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AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Tom Horne and Senior Editor Dave Hirschman agree on one thing: As a general rule, it’s best to steer clear of running a fuel tank dry. But are there times when it’s a smart move? Horne says yes: Let’s say you are flying a long leg over the desert Southwest. Fuel availability is scarce over terrain like this, and when your exact fuel consumption rate is an unknown—even with your best efforts at flight planning—then running a tank dry may be the best way to confirm your fuel status and thus be able to plan a timely diversion, or perform a 180-degree turn. But why scare your passengers by shutting down an engine in flight? Hirschman argues that even when flying solo, running a tank dry can cause unwelcome complications: There have been many fuel starvation accidents in airplanes with lots of fuel on board. Join the debate >>
Cirrus Aircraft will be sold to China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Co. (CAIGA), Cirrus officials announced Feb. 28. The 500-employee firm based in Duluth, Minn., will merge with the Chinese firm and then be acquired once the regulatory approvals are met. Cirrus officials didn’t disclose the terms of the deal between CAIGA and majority owner Arcapita, but said the pioneering aircraft manufacturing firm will continue building airplanes in the United States and have the necessary capital to expand its product line. Read more >>
Avidyne DFC100 autopilot now certified for Cirrus
Avidyne’s attitude-based DFC100 autopilot is now FAA certified for installation on Cirrus SR22s and SR20s equipped with Avidyne Release 9 avionics suites, the company announced. The DFC100 has a “Straight & Level” feature that is capable of recovering from extreme unusual attitudes, and it gives aural and visual warnings of excessively high or low airspeeds and bank angles—even when the autopilot isn’t engaged. Read more >>
It has had cameos with stars, borne a dozen dancing showgirls, and disappeared on a nightly basis—all for the benefit of millions of tourists. With an 80-foot wingspan, the T-tail jet on stage at the Grand Sierra Resort has commanded the attention of audiences in Reno, Nev., for nearly 33 years. The airliner, constructed of a steel framework and sheet aluminum, was built in pieces and shipped to Reno for the opening of the extravagant ensemble show “Hello Hollywood Hello” in 1978. Read more >>
Diamond getting 280-hp jet-fuel engine
Two of Austria’s key engine development companies, Austro Engine and Steyr Motors, signed a cooperation agreement to develop a 280-hp, six-cylinder aircraft engine. It will be used on two new Diamond Aircraft airplanes. Austro Engine is developing the engine for the DA50 Magnum (single-engine, five-seat aircraft) and the FSA (Future Small Aircraft) twin-engine private and utility aircraft. Read more >>
EAA President and CEO Rod Hightower and members of his leadership team spent two days at the Frederick, Md., headquarters of AOPA, meeting with AOPA President Craig Fuller and his leadership team, discussing ways the two organizations can work collaboratively to promote general aviation and protect Americans’ freedom to fly. It was Hightower’s first visit to Frederick. During the visit, the teams shared broad overviews of what each association and its members are doing to support GA and talked about how the two groups might collaborate to enhance those efforts. Read more >>
Hawker Beechcraft opens additional Mexican facility
Hawker Beechcraft Corporation is adding to its facilities at its complex in Chihuahua, Mexico. An 180,000-square-foot building will do sheet metal assembly for King Air turboprops and Hawker jet products, as well as electrical assembly. “Since the opening of our first facility in Chihuahua in 2007, Hawker Beechcraft has established a visible presence in Chihuahua,” Hawker Beechcraft Chairman and CEO Bill Boisture said. “We have seen a high-level of quality and craftsmanship from the country’s skilled work force and have great confidence in their ability to assume additional responsibilities in the manufacturing process.” Read more >>
Flight1 Aviation Technologies, a company best known for making aircraft plug-ins for Microsoft Flight Simulator, said recently it has developed a Garmin G1000 training simulator. The simulator is compatible with Microsoft Flight Simulator X, Flight Simulator ESP, and Lockheed Martin Prepar3D. Unlike the company’s previous plug-in products, the G1000 sim is a stand-alone piece of software that runs in tandem with the Microsoft and Lockheed Martin applications. The display is in its own window, and can be shown on the same monitor, or another monitor via a network. Read more >>
‘We need to move to a digital world’
Six months after Jeppesen launched an iPad application for its charts, more than 45,000 pilots are using the app. “We've been delivering charts by paper," Jeppesen President and CEO Mark Van Tine noted at the twenty-second annual International Women in Aviation conference in Reno, Nev. "But today we use one billion sheets of paper—that's a tremendous amount of paper. The world is going digital; why do we still use paper? We need to move to a digital world." Read more >>
FAA: NextGen to guide you ‘gate to gate’
With traditional technology, controllers could only clear two aircraft an hour into Steamboat Springs Airport in Colorado. But using the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) technology wide-area multilateration (WAM), capacity can reach 10 aircraft an hour, said Donna Taylor, manager of the FAA’s Airports Division, Northwest Mountain Region, in a NextGen panel discussion at the International Women in Aviation conference in Reno, Nev., Feb. 25. Read more >>
