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They are prepared to fly until the wings fall off, though the hope is a computer will prevent that. In case it doesn't, engineers have adapted the ballistic recovery system installed in Cirrus aircraft for use in a series of experiments expected to start this summer in the Southern California desert. The rocket-powered parachute should keep the newly designed test aircraft intact should the wings fail to return from a trip to the edge of the envelope. The Air Force Research Laboratory, working in conjunction with NASA and Lockheed Martin Skunk Works engineers, expects to spend the summer and fall flying a brand-new X-plane, the X-56A. The unmanned aircraft powered by small turbojets was designed by Lockheed Martin to test the hypothesis that a fly-by-wire computer system can control the phenomenon of flutter. Read more >>
User fees in White House FY2013 budget
The White House budget released Feb. 13 would impose a $100-per-flight fee for turbine aircraft that use air traffic services. The fee came as no surprise to aviation groups, which watched it appear in deficit-reduction negotiations in late 2011 and again in a recent statement from the White House—although AOPA and other groups had hoped that the Obama administration would omit the fee from the fiscal year 2013 budget in response to opposition on many fronts. Read more >>
RunwayFinder to shut down citing costs
A free online digital charting service launched in 2005 is calling it quits, with RunwayFinder founder Dave Parsons citing licensing fees and pending digital chart fees as the primary reason. “It’s time to fold her up,” Parsons wrote. Read more >>
Afghan air force pilots finish first phase of training
They have mastered takeoffs and landings, lazy eights, chandelles, and engine-out procedures—while carrying more on their shoulders than most student pilots. Seven newly minted Afghan air force officers celebrated on Feb. 2 the completion of their first phase of flight training in the first undergraduate pilot training held exclusively inside the war-torn country in more than 30 years, according to U.S. Air Force officials. “The biggest challenge out here is conducting flight training in a combat zone,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. James Bands, commander of the 444th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron. Read more >>
Garmin releases twin-turbine heli glass cockpit
The Garmin G5000H glass cockpit for twin-turbine, medium-lift helicopters was announced at Heli-Expo in Dallas Feb. 12. It combines widescreen displays with voice command, 3-D spatial audio that helps a pilot differentiate among several communication sources, and touchscreen technology. Read more and watch AOPA Live® >>
Bell Helicopter supersizes medium helicopter
With an audience of thousands, Bell Helicopter put its mark on the oil platform helicopter market by unveiling what it calls a “super medium” size Bell 525 Relentless at Heli-Expo in Dallas. The mockup shown was in the colors of PHI, a transportation firm best known for servicing oil drilling platforms, but also serving the mining, air medical, and other industries. Bell went all out in its marketing effort for the new model. When attendees of Heli-Expo returned to their hotel rooms after an unveiling ceremony at the Dallas Convention Center, they found pictures of the 525 mockup plastered to bathroom mirrors. Read more and watch AOPA Live >>
Fursti: Germany’s airport eco-drama
Automaker BMW has been pushing the Bavarian government to close Fuerstenfeldbruck Airport, and turn it into a test track and obstacle course for drivers. This would mean high-revving Beemers burning rubber and speed-shifting. Nonstop. From 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Seven days a week. Now AOPA-Germany has invoked ecological concerns to give the airport a second chance. Read more >>
Eurocopter upgrades tour helicopter
An upgrade of a helicopter used in a variety of roles but best known as popular with tour operators, the Eurocopter EC130 T2, has been unveiled at Heli-Expo in Dallas. Reportedly, passengers had asked operators for better air conditioning, and Eurocopter officials promise the new model has it. Read more and watch AOPA Live >>
Restored Bell 47 returns to market
One of Bell Helicopter’s most reliable helicopters ever, the Bell 47, is in the process of returning to the market. Scott’s Bell 47, a Le Sueur, Minn., company, plans to offer the helicopter first as a restored model and later hopes to return it to production. Read more and watch AOPA Live >>
Aerobatic light sport aircraft rolls out
