Archive for November, 2010

China Embraces GA, Opens Airspace

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

China's State Council and Central Military Commision have announced the nation's low-alititude airspace, below 13,000 feet, will open over the next 5 years for civilian use.

China’s State Council and the Central Military Commission announced this week that the country’s low-altitude airspace, below 13,123 feet, will be opened for civilian use over the next five years. Under current regulations, aircraft are required to obtain clearance from the military, which are difficult to obtain via a process that is notoriously delayed. Under the new regulations, aircraft flying below 3,280 feet are free to take off and land without this approval; aircraft flying up to 13,123 feet must file a flight plan but are also not required to have the clearance. The announcement also included a circular that details China’s plans to develop their civilian aviation system.

The announcement has spawned a gold rush of sorts among potential general aviation operators. The Huaxi Village, which already owns two helicopters, intends to purchase up to twenty more aircraft for flight training and tourism. The village has been waiting for the airspace to open in hopes of boosting tourism income, such as the sightseeing flights they hope to begin next month, to their village.

China currently has about 1,000 general aviation aircraft registered, but they project a tenfold increase within the next two years. The airspace opening has aircraft manufacturers salivating over the estimated $150 billion market potential created in China. Manufacturers of piston aircraft and helicopters are hoping to grab some of the developing market, but with airspace over 13,000 feet still severely restricted, it is unlikely that jets will see much of an increase in sales.

The announcement highlights the Chinese Government’s commitment to driving growth in the aviation industry. While this is certainly good news for giants like Boeing and Airbus now, the rapidly developing Chinese aircraft manufacturing sector will likely see the most long-term benefit. For example, Commercial Aircraft Corp of China announced at the Zhuhai Airshow they have sales agreements with Chinese airlines for 100 aircraft. The company’s C919 airliner, a 150-seat aircraft, is scheduled to make its first flight in 2014. Eurocopter is predicting similar developments in the helicopter market as early as 2020.

This is certainly good news for ailing aircraft manufacturers who can look forward to the boost that will likely come as Chinese take to the sky. While companies who already have a presence in China, like Cessna and Boeing, will have an easier time of capturing some of the Chinese market, the projected demand is more than enough for everyone to get involved.

For more information on flight training and choosing the right school, check out our Flight Training Resource Center or find flight training near you.

Sources: China Opens Airspace For GA and Large GA aircraft sales to China should follow airspace opening
This article was written by Matthew Everett, a private pilot, aviation writer, and frequent contributor to AviationSchoolsOnline.com. You can follow him on twitter @leaving_tf or find his blog at http://leavingterrafirma.com.

New Pilot Fatigue Regulations Meet Criticism

Monday, November 29th, 2010

New pilot fatigue regulations have been criticized on both sides.

In the aftermath of the crash of Colgan Air flight 3407, the FAA was tasked with developing new regulations to prevent pilot fatigue. After embarking on a lengthy process including a thorough review of scientific studies, the FAA has released their proposed new regulations. Unfortunately, the new regulations are meeting criticism from all sides as both airlines and pilots disagree with certain elements.

Captain Chesley Sullenberger and First Officer Jeffrey Skiles, who landed their severely crippled Airbus in the Hudson River, spoke out against the new rules at a news conference last week. They said that the new rules were fundamentally flawed and that they should be changed “to protect the safety of the flying public.” Both were especially critical of the change in regulations that allows maximum daily flight time to increase from eight hours to 10 hours. “We’re here to tell you that you cannot reduce pilot fatigue by increasing the amount of time a pilot is at the controls,” Skiles said.

On the other side of the argument, the Air Transport Association, which represents airlines, has protested the new regulations proposed by the FAA on the grounds that they would “create onerous and duplicative regulations.” Additionally, the ATA indicated that implementing the regulations would put airlines on the hook for more than $20 billion dollars in the next decade, more than 15 times the cost estimates provided by the FAA.

There are some supporters of the new regulations such as the Air Line Pilots Association, who were supportive of the FAA’s proposal, which they say is “sorely needed” and based on the best available research. The ALPA expressed a concern that airlines would argue against the change on the grounds that costs would be prohibitive and indicated they felt actual costs incurred would be manageable.

The regulations, while indeed sorely needed and based on the latest research, do contain a few concerning changes. Their are several areas where the new regulations seem to contradict their intention are in the sections concerning duty time. Namely, the FAA has allowed maximum flight time to increase and they mandate only nine hours between shifts, which does not allow enough time for a full eight hours of sleep in addition to routine morning tasks like eating and commuting to work. While the public comment period is closed, we can still hope the FAA considers the concerns voiced and reconsiders some of the new regulations.

For more information on flight training and choosing the right school, check out our Flight Training Resource Center or find flight training schools near you.

Sources: FAA’s Fatigue Rules Critiqued
This article was written by Matthew Everett, a private pilot, aviation writer, and frequent contributor to AviationSchoolsOnline.com. You can follow him on twitter @leaving_tf or find his blog at http://leavingterrafirma.com.

TSA Regulations Stirring Controversy

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

The above image, released by the TSA, is the result of one type of advanced imaging device employed by the TSA nationwide.

If you flew home to be with family over this holiday weekend, chances are you encountered the newest screening procedures put in place by the TSA. If you didn’t, you’ve probably heard at least a mention on the news of the controversy that has been stirred up by the new procedures. The TSA, reacting to last year’s failed Christmas day bombing of Northwