Aviation and Airport Development Newsletter, August 23, 2010, vol. 2, no. 9

Vol. 2, No. 9, August 23, 2010

The following is a summary review of articles from all over the nation concerning aviation and airport development law news during the past week.  These were all first posted, in abbreviated form, on http://twitter.com/smtaber.  This Newsletter also appears as a post on our website on our blog, The Aviation and Airport Development News.  For more information about the Taber Law Group, please visit our website:  http://taberlaw.com.

AIRPORTS

FAA officials: Issue response to Danville plan. – Denice Thibodeau, GoDanRiver.com, August 9, 2010
Federal Aviation Administration officials said plans to make Danville Regional Airport conform to safety guidelines is not so much a “plan” on their part, but rather a response to the city’s own master plan for the airport. Terry Page, the FAA’s manager of the Airports District Office for the Eastern Region of the country, said the aging airport needs safety issues dealt with — such as repairing the drainage system and line-of-sight problem with the main runway. The drainage problem actually limits how much of the width of the 150-foot runway planes can use, Page said, because 5 feet on either side of the runway has deteriorated due to the built-in drains and is “not strong enough to support planes.”
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Ashwaubenon up in the air over FAA retention pond rules. – Thomas Swigert, WFRV-TV, August 9, 2010
A plan to construct up to 28 water-detention ponds in the Village of Ashwaubenon is on hold as the village struggles to meet a Federal Aviation Administration rule that prevents the ponds from being near Austin Straubel International Airport. The FAA rule states that retention ponds may not lie within 10,000 feet of an airport. The issue is that two-thirds of the village lies within 10,000 feet of the Austin Straubel International Airport. The FAA’s new guidelines are designed to prevent waterfowl and migratory birds from taking up residence near active runways. Village officials will meet with the FAA and the state Department of Natural Resources over the next few months to determine whether any exceptions can be made for Ashwaubenon, otherwise the village will have to redesign its stormwater treatment options.
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Airport work called key to industry in Anderson County. – Nikie Mayo, Independent Mail, August 9, 2010
A multi-million dollar improvement project to overhaul ramps, runways and lighting at the Anderson Regional Airport was described Monday as a valuable calling card for the county. The project totals about $4.4 million, the bulk of which Anderson County is getting from two separate allocations from the Federal Aviation Administration. One grant amounts to $3.5 million and another is $710,353. Anderson County will put $111,173 toward the upgrades. Airport manager Steve Vibbard said the remodeling sends the message that Anderson County is ready for more industry. It sends a “consistent message to those visiting us” he said, “that we are a growing, thriving county with much to offer.” The runway upgrades will prepare the airport to receive heavier planes. On weak spots of the existing runway, a heavier plane can leave indentations on the asphalt. New taxiway and runway lights will replace some that have been at the airport since the 1980s. New signs will replace several others that have been struck by lightning. A groundbreaking for the work was held Monday. Some of the work has already started, and the upgrades are expected to be finished in about six months. The work will not shut down the airport.
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FAA Response to Airport Concerns. – Sarah Bloom, WSET-TV, August 10, 2010
The Federal Aviation Administration is now responding to concerns about the future of Danville Regional Airport. A rehabilitation plan for the airport has sparked some controversy, with city council members concerned proposed FAA changes could influence the city’s economic growth. The FAA says the airport’s future is ultimately in the hands of the city. A media official with the FAA, Jim Peters, tells WSET that many of the plans being proposed, were in the city’s master plan for the airport, a plan started several years ago. He says city is basically using an Airport Improvement Program, to get federal funding to fix up the runway. The FAA proposal includes changing the length and width of parts of the runway, in addition to fixing a line of sight problem and drainage problems,  but the city says the proposed changes might force a runway to close for as many as two years two years. Peters says the changes are meant to standardize the airport; they wouldn’t prevent any aircraft currently using Danville Regional from using it after the changes. However, he says Danville’s future airport needs is an issue for the city to address, but he says if the city wants more than the FAA is proposing, they can definitely proceed with an upgraded project and pay for it. Whatever the decision, Peters says he’s confident the FAA and the city will be able to work out an agreement.
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Groton-New London Airport receives $6 million from FAA. – Matt Collette, The Day, August 11, 2010
The Groton-New London Airport has received a $6,029,987 grant from the Federal Aviation Administration to finance runway safety improvements, Congressman Joe Courtney’s office announced today. “I am pleased to announce funding for these safety improvements at Groton-New London Airport,” Courtney said in a statement. “This project will make for a safer environment at an airport that has unique terrain and features. For passengers, employees and the surrounding area, it is great news.” The $6 million will pay for the first part of a two-phase project to enhance safety features at the end of Runway 5-23, which is constrained on both ends by the Poquonnock River and tidal waters. The work includes the purchase of an arrestor bed, a lightweight concrete block system that can be used to stop airplanes that overrun the runway. Arrestor beds designed specifically for the Groton-New London Airport will be placed at each end of the runway. The Groton-New London Airport is owned by the Connecticut Department of Transportation.
