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In the rapidly changing avionics world, the life span for new products can sometimes be measured in weeks or months before they are supplanted by newer technology. So the fact that Garmin’s GNS 430/530 series has been at the forefront of general aviation instrument panels for more than a dozen years is a remarkable achievement. Garmin worked secretively for about four years before finally unveiling a successor—the Garmin Touch-screen Navigator (GTN) 600/700 series—on March 23 at the Aircraft Electronics Association’s annual convention in Reno, Nev. AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Dave Hirschman flew using the GTN with Garmin flight test engineer Grant Wittenborn in the company’s Mooney Ovation. As a creature of habit, Hirschman started pushing and twisting the dual concentric knob. “Jeez, another 430 guy,” Wittenborn groaned. “Crank away on the knob if you absolutely must. But you’re really creating busywork for yourself.” Read more and watch AOPA Live® >>
The pilot of a Piper Dakota was running low on fuel in low ceilings and fog as he struggled to intercept the ILS for Richard B. Russell Airport in Georgia. He was experiencing navigation equipment malfunctions and had already missed two approaches. The Atlanta Center controller, Derek Bittman, guided him safely to the airport. Bittman was among the controllers honored at the National Air Traffic Controllers Association’s seventh annual Archie League Medal of Safety Awards banquet March 23. Listen to audio of the controllers’ dramatic assists.
Air Safety Institute honors heroic flight assists
To a pilot in trouble, there is often no more helpful cockpit resource than the air traffic controller on the radio. Despite recent headlines about a tower controller who was unavailable as two aircraft landed at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (see AOPA President Craig Fuller’s comments about the incident on AOPA’s Facebook page), controllers routinely help keep pilots safe—and many go above and beyond to save lives. That’s why the AOPA Foundation’s Air Safety Institute presented nine controllers with Flight Assist Awards at the annual Archie League Awards banquet March 23. Find out their stories.
Aspen Avionics will finish the testing and certification of Honeywell Bendix/King's long-delayed KSN 770 MFD, Aspen officials announced March 23 at the Aircraft Electronics Association's annual convention in Reno, Nev. "They (Honeywell Bendix/King) are going to rely on our expertise in the retrofit market and in light and medium GA," said Aspen Avionics President John Uczekaj. The KSN 770 was announced with great fanfare in 2007 and Honeywell Bendix/King then expected FAA certification of the WAAS-enabled, GPS/Comm in 2008. But a series of delays has kept the product from coming to market. Read more >>
Avidyne’s DFC90 autopilot to work with Aspen’s Evolution PFD
Avidyne and Aspen Avionics are teaming up to allow Avidyne’s digital DFC90 autopilot to work with Aspen’s EFD1000 Evolution primary flight display. Until now, the attitude-based DFC90 autopilots would only operate in Avidyne Entegra glass-cockpit avionics suites. The DFC90 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 >>
Flight instructors urge their students to learn as much as possible about the aircraft they fly. Denise Waters took that imperative to heart. When Waters began flight training in the late 1980s, she decided the best way to gain knowledge of aircraft was to learn to maintain—or better yet, build—one. Now an A&P, light sport repairman (airplane), and commercial pilot, she has built her Express kitplane, modified aircraft for long-distance competitions and overwater marathons, and flown around the world. Read more >>
Aspen Avionics expects to begin offering GPS-derived synthetic vision and an FAA-certified backup display in the second quarter of this year, company officials said. Synthetic vision shows realistic geographic features such as mountains, valleys, and airports, and improves pilot situational awareness. The Evolution backup display shows attitude, airspeed, altitude, heading, vertical speed, GPS navigation, and an HSI, and it contains its own battery power. The backup instrument uses the same hardware as Aspen primary and multifunction displays, but the backup is mounted horizontally instead of vertically.
