Vol. 2, No. 13, September 20, 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.
Possible Airplane Routing Over Peninsula May Impact Residents. – East Rancho Palos Verdes, September 12, 2010
On September 7, the Rancho Palos Verdes City Council voted unanimously to oppose the Federal Aviation Administration’s proposal to change the airspace surrounding Long Beach Airport (LGB) from its current Class D designation to a more restrictive Class C designation as proposed. If the airspace change occurs, residents living both on the Palos Verdes peninsula and in surrounding South Bay cities may experience more general aviation aircraft flyovers and significant environmental changes. The City hired Williams Aviation Consultants (“ WAC ”) to investigate the impact this proposed change could have on Rancho Palos Verdes and its neighboring South Bay cities. WAC determined that this proposed change could have the following consequences for the City and its neighboring communities:
Final impact in Tinicum: FAA releases plan for airport expansion. – John M. Roman, The Delaware County Daily Times, September 13, 2010
Township officials, residents and businesses won’t know until December how final plans to expand Philadelphia International Airport will specifically impact them. The Federal Aviation Administration released its final environmental impact statement regarding plans to enhance capacity and runways at the airport last month. The FAA has tentatively chosen a plan that would drastically displace homes and businesses in the township, but a final determination will be made in a record of decision, which gives the agency’s rationale for approving or disapproving the proposed action. Based on its review of data in the draft environmental impact statement, the FAA has identified Alternative A — one of three plans, including a no-action alternative — as its preferred proposal, according to the final environmental impact statement. Alternative A, estimated to cost $5.35 billion, would result in four parallel runways and one crosswind runway by adding a new runway and extending runways 8-26 and 9R-27L to the east. Besides reconfiguring the taxiways, relocating navigational aids, reconfiguring the terminal complex and relocating the United Parcel Service facility, among other relocations, the plan would require the acquisition of 72 housing units in Tinicum’s 2nd Ward in Lester that are east of Fourth Avenue and between Seminole and Iroquois streets.
Rare Plant in Path of Runway Extension Toward Buskin River. – Sam Friedman, Kodiak Daily Mirror, September 8, 2010
A rare plant that had been documented only three times before in the world is suddenly making appearances in two different parts of Kodiak. It’s called sessile-leaved scurvy grass and it does not look like much. It’s a short plant between 1 and 2 inches tall with small white flowers and big green seedpods. What is special about it at first glance is that it lives in an unusual place for a type of plant that usually grows on land. It seems to thrive below the tide line in lagoons, where it is completely submersed in brackish water twice a day. The plant’s name comes from its relation to the common scurvy grass, a vitamin C-rich plant once eaten by sailors to treat and prevent scurvy. It is a member of the cabbage family. Previously the plant had only been observed two times on the Kodiak Archipelago and once on the Kenai Peninsula. The last time it was identified by scientists was in the 1930s.
Ainsworth Airport gets upgrade. – Andrea Vasquez, World Herald, September 13, 2010
What’s in a name? Lance Schipporeit, manager of Ainsworth Airport, hopes it’s a lot, particularly for people who like to fly into the Nebraska Sand Hills for golf and hunting trips. The Ainsworth Airport Authority last week received approval to change the airport’s designation from municipal to regional. The change required no inspection, and it has no bearing on federal funding. As Schipporeit waited to hear back on his request, Federal Aviation Administration officials weren’t crunching numbers. It was simply that the Federal Aviation Administration requires noncommercial airports to report name changes to make sure names don’t conflict and to update pilot charts, said Tony Molinaro, an FAA spokesman.
Long Tarmac Delays in July Down Dramatically from Last Year. – Flight Source, September 13, 2010
The nation’s largest airlines reported only three flights in July with tarmac delays of more than three hours, compared to 161 flights in July 2009, with only a slight increase in the rate of canceled flights, according to the Air Travel Consumer Report released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Data filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics showed the only tarmac delays longer than three hours reported in July by the 18 airlines that file on-time performance with DOT involved three American Eagle Airlines flights departing Chicago’s O’Hare airport on July 23, a day in which the Chicago area experienced a severe thunderstorm and a number of aircraft were caught on the runway. July was the third full month of data since the new aviation consumer rule went into effect on April 29. There were only four tarmac delays of more than three hours in May and June 2010 combined, compared to 302 during the same two-month period of 2009. BTS is a part of DOT’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration.
BHM receives $1.8M federal grant. – Annesa McMillan, Birmingham Business Journal, September 14, 2010
The Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International airport received a federal grant worth more than $1.8 million, according to a release from the airport. The Federal Aviation Administration will award the grant to be used for the airport’s airfield maintenance and development. “We have been very fortunate to secure funding that will allow us to continue to maintain and upgrade our facility,” said Al Denson, president and CEO of the facility. BHM is the largest airport in the state with 2.9 million passengers served in 2009. In addition to receiving the grant, the airport is in the midst of a multimillion dollar terminal expansion aimed at improving services and also attracting international flights.