With 123 light sport aircraft on the market, here comes another one—this one from Italy. The fully aerobatic Corvus Fusion rolled out of the factory recently and should finish testing in March. It comes from Corvus Hungary, the company that built the Racer 540 for the Red Bull Air Races (currently on extended hiatus). The plant is in Pordenone, Italy. The airplane is intended for the light sport market and the ultralight market in Europe and South America. In Europe, the price ready to fly is about $136,000. Read more >>
Icon touts A5 spin resistance milestone
With a splashy Hollywood debut, sports car styling, and features including folding wings and an amphibious design, the Icon A5 has already attracted plenty of attention, and advance orders. On Feb. 16, the company announced that the A5 has passed tests required to dub it spin resistant under Part 23. Read more >>
Florida FBO draws student pilots with a free pass
About 15 to 20 student flights a month are taking advantage of a fee-free offer from a busy Florida FBO. Bob Showalter, owner of Showalter Flying Service, said he decided to waive fees he would typically charge for a training aircraft—ranging from $14 for a light single to $40 for a twin—because Orlando Executive Airport has nearly a dozen single-engine airplanes owned by nonpilot executives that are flown by professional pilots, and he worries the day may come when there is nobody left to fly them. Read more >>
Robinson doubled production in 2011
Robinson, now focused on production as a top priority in 2012, produced 356 helicopters in 2011, more than double the 2010 production of 162. There is a 400-aircraft backlog of orders for 2012. Rotorcraft produced in 2011 include 212 R44s, 88 R66s, and 56 R22s. While the R44 is Robinson’s top seller, there are more than 360 orders for the R66 turbine model that was certified in October 2010. The company has expanded its manufacturing space and continues to increase its workforce. Other priorities for 2012 include foreign validation of the R66 and FAA certification of new options for the R66 including floats and a police version.
Three-generation team to compete in 2012 Air Race Classic
When the Air Race Classic women’s cross-country race launches from Lake Havasu City, Ariz., in June, one team of pilots will boast three generations, ranging in age from 72 to 16. The team calls itself the Baldwin Family Flyers: Caroline Baldwin of Silver City, N.M.; Lydia Baldwin of Fort Collins, Colo., and Lydia’s niece, Cara Baldwin of Morgantown, W.Va. They will fly Caroline’s Piper Cherokee. Read more >>
Honeywell forecasts uncertain turbine helicopter market
There remains uncertainty in near-term sales of turbine helicopters, but recent order momentum is encouraging. That’s one of the findings of Honeywell’s latest outlook for the purchase of turbine-powered civilian helicopters. The company, making its fourteenth forecast, expects light-single and twin-engine models will comprise 66 percent of expected purchases. Read more >>
Suppliers chosen for speedy Sikorsky Raider
Sikorsky has invited 35 companies to help it build two scout-attack helicopters for evaluation by the Pentagon. The helicopter, called the Raider, will cruise at 220 knots and have a dash speed of 240 kt. The prototype X2 has already surpassed those speeds. The aircraft uses twin rotors turning in opposite directions to eliminate the need for a tail rotor, and a pusher prop on the tail. The real key to success is a computer system that aids the pilot in controlling the helicopter. Read more >>
Red Bull race director takes on EAA AirVenture
Retired Naval aviator and former Red Bull Air Race international race director Jim DiMatteo is taking on one of the world’s premier aviation events as vice president of AirVenture features and attractions, the Experimental Aircraft Association announced Feb. 16. DiMatteo fills a role vacated in a recent reorganization at EAA that the association said was designed to renew its commitment to its core mission of “growing participation in aviation.” Read more >>
Sporty’s releases Women in Aviation conference app
Sporty’s has released a new free app for the 2012 International Women in Aviation Conference, to be held March 8 through 10 in Dallas. Read more >>
Aspen avionics available on Robinson helicopters
Aspen Avionics Evolution glass cockpits will be offered on Robinson R22, R44, and turbine R66 models. The Evolution primary flight display will be a factory option late this year. Aspen Avionics systems are already available on the Bell 206 and Eurocopter AS350. The standard features of the Evolution PFD for helicopters include solid-state attitude heading reference system, a built-in 30-minute backup, and a built-in emergency GPS. The unit also includes a digital horizontal situation indicator with moving map, a GPS flight plan overlay, ARC and 360-degree viewing modes, airspeed and altitude tapes, and integration with the primary navigation system, including ADF, DME, VOR, and the autopilot.
