March 13, 2009
In This Issue: TSA appoints liaison for GA concerns Piper parent company hits financial turmoil Animation shows dangers of lost attention
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Leaders of the House aviation subcommittee told the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) March 10 that they are unconvinced that the agency’s proposed Large Aircraft Security Program is necessary. In a roundtable discussion that included AOPA, key committee members indicated they thought the TSA proposal goes too far by attempting to impose airline-style security regulations on general aviation aircraft. Others noted that the TSA has far more urgent concerns than general aviation, while still others said the TSA had failed to convince them that GA represents a terrorist threat. Read more >>
The Transportation Security Administration’s Large Aircraft Security Program (LASP) is not suited to general aviation aircraft and should not go forward without industry input, said the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, which has jurisdiction over the TSA. In a March 2 letter to the TSA, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) called for the agency to delay implementation of the program and engage with Congress and industry stakeholders. Under LASP commercial airline security procedures would be applied to aircraft weighing more than 12,500 pounds, regardless of how they are used. Read more >>
AOPA and 16 other industry and trade associations have sent a joint letter asking the House Transportation Committee to provide 25 percent of the FAA’s budget from the general tax fund. “It is significant that every segment of the aviation community has come together to request important taxpayer investment in aviation,” said Lorraine Howerton, AOPA vice president of legislative affairs. In the letter, the groups said that FAA funding from the taxes in the general fund (the taxes we all pay to the government) has long been used as a means of supporting a portion of the nation’s airports, heliports, and airspace infrastructure. Read more >>
The Transportation Security Administration has responded to AOPA’s calls to listen to industry input and has established a stakeholder liaison position dedicated to addressing concerns over recent security measures. AOPA has been urging the agency to interface with pilots and operators in order to better understand how its policies affect the GA community. Read more >>
Bruce Landsberg, president of the AOPA Air Safety Foundation, told New England pilots taking off from large urban areas to “get altitude as quickly as possible” during a speech to the Aero Club of New England. The club each year sponsors a “crash course” and has invited Landsberg to be the keynote speaker for more than a decade. “We discussed the ‘impossible turn,’ the effort by some pilots to turn back to the runway shortly after departure, and how it is important to be spring-loaded for emergency situations when over large urban areas,” Landsberg said. Read more >>
President Barack Obama’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2010 calls for the decommissioning of loran-C, which could serve as a backup for GPS-based navigation in the future. The decommissioning is part of a cost-cutting measure which the government claims will save $190 million over five years. Read more >>
The owner of Piper Aircraft, American Capital, formerly known as American Capital Securities, has posted losses and is in violation of debt terms as its assets shrink in a plunging market, the Washington Post has reported. Lenders require that company assets not sink below 200 percent of the amount of the company’s debt. Read more >>
Like many manufacturers in today’s economy, Robinson Helicopter has seen orders for R22s and R44s decline. However, Robinson Helicopter also offers turnkey police and newscopter model R44s at a fraction of the acquisition and operating costs of larger turbine models. Business in those segments is booming as companies and agencies try to cut costs without losing airborne capabilities. Read more >>
More times than we care to admit, air traffic controllers help bail pilots out of difficult situations. Sometimes it’s because of pilot error; sometimes it’s an aircraft failure. But in any case, when a pilot asks for help, it’s there. Previously AOPA shared with you the audio of ATC saves that were recognized with Archie League awards. AOPA Air Safety Foundation President Bruce Landsberg helped judged those awards. There were so many outstanding examples of controller assistance that the Air Safety Foundation felt recognition was warranted for six outstanding controllers beyond the Archie League awards. AOPA now has the audio files of those ATC saves. Listen and learn >>
When a medical crisis strikes, a patient may be hundreds of miles away from home—or from the care he needs. Many patients are too ill for ground transport and can’t afford the high cost of commercial air ambulances; but for some who have been turned away from other options, an Indiana charity organization brings hope. Grace on Wings, a nonprofit service based in Indianapolis, provides fixed-wing air ambulance transport for patients in the Midwest who require medical monitoring throughout the flight. Read more >>
An electric and gasoline engine for aircraft powered by engines of 140 to 200 horsepower will debut at the Aero show in Friedrichshafen, Germany, next month. Franz Aircraft Engines and Flight Design, Germany’s manufacturer of the top-selling light sport aircraft now on the market, developed the hybrid engine that will provide an extra 40 horsepower for takeoff, climb, or in a fuel-starvation situation. Read more >>
“Lights, camera, action!” Documentaries focusing on yesterday’s fearless aviators and today’s passionate pilots are slated for completion this year and next. Documentary producer Heather Taylor is finishing Rag Wing Derby, the story of the first Women’s Transcontinental Air Race, held in 1929. Will Hawkins and Rico Sharqawi, the forces behind Wilco Films, are creating A Pilot’s Story. Read more >>
For daily news updates, see AOPA Online.
