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Today's Top Stories
Customs steps up aircraft screening near U.S.-Mexico border
In the wake of a Long Beach, Calif., incident in which a pilot and his passengers were ramp checked at gunpoint by local law enforcement officers and Customs and Border Protection officials, AOPA has reached out to customs to prevent a repeat. “Having weapons drawn at the ready without just cause is extreme,” said AOPA Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Craig Spence. “Customs has indicated that this type of ramp check is atypical and that pilots do not need to worry about similar forceful inspections.” Pilots could, however, notice an increase in routine ramp checks at airports along the southwestern U.S. border. Read more >>
The security threat posed by general aviation is “limited and mostly hypothetical,” a report released by the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General concludes. The report, which addresses the Transportation Security Administration’s role in GA security, finds no significant vulnerabilities in GA operations in the United States. The TSA and the GA community have taken effective steps to address security concerns, it notes. Read more >>
Part 91 turboprop activity up
ARG/US, a business aviation consultancy based in Cincinnati, reports that arrival and departure activity for turboprops is on the upswing. Compared to May 2008, the number of turboprops operated in May 2009 increased 6.9 percent in FAR Part 91 operations and 6 percent in fractional ownership operations. Among jet aircraft, the only category with increased activity was Part 91 mid-size jets, at 0.3 percent. The biggest decreases were among fractional small-cabin jets (45.7 percent) and Part 135 turboprops (44.7 percent). Among all categories of turbine-powered business jets—turboprops and small, mid-size, and large-cabin jets—combined activity levels dropped 15.5 percent in May 2009 compared to May 2008. ARG/US estimates that flight activity has dropped an average 0.73 percent per month for the past 12 months.
Cirrus faces expensive lawsuits
Cirrus Aircraft is facing two multimillion-dollar lawsuits. A jury has awarded a $14 million judgment against several parties, including Cirrus and the University of North Dakota, in an action that may yet be appealed. Cirrus officials are considering an appeal of its portion of the $14 million judgment by a Minnesota court involving a January 2003 fatal accident in the state. Meanwhile, L-3 Avionics is seeking $21.7 million from Cirrus in a contract dispute. Read more >>
Tide may turn for potential GPS backup
With the proposed termination of the loran system in the president’s budget for next year, aviation users could lose a potential backup for GPS. But measures in the House and Senate could save the system from the chopping block. A Coast Guard authorization bill in the Senate and a Homeland Security appropriations bill in the House call for the Coast Guard, which operates loran, to maintain and upgrade the system as a backup for satellite-based navigation. Read more >>
Cessna announces more layoffs
A new round of Cessna layoffs announced on June 12 will bring total workforce reductions since November 2008 to 8,265, or 53 percent of the company’s total number of workers, the Wichita Eagle has reported. Counting Cessna, Hawker Beechcraft, and Bombardier Learjet, total layoffs in Wichita since November have reached 11,875, the newspaper reported. Meanwhile, Cessna also has reported two big sales deals for its Grand Caravan single-engine turboprop and Cessna 182 Turbo Skylane.
Obama picks chair for NTSB
President Barack Obama has announced that he will nominate Deborah A.P. Hersman to chair the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Hersman has been a member of the board since 2004. If confirmed, she will take over for acting chairman Mark V. Rosenker. The NTSB is charged by Congress with investigating every civil aviation accident in the United States and significant accidents in other modes of transportation. Hersman has represented the board at 15 major transportation accidents, including the fatal 2006 crash of a Cirrus SR20 into a Manhattan apartment building involving New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle. Before joining the NTSB, Hersman handled surface transportation issues as a senior professional staff member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation from 1999 to 2004 and served on the staff of Rep. Bob Wise of West Virginia from 1992 to 1999.
ATC modernization must work for GA
Modernization of the air traffic control system, including ADS-B, must meet the needs of general aviation pilots, AOPA Executive Vice President of Government Affairs Andy Cebula told industry and government leaders on June 10. For nearly two decades, GA has been at the cutting edge in the adoption of GPS, the cornerstone of the NextGen air traffic modernization. The FAA must put in place the equipment, procedures, and support necessary to facilitate the transition to satellite-based navigation and surveillance, Cebula said in a symposium on the implementation of NextGen. Read more >>
British pilot wins Ontario Red Bull race
British pilot Paul Bonhomme won the Red Bull Air Race on June 14, and all three U.S. pilots competing placed in the top 10. A crowd estimated at 290,000 watched 15 pilots compete for the fastest time through a series of pylons placed on barges in the Detroit River. U.S. pilots Kirby Chambliss, Mike Mangold, and Mike Goulian placed third, fourth, and sixth, respectively. The race was the third of the season, with final races set for Hungary, Portugal, and Spain. Points standings will determine the champion for the season. In overall points, Hannes Arch of Austria leads, with Mangold in sixth place, Chambliss in eighth, and Goulian in eleventh. The aircraft speed through the course at up to 230 mph while flying 10 feet above water.
