake when air ambulance crashes happen. This one has 15 Beech Kingairs and 15 helicopters, operating in the Midwest.
7-30-2013U.S. regulators order foreign airlines to use automatic landing at San Francisco
7-28-20134 Maine airports get grants from FAA
This was one of many news articles in the past week announcing FAA AIP grants. It appears FAA aims to announce these at a time when elected officials are heading home for their summer breaks.

Third Quarter, Week #4: July 21 — July 27, 2013

7-26-2013FAA seeks $2.75 million fine over 777 fastener controls
The basis for the fine is prolonged delays by Boeing to correct a quality control problem that was repeatedly identified. The problem was first reported by Boeing in 2008, but it was not finally resolved by Boeing until November 2010. So, why is it coming up nearly three years later?
7-25-2013Former FAA Deputy Director of Flight Standards Service joins NATA
The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) has named John McGraw, former FAA Deputy Director of Flight Standards Service, as its head of regulatory affairs. McGraw had been in charge of FAA’s safety inspectors, from 2008 until he retired in December 2012. It is common for top FAA officials to retire, then become employed with airlines, aviation lobbyists, and other groups.
7-24-2013Schumer, Bishop: Court Ruling Confirms FAA Authority to Regulate Helicopter Noise on Long Island
The two congressmen fought to relieve Long Island residents from noisy helicopter flights, by pressing FAA to establish routes a mile north of the north shore of Long Island. HAI went to court with FAA’s rules, but a court dismissed their claims. Now, the congressmen are putting more pressure on FAA to get this problem under control.
7-22-2013What’s keeping FAA’s NextGen air traffic control on the runway?
Some quotes by Huerta at the recent congressional hearing on NextGen. The DoT-IG submitted a 13-page report to that same hearing noting, NextGen would be over budget and delayed for another ten years.

Third Quarter, Week #3: July 14 — July 20, 2013

7-19-2013FAA wants Dreamliner transmitters inspected
FAA is working on a mandate that will require inspection of the ELT’s in all U.S. Boeing 787’s. The Honeywell product is installed in the aft fuselage of the composite aircraft, and was implicated in the recent fire at Heathrow.
7-17-2013NH general aviation airports to share in $4.1m FAA grant
FAA’s AIP funds for distribution to general aviation airports in New Hampshire were announced by the state’s Aeronautics Bureau and congressional delegation. New Hampshire is one of the states that has an agreement with FAA, wherein the state administers a block of funds, as ‘an extension’ of FAA’s regional office.
7-16-2013Hagerstown airport logs 10K passenger boardings in 2012, scores $1M from FAA
FAA’s AIP program awards $1Million to airports that document at least 10,000 commercial boardings in a calendar year. Here is an example, where FAA collects taxes from airline passengers and redirects them to small airports around the country. This creates a strong incentive for those small airports to lobby for limited air service by airlines such as Allegiant, or to try to get Essential Air Service (EAS) funding … even if many in that local community do not want such commercial air service (and the related airport growth that tends to follow, due to the funding). In this example, had Hagerstown had less thatn 10,000 boardings, the airport authority would have received only $150k (approx.) in AIP funds.
7-16-2013FAA Simplifies Drug-Testing Rule for Some Air Tour Operators
FAA published final rules to combine drug and alcohol testing by Part 91.147 air tour operators (within 25-miles of the departure/landing point). The rules go into effect on 9/13/13. They apply only to those commercial operations who also have Part 121 air carrier and/or Part 135 (commuter or on-demand) operational licenses.
7-15-2013Honeywell joins Ethiopian 787 investigation, defends ELT safety record
The Heathrow fire aboard a Boeing 787 on July 12th was apparently in close proximity to the location of an Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT). As is standard practice, various manufacturers are invited to participate in incident investigations; thus, Honeywell is a an investigation participant. The interesting thing is that the ELT is reportedly powered by a non-rechargeable Lithium-Manganese-dioxide battery, and there have been earlier aviation incidents with this battery type suddenly bursting into flames. It will be interesting to see if the investigation identifies a possible design flaw in the 787 electrical system that might be triggering so many fires related to batteries.
7-15-2013Too close for comfort: FAA says near accidents have spiked
An interesting article combining the 7/6/13 Asiana fatal crash and testimony by the DoT-IG in April, noting FAA’s ATC near-misses have increased 600%, from 37 in 2009 to 275 in 2012. The comments are also well worth studying. Another interesting point is that in early 2012, FAA had 300 personnel conducting near-miss investigations on at least a part-time basis, but that number is now down to only 16 personnel. FAA does admit they need to add staff in this area.

