Briefing: May 2010


Air traffic controller saves don’t go unnoticed

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association honored controllers who helped bring broken aircraft and struggling pilots home. Winners of this year’s Archie awards included a team of South Florida air traffic controllers who helped a non-pilot land a King Air after the pilot died and a Kansas City controller who helped a Frontier Airlines crew return to the airport safely after a bird strike. The live ATC tapes are available at

EPA making no-lead noises again

Earlier this month, the Environmental Protection Agency sent a draft endangerment finding to the White House as part of its proposed action to address a petition from Friends of the Earth claiming that lead in avgas represents a public health risk. The agency has ordered lead pollution studies around a number of U.S. airports to see if health risk can be substantiated. Those potential 100LL replacements and diesel engines are looking better and better.

Your FAA Requests 32 Percent More Money For 2011

FAA chief Randy Babbitt defended his agency’s request for $1.14 billion to the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development subcommittee, explaining that the move to NextGen involves a “complex series of programs” and inter-related initiatives. That’s still only a fraction of the $20 billion that full NextGen implementation is expected to require. The NextGen project is already behind schedule and the system in Salt Lake City was recently taken offline to correct problems. Babbitt noted that multiyear reauthorization would help clarify the agency’s priorities and planning. The FAA has been under reauthorization “extensions” since 2007.

NTSB: Glass Cockpits Do Not Improve Safety

An NTSB study shows glass-cockpit technology has not significantly improved the safety of small light planes and the board recommended changes, from training to maintenance reporting, to improve the statistics. The NTSB’s study found that glass-equipped cockpit accidents were more likely to involve single-pilot ops, with an older, higher-time, instrument-rated pilot. Glass also corresponded with a higher number of terrain- and weather-related accidents. The NTSB recommended knowledge-test revisions, better explanations of failure modes in manuals and improved training in a number of areas. There was also an appeal for approval of alternate training methods (such as PC versus flight simulator) to support proficiency.

Kicking the Teeth that bit the hand that feeds you

L-3 Communications launched a lawsuit against Cirrus Aircraft last year alleging non-payment of $18.7 million for development of flat-panel electronics (a.k.a., SmartDeck). Cirrus countered that L-3 broke the supply contract. Now Cirrus has gone to court to stop L3 from allegedly telling other suppliers that Cirrus is headed for bankruptcy. Cirrus claims the allegations could force it out of business by scaring off suppliers and potential customers. We think anyone spending money in aviation right now is pretty inured to fear.


New FAR/AIM iPhone app available from ASA (via the App Store) … eAPIS guide for leaving and entering the U.S. updated and available online … Seawind amphib is making (yet another) bid for certification … NetJets canceled an order for 65 Falcon biz-jets … the Senate approved an amendment to up required experience for airline co-pilots to 800 hours … ADS-B is live around Philadelphia (for properly-equipped aircraft) … Northwest pilots that overflew Minneapolis may get their certificates back … beach jogger struck and killed by engine-out Lancair doing an emergency landing … Daniel Webster College discontinuing its flight training program, but keeping its ATC training … Boeing released news of liquid-hydrogen-powered, long-endurance UAVs … John Lee Baker, AOPA’s second president, passed on this March … Man who flew for 13 years for airlines with a falsified pilots licence arrested at work at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport … Canada relaxes restrictions on LSAs entering from the U.S. … For breaking news in general aviation, log on to


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