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Construction starts on new Tampa airport radar tower. – Ted Jackovics, The Tampa Tribune, August 13, 2010
Construction is under way on the northeast side of Tampa International Airport on a new radar tower to replace the airport surveillance radar visible from the Veterans Expressway and Memorial Highway. “It will look like an air traffic control tower with a radar antenna on top” instead of the glass-enclosed control center, said Kathleen Bergen, a Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman in Atlanta. The new tower, with the radar at a height of 153 feet compared with 90 feet today, will be completed by December, said Brenda Geoghagan, a spokeswoman for the airport which is building the tower at a cost of $4.4 million. The Federal Aviation Administration will take eight months to install and test replacement radar brought in from another location, Bergen said. When the new facility is operational, the current radar equipment will be refurbished and put into use elsewhere.
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Long Tarmac Delays in June Down Dramatically from Last Year. – Flight Source Flight Deck, August 14, 2010
The nation’s largest airlines reported only three flights in June with tarmac delays of more than three hours compared to 268 flights in June 2009 and with no increase in the rate of canceled flights, according to the Air Travel Consumer Report released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation. According to information filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, a part of DOT’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration, the only tarmac delays longer than three hours reported in June by the 18 airlines who file on-time performance with DOT involved three United Airlines flights departing Chicago’s O’Hare airport on June 18, a day in which the Chicago area experienced a severe thunderstorm.
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FAA Announces $9.2 million in Recovery Act Projects for Atlanta. – FAA News Release, August 13, 2010
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration announced more than $9 million in upgrades funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) that will make flights at Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport safer, more efficient and more reliable. “These projects are just a few examples of the terrific work being done around the country thanks to the Recovery Act,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Construction workers and engineers are helping to modernize and repair our nation’s commercial and general aviation airports.” On Friday, FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt marked the beginning of a $5 million ARRA project to install a new approach lighting system for Runway 27L. The new lighting system will provide visual information to pilots as they approach the runway in bad weather. It will improve airport capacity, operational capability and safety.
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Other Articles on the Same Topic:

FAA Announces $9.2 million in Recovery Act Projects for Atlanta. – Flight Source Flight Deck, August 14, 2010
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration announced more than $9 million in upgrades funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that will make flights at Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport safer, more efficient and more reliable. “These projects are just a few examples of the terrific work being done around the country thanks to the Recovery Act,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Construction workers and engineers are helping to modernize and repair our nation’s commercial and general aviation airports.”
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More and more travelers are catching flights in Bellingham. – Aubrey Cohen, Seattle ost Intelligencer, August 16, 2010
An Alaska Airlines flight from Las Vegas to Bellingham on Thursday disgorged mostly Canadians, as do most flights into the small Northwest Washington airport. “It’s a lot cheaper,” explained Nathan Arnold, an Alaska passenger who lives in Vancouver, B.C. “I’m used to a larger airport, a little more hustle bustle, but it’s good. … It’s quaint.” Bellingham International Airport’s traffic has more than quintupled since 2003, to 320,358 passengers last year, thanks to new flights from Alaska and low-cost carrier Allegiant Air. It’s on track to break 400,000 this year, and that’s before Alaska’s planned daily service, announced earlier this month, from Bellingham to Honolulu, and Allegiant’s expected announcement of its its own Bellingham-Hawaii service. (Of course, Sea-Tac still dwarfs Bellingham, with 31 million passengers in 2009.)
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EPA, Philadelphia International Airport and US Airways Unveil New Low Emission Shuttle Buses for Passengers. – EPA News Release, August 18, 2010
Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded a $475,669 grant to the Philadelphia International Airport to help put eight highly efficient, low emission, low-floor passenger buses into service at airport. By replacing older diesel powered shuttle buses this project will reduce air pollution and improve air quality. EPA’s grant was awarded under the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act. In addition to EPA’s grant, US Airways will spend more than $3.5 million to replace the older shuttle buses. Officials from EPA, Philadelphia International Airport and US Airways took part in a ribbon cutting ceremony today to unveil one of the new low emissions buses on display for everyone to tour.