George Bush Intercontinental Airport gets $15M FAA grant. – Houston Business Journal, September 14, 2010
George Bush Intercontinental Airport has received a $15 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration‘s Airport Improvement Program to rehabilitate one of the five major runways at the airport. Funds will be used to extend the useful life of the taxiway another 30 years and accommodate larger aircraft. A new runway center line and runway status lights will also be installed as part of the project. Taxiways typically have a 20-year design life, according to the Houston Airport System.Two of the taxiways were constructed in 1965 and were originally designed to serve B727-100 aircraft. In 1976, a concrete overlay was added to accommodate larger aircraft, including the Boeing 747. The improvements will allow IAH to increase the number of travelers served, improve efficiency, and help maintain on-time performance, according to Mario Diaz, director of the Houston Airport System.
Other Articles on the Same Topic:
Suspension of Preparation of Environmental Impact Statement for the George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston, TX. – Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Register, September 16, 2010
The FAA is issuing this notice to advise federal, state, and local government agencies and the public that the FAA has suspended preparation of the EIS for the proposed airport improvements at IAH. The Houston Airport System (HAS), the sponsor of the proposed project, has advised the FAA that significant changes in the aviation industry and at IAH warrant suspension of the on-going EIS in order to reevaluate development needs for the airport. HAS has determined that reevaluation of the Airport Master Plan (AMP) assumptions will provide the most current and reliable information on which to base decisions regarding future proposals for airport development.
Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport Receives $6.2 Million AIP Grant. – WGNO ABC 26 News, September 14, 2010
The New Orleans Aviation Board has received a $6.2 Million Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airport Improvement Program (AIP) Discretionary Grant for its Terminal Apron Rehabilitation project. This project will rehabilitate the apron areas surrounding the passenger terminal and concourses. Included will be correction of areas of grade problems related to pavement subsidence, correction of areas of grade problems related to abandoned electrical manholes, rehabilitation of joints in the pavement, and repair and replacement of deteriorated pavement slabs. This grant will allow the Airport to move forward with Phase III of the project and rehabilitate the Airport’s existing air carrier apron, thus extending the apron’s useful life and preserving the Airport’s investment in the airfield infrastructure. The pavement is located between Concourse B & Concourse C. “We are pleased with the FAA’s response to our requests and their continued support of the modernization of our facilities at Armstrong,” stated Iftikhar Ahmad, Director of Aviation at Armstrong International Airport.
OC advances airport overhaul plans. – Brian Shane, Del Marva Media Group, September 14, 2010
The town is moving forward on the earliest stages of a major renovation to runways at the municipal airport. Town Council members in the spring approved plans to rebuild the airport’s east-west runway and renovate the north-south runway. The council at today’s work session is expected to contract with airport consulting firm Delta Aviation, which will come back with design and engineering plans for the north-south renovations. The cost for design services is about $300,000, funded by $400,000 in grants from the Maryland Aviation Administration and the Federal Aviation Administration. The remaining $100,000 has already gone toward a pavement evaluation study as required by the FAA. Grants are pending and may be executed in three to four months, according to an official with the state Aviation Administration. The overall estimated cost of rehabilitation and reconstruction of the north-south runway is $2.85 million. The federal government will be paying for 95 percent of the project.
Lawrenceville to require special-use permits for airport, aviation businesses. – Faye Edmundson, Gwinnett Daily Post, September 14, 2010
The Lawrenceville City Council on Monday unanimously adopted zoning ordinance changes that would require the council’s permission for a privatized and expanded airport to operate in the part of Gwinnett County’s Briscoe Field that lies in the city limits. “This fills a void we had in our zoning (ordinance) and would give us some protection should the airport be privatized,” Mayor Rex Millsaps said after the meeting. The council unanimously passed a resolution in August opposing the county’s plans to privatize and expand the airport to allow commercial flights. Three companies have demonstrated interest in taking over the general aviation airport. Part of the airport property, including about half of the 6,000-foot runway, is located in Lawrenceville. The council adopted a transportation overlay district, which includes the city’s portion of the airport already zoned light manufacturing and adjacent property zoned for heavy manufacturing. Special-use permits would be required for the airport operator, airlines and aviation businesses in the overlay district. Existing structures would be grandfathered, but any new facilities, expansions or renovations would need special-use permits. New users would also have to obtain permits. Airport parking, shuttle and similar services would be allowable uses in the overlay district, but would be subject to regulations.
