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Edited By Paul RichfieldBy Paul Richfield

Edited By Paul RichfieldBy Paul Richfield
Stratoflex Faces $2.5 Million Fine 

The FAA has proposed a $2.5 million civil penalty against one of the largest aircraft hose suppliers, for allegedly failing to report thousands of minor product design changes.

It is alleged that Parkin-Hannifin's Dallas-based Stratoflex division made 16,770 unreported design and/or nomenclature changes to various aircraft hoses over a 12-year period, and continued to ignore the FAA's reporting requirements after learning it was under investigation.

Grand Canyon Changes Postponed 

Photograph: An Air Vegas Beech 99 over the Grand Canyon Air Vegas Determined resistance from air tour operators has led a federal appeals court to postpone by one month the implementation of new Grand Canyon air tour routes the FAA has had in the works for several years. An FAA team was dispatched to Arizona in mid-November to review the new routes, which aim to lessen the noise impact of commercial sightseeing operations, mainly in the canyon's busy eastern gorge. Due to go in effect on December 1, the changes were deferred until the end of that month.

Medevacs Cited for `RVSM Abuse' 

Controllers at the Shanwick Oceanic Area Control Centre have warned jet operators against abusing an apparent loophole in the Reduced Vertical Separation Minimums (RVSM) approval process.

A ``great number'' of aircraft routinely file for RVSM flight levels with non-RVSM-approved aircraft, the controllers allege, by claiming their flights are ``mercy or humanitarian'' missions exempt from Europe's new RVSM requirements.

NTSB Wins Budget Boost 

President Clinton has signed into a law a bill that gives the NTSB a major funding increase, prohibits the disclosure of cockpit voice or video recordings, and allows the Safety Board to more easily volunteer its services to foreign governments.

The law also creates the position of chief financial officer at the NTSB, with oversight for waste, fraud and abuse by the DOT's inspector general. Additionally, the NTSB now is free to create an overtime pay schedule independent of the rest of the government.

SimuFlite Founder Dies At 57 

N.S. ``Mike'' Waterman Jr., founder of training giant SimuFlite Training International, died in Dallas on November 8 after a brief illness.

A native of Washington, D.C., Waterman graduated from Loomis Chaffe school in 1961, and Yale University in 1965. He began graduate work at Columbia University, but left to enter the Air National Guard.

Waterman subsequently worked in the plastics business in Florida, and then joined International Aviation Industries in White Plains, N.Y., serving as its president until the early 1970s.

Suppliers Battle Over Engine Parts 

Florida-based Heico, one of the largest non-OEM suppliers of jet engine parts, has attacked General Electric and Pratt&Whitney, the two largest OEM suppliers, for advocating tougher federal regulation of non-OEM suppliers.

The outcome of the dispute -- which has gone to the FAA for review -- could have a far-reaching impact on the relationship between the government, aircraft parts suppliers and their customers.

Avro RJX Market Entry Delayed 

Manufacturing delays have led BAE Systems to push back the planned service entry date for the Avro RJX regional jet by up to three months.

The U.K.-based manufacturer says the first flight of the 85-seat RJX-85 will be in February 2001, with first flight of the larger RJX-100 following two months later. Type certification for the RJX-85 is now planned for December 2001.

Northwest Proposes Mesaba Buyout 

Northwest Airlines has offered to buy the remaining 60 percent of Mesaba Airlines stock is doesn't already own, in a move reminiscent of Delta Air Lines' recent acquisitions of Comair and Atlantic Southeast Airlines.

The action came despite Northwest's repeated denials that it would acquire Mesaba, one of two Northwest Airlink carriers. Northwest already owns the other, Memphis-based Express Airlines I.

GE-Honeywell Impact Unclear 

General Electric's proposed $45 billion acquisition of Honeywell is likely to give the combined company's products a tighter grip on both the business and regional aviation markets.

Embraer Teams With Russia's TsAGI 

Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer has signed a cooperation agreement with TsAGI (Tsentralny Aerogidrodynamic- hesky Institut), Russia's renowned aerodynamics research center.

For now, the deal is likely to revolve around Embraer's use of TsAGI's equipment and facilities, including its computerized aerodynamic and aeroelastic laboratories. Last June, Embraer rented one of TsAGI's 60 wind tunnels to help fine-tune the ERJ-170/190 regional jet design.

FAA Anticipates `Radio Gridlock' 

The FAA says the radio frequencies aircraft use to communicate with air traffic controllers and each other are nearing capacity, and industry demand could ``exhaust'' the system by the end of the decade.

Several technological advancements could slow or even reverse this trend, the agency says, but the experts wonder if the improvements will reach the users before ``radio gridlock'' reaches crisis proportion.

ADS-B on Target in Louisville 

The most recent tests of ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast) technology are complete, and early indications bode well for a system that could reduce the risk of aircraft collisions while smoothing the flow of traffic at crowded airports.

For now though, ADS-B is proving itself to be a great way for the overnight package delivery airlines to speed up and streamline their ``sort'' -- that frantic period when dozens of jet freighters arrive, disgorge their cargo containers, reload and fly off into the night.

International Restrictions Web Site Updated 

The FAA claims to have made its International Restrictions Web site ``more user friendly'' in response to public feedback and input from other government agencies.

The site lists current U.S. government flight prohibitions and other restrictions affecting civil aviation outside the United States. Four nations are included in the most recent changes:

-- Yugoslavia: The United States has eased trade sanctions against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and now will permit limited air transportation between the U.S. and Yugoslavia.

Aussies Raise Pressure Awareness 

Aviation safety regulators in Australia have launched a nationwide campaign designed to raise pilot and operator awareness of issues surrounding aircraft pressurization systems.

Held in four cities this fall, the workshops featured information on operating pressurization systems, tips on using cockpit checklists, advice on hypoxia and its effects, and maintenance requirements.

GPS Makers Add 

Two of the largest manufacturers of GPSes have added DME waypoints to their electronic databases.

The change will enable pilots to use IFR-certified GPS in lieu of DME on all instrument approach procedures that require DME, including localizer, localizer back course and ILS approaches.

The AOPA says it first petitioned for use of GPS in lieu of DME five years ago. Limited approval was granted in 1998, but ``some localizer-type approaches were excluded,'' the group says.

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