U.S. moves to block AT&T, T-Mobile deal

August 31, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Posted in Aerospace Law Interfaces, Telecommunications | Leave a comment

by Sara M. Langston with the blog faculty

Source: Reuters

(Reuters) – The Obama administration on Wednesday fired a legal broadside to block AT&T Inc’s $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile, launching its biggest challenge yet to a takeover and dealing the carrier a potentially costly blow.

AT&T plans to fight the government’s decision in court and analysts say it might have to make big concessions — including selling major assets — to mollify regulators.

Shares in the No. 2 U.S. carrier behind Verizon Wireless fell as much as 5.4 percent. If the deal falls through, it may have to pay a break-up fee and benefits, such as spectrum grants, worth an estimated $6 billion.

The Justice Department in a lawsuit filed in federal court said eliminating T-Mobile as a competitor would be disastrous for consumers and would raise prices, particularly because the smaller provider is considered a pioneer in low-cost service plans. [more]


Orbital Recieves FAA License for COTS Demonstration

August 31, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Posted in Space Law | Leave a comment

by P.J. Blount with the blog faculty

Source – Orbital Sciences:

Orbital Receives FAA Commercial Space Launch License for Taurus II COTS Demonstration Mission
— Company Secures Required Authorization to Conduct Launch After Extensive Technical and Management Review —

(Dulles, VA 31 August 2011) — Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB), one of the world’s leading space technology companies, today announced that it received a Commercial Space Transportation Launch License from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to conduct the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program demonstration mission in early 2012. An expanded license covering the test flight of the company’s Taurus® II rocket in late 2011 is expected to be granted in the near future.

To secure the license, Orbital was required to submit extensive technical and program management data to the FAA about its Taurus II rocket and Cygnus™ spacecraft to ensure that all necessary operational requirements and safety precautions are met. Among the many items reviewed by the FAA were the rocket’s planned trajectory, ground tracking procedures, onboard safety and flight termination systems, and the experience and training of the launch operations team.

“We are very pleased to have been granted the Commercial Space Transportation Launch License by the FAA well in advance of our scheduled launch date in early 2012,” said Mr. Brent Collins, Orbital’s Senior Vice President and Taurus II Program Manager. “While we are very knowledgeable of the FAA licensing process because of our extensive experience with Pegasus and Taurus space launch vehicles, securing the FAA’s approval for a new rocket system is always challenging because of the rigor of their oversight. We feel this is a great vote of confidence in our launch vehicle design, the robustness of its subsystems, the thoroughness of our processes, and the training and operational experience of our launch team.”

For the COTS demonstration mission, Orbital will launch a Taurus II rocket carrying an operational Cygnus cargo logistics spacecraft that will autonomously rendezvous with and operate in close proximity to the International Space Station (ISS) until it is grappled with a robotic arm and berthed to the Station. For the earlier Taurus II test flight, an instrumented Cygnus simulator will be onboard to accurately characterize the launch environment.

Australian Airport Pricing Is Not Unfair, Commission says

August 31, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Posted in Aviation Law Current Event | Leave a comment

by Sara M. Langston with the blog faculty

Source: Aviation Week

An Australian government review has determined that despite airline complaints to the contrary, airport charging practices are reasonable, particularly when compared with other countries.

While the government’s Productivity Commission found that the “light-handed regulation” of airport pricing is generally working well, it does recommend some changes aimed at giving the main competition watchdog the ability to proactively intervene if unreasonable pricing is occurring or suspected.

The Australian government began privatizing airports in 1997, culminating with the sale of Sydney Airport in 2002. A price cap system was imposed, although this was subsequently replaced with the light-handed regulation concept after a government inquiry found that the price controls risked “distorting production decisions and chilling airport investment.” [Full story]

USAF Official: Long Road For Distributed Sats

August 31, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Posted in Remote Sensing Law Current Events, Space Law Current Events | Leave a comment

by Sara M. Langston with the blog faculty

Source: Aviation Week

Despite growing interest from some senior U.S. Air Force leaders in exploring new architectures for the Pentagon’s satellite constellations, chances are that this “disaggregation” concept is not likely to take root any time soon, according to one senior procurement official.

Lt. Gen. Mark Shackelford, the outgoing military deputy in the Air Force acquisition office, says that the momentum today in the Air Force is behind sustaining current satellite programs in production.

Officials at Air Force Space Command and U.S. Strategic Command are exploring the disaggregation concept, which calls for distributing capabilities of satellites or constellations on various platforms in space. The idea is to field larger numbers of less capable systems to reduce the risk of a major space service outage in the event of an attack on a satellite system or an in-orbit failure.[more]

California flight training fix clears state legislature

August 31, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Posted in Aviation Law Current Event | Leave a comment

by Sara M. Langston with the blog faculty

Source: AOPA

A bill that would exempt California fight training organizations from onerous fees and reporting requirements imposed by a 2009 post-secondary education law took a major step toward becoming law Aug. 30 with approval by the state Senate.

The Assembly approved Senate Bill 619 Aug. 25, and it was then referred back to the Senate, which had passed the measure in May, for adoption of technical corrections. The corrections include an urgency clause that would make the bill effective immediately on its being signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, said AOPA Vice President of Airports and State Advocacy Greg Pecoraro.

“AOPA will continue to keep this bill moving forward,” he said. [more]

FltPlan Flight Privacy Program Exposes Tangled FAA Policy

August 31, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Posted in Aviation Law Current Event | Leave a comment

by Sara M. Langston with the blog faculty

Source: AIN

In the days and weeks leading up to the August 2 changes that eliminated the Block Aircraft Registration Request (Barr) program, which for a decade had allowed Part 91 operators to suppress their flight information at online flight tracking websites, a number of business aircraft pilots were eager to find an alternative. And they quickly found a free-market solution.