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City of Newton accepts federal grant for airport projects. – Newton Independent, August 17, 2010
More than $2.6 million in federal money is headed Newton’s way after the Newton City Council on Monday agreed to accept the grant proceeds to pay for pavement rehabilitation projects at the Newton Municipal Airport. With little discussion, the council approved the receipt of $2.66 million from the Federal Aviation Administration to pay for 95 percent of the cost of three paving projects at the Newton airport. The city’s share, $140,000 of the total $2.8 million cost, will come from the general fund. The funding was not included in this year’s budget.
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Federal dollars help buy new runway snowplow. – Magdelene Landegent, Le Mars Daily Sentinel, August 18, 2010
A brand new snowplow will be clearing the Le Mars Municipal Airport’s runway this winter. The Le Mars City Council approved a bid for the $109,296 plow Tuesday but they will only be paying about 15 percent of that cost. The city is responsible for 5 percent of the price plus engineering and administrative expenses. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is paying the rest. The snowplow will include an 11-foot front plow, a side-mounted wing plow and a material spreader for salt or sand. Holcomb Freightliner, Inc., of Sioux City, had the low bid for the plow, which is slated to be used to clear the airport and access to the airport.
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Aviation summit held in G.I.. – Sarah Schultz, Grand Island Independent, August 18, 2010
General and commercial aviation both have an impact on Nebraska’s economy. On Wednesday afternoon, a handful of people with an interest in planes and airports gathered at the Bosselman Conference Center in the Heartland Events Center to discuss the various ways flying affects the state. The attendees were welcomed to the discussion by Rep. Adrian Smith, R-Neb., who said aviation is important to rural Americans. “Transportation is one of the fundamental functions of government,” he said. “We need to get from Point A to Point B. It doesn’t do any good to have a state of the art hospital if no one can get to it.” Traveling throughout the 3rd Congressional District, Smith said, he has an appreciation for the work that goes into airports and the services and jobs they provide. Michael J. Faltermeier, manager of the planning and programming branch of the central region of the Federal Aviation Administration, was the first to address the group.
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15 Pa. airports to split $1.9M in state, fed money. – The Associated Press, August 20, 2010
Fifteen airports across Pennsylvania are sharing in $1.9 million in mostly state money to upgrade equipment and facilities. Gov. Rendell says $1.7 million in state money comes from the state’s jet fuel tax and takes advantage of more than $700,000 in matching funds. An additional $270,000 is coming from the Federal Aviation Administration. The airports will use the money for purposes ranging from runway repaving to fueling facilities. The largest payment is going to the Somerset County Airport, which is getting $330,000 to construct a new T-hangar. Airports in Pottstown and in the Wilkes-Barre area also will receive funds.
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FAA

FAA Recognized for Expediting Funds for Airports. – FAA News Release, August 11, 2010
The FAA recently received an award for its efficiency in distributing $1.1 billion in funds from the American Recovery and Investment Act (ARRA) for airport development projects which include runway and taxiway improvements and rehabilitation of terminal buildings. The Airport Consultants Council, an international trade association that represents consulting firms and related businesses, awarded the agency with its best practices award. This award is given to individuals or groups who demonstrate their commitment to keeping projects on track and are devoted to improving the aviation industry. The FAA exceeded deadlines set by Congress to administer and obligate half of the $1.1 billion or $550 million in airport grants within the initial 120-day timeframe, and the remainder by last February.
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FAA gives final approval to Cape Wind offshore wind farm. – James Cartledge, BrighterEnergy.org, August 11, 2010
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has dismissed objections to its decision that the Cape Wind offshore wind project in Massachusetts can go ahead. The aviation watchdog upheld its “Determination of No Hazard” for the 130-turbine wind project planned for a 25 square mile patch of Nantucket Sound, as issued back in May. The FAA denied petitions for a discretionary review from opponents that included the operator of a local airport on Cape Cod (see this BrighterEnergy.org story). Cape Wind Associates, the developers of the 468-MW offshore wind project, said that it has now cleared navigation reviews with the FAA and the US Coast Guard. Commenting on the final ruling from the FAA, Cape Wind Communications Director Mark Rodgers said: “We are pleased that the FAA has finalized its approval of Cape Wind so that we can move forward in creating jobs, increasing energy independence and make Massachusetts a global leader in offshore wind power.”
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FAA Needs Rules and Regulations Overhaul.Hosts Guider, August 15, 2010
The Federal Aviation Administration needs to overhaul its rules and regulations and stop hurting general aviation. Additionally the Federal Aviation Administration, which my grandfather use to work at and was in charge of a large airport has completely gone overboard. Now they are making rules for private space flights. It appears that FAA or Federal Aviation Administration has been getting too big for its britches. In fact, not only do they wish to control all the air space. Now they want to control all of space itself including the entire universe and play God. The FAA needs a rules and regulations overhaul and the sooner the better.
