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In brief: FAA warns about home-built planes

Fri., March 26, 2010, midnight

WASHINGTON – High-performance homemade planes like the one that killed a beach jogger last week in South Carolina are prone to stall, especially when going slower while waiting to land, and have been involved in a disproportionately large number of fatal accidents, federal officials warned Thursday.

The Federal Aviation Administration said in a safety advisory to pilots that the Lancair, which is built from kits, and others like it have design characteristics that allow the planes to fly much faster than most small planes. However, the agency says, those characteristics can also “expose pilots to additional risk during slowspeed operations while close to the ground and with little time to recover from an unintentional stall.”

An FAA analysis found that the planes have experienced fatal accident rates substantially higher than other small, personal use planes, including other types of planes made from kits, the advisory said.

Panel urges more tanning bed rules

GAITHERSBURG, Md. – Federal health experts say more restrictions are needed to protect teenagers from the cancer risks of tanning beds, including a potential ban for people under 18.

A panel of advisers to the Food and Drug Administration recommended Thursday that the agency put tighter controls on artificial tanning, ranging from requiring parental consent forms to banning the practice in younger teens.

“Given the absence of any demonstrated benefit, I think it’s an obligation for us to ban artificial tanning for those under 18,” said panelist Dr. Michael Olding.

Other members of the panel said the scientific evidence is not strong enough to warrant a total ban.

The panel also recommended the FDA add bolder warning labels to tanning beds and change how they are regulated.

Mars rover passes 12-mile mark

PASADENA, Calif. – The NASA rover Opportunity has passed the 12-mile mark on its marathon Mars mission.

Opportunity hit the driving milestone this week as it headed toward its next destination, Endeavour crater. The aging but plucky rover still has another 7.2 miles to go to reach the site.

Since landing in 2004, Opportunity and its twin Spirit have outlasted their original three-month mission.

Unlike the freewheeling Opportunity, Spirit is stuck in a sand trap. Its power has been declining with the coming winter, and it’s expected to go into hibernation mode.

Before it became stuck, Spirit had logged nearly five miles on its odometer.

NYC cops catch wayward coyote

NEW YORK – A wily coyote evaded New York City police for two days before being nabbed in a parking garage. It was the fourth coyote sighting in Manhattan this year.

The animal first eluded police capture Wednesday near the Holland Tunnel. It was spotted Thursday afternoon on the West Side Highway, and police chased it to an open-air garage in Tribeca.

Officers cornered the coyote, sedated it with a dart and then carted it off to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Animal welfare officials will observe the animal before deciding where to take it.

Last month, three coyotes were spotted on the campus of Columbia University. Earlier this month, one was seen in Chelsea.


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