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today’s top stories
After Austin: Protecting your freedom to fly
Following the Feb. 18 crash of a Piper Cherokee into an Austin, Texas, office building, speculation grew regarding the consequences it would have on GA. “Since the moment we first learned of the accident, we began reaching out to educate government officials, the media, and the public about GA, and we haven’t stopped—we won’t stop,” said AOPA President Craig Fuller. Pilots already have made a difference in media coverage of the event by educating reporters about GA security and the GA community’s concerns that lawmakers and regulators not overreact, and by directing reporters to AOPA. Read More >>
First Hawker 4000 reaches China
Hawker Beechcraft Corp. has delivered its first Hawker 4000 business jet to China. The aircraft was certified by the Civil Aviation Administration of China in November 2009. The jet has a maximum cruise speed of Mach 0.84 and carries eight passengers. China’s first Hawker 4000 is based at the Beijing Capital International Airport and is used for business trips and leisure travel. Read more >>
Aurora Flight Sciences at Manassas, Va., will equip a Diamond DA42 to operate with or without a pilot. Flight trials are set for this summer. The aircraft’s first mission will require a pilot and will involve radar mapping of the Greenland ice pack. Read more >>
NTSB says Skymaster wing failed
The NTSB says a section of the outer right wing of a Cessna Skymaster failed during a Feb. 15 accident at Monmouth County Executive Airport at Farmingdale, N.J. Three adults and two children died in the accident. Crewmembers of a helicopter and the pilot of another airplane in the area heard a radio call indicating the aircraft would do a low pass over the runway. The airplane was about one-third down the runway when observers said they saw a section of the airplane separate as the nose pitched up. Read more >>
Senate FAA bill could move this session
After two years of temporary funding extensions, a long-term FAA reauthorization bill could pass the Senate before the Easter recess. Senate leaders are planning to bring the FAA reauthorization bill to the floor during this working session, Sen. Byron Dorgan, chairman of the Senate aviation subcommittee, said in a presentation to the Washington Aero Club Feb. 24. The House passed a three-year reauthorization in May, and the Senate has yet to pass its version of the bill. Read more >>
Politicians & Planes: Pilot in command
It had been a relaxing holiday weekend for many Vermonters, but Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie had spent much of that weekend in the air. When he arose before a joint session of the legislature to introduce the governor’s budget address this winter, Dubie had recently returned from a two-day trip as captain of an American Airlines MD-80. Dubie says his experience as a pilot—whether scrambling on Soviet Bear bombers during the Cold War or shooting a Category III approach into Dallas with 142 souls on board—equips him for the pressures of government office, and he hopes to parlay his time in the left seat into a run for the governor’s seat in November. Read more >>
The FAA has released its report about factors that may have led to several in-flight structural failures of the Zodiac CH601XL in the United States and abroad. The agency issued a special airworthiness information bulletin and suspended issuance of any new airworthiness certificates to variants of the Zodiac CH601XL and CH650 after a fatal accident in November, the fifth in-flight structural failure of a CH601XL in the United States since 2005. An investigation of the in-flight failures did not indicate a single root cause; it instead implicated the potential combination of several design and operation aspects, one of which is that the wing loads used to design the Zodiac CH601XL did not meet ASTM standards—the standards used for light sport aircraft—for a 1,320-lb airplane. During its review, the FAA also identified issues with other factors such as flutter, improper airspeed calibration, stick forces, and structural stability. Read more >>
Haiti relief: The best of GA in the worst of times
Ahead of them lay the Bahamas island chain, stretching 435 miles to their destination on the north coast of Haiti. Behind them, filling the cabin, was precious cargo that could help to heal the injured and save lives. Just three days after the magnitude 7.0 earthquake rocked the island of Haiti on Jan. 12, Charles H. Stites took his seat in a Beech Baron to help deliver donated medical supplies and health-care workers to smaller airports away from the near chaos of the main airport in Port-au-Prince. Read his first-person account >>
Reps. seek extension for bonus depreciation incentive