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FAA Creates Center of Excellence for Commercial Space Transportation. – FAA News Release, August 18, 2010
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has selected New Mexico State University (NMSU), Las Cruces, NM, to lead a new Air Transportation Center of Excellence for Commercial Space Transportation. The center is a partnership of academia, industry, and government, developed for the purpose of creating a world-class consortium that will address current and future challenges for commercial space transportation. “The Obama Administration is committed to making sure the United States remains the world leader in space development and exploration,” said Secretary LaHood. “This new center underscores that commitment, and will ensure that the commercial space community can meet our current and future space transportation needs.” The Obama Administration recently released its new National Space Policy, which recognizes opportunities and advancements in commercial space transportation and lays out specific ways to use commercial capabilities.
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NMSU In Las Cruces To Lead Space Research Consortium. – KRWG News, August 18, 2010
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has selected New Mexico State University (NMSU), Las Cruces, NM, to lead a new Air Transportation Center of Excellence for Commercial Space Transportation. The center is a partnership of academia, industry, and government, developed for the purpose of creating a world-class consortium that will address current and future challenges for commercial space transportation. “The Obama Administration is committed to making sure the United States remains the world leader in space development and exploration,” said Secretary LaHood. “This new center underscores that commitment, and will ensure that the commercial space community can meet our current and future space transportation needs.” The Obama Administration recently released its new National Space Policy, which recognizes opportunities and advancements in commercial space transportation and lays out specific ways to use commercial capabilities.
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Do’s and Don’ts for Datalink Weather. – FAA News Release, August 19, 2010
Datalink is an industry term used to describe a wide range of equipment and services that all do one basic thing — get data into the cockpit so pilots can use it to make decisions. This is especially the case with weather data, which can now be received, processed, and displayed in a myriad of panel-mounted displays and hand-held devices. Among the types of weather information available with these devices are NEXRAD radar, winds aloft, meteorological reports (METAR) and terminal aerodrome forecasts (TAF), freezing levels, and cloud coverage. In the July/August 2010 FAA Safety Briefing article, “Do’s and Don’ts for Datalink Weather,” author Meredith Saini warns pilots of some of the pitfalls of today’s high-tech devices. “Pilots must understand the limitations of any datalink weather product before using it to make strategic in-flight decisions,” writes Saini. In addition to processing delays, NEXRAD data from ground stations can be affected by interference from buildings or terrain. “No matter how many full-color displays you have working for you, it’s still your responsibility to obtain a standard briefing before any flight.”
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AVIATION & AIRPORT LITIGATION

FAA Proposes $580,000 Civil Penalty Against Hillsboro Aviation. – FAA News Release, August 16, 2010
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is proposing a $580,000 civil penalty against Hillsboro Aviation, Inc., of Hillsboro, Ore., for allegedly performing improper repairs, deliberately falsifying maintenance records and operating a helicopter in a reckless manner. The FAA alleges that Hillsboro mechanics used incorrect parts and an unqualified individual to make repairs to a Bell 206 Jet Ranger helicopter. The FAA also alleges the company made no record in the aircraft maintenance logs of work performed, and deliberately falsified maintenance documents claiming an airworthiness directive had been completed when the work had not been done. In all, the company operated the helicopter on at least 103 flights when it was not in compliance with Federal Aviation Regulations between June 29 and Sept. 9, 2008. At least four of these operations were conducted under Part 135 (Commuter and On-Demand Operations) of the Federal Aviation Regulations.
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FAA Alleges Hillsboro Aviation Deliberately Falsified Maintenance Records. – Jim Douglas, AvStop.com, August 16, 2010
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is proposing a $580,000 civil penalty against Hillsboro Aviation, of Hillsboro, Oregon for allegedly performing improper repairs, deliberately falsifying maintenance records and operating a helicopter in a reckless manner. The FAA alleges that Hillsboro mechanics used incorrect parts and an unqualified individual to make repairs to a Bell 206 Jet Ranger helicopter. The FAA also alleges the company made no record in the aircraft maintenance logs of work performed, and deliberately falsified maintenance documents claiming an airworthiness directive had been completed when the work had not been done. In all, the company operated the helicopter on at least 103 flights when it was not in compliance with Federal Aviation Regulations between June 29 and Sept. 9, 2008. At least four of these operations were conducted under Part 135 (Commuter and On-Demand Operations) of the Federal Aviation Regulations.
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Airport project delayed by federal funding. – Rorye O’Connor, Register-News, August 16, 2010
The Mt. Vernon Outland Airport is facing a setback in its Federal Aviation Administration-mandated Runway Safety Area project. Though the airport was first on the Illinois State Department of Transportation Division of Aeronautics list for funding of the runway extension construction, the funds were given to other airports instead, said airport manager Chris Collins. “Eight other airports trumped us,” he told the board of commissioners. “They all had congressional letters of support. We’re at least six months behind now.” Collins said a $2.4 million grant had been written to fund the Mt. Vernon airport’s fence project and the Decatur airport’s fence project, and he had expected that the remainder of the funds from that grant would be applied to the RSA project.
