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2009 YEAR IN REVIEW
In a tough year for general aviation, plagued with a tanking economy and sinking public perception, the industry found allies in an unusual place—on Capitol Hill. This year, GA enjoyed unprecedented support from Congress: The House and Senate each created a General Aviation Caucus; and Democrats and Republicans alike supported the GA Serves America campaign, provided funding for airports, and fought proposed security requirements that could have crippled the struggling industry. The support from Congress, in addition to collaboration among GA advocacy associations, helped temper what once loomed as a year of new user fees and stricter government regulation. Read more >>
Make no mistake, the year 2009 will go down as one of general aviation’s worst years in decades. From the time the recession first raised its head in the fall of 2008, airframe manufacturers recorded ever-steepening declines in demand, orders, billings, and deliveries of new aircraft. According to data from the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), which represents 67 fixed-wing airplane manufacturers around the world, 2009 year-to-date deliveries are 46.8 percent lower than deliveries in 2008. But we have seen the industry bounce back from hard times before, and this recovery seems to have already begun. Read more >>
Top 10 most-read stories of 2009
Aviation's new vision
In his first year of piloting the world’s largest aviation association, AOPA President Craig Fuller believes he has gained a good sense of the issues facing general aviation pilots. Crisscrossing the country from Alaska to Florida and New England to Southern California, the longtime AOPA member has met members in dozens of states. He has been encouraged by their enthusiasm for flying and inspired by their passion for protecting the future of GA. He reflected on his first year in office and looked ahead to issues facing GA in 2010 in a recent interview with AOPA Editor in Chief Tom Haines. Watch the interview >>
Cessna delivers first SkyCatcher
Cessna officially delivered its first production SkyCatcher last week, and it didn’t have to travel far. Rose Pelton, wife of CEO Jack Pelton, accepted the airplane at Yingling Aviation in Wichita, Kan. Pelton plans to use the airplane for flight training, setting off what promises to be the first of hundreds of aircraft used for that purpose. The SkyCatcher is Cessna’s first light sport aircraft, and the first from a major manufacturer in the United States. The company determined that the airplane met ASTM standards after modifications to the vertical stabilizer and dorsal fin solved a spin-recovery problem that had resulted in two crashes during flight testing. The new two-seat trainer is built in China, disassembled, shipped, and then reassembled stateside. Yingling Aviation is a reassembly facility.
IFR activity on an upswing
Cincinnati, Ohio’s Aviation Research Group/U.S., Inc. (ARGUS) tracks all IFR arrivals and departures in the Unites States—including Alaska and Hawaii—and it has observed signs of economic recovery. Last month, ARGUS said that business aircraft activity increased by 3.15 percent over the previous month. Read more >>
Politicians and Planes: Rocky Mountain flying
Roundup Airport in south-central Montana can’t afford a full-time maintenance person, so Montana Sen. Kelly Gebhardt comes out in the springtime with his mower and helps cut the grass. Gebhardt has a small, part-time maintenance shop at the airport and instructs there in his Cessna 150 and 172. Jake Barthule, who co-manages the airport with Gebhardt, said he is the kind of person who would give you his last twenty dollars if you needed it. “If I had to go to war, I’d want him with me,” Barthule said. Read more >>
As 2009 draws to a close, so do your chances to enter to win AOPA’s 2009 Let’s Go Flying Sweepstakes Cirrus SR22 GTS. Just join AOPA or renew your membership before Dec. 31, 2009, to be entered in the sweepstakes. To up your chances, enroll in the Automatic Annual Renewal program—you'll gain two more entries. Update your member profile under " Manage My Membership" for another entry. For more information, see the official rules.
Skis for Christmas
A winter storm hammered the Northeast with record snowfalls last week, and the first of winter means the white stuff is here to stay. But your flying doesn’t have to be over until spring. Many manufacturers, including American Legend and Aviat, offer skis for their airplanes. Legend’s Cub is available with Trick Air composite skis. The Husky features Airglas skis in either fixed or retractable form. Read more >>
ForeFlight introduces version 3
ForeFlight Mobile, a popular smartphone application designed to aid pilots in preflight tasks, was recently updated to version 3. Version 3 includes all the features of the previous versions, such as weather maps, route planning, and AOPA Airport Directory data, and expands on it greatly. Among the myriad new features are animated and zoomable weather maps, GPS-integrated moving map charts, full DUATS briefings with stored data for confirmation, redesigned route planner and airport information interfaces, and local storage of certain data so it may be viewed offline. A one-year subscription is $74.99.
