April 11, 2008
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AOPA SPEAKS OUT AGAINST FAA CONGESTION PRICING In formal comments filed on the FAA's plan to reduce airline delays through congestion pricing, AOPA said the agency is jumping too far too soon."Congestion pricing should be the FAA's last resort, not its first," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "The agency's proposal does nothing to improve the national air transportation system and could in fact hurt general aviation's access to airports." AOPA has offered specific suggestions for ways to reduce delays.
TORNADO RIPS UP ARKANSAS AIRPORT Even a small tornado can wreak havoc on light airplanes. On April 3, a tornado ripped through North Little Rock, Ark., pounding hangars at the local airport. One airplane owner said 20 to 25 airplanes that had been tied down outside were severely damaged or destroyed. A DC-3 skidded 150 yards and ended up in a ravine. There were no reported fatalities. See our slide show on AOPA Online.
AOPA WORKING WITH FAA, AIR FORCE AFTER F-16 SCARE When Patrick McCall got an urgent collision avoidance warning from the TCAS in his Pilatus PC-12, he took evasive action—turning, diving, and then climbing to avoid the traffic that seemed to be chasing him across the sky. When he finally saw the traffic, it was an Air Force F-16 flying in close formation with his aircraft. Moments later, Scott Lamoree, flying a Beechcraft Premier jet, had an eerily similar experience. In letters to the FAA and the Air Force, both GA pilots said they thought their lives were in extreme danger. Now the Air Force and the FAA have promised full investigations into the March 21 incidents that occurred in a military operations area near Luke Air Force Base in Arizona. And AOPA is working with both groups to ensure that general aviation and military aircraft can safely share the skies. Read more on AOPA Online.
GET MORE FROM FSS WITH NEW MINICOURSE Change is rarely easy—and the transition to a new flight service system has been no exception. But now you can get help managing the change, thanks to a new interactive minicourse produced by the AOPA Air Safety Foundation in partnership with AOPA's Government Affairs department. The course, A Pilot's Guide to Flight Service, takes about 20 minutes to complete and offers a multitude of tips and tricks for getting the most from FSS. The minicourse will lead you through a behind-the-scenes look at how FSS works and how it has changed. You'll also get a helpful guide to using the system both on the ground and in the air, and a list of alternatives for times when you're having trouble reaching a briefer.
TUSSLES IN BRUSSELS: PILOTS IN EUROPE FEEL THE SQUEEZE Basic general aviation is being squeezed out of European skies, AOPA President Phil Boyer told the annual General and Business Aviation Day Forum on April 4 at Eurocontrol headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. "The profile of general aviation has never been higher in Europe, providing an attractive alternative to the airlines," said Boyer, who also serves as president of the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations (IAOPA). "Yet the VFR pilot has fewer and fewer places to fly due to declining airport availability, environmental restrictions, increasing costs, and ever shrinking airspace." Read more on AOPA Online.
DUAL GARMINS FOR ECLIPSE 500 Eclipse Aviation plans to incorporate dual, panel-mounted Garmin GPS 400W navigation receivers into the Eclipse 500 very light jet. According to Eclipse, the move is designed to give the aircraft's Avio NG avionics suite the "functionality we always said it would have." Once equipped with the new avionics, Eclipse 500 operators should be able to file GPS-direct flight plans, and ultimately, perform vertical navigation with WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System) guidance. Retrofit plans are still in the works. Read more on AOPA Online.
ADAM AIRCRAFT GETS A NEW OWNER A Denver federal bankruptcy court has approved the sale of Adam Aircraft Industries for $10 million to Russian-owned AAI Acquisition, a Delaware corporation set up by Industrial Investors, a Russian private equity asset management group that claims to manage investments worth $3 billion. AAI Vice President Dmitry Shokhin said his company would continue Adam operations, including the certification of the A700 jet. Adam Aircraft also developed the A500 piston-engine aircraft prior to bankruptcy. A press release from the Russian company said Industrial Investors specializes in transportation and owns an air-taxi company known as Dexter and a business jet airline called Velvet Club. Adam Aircraft filed for bankruptcy Feb. 15, and within days most of the workforce had attended job fairs conducted in hotel meeting rooms throughout the Denver area.
