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Today's Top Stories
The future for general aviation is bright, but it will require collective action by individual pilots and industry leaders to realize GA's potential, AOPA President Craig Fuller told the Wichita Aero Club on Jan. 28 during his General Aviation Leaders tour. The tour, which will continue throughout the year, kicked off in Wichita, where Fuller visited the AOPA Insurance Agency and the American Bonanza Society. He also met with GA manufacturers who discussed the down economy and threat of user fees. While acknowledging that GA is caught in the downdraft of the overall economy, Fuller told Aero Club attendees, "We cannot afford to focus only on the problems of today. Now is the time to lay the groundwork for recovery. Now is the time to launch the initiatives that will accelerate our climb back to growth and prosperity." Read more and watch the video >>
House economic stimulus package good for GA
The U.S. House of Representatives recognized the importance of general aviation in the $819 billion economic stimulus package passed Jan. 28. "The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act would pump an additional $3 billion toward airport improvements," said AOPA President Craig Fuller. "That's money that could be spent now on projects benefiting general aviation airports. I'm very pleased that the House heard our arguments that investment in general aviation would create jobs immediately and improve our transportation infrastructure, which will yield economic benefits for decades." Read more >>
Record numbers of pilots take online safety training
Nearly 200,000 individual users took at least one of the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's innovative, free online safety courses during 2008, including more than 46,000 users who had never taken a course before. In total, the foundation recorded nearly 390,000 course completions during the year, more than doubling the previous year's total. "Our mission is to make all of the half-million or so general aviation pilots better, safer flyers, so we're not resting on our laurels. We will continue to explore new ways to reach those pilots who have not yet tried our courses," said Bruce Landsberg, executive director of the AOPA Air Safety Foundation. Read more >>
TSA needs to rethink security proposal
About 500 pilots and some members of Congress dealt the Transportation Security Administration a one-two punch as hearings on its proposed Large Aircraft Security Program came to a close. West Coast pilots told the agency during a Jan. 23 hearing in Burbank, Calif., that it needed to go back to the drawing board. Then, on Jan. 28 at the last of five public hearings, pilots came to Houston from as far as Pennsylvania and Minnesota to speak out against the proposal's unprecedented intrusion on GA. Members of the Kansas congressional delegation were equally blunt. They recently wrote to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano saying that the proposal, when combined with the economic crisis, could dramatically hurt businesses that rely on GA.
Florida taxman still lurking
For years, Florida has levied a six-percent tax on the sales price of certain visiting general aviation aircraft. The tax affects pilots who bring aircraft to Florida within six months of purchase, and can be especially onerous if the aircraft was registered in a state without aircraft sales taxes—or sales taxes less than Florida's six-percent. In the latter case, pilots are required to pay the difference between the tax in their home state and the Florida tax. AOPA worked hard to overturn the tax in the last Florida legislative session, but those proposals were rejected. Now, three bills have been introduced in the legislature to try to overturn or ease aviation taxes. Read more >>
FAA needs to delay ADIZ rule, per Obama's order
AOPA is asking the FAA to comply with the intent of President Barack Obama's orders and re-examine its justification for making the Washington, D.C., Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) permanent. The president told all federal agencies to stop and review all regulations issued by the previous administration, but not yet implemented. Read more >>
NBAA cancels San Diego Light Business Aircraft show
The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) has canceled its 2009 Light Business Airplane Conference (LBA2009). NBAA says that the state of the economy led to the decision to cancel the event—originally set for March 13 and 14 in San Diego. LBA2009 was an event that NBAA hoped would emphasize its interest in the very light jet (VLJ) and the light-jet phenomenon, as well as recruit new members from that sector of general aviation. Read more >>
Mooney in 'superhibernation'
Sources indicate that another round of layoffs has occurred this week at the Mooney Airplane Company's Kerrville, Texas, factory. From a high of some 400 employees just a year ago, Mooney now has a skeleton staff of a mere 50 or so employees. The exact extent of the layoffs has never been released. Mooney production has ceased, and the company has gone into what it calls "superhibernation." Mooney is adopting a wait-and-see strategy until the economic situation improves.
Cessna to lay off 2,000 more employees
Earlier in January, Cessna Aircraft Company announced a job reduction of 2,000. But Textron, Cessna's parent company, said an additional 2,000 cuts are necessary because of the rapidly declining economy. That puts the total layoffs at Cessna at 4,600. Cessna employees learned of the cuts in a letter from Cessna President and CEO Jack Pelton. Read more >>
Generations in the Sky: Excitement in the air
Air races, helicopter ratings, and trips abroad—each just another fun challenge for Gayle Gorman Freeman and her mother Marjorie. Marjorie was the ninety-third woman in the world to receive her helicopter rating. Gayle so enjoys competitive flying that she missed her college graduation to participate in the Angel Derby air race with her mother. In this video, the final of our three-part series, Generations in the Sky, you'll hear the Gorman family relive their most exciting and challenging aviation moments. Three generations of Gormans have inherited the passion for flight. Marjorie Gorman summarizes the Gorman family's motto best when she says, "The most exciting flight is going to be the next one." Visit the Let's Go Flying Web site to watch the video.