Because the general aviation industry is still struggling through these tough economic times, Reps. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.) and Chris Carney (D-Pa.) are asking the House Ways and Means Committee to extend the bonus depreciation incentive for aircraft purchases through Dec. 31, 2010, and allow in-service placement until Dec. 31, 2011. Read more >>
AERO Friedrichshafen reaches new prominence
With its international scope and dedication to general aviation, AERO Friedrichshafen serves as a meeting of the GA minds. This year’s trade fair, set for April 8 through 11 in Friedrichshafen, Germany, promises 450 exhibitors and high levels of international participation. The show attracts top industry and government officials from 25 nations, and AOPA President Craig Fuller will use the opportunity to reach a broad audience about the value of GA. Read more >>
Scott Crossfield Foundation seeks scholarship funds
The daughter of test pilot Scott Crossfield, Sally Crossfield Farley, is seeking funding to continue her father’s Aerospace Education Teacher of the Year award that he began in 1986. Crossfield gained fame through his flights of the North American X–15 rocket-powered aircraft. He flew the X–15 to Mach 2.97 and 88,116 feet. Crossfield felt that the best way for aerospace science to continue to attract the attention of America’s youth was through well-informed science teachers. Read more >>
FAA seeks pilot input on notam system
A little over one year after local (L) notams were reclassified as distant (D) notams, the FAA wants to know how the new system is working for pilots. The agency has created an online survey to get feedback from pilots and uncover any operational issues the change might have caused. All responses will remain anonymous, and the FAA will use the results to correct any unintentional problems and share the information with AOPA. AOPA supported the reclassification of L notams because it simplified and consolidated information for pilots and alleviated some of the call burden on flight service specialists.
Have history, will travel
Wright B Flyer Inc., a nonprofit aviation history organization in Dayton, Ohio, has dispatched 13 people and two replicas of the famous 1910-1913 Wright B Flyer to Texas to take part in a historical celebration. It was the first mass-production Wright airplane. The aircraft will take center stage in San Antonio on March 2 when two Wright B Flyer aircraft participate in a celebration of the first military solo flight from a military airfield at Fort Sam Houston. Read more >>
Knowledge test fee set to increase March 1
Computer Assisted Testing Service Inc. (CATS) and LaserGrade are scheduled to increase their FAA knowledge test fee by $50 on March 1. The two companies had notified AOPA that the fee increase would go into effect April 1, but a letter to testing centers indicated March 1. The companies have decided to go ahead and increase the fees at the beginning of March. Read more >>
FAA proposes AD that could affect more than 500 aircraft
The FAA is proposing an airworthiness directive (AD) for Piper PA-32R-301T and PA-46-305P aircraft, requiring the replacement of “any spot-welded V-band exhaust coupling with a riveted V-band exhaust coupling.” The FAA issued the AD in order to prevent “failure of the V-band exhaust coupling, which could cause the exhaust pipe to detach from the turbocharger.” Such an incident could cause high-temperature gases to be released inside the engine compartment and lead to an in-flight fire. The FAA estimates that 596 aircraft could be affected and that it could cost $884 dollars to repair, including parts and labor. The agency is accepting comments on the proposed AD until April 5. For more information, see the proposal.
New McCauley AD addresses cracked prop hubs
In response to 16 reports of cracks in McCauley Propeller Systems 1A103/TCM series propellers since an airworthiness directive (AD) was issued in June 2003, the FAA is superseding the AD (AD 2003-12-05, Amendment 39-13190) with a new one. The propellers affected by the AD typically are installed on Cessna 152, Cessna A152, Reims F152, and Reims FA152 aircraft. They also are on some airplanes with Lycoming 0-235-L2C reciprocating engines that have received supplemental-type-certificate approval. See if your aircraft is affected and find out about the required actions. The AD goes into effect March 10.
Conklin and de Decker offers 2010 state tax guide
Aviation consulting firm Conklin and de Decker has come out with its 2010 State Tax Guide for General Aviation. The guide contains the latest taxes and fees imposed on GA aircraft in all 50 of the United States, and includes the sales and use taxes applicable to aircraft sales, ownership, leases, parts, and labor. Read more >>
For daily news updates, see AOPA Online.
