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Oct. 21, 2011, issue of 'AOPA ePilot' newsletterOct. 21, 2011, issue of 'AOPA ePilot' newsletter

AOPA ePilot

In This Issue:

VOLUME 13, ISSUE 42 — October 21, 2011

Flying the jumbo, jumbo
Nix the cost, keep the safety
Quiz Me: Blue vignettes


Safety >>

Picture Perfect

Picture Perfect >>


AOPA Live >>

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Flying the jumbo, jumbo

Feature When he was a young commercial pilot, Editor Robert P. Mark wanted to fly jets. Didn’t we all? Since bigger jets are better, he writes, jet-pilot Mecca just has to be flying a jumbo jet, a tag that barely fits the massive Airbus A380 weighing in at about 1.235 million pounds. And it only takes a cool $375 million to add one to your hangar. Mark managed to grab an hour in the left seat of an early production Airbus A380 at Airbus’ Toulouse, France, factory when he was asked to evaluate a new computerized braking system for the big bird. There is no way to accurately express his sense of awe walking around beneath an A380, where the cockpit sits nearly 30 feet in the air. Or maybe it was kicking all 22 tires prior to entering the cockpit, or watching the fuel-loading process gulp enough Jet A—about 85,000 gallons—to carry the aircraft 8,300 nm between fill-ups. Read more >>

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GA News

Execs out, jet program reviewed at Piper

Piper Aircraft announced top-level executive changes and disclosed the review of its PiperJet Altaire program in a news release appearing on the company website Oct. 17. Simon Caldecott, a 37-year veteran of the aviation industry and Piper’s vice president of operations since 2009, will replace Geoff Berger as chief executive officer effective immediately. Caldecott has been responsible for manufacturing operations and engineering, quality, and supply chain at Vero Beach, Fla.-based Piper. Caldecott said that Executive Vice President Randy Groom was also leaving Piper. Read more >>

Cessna revenues up for third quarter

Cessna Aircraft delivered 47 new Citation jets in the third quarter, up from 26 deliveries in the same period last year. While there is progress on improving profit margins for several models, particularly for the CJ4, the backlog of orders is now less than a year’s production. Cancellations of orders, once thought to be a problem of the past, continue to lower the delivery numbers. The market continues to be soft and is likely to remain flat going into 2012. “We’re not back in a world where people lined up,” Textron Chairman and CEO Scott C. Donnelly said. Read more >>

NASA books flights on private ‘spaceline’

NASA books research flights on Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo NASA has entered into an agreement with Virgin Galactic, “the world’s first commercial spaceline,” to embark on up to three scientific research flights in suborbital space. Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, designed to carry six passengers and two pilots, will undertake missions that will provide opportunities for engineers, technologists, and other researchers to conduct experiments for projects to be selected by NASA. “The agreement calls for NASA to charter a full flight from Virgin Galactic, the world’s first commercial spaceline, and includes options for two additional charter flights,” the company said in a news release. Read more >>

First rule-compliant ADS-B transmitter approved for GA

The FAA has approved the manufacture of FreeFlight Systems’ RANGR FDL-978TX Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) transmitter, the company announced Oct. 13. The technical standard order authorization marks the first approval of a unit that meets the standards for general aviation ADS-B Out equipment that will be required by 2020 in all airspace that currently requires a transponder. The company tested the unit in the helicopter environment and is working on a supplemental type certificate to allow for its installation on Cessna 172s. Read more >>

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AvConnect, WingX partner on iPad application

As the world of Apple iPad applications for aviation becomes more mature, deals are being struck between developers that make the situation much more complex. Recently AvConnect and Hilton Software, developer of WingX, announced a partnership aimed to bring a seamless experience to users of both companies’ applications. The deal, which technically brings AvConnect into the WingX fold, will allow better data for AvConnect users and a value-added service for current WingX subscribers. Read more >>

Gateway to ownership

AOPA Aircraft Partnership Program makes ownership easier At a time of falling aircraft values and a glut of both new and used airplanes for sale, there’s one hidden seller’s market: aircraft partnerships. The AOPA Aircraft Partnership Program has attracted about 14,000 prospective buyers and sellers during its first six months. Two pilots who recently consummated a deal are in Maryland. Patrick Merkel, a lawyer in Washington, D.C., owns a 1961 Cessna 172 based at historic College Park Airport, one of the “D.C. three” general aviation facilities inside both Washington’s Special Flight Rules Area (SFRA) and the even more burdensome Flight Restricted Zone (FRZ). The location is ideal for Bob Thompson, a new private pilot and high school teacher who lives within easy biking distance of the airport. Read more >>

