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A buzz of activity surrounds a group of de Havilland Beavers and Otters at the north end of Lake Washington, just outside Seattle: Kenmore Air is preparing its fleet of floatplanes for the busiest time of the year. For most people, including many visiting pilots, a Kenmore Air experience begins with a flight aboard one of the company’s Beavers or Otters (hopefully in the right seat) to an idyllic waterfront destination. They may be heading to a fishing lodge or for a whale-watching trip, or simply a relaxing island getaway. But the experience of getting there is usually one of the more memorable parts of the trip. “What’s different about us versus the airlines,” says company President Todd Banks, “is that a lot of people feel like their vacation starts here.” Read more and watch AOPA Live® >>
What goes around
Kurt Robinson didn’t intend to set off a minor media frenzy when he let slip some good news about business recently. But after he laid out his view that things were looking up at Robinson Helicopter, validating the company’s strategic decision about product development and allowing the company to hire about 200 new workers, the phone hasn’t stopped ringing with media inquiries. “We’re sitting here kind of puzzled,” he said in an interview. Since October 2010, when there were about 100 back orders for the company’s newly certified R66 turbine helicopter, deliveries have begun, demand has strengthened, and production has been stepped up. Read more >>
The FAA, in a technology-based effort to further reduce runway incursions, has a target date of 2016 for operation of a system that will provide real-time collision avoidance information to pilots using runways and taxiways at 23 of the nation's core airports. Meanwhile, the agency is reaching out to encourage pilots to learn about the Runway Status Lights Program that is up and running at five major airports. Read more >>
Dogfight: NDB approaches
Are NDBs dead? This month, AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Dave Hirschman and Editor at Large Thomas A. Horne face off about the least precise of the nonprecision approaches. Hirschman argues that we shouldn’t waste precious resources on an outmoded, anachronistic system. But knowing how to track a nondirectional beacon may come to your rescue at some smaller community airports or in Canada and the Caribbean, Horne says. Who’s right? Read more and take the poll >>
FAA launches Web page for laser incident reports
With incidents involving laser pointers being aimed at aircraft still increasing, the FAA has created a page on its website where pilots and the public can report occurrences and obtain information about the problem. “Safety of the traveling public is our absolute number-one priority,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in an announcement Oct. 27. “We will do everything we can to get the word out about how dangerous it is to point a laser at an aircraft. These incidents must stop.” Read more >>
Snow no match for Skype
Bad weather was no match for team spirit when AOPA President Craig Fuller reached out to South Carolina pilots recently. The South Carolina Aviation Association set up a Skype connection linking Fuller—grounded by an early snowstorm—to 973 attendees at the first-ever Southeast Aviation Show at Greenville, S.C., Downtown Airport. Read his blog about the Oct. 29 event.
Hawker’s financial figures improving
Hawker Beechcraft lost money in the third quarter, but far less than in the comparable quarter for 2010. The company said that it “recorded an operating loss of $42.2 million, an improvement of $39.2 million as compared to an operating loss of $81.4 million during the same period of 2010.” It said the improvement was primarily because of one-time charges made during the third quarter of 2010. While the company saw improvements to gross margin, operating loss, and net loss, revenue was down. Read more >>
FAA proposes SR22T gasket AD
A proposed airworthiness directive affecting 67 Cirrus SR22Ts would require inspection and modification of the air box flange welds and slots, and installation of induction system air box seals as applicable. It was prompted by reports of partial loss of engine power when a dislodged rubber gasket was ingested into the turbocharger; the FAA estimates the cost to comply with the AD would be about $351.50 per aircraft. Comments on the proposal are due Dec. 19. Download the proposal >>
On May 12, 2009, a Robinson R44 helicopter was damaged during a hard landing about 57 miles northwest of Iliamna, Alaska. The helicopter was flying about 300 feet above the ground when the pilot felt an unusual medium-frequency vibration in the controls. The pilot told the NTSB that the vibrations turned to oscillations in both yaw and pitch, to the point that he felt the helicopter was going to come apart. The NTSB discovered that operators of the Robinson R44 helicopter were aware of similar events and that the condition had been dubbed “chugging.” Read more >>
Reporting Points: A legacy secured … it only took 30 years
The brand-new air traffic control tower at Memphis International Airport has a name: the Omlie Tower, for Phoebe Fairgrove Omlie. Omlie was the first woman to get an aviation mechanic license, as well as the first woman to earn a commercial pilot certificate, according to the University of Memphis Department of History. The department said the campaign to get some local recognition for Omlie began more than 30 years ago. Read more >>
For the perfect example of general aviation supporting the environment, The Aviators takes us to Canada’s boreal forest where one activist has learned to fly a Lake Buccaneer amphibian in support of preserving the area. Watch AOPA Live >>
For daily news updates, see AOPA Online.