Heli-Expo attendance down, exhibitors up
The Helicopter Association International’s annual Heli-Expo, which took place Feb. 21 through 23 in Houston, showed mixed signals, compared to previous conventions. This year’s attendance, HAI says, is “within one to three percent of last year’s 17,000 attendees.” On the other hand, this year’s Heli-Expo attracted 595 exhibitors; last year, there were 570 exhibitors at the convention. Read more >>
CAE launches new series of helicopter simulators
By this summer, helicopter pilots in mission training may experience new levels of fidelity in simulated flight. CAE announced that its new CAE 3000 series of simulators will incorporate a number of features guaranteed to make simulated missions seem very close to reality. Read more >>
Enstrom lands 46 orders, delivers two trainers to Peru
Enstrom Helicopter Corp. of Menominee, Mich., is seeing its fortunes make a turnaround. In December 2009, the Royal Thai Army ordered 16 Enstrom 480Bs—single-engine helicopters that Thailand will use as trainers. Then Japan ordered 30 more 480Bs for the same purpose. Furthermore, Enstrom President Jerry Mullins said that the Peruvian Army will take delivery of two F28F trainers in the first quarter of 2010. Read more >>
More Heli-Expo News:
VFR sectional charts provide information you need to plan a safe flight and to pick out the landmarks you will find along the way. If you’re mapping out a trip to an unfamiliar place, there may be some symbols you haven’t seen in a while: Is that shaded box a military operations area or a restricted area? Does that tower have lighting so you can pick it out at night? Test your knowledge of chart symbols, navaids, airspace, and more in the latest quiz from the AOPA Air Safety Foundation, underwritten by the AOPA Insurance Agency.
Aircraft owners, incorporated
While you’re looking for ways to cut costs and limit liability in aircraft ownership, you may come across the option of incorporation. It’s an appealing idea—you may have heard it could limit your liability for personal injury or property damage, or offer a special tax benefit or loophole—but beware. Incorporation may not shield you from liability as much as you had hoped, and it doesn’t exempt you from paying taxes where you hangar your airplane. “All aircraft owners are looking for the most cost-effective way to operate their aircraft, and all options should be considered,” said Woody Cahall, AOPA vice president of the Pilot Information Center. “While incorporation may seem like a great idea, it's important to dig deeper to understand all the ramifications, as many situations might be better suited for another kind of ownership.” Read AOPA’s Pilot Information Center subject report, Incorporation for Aircraft Owners, to find out more.
ATC fields questions online
Have you ever wanted to just stop everything and ask the air traffic controller a question about a procedure or instruction? Now you can: Get answers direct from controllers—while you’re safely on terra firma—in the AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s “Ask ATC” resource. View questions other members have asked or submit your own. Whether you want to know how to get permission to fly through restricted airspace or what a controller’s day is like, the foundation is getting answers for you straight from the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.
Webinar to explain VFR+GPS charts
Designed around common VFR flight paths and local operations, Jeppesen’s VFR+GPS aeronautical charts offer an alternative to the FAA’s sectional charts. The charts are meant to dovetail with the use of GPS for navigation and offer features such as GPS waypoints. Jeppesen's Dave McLean will explain the features of and technology behind the charts in encore of Jeppesen's Webinar, "Getting to know Jeppesen VFR+GPS charts," on Tuesday, March 2, at 7 p.m. Eastern time. He also will answer questions submitted by Webinar attendees. Register to participate on the AOPA Webinar page.
Never Again Podcast: Just land
A warm summer night and a vacant but familiar airport seemed perfect for practicing takeoffs and landings. The new private pilot was night current, but he wanted to be especially sharp for an upcoming flight and decided to get some additional practice. He felt oddly rushed that evening, and the decision to forego refueling coupled with a few bad approaches led to a humbling discovery upon landing. Find out more in the Never Again Podcast, or read it in the March issue of AOPA Pilot. Enjoy the lessons you learn from these pilots? Listen to more stories in AOPA’s Never Again Podcast directory brought to you by the AOPA Insurance Agency.
Valkaria Air Fest: Made by pilots, with pilots, for you
When you need to put your airport in the best light, show, don’t tell. Pilots and aviation enthusiasts in and around Grant-Valkaria, Fla. did just that Feb. 21, holding the fourth annual Valkaria Air Fest. Aviation stars Patty Wagstaff and Corky Fornof provided entertainment for the estimated thousands of aviation enthusiasts and community residents in attendance; aerobatic gyrocopter pilot Roy Davis also showed off his talent. This celebration of aviation comes after a long battle by the local pilot community and AOPA to keep aviation alive in this area of Florida; not long ago, the prospect of learning to fly in Grant-Valkaria was a thorny issue. Read more >>
To learn more about the Airport Support Network, visit ASN Online.