June registrations up for renewal

The FAA is re-registering all civil aircraft to move to a system of three-year recurrent registration. If your aircraft’s registration certificate was issued in June of any year, it is set to expire at the end of this year. Your re-registration window—the time during which you can apply online or by mail and ensure that your application will be processed in time—ends Oct. 31. When filing online, use the re-registration code you received by mail in your notification. The window for July registrations starts Nov. 1; owners should check the FAA website to make sure the agency has accurate information regarding their aircraft. Get the details in AOPA’s subject report.

Vulcanair goes Garmin

Vulcanair, Italian maker of twin-engine aircraft, has won approval in Europe to install the Garmin G950 glass cockpit system. FAA approval is expected shortly under a joint agreement. The avionics suite will be available for the P68C and P68R (retractable), which have a conventional nose, and the P68 Observer with a clear nose for aerial search and surveillance. The system allows the Observer series to have an IFR cockpit without losing visibility. Vulcanair also has redesigned its cockpits for the three models by repositioning circuit breakers and moving switches to improve ergonomics and safety. Also redesigned are the ventilation and heating systems.

Eclipse jet to transport wounded vets

Donor gives Eclipse jet to Veterans Airlift Command An anonymous donor has given an Eclipse jet to the Veterans Airlift Command (VAC) for use delivering wounded veterans where they need to go for crucial medical care, accompanied by members of their families. Eclipse has committed to restore the aircraft to service and make it available to the VAC, which VAC Founder Walt Fricke said “is further proof that the aviation community is made up of great Americans whose generosity knows no bounds.” Read more >>

Garmin’s Phil Straub to lead aviation unit

Garmin will continue to focus on technical innovations and new product development, according to Phil Straub, the engineer and flight instructor named to lead the Kansas company’s recently formed aviation unit. Straub recently became Garmin’s vice president and managing director for aviation, one of a series of management changes that came about when Gary Kelley, the company’s veteran marketing vice president, announced he will retire at the end of this year. Read more >>

Recreational Aviation Foundation names executive director

Washington pilot Carl Hicks has been appointed as the executive director of the Recreational Aviation Foundation (RAF). Hicks is a retired U.S. Army Airborne Ranger officer who will bring his successes in business and lobbying on Capitol Hill to the organization to help protect recreational aviation and backcountry strips, the RAF said in a new release. Read more >>

Sporty’s releases simulator training syllabus

Sporty’s Pilot Shop recently released a training syllabus aimed at home users. The syllabus seeks to guide students through the process of using Microsoft Flight Simulator at home as a training tool. Read more >>

BlogsReporting Points

MythBusters duct-tape airplaneHawker Beechcraft’s T-6 Texan on the attackIt’s over for Commander Premier.


CORRECTION: In the Oct. 14 issue of AOPA ePilot, we incorrectly stated the amount of a bond due by Commander Premier Aircraft. The bond was for $140,000.


Harrison Ford, senators work to boost GA image

Harrison Ford meets with Senate GA Caucus General aviation and its contributions to the United States are often misunderstood or unknown, and actor, pilot, and GA advocate Harrison Ford told members of the Senate General Aviation Caucus that he is going to do his part to bring the community's efforts to the public's attention. “It really has brought great value to my life, and I'm very grateful for the experience and I'm very happy to have the opportunity to represent the interests of the general aviation community,” Ford told 12 members of the Senate GA Caucus during a roundtable discussion in Washington, D.C., Oct. 18. Read more and watch the exclusive AOPA Live® interview >>

‘Pilot’s Bill of Rights’ would give recourse, information

A pilot accused of a violation should have access to the evidence in his case, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) told Harrison Ford and members of the Senate General Aviation Caucus as he described his “Pilot’s Bill of Rights” legislation. The legislation would give pilots access to more information during an enforcement process and an appellate option apart from the NTSB’s “rubber stamp,” he said. It would also simplify notams and reform the medical certification process with GA at the table, Inhofe added. Watch AOPA Live >>


AOPA Live advocacy channel: Members of the Senate General Aviation Caucus discussed important GA issues, from user fees to the economic impact of GA, at the roundtable with Harrison Ford. Check out AOPA Live’s news and advocacy channel to find out what they had to say.