Third Quarter, Week #2: July 7 — July 13, 2013

7-11-2013NTSB wants to expedite investigation of Asiana Flight 214 crash
Good summary of the Asiana accident details as reported by NTSB. Includes a collection of 32 photos. Also includes coverage critical of apparent lengthy delays getting ambulance and fire aid to the crash site. Given the visibility of the accident and geography at SFO, it seems reasonable that emergency equipment should have arrived within five minutes of the actual crash. EXCERPT: “We’ve been on the ground for 20 minutes to a half-hour,” said the woman, who identified herself as Cindy Stone. “We’re almost losing a woman here, we’re trying to keep her alive.”
7-11-2013Alaska Aviation Season One of the Deadliest
Air crash fatalities are up to 25 this year, compared to only five at this point last year. EXCERPT: “It’s no secret that obviously the Alaska NTSB has had a very busy spring coupled with the state trooper accident, the Dillingham accident, the Beech 1900 accident, [and] most recent the Rediske Air one and a host of others. But this is historically a busy time for us. There is no exception here,” said Johnson.
7-8-2013Fuel Costs, Market Shifts Challenge Hub Paradigm
Aviation Week article by Jens Flottau. Notes that hub-and-spoke systems originated forty years ago, and were used by FedEx for air cargo into and out of Memphis. The 1978 Airline Deregulation opened the door for legacy airlines to develop huge hubs (such as Delta in Atlanta, Continental at Newark, United at O’Hare). But, the author discusses how changing aircraft types and fuel costs are pressuring smaller hubs toward extinction.
7-7-2013Look at the flight path of Asiana 214 before it crashed in San Francisco yesterday
A Post with graphs showing the descent profile for Asiana 214, and other Boeing 777 arrivals at SFO. At the end of the post are some Google Earth oblique views with an overlay of the descent profile. The data suggest that Asiana was flown on a steeper than normal approach, then descended too low too early, with efforts to arrest the descent initiated too late.

Third Quarter, Week #1: June 30 — July 6, 2013

7-4-2013EAA Files Lawsuit Against The FAA On Fees Charged During 2013 AirVenture
The lawsuit against FAA was filed at the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago.
7-3-2013FAA registry of pilots’ data at risk of data breach
Discusses a 6/27/13 DoT-IG Audit Report that found personal information within FAA’s civil registry is at risk for breach.
7-2-2013Spirit jet dives in midair to avoid skydiving plane over Michigan
Evasive actions were taken by a Spirit Airlines airbus climbing out of Detroit on a scheduled flight to DFW, when a parachute plane came too close.
7-1-2013FAA Budget: Agency Struggles To Manage Resources
An in-depth article looking at FAA’s revenues (most come from passenger fees) and expenses, and pointing out the ongoing pattern of waste and cost overruns. EXCERPT: Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), who has served on the House Aviation Subcommittee for 27 years, is particularly blunt, stating last year, “There is only one agency worse at acquisition and other sorts of decisions than the Pentagon, and that would be the FAA.”
7-1-2013AIN Blog: Torqued: FAA Must Get Its Act Together on ADs
Former NTSB member John Goglia discusses ongoing problems with FAA’s Airworthiness Directives (AD’s). The article also details a case where aircraft mechanics were decertified years later by FAA, for failure to comply with poorly drafted AD’s. The articles paints a clear picture of how the AD’s put mechanics into  impossible situations, where they have to satisfy their employer or FAA, and in either case risk losing their job. [NOTE: in the example provided, two mechanics went to NTSB, where their decertifications were reversed due to FAA’s not being timely in the disciplinary actions.]

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