Travelers with disabilities face obstacles at airports. – Harriet Baskas, USA Today, September 15, 2010
With laws such as the Air Carrier Access Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, you might assume that people with disabilities no longer encounter obstacles at U.S. airports. Unfortunately, that’s not true. “Frankly, there isn’t enough policing going on to go look at all these airports to see if they’re 100% compliant,” notes Tim Joniec of the Houston Airport System. “So at some airports it may take a traveler complaining about a service that isn’t there before attention is paid to a problem.” And even if a traveler does lodge a complaint, “you’d be surprised at how many airports, including some enormous ones, just don’t care,” says Eric Lipp, the executive director of the Open Doors Organization (ODO), a non-profit that works with businesses and the disability community. For those that do care, next month the Open Doors Organization (ODO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) will host a conference about universal access in airports. On the agenda: tools, technology and training to help both airports and airlines do a better job of serving travelers with disabilities.
New Hartsfield-Jackson chief: ‘Nothing scares me.’ – Ernie Suggs, Atlanta Journal Constitution, September 14, 2010
Louis Miller, named this week as Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s pick as the next general manager of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, said he plans to assess how the airport functions and get to know its key players before proposing changes. “I think it would be unfair to me to come in and say we want to immediately do things. I want to find out why things are being done the way they are,” Miller said. He added, however, that he sees potential for bringing new competition to the market — perhaps including Texas-based discounter Southwest Airlines. He also plans to focus immediately on the new international terminal project, which needs a successful sale of construction bonds this fall to stay on track. Miller, 62, spent the last 14 years running Tampa International Airport and before that was the top executive at Salt Lake City International. He plans to start in his new, $221,000-a-year post on Sept. 27. In his first interview since Reed announced the selection, he spoke with AJC staff writer Ernie Suggs:
Ontario seeks to take control of airport. – Dan Weikel, Los Angeles Times, September 15, 2010
Hoping to reverse a dramatic loss of airline passengers, Ontario city officials on Tuesday unveiled a proposal to wrest control of struggling LA/Ontario International Airport from Los Angeles, which, they say, has driven away air carriers by raising costs and failing to promote the facility. Under the plan, the Inland Empire city would manage and set policy for LA/Ontario International while Los Angeles would remain the owner and serve as an advisor to the airport’s directors. City officials say their proposal is necessary to stop the dramatic decline of LA/Ontario, which used to be one of the fastest-growing regional airports in the country. From 2007 to 2009, the number of passengers dropped almost a third from about 7.2 million to 4.9 million — amid the recession — and flight schedules indicate that air carriers plan to reduce service 8% further by the end of this year.
Ontario officials lay out plan to control airport. – Kimberly Pierceall, The Press Enterprise, September 15, 2010
Reviving ailing Ontario International Airport will require slashing costs and increasing marketing, two things the city of Ontario thinks it can do better than the city of Los Angeles, according to a 25-page “Recovery Plan” released by city officials Tuesday. According to the plan, the airport’s rapid decline in passengers since 2007 has cost the region an estimated 8,075 jobs and $410 million in economic impact. The cost to airlines to do business there would need to be lowered significantly before any recovery might occur. “Although there is no guarantee that lowering (Ontario) costs will result in more air service, having low costs gives (Ontario) a fighting chance to reverse the recent loss of air service and to begin a long-term growth trend,” according to the report. “(Ontario) is the only airport in Southern California that is unconstrained, and where there is political and community support for greatly expanded operations,” referring to caps on other regional airports that limit their growth.
Notice of Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) Approvals and Disapprovals. – Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Register, September 16, 2010
Monthly Notice of PFC Approvals and Disapprovals. In August 2010, there were two applications approved. This notice also includes information on one application, approved in July 2010, inadvertently left off the July 2010 notice. Additionally, three approved amendments to previously approved applications are listed.
Logan is lowering airline fees. – Katie Johnston Chase, The Boston Globe, September 16, 2010
The Massachusetts Port Authority is lowering the fees it charges airlines at Logan International Airport, a result of low natural gas prices and spending cuts, according to the agency. This will be the third year in a row that fees will remain flat for airlines at Logan. As approved by the Massport board this morning, the agency is giving back $9.8 million in fees it charged airlines in fiscal year 2010, which ended June 30, and is lowering its landing fees by 7 cents per 1,000 pounds, trimming its baggage screening fees by 21 cents per bag, and reducing rental rates in Terminal A and Terminal C. “These savings were the result of belt-tightening measures management undertook that, among things, including freezing vacant positions, modifying employee health insurance benefits, reducing spending on consultant contracts and other miscellaneous items, and lowering operational contracts where reduced service levels allowed,” Thomas Kinton, executive director of Massport, said at the board meeting. “We will also be able to pass along another $5 million in utility savings to airlines thanks to our success in purchasing natural gas at historically low prices.”