New daily e-newsletter covers GA industry
General aviation makes news every day, but there are so many positive stories produced at local levels that they are seldom picked up by the major news organizations. In order to bring you up-to-the-minute GA news—the positive and inspirational stories, as well as the difficult ones—AOPA is offering Aviation eBrief, powered by SmartBrief. eBrief will debut on Monday, Feb. 9. It is a compilation of GA-related stories collected from news sources across the country and around the world. Informative headlines and concise summaries will allow you to quickly scan eBrief to find the stories that interest you. Read more >>
Microsoft cuts Flight Sim team
Microsoft has closed Aces Studio, the publisher of Microsoft Flight Simulator. "This difficult decision was made to align Microsoft's resources with our strategic priorities," the company said in a statement on the Flight Sim Insider Web site. "We remain committed to the Flight Simulator franchise for the long term." Microsoft Flight Simulator X, the current version of the application with a history that spans more than 25 years, will remain available at retailers and online. How Microsoft will support the franchise is not clear. Read more >>
GPS pioneer Sherman Francisco dies
While GPS is an integral part of daily life today, there was a time when the idea of using space-based navigation seemed plagued by insurmountable obstacles. That's when talented engineers like Sherman Gowdy Francisco went to work. As chief engineer for the GPS Control Segment during his time with IBM Federal Systems, Loral, and Lockheed Martin, Francisco is personally credited with solving many of the clock, orbital, filter, and atmospheric problems before GPS satellites were first launched and in the early days of their deployment. Read more >>
For daily news updates, see AOPA Online.
Cessna puts new tail on SkyCatcher
Following the loss of a prototype Cessna SkyCatcher light sport aircraft last year, Cessna has increased the size of the tail and reduced its rearward sweep, giving the aircraft a slightly different look. The pilot in the accident safely landed by parachute, but the aircraft was destroyed. Wind tunnel tests using a vertical tunnel facility in Germany have confirmed the SkyCatcher now has no unrecoverable spin characteristics. The larger-tail design first flew Dec. 15, 2008, according to Neal Wilford, project engineer on the SkyCatcher. Deliveries are scheduled to begin the last half of 2009. The first aircraft assembly at Shenyang Aircraft Corp. in Shenyang, China, will take place between April and June. Read more >>
LSA industry makes strong showing in Sebring
New models continue to flow from the fledgling light sport aircraft (LSA) industry without any sign of the long-expected shakeout that was supposed to reduce the number of manufacturers to five or 10 by this time. Instead, there are 67 companies offering 91 approved light sport models. Still, sales are slower than expected, with the FAA recording less than half of the anticipated 1,000 registrations of new LSA in 2008, said Dan Johnson, chairman and president of the board of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association. Johnson estimated that 70 models were shown at the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Fla., from Jan. 22 through 25. Read more >>
FAA gives light sport industry a progress report
The FAA briefed members of the light sport aircraft industry on its assessment of manufacturers during the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo, an effort that will continue for several more months. FAA officials are careful to use the word "assessment" rather than "audit." It is merely an effort to aid a fledgling industry, one industry source said. Thus far, the main problems seem to concern paperwork. Read more >>
New AD for some fuel-injected engines
The FAA has issued a new airworthiness directive (AD) covering some Lycoming, Continental, and Superior Air Parts engines with certain Precision Airmotive LLC RSA–5 and RSA–10 series, and Bendix RSA–5 and RSA–10 series fuel injection servos. This AD follows a March 2008 emergency AD that required repetitive inspections of the fuel injection servo plugs. The newly issued AD provides an ending action and requires owners of the affected fuel injection servo plug gaskets to replace them with new gaskets by Dec. 31. This AD affects newer-model single-engine Cessnas and some Pipers, as well as some overhauled and new replacement engines. Some engines that had fuel injection gaskets installed prior to March 2008 also could be affected.