Airports, pilots, and Earth-friendly tactics
Hangar 25 at Bob Hope International Airport in Burbank, Calif., has been called “the most sustainable hangar in the world.” It earned this moniker in December 2008 after the world got its first look at the $17 million structure, which features solar power, drought-resistant plants, recycled materials, and a concrete floor that uses no chemical polymers. A company called Greenjets says it will hook up prospective travelers with empty seats on private jets to save money and reduce a flight’s environmental impact. Read more in this AOPA Pilot feature >>
WWII women pilots recognized by Congress
Congress has voted to recognize the first group of women to fly military aircraft for the United States with the nation's highest civilian award. More than three decades before women in the United States were allowed to attend military pilot training with full military status, the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) reported for duty to fly military aircraft during World War II. Now a bill to award the 1,102 WASP the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor has passed the Senate and House of Representatives and awaits the president’s signature. Congressional legislation is required to make the medal, and two-thirds of each chamber must sign on as cosponsors. Read this special AOPA Online feature, “Honoring WWII women pilots.”
Baron, Bonanza owners can keep flying
The FAA on June 9 granted certain Beechcraft Bonanza and Baron owners at least a temporary stay from a potentially grounding airworthiness directive (AD). The AD requires the replacement of many circuit breaker switches in many models of Bonanzas and Barons built since 1970. However, the replacement circuit breaker switches are in short supply, and the few authorized manufacturers have been unable to meet demand. Read more >>
Bahamas sets up gateway FBOs
The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation has established a network of “gateway” Florida fixed-base operators (FBOs) to make it easier for general aviation pilots to fly to and from the islands. The FBOs have been trained by staffers from the Bahamas Tourist Office, with the emphasis on arrival and departure procedures. Up-to-the-minute customs and immigration information is also available, as are pilot supplies. Read more >>
Pilot reopens airport, promotes local history
Brad Frederick has a motto for the airport he transformed from an abandoned, overgrown field to a pillar of the local community: “If you mow it, they will come.” Prickett-Grooms Airfield (6Y9), a grass strip in a remote area of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, was closed by the state in 2004 and had fallen into disrepair when the local township supervisor approached Frederick about trying to reopen the airport. Frederick donated the money to buy the airport, reopened it in 2006, and has been improving the airfield and using it to promote the history and cultural heritage of the area. Read more >>
Women’s Air Race Classic starts June 23
More than 30 women’s pilot teams are set to begin the Air Race Classic, once known as the Powder Puff Derby, on June 23 from Centennial Airport near Denver. The 2,359-nautical-mile course tours the nation’s mid-section with a stop in Kansas, two stops in Texas, and additional stops in Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Illinois, and Wisconsin. The race will end in Atlantic, Iowa. Read more >>
General aviation flying in the United States is a freedom found nowhere else in the world. No other country affords average citizens of moderate means the opportunity to fly almost anywhere they want whenever they want. In this video, AOPA members celebrate that freedom. On this Independence Day holiday weekend, plan a flight to celebrate your freedoms. And take a friend or a colleague, so they too may experience the uniqueness of flight in America.
For daily news updates, see AOPA Online
Runway incursion animation: Citation vs. Airbus on takeoff
In a busy runway environment, simple misperceptions can have potentially devastating consequences. On the night of Feb. 15, 2008, as ground delays mounted and tensions increased at Boston Logan International, the flight crew of a Cessna 560 received instructions to cross Runway 27. The only problem: They were holding short of Runway 33L. Rather than query ATC, the crew rolled directly into the path of a departing Airbus 320 hurtling down the active runway. See what happened next in a new runway incursion animation, complete with actual ATC audio, from the FAA Office of Runway Safety and the AOPA Air Safety Foundation.