Santa Monica: Councilman requests air and pollution studies during four-day closure of airport runway for safety repairs. – Gary Walker, The Argonaut, September 16, 2010
Taking advantage of a lull in air traffic during a rare closure of the Santa Monica Airport, City Councilman Kevin McKeown is in the process of seeking scientific analysis that may help city officials in their quest to highlight what many consider to be harmful impacts of noise and jet fumes from aircraft on homeowners who reside near the airport. The city-owned airfield will be temporarily out of commission beginning Monday, Sept. 20 until Thursday, Sept. 23 to rejuvenate the runway. The airport began closing early Tuesday, Sept. 14. A noise consultant and air quality experts will conduct baseline measurements during the four days that the airport will not be open as a means of providing data to federal lawmakers as well as the Federal Aviation Administration. There will be at least six controlled noise measurement points, from which noise intensity maps can be generated that show the impacts on surrounding neighborhoods of normal aircraft operations as compared to the ambient noise of the four days without aircraft operations, McKeown said.
Boeing, feds to pay Fresno airport cleanup costs. – The Associated Press, September 16, 2010
Boeing Co. and federal officials have agreed to pay millions to the city of Fresno for the cleanup of contamination at its airport. The city filed a lawsuit in 2006 over pollution at Fresno Yosemite International Airport dating back to World War II when it was a military base. A degreaser used for aircraft polluted the site and groundwater. Fresno City Attorney James Sanchez says nearly $17 million has been spent on cleanup and another $10 million to $20 million is needed to complete it. Under terms of the settlement reached Wednesday, the government will pay 68 percent of future costs, Boeing will pay 22 percent and the city will pay 10 percent. Boeing was named in the lawsuit because it purchased the interests of the company accused of the contamination. The deal still needs a judge’s approval.
OC Airport Runway Project Will Cost $2.8M. – Shawn J. Soper, The Dsipatch, September 17, 2010
The rehabilitation of the north-south runway at the Ocean City Municipal Airport is moving forward this week after town officials on Tuesday approved a contract for the design of the roughly $2.8 million project. The Mayor and Council on Tuesday approved an engineering services contract with Delta Aviation for the design phase of the rehabilitation of the north-south runway at the municipal airport. The planned improvements include milling down the existing surface of the runway, sealing cracks and other damages and replacing the surface with new pavement to mitigate age and weather-related distresses over the years. The project also includes installing new lighting and fixtures along the runway and its surrounding safety areas in addition to new signage. Finally, the project includes the installation of about 14,000 linear feet of wildlife fencing about 12 feet high along the perimeter of the north-south runway.
New rules would be big change for pilots’ scheduling. – Alan Levin, USA Today, September 12, 2010
Airline pilot schedules would undergo the most sweeping changes in more than 50 years under a proposal intended to prevent fatigue from undermining safety. Pilots would work shorter schedules and get longer rest periods, the Department of Transportation said in proposed rules announced Friday. The plan would for the first time set stricter limits on how long pilots can work in fatigue-inducing environments such as overnight. Because the pilot workday would be shorter, the government is proposing greater freedom for airlines to let pilots fly slightly longer legs in the middle of the day if they are not under the stress of numerous takeoffs and landings.
FAA Highlights Changes to Hudson River Airspace. – FAA News Release, September 13, 2010
After the tragic Aug. 8, 2009, accident involving a Piper airplane and a tour helicopter over the Hudson River, the FAA took swift action to enhance the safety of the air corridor. On Nov. 19, the FAA made permanent changes that define separate corridors for aircraft operating locally and those flying along the Hudson River area. The new rules require pilots to follow safety procedures that were previously recommended but not mandatory. The FAA conducted seminars and coordinated with pilot groups to help make pilots aware of the new requirements. The FAA also developed an online training program that covers flight operations in the New York area.
Flightcrew Member Duty and Rest Requirements. – Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Register, September 14, 2010
The FAA is proposing to amend its existing flight, duty and rest regulations applicable to certificate holders and their flightcrew members. The proposal recognizes the growing similarities between the types of operations and the universality of factors that lead to fatigue in most individuals. Fatigue threatens aviation safety because it increases the risk of pilot error that could lead to an accident. The new requirements, if adopted, would eliminate the current distinctions between domestic, flag and supplemental operations. The proposal provides different requirements based on the time of day, whether an individual is acclimated to a new time zone, and the likelihood of being able to sleep under different circumstances.
Other Articles on the Same Topic
Gleanings from the FAA’s Fatigue Proposal. – Scott McCartney, The Wall Street Journal, September 13, 2010
Reading the Federal Aviation Administration’s 145 pages on pilot fatigue can be, well, fatiguing. But here are some highlights, impression and questions (in addition to the coverage my colleague Andy Pasztor has here). –While there are proposed rules to keep tired pilots out of cockpits, the proposal does allow pilots to fly more hours each day. Currently pilots can’t be scheduled for flight time – actual time at the controls of a plane – of more than eight hours a day. The total time on duty can cover 16 hours a day. But the new flight-time limit varies based on what time the pilot starts. Pilots who start their duty between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. at their local base have a flight time limit of nine hours. Start between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. and it’s 10 hours. If the start time falls between 1 p.m. and 8 p.m., the limit is nine hours. And between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m., flight time limit is eight hours.