Funds received for solar flight record
First there was the nonstop flight around the world in 1986 by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager. A no-fuel trip around the Earth, planned for 2014, is being backed by Solvay industries, Omega watch company, Deutsche Bank, and now the Schindler elevator company. Schindler builds elevators and moving walkways. Now the company is a main sponsor of the Solar Impulse, a feather-light, fragile aircraft that has already flown 26 hours on solar energy alone. Read more >>
Diamond stymied by Canadian government
Diamond Aircraft officials had expected a loan from the Canadian government two weeks ago that will fully fund the completion and certification of the D-Jet. Then, the waiting began for the federal government to make a decision. Diamond is still waiting, said Diamond Aircraft President Peter Maurer. “The federal government assistance is critical, because it is a condition for similar funding assistance already committed to by the Ontario provincial government and private funding sources that would complete the funding package,” Maurer said. Read more >>
The FAA will begin the first of 98 safety outreach programs during Sun ’n Fun at the end of March, a “safety stand-down” for all of general aviation that is initially targeted at homebuilt and Experimental category aircraft, because that seems to FAA officials to be the easiest place to make the greatest gains. Read more >>
Florida flight school offers full training scholarship
Tailwheels Etc., a flight school in Winter Haven, Fla., is accepting applications for a scholarship competition that will enable one high school student to become a private pilot. The recipient’s package will include accommodations, all flight time and flight instructor time, knowledge and practical tests, and books. The recipient will be responsible for meals and transportation to and from Florida. Read more >>
PS Engineering introduces two audio panels
PS Engineering has introduced two new audio panels that add functionality in specialized applications requested by a select group of customers. The company has also introduced its first integrated radio. The new PMA8000C adds a third transceiver and retains Bluetooth connectivity for cell phones. Read more >>
Hover Power: Canyon noise
Noise is an issue that helicopter operators deal with on a daily basis—some more than others. For the tour companies who fly over the Grand Canyon it is a battle. Just recently, the National Park Service proposed new rules that would limit the total number of flights over the canyon and require the use of “quiet technology” helicopters within 10 years. Read more >>
AOPA President Craig Fuller is enthusiastic about the Recreational Aviation Foundation’s work to preserve backcountry airstrips. In a recent blog entry, he shared a new video the RAF has produced about its efforts. “We knew that saving these special places was important, so we concluded we had better get about that task,” said RAF President John McKenna. Watch the video >>
Reporting Points: Going the extra (nautical) mile
AOPA Media Relations Director Chris Dancy has worked with Molly McMillin, aviation writer for the Wichita Eagle newspaper, on a number of stories over the years and has found her reporting to be insightful and eminently fair. She goes to great lengths to get a story right, he reports. Now she’s gone the extra mile. McMillin recently earned her private pilot certificate, training and taking her checkride in her father’s 1956 Piper Tri-Pacer. She blogged about the experience in her Air Capital Insider blog. Read more >>
“The only very important people in here today is you!” rallied Pete Bunce, president of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), before some 2,000 aviation workers on March 21 in Wichita, Kan. The multitudes of workers erupted in cheers at his words. “This rally is about you. It’s about these tremendous machines that you build for the world.” The event, sponsored by GAMA, Cessna, Learjet, and Hawker Beechcraft, was meant to showcase the general aviation capital of the world for Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. Read more and watch AOPA Live >>
AOPA Now: DOT secretary ‘gets it,’ he tells Wichita audience
AOPA President Craig Fuller was in the audience as Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood spoke to more than 2,000 general aviation workers and supporters at an event in Wichita. Shortly before LaHood took the stage, Fuller had a chance speak privately with him. The enthusiasm he expressed for the GA industry and its workers was encouraging. Read more >>
Inside look: TSA’s GA manager has the ‘aviation bug’
General aviation pilots and the Transportation Security Administration sometimes seem to have a love-hate relationship, even though both focus on GA security. Could TSA General Manager for the Office of General Aviation Brian Delauter be a peacemaker? Delauter understands GA. After taking his first flight in a GA aircraft at the age of 16, Delauter says he “caught the bug like anybody else.” Read more and watch AOPA Live >>
For daily news updates, see AOPA Online.
Sun ’n Fun
If you wanted to visit Jekyll Island in the early 1900s, you would have been out of luck unless your name appeared on a social registry with the likes of the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, and Pulitzers. Today, an invitation to the white-sand beaches, marshes, and great fishing spots is open to the general public—and you can fly in on your way to Sun ’n Fun. Find out how to get there and what to do in this selection from Pilot Getaways magazine, available to members for a limited time on AOPA Online. Find more fly-out destinations and exclusive member discount pricing for Pilot Getaways online.
AOPA Live will broadcast interviews with leaders in the general aviation industry live from Sun ’n Fun in Lakeland, Fla., on March 31 and April 1 and 2. Stop by AOPA’s tent to watch the interview in person, or log on to AOPA Live to watch online and participate in the conversation with Facebook chat. One of the nearly two dozen can’t-miss interviews lined up for AOPA Live is a special segment with the Navy’s Blue Angel demonstration team on April 1 at 11:15 a.m. Eastern time. See the schedule >>
GA groups offer free member breakfast
AOPA, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), and Sun ’n Fun are hosting a member appreciation breakfast—free to AOPA and GAMA members—March 30 at the Sun ’n Fun Activities Tent No. 2. Connect with other pilots at the event, which takes place from 8 to 9:30 a.m. Both associations will speak at 8:30 a.m. Because of limited capacity, breakfast will be on a first-come, first-served basis.
