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If you are spinning to the left, what direction is the ball, or inclinometer, displaced? It will stay right in the middle of the instrument as the airplane settles into its dizzying rotation. “Lots of people are surprised by that,” said Bill Finagin, a veteran aerobatic pilot, instructor, and airshow performer. “They’ve done spins or read about spins, but they’ve never actually focused their attention on the ball during a stabilized spin.” Finagin tackles upright, inverted, and flat spins—all on video—with AOPA’s Dave Hirschman, an aerobatic instructor himself, in a Pitts S2-C. Watch these spin entries and recoveries from inside the cockpit >>
Development of the Vision SF50 personal single-engine jet by Cirrus Design continues on a daily basis, but it will take an additional $64 million to bring it to market. That’s why Cirrus officials see 2010 as the year for fundraising. If funding is found this year, next year will be devoted to the construction of a conforming prototype known as C0 (conforming zero). Once that aircraft is flying, it will be 18 months before deliveries could begin. Read more >>
Most manufacturers farm out work to subcontractors to save money, but Lycoming is returning the production of pistons to its factory. The company has not made pistons in nearly 50 years. Pistons are built in a multimillion-dollar mini-factory that begins with cylindrical aluminum forgings and ends with a completed piston. The process relieves Lycoming of dependency on subcontractors. Lycoming officials said they believe the new technology makes them more competitive. Read more >>
German university scientists used a Flight Design CT Supralite in mid-May to measure ash from an erupting volcano in Iceland. The Supralite is a model similar to the CTLS sold in the United States but weighs 260 pounds less. The aircraft’s climb capability was used to take measurements from 1,000 feet to 14,000 feet. Modifications to the Supralite were unnecessary, since the probe could be mounted through the copilot air vent, the same one seen on the door of the CTLS. Read more >>
Pat Magie and his wife Debbie are living their dreams—the ones the rest of us talk about whenever we get in a run-away-and-join-the-circus mood. First the dream was to fly, so he bought a Piper J-4 Cub for $850, put $950 floats on it, and paid a mechanic $350 to attach them. Then he learned to fly. Now he operates a seaplane sightseeing business in Hawaii and has 39,100 accident-free hours. That’s 32,000 on floats, 5,500 on skis, and only 1,600 on wheels. He doesn’t like airports much. Read more >>
He made it. Jonathan Trappe crossed the English Channel on a carefully planned trip riding the wind beneath a cluster of advertising balloons. He had practiced for the flight in the United States in his FAA-approved balloon contraption. The Associated Press reported Trappe took off from Kent in Southeast England, and landed five hours later in a French cabbage patch. Read more >>
Technology transforms markets by making products better, smaller, and less expensive. The technology-intensive airborne electronic news gathering market is no exception. Not long ago, many of the TV stations in larger markets used turbine helicopters such as the Eurocopter AS350 and Bell 206 to carry heavy, large gyrostabilized cameras, microwave gear, and recording decks. Thanks to the development of smaller, lighter electronic news gathering equipment, the new R44 Raven II Newscopter has an entirely digital five-axis gyrostabilized Ikegami 1080i HD camera with a Canon HD zoom lens. Read More >>
BP’s many attempts to control the oil spill that has been raging in the Gulf of Mexico since April 20 have been highly publicized. But one method has received little attention. The Air Tractor AT-802 has been used to apply oil dispersant. Bill Lavender, publisher of AgAir Update, got an up-close look at the operation using these aircraft. “Never before in the North American oil recovery industry has a single engine aircraft conducted this procedure,” Lavender writes in his exclusive article about the efforts. Read more >>
Wear on hydraulic lifters prompts expanded AD
The FAA is adding certain hydraulic lifter part numbers and reciprocating engines to an airworthiness directive (AD) requiring operators to replace certain hydraulic lifters in Teledyne Continental Motors engines before further flight. The new AD supersedes an existing emergency AD, 2009-24-52, and results from TCM reporting another occurrence of rapid wear on the face of certain hydraulic lifters and from the need to expand the AD to include the TCM 346 series reciprocating engines and the R-RM IO-240-A reciprocating engines. It is meant to prevent excessive hydraulic lifter wear, which can result in loss of engine power and loss of control of the airplane. This AD becomes effective June 16.