FAA’s pilot-fatigue plan hits wall with unions. – Alan Levin, USA Today, September 17, 2010
Two union groups on Thursday rebuked the government’s proposal to reduce on-the-job fatigue among the nation’s pilots, a potential roadblock to the sweeping attempt to revamp pilot schedules. The Allied Pilots Association, which represents American Airlines‘ 11,500 pilots, called the proposal by the Federal Aviation Administration “a big step backwards.” The Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations — an umbrella group of pilot unions representing American, Southwest Airlines, US Airways and others — said the FAA proposal “may have a negative impact on flight safety.” The groups said that the FAA proposal that would allow pilots in some instances to fly up to two hours longer each day — to 10 hours, up from eight — would actually increase fatigue. The FAA argued that other changes to reduce fatigue would ensure safety. The proposal calls for lowering the maximum number of hours a pilot can work each day, including paperwork and waiting for flights, and increasing the guaranteed rest period. It also proposed more restrictive schedules when pilots fly late at night or make numerous short flights, both of which can trigger fatigue.
Randy Babbitt meets FAA goals with technology. – Suzanne Kubota, Federal News Radio, September 16, 2010
It took longer than planned, about 15 months, but the Federal Aviation Administration has overhauled pilot work rules to reflect current scientific understanding of how fatigue impacts human performance. At the same time, the FAA continues the transition to the NextGen air transportation system, and working with Customs and Border Protection on certification for drone flights along the Southwest border. Randy Babbitt, Administrator at the FAA, explained to Federal News Radio, technology is making it all possible. He spoke with the Federal Drive about progress towards meeting his agency’s goals. Here are three of the topics discussed and some of his comments.
Three days of safety talks — Wrap up from Japan. – Christine Negroni, Seattle Post Intelligencer, September 13, 2010
With all the 21st century tools and technology, very few air accidents go unsolved anymore. But that is not to say that determining with the cause of an accident is easy. On the contrary sometimes the easy answer is the wrong answer and no one knows that better than Samir Kohli, head of safety for the Saudi Aviation Flight Academy. When a pilot with the Indian Navy crashed a helicopter on the deck of a carrier during military exercises a few years ago, the immediate assumption was that mishandling of the controls caused the tail boom to strike an obstacle sending the aircraft into a spin. Only when the pilot asked Capt. Kohli to represent him during a military court-martial did a closer examination of the wreckage, and the injuries of those on board the helicopter reveal the failure of a rotor separation cable led to the accident.
Delta Air Cancels Newark-Bound Flight on `Unfit’ Crew Member in Amsterdam. – Mary Jane Credeur, Bloomberg, September 14, 2010
Delta Air Lines Inc. said it canceled a flight from Amsterdam to Newark, New Jersey, because of concern that a crew member was “unfit for duty.” Flight 35 was scrubbed, the crew member was suspended and passengers will be rebooked on an extra plane tomorrow, Anthony Black, a Delta spokesman, said today in an e-mail. Dutch police said a 52-year-old airline captain from New Jersey was arrested on an alcohol charge, without identifying his employer. Authorities pulled the pilot off his plane after receiving an anonymous tip that he was drunk, said Jos Klaren, a spokesman for the police. A breath test showed the pilot’s blood-alcohol level exceeded the legal limit, Klaren said. “Delta’s policy is that pilots shall not report for duty with the presence of any alcohol in their system,” Black said.
NTSB Determines Probable Cause of Midair Collision Over Hudson River. – Flight Source, September 15, 2010
The National Transportation Safety Board today determined that the probable cause of last year’s midair collision over the Hudson River that resulted in the deaths of all nine persons aboard the two aircraft were the inherent limitations of “see-and-avoid” concept and a Teterboro Airport air traffic controller’s non pertinent telephone conversation at the time of the collision. The see-and-avoid technique of averting mid-air collisions was not effective because of the difficulty the airplane pilot had in seeing the helicopter until the final seconds before the collision. In addition, the Teterboro Airport local controller engaged in a personal telephone conversation, which distracted him from his air traffic control duties, including the timely transfer of communications for the accident airplane to the Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) tower and correcting the airplane pilot’s incorrect read-back of the EWR tower frequency.
Tighter Curbs Expected on Lithium Batteries. – Andy Pasztor and Melanie Trottman, The Wall Street Journal, September 15, 2010
Federal officials are poised to substantially tighten restrictions on transporting lithium batteries in U.S. cargo planes, according to people familiar with the details, after an apparent cargo fire resulted in the crash of a United Parcel Service Inc. jet in Dubai. The move, which would affect nearly all U.S. cargo carriers, could also force manufacturers and distributors of consumer electronics to alter their packaging and documentation procedures. Lithium batteries are used in a wide array of electronic devices, such as cell phones and laptop computers. The urgency of the new restrictions, which people familiar with the matter expect to be announced shortly, appear to be a response to signs that lithium batteries may have stoked the intense fire and dense smoke that filled the cockpit of the UPS Boeing 747 jumbo jet before it went down on Sept. 3, while trying to return to Dubai International Airport.