New Hot Spot targets VFR pilots stuck in the soup
When it comes to accident statistics, low ceilings and visibilities rank as the greatest weather hazard to the VFR pilot. Thunderstorms, icing, high winds, turbulence—none of these more dramatic, higher-profile threats comes close to killing as many pilots as simple, condensed water vapor. But tools are available to help VFR pilots steer clear of instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), and the AOPA Air Safety Foundation has compiled its most popular resources into one concise package: the new "VFR Into IMC" Safety Hot Spot. The Web page includes several free interactive courses, including one that re-creates a chilling VFR-into-IMC crash, along with key text resources and featured accident reports.
Answers for Pilots: Healthier choices
As a pilot, you need to be at the top of your game when operating an aircraft. Learn how diet and exercise can help improve your flying in the latest installment of Answers for Pilots.
A new feature added to AOPA’s Airport Directory Online lets you quickly and easily look up the Airport Support Network volunteer for any public-use airport. Functioning as informal “early warning systems,” ASN volunteers look for possible threats, such as encroaching residential or commercial development or noise complaints, and work with AOPA to protect the airport from possible restrictions. Read more >>
Join the Airport Support Network today
Ensuring the health and vitality of your airport is up to you—incompatible development and economic and political pressures can restrict your flying. Every day, more than 2,000 Airport Support Network (ASN) volunteers work with AOPA headquarters to help save their airports, but we need more. Below is a link to a list of the airports where an ASN volunteer could make a difference.
To nominate yourself or an associate to be a volunteer, visit AOPA Online.
To learn more about the Airport Support Network, visit ASN Online.
Reporting Points: GA and the environment
Leaded fuel, noise, threats of “cap and trade” emission limits (carbon offsets, anyone?). It would be easy to believe that the word “environment” is no friend of general aviation. Yet, GA has an important role to play in the environment. Read more >>
Air Safety eJournal: Are engine overhauls arbitrary or necessary?
When should engines be overhauled? Some believe that the engine manufacturer’s recommendations are loose guidelines and that your mileage may vary greatly. Others adhere to them as gospel and treat them as mandatory. Read more >>
Record numbers join AOPA Legal Services Plan
More than 100,000 AOPA members are flying with new-found confidence, thanks to AOPA’s Legal Services Plan. They’re no longer flying with the fear of being on the wrong side of an FAA inspector. Thousands of FAA enforcement actions are issued annually, costing pilots big bucks, and in some cases, even their pilot certificate. No matter how experienced a pilot is, the risk is still there. Violations can result from a simple miscommunication or misunderstanding, as these AOPA members can attest. Read more >>
AOPA Title Services offers experience, convenience
Are you thinking about purchasing an aircraft? Perhaps you’ve already found the perfect airplane and are ready to take that next step. If you’ve done your research, you know that next step should be a title search. What you may not know is just how easy it is to initiate one. 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 have misplaced my pilot certificate, and I heard that the FAA can send me a temporary certificate via e-mail. Where do I go to request the temporary certificate?
Answer: You can request temporary authority to exercise certificate privileges from the FAA’s Airmen Online Services. You can choose to have it sent via fax or e-mail. You will have to create an account if this is your first time using Airmen Online Services. Also, only one online request for temporary authority can be obtained within any six-month period. Airmen Online Services also offers additional services such as updating your address and requesting a replacement certificate.
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].
Read AOPA’s special report on general aviation and the environment, fly 100 feet off the water in an AirCam, and learn how to bring a high-energy jet to a halt in the July 2009 issue of AOPA Pilot. It’ll be in your mailbox soon. For a sneak peek at the issue and to view multimedia content, see AOPA Pilot Online.
AOPA career opportunities
Ever dream of turning your passion for aviation into a career? We're looking for a Director of Airspace and Modernization, an Aviation Technical Specialist, and 2009 Fall Interns for the AOPA Air Safety Foundation and AOPA Government Affairs. To learn more about other AOPA 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? 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 Orlando, Fla., and Columbus, Ohio, June 27 and 28; Newark, N.J., July 11 and 12; Jacksonville, Fla., and Memphis, Tenn., July 18 and 19; Pittsburgh, Pa., July 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
AOPA Air Safety Foundation Safety Seminars are scheduled in Oshkosh, Wis., July 29, 30, and 31; Germantown, Tenn., Aug. 31; Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 1; Maryville, Tenn., Sept. 3. 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