Gulfstream announced that a third G650 has joined that airplane’s flight test program and has already accumulated 10 hours of testing. The airplane will be used to determine aerodynamic loads, test the G650’s ice protection system, and serve as a testbed for a new version of the company’s PlaneView avionics suite. Pres Henne, Gulfstream’s senior vice president of programs, engineering, and test said, “The addition of the third test aircraft to the fleet means the test pace is picking up, with development and certification flight activities quickly advancing.” Read more >>
The National Aviation Hall of Fame is receiving entries for this year’s $20,000 Combs Gates Award that honors those who preserve air and space history. Past winners have included historians, book authors, and those who helped erect and restore the Wright Brothers National Memorial Monument. Read more >>
Arlene Elliott had a passion for aviation that led to a fruitful career in the industry and her induction into the Women in Aviation, International’s Pioneer Hall of Fame in 1999. Elliott died in January, but her legacy will live on in part through WAI. The association announced June 3 that it had received a $203,000 bequest from Elliott’s estate. Read more >>
Confronted with low clouds that would have prevented him from flying over mountains, Michael Combs and the Flight for the Human Spirit waited out the weather in Tennessee this week. As a relatively new pilot who is encountering terrain and weather with which he is unfamiliar, Combs relies on a team of volunteers who serve as a “mission control” to help him make the call. Read more >>
AD to require inspection of oxygen cylinders
The FAA is adopting a new airworthiness directive for certain AVOX Systems and B/E Aerospace oxygen cylinders, as installed on various airplanes. The AD, which takes effect July 6, requires operators to inspect for and remove substandard oxygen cylinders from the airplane. The FAA is issuing the AD to “prevent an oxygen cylinder from rupturing, which, depending on the location, could result in structural damage and rapid decompression of the airplane, damage to adjacent essential flight equipment, deprivation of the necessary oxygen supply for the flightcrew, and injury to cabin occupants or other support personnel.” It was prompted by the reported rupture of a high-pressure gaseous oxygen cylinder. The FAA estimates the AD will affect 10,000 airplanes in the United States.
The original Colonial C-1 Skimmer prototype flew for the first time in 1948 and set the stage for a long line of Lake amphibians. On May 29 of this year, that same airplane—serial No. 1—flew demonstration flights for local media at Walter J. Koladza Airport in Great Barrington, Mass. John Staber, flight instructor and longtime pilot of Lake amphibian aircraft, said he found the airplane in pieces in a warehouse outside of Cleveland, Ohio, in 1999, and spent 11 years restoring it before taking it out for a test flight May 22. Read more >>
Each year AOPA strives to make its annual convention, AOPA Aviation Summit, the must-attend event of the year for pilots and aviation enthusiasts. This year is no different. The association has reached out to some of the biggest names in aviation: Patty Wagstaff, Sean Tucker, Dale Snodgrass, Mike Melvill, Dick Rutan, Corky Fornoff, Rod Machado, and Skip Holm will all be on hand to host dinners, speak at forums, and much more. Watch AOPA Live >>
What condition is most likely to cause you problems when you go to see the aviation medical examiner (AME) for your next medical certificate? Untreated high blood pressure. But hypertension is easily treatable, and most medications are accepted by the FAA. AOPA's Medical Certification Director Gary Crump tells you what you need to know before you schedule your next visit with an AME. Watch AOPA Live >>
Eclipse Aerospace, the new owner of the much-touted Eclipse 500 product line, has big plans for the little jet. In AOPA’s exclusive interview, co-founder Mike Press reports on future production plans and upgrading the current fleet. Watch AOPA Live >>
For daily news updates, see AOPA Online.
Safety & Proficiency
FAA reminds pilots to be cautious flying at night
The FAA said last week in a Safety Alert for Operators (SAFO) that pilots should be vigilant about operating at nontowered airports at night. According to the SAFO, there have been a number of incidents recently where the pilot hasn’t activated the pilot-controlled lighting, prompting the agency to remind instructors to teach students about such operations. Additionally, the SAFO said, no ground operations should be conducted without the pilot-controlled lighting being illuminated.
Sometimes, people will do anything to get ahead, including falsifying information and taking shortcuts. In aviation, those actions can be deadly. Just after 11 p.m. on Nov. 22, 2008, a Malibu Meridian appeared to be making a normal approach to Runway 16 at Marshfield, Wis., when it rolled hard to the left and crashed about half a mile from the threshold. The pilot and both passengers were killed. The sudden loss of control—in light winds within sight of the runway—wasn’t the only thing that was odd about the flight. Read more in this special report from the AOPA Air Safety Foundation.
For the general aviation pilot who might be contemplating an airline career, the Colgan Air Q400 accident in Buffalo in February 2009 may have some far-reaching consequences. The FAA recently closed a public comment period on the need for additional certification for new air carrier pilots. Perhaps we really don’t need more rules, just better application of the existing ones. The failures at Buffalo were both individual and systemic. Read more >>
If your idea of fuel management is getting close enough to glide the rest of the way to the runway threshold, consider what it would be like if the airline captain for your next commercial flight took the same approach. “ Would you fly this airline?” The AOPA Air Safety Foundation poses the question in a Pilot Safety Announcement designed to address an issue that causes some of the most preventable accidents in general aviation. Find more fuel management resources in the foundation’s safety spotlight.
Whether they encountered skies as smooth as glass or stopped short of their destination because of thunderstorms, pilots traded stories about holiday-weekend flying this week on the AOPA Air Safety Foundation Facebook page. The foundation now has more than 2,600 Facebook fans; join them and stay informed about the latest safety quizzes, online courses, and other valuable safety products—plus share stories of first solos, exciting trips, close calls, lessons learned, and more.