Statement of Henry Krakowski, Chief Operating Officer, Air Traffic Organization Before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation, Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, & Security on Field Hearing on the Integration of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UASs) Into the National Airspace System (NAS): Fulfilling Imminent Operational and Training Requirements. – FAA News Release, September 13, 2010
Thank you for inviting the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to this hearing. Accompanying me today is John Allen, Director of the Flight Standards Service in the Office of Aviation Safety at the FAA. Together, we have distinct yet related duties in carrying out the FAA’s mission to ensure the safety and efficiency of the National Airspace System (NAS). Mr. Allen’s organization is charged with setting and enforcing the safety standards for aircraft operators and airmen. My role as the head of the Air Traffic Organization is to oversee the nation’s air traffic control system, to move flights safely and efficiently, while also overseeing the capital programs and the modernization of the system. As the most complex airspace in the world, the NAS encompasses an average of over 100,000 aviation operations per day, including commercial air traffic, cargo operations, business jets, etc. Additionally, there are over 238,000 general aviation aircraft that represent a wide range of sophistication and capabilities that may enter the system at any time. There are over 500 air traffic control facilities, more than 12,000 air navigation facilities, and over 19,000 airports, not to mention the thousands of other communications, surveillance, weather reporting, and other aviation support facilities. With this volume of traffic and high degree of complexity, the FAA maintains an extremely safe airspace through diligent oversight and the strong commitment to our safety mission.
Senators hammer Washington airports. – Derek Kravitz, The Washington Post, September 16, 2010
Members of the Senate Commerce Committee weren’t happy with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority on Thursday, as a years-delayed federal aviation funding bill appeared to face long odds for passage this year. At issue is the proposed expansion of the number of long-distance flights at Reagan National Airport, which because of its size and proximity to neighboring Arlington communities limits the number of incoming and outgoing trips. A group of federal lawmakers, including Commerce Committee Chairman Sen. John D. Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), has pushed for the conversion and creation of 21 long-haul trips out of National, in order to increase competition among airlines at the pricey airport and meet demand for passengers who want to fly there instead of Dulles International Airport in Loudoun County.
Senate Panel Considers Reagan National Perimeter Rule. – Aviation News Today, September 17, 2010
The Senate Aviation Subcommittee Thursday held a hearing focusing on oversight of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) and beyond-perimeter slot exemptions at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. As previously reported, progress on pending FAA reauthorization legislation stalled recently, in part, because of an impasse in the Senate over a contentious proposal to add beyond-perimeter slots at National. The most recent Senate proposal reportedly calls for an additional five beyond-perimeter flights (10 slots) for new entrants or limited incumbent air carriers at National, as well as the conversion of a total of 16 existing within-perimeter flights (32 slots) to large-hub airports into beyond-perimeter flights. Under current law, 12 flights (24 slots) are exempted from the perimeter rule, which prohibits flights traveling to or from points more than 1,250 miles from National.
Airport Controversy Triggers Sen. Rockefeller’s Tart Retort. – Alice Ollstein, Capital News Connection, September 17, 2010
Located just three miles from the Capitol Building, Ronald Reagan National Airport has been a point of contention for many Senators and Representatives who live in Western states. Their latest effort to change the limits that often prevent them from catching long distance flights there occurred yesterday. But what began as a mundane Senate hearing on air transportation in the D.C. area devolved into a political dogfight between lawmakers and the agencies they oversee. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V., seemed particularly perturbed. Alice Ollstein reports from Washington. Members of Congress have long sought more West-Coast flights out of Reagan National Airport. But with FAA Reauthorization pending, complete with more flights, federal aviation agencies are protesting. They say it would hurt both Reagan and Dulles, overcrowding one and economically stunting the other. Senators at the hearing vehemently disagreed, saying that times change, and our airports must adapt.
Fall 2010 Outlook: FAA Reauthorization. – Kathryn A. Wolfe, Aircraft Maintenance Technology, September 14, 2010
Bills: HR 915, S 1451, HR 1586 Outlook: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will continue to operate under a short-term reauthorization if Congress cannot find time to act on a longer-term bill before the end of the session. The House and Senate have both passed versions of a multi-year bill, but negotiators have been unable to reach a final deal. Synopsis: This year, lawmakers have struggled to complete a conference agreement on a bill that would reauthorize aviation programs and make a number of significant changes to aviation law, some of which are a direct response to safety concerns. Conferees have not been named, but House and Senate negotiators have been trying to reach an agreement in advance of a formal conference. Lawmakers came close to inking a final deal before adjourning for the August recess, but disputes that flared at the last minute forced Congress to clear yet another short-term reauthorization to buy more negotiating time. The FAA has been operating under a string of short-term extensions since the last full reauthorization bill expired at the end of fiscal 2007.
