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today’s top stories
A Piper Cherokee PA-28-236 crashed into an office building in Austin, Texas, Feb. 18. Law enforcement officials have stated that the aircraft was flown by owner Joseph Andrew Stack. “It is important in the days ahead that we not overreact to this isolated act of suicide by a deeply troubled person and jeopardize the ability of hundreds of thousands of law-abiding U.S. citizens to fly,” said AOPA President Craig Fuller. Read more >>
GA shipments down in 2009, mixed bag for 2010…
Even though general aviation shipments declined in every segment in 2009, the year wasn’t a total loss for the industry. Thanks to a united front among GA associations, the industry laid the foundation for a reawakening of the value of GA in the public arena, stronger government relationships, and ATC modernization. “When it gets tough, this is an industry that pulls together,” General Aviation Manufacturers Association President and CEO Pete Bunce told GA industry leaders Feb. 16 at GAMA’s Annual Industry Review and Market Outlook Briefing in Washington, D.C. Read more >>
… Analyst sees bizjet growth to 2019
Aviation consultant Brian Foley predicts good news for business jet deliveries over the next 10 years. “We see deliveries rising at a steady 2.7 percent per year (compound annual growth rate) between now and 2019,” Foley said. He said that 8,900 business jets worth $170 billion will be delivered through the period, according to a statement. Read more >>
Nall Report expands picture of GA safety
The newest edition of general aviation’s most comprehensive annual safety analysis is out, and for the first time, the AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s Joseph T. Nall Report examines helicopters and Part 135 charter flights. “The AOPA Air Safety Foundation has been telling the story of what went wrong for two decades,” said Bruce Landsberg, president of the foundation. “The challenge is to take a complex subject and distill it into a comprehensible outline of the prior year’s mishaps. Previous issues covered 90 percent of all GA flight activity. This one adds 90 percent of what was left.” The current Nall Report is based on 2008 accident data—the last year for which enough accident data are available to give a complete safety picture. Read more >>
New production Twin Otter in the air
With Transport Canada certification nearing, the first new-production DHC-6 Series 400 Twin Otter has taken its initial flight from Viking’s final assembly facility in Calgary, Alberta. It is the first new production Twin Otter since de Havilland Canada ended production in 1988. Read more >>
“It was a lucky shot,” Tammy Duckworth, a former U.S. Army helicopter pilot, says dismissively of the insurgent barrage in Iraq that knocked down her aircraft, destroyed her legs, and nearly ended her life. Now an assistant secretary at the Veterans Administration, Duckworth has returned to the air in fixed-wing aircraft, a stepping-stone toward her ultimate goal of someday flying helicopters again. Read her amazing story and meet her in the online interview on AOPA Live >>
New Senate ally taking on Florida use tax
Sixty days, one bill, and the fate of Florida’s multi-billion dollar general aviation industry at stake: This is the playing field that AOPA and its local allies must navigate to do away with the use tax on out-of-state aircraft and re-open Florida for visiting aircraft owners from around the nation. Read more >>
Citation CJ4 completed on new production line
The first Citation CJ4 to be completed on Cessna’s new assembly line has made its first flight. CJ4 performance numbers are turning out to be much better than expected in speed, direct-climb altitude, and range. Read more >>
GA groups stick up for backcountry strips
AOPA and the Recreational Aviation Foundation are weighing in on a U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service initiative to create a new planning rule that would include restoring forests, protecting watersheds, addressing climate change, and more. The two general aviation associations want to ensure that backcountry airstrips are considered and protected and that aviation stakeholders are a part of the planning process. Read more >>
John King calling: Colorado pilot wins sweepstakes Skyhawk
What would you do if, knee-deep in a King Schools online course, you picked up your telephone to find John King on the other end of the line? That’s what happened to Colorado pilot Rhonda Doyle, who learned from King that she had won the 2010 King Schools Sweepstakes Cessna Skyhawk. Read more >>
Haiti relief: Equipped to act
It’s 9:30 a.m. on a rainy, cold Tuesday in Atlanta, Ga. Five relief workers are ready to take off from DeKalb-Peachtree Airport in a private airplane donated for the trip. On board with them, piled to the airplane’s ceiling, are boxes and bags stuffed with prescription drugs and medical equipment they will take to a clinic outside Port-au-Prince, Haiti. For some on board, this is a return trip since the earthquake struck Jan. 12. For the 26-year-old pilot, Sean Sanders, it’s the tenth round-trip flight to Haiti in two weeks. As he climbs into the cockpit of the Pilatus PC-12, he tells his passengers to “put your hands on the ceiling when the plane starts to roll inverted.” It takes a second for someone to laugh at the joke. Read more >>
GA Caucus co-chair Ehlers to retire at end of term
Rep. Vernon J. Ehlers (R-Mich.), co-founder of the House General Aviation Caucus and longtime supporter of GA, announced Feb. 10 that he will leave Congress at the end of his current term. The nine-term congressman and pilot sits on the House aviation subcommittee and has spoken out for GA on a range of issues, from security to user fees. He founded the GA Caucus in 2009 with fellow congressman Allen Boyd (D-Fla.), and AOPA recognized the two men for this effort to educate their colleagues about the value of GA by giving them the Joseph B. “Doc” Hartranft Award. “We are sorry to be losing such a dedicated congressman and devoted voice for general aviation on the Hill,” said AOPA President Craig Fuller. Read more >>