Beech owners urged to prepare for circuit breaker switch AD
The FAA has given pilots until Aug. 6 to replace circuit breaker switches in many Beech airplanes, and owners are urged to order replacement parts as soon as possible to avoid being grounded by a lack of parts availability. The decision to require the switch replacements follows FAA review of an airworthiness directive (AD) issued in 2008 (AD 2008-13-17). The review was conducted at the request of the American Bonanza Society, which had hoped to limit the scope of the AD. AOPA also had filed comments on the AD, asking that it apply only to Barons. Read more >>
FAA letter offers new ‘known icing' definition
More than two years after AOPA asked the FAA to reconsider its interpretation of "flight into known icing conditions," the agency has released a new letter of interpretation that redefines known icing conditions in a way that could benefit many GA pilots. In the letter of interpretation signed Jan. 16 and sent to AOPA this week, the FAA said that each encounter with ice will be judged by whether a "reasonable and prudent" pilot would take the same actions or make the same decisions as the pilot in the icing situation. Read more >>
Air Safety eJournal: FIKI interpretation
Only in government dictionaries is it possible to equate the words "known" and "forecast." But if you're not to get cross threaded with the FAA on flight into known icing (FIKI) in a non-approved aircraft, you need to understand.
On Jan. 25, Bob Knill, an instrument-rated private pilot in Frederick, Md., flew 1.9 hours of IFR practice "under the hood" in a rented Piper Warrior and logged three ILS approaches and unusual attitude recoveries with a CFII. His cost, including aircraft rental, fuel, and instructor fees, was about $300. On Tuesday, Knill performed several more approaches with his instructor—with emergencies such as a simulated vacuum pump failure and pitot ice thrown in—during 90 minutes in a personal computer-based aviation training device (PCATD). His cost (since he had free access to the PCATD) was zero. Read more >>
New quiz covers rules for IFR flight prep
Successful IFR flight requires a unique combination of human skill and instrument accuracy. When preparing for a trip through the soup, the first step is to determine whether both the pilot and the airplane are up to the task. Are you current and proficient? Is your navigation equipment functioning properly? Do you need to file an alternate airport—and will you have enough reserve fuel when you get there? Test your knowledge with "IFR Regulations: Preflight," the latest AOPA Air Safety Foundation Safety Quiz. Then learn more in the newest online interactive course, IFR Insights: Regulations.
AOPA Now: Flying our new sweepstakes plane
At the end of the week, a mission to an airport not far from AOPA headquarters in Frederick, Md., provided AOPA President Craig Fuller with an opportunity to fly AOPA's Let's Go Flying! Sweepstakes Airplane, a Cirrus SR22, for the first time. Read more >>
Reporting Points: Bessie Coleman, a life less ordinary
Jan. 26 was the birthday of Bessie Coleman, the first African-American female pilot. Born in 1892, the tenth of 13 children, Coleman got the idea of becoming a pilot while reading newspaper articles about World War I pilots. Read more >>
Let's Go Flying: It's warmer in Sebring
Sebring, Fla., the location of the fifth annual Light Sport Aviation Expo has become an instrumental force in showcasing developments in the LSA category. 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: I would like to renew my flight instructor certificate at a Flight Instructor Refresher Clinic (FIRC). My certificate expires at the end of June 2009. What is the earliest date I can attend a FIRC and still keep my June expiration month?
Answer: You can participate in and complete a FIRC (either in person or online) no earlier than March 2009. FAR 61.197 allows a CFI to renew the certificate within the three calendar months preceding the month his or her certificate expires.
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].
Spend a weekend at Telluride, the ski resort for the stars; float over the San Francisco Bay in the Zeppelin airship; and learn how general aviation is helping the Kenya Wildlife Service. It's all in the February 2009 issue of AOPA Pilot. Get a sneak peek online.
AOPA Career Opportunities
Ever dream of turning your passion for aviation into a career? We're looking for a Director of Planned Giving and Director of Development for the AOPA Foundation, a Vice President of Media and Public Relations, and an Aviation Technical Specialist. AOPA also has 2009 summer intern positions available in various divisions of AOPA. For more information about the internships, e-mail AOPA Human Resources. For other career opportunities, visit AOPA Online.
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!
Aviation Events & Weather
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 calender 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 Louisville, Ky., Baton Rouge, La., and Las Vegas, Nev., Feb. 7 and 8; Sacramento, Calif., Melbourne, Fla., and Nashua, N.H.., Feb. 14 and 15; Oklahoma City, Okla., Dallas, Texas, and Ashburn, Va., Feb. 21 and 22. 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 Ocala, Fla., and Henderson, Nev., Feb. 9; Northglenn, Colo., and Tampa, Fla., Feb. 10; Colorado Springs, Colo., and Melbourne, Fla., Feb. 11; Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Feb 12; Eugene, Ore., and Greenville, S.C., Feb. 16. Topics vary—for details and a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.
Got news? Contact ePilot. Having difficulty using this service? Visit the ePilot Frequently Asked Questions now at AOPA Online or write to [email protected].
Editorial Team : ePilot Editor: Alyssa Miller