ELECTRICITY POWERS PLANE IN SPAIN A research affiliate of Boeing in Spain has test flown a Diamond Dimona motorglider using only a fuel cell, like those used by space vehicles to generate electricity, and a lithium-ion battery. This goal took some seven years to reach. Both the battery and fuel cell were used for takeoff and landing, but once at altitude the aircraft was flown 20 minutes in level flight using only the fuel cell. The speed of the motorized glider during that time was 54 knots TAS. No, this doesn't mean you'll be flying an electric airplane in the distant future. But the technology could be used to power unmanned aerial vehicles. Having achieved its goal, the program has ended and no further flights are planned, but the research goes on.
DARPA HAS A NEED FOR SPEED Got a design for a reusable, maneuverable, air-breathing aircraft that can take off and land on a runway and cruise at Mach 6-plus for at least 60 seconds? The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) wants to hear from you. Working with the Air Force, DARPA is seeking proposals for the Blackswift flight test program, which it envisions as a springboard to future aircraft capable of a wide range of strike and intelligence-gathering missions. Read more on AOPA Online.
FLYABLE VINTAGE AIRPLANE COLLECTION TO OPEN IN JUNE The collection of 15 famous and flyable vintage warplanes from around the world owned by Microsoft cofounder Paul G. Allen opens to the public June 6 at Paine Field in Everett, Wash. Like Planes of Fame in Chino, Calif., the aircraft will be regularly flown in demonstrations open to the public. It will be called the Flying Heritage Collection and includes the British Supermarine Spitfire, the German Messerschmitt BF 109, the Japanese Zero-Sen fighter, the North American P-51 Mustang, and a rare Grumman Hellcat.
IT'S A BUYER'S MARKET Rising fuel, insurance, and hangar costs—along with tight credit markets—have pushed down aircraft values and made it a buyer's market, according to experienced aircraft owner John Downing, of Atlanta. "Buyers who are ready to move can get some astonishingly good deals," he said. "I watch the market closely, and I've been amazed that some excellent airplanes at very reasonable prices have been slow to sell, or haven't sold at all in the last year. It's a real buyer's market." Read more on AOPA Online.
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PILOTS PICK TOP TWO ISSUES FACING GA The cost of flying and the future of general aviation airports are top of mind for pilots visiting AOPA's Big Yellow Tent at Sun 'n Fun. Nearly half of all who have stopped by so far have picked cost of flying, a natural choice with soaring fuel prices. On AOPA Day (today, April 11) members can talk to AOPA President Phil Boyer and other AOPA experts about those GA issues. Join the fun through our online coverage, complete with photos and videos.
LIBERTY AEROSPACE UPS GROSS WEIGHT, OFFERS OTHER GOODIES Liberty Aerospace is now offering an improved version of its XL2 two-seater. It's called the Vanguard Edition, and it features a gross weight increase to 1,750 pounds (up from 1,653), toe brakes instead of finger brakes, WAAS-enabled Garmin GPS receiver, Jeppesen's terrain database, and entry steps for pilot and passenger. The changes were driven by flight schools. As for new options, the company is offering the Aspen Avionics glass-panel flight display, Garmin GTX 330 transponder, S-Tec GPS-coupled two-axis autopilot, and Insight Avionics True Flow 500 fuel computer.
LSAs GAIN PROMINENCE AT SUN 'N FUN There are now more than 75 models of light sport aircraft on the market. As proof of the new category's growing importance, they have their own special place by the front gate at this year's Sun 'n Fun. The newest is the Paradise from Brazil, commonly used in that country by ranchers to patrol their land. Representatives of Gobosh were there to explain the letters of their name to the curious: go big or stay home. LSA guru Dan Johnson said so far there has been no shakeout in the industry as new models continue to emerge. More expensive models (like the Gobosh at $127,000) represent more than 95 percent of the available models, but there are promises of less expensive models yet unannounced.
CONTINENTAL TOPS CENTURY MARK FOR FADEC-EQUIPPED ENGINES Teledyne Continental Motors topped an important milestone recently as a TCM IO-240F engine was installed in a new Liberty XL2 airplane. It was the 100th Powerlink FADEC-equipped engine delivered by TCM. TCM also announced that the Powerlink FADEC fleet has accumulated 13,000 flight hours. The Powerlink FADEC—for full authority digital engine control—system is the only FAA-certified single-lever electronic engine control system for avgas-fueled, piston-powered general aviation aircraft. The Liberty XL2 is the first FAA type-certified aircraft to be certified with the Powerlink FADEC system.
