While the U.S. government is on a Congress-created enforced shutdown, the aviation industry might be tempted to wonder what the FAA actually accomplishes. What we are learning is that a lot of what the FAA does is process paperwork. And when the paperwork stops flowing, we can be forced to stop flying.
Every decade or so, sometimes more often, someone or some organization proposes “privatizing” the U.S. air traffic control system. In 1985 it was the Air Transport Association (ATA), now renamed Airlines for America, which released a study calling for a self-supporting federal ATC corporation.
You need only glance at the first cover of Business Jet Traveler, from October 2003, to see how far it has come. The magazine, which I edit, began as an outgrowth of Aviation International News and, in its early issues, seemed more like a clone than an offspring.
Last month, I wrote about preventing whistleblowing: how do you keep employees from blowing the whistle? My short answer was to listen to what employees are saying about safety problems, investigate and take appropriate actions.
The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) has bid a fond farewell to the VC10 air refueling tanker, a type that has been in British military service for 47 years.
A large helicopter crashed last month near Norfolk, Va., and not only wasn’t the National Transportation Safety Board mobilized; it probably even had advance warning. The planned wreck was part of a continuing series of rotorcraft crash tests sponsored by NASA in partnership with the FAA, the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Army, dating back to 2009.
When my wife and I recently dropped off our son for his freshman year at Bard College, we had the pleasure of listening to a talk by the school’s extraordinary longtime president, Leon Botstein. He noted that universities have been around since the 11th century and have endured through everything from the development of movable type to the invention of electric lights and the moon landing. They’ll survive the Internet, too, he said.
FAA enforcement cases tend to focus on the front-line employees, usually pilots or mechanics, who allegedly violate federal aviation regulations. Occasionally other certified airmen, such as aircraft dispatchers, parachute riggers or air traffic controllers at contract towers, face enforcement action.
A year ago, Laminar Research, the maker of the popular X-Plane flight simulator software, was sued by a company called Uniloc, which accused Laminar Research of infringing a Uniloc patent entitled “System and method for preventing unauthorized access to electronic data.” Uniloc is seeking a jury trial and wants agreement that its patent has been infringed, payment for damages and costs, post-judgment royalties and pre- and post-judgment interest.
A little over a decade ago, my wife and I had at least some small chance of becoming rich beyond belief. We were among the first investors in a technology startup that had the potential to be as revolutionary and widely adopted as the iPhone or iPad, and with even greater revenue. Unfortunately, the company’s digital-wallet concept was ahead of its time and the founders, despite diligent efforts, lacked the muscle to make it a reality.