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Federal Aviation Administration Plans Penalty Of $25 Mln For American Airlines: WSJ. – RTT News, August 18, 2010
American Airlines, Inc, the principal subsidiary of AMR Corp. (AMR) would be fined $25 million or more by Federal Aviation Administration officials or FAA, for maintenance lapses that caused many flight cancellations in 2008, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. Citing people familiar with the matter, the Journal noted that American Airlines has not been officially informed about the case and an announcement is likely in the next few weeks. The fine, which would be the largest levied against a U.S. airline, is being viewed as FAA’s demand for strict maintenance compliance by airlines. According to the Journal, FAA had an initial consideration of as much as $100 million in penalty, which was rejected by senior officials.
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Report: FAA set to hit American Airlines with big penalty. – The Associated Press, August 20, 2010
A published report says federal officials are ready to hit American Airlines with a record penalty of $25 million or more for maintenance shortcomings that led to thousands of canceled flights in 2008. The Wall Street Journal said that the Federal Aviation Administration hasn’t made a final decision or informed American, and a decision could be weeks away. “This is something that happened more than two years ago, and we haven’t received any notification by the FAA about any pending action, nor do we believe any action is warranted,” American spokesman Tim Smith told the Associated Press on Thursday night. FAA officials did not respond to AP requests for comment. Smith said American “has always maintained its aircraft to the highest standards, and we continue to do so.” The proposed fine would stem from improper electrical wiring around the landing gear of many of its planes. American was forced to ground its entire fleet of about 300 McDonnell Douglas MD-80-series jets in April 2008 while the problem was fixed. FAA officials argued the wiring work could have led to fires and fuel tank explosions. American said it was a minor matter of improperly spaced clips that held bunches of wires together, and that passenger safety was never jeopardized.
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AVIATION LEGISLATION AND REGULATION

$5 million center to support commercial rockets urged for Space Coast. – Mark K. Matthews, Orlando Sentinel, August 16, 2010
A new facility to support the fledgling commercial spaceflight industry could be coming to the Space Coast under a plan announced Monday by a team of White House advisors asked to find ways to help the Florida economy recover from the 2011 retirement of the space shuttle. The proposed Federal Aviation Administration office could provide employment to some of the 9,000 Kennedy Space Center workers expected to lose their jobs when the shuttle era ends — although no job estimates were given. According to administration officials, the new facility would get $5 million of the $40 million that President Barack Obama pledged to the state when he visited Kennedy Space Center in April, with the other $35 million going to a grant program. The administration has said it wants to significantly increase commercial rocket flights out of KSC and the nearby Cape Canaveral rocket range.
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Medevac industry opposing upgrades wanted by NTSB. – Alan Levin, USA Today, August 18, 2010
The helicopter air ambulance industry is opposing several key safety upgrades sought by federal accident investigators even as a recent surge in crashes has killed 19 people since September. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is calling on regulators to require new lifesaving technologies on many air ambulances, including night-vision goggles, terrain avoidance computers and autopilot controls. The devices are costly, but the NTSB says they would save lives in a health care system increasingly reliant on choppers for transporting critically ill patients. Industry groups such as the Air Medical Operators Association say their members should have the freedom to adopt some, but not all, of the technologies. The group, which represents companies operating more than 90% of medevac helicopters, has pushed its members to make voluntary safety improvements.
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Air traffic controllers spent $171K lobbying in 2Q. – The Associated Press, August 20, 2010
The National Air Traffic Controllers Association spent $171,000 on federal government lobbying in the second quarter on issues including pay and funding for air traffic control and the Federal Aviation Administration. The union for air traffic controllers also lobbied on the consolidation and realignment of air traffic control facilities. Besides Congress, the union lobbied the FAA, the Transportation Department and the White House. Other issues for the traffic controllers were staffing levels, retirement, collective bargaining rights, whistleblower protections and taxation of health care benefits. The controllers have argued that they are understaffed, although the FAA has argued that it has replaced controllers who left.
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Boeing spent $4.97M on lobbying in 2Q. – The Associated Press, August 20, 2010
Aircraft builder and defense contractor Boeing Co. spent almost $5 million to lobby the federal government in the second quarter on aerospace and defense issues. The lobbying bill for the April-June period was almost double the $2.6 million it spent during the same period last year and is up from the $4.06 million it spent in the 2010 first quarter. Chicago-based Boeing has strong interests in both commercial aviation, which the government influences through the Federal Aviation Administration, as well as defense and space spending. It lobbied on issues such as FAA funding and modernization, appropriations for the departments of Commerce and Justice, and reauthorization for the National Transportation Safety Board, which investigates airplane crashes.