For daily news updates, see AOPA Online.

The Road Calls, and So Do the Savings

When you’re ready to go, Enterprise makes it easy with great cars and great deals. Take advantage of your AOPA membership and enjoy a discount on our everyday low rates. Click here to learn more.

Safety & Proficiency

IFR fix: IFR or VFR?

Here’s a conversation starter for any group of instrument pilots: Do you file IFR on every flight, or only when necessary? Many pilots have strong opinions on that question, and plenty of justifications for them. Pilots who “file” routinely invoke the benefits of that extra pair of eyes at the radar scope, and the proficiency maintained by having to plan and fly IFR routes. On the other hand, cumbersome, time-consuming routings are a disincentive to filing IFR, say those who only exercise instrument privileges when necessary. What’s your perspective? Read more and take the poll >>

Not according to plan

A good first step in flight planning is determining the amount of fuel available, and to do that one must know how much the aircraft can actually carry. Shortly before 11 p.m. on Sept. 24, 2010, the pilot of a Cessna 172K declared a mayday for “engine failure.” The pilot had the Dalton, Ga., airport in sight when the engine stopped, but had already descended to 2,000 feet, putting it beyond gliding distance. Read more in this special report from the Air Safety Institute.

Interactive map plots ill-fated flights

There are few new ways to crash an airplane. Most general aviation accidents follow well-worn story lines, and the Air Safety Institute’s new interactive accident map shows the locations and details of some of the most common—as well as some of the most consistently deadly. A single application enables the user to look at year-by-year patterns in takeoff, landing, fuel management, VFR-into-IMC, and stall/spin accidents, or switch between accident types in a single year. Go online to start, and don’t forget to check back later—the institute will keep adding more categories.

Thinking about flying through the mountains?

Free Mountain Flying course from the Air Safety Institute Flying around mountainous terrain should not be taken lightly, and it’s a skill best learned under the guidance of an experienced instructor. Your airplane is flying close to its performance limitations, and your preflight planning—not to mention stick-and-rudder skills—has to be sharp. But truly understanding density altitude, mountain wave airflow, and what your airplane is capable of can make you a better pilot regardless of where you fly. With the Air Safety Institute’s Mountain Flying online course, you’ll learn what skills you need to know before venturing into the high country. But they’re skills that will serve you well everywhere!

Are you really prepared for an emergency?

We spend a lot of time training for them, but real-world emergencies are rare enough that it’s easy to get complacent. They don’t always happen to “other pilots,” though, and a little preparation can make a big difference when things start to go downhill. Join Air Safety Institute Chief Flight Instructor JJ Greenway and air traffic controller Andy Marosvari on Thursday, Nov. 3, for a fast-paced hour of expert tips on handling those nasty “up here, wishing you were down there” scenarios. Register online >>

Answers for Pilots: Flying to the islands

Flying to the Bahamas after Hurricane Irene The Bahamas took a beating in August from Hurricane Irene, and while some airports sustained flooding and damage, most were restored to service within a couple of days. General aviation played a vital role in bringing food, water, and supplies to many who suffered tremendous loss. While all airports should be fully restored by now, you should check on the condition of the community, lodges, and beaches at your destination. Here’s a rundown of the requirements for a general aviation flight from the United States to the Bahamas. Read more >>

BlogsLeading Edge: Flight-level flight

AOPA Foundation President Bruce Landsberg has enjoyed the privilege of being invited into the flight levels by friends and co-workers, sometimes as pilot in command and other times as a radio operator/navigator. He’s always amazed at the simple operation of turbines compared to pistons: no leaning, no shock cooling, easy starting, etc. Have you found bigger aircraft to be generally easier to fly or not? Read more and take the poll >>

Get to the fun faster

With Alamo at commercial airport locations: Save up to  25%, get one free additional driver, unlimited mileage and additional coupon offers. Book online.

Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics

Air Safety Institute Safety Seminars

Oct. 29 and 30

Corpus Christi, Texas

Nov. 5 and 6

Atlanta, Ga.


Nov. 12 and 13

Anchorage, Alaska

San Diego, Calif.

Ashburn, Va.

Nov. 19 and 20

Albuquerque, N.M.

Austin, Texas


For a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.

Can’t make it in person? Sign up for the CFI Refresher Online.

Oct. 24

Concord, Calif.

Chesterfield, Mo.

Oct. 25

Springfield, Mo.

Lynchburg, Va.

Oct. 26

Warrensburg, Mo.

