The aiREPORT [2013Q4]

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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Fourth Quarter, Week #1: September 29 — October 5, 2013

summary:

Top AvNews story: …ICAO’s 38th General Assembly wrapped up with an aviation emissions ‘agreement’ to kick the can down the road, and a showing of evidence that we can expect ample future dispute leading to no action (OK, that’s just one viewer’s opinion … but let’s see what happens). Viewed more positively, the ‘agreement’ is the most progress humanity has yet made to take a global approach to managing global impacts by a major component of the global economy. (again, let’s see how it works out…) Shutdown 2013 would have been top story, but almost everyone was caught yawning about it … and cursing their selected elected. People are just getting tired of the spin out of Washington, DC.

QUICKlooks:

  • 9/30/13: Leehamnews posted about the Boeing 777, weighing the pros and cons and speculating: will it be constructed in Washington, or will Boeing continue to shift jobs to the southeastern states?
  • 10/3/13: Joe Davidson at ‘The Federal Diary’ posted an article about how gutted the OSC offices are during the first few days of the government furloughs. Only a handful are at work, including Carolyn Lerner.
  • .. with the 38th General Assembly of ICAO wrapping up, Environmental Defense Fund issued a press release commending the effort but criticizing attempts to restrict individual countries’ rights. ICAO members, representing airline interests, want to deny countries their sovereign right to limit aviation emissions, even within their own country.
  • .. Joe Anselmo posted an observation that, while the Republicans initiated the Shutdown, there are FAA-related actions that smack of Democratic efforts to ensure widespread pain. His observations focus on delays in delivering new jets; in past furloughs, aircraft inspectors were deemed essential, so the inspections continued. Not so this time. Plus, NTSB withdrew their investigative team from the Santa Monica crash (it is claimed… but they may also have been done quickly; we’ll see when the report comes out).
  • 10/5/13: in a letter to members, FAAMA President David Conley reported overwhelming approval by Congress on a vote to ensure any furloughed federal employees will get their backpay, once the Shutdown is over. In the House, 25 members did not vote, but all 407 who did voted ‘aye’. [article]

Airports in the News:

  • Worcester, MA [KORH]: FAA’s Small Community Air Service Development Program (SCASDP) awarded $11.4 in grants, one of which goes through Massport to help support JetBlue service at KORH. The article says FAA announced their $350K grant on 9/27, that JetBlue CEO Dave Barger also ‘granted’ $20K, and the total funds from all sources (mostly public) is $1.17M. It appears that the intent is to use public money to help JetBlue sell its product to KORH passengers. [article]
  • Santa Monica, CA [KSMO]: four died when a landing Cessna jet veered off the runway, crashed into a hangar, and erupted in flames. The smoke and the news coverage have spurred more calls from the community to close the airport. [article] As a compromise, perhaps officials should consolidate jets away from crowded/tiny airports like KSMO, and have them fly out of better-suited airports? This accident at a full-sized airport with clear safety zones around the runway would have only bruised egos. Plus, LAX’s traffic is substantially down, so why not try to blend higher performance aircraft (emphasis: bizjets) with large airlines, and stay away from places like KSMO? It has been done, and should be done again.
  • Long Beach, CA [KLGB]: FAA awarded a $15.1M grant for repairs to a runway and work on taxiways. [article] According to the Airport Director, “LGB has won a grant every year since 1997, but this is the largest grant awarded to the airport in its history…. …the credit goes to LGB’s engineers for their efforts in applying, and also to the FAA and our Congressional delegation for supporting Long Beach Airport.” The airport traffic peaked in 1999 and has declined by 48% since.

Links to Articles:

10-4-2013Global Emissions Plan for Airlines Gets First UN Approval
ICAO’s 38th General Assembly came to a conclusion in Montreal. The EU ETS issue was highly contentious, and it appeared the meeting would disintegrate, but a consensus was struck. Or was it? … the agreement was for ICAO to spend the next three years trying to agree to a plan to implement in 2020.
10-2-2013Safety Researchers Suggest Autopilot Redesign
When pilots or controllers hand off responsibility, they routinely VERY CLEARLY declare who is in control, such as “I’ve got it!” But, autopilots have not (yet) been required to tell the pilot, “OK, it’s now yours!” Both the Asiana Flight 214 crash at SFO and the UPS Flight 1354 crash at Birmingham have indications of pilots being unaware that some aspect of automation was NOT functioning (that it was ‘their plane, not the autopilot’s). Research is suggesting such a change could help prevent accidents like Colgan (Buffalo) and Air France (south Atlantic).
10-1-2013Congressman Waxman To FAA Administrator: Santa Monica Crash A Wake Up Call
Representative Waxman has sought to work with FAA for years. Earlier this summer, he called on FAA to discuss the future of the airport; his request was ignored. In the wake of the recent fatal jet crash, he is again asking FAA to lead the process, to resolve the problems. This needs to be done for the safety of pilots, neighbors, and the entire community. The comments at the end of the article range from defensive aviation fans (attacking Waxman) to some who greatly appreciate the fact that the Congressman spoke up. [link to PDF of letter]
9-30-2013FAA Furloughs: 3,000 Airline Safety Inspectors Off The Job Due To Government Shutdown, Union Says
November 29, 2013: FAA is pressuring management at the Madison, WI airport [KMSN] to discontinue leasing lands to farmers to grow crops. The lease fees constitute 38% of the airfield maintenance budget. The airport covers 3,500 acres but averages only 144 takeoffs/day, and is home to 149 based aircraft. [article]
November 29, 2013: Links to video clips from the 4/3/08 Congressional hearing, about FAA retaliation against inspectors (Boutris, Peters, et al) who blew the whistle. FAA managers had improperly protected Southwest Airlines’ failure to repair jets on schedule, and thousands of passenger flights were flown on aircraft that should have been grounded. Sabatini is questioned by various Representatives, including Johnson, Cummings, and Costello. Sabatini insists he must protect the Due Process rights of even his rogue managers, and the result appears to be absolutely no accountability within FAA. [discussion at AirNation.Net, initiated by Richard Wyeroski]

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MONTH D, 2013: TEXT.