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United Airlines spent $660,000 lobbying in 2Q. – The Associated Press, August 20, 2010
United Airlines spent $660,000 in the second quarter lobbying the federal government on a wide variety of airline issues, including proposals to increase training for flight attendants serving alcohol, disclosures on airline tickets and air traffic control. Dozens of aviation-related issues have been discussed in Congress or by regulators this year, including pilot fatigue rules, rules for dealing with stranded passengers, and restrictions on personal electronics in the cockpit. Congress has also been debating a reauthorization bill for the Federal Aviation Administration, which has drawn the attention of airlines including United. United also lobbied on Congressional and Executive branch approval of its proposed acquisition of Continental Airlines Inc. The companies are hoping to close the deal by the end of this year, but they need antitrust approval first.
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Aerospace group spent $208K lobbying in 2Q. – The Associated Press, August 20, 2010
The Aerospace Industries Association of America Inc., a trade group for aviation and defense companies, spent $207,928 in the second quarter lobbying on military spending in space as well as exploration and other issues. The Arlington, Va.-based group represents U.S. companies including Boeing Co., Lockheed Martin Corp., Curtiss-Wright Corp., IBM Corp. and L-3 Communications. Some of its lobbying was also supported by foreign members including BAE Systems Inc., the American arm of British defense company BAE Systems PLC, and Rolls-Royce, the British aircraft engine company. The group lobbied on national aerospace policy, NASA subcontracting and funding, and space shuttle launch issues, according to a disclosure report. It also lobbied on U.S.-China space exploration, as well as reauthorization for the Federal Aviation Administration.
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AVIATION/AIRPORT SAFETY

Obama’s new airline law: Safety loopholes. – Amy Fraher, The Washington Post, August 10, 2010
President Obama’s signing of the ‘Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010‘ last Sunday was a promising step forward for improving aviation safety. But before we decide to rest comfortably on our next flight, let’s take a closer look. The appointment of committees and task forces filled with many of the same industry insiders who overlooked these problems in the first place, combined with vague wording and compliance deadlines three years into the future means change in commercial aviation will come slowly, if at all. No doubt pressure from the families of passengers on Colgan Air/Continental Connection Flight 3407, which crashed last year on approach to Buffalo-Niagara International Airport killing all forty nine on board and one person on the ground, increased the sense of urgency to pass this act. Yet, such pressure also may have placed limits on the scope and methods within which the legislation understood today’s airline safety challenges. To understand these limitations, it’s helpful to look at this crash and see how the new act would solve those problems.
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NTSB wants child seats on planes. – Michael Bolden, The Washington Post, August 11, 2010
Letter to the FAA from the NTSB Federal safety officials are recommending that flight rules be changed to require child safety seats on planes for children less than 2 years old. The National Transportation Safety Board made the recommendation Wednesday to the Federal Aviation Administration to amend current regulations to “require each person who is less than 2 years of age to be restrained in a separate seat position by an appropriate child restraint system during takeoff, landing, and turbulence.” The NTSB is making the recommendation as part of its investigation into the March 2009 crash of a small plane that was making an emergency landing in Butte, Mont. The plane had departed Oroville, Calif., headed for Bozeman, Mont., the NTSB said. A pilot and 13 passengers were killed, including seven children, ages 1 through 9, the agency said. According to the NTSB, the plane was configured with two pilot seats and eight passengers seats.
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Safety Board Says All Children on Flights Should Be in Seats. – Christine Negroni, The New York Times, August 12, 2010
Airlines should no longer allow children under the age of 2 to fly in the laps of adults, according to a recommendation by the National Transportation Safety Board sent to the Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday. The group urged the F.A.A. to require that every occupant of an airplane, regardless of age, have a seat on all flights — commercial, charter and private planes. In the letter, the board cited several accidents in which young travelers were injured or killed. While the N.T.S.B. says children under the age of 2 “should be afforded the same level of protection as all other persons,” the F.A.A. has rejected the recommendation several times, saying that parents unable to afford tickets for their young children would opt to drive rather than fly, resulting in more highway fatalities.
