Briefing: November 2010


Flight Services Contract Extended

The FAA handed over another $356 million to Lockheed Martin along with a three-year contract extension for running our automated flight service system. Lockheed Martin took over the AFSS function in 2005 and says the net result of the changes over the past five years is better, more efficient service, despite slashing the number of flight service stations and staff. Said Jim Derr, Lockheed Martin Flight Service Program Director, “We are excited to have the opportunity to continue providing the most accurate and reliable flight service briefings available.” We noted he didn’t say, “useful.”

NTSB Singles Out The See-And-Avoid Concept At Fault In Fatal Midair

The safety board cited both the “see-and-avoid” concept and a Teterboro Airport air traffic controller’s “nonpertinent telephone conversation” as probable causes of a 2009 collision between a Piper Lance and a sightseeing helicopter over the Hudson River. The “see-and-avoid” technique in force for pilots above the Hudson River revealed its “inherent limitations” according to the NTSB. New rules now in force for the Hudson River define separate corridors for aircraft flying locally and those in transit.

ADS-B Full Deployment By 2013

It’s FAA official: ADS-B will be fully operational in the U.S. by 2013. Don’t panic. The deadline for your aircraft to join the party is still 2020. It’s just that the full 800 systems needed to match current radar coverage should be up by 2013. Right now 300 are running. In mountainous areas, a system of ground sensors called Wide Area Multilateration (WAM) will provide coverage for the nooks and crannies that the ADS-B sensors can’t see. WAM should also be a backup for GPS in high-traffic areas. “ADS-B was tested in the most extreme environments, allowing the agency to uncover and resolve any anomalies before the commissioning,” an FAA statement said. Of course, the one extreme not tested was where every airborne craft was using it. Stay tuned.

Aircraft Tax Break (For Companies) Signed Into Law

The “bonus depreciation” extension that aircraft manufacturers had lobbied for is now law as part of the Small Business Jobs Act. “We are optimistic that the small-business law will help to re-energize America’s general-aviation production lines and bring back lost jobs,” said Pete Bunce, president of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association. The law applies to businesses’ tax returns for 2010 and enables businesses to accelerate the rate at which they deduct capital expenditures.

One California Candidate’s Bid To Swap Airport For Pot Farm

Jon Louis Mann is unlikely to win his bid for the Santa Monica City Council (he’s failed nine times) but one of his planks is worth noting. He wants to close Santa Monica airport and grow industrial marijuana there to fill city budget gaps. “We should close the airport down in 2015” (when obligations to the Federal government expire), he told a local news outlet. “Instead of making $1 million in taxes, they’ll make $10 million.” Hmm. Instead of trying to rent that second hangar you have, you could put in a few grow lights …


Data change removes D.C. ADIZ boundaries from many Garmin panel-mount GPS units while Jeppesen searches for a fix … Canadian PhD student successfully flew a human-powered ornithopter (flapping-wing aircraft) … Pilots of the UPS 747 that crashed in Dubai spent their final moments in a cockpit filled with dense smoke … Eurocopter testing a high-speed, long-range, hybrid helicopter with cruise speeds of more than 220 knots … Cessna to cut 700 jobs … more international charts available through Sporty’s … U.S. military and FAA still at odds over UAVs in North Dakota skies … Part 135 operators may face crew rest rules similar to new Part 121 requirements … rare WWII-vintage Dornier 17 and Curtis Helldiver discovered in two unrelated, underwater finds … FAA may issue rules and AD for Diamond DA40s concerning the rear door (and its departure in flight) … Microsoft returning to flight sim gaming in 2011 or 2012 with MS Flight … For breaking news in general aviation, log on to


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