Get there safe, come home safer
Sun 'n Fun is just around the corner, and to make your fly-in planning a little easier, the Air Safety Institute has put together a Web page full of resources to help you get there safe and sound. Once you’re at the show, be sure to visit the Air Safety Institute booth, and check out its safety presentations on the AOPA Live stage. You can also catch a free safety seminar: “Real World IFR” is full of instrument flying tips, while “Close Calls, Lessons Learned” tells gripping stories from real pilots. Visit the page >>
Learn about AOPA’s ownership services at Sun ’n Fun
Be sure to learn about AOPA’s ownership services in the AOPA tent at Sun ’n Fun. This will be the first year that the AOPA Insurance Agency, AOPA Aircraft Financing, and AOPA Title Services are all in one location. If you need aircraft owner, renter, or CFI coverage, the AOPA Insurance Agency will provide you with the best advice on aviation insurance, as well as a quick, easy, no-obligation way to get quotes on policies from multiple A-rated underwriters. Read more >>
Introduce a friend to flight at the Learn to Fly Center
Know someone who is yearning to learn to fly? If so, bring the prospective pilot to Sun ’n Fun in Lakeland, Fla., March 29 through April 3, and visit the AOPA Learn to Fly Center, inside the AOPA tent. “AOPA staff members will be available to answer prospective pilots’ questions and help them try their hand at the controls of a full-motion flight simulator thanks to Redbird Flight Simulations’ generous support,” said Jennifer Storm, AOPA director of flight training initiatives. Read more >>
Celebrate AOPA Day at Sun ’n Fun
AOPA members get a $5 discount on admission to Sun ’n Fun on AOPA Day, Friday, April 1. Stop by the AOPA tent to enter for a chance to win a Bose A20 Aviation Headset and show your support for general aviation. Get more information about AOPA’s activities at Sun ’n Fun online.
Safety & Proficiency
Are you a Sky Spotter?
Pireps or “pilot reports” are a great source of real-time, in-flight weather filling in the gaps between forecasts and ground-based weather observations. Do you like to get a sneak peek of what to expect, but clam up when asked to provide one? SkySpotter: Pireps Made Easy has a cure for that. This interactive course covers essentials such as reporting sequence, estimating cloud heights and visibility, and reporting turbulence and icing. And an added bonus: The course qualifies for AOPA Accident Forgiveness and the FAA Wings program. Ready to copy? Take the course >>
The impossible turn: Wrong or right?
You be the judge. Joining the ranks of the Air Safety Institute’s Real Pilot Stories is one pilot’s personal account and video footage of his aircraft’s engine failure soon after takeoff. Should he have turned back to the airport or landed ahead? Decide how you would handle the situation after watching and hearing the pilot’s account of “The Impossible Turn.” You decide >>
Fly Well: A broken record
In his mind the maneuver worked perfectly: Drag back, turn, and the soccer ball would be on his left foot. Reality differed: an unpleasant sound from behind and blinding pain shooting down his leg. Dr. Jonathan Sackier had just joined the ranks of people suffering back pain—in his case, acute disc prolapse. Back pain takes many forms with numerous causes. For this column it’s broken discs. Read more >>
For pilots who do a lot of cross-country flying, datalink weather radar is a godsend: It shows the location and strength of precipitation, and that’s usually enough to steer them clear of danger. Simple as it seems, though, there’s a little more to understanding datalink radar than just “red = bad” (though that’s certainly a good start). Do you know what radar is really telling you? Find out by taking the Air Safety Institute’s latest safety quiz.
First group of registration certificates to expire March 31
The FAA is in the process of re-registering all civil U.S. aircraft by Dec. 31, 2013. If the registration certificate of your aircraft was issued in March of any year before 2011 and you have not yet re-registered your aircraft, the certificate expires on March 31. The FAA encourages aircraft owners to register online and is reminding pilots that operating an aircraft with an expired certificate is a violation of the regulations.