Boeing starts ‘fatigue testing’ of 787 in Everett. – Puget Sound Business Journal, September 13, 2010
Boeing Co. has begun “fatigue testing” its 787 airplane in Everett. The testing involves putting a 787 into a test rig that simulates how the plane responds to multiple life cycles. The fatigue testing of the 787 simulates up to three times the number of flight cycles a typical 787 is likely to experience in its lifetime, Chicago-based Boeing (NYSE: BA) said. The testing is a part of the process Boeing says is necessary to achieve U.S. Federal Aviation Administration approval.
Jumbo woes for jet Big budget, technical problems plague Boeing’s 747 revamp. – Julie Johnsson, Chicago Tribune, September 13, 2010
It was supposed to be a cheap and easy way to steal sales from Airbus’ hulking A380 double-decker jet. Boeing Co. would update its decades-old 747 jumbo for the large freighter market, which Airbus was ignoring, with cutting-edge technology borrowed from the 787 Dreamliner: powerful, new fuel-efficient engines. But five years later, Boeing is struggling to resolve design and technical issues with the 747-8 program that are partially a byproduct of the Dreamliner’s production woes. Like the 787, the jumbo jet is late, badly over budget and is almost certainly headed for another costly delay, analysts said. The string of missed deadlines, supply-chain mishaps and design flaws that have plagued the two aircraft have tarnished Chicago-based Boeing’s reputation for top-flight engineering and called into question its decision to rely on suppliers to design and build portions of the jets.
Super-economy class? – Ross Werland, The Chicago Tribune, September 14, 2010
Could first-class travel soon mean that you get to actually sit? The Italian company Aviointeriors is debuting its new ultra-high-density seat this week at the Aircraft Interiors Expo Americas in Long Beach, Calif. Called a SkyRider, you sort of sit on a hump shaped like a saddle, with back support. So you’re half standing, half sitting. That means airlines could pack people in tighter — feasible maybe for commuter flights but I think probably impractical for a couple hours. Some in the travel industry have questioned whether the seats would pass muster with the Federal Aviation Administration. We’ll have to see. As is typical with Italians, though, the design is sharp. Without test sitting, I can’t testify as to comfort. Here’s what Aviointeriors says of the seat: “The SkyRider has been designed and engineered to offer the possibility to even further reduce ticket prices while still maintaining sound profitability, which, even with a dual or three class seating arrangement, will allow maximum certified passenger capacity of the aircraft. With a much reduced seat pitch, the SkyRider preserves a comfortable position for the low- fare passengers. “The SkyRider is intended as a new basic class. The passenger’s seating position is similar to that of a touring motor-scooter rider. This posture permits that the overall longitudinal space occupied by the seat with the seated passenger is far less than that of a conventional, very high-density 28-inch economy-class seat.”
Boeing will raise 737 production to 38 per month. – Joshua Freed, The Associated Press, September 17, 2010
Boeing Co. said on Thursday that it will increase production of its workhorse 737 to 38 per month. Boeing currently makes the planes at a rate of just over one a day and was planning to speed that up. The company said it will make 38 of the planes every month by the second quarter of 2013 because of strong customer demand. Just a few weeks ago a Boeing executive said the company was thinking about making as many as 40 of the planes per month. On Thursday, Boeing spokesman Jim Proulx said there is still upward pressure on the production rate. “We’ll continue to study our ability to move beyond 38. That’s not necessarily near-term though,” he said. Boeing said it made the decision after consulting with customers as well as suppliers, who need to be able to increase their own production to match Boeing’s. Boeing said the increase would not affect its 2010 financial results.
Aerospace firms float “cash for carbon” plan. – John Crawley, Reuters, September 16, 2010
Airlines that reduce carbon emissions would receive billions in government financing to help pay for aircraft upgrades tied to U.S. air traffic modernization under a proposal advanced by aerospace manufacturers on Thursday. The so-called “cash for carbon” plan, unveiled by the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) in a report on civil aviation, is viewed by the trade group as a creative and shared solution to the stubborn problem of funding an overhaul of the aging air traffic network. It is also a vehicle for tapping into $50 billion of new infrastructure spending proposed this month by President Barack Obama to stimulate job growth. Congress must approve that plan, and its election-year prospects are uncertain. Additionally, the financing scheme would be an incentive for airlines and manufacturers to meet voluntary targets for reducing carbon emissions that are blamed for climate change. Aircraft that burn a variety of jet fuels contribute to about 2 percent of global-warming greenhouse gasses worldwide, industry estimates show.