Safety & Proficiency
On a 3,800-mile flight from Brisbane, Australia, to Okinawa, Japan, F-15C pilot Larry Brown worried that he'd have to make an embarrassing radio call to his flight lead. It was to be an eight-hour flight with six aerial refuelings, and for the moment he was doing some of the flying with his knees. He was trying to free his right hand, which had gotten stuck beside the seat trying to reach a gallon jug of water that had slid from its holding place. Brown applies lessons from his days in the F-15 to the world of general aviation. Read more >>
Too young to die
Every fatal accident is tragic, but the loss is particularly keen when an instant of bad luck or a moment of bad judgment ends a promising flying career before it’s fairly begun. On June 27, 2010, a 180-horsepower Piper Arrow took off from the Kalispell, Mont., City Airport. The 25-year-old, 100-hour private pilot had rented the airplane to take three friends on a sightseeing flight over Flathead Lake and Glacier National Park. Two of the passengers were expected at a barbecue later that afternoon, and the airplane was reported missing after they failed to arrive. Read more in this special report from the Air Safety Institute.
Learn how to make the tough calls easier
Spend some time looking through the NTSB accident database and you’ll notice that the root cause of most accidents is not mechanical failure, or a freak weather event, or anything else that just “happened,” but poor decision making on the part of the pilot. The good news is that it doesn’t take exceptional judgment or tons of experience to make consistently good choices in the air. Learn more in the Air Safety Institute’s Do The Right Thing: Decision Making for Pilots Safety Advisor.
IFR Fix: A bad vector
“This isn’t going to work,” you say aloud as you roll out on the assigned vector and prepare to shoot the approach. Good thing this is just practice. Under instrument meteorological conditions this scenario could be nerve wracking. Maybe your workload would have prevented you from even seeing the problem developing. Have you ever had to miss an approach in IMC? Read more and take the poll >>
Don’t let ice drag you down
With the cold air of winter comes the likelihood of an icing encounter. What should you do if ice starts accumulating on the airframe around you? If your airplane isn't equipped to handle it, you'll need to make quick decisions. Take the WeatherWise: Precipitation & Icing online course from the Air Safety Institute and learn about potential ice-inducing weather conditions to steer clear of, as well as what to do when the ice starts building.
‘Fall back’ Nov. 6
Daylight saving time ends Nov. 6, so be sure to set your clocks back—and don’t let nighttime’s early arrival catch you aloft with passengers if you’re not night current. If you’re filing a flight plan or checking weather forecasts, remember that the conversion between Zulu and local time will change for most pilots in the United States. Here’s a chart to help you make the adjustments.
