Controllers getting out of the business

Looks like our sometimes good humored friends on the other end of the radio waves are retiring faster than anticipated. The AP reports that controller retirements are out pacing the expected numbers. This raised concern from the controllers union, stating that the system is on the brink of breakdown. The FAA is countering with a pretty standard "everything is fine..." response but it stands to reason that if we're losing veteran controllers faster than expected, even if we replace them with new controllers, we're losing their experience.

Personal Experience: NextGen is Not a Catch-All

Before I begin, I should say that the upgrades to the Air Traffic Control system (aka. "NextGen") that the FAA wants to implement are a good thing. This will increase safety and, in some ways, efficiency. My only problem with the system is that the airlines are trying to push legislation through congress that would require general aviation aircraft to foot the bill for a system that will get minimal use from 95% of general aviation aircraft. The airlines have convinced the FAA that this is both necessary and ethical, even though the FAA itself has stated that we can fund NextGen using our current tax system. The AOPA website has a great deal of information on the subject.

'Loose Nukes' Get Four Colonels Fired

After a 6-week investigation, the Air Force has decided to "relieve" several of the commanding officers of the units involved with the B-52 that unknowingly flew several nuclear-tipped weapons from Minot AFB to Barksdale AFB. One of those is Colonel Bruce Emig, the brand-new commander of the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot.

iPhone Commercial... Interesting

We just recently pointed out how the iPhone was supposedly getting some attention after a passenger and a flight attendant had a disagreement about whether or not you could use the device in flight. With that in mind I just happened to catch the new iPhone Commercial entitled "delay" on their website. It involves what appears to be an airline pilot, can't really tell what position he holds, but he goes on to detail how he used his iPhone while on a delay to inform his dispatchers of the clearing weather. In this case the iPhone "saved the day" and saved his passengers what would have been a two hour delay on a ninety minute flight.

Excel Jet sues FAA over crash

Very Light Jet (VLJ) manufacturer Excel Jet is filing suit against the FAA in what seems like an attempt to deflect blame from their Sport-Jet airframe. The suit comes after an NTSB report failed to determine the cause of a June 2006 crash. Excel Jet is asserting that the FAA failed to give adequate spacing behind a departing DH-8 causing the mishap.

Composite cargo X-plane

You can chalk up another potentially cool development for the guys at Lockheed Martin's Skunk Work's. It seems that the Air Force Research Labs have just awarded them the go ahead for the development of a flight demonstration aircraft employing advanced concepts in composite technologies. While the aircraft itself is going to be a Dornier 328J, it will boast an empennage and midsection constructed with the new composite processes. These composites mark a step forward in durability and maintainability for the next generation of military aircraft.

NTSB vs. the UAV

On Tuesday of this week the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued their first ever findings in the age of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). The incident in question involved a Predator B drone crash in Arizona near the Mexican border in 2006. The NTSB concluded that operator error was the cause of the crash, which luckily missed any populated areas. The NTSB is using this incident to highlight the growing issue of UAV's occupying the airspace above the United States.

The risks of repair

The TSA is drawing criticism from lawmakers over a failure to regulate what overseas facilities are authorized to conduct repairs on aircraft operated by U.S. carriers. TSA chief Kip Hawley has vowed to meet the deadline, proposed by Congress, to enact new security rules by 2008 and complete the inspection of all foreign repair shops by 2009. This comes after the TSA apparently failed to act quickly enough on a 2003 inspector general report calling for the new regulations.

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