When workload demands are high, busy pilots and controllers must stay focused on the tasks at hand. But what happens when things slow down? Loss of attention during idle periods can have potentially tragic consequences. On a foggy December day in 2007, an airport ground vehicle was cleared onto a runway in Moline, Ill., to work on the lights. Nearly half an hour later, a Citation asked to depart. Focused on the request and the changing weather, the controller forgot about the truck. What happened next is the subject of the latest runway incursion animation, complete with actual radio communications, from the AOPA Air Safety Foundation and the FAA Office of Runway Safety.
After any maintenance, an incomplete exterior and interior preflight inspection of your aircraft systems can endanger your life. It is often difficult to be thorough because your normal checklist procedure is inadequate. Pilot Russ Lewis learned this lesson the hard way. Read more in the latest installment of Never Again Online. Enjoy the lessons you learn from these pilots' first-hand accounts? Listen to more stories in AOPA's Never Again Podcast directory brought to you by the AOPA Insurance Agency.
Whether in the air or on the ground, collision avoidance is one of the most basic pilot responsibilities. Yet every year, a significant number of airplanes manage to collide with obstructions, terrain, and each other. Avoid separation anxiety and put your knowledge to the test with the latest interactive, Flash-based safety quiz from the AOPA Air Safety Foundation. Using graphics and scenario-based challenges, the quiz goes beyond see-and-avoid, highlighting useful tactics and simple procedures that can reduce the risk of hitting anything other than air molecules on your next flight.
We’ve all heard the expression about March: It comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. Why does March trigger strong winds in some parts of the country? With the change of seasons—the advent of spring—weather fronts are passing through, and the contrast between these fronts is greater. An influx of warmer air means temperature gradients between air masses contrast greatly, and that means wind. Gusty, blustery conditions could be a factor on your next flight. But you can get up to speed on handling winds with AOPA’s help. Read more >>
The radio silence that has frustrated pilots in Bahamas airspace since Hurricane Wilma knocked out the area’s remote communication outlets (RCOs) in 2006 has finally lifted. AOPA has been urging Bahamas officials to restore the RCO system to operational status since shortly after the storm, which caused damage to airports and RCOs throughout the islands. The damage had cut off pilots from communication with flight service stations for flight planning activation or cancellation. Radio contact has now been restored, meaning safer flying for pilots in the area. Read more >>
The city of St. Clair, Mo., should stop wasting resources looking into closing its airport and take better care of airport property, AOPA said in a March 4 letter to city officials. Closing St. Clair Regional Airport would violate the city’s contract with the FAA, wrote AOPA Vice President of Local Airport Advocacy Bill Dunn in a letter to St. Clair Mayor Ron Blum. In addition, the city has neglected airport facilities, and a city-operated pumping station on airport grounds may be illegally diverting airport revenue, Dunn wrote. Read more >>
The city of Centerville, Iowa, should ensure that the Centerville Municipal Airport continues to be funded in the wake of potential budget shortfalls, AOPA told Mayor Marsha Mitchell in a letter this week. Like many small towns across the country, Centerville faces tough budget decisions in the coming year, and AOPA Airport Support Network Volunteer Kathy Bratz became concerned when local officials began discussing eliminating all airport funding from the city budget. Read more >>
To nominate yourself or an associate to be a volunteer, visit AOPA Online.
To learn more about the Airport Support Network, visit ASN Online.