United Airlines had third-best on-time rate in July. – Associated Press, September 13, 2010
United Airlines, operated by parent company UAL Corp., was among the U.S. carriers with the best on-time rate in July, though one of its regional carriers had the worst. The Chicago-based carrier had the third best on-time rate behind Hawaiian Airlines, which traditionally holds the top spot, and Alaska Airlines, the government said Monday. ExpressJet Airlines, which operates regional flights for United and Continental, had the worst on-time rate in July. Overall, U.S. airlines were late more often in July than a year earlier, but there were only 3 planes stuck for more than three hours. All three incidents occurred at O’Hare International Airport. The nation’s largest airlines operated 76.7 percent of flights on time in July, down from 77.6 percent in July 2009. The on-time rate in July was better than the month before, as incidents of severe weather that delayed planes declined from June to July. The airlines canceled more flights than a year ago, but there were fewer cancellations in July than in June.
Extra fees add to travelers’ disdain for bigger airlines. – Gary Stoller, USA Today, September 14, 2010
Frequent flier Margaret Bowles says she likes Southwest Airlines (LUV) because it doesn’t charge extra to book flights over the phone, change flights or check bags. And, she says, boarding is organized and stress-free. “Southwest treats customers much better than any other airline I fly and still manages to remain profitable without nickel-and-diming people to death,” says the Tampa lawyer. “I can’t figure out why all the airlines cannot follow Southwest’s blueprint for success.” Those are among the reasons consumers rank Southwest and smaller airlines JetBlue (JBLU), Hawaiian and Frontier much higher than traditional, big-network airlines, a USA TODAY analysis of 2005-2010 government and consumer survey data shows. SURVEYS SAY: Fliers prefer low-fare airlines USA TODAY ranked 12 U.S. airlines based on Transportation Department consumer complaint statistics, the Airline Quality Rating system by professors at Wichita State and Purdue universities, and consumer surveys by Zagat Survey and J.D. Power and Associates. Southwest’s high scores are notable because until Delta Air Lines (DAL) merged recently with Northwest, it was carrying more passengers annually on domestic routes than any other U.S. airline.
US air traffic up in June from a year earlier. – The Associated Press, September 16, 2010
U.S. airlines carried 65 million passengers in June, the government said Thursday, 2.3 percent higher than the same month a year ago but still down from pre-recession levels. Traffic on U.S. airlines in June was 4.4 percent below what it was in June 2008. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics said U.S. airlines carried 1.4 percent more domestic passengers in June and 8.4 percent more international passengers than in June 2009. Planes were fuller than any other June on record. For the first six months of 2010, the number of scheduled domestic and international passengers on U.S. airlines increased 1.2 percent from the same period in 2009, but declined 8 percent from the first six months of 2008. Delta Air Lines Inc. carried more total passengers than any other U.S. airline. Southwest Airlines carried the most passengers domestically. Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International retained its title as the busiest U.S. airport.
Can Continental, United work out seamless merger? – Dan Reed, USA Today, September 18, 2010
United (UAUA) and Continental (CAL) airlines took 2½ years to decide to merge, negotiate a deal and convince government regulators that the marriage wouldn’t harm competition. Friday, shareholders of United and Continental airlines approved the combination, creating the world’s biggest airline by many measures. The vote is the last step before closing papers are signed on Oct. 1, and a new United Airlines is born. At both companies, the vote for the deal topped 98%. Now comes the hard part: Leaders of United and Continental, currently the nation’s third- and fourth-largest airlines respectively, must put their very different operating styles, workforces, fleets and corporate cultures together — and in a way that works for the travelers, communities and shareholders they serve. It’s a task that could take 18 months or more, if recent mergers are a guide. It will be about six months before fliers notice much difference. It could be five years before the merger can be gauged a success. Some mergers and industry analysts warn that it won’t be an easy task.
We May be Heading for a Space Bubble: The supply of new spacecraft, launchers, and spaceports could soon exceed the demand.– Stephen Cass, The Technology Review, September 14, 2010
Before the year is out, SpaceX will likely have conducted the first orbital demonstration of the Dragon capsule, which is intended to transport cargo, and ultimately humans, to the International Space Station (ISS). Next year, Orbital Sciences is expected to launch its cargo vessel, Cygnus. By 2014, two more spacecraft, the Dream Chaser and CST-100 are on track to have maiden voyages, launched by the Sierra Nevada Corporation and Boeing, respectively. And even more spacecraft are being developed by companies such as Blue Origin and PlanetSpace, as well as suborbital vehicles being built by Virgin Galactic, XCOR, and others. On the ground, there are seven federal and eight nonfederal launch sites licensed by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration; most of the latter are new and owned by a combination of private enterprise and state and local governments. Additional applications for even more spaceports are likely. When these developments were reviewed at last week’s American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Space 2010 conference, some attendees began asking: is the space industry building too much capacity?