Bombardier Aerospace continues its surge in sales with the recent news that fractional operator NetJets has ordered up to 120 of Bombardier’s long-range, large-cabin Global business jets. NetJets placed a firm order for 50 Global jets, and has an option to buy 70 more. The order consists of 30 Global 5000s and Global XRS airplanes, with deliveries to begin in the fourth quarter of 2012. In addition, there are 20 firm orders for Bombardier’s newly launched Global 7000 and Global 8000 jets. Read more >>
SimCom adds Twin Commander training
SimCom Training Centers announced it has added simulator training for the Twin Commander series of twin turboprops at its Dallas/Fort Worth training facility—formerly known as PrestoSIM. Pilot initial and recurrent training courses are available and approved by all major aircraft insurance providers, SimCom said. Read more >>
Legislation introduced to honor CAP World War II veterans
Legislation has been introduced in Congress to honor World War II members of the Civil Air Patrol with the Congressional Gold Medal for using their own aircraft to conduct combat operations and other emergency missions. The introduction of bills in the House and Senate starts a national campaign to honor Civil Air Patrol veterans in time for the organization’s seventieth anniversary on Dec. 1. Read more >>
Training group calls for ‘best practices’
A national training group is collecting examples of the best ways to teach pilots. There are as many ways to teach flying as there are good instructors. And, every good instructor develops special ways to guide students toward becoming safe and competent pilots instead of simply accumulating hours to a minimum standard. Read more >>
At the twenty-second annual International Women in Aviation conference in Reno, Nev., the association handed out 76 scholarships worth $691,750 to members. Scholarship recipients ranged from college students to mature individuals seeking a mid-life career change to aviation. The organization reported that attendance at the conference reached nearly 3,000.
AOPA Now: Sharing the excitement
AOPA President Craig Fuller got a “special treat” at the International Women in Aviation conference in Reno, Nev., last week—he presented the AOPA Student Pilot Scholarship to a deserving pilot-in-the-making who is balancing the demands of work and family. Read more >>
AOPA President Craig Fuller called on general aviation pilots to rally around general aviation so that collectively the industry can protect its freedom to fly. Delivering a keynote address at the Northwest Aviation Conference in Puyallup, Wash., on Feb. 26, Fuller said everyone has a role to play. “Every year we get together at AOPA and come up with an idea that encapsulates where we are going and what we hope to accomplish over the course of the year ahead,” he said. “This year, we are going to ‘Rally GA.’” Read more and watch AOPA Live®>>
For daily news updates, see AOPA Online.
Safety & Proficiency
Sometimes conditions just don’t cooperate, and it doesn’t matter how badly you need to be on your way. On Jan. 4, 2010, a Cessna 172 took off from Bangor International Airport in Maine. Thirty-six minutes later it crashed through the ice on the Penobscot River, killing the solo pilot. The airplane was bound for Goose Bay, Newfoundland, on the first leg of a transatlantic crossing. The pilot had told the flight service briefer that he had been “stuck for a week here.” Read more in this special report from the Air Safety Institute.
A solid understanding of IFR charts is a fundamental part of safe instrument flying. Whether you’re an instrument student or just need a refresher, the Air Safety Institute’s free IFR Insights: Charts course is an excellent way to get up to speed. Covering both AeroNav (formerly NACO) and Jeppesen products, the in-depth course includes detailed coverage of chart symbology, a gripping re-creation of a chart-related accident, interactive quizzes, and numerous real-world flying tips. Get started >>
The high costs associated with owning and operating general aviation aircraft are concerning for many pilots. But you can save money and learn more about your aircraft by performing preventive maintenance yourself. AOPA offers an online Pilot’s Guide to Preventive Maintenance that spells out what tasks you can and cannot do and provides links to in-depth articles about owner maintenance.
Stack the deck favorably with aircraft flash cards
Professional pilots often use aircraft-specific flash cards to review systems and procedures anytime, anywhere. Well, if they’re good enough for the pros, then why not for you? With a little help from the Air Safety Institute, you now have a clever way to quickly review aircraft speeds, systems, profiles, and emergency procedures. Once you copy that information from the POH onto the cards it will be at your fingertips at home and work, in the hangar, and in the cockpit. Download your cards >>
Fit to fly
One in three American adults has high blood pressure, and that number is growing each year. The risk of high blood pressure (hypertension) increases with age, but being physically active is one of the most important steps you can take to prevent or control hypertension—and stay fit for flight. Check out these tips to help prevent high blood pressure. Helpful advice like this and more are available through a bimonthly e-mail newsletter to members enrolled in the AOPA Medical Services Program.
Air Safety eJournal: Research discovery!