COMMEMORATIVE AIR FORCE PRESENT FOR DUTY The Commemorative Air Force showed up at Sun 'n Fun in large numbers Monday for the first time in recent memory. The 51-year-old organization based in Midland, Texas, whose volunteers restore and fly military airplanes from World War II and beyond, is trying to raise its national profile. The group also plans to display and fly its aircraft at AirVenture, Wings over Houston, and its own "Airsho " in Midland, September 20 and 21. Learn more about the Commemorative Air Force in this video from the show.
See the latest industry news, photos, multimedia, and AOPA happenings from Sun 'n Fun this week on our online news page. Plus, get the inside scoop behind those stories with the new AOPA Pilot "Reporting Points" blog.
CROSSWIND CONUNDRUM: PILOTS SHARE ALL Crosswind landings seem to be so controversial among pilots that even the headline of last week’s ePilot story requesting comments was challenged: "Really not a 'Conundrum' but a matter of choice in technique," one member wrote. About 500 of you wrote to ePilot throughout the week to share your crosswind landing techniques in everything from gliders to Harrier jets. (And yes, we had a few happy Ercoupe pilots write in explaining their "touchdown in a crab" technique.) Read a compilation on AOPA Online.
NEVER AGAIN ONLINE: BIRDSTRIKE ON LANDING Not even routine flights are always predictable, as this pilot learned upon an approach to landing at a familiar airport in South Carolina. "My effort to ace the landing had created a low approach speed, and the bird strike distraction was about to prove more ominous than a broken windshield. I pushed the yoke forward, birds going everywhere, the stall horn still blaring, and the airport coming up awfully fast," recalls Fleming Mattox in the latest installment of Never Again Online.
CAN YOU DANCE THE TOWERED AIRPORT TANGO? Towered airport operations can be an intricate dance of aircraft landing, launching, and moving along the ground. For operations to run smoothly, pilots and controllers need to know all the steps and pay close attention to their partner's cues. When a controller clears you to "taxi to" another runway, can you cross an intersecting runway? What does "cleared for the option" mean? Get the answers to these questions and more by taking the new AOPA Air Safety Foundation quiz. Delve deeper into the subject with this Safety Advisor. Still looking for a challenge? Check out the archive of past Safety Quizzes.
IMPROVE YOUR SAFETY BY LEARNING FROM OTHERS Gain invaluable knowledge about flying safely by learning from the mistakes of others. Using your ePilot personalization preferences, like "piston single-engine" or "turbine," the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's Accident Database generates a list of accidents that have been added to the database in the past 30 days. If you haven't personalized your newsletter, select your aircraft preferences from the "types of aircraft" section on the ePilot personalization page.
YOU'RE PREPARED FOR TAKEOFF, BUT WHAT ABOUT YOUR FAMILY? You probably receive life insurance coverage from your employer. But is it enough? Many pilots don't have enough life insurance, which can leave a family devastated in the event of a loss. No matter how many hours you have in your logbook, AOPA Term Life insurance has got you covered with affordable rates and coverage that fits your needs. AOPA Term Life insurance, underwritten by Minnesota Life, is available exclusively to AOPA members. For 57 years, AOPA has worked with Minnesota Life to offer term life insurance specifically for pilots and is designed to give you as much flexibility as possible in choosing life insurance coverage. You will receive the coverage amounts you need at the best possible price. Get your free quote today.
DOUBLE YOUR REWARDS FOR AVIATION SPENDING Whether you are buying groceries, paying utility bills, or renting an airplane, you'll be rewarded for every dollar you spend with the AOPA WorldPoints credit card from Bank of America. Of course, not all purchases are created equal. AOPA knows that aviation is an important part of your life, and we believe your credit card should reward your commitment to GA. So while you earn reward points—redeemable for travel, cash, merchandise, event tickets, and more—for every purchase you make, you earn double points for most aviation expenses. Read more on AOPA Online.