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Should the government require parents to buy plane seats for children under 2? – Amy Graff, The San Francisco Chronicle, August 17, 2010
The National Transportation Safety Administration (N.T.S.B.) is once again recommending that all children have their own seats on airplanes–and raising the debate over the safety of children under age 2 riding in the laps of adults. It’s a familiar question to any new parent bringing an infant on an airplane: Do you buy a seat for your baby or hold him on your lap? Under current government regulation, children under age 2 are the only people who can fly without being buckled up. Babies can fly for free by sitting on an adult’s lap. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has long recommended buying a seat and securing a child in a car seat or a CARES harness, and now the N.T.S.B. has released a statement saying this recommendation should be changed to a requirement.
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still vulnerable to cyberattack. – Lolita C. Baldor, Associated Press, August 12, 2010
Federal Aviation Administration computer systems remain vulnerable to cyber attacks despite improvements at a number of key radar facilities in the past year, according to a new government review. The Department of Transportation’s Inspector General said while the FAA has taken steps to install more sophisticated systems to detect cyber intrusions in some air traffic control facilities, most sites have not been upgraded. And there is no timetable yet to complete the project, the IG said. FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said the agency is working on a timetable and will notify the IG with that information soon. The FAA also said that upgrades to critical air traffic control systems have taken precedence over the intrusion detection improvements at a number of facilities. Without the detection abilities, the FAA cannot effectively monitor air traffic control for possible cyber attacks or take action to stop them, the inspector general said in a letter obtained by The Associated Press.
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Q&A: Interview with producer of a documentary on airport security. – Andrea Sachs, The Washington Post, August 13, 2010
To fly in the post-9/11 world, travelers practically have to imitate striptease artists, kicking off shoes, tossing coats into bins, even unfastening metal belt buckles hoping that gravity is looking the other way. But in the new documentary “Please Remove Your Shoes,” the roles are reversed: U.S. airport security is disrobed before our critical eyes. And it looks pretty bad in this naked state. The film interviews a host of experts – federal air marshals, a Federal Aviation Administration employee, a Transportation Security Administration screener, a passenger interrogated for carrying a metal box full of money, etc. – who divulge the oversights and ineptitudes that riddle the system. To dig deeper into the plot, staff writer Andrea Sachs spoke by phone with Fred Gevalt, former publisher of the Air Charter Guide and the film’s executive producer.
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Are lithium-ion batteries the next threat to airline safety? – Gary Stoller, USA Today, August 15, 2010
Worried about a possible terrorist strike, American Airlines flight attendants confiscated 58 cellphones, lithium-ion batteries and charging devices from a passenger on a June 23 New York flight to Buenos Aires. In April, Tokyo police and fire officials rushed to a baggage area at Narita airport after a curling iron powered by a lithium-ion battery caused a passenger’s checked bag to burst into flames as it was being shuttled from an American Airlines jet to a connecting flight. Lithium-ion batteries — the rechargeable energy source for cellphones, laptop computers and an increasing number of other portable electronic devices — are becoming a growing concern for airlines in passenger cabins and cargo holds. Non-rechargeable lithium metal batteries like those in cameras and flashlights are a concern, too. When a lithium battery short-circuits or overheats, it can catch fire or explode. The fire it causes may not be as easy to extinguish as a normal combustion fire.
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Should Lithium Batteries Be Banned from Flights? – Fran Golden, AOL Travel, August 16, 2010
Among the latest items of concern in airplane passenger cabins are lithium-ion batteries, as found in cell phones, computers and cameras, USA Today reports. The newspaper says concerns raised by security experts, flight attendants and scientists range from fires to use of the batteries in a terrorist attack. Data from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) shows in the past 19 years batteries and battery-powered devices were involved in “smoke, fire, extreme heat or explosion” on passenger or cargo planes in at least 113 incidents, the newspaper reports. Meanwhile, American Airlines confiscated 58 cell phones, lithium-ion batteries and charging devices from a passenger on a New York to Buenos Aires flight in June, worried about a possible terrorist attack.
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Wind Shift Sends Commercial Jets Through Air Show. – Charlie Wojciechowski, NBC Chicago, August 16, 2010
While lakefront crowds thrilled to the likes of the Blue Angels, there was another show going on in the skies above the so-called “safety box” of restricted airspace:  For the first time in recent memory, commercial air traffic was flying within sight of the show planes during Sunday’s show. A handful of big jets, including at least one Boeing 747, were photographed passing not far from show center. But while most people didn’t notice, the Federal Aviation Administration said traffic was re-routed near the show for safety reasons. “We had a shift in wind,” explained Elizabeth Isham Cory, the spokesperson for the FAA’s Great Lakes Region.