Design legend Leo Windecker dies
Leo Windecker, 88, died Feb. 13 in Cedar Park, Texas. Windecker, a Navy medic in World War II and noted dentist, is best known as the designer of Windecker Eagle—the first FAA-certified all-composite airplane. Windecker began work on the Eagle in 1961 as head of the Midland, Texas-based Windecker Industries, and certification was granted in 1969. Its slippery, all-fiberglass construction and 285-hp Continental IO-520 engine gave the Eagle 180-knot cruise speeds—speeds that bested the V-tail Bonanzas of the day. Read more >>
Flight specialists rise to weather challenges
General aviation flight activity dropped in many parts of the country last week because of back-to-back snowstorms that pummeled much of the eastern United States; other weather systems brought significant snowfall to Dallas/Fort Worth and other parts of the country. At one point, snow reportedly was on the ground in 49 of the 50 states. Pilots who wanted to fly had no problem getting briefings from Lockheed Martin Flight Services, however. Some flight service specialists at the company’s hub in Ashburn, Va., stayed overnight, sleeping on cots brought in for the storm, and others carpooled to work in four-wheel-drive vehicles. Read more >>
FAA provides information on Liberty door problems
Liberty Aerospace has come up with a solution for a problem with doors on its two-seat XL-2 aircraft that may pop open in flight. The FAA said it is “not an unsafe condition that would warrant airworthiness directive action.” The FAA released a special airworthiness information bulletin explaining that “there have been six occurrences of a door opening in flight on Liberty XL-2 airplanes. In all six cases, the pilot has been able to land the airplane safely and there is evidence the door was not properly latched before takeoff.” Read more >>
GA maintains advocate south of the border
Pilots who fly south of the border will be able to reap the benefits of AOPA’s renewal of its annual agreement with Rick Gardner, authorized AOPA representative for the Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America. Gardner’s services include research, review, and analysis of regulatory, security, and legislative actions, drafting documents and correspondence, and attending meetings on behalf of AOPA with regard to issues affecting international operations between the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America. Read more >>
Flash Pass Net avoids eAPIS headaches
Flash Pass Net is a new and streamlined alternative to the Customs and Border Protection’s cumbersome eAPIS (Electronic Advance Passenger Information System) that’s now required for international flights. It helps pilots comply with eAPIS rules by storing information and putting in safeguards designed to eliminate common mistakes. Read more >>
For daily news updates, see AOPA Online.
Accidents caused by fuel exhaustion often inspire the sage observation that “They’re not called ‘airplanes’ because they run on air.” Helicopters aren’t called “airplanes” at all, but they don’t fare any better with air in the tanks. On May 16, 2008, a Fairchild-Hiller FH-1100 hit trees near the top of a ridge about five miles east of Kalamazoo, Mich. The crash destroyed the helicopter and killed the 68-year-old solo pilot, who had bought the aircraft the day before. The pilot was returning to his private airstrip from a small airport west of town after an hour of dual instruction; his strip was visible from the accident site, barely half a mile to the south. Read more in this special report from the AOPA Air Safety Foundation.
Answers for Pilots: It’s time to get plastic
The phones in AOPA’s Pilot Information Center are busy with members asking about plastic pilot certificates—suddenly realizing that the deadline for compliance is fast approaching. Pilots are required to obtain plastic pilot certificates by March 31, 2010, if exercising airmen privileges. After that date, most paper certificates will no longer be valid; there are a few exceptions. The FAA’s mandate is based on the reasoning that plastic certificates are more counterfeit resistant than paper ones. Read more >>
Continental hosts Bonanza clinic
Up to 48 Bonanza owners will attend an April 29 maintenance clinic sponsored by the American Bonanza Society at the Continental Motors Factory Service Center in Fairhope, Ala. Owners will have a chance to get their aircraft inspected by the American Bonanza Society and Continental Motors technicians. It is the third time Continental Motors has sponsored the clinic. Read more >>
AOPA creates guide to Part 61 changes
In a Part 61 regulatory overhaul that went into effect in October 2009, the FAA made numerous changes that affect pilot training and other areas of flying. But, unless you know the regs like the back of your hand, it can be difficult to pick out the changes and comply with the new requirements. That’s why AOPA has created a new subject report that highlights the Part 61 changes that are most likely to affect your flying. "AOPA's staff of aviation technical experts compiled this summary of the Part 61 changes in response to member requests for a quick brief of what impacts members in the new rule, which is lengthy and difficult to read,” said Woody Cahall, AOPA vice president of the Pilot Information Center. “This subject report lists highlights of the changes in a concise, easy-to-read format, in the order they appear in the regulation." See the subject report >>
Jeppesen VFR+GPS Webinar gets an encore
An encore of Jeppesen's Webinar, "Getting to know Jeppesen VFR+GPS charts," will take place Tuesday, March 2, at 7 p.m. Eastern time. With a different look and feel from the FAA’s sectional charts, Jeppesen’s VFR+GPS aeronautical charts offer an alternative that is meant to dovetail with the use of GPS for navigation. The charts are designed around common VFR flight paths and local operations, and they include features such as GPS waypoints. During the presentation, Jeppesen's Dave McLean will explain the features of and technology behind the charts, and answer questions submitted by Webinar attendees. Register to participate on the AOPA Webinar page.