Here's a question asked by an AOPA member who contacted our aviation services staff through the AOPA Pilot Information Center. Test your knowledge.
Question: I have been taught that the black triangle with a "T" on instrument approach plates is an unspoken clearance to any IFR departure. I know that the symbol indicates an obstacle departure procedure (ODP) for a runway. However, I notice airports where a SID (standard instrument departure) is also published. These are mutually exclusive. Both procedures cannot be accomplished. What has priority over the other?
Answer: The FAA's Instrument Procedures Handbook (pg.2-18) explains that an ODP is considered to be the default IFR departure procedure and is intended for use in the absence of ATC radar vectors or a SID assignment. Therefore, if a pilot has been assigned a SID, it would be performed over the obstacle departure procedure. Want to learn more and test your knowledge of instrument charts? Take the Air Safety Foundation's new interactive course: IFR Insights: Charts .
Got a question for our aviation services staff? The AOPA Pilot Information Center is is at your service. Call toll-free 800/872-2672 to speak to a specialist about any general aviation topic. Or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Send comments on our Quiz Me! questions to email@example.com.
DON'T TAKE OUR WORD FOR IT AOPA's 2008 Get Your Glass Sweepstakes airplane is making its public debut this week at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport in connection with the annual Sun 'n Fun Fly-In. See the 1976 Piper Archer II with the world's first certified installed Aspen Avionics EFD1000 PFD. If you can't make it, be sure to drop by online to see what others have to say about the exciting airplane.
The AOPA Online Gallery allows you to download your favorite aviation images to use for wallpaper, send a personalized e-card, and order high-quality prints to be shipped directly to your doorstep. Search the hundreds of fabulous images in our archives and select your favorites today! For more details, see AOPA Online.
Ever dream of turning your passion for aviation into a career? We're looking for a Director of Development and a Manager of Aviation Safety Analysis. To learn more about these and other career opportunities, visit AOPA Online.
UPCOMING FLYING DESTINATIONS: Smyrna, Tenn. The Great Tennessee Airshow takes place April 12 and 13 at Smyrna (MQY). For more information, contact Lois Vallance, 615/459-2651, or visit the Web site.
Palm Springs, Calif. The Doolittle Tokyo Raid Commemorative Program takes place April 12 at the Palm Springs Air Museum. For more information, contact Sheilah Reed, 760/778-6262, ext. 235.
Pittsburgh, Pa. Aero Club of Pittsburgh meeting, featuring AOPA President Phil Boyer, takes place April 17 at Allegheny County (AGC). For more information, contact Don Rhodes, 412/793-9561, or visit the Web site.
Stillwater, Okla. Air Fest 2008 takes place April 19 at Stillwater Regional (SWO). For more information, contact Gary Johnson, 405/372-7881.
Sanford, N.C. A seminar on navigating North Carolina's military airspace takes place April 23 at Sanford-Lee County (TTA). For more information, contact Paul Wilder, 919/776-2003.
To submit an event to the calendar or to search all events visit AOPA Online. For airport details, including FBO fuel prices, see AOPA's Airport Directory Online.
FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR REFRESHER CLINICS The next AOPA Air Safety Foundation Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics are scheduled in San Diego, Chicago, and Indianapolis, April 19 and 20; Tampa, Fla., Cincinnati, and Boston, April 26 and 27; and Pensacola, Fla., Kansas City, Mo., and Houston, May 3 and 4. For a complete schedule, see AOPA Online. Can't make it in person? Sign up for the CFI Refresher Online.
AOPA AIR SAFETY FOUNDATION SAFETY SEMINARS AOPA Air Safety Foundation Safety Seminars are scheduled in Concord, Calif., and Clayton, Mo., April 14; Fresno, Calif., and Warrensburg, Mo., April 15; Salinas, Calif., and Springfield, Mo., April 16; Palmdale, Calif., April 17; Hickory, N.C., April 19; Charlotte, N.C., April 21; Gilbertsville, Ky., and Fayetteville, N.C., April 22; West Lafayette, Ind., Worthington, Ky., and Castle Hayne, N.C., April 23; and Cranford, N.J., April 24. The topic is "Top 5 Mistakes Pilots Make." For details and a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.
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AOPA thanks our members for their continued support in protecting the freedom to fly.