AOPA Now: Austin—A brief review
From the moment the story broke that a small aircraft had crashed into an office building in Austin, Texas, AOPA has been communicating with the media to provide background and perspective as the story has developed. In this blog, AOPA President Craig Fuller gives his views on suicide, security, and what the incident will mean for general aviation. Read more >>
Air Safety eJournal: Living off the end of runways
Last week, a Cessna 310 crashed shortly after takeoff at Palo Alto Airport. At this point no one knows what caused the accident, but there are already concerns about what an airport was doing in the middle of a housing development. Runway safety zones and, hopefully, local zoning ordinances minimize the already low risk of an aircraft crash injuring bystanders on the ground. Read more >>
Reporting Points: ‘R5Sons’ just might have it all
Aviation is at the center of nearly every episode of “R5Sons, Alaska,” a television series that follows the adventures of a rural Alaskan family. In a recent installment, the family must transport horses from Anchorage 125 nm north to their lodge in a behemoth Shorts SkyVan. There’s a lot of tension involving the ever-changing weather, the pilot’s experience with dirt runways, and whether the landing will throw the horses through the plywood barrier that separates them from the cockpit. Read more >>
AOPA 2010 Fun to Fly Sweepstakes: More chances to win
When people come up to inspect AOPA’s sweepstakes airplanes at shows, the first question they usually ask is, “What do I have to do to win this airplane?” As long as your AOPA membership is current as of Sept. 30, 2010, you are automatically entered in the Fun to Fly Sweepstakes. Want some additional entries? Read more >>
CFIs: Protect yourself and your livelihood
As a CFI you can be held liable for incidents of your students, even if you weren’t on board the aircraft at the time. This startling fact makes having the right insurance policy a necessity. The AOPA Insurance Agency understands that your needs as a CFI are unique and that without the right policy you could be putting your livelihood on the line. That’s why when you get your CFI non-owned policy through the AOPA Insurance Agency you can rest assured that you are personally protected during flight instruction. Read more >>
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: When flying IFR, for which types of navigational aids can I substitute my IFR-certified GPS?
Answer: In general, GPS (or a suitable RNAV system) can be used in lieu of a VOR, TACAN, DME, NDB, or compass locator. It can be used to perform holds, determine fixes, navigate to or from a station, or fly a DME arc. Read the specific uses and limitations in the Aeronautical Information Manual ( AIM 1-2-3). Please remember that the GPS must be properly installed, certified, and have a current database for IFR approach operation (see AIM 1-1-19).
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 800/872-2672, or e-mail to email@example.com. Send comments on our Quiz Me! questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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!
Aviation Events & Weather
Want something to do this weekend? Planning an aviation getaway? See your personalized online calendar of events . We’ve enhanced our calendar so that with one click, you can see all of the events listed in the calendar regions you selected when personalizing ePilot. Now you can browse events listed two weeks to a few months out to make your planning easier. You can also bookmark the personalized calendar page to check it as often as you want. Before you take off on an adventure, make sure you check our current aviation weather provided by Jeppesen.
Engage with AOPA
To celebrate the Centennial of Licensed Women Pilots, women pilots from around the world will attempt to set a new worldwide flying record: the most women pilots introducing another woman to flying in one single day, March 8, and in one single week, March 6 to 12. Visit the Web site to register and post your availability in the volunteer forum.
Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics
The next AOPA Air Safety Foundation Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics are scheduled in Baton Rouge, La., Oklahoma City, Okla., Dallas, Texas, and Ashburn, Va., Feb. 27 and 28; Orlando, Fla., March 6 and 7; San Mateo, Calif., and Baltimore, Md., March 13 and 14; Ontario, Calif., March 20 and 21. For a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.
Can’t make it in person? Sign up for the CFI Refresher Online. If you’ve never taken the CFI Refresher Online before, find out how easy it is by trying the free introductory lesson made available by the AOPA Air Safety Foundation and Jeppesen.
AOPA Air Safety Foundation Safety Seminars
AOPA Air Safety Foundation Safety Seminars are scheduled in Colorado Springs, Colo., Feb. 24; Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Feb. 25; Rochester, Minn., March 8; Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Portland, Ore., March 9; Seattle, Wash., and Olathe, Kan., March 10; Bedford, Mass., March 15; Ypsilanti, Mich., March 22; Birmingham, Ala., Northbrook, Ill., and Cleveland, Ohio, March 23. Topics vary—for details and a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.
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