Eurocopter flies its new EC175 helicopter
Eurocopter performed the first flight of its new EC175 helicopter on schedule in Marignane, France. The EC175 program was launched on Dec. 5, 2005, and is the newest addition to the Eurocopter family. It has been developed and manufactured in cooperation with the China Aeronautics Industries Group Corp. The new generation EC175 is a medium-lift twin-engine helicopter that can perform many different civil missions. Read more >>
For daily news updates, see AOPA Online.
Ice, frost, and snow can accumulate on wings and other surfaces when an aircraft is parked outside on the ramp. The disrupted airflow can substantially alter flight characteristics. Do you know what to look out for on preflight? A basic knowledge of wing contamination and its effects will help you manage the risks of your next cold-weather flight. Test your knowledge with this AOPA Air Safety Foundation quiz, underwritten by the AOPA Insurance Agency.
You might be current, according to the FARs, but are you proficient? Meeting the currency requirements spelled out by the FAA doesn’t mean that your piloting skills are at their peak. Learn the difference between the two in AOPA’s Currency vs. Proficiency subject report. For instrument-rated pilots, staying current and proficient requires hood work and book work. Start by refreshing your knowledge of the FARs related to instrument flying in the AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s online course, IFR Insights: Regulations .
Situational awareness includes fuel awareness
Pilots never take off planning to run out of fuel, but fuel mismanagement (fuel starvation, exhaustion, or contamination) causes an average of two accidents per week. Learn from the mistakes of other pilots who were involved in accidents caused by fuel mismanagement on this interactive map created by the AOPA Air Safety Foundation. The map plots the accident locations. Just mouse over the accident marker and then click on the accident number to read the NTSB’s narrative of the accident. Also watch the foundation’s Pilot Safety Announcement on fuel mismanagement and check out links to fuel awareness, misfueling, and fuel management resources. What you learn could help you avoid becoming the next marker on the map.
Flexibility needed for through-the-fence access
The FAA’s proposed “one size fits all” approach to airparks and other residential through-the-fence (TTF) operations at public-use airports should be more flexible to accommodate existing TTF deeds and agreements, AOPA told the agency Dec. 18. In the past, the FAA has approved residential TTF access, but set a very high standard for what constituted an acceptable agreement. In October the FAA invited AOPA and other aviation organizations to comment on a draft letter of guidance that would call for phasing out all existing residential TTF access at public-use airports eligible for federal funding. Read more >>
To learn more about the Airport Support Network, visit ASN Online.
Air Safety eJournal: Getting there for the holidays?
Extreme weather makes the “no go” decision simple for general aviation pilots. But when conditions are marginal it gets difficult. Whatever emotional or financial investment you’ve made in getting to your destination, safety should be your top priority. Read more >>
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: The little card that used to sit below my magnetic compass fell off and is now missing. Is this required?
Answer: Yes, all aircraft are required to have a compass card placard for the magnetic compass per FAR 23.1547. The placard must show the calibration of the instrument in level flight with the engines operating and must state whether the calibration was made with radio receivers on or off. To learn more about the magnetic compass and deviation read, “ In Defense of the Compass,” an article from AOPA Flight Training.
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 protected]. Send comments on our Quiz Me! questions to [email protected].
AOPA’s 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!
Aviation Events & Weather
Want something to do this weekend? Planning 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.
Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics
The next AOPA Air Safety Foundation Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics are scheduled in Baltimore, Md., and Detroit, Mich., Jan. 9 and 10; Costa Mesa, Calif., Jackson, Miss., and Charlotte, N.C., Jan. 16 and 17; San Antonio, Texas, and Seattle, Wash., Jan. 23 and 24; Rochester, N.Y., Portland, Ore., and Sevierville, Tenn., Jan. 30 and 31. 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 Mesa, Ariz., and Reno, Nev., Jan. 11; Tucson, Ariz., and Sacramento, Calif., Jan. 12; Milpitas, Calif., Jan. 13; Santa Rosa, Calif., Jan. 14; San Diego, Calif., Jan. 25; Costa Mesa, Calif., Jan. 26; Ontario, Calif., Jan. 27; Burbank, Calif., Jan. 28; Little Rock, Ark., Feb. 1. Topics vary—for details and a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.
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Editorial Team : ePilot Editor: Sarah Brown