Nov. 1

Pensacola, Fla.

Greenville, S.C.

Salt Lake City, Utah


Topics vary—for details and a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.


Keep flying: Nix the cost, keep the safety

AOPA and EAA to request an exemption to medical certification for recreational flying Are you fit to fly? Pilots make the call every day, and yet they must put in the time and expense of a third-class medical to continue to fly recreationally in some of the most common general aviation aircraft. In response to member concerns, AOPA and the Experimental Aircraft Association will, after the first of the year, request an exemption that would allow many pilots flying recreationally to use a driver's license and self-certification medical standard. Why? Medical certification is expensive and time consuming for pilots and the government. And self-certification works. Read more >>

Seaplanes in, mussels out at Lake Whatcom

Washington state seaplane pilot Doug Tomczak can now dock his airplane at Lake Whatcom. Tomczak had received a conditional use permit to moor his seaplane at his dock on Lake Whatcom, which has a seaplane base; but the state Department of Ecology overturned the permit, claiming that the seaplane could introduce invasive species such as zebra mussels. A settlement between the Washington Seaplane Pilots Association and the Department of Ecology gives Tomczak his permit and protects the lake from invasive species. Read more >>

Enjoy a little extra peace of mind.

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Pennsylvania aircraft tax exemption clears committee

A Pennsylvania bill to exempt aircraft sales, parts, and labor from a 6-percent tax moved forward Oct. 19, when the House Committee on Finance voted 16-6 to recommend passage. The bill’s backers urged passage to boost the state’s economy, create quality job opportunities in the aviation industry, and maintain competitiveness with other northeastern states. Connecticut and Massachusetts, both with far fewer airports than Pennsylvania, each “have significantly more aircraft mechanics currently working in the state, for good, livable wages,” said Mark Kimberling, AOPA director of state government affairs, who testified before the committee. Read more >>

FAA reviews chart distribution policies

AeroNav Products, the FAA’s division that produces aeronautical charting products, has begun a revision of its policies covering electronic distribution of products including digital charts and approach plates, with the changes to take effect over the coming months. “One of the changes that we have identified is the need to have clear agreements with authorized agents on the distribution and packaging of our digital products,” said AeroNav in a notification of the review. Read more >>

AOPA Aircraft Financing Program offers NEW lower rates

Our goal is to get pilots into the aircraft of their dreams. To help make aircraft ownership more attainable we just lowered our rates to make monthly payments more affordable. For more information, or to have a representative call you to discuss financing, go to

Deadline on Salt Lake Class B changes draws near

A proposal to change the Salt Lake City Class B airspace, which includes increasing the ceiling from 10,000 feet msl to 12,000 feet msl and elongating the airspace to the north and south without creating T-routes or VFR flyways, would be detrimental to general aviation operations, AOPA told the FAA. AOPA opposes the increased ceiling height without creating avenues for GA aircraft to continue transiting the area. AOPA encourages members to review the proposal and submit their own comments before the Oct. 24 deadline. Please send a copy via email to AOPA.

Air Force eases restricted airspace in NC

Many pilots avoid special-use airspace, or undertake long, costly circumnavigations of it, often because they are unsure if it is active. AOPA has often urged that real-time airspace status updates be made available to pilots to make airspace use more efficient. Until real-time status updates are available, charted times of use and actual times of use should match as closely as possible. In Dare County, N.C., the Air Force and the FAA have taken a step toward that goal with the issuance of a final rule stating the scaled-back times of designation of an airspace complex south and west of the Dare County Regional Airport. Read more >>

Join the Airport Support Network today

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.

AOPA Insurance Agency offers the right coverage at the right price

We work with A-rated underwriters and offer the most coverage options to fit your needs for the aircraft you own or rent. Call 800-622-AOPA or go online for a free quote.

Member Benefits

Hertz announces ‘Working for the Weekend’ giveaway

Enter today for a chance to win a new car or a free weekend rental. You can win your choice of a new 2011 Dodge Challenger RT, Chrysler 200 Convertible, or Jeep Wrangler. Plus, you can play instantly to win the free weekend day. Visit the website for more details and to enter for your chance to win.