AOPA Now: A taste of the West, a stop at Skyport
AOPA President Craig Fuller left the wintry weather in Frederick, Md., for a smooth flight to Texas, where he enjoyed a true Western experience: a glimpse at adventures in store for the upcoming AOPA Aviation Summit 2013 in Fort Worth, and another look at the Redbird Skyport in San Marcos.
Hover Power: HEMS history
In the beginning of the Korean War helicopters would occasionally pick up wounded soldiers when not busy with other missions. When doctors started noting that the survival rate increased when patients were transported by air, the Army took notice. The military started dedicating helicopters to medevac missions. Read more >>
Goodyear Ground School: Fleet management
Manage a fleet of aircraft? Have two or more of your own? Learn how to save more money on your tires in this latest tip produced in cooperation with Goodyear. MayCay Beeler, a CFII and air transport pilot, talks to Josh Eyring, manager of aircraft maintenance for Kent State University’s flight school, to get some tips. Eyring explains how a more expensive tire can actually be cheaper on the operating budget. They may pay double for the tire up front, but they get two to three times the tread life out of it than a cheaper brand. Watch AOPA Live >>
For daily news updates, see AOPA Online.
Safety & Proficiency
Fly like a fighter: Cheers to the man on the mic
As the 12 F-15s approached their destination airport in Denmark for radar trail arrivals, the busy frequency let the pilots know that many other fighters and airline traffic were trying to make it to their respective airports in the area. With low ceilings and high traffic, this was the kind of day where everyone was on his toes and where no slop was allowed with radio communications. Read more >>
The Cessna was tracking outbound for an NDB approach, timer ticking. Stabilized on course and altitude, it seemed to the pilot a good chance to check on the rear-seat passengers, who were experiencing instrument conditions—a medium-low stratus deck—for the first time. Both the pilot and the CFII turned to get smiles and thumbs up all around, and then looked back at the instruments. If both the artificial horizon and its venturi-powered backup gauge were to be believed, planet Earth had made a run for it. Read more and take a poll >>
Always leave yourself a way out: No matter how meticulously a flight is planned, things may not work out as anticipated. As conditions change and challenges mount, it’s good to have other options. On the evening of Jan. 5, 2011, a Beech BE-58P crashed during an attempted ILS approach to Birmingham International Airport in Alabama, killing its solo pilot. The pilot had diverted from his original destination because weather was below minimums. Read more in this special report from the Air Safety Institute.
Are you properly prepared for potential precipitation?
Icing is a problem even for aircraft that are certified to fly into known icing conditions. But do you know what constitutes “known icing conditions?” And more importantly, do you know how to avoid it? The time to start formulating an escape plan for when ice starts building begins well before you notice you’re taking on additional weight that you didn’t plan for. Learn more about that freezing form of precipitation in the Air Safety Institute’s online course, WeatherWise: Precipitation and Icing .
The cold truth about winter preflight
As snowflakes drift down gently upon the tarmac, blanketing your airplane, why not take a moment to settle down with some hot chocolate and the Air Safety Institute’s Cold Facts: Wing Contamination Safety Brief for tips on effectively dealing with snow, frost, and ice removal? Learn how to carefully and completely remove frost and snow during preflight and why you should. Then bundle up, put your plan in action, and remember to look for ice, which may have formed below the snow!
Answers for Pilots: Flying south to Mexico?