Since about mid-July, FltPlan.com–a company that claims to process more than two million FAA flight plans a year from pilots–started offering its customers a “call sign” program….

Meanwhile, the FAA would not answer questions regarding the legality of a servicing agency outright selling the use of its call sign to Part 91 operators as a replacement for the now-defunct Barr program. However, AIN understands that the agency is looking into the matter. [Full story]

California olive farm drops lawsuit against balloonists

August 31, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Posted in Aviation Law Current Event | Leave a comment

by Sara M. Langston with the blog faculty

Source: The Desert Sun

Hot-air balloonists celebrated when an east valley olive farm dropped its lawsuit against them Aug. 15 after nearly 2 1/2 years. But the damage had already been done.

A dozen balloonists or balloon companies went out of business, left the area or simply stopped flying locally. People lost their jobs and ran up big debts defending themselves. One balloonist said he ran up $177,000 in attorney’s fees.

All of this occurred with JCM Farming Inc., the plaintiff in the lawsuit, never once having to show proof to a judge that its initial, central complaint was true: That the balloonists had flown too low over its property and caused a nuisance.

The lawsuit illustrated what many see as a pervasive problem in the U.S. justice system, especially in California: well-financed litigants can run small businesses and individuals into the ground, often grinding out cases for years. [Full story]

Obama says Congress must pass transport bills

August 31, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Posted in Aviation Law Current Event | Leave a comment

by Sara M. Langston with the blog faculty

Source: Reuters

(Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama, seeking to save jobs in a tough economy, urged Congress on Wednesday to not hold up multibillion-dollar temporary funding bills for aviation and highway spending.

Obama said in remarks at the White House that it would be “inexcusable” for lawmakers to not act immediately on those measures when they return from their summer recess next week.

Obama’s remarks on transportation presaged his plans next week to lay out a broad strategy for creating jobs. [Full story]

ATA Calls for National Airline Policy

August 31, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Posted in Aviation Law | Leave a comment

by P.J. Blount with the blog faculty

Source – Aero-News Network:

Air Transport Association Calls For National Airline Policy
Urges FAA To Step Up Implementation Of New Air Traffic Procedures

Airline industry trade group ATA issued a call Monday for the FAA to accelerate its timetable for implementing new and more efficient air traffic procedures, a key pillar of a needed National Airline Policy. “Near-term FAA action will help government focus on priorities that can provide immediate economic – and importantly – customer-service benefits,” said ATA President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio (pictured) in a speech to the Boyd Group International Aviation Forecast Summit. “The airline industry faces daunting levels of taxation and regulation, and not addressing these matters quickly stifles our ability to further drive economic growth and puts us at greater risk to foreign competition.” . . . [Full Story]

Space Agencies Meet To Discuss A Global Exploration Roadmap

August 31, 2011 at 11:33 am | Posted in Space Law Current Events | Leave a comment

by Sara M. Langston with the blog faculty

Source: NASA

RELEASE : 11-280

Space Agencies Meet To Discuss A Global Exploration Roadmap

WASHINGTON — Senior managers representing 10 space agencies from around the world met in Kyoto, Japan today to advance the Global Exploration Roadmap for coordinated space exploration.

During the past year, the International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISECG) has developed a long-range human exploration strategy. It begins with the International Space Station and expands human presence throughout the solar system, leading ultimately to human missions to explore the surface of Mars. The roadmap flows from this strategy and identifies two potential pathways: “Asteroid Next” and “Moon Next.”

Each pathway represents a mission scenario over a 25-year period describing a logical sequence of robotic and human missions. Both pathways were deemed practical approaches addressing common high-level exploration goals developed by the participating agencies, recognizing that individual preferences among participating space agencies may vary regarding these pathways.

The first iteration of the roadmap will inform and focus the planning currently underway in each of the partner agencies in the areas of planetary robotic exploration, advanced technology development and use of the space station in preparation for exploration. It was agreed that during the next few weeks, this initial version of the Global Exploration Roadmap would be finalized and released to the public.

Yoshiyuki Hasagawa of Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency, in his capacity as chairman of the International Space Exploration Coordination Group said, “We are very happy with the progress of the Global Exploration Roadmap to technically coordinate both near and long term space exploration planning, with world space agencies.”

During the meeting, the senior agency managers also reaffirmed the role of the ISECG to facilitate the ability of space agencies to take concrete steps toward partnerships that reflect a globally coordinated exploration effort.

“NASA is confident that the release of this product, and subsequent refinements as circumstances within each space agency evolve, will facilitate the ability of space agencies to form the partnerships that will ensure robust and sustainable human exploration,” said NASA’s Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations and outgoing ISECG chair William Gerstenmaier.

The ISECG was established as a voluntary, non-binding international coordination forum, where the partner agencies that contributed to the Global Exploration Strategy (GES) can exchange information regarding interests, plans, and activities in space exploration.

The GES set forth a shared vision for concerted human and robotic space exploration missions focused on solar system destinations where humans may one day live and work. Another stated goal is to encourage the partners to work together on strengthening both individual exploration programs and collective efforts.

The development of the Global Exploration Roadmap is the second step toward achieving this goal, following the development of the ISECG Reference Architecture for Human Lunar Exploration.

The countries participating in the meeting included in alphabetical order: Canada, Europe, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Russia, United Kingdom, and United States.

For more information about NASA and human exploration visit:


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