Citizens stand up for community airport
After a Vermont senator proposed shutting down John H. Boylan State Airport in Island Pond to have more space for a wood pellet plant, the fate of the airport may come down to one thing: the opinion of its neighbors. Scores of supporters from the community turned out for a Senate Institutions Committee hearing Feb. 11 to urge the Senate to preserve the 2,650-foot turf runway that serves Island Pond. After the developers spoke about their anticipated use for airport land, not one member of the audience spoke in favor of a bill that would close the airport. 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.
Air Safety eJournal: High alpha?
There’s been much consternation over the Colgan Airways accident in Buffalo, N.Y., last year that was basically the result of a stall. Angle of attack, or “alpha” as the engineers call it, is one of the most important concepts for any pilot to really get. Too many of them don’t. Read more >>
Hover Power: Drive link
Connecting the rotating swash plate to the rotor shaft is an assembly known as the drive link. Because the swash plate needs to move up and down and pivot, the drive link has a joint that acts like a scissor—as such it is sometimes referred to as a scissors link. Read more >>
AOPA adds new item to Insignia Merchandise Collection
The AOPA Insignia Merchandise Collection available through Sporty’s is an exclusive selection of quality merchandise featuring the classic AOPA logo. Check out the latest addition to the collection, the AOPA Leading Edge Jacket, which offers modern styling and features a durable wind- and water-resistant exterior and a warm fleece interior, but is also lightweight and breathable. From the timeless appeal of an AOPA pilot cap to the Zulu time watch created exclusively for AOPA, there is something for everyone. Plus, every purchase helps generate revenue to help fund AOPA's daily effort to maintain the safety and freedom of flying. Be sure to use your AOPA WorldPoints Rewards credit card and earn double points.
Wish you had a better understanding of the regulations when talking to your mechanic or the avionics shop? Aircraft Electronics Association Vice President of Government/Industry Affairs Ric Peri answers your frequently asked questions.
Question: Does 135.143 (c)(2) allow for the exchange of Mode A/C transponders in Part 135 aircraft?
Answer: No. Section 135.143 (c)(2) allows for an operator to continue the use of his or her Mode A/C transponder as long as it can be maintained. However, if it can no longer be maintained it must be replaced with a Mode S transponder. The rule does not allow for exchanges of the transponder as a method of maintaining equipment except when maintenance is being accomplished. Read more >>
Submit your own question via e-mail.
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: Does the completion of a flight instructor practical test also automatically fulfill the requirement for a flight review under 14 CFR 61.56?
Answer: No. According to a 2008 FAA letter of interpretation (LOI), you must have successfully completed a practical test for a pilot certificate (e.g. private, commercial, etc.) in order to take advantage of the flight review exemption. According to the FAA the flight instructor practical test is not a check of pilot proficiency, but rather of instructional skill. However, you may use the checkride to simultaneously complete a flight review if the examiner agrees to assess your piloting proficiency and provide the appropriate endorsement in your logbook.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Send comments on our Quiz Me! questions to email@example.com.
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.
Engage with AOPA
AOPA Foundation President Karen Gebhart and AOPA's advocacy team will be on hand at the Northwest Aviation Conference and Trade Show in Puyallup, Wash., to give you an update on the association's advocacy and outreach efforts Feb. 20 and 21.
Come visit with AOPA while attending the Women in Aviation Conference in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Feb. 25 through 27. With the theme of "Aviation—It's a Small World," the 2010 conference will immerse participants in the tactics and strategies necessary for successful aviation careers. Stop by booth 613 to learn more about AOPA and the 2010 sweepstakes aircraft. On Feb. 26, join AOPA Foundation President Karen Gebhart for an industry-leader panel discussion about GA.
Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics
The next AOPA Air Safety Foundation Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics are scheduled in Baton Rouge, La., Oklahoma City, Okla., Dallas, Texas, and Ashburn, Va., Feb. 27 and 28; Orlando, Fla., March 6 and 7; San Mateo, Calif., and Baltimore, Md., March 13 and 14; Ontario, Calif., March 20 and 21. 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 Colorado Springs, Colo., Feb. 24; Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Feb. 25; Rochester, Minn., March 8; Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Portland, Ore., March 9; Seattle, Wash., and Olathe, Kan., March 10; Bedford, Mass., March 15; Ypsilanti, Mich., March 22; Birmingham, Ala., Northbrook, Ill., and Cleveland, Ohio, March 23. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.