Dreaming of the beaches of Cozumel? The night life of Acapulco? Many pilots have discovered the beauty and charm of Mexico and now it’s easier than ever to fly there. The deadline for private aircraft to be equipped with 406 MHz emergency locator transmitters (ELTs) has been extended to June 30, 2013, or until the aircraft’s existing 121.5 MHz ELT needs to be replaced, whichever comes first. More good news: AOPA has received a letter of clarification on insurance requirements that may save pilots hundreds of dollars when planning to fly in Mexico. Read more >>
FCC moves to suspend LightSquared network
The Federal Communications Commission, acting on a technical committee’s recommendation, will move to suspend LightSquared’s bid to develop a mobile satellite network that has been proven to interfere with GPS reception. AOPA President Craig Fuller welcomed the decision, saying it could end a threat that has loomed for the last year to aviation and other users of GPS. Read more >>
For the first time since 2007, the FAA has the certainty of long-term authorization to operate the air traffic control system, build up airport infrastructure, and develop the air traffic control system of the future. On Feb. 14, President Barack Obama signed the conference committee report for the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. The bill provides a four-year, $63.4-billion authorization package for the agency, which has limped along on 23 short-term operating bills over the past five years. Read more >>
Florida House passes aviation tax exemption
The Florida House has voted to expand a sales-tax exemption to most light general aviation aircraft maintenance costs and the equipment used in the repairs. House Bill 7087, an economic development package backed by AOPA and the Florida Aviation Trades Association (FATA), passed the House Feb. 15, with provisions making aircraft with a maximum certificated takeoff weight of more than 2,000 pounds eligible for the tax exemption now afforded only to aircraft weighing more than 15,000 pounds. Read more >>
FAA changes VFR code for gliders
AOPA is notifying glider pilots and other members that the FAA has changed the VFR transponder code for gliders, effective March 7. Use of the new code, 1202, is intended to help air traffic controllers differentiate gliders, with their unique maneuvering capabilities and limitations, from other VFR aircraft. The FAA has issued a notice providing that as of March 7 gliders not in contact with an air traffic control facility should squawk 1202 in lieu of 1200 or 1201, helping controllers identify participating gliders. Use of the code is encouraged but not required. Read more >>
As campaign heats up, so does airspace
When the president travels, general aviation pilots are wise to take note: A string of TFRs followed President Barack Obama to Wisconsin and California Feb. 15 and 16, and as the 2012 presidential campaign heats up, VIP movement notams are expected to increase. Pilots are urged to check notams before each flight.
Fairness to pilots sought in FAA’s enforcement process
AOPA is studying the National Transportation Safety Board’s proposed changes to its rules for how it conducts reviews of FAA orders grounding a pilot or seeking to impose a fine. Congress established the NTSB as an appeals court in such cases. The association will submit formal comments by April 9 on the rulemaking that could affect any pilot accused of violating a regulation. Read more >>
Electric aircraft: Radical to routine
Today's electric aircraft capture pilots’ imaginations, but when (and how) will they capture the market? The International Workshop for Electric Aircraft Standardization March 28 will explore how to move electric aircraft from the realm of research and development to marketplace adoption with standards, research, and continuing dialogue. The event, hosted by a committee of the standards body ASTM International, will take place during Sun ’n Fun at the Hilton Garden Inn in Lakeland, Fla., from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Registration is required by March 16.
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, close to 2,500 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.
CORRECTION: In the Feb. 10 issue of AOPA ePilot, we incorrectly characterized localizer performance with vertical guidance (LPV) and localizer performance (LP) approaches. An LPV is an approach with vertical guidance, and an LP is a nonprecision approach.
Savings every day with the AOPA Car Rental Discount Program
Pocket some savings with the AOPA Car Rental Discount Program. If you’re renting a car from Alamo, Avis, Enterprise, or Hertz, be sure to use your AOPA discount code to save up to 25 percent. Plus, with money-saving coupons such as free rental days and upgrades, you can’t go wrong. Take advantage of this members-only benefit and you could see your AOPA membership pay for itself. Read more >>
AOPA Airports offers info on the go
AOPA members can have airport services, FBO information, airport diagrams, and more on certain mobile devices using AOPA Airports apps. Windows Mobile and BlackBerry apps, powered by WingX, are available for download on the AOPA website; apps for Apple devices, powered by ForeFlight, are available in the App Store.
AOPA Career Opportunities
Ever dream of turning your passion for aviation into a career? We’re looking for an online product manager, marketing specialist–products, aviation education program developer, accounting manager, and associate editor–Web/ ePilot. To learn more about other AOPA career opportunities, visit AOPA Online.