• Congress closed up shop on September 29, and November 13 was set as the date for what might be a lame-duck Congress to reconvene. The long interval freed legislators who are up for election to go to their home districts and do battle for votes. Democrats are hoping that the scandals surrounding Republican congressmen will influence voters to restore the Democrats to majorities in the House and Senate.
Most of more than 35 respondents supported the FAA’s notice of proposed rulemaking–as is or with a few changes–to permit pilots serving as second-in-command (SIC) to apply for the new “SIC pilot type rating.” The purpose of the rule is to make it relatively simple and economical for U.S. flight deck crews to meet international requirements that both pilots hold type ratings. But there were a few comments against the proposal.
• Before Congress took a couple of weeks off beginning on March 20, there were 687 bills introduced in the Senate and 1,454 in the House of Representatives. The pace may prove to be record-setting. During the recess, however, legislators took time to concern themselves with the use of steroids by baseball players and the Theresa Schiavo case in Florida.
The Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) last month issued its final rule on the electronic filing of commercial aircraft passenger and crew manifests, including changes to the advance passenger information system (APIS).
Retired Navy Rear Admiral David Stone, who earned high praise from general aviation groups as head of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), is departing the agency next month after little more than a year in the top job. He is the third administrator to leave the TSA in its three-year existence.
Flight crews and their passengers will be affected by a proposal from the Departments of State and Homeland Security to require a U.S. or foreign passport when traveling between the U.S. and other countries in the Western Hemisphere. Starting January 1 next year, a passport would be required for air and sea travel to and from Bermuda, the Caribbean and South America. Effective Jan.
— Following tradition, Congress escaped Washington’s heat and humidity by taking its customary recess in August. Left pending was President Bush’s nomination of John Roberts Jr., to replace Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who retired. That gave the Democrats time to take potshots at the nominee’s previous court records and opinions and the press time to dig into his past as part of the media vetting process.
Arinc plans to eliminate guesswork from the aircraft weight-and-balance equation. The Annapolis, Md.-based transportation communications and systems engineering specialist has received a patent for new weight-and-balance technology that it says will precisely, unobtrusively and automatically weigh passengers and their carry-on items before boarding.
Two men who used grenades to hijack an Aires Colombia de Havilland Dash 8-300 on September 12 surrendered five hours after the standoff began, ending a harrowing but injury-free ordeal for the 20 passengers and five crewmembers. The 50-seat turboprop had taken off from Florencia, Colombia, en route to Bogota, when at about noon local time a wheelchair-bound man and his son commandeered it.
Get ready for a passport shakeup as the rules change. There are countries you can travel to and from without showing a passport, but their number has already begun to shrink. Effective May 1, crewmembers are required to show a valid passport when entering Mexico. A proposal by the U.S. Depart-ment of Homeland Security, to go into effect in three phases, will take that even further.