It costs thousands of dollars and provides little to no safety benefit, and you couldn't buy one today if you wanted to. But you'll need an Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast Out (ADS-B Out) unit in your aircraft by 2020 to continue to operate in airspace that currently requires a transponder. The FAA’s final rule setting a deadline for equipage estimates the cost for general aviation to be anywhere from six to 22 times the benefits GA will reap. AOPA is pressing the FAA to close that gap by increasing the benefits and lowering the cost. Read more >>
The FAA says in the ADS-B Out rule that it will consider expanding the services for ADS-B beyond what it currently has planned, and AOPA continues to maintain that a successful transition will be based on tangible benefits such as expanded ATC coverage and low-cost traffic and weather services. Read more >>
The most immediate barrier to GA equipage is the fact that no ADS-B unit currently exists that meets the criteria set forth by the FAA. Over the next 10 years, manufacturers must develop a unit that meets FAA specifications and produce enough to equip an expected 87 percent of the GA fleet—185,000 to 190,000 aircraft. Read more >>
An ultralight pilot received a police helicopter escort May 31 after he flew too close to the Statue of Liberty. According to press reports, the pilot came within 150 feet of the Statue of Liberty before being escorted to nearby Westchester County Airport in White Plains, N.Y. The pilot told reporters that he didn’t realize security was so tight in the New York City area. “Pilots can’t afford to make these kinds of mistakes,” said Brittney Miculka, AOPA manager of security and borders. Read more >>
When the president traveled in the years immediately following 9/11, large sections of airspace could shut out general aviation for days on end. Now, a system of security screenings, gateway airports, and restrictions grants GA pilots increased access to an area during the president’s extended stay. But, as many pilots experienced last weekend in Chicago, the procedures for traveling within a TFR may be complex, and notams may change with little advance warning—and recent violations of the presidential TFR over Chicago underscore the importance of careful preflight planning. Read more >>
An airport master plan update at Norman Y. Mineta International Airport in San Jose, Calif., could be the opening general aviation pilots have been waiting for to gain access to the facility. GA has slowly been squeezed out of the airport over the past couple of decades. The airport stopped accepting new tenants for city-owned hangars in 1995. Airport officials also switched their focus to high-end corporate aircraft, to the exclusion of lighter GA aircraft. Read more >>
Tall obstacles—cell phone towers, wind turbines, or other structures—built too close to airports create a hazard for pilots and those on the ground. Compatible land-use regulations for airports can help minimize the likelihood of a too-tall structure being built near your airport. AOPA members in Oklahoma recently banded together to protect their airports from obstructions by contacting their state legislators and urging them to pass “The Aircraft Pilot and Passenger Protection Act.” It worked. Read more >>
AOPA President Craig Fuller joined aviation leaders for a panel discussion, “Threats to General and Business Aviation,” June 3 at the Oklahoma Aerospace Summit and Expo, where about 500 representatives from aerospace companies large and small gathered. Fuller, along with other GA leaders, discussed FAA reauthorization, protecting community airports, and the negative perception of GA in the media and public, among other topics. Read more >>
Florida is once again officially open for business for the many out-of-state aircraft owners seeking to visit the state for fly-ins like Sun ’n Fun, aircraft repairs, flight training, or just for pleasure. Gov. Charlie Crist signed House Bill 173 into law May 27, creating a permanent exemption for visiting out-of-state aircraft from Florida’s 6-percent use tax on the total value of aircraft. “I am confident this legislation maintains Florida’s stellar reputation as a business- and tourist-friendly state,” Crist said. Read more >>
General aviation airports are an endangered species, so to speak. With limited land to build new airports and pressure from developers to take over the green space that airports create, pilots must become actively involved in protecting these facilities. AOPA Vice President of Airport Advocacy Bill Dunn spoke to pilots, airport managers, and aviation consultants at the fourth annual Delaware Aviation Summit last week, giving them examples of how to protect their local airports. Read more >>
A little planning can save a lot of headaches and lost funds when it comes to developing the land around airports. That’s why the California Senate passed a bill June 2 that would require airport land-use commissions in each county that has a public-use general aviation airport. A law was enacted in the 1960s that did just that, but over the decades, changes and exemptions had been made to the law allowing some counties to operate airports without having an airport land-use commission. Read more >>
You can be your airport’s first line of defense against encroachment, conflict with neighbors, and closure. Join AOPA’s airports team on Thursday, June 10, for a Webinar at 3 or 9 p.m. Eastern time to find out about common threats to airports and how you can protect and promote the importance of your airport. Register online.
For those who haven’t seen the big 40 yet and who maintain only a third class medical, five years between visits to the aviation medical examiner is a long stretch. And for those on the other side of 40, our memories of what we had for breakfast may be a little unreliable. That’s why AOPA has developed a new tool to help all of us remember one of those important dates in our lives, the expiration date of our airman medical certificates. Read more >>
The AOPA Leatherman is as rugged as its name implies. This marvelous implement packs 12 separate tools into its compact size—measuring less than 5 inches when folded and weighing just 5 ounces. There’s no reason to keep a toolbox in your airplane or hangar when so many of the everyday fixes you need can be accomplished with the AOPA Leatherman. Read more >>