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AIRCRAFT

US FAA orders fixes in Boeing 747s. – Arkana Shankar, Reuters, August 9, 2010
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has proposed mandatory fixes to Boeing 747-400 airliners to ensure that concerns about potentially hazardous takeoffs are addressed, the Wall Street Journal said. The U.S. air-safety regulator, last week, moved to require certain engine-related wiring changes to Boeing Co’s (BA.N) model, the paper said. According to the agency, the fixes are necessary to avoid potentially dangerous retraction of flaps, or panels that deploy from the wings to provide extra lift during takeoffs. FAA said that the retracting flaps during critical early phases of flight could result in reduced climb performance and consequent collision with terrain and obstacles, the paper said. The regulators directive will cover nearly 100 Boeing 747s flown by U.S. carriers and equipped with engines manufactured by both General Electric Co. (GE.N) and the Pratt & Whitney unit of United Technologies Corp (UTX.N), the business daily said.
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FAA Orders Pratt Engine Fix For Boeing 747 Airliners. – Kenneth Gosselin, Hartford Courant, August 10, 2010
U.S. air-safety regulators have proposed mandatory fixes to some of the largest Boeing 747 airliners, concerned about possible problems during takeoff, according to published reports.  The Federal Aviation Administration last week asked Boeing to make changes in how the engines — manufactured by East Hartford-based Pratt & Whitney and General Electric Co. — are wired to control wing flaps during takeoff, according to various reports this week in The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg News. The changes, which were characterized as relatively minor and estimated by Bloomberg as costing about $85 per plane, would affect the Boeing 747-400 models and would affect more than 560 planes throughout the world, The Journal said. If the wing flaps close too soon during takeoff, the FAA said the airliner might not climb quickly enough, increasing the chance of collision with the ground or other obstacles, the reports said.
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Boeing gets OK to start 787 pilot training courses. – Associated Press, August 16, 2010
Boeing Co. said Monday it’s been given approval by the Federal Aviation Administration to start pilot training courses for its new 787. The Chicago company called the approval a “significant milestone” as it ramps up to start flight training. With the 787 pilot training courses, pilots can transition to the new airplane in five to 20 days, depending on experience. Boeing 777 pilots can qualify to fly the 787 in as little as five days, given the high level of similarity between the two airplane types. The 787, which Boeing calls the Dreamliner, is made of many composite materials designed to make it lighter and more fuel-efficient than comparable planes already in the sky. Its development has been plagued by delays, and the first delivery is now scheduled for late this year to Japan’s All Nippon Airways. The Chicago-based company’s most popular plane remains the workhorse 737. There are currently five Boeing Training & Flight Services locations around the world in Tokyo, Singapore, Shanghai, Seattle and Gatwick, UK.
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Engineers: Passengers’ survival was miracle by design. – Alan Levin, USA Today, August 16, 2010
When an airliner slammed onto a rainy Caribbean runway early Monday and split into three shredded pieces, passengers called it a miracle that no one died in the impact. To the engineers and accident investigators who pushed for decades to improve airliner safety, the outcome was by design. “I cringe when I see these headlines that this was a miracle,” said John Hickey, the Federal Aviation Administration‘s (FAA) deputy safety chief. “We as engineers and scientists don’t believe that this is a miracle. We are totally convinced that the work that we did in the 1980s has proven its value.” At that time, a crash severe enough to break a jet into pieces was almost certain to kill passengers. Since then, the FAA — pushed at times by federal crash investigators — has required tougher seats, better emergency lighting, more accessible exits and numerous protections against fire.
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AIRLINES

Union in talks to save troubled Mexican airline. – Cyntia Barrerra Diaz, Reuters, August 9, 2010
Employees of airline Mexicana de Aviacion are talking with investors in a bid to keep the cash-strapped carrier flying, a union official said on Monday. Mexico‘s pilots union said it would meet with at least one investor group that might inject cash into the airline, which flies thousands of tourists from the United States and Europe to Mexican beaches every year. Fernando Perfecto, head of the pilots union, is set to meet Monday afternoon with the group, union spokesman Antonio Vargas told Reuters. He declined to say who was in the group. Analysts have suggested AeroMexico, the country’s other major airline, as a potential buyer. The union for flight attendants said earlier on Monday that three investor groups were eyeing the airline, whose situation deteriorated rapidly after it filed for creditor protection in Mexico and the United States last week.
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American union threatening to leave FAA safety program. – Dave Michaels, The Dallas Morning News, August 16, 2010
American Airlines’ mechanics union has threatened to quit a key aviation safety program, arguing that federal inspectors have used it to investigate its workers. The disagreement is the latest dispute between Fort Worth-based American and the Federal Aviation Administration, which has closely scrutinized the carrier’s maintenance practices for more than two years. The program at issue, known as ASAP, encourages pilots, mechanics and other airline workers to self-report safety violations to the FAA in exchange for immunity from punishment. To be accepted into the program, an airline worker must be the sole source of a report, which can’t involve falsification, intentional misconduct or alcohol or drugs.
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