As we finish up March, the windy month (and there will be more in April), let’s briefly discuss the perennial topic of crosswind landings. From the FAA’s Airplane Flying Handbook, here are the usual suspects for getting an audience with your insurance adjuster, if not an FAA inspector. And guess what? About 200 pilots a year discover that the winds can be cross indeed. Read more >>
FAA issues interim residential-through-the-fence rules
The 75 known airports with residential-through-the-fence access can continue with their current agreements, but the airports’ sponsors must submit detailed access plans to their airports district office or regional airports office for review, according to a new interim rule the FAA has released. “The interim rule is much different from what was proposed in 2009, which would have banned all existing and future residential-through-the-fence access,” said John Collins, AOPA manager of airport policy. Read more >>
House R&D bill would continue unleaded-fuel research
The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee has sent to the full House a bill containing language to authorize FAA research on an unleaded aviation fuel. The bill reauthorizing FAA research and development calls for continuing R&D activities “into the qualification of an unleaded aviation fuel and safe transition to this fuel for the fleet of piston engine aircraft.” It would require the FAA administrator to develop a plan for carrying out the policy within 120 days of the bill’s passage. Read more >>
Some pilots will soon have an opportunity to enhance aviation safety and help construct an accurate picture of general aviation activity by participating in an annual survey conducted by the FAA. Pilots who receive notices requesting information for the FAA’s thirty-third annual General Aviation and Part 135 Activity Survey are encouraged to respond. The GA Survey for 2010 is being conducted for the FAA by independent research firm Tetra Tech. Read more >>
Pilots encouraged to ‘fly friendly’ over marine sanctuaries
AOPA is ready to work with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to encourage pilots to “fly friendly” in the vicinity of the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and other noise-sensitive areas. Pilots will be urged to comply with FAA guidance to avoid overflight of noise-sensitive areas at less than 2,000 feet agl. The guidance, contained in FAA Advisory Circular 91-36D, is recommended, not mandatory. AOPA said it would work to educate pilots about voluntary compliance with recommended flight altitudes, but continues to question NOAA’s authority to impose overflight restriction zones over marine sanctuaries. Read more >>
New York lawmakers adopt aviation resolution
Aviation was front and center in the halls of state government in Albany, N.Y., on March 22, when the state Senate and Assembly adopted resolutions recognizing the thirty-fifth anniversary of the New York Aviation Management Association (NYAMA). The resolutions came on Advocacy Day, which included activities sponsored by NYAMA to provide airport managers and other aviation officials with information on airport development programs, and a forum for discussions with elected leaders and staff. Read more >>
The pilot community is converging on the all-new AOPA Facebook page, and AOPA wants you to join the conversation! The association has consolidated its Facebook pages to make it even easier for you to connect with your fellow pilots and engage in some high-tech “hangar talk.” While you’re there, take a sneak peek at upcoming content in AOPA’s magazines and get the latest on what’s going on in aviation. Get involved, share your ideas, learn about ongoing advocacy efforts, and help shape the future of general aviation. When pilots connect, great things happen. Harness your collective energy, swap stories, ask questions, and come together to rally GA.
‘AOPA Pilot,’ ‘Flight Training’ digital mags gain popularity
See what 6,500 AOPA members are enjoying each month when they open the digital edition of AOPA Pilot and Flight Training magazines: Videos come to life right on the page, interactive polls allow subscribers to share their opinion, and Microsoft Flight Simulator re-creations demonstrate maneuvers! AOPA launched the digital products with the February issue of AOPA Pilot and March issue of Flight Training , which are open to the public as a demonstration of the features available in the new format. Read more >>
Through the AOPA Foundation’s new Planned Giving website you will find helpful information on how planned giving can help protect the future of general aviation. View a video presentation that shows the benefits of a planned gift based on your property and goals. You will be able to gather information to help plan your will, investigate annuity opportunities, sign up for the monthly e-newsletter, or use the planned giving gift calculator to understand how your gift can make a difference. For more information, visit the website or call Gary Martin at 301/695-2322.
Aches and pains: Some bone, joint issues need FAA review
General aches and pains—the kind that make you groan getting in and out of your aircraft and require minimal use of nonprescription medication—should be reported on your medical application, but your aviation medical examiner can issue you a new medical provided you're otherwise qualified and you can provide a status report from your treating physician. However, for more severe ailments, like rheumatoid or severe osteoarthritis or connective tissue disorders, your AME will have to defer your application to the FAA for a decision. You'll need good documentation in the form of treatment records or a status update from your doctor. AOPA’s Bone and Joint subject report can help you work through the tests and paperwork needed to help you get—and keep—your medical certificate.
AOPA Career Opportunities
Ever dream of turning your passion for aviation into a career? We’re looking for a manager of aviation security, application support engineer, IT department coordinator/help desk, and administrative assistant. To learn more about other AOPA career opportunities, visit AOPA Online.