Are you sitting down? There’s breaking news in the world of aviation research: The FAA has discovered that poorly trained pilots are a problem, and that if they don’t hand-fly enough, their hand-flying skills deteriorate! The FAA will publish a report later this year that purportedly sees a connection between accidents and inadequate training of pilots. Read more >>
Two proposed bills in Connecticut—a hefty annual tax on aircraft owners and the elimination of the sales tax exemption for labor on repairs on small aircraft—could devastate the state’s aviation industry and drive business to neighboring states, AOPA is warning lawmakers. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy proposed the legislation as part of an effort to close a budget gap of about $3.2 billion to $3.5 billion. Read more >>
AOPA has engaged the FAA in response to reports that unannounced, significant changes in the question banks of at least three airman knowledge tests have dramatically increased failure rates. AOPA urges student pilots, certificated pilots preparing for advanced knowledge tests, and their instructors to be ready to tackle tests that differ significantly from their practice tests. Unfortunately, the FAA does not provide detailed study guides to provide concentration areas to focus training. Read more >>
Support for nixing complex time for commercial restated
Removing the requirement to log 10 hours of complex airplane time to earn a commercial pilot certificate would save money and improve safety, AOPA told the FAA March 2. The association wrote a letter to restate its support of an FAA proposal that would eliminate that requirement in changes to Part 61 of the federal aviation regulations. In the same letter, AOPA restated its concerns regarding a corresponding proposal to add 10 hours of “advanced instrument training” in place of the complex airplane time. Read more >>
AOPA asks NTSB for fairer rules for pilots
AOPA is supporting changes to the rules of the National Transportation Safety Board to make them fairer to pilots. The NTSB serves as an appellate court to FAA attempts to suspend or revoke a pilot or medical certificate. AOPA's efforts are particularly aimed at the FAA practice of often immediately grounding a pilot, on an emergency basis, before he or she has had a chance to make a defense to the emergency determination. Under current rules, the FAA wins 95 percent of the emergency challenges. AOPA wants the NTSB to get rid of the "assumption" and leave it up to an NTSB law judge to determine the legitimacy of the FAA's “immediate grounding." Read more >>
Calif. bill could ease concerns of flight school certification
California Senate Bill 619, aimed at alleviating the requirements for flight schools under the California Private Postsecondary Education Act of 2009, was introduced Feb. 18. Under the current terms of the bill, all individual flight instructors and flight schools that don’t collect money up front for flight training would be exempt from the provisions of the postsecondary act. Read more >>
A bill that would make it a crime to aim laser pointers at aircraft has passed the House and moves to the Senate, where similar legislation has been included as an amendment to the FAA authorization bill. The House bill, titled the Securing Aircraft Cockpits Against Lasers Act of 2011, passed Feb. 28 on a voice vote. Sponsored by Rep. Dan Lungren (R- Calif.), the bill would make it a crime punishable by fines, up to five years in prison, or both to aim a laser pointer at an aircraft. Read more >>
FCC urged to freeze network expansion seen as GPS threat
AOPA has petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to reverse the authorization it granted a mobile-satellite services operator to harness a portion of the radio spectrum near the bandwidth used by aviation. AOPA expressed concerns about risks to aviation and public safety, and raised procedural objections, to the conditional waiver granted to network operator LightSquared, which is seeking authorization to expand its use of bandwidth. Read more >>
The TSA has notified flight schools and flight instructors of an exception to the requirement that they must upload a current photo of flight training candidates before commencing training under the Alien Flight Student Program. Responding to industry concerns about potential training delays and disruptions, such as on weekends or holidays, the TSA issued a letter of policy clarification that allows training to proceed as long as certain conditions are met. Read more >>
Officials reaffirm commitment to Ohio’s Blue Ash airport
AOPA Vice President for Airport Advocacy Bill Dunn recently met with local officials working to bring about the long-awaited reconfiguration of the Cincinnati-Blue Ash Airport in Ohio. The airport “remains an important general aviation airport to the Cincinnati metropolitan area,” and an important focus for AOPA, he said. Recent activity is an upbeat note for an airport that long struggled against a threat of possible closure. Read more >>
FAA to decide if Ohio airport should close for auto races
Officials in Huron County, Ohio, should be working to strengthen the Norwalk-Huron County Airport for the public, not trying to sell the grant-obligated facility with its 4,210-foot runway and two instrument approaches to a neighboring auto-racing business or other private party, said AOPA in a letter to county commissioners. AOPA continues to urge airport supporters to file comments with the FAA by March 10 on a proposal being considered by the county to close the airport on several racing dates. Read more >>
Save up to $25 off your AOPA Sun ’n Fun rental with Hertz
If you’re planning to kick off the flying season at Sun ’n Fun in Lakeland, Fla., March 29 through April 3, take note. You can save $5 a day, up to $25 off your AOPA Sun ’n Fun rental when you include PC# 144771 in your reservation. Plus, you will receive your standard AOPA-member discount, as well as all the other Hertz benefits. This special offer is valid one week before through one week after the event dates. Reserve your car today! By choosing AOPA member products you help to rally GA by funding daily efforts to maintain the freedom, safety, and affordability of general aviation.
AOPA Career Opportunities
Ever dream of turning your passion for aviation into a career? We’re looking for an IT department coordinator/help desk, aviation technical specialist, director of legislative affairs, and manager of aviation security. To learn more about other AOPA career opportunities, visit AOPA Online.