For the second year, AOPA Air Safety Foundation President Bruce Landsberg assisted NATCA in judging which of its members were worthy of the Archie League awards. There were some remarkable incidents that were noteworthy. Read more >>
In the recent Wx Watch article “ Ice Bridging Redux” in the March issue of AOPA Pilot, Editor-at-Large Tom Horne mentioned the NTSB’s recent safety alert on ice bridging and the operation of de-ice boots. “Pop the boots at the first sign of icing” is the distilled message from NTSB. The Board also expressed the belief that ice-bridging doesn’t exist at all! This concurs with the ideas expressed at a NASA ice-bridging conference in 1997. So is ice-bridging real? Read more >>
All aircraft are beautiful in their own way, but sailplanes are arguably the most visually stunning. Because sailplanes are raced and "racing improves the breed," the pursuit of pure, uncompromising performance has resulted in objects of unsurpassed beauty. Read more >>
Last year “Hover Power” blogger Tim McAdams took his daughter Lexy along on a ferry flight from Dallas to Long Beach, Calif., in an AS350 Astar helicopter. This time she wasn’t content just being a passenger, she wanted to try flying. “She could hold it steady for a short time before I would take over, straighten it out, and give it back to her. She was determined to make the helicopter do what she wanted,” McAdams writes. Read more >>
A heat gun’s withering wind quickly strips away the SR22’s former identity as artisans from Air Graphics LLC prepare a new one. The 2009 AOPA Sweepstakes Let’s Go Flying Cirrus SR22 is about to shed its classy, understated trim in favor of an attention-grabbing new look. But first, workers in Middleton, Wis., the same ones who design and manufacture the vinyl stripes for new Cirrus production aircraft, quickly reduce the airplane to its bare, white composite skin. See a video of the process and sneak a peek at the airplane’s new look online.
Have you heard about the recent changes to the FAA’s medical application? It’s enough to leave any pilot’s head spinning. You’ll now be asked if you receive any medical disability benefits, and if you have been arrested or convicted on an alcohol-related motor vehicle action. These changes are in addition to the existing questions related to the current use of any medications and personal medical history. How can AOPA help you decipher these new changes? Try AOPA’s TurboMedical, an online interactive planning tool that can help you prepare for your next FAA physical exam. Call the medical certification specialists in AOPA’s Pilot Information Center at 800/872-2672. Also, make sure you’re enrolled in AOPA’s Legal Services Plan, because an inaccurate answer could cost you your pilot and medical certificates. Read more >>
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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: As I walk the ramp at my local airport, I notice that some airplanes have two-blade propellers and some have three-blade propellers. Can you tell me the benefits of a three-blade propeller?
Answer: A three-blade propeller has pros and cons. Some pilots like the three-blade propeller simply for its appearance. A three-blade propeller will have more ground clearance and less perceived noise in the cockpit. Another advantage of the three-blade propeller is that it typically increases takeoff and climb efficiency when compared to a two-blade propeller. However, a two-blade propeller often has the best overall efficiency. A three-blade propeller will weigh more and cost more, so the owner should consider the advantages and disadvantages of switching to three blades. It should also be noted that not all airplanes can be retrofitted with a three-blade prop. Unless one was approved for your aircraft by the manufacturer, you must have a supplemental type certificate (STC) for installation on a standard production airplane. For more information, take AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s Engine and Propeller online course.
Got a question for our aviation services staff? The AOPA Pilot Information Center is a service available to all members as part of the annual dues. Call 800/872-2672, or e-mail to email@example.com. Send comments on our Quiz Me! questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
AOPA's new online photo gallery allows you to upload your own aviation photography as well as view, rate, and comment on others' photos. Your favorite aviation images from AOPA Pilot are still available online through this new gallery. Take a look, and submit your own photos!
Want something to do this weekend? Wanting to plan an aviation getaway? See your personalized online calendar of events . We've enhanced our calendar so that with one click, you can see all of the events listed in the calendar regions you selected when personalizing ePilot. Now you can browse events listed two weeks to a few months out to make your planning easier. You can also bookmark the personalized calendar page to check it as often as you want. Before you take off on an adventure, make sure you check our current aviation weather provided by Jeppesen.
To submit an event or to search all events in the calendar visit AOPA Online. For airport details, including FBO fuel prices see AOPA's Airport Directory Online.
The next AOPA Air Safety Foundation Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics are scheduled in Orlando, Fla., and Virginia Beach, Va., March 21 and 22; San Mateo, Calif., March 28 and 29; Atlanta, Ga., Northbrook, Ill., Salt Lake City, Utah, and, Ashburn, Va., April 4 and 5; Denver, Colo., Indianapolis, Ind., and, Cincinnati, Ohio, April 18 and 19; San Diego, Calif., Tampa, Fla., and, Boston, Mass., April 25 and 26. 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 are scheduled in Birmingham, Ala., March 16; Marietta, Ga., March 17; Randolph, N.J., March 19; Gaithersburg, Md., March 25; Pittsburgh, Pa., March 30; New Cumberland, Pa., March 31; Bethlehem, Pa., April 1; Plymouth Meeting, Pa., April 2. Topics vary—for details and a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.
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