New way to up your chances in AOPA’s 2012 sweepstakes

Increase your chances of winning with online safety courses Taking an Air Safety Institute online safety course rewards you in a multitude of ways, from helping you become a safer, more informed pilot to FAA Wings credit and even an insurance discount with the AOPA Accident Forgiveness program. Now, the institute has added another reward, an additional entry into AOPA’s 2012 Tougher than a Tornado Husky Sweepstakes! Each time you complete an online safety course you will receive an automatic entry into the sweepstakes. Courses are available on a wide array of topics, so whether you have just started flight training or are a seasoned pilot, you’re sure to find courses relevant to your flying. Visit the website to explore course topics and start reaping your rewards.

Get the scoop on special issuance

Special issuance authorizations allow the FAA more flexibility in granting medical certificates to pilots with serious medical conditions, but obtaining—and keeping—an authorization isn’t always easy. Find out which conditions may qualify, what the FAA will request before issuing the authorization, and what medical reevaluations may be required in a Webinar on special issuance Wednesday, Oct. 26. AOPA Director of Medical Certification Gary Crump will offer advice for candidates for a special issuance medical certificate during two sessions, at 3 and 9 p.m. Eastern. Sign up online >>

Surprising benefits of AOPA credit card

You've been hearing about AOPA’s credit card for years, and you may have thought you don’t need another credit card. Sure, your use of this card earns you points quickly (one point for each dollar spent) that you can redeem for cash and merchandise. Sure, your use of this card helps AOPA and its advocacy efforts on behalf of all general aviation pilots. But there are other surprising benefits. Read more >>

FREE Video Tip! — Courses for Beginner to Pro!

Click for a Free Video Training Tip and find a course to achieve your next goal, or to make your flying safer and more rewarding. Not sure? Call us at 800-854-1001 and talk to one of our pilot training advisors.

AOPA Career Opportunities

Ever dream of turning your passion for aviation into a career? We’re looking for a director of media relations, Web business analyst, donor relations specialist, medical certification assistant, associate editor–Web, associate editor–Web/ ePilot, production assistant–Web, .Net developer, aviation technical specialist, and manager of airspace and modernization. To learn more about other AOPA career opportunities, visit AOPA Online.


Picture Perfect

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!

Picture Perfect

Forums: Standard course reversal question

On a standard course reversal on approach, do you reset the timer after one minute? Or do you leave it running, and make a mental note of the course intercept time? Share your insight on the IFR board of the AOPA Forums.



Twitter Follow AOPA Online

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RSS feed Subscribe to the RSS feed

Rally GA

Check out user-submitted events from your region. To include an event or to search all events in the calendar, visit AOPA Online. AOPA does not endorse the events listed below, nor have ePilot editors edited the submissions. AOPA assumes no responsibility for events listed.

My MembershipMy Membership


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: In reviewing my collection of East Coast sectional charts, I noticed that there are no blue color bands, or “vignettes,” indicating Class E airspace with floors 1,200 feet agl or greater that abuts Class G airspace. However, the magenta vignettes are everywhere. Why is this?


Answer: Outside the “hard edge” of blue vignettes, you’ll find Class G airspace generally extending all the way up to 14,500 ft. msl unless otherwise noted on the chart. These areas of uncontrolled, Class G airspace are common in remote or mountainous areas of the western United States where ATC radar services are not available. The farthest-reaching blue vignettes from west to east can be found on the Albuquerque, Wichita, Cheyenne, Omaha, and Twin Cities sectional charts. This means that all areas east of these vignettes, outside of the familiar magenta vignettes, have Class G airspace extending up to 1,200 ft. agl. This is also indicated by the note in sectional chart legends that states, “Class E airspace exists at 1200’ AGL unless otherwise designated as shown above.” To learn more, check out the Air Safety Institute’s Know Before You Go free online course.


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/USA-AOPA (800/872-2672), or email to [email protected].


Rally GA Support AOPA Foundation initiatives. Tax-deductible donations to the AOPA Foundation fund efforts to address some of GA’s biggest challenges, including preserving community airports, educating the public about the benefits of GA, growing the pilot population, and improving GA’s safety record through education.


Rally GA Remember to use your AOPA credit card to earn double points on select aviation purchases—every purchase supports general aviation at no additional cost to you! Don’t have the AOPA credit card? Apply today and show your passion for GA.


AOPA ePilot Team
ePilot Editor: Sarah Brown Contributors: Alyssa Miller
Jill W. Tallman
Warren Morningstar
Alton K. Marsh

Dave Hirschman
Tom Horne
Ian J. Twombly
Dan Namowitz

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Lezlie Ramsey
Mitch Mitchell
William Rockenbaugh

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