Leading Edge: When it snows…
It is awe-inspiring the things we can do with aircraft. Thousands of times a day, the airlines fly people to their destinations more or less on time with luggage usually not far behind. However, when a snow storm fouls the Northeast, it all falls apart. The news of a Jet Blue flight stranded on the ramp at Bradley International Airport is something from another world. It’s similar to being trapped on an escalator! Read more >>
Aviation groups: Costly proposals won’t work
Debt-reduction proposals that would hike fees on all aviation “would lead to significant job loss across all sectors of the industry and the nation,” a broad coalition of nearly 30 aviation organizations told Congress Oct. 27. In a joint statement, AOPA and organizations from all aspects of aviation urged Congress to reject two proposals that would add significant cost to users of the National Airspace System: a $100-per-flight departure fee, and an increase to the passenger security fee. Read more >>
U.S. Senate GA Caucus member Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and 22 co-signers took the case against general aviation user-fees to the White House this week, as a congressional deficit-cutting “super committee,” facing two key deadlines, pursued its $1.5 trillion task. With 14 million Americans looking for work and GA efficiently providing communities with critical services, increasing taxes on GA will only further stifle economic recovery, the senators said. Read more >>
Medical Sense: Self-certification 2.0
With the FAA, a request for a change has to demonstrate an equivalent or greater level of safety than what is currently in place. The argument against doing something different often is, “There is no data to support it.” But there is rarely, if ever, any data to support something that’s never been done before. AOPA and the Experimental Aircraft Association will soon request an exemption—the latest in a series of similar requests—that would allow pilots to fly recreationally with a driver’s license/self-certification medical standard. This time, the associations come armed with data from the sport pilot rule. Read more >>
Keep flying: Beyond medical certificates
If a third-class medical certificate, with its costs and burdens, isn’t necessary for pilots who fly small, single-engine aircraft for recreational purposes, why not request that it be eliminated? The FAA's negative responses to past requests demonstrate that the agency is not ready to take the leap of removing the requirement for a third-class medical. But the industry has had more success seeking incremental changes. Read more >>
LightSquared plan ‘not acceptable’ to GA
Companies from agriculture to aviation rely on GPS, making signal interference problematic for business, said House Committee on Small Business Chairman Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.). In a letter to the Federal Communications Commission, Graves requested that the agency “outline” its review of LightSquared’s proposed wireless network, shown by tests to disable GPS. Read the letter >>
King Air pilots needed for LPV study
The FAA is seeking King Air pilots to participate in a simulation study assessing airport infrastructure requirements for supporting localizer performance with vertical guidance to a decision altitude of 200 feet (LPV 200) approach operations by Approach Category A and B airplanes. The study’s goal is to make precision approaches available to more runways, improving safety of operations. Pilots must be current in any model of King Air, and be instrument-rated with a current medical certificate, without a night flight or color signal control restriction. Read more >>
New, free program offers members discounts
A new, free membership benefit offers AOPA members discounts on anything from headsets to car rentals. Aviation and nonaviation companies offering discounts on products and services will be featured in the AOPA Lifestyles Member Discounts program. Discounts from companies such as Aircraft Spruce, PilotEdge, PilotMall, and Sporty’s Pilot Shop can save you enough money to pay for your membership—and get back in the air more often. Read more >>
AOPA Rescue Knife: A survival gear necessity
AOPA’s Rescue Knife packs a lot of features into a small space, making it ideal to carry in a flight bag or in a pocket. Although the blade is just three inches long, it is strong enough and sharp enough to cut rope, rubber hose, and more. The knife also features a protected blade for safe seat-belt cutting. When not on a flight, the knife is a handy tool to keep in your hangar for any number of tasks. The handle is actually a sharpened window punch for fast emergency use. Read more >>
Charitable flying: Win-win
Members often contact AOPA about how they can sponsor a community flying event to raise funds for civic groups, churches, or youth groups. In addition to raising financial support, these events introduce participants to flying and build camaraderie between the community and the airport. Learn how you can get involved in charitable flying in the AOPA Pilot Information Center’s recorded Webinar. Watch AOPA Live >>
AOPA 2012 Tougher than a Tornado Sweepstakes
Hard work in wild places
The story of AOPA’s 2012 sweepstakes Husky begins with the Recreational Aviation Foundation. The Husky was the anchor of the RAF display at Sun ’n Fun on March 31, when winds that exceeded 90 miles an hour pulled the airplane from its tie-downs and damaged its fabric and control surfaces. RAF President John McKenna nicknamed N40WY “tougher than a tornado” and suggested it would be perfect for the sweepstakes. In the RAF’s characteristically blunt, plain-spoken fashion, he got busy making things happen. “We in the RAF tend to say what’s on our minds,” said McKenna, a Cessna 185 pilot and longtime resident of Bozeman, Mont. Read more and watch AOPA Live >>
AOPA Career Opportunities
Ever dream of turning your passion for aviation into a career? We’re looking for a director of media relations, AOPA Live producer/videojournalist, Web business analyst, medical certification assistant, associate editor–Web, associate editor–Web/ ePilot, .Net developer, aviation technical specialist, and manager of airspace and modernization. To learn more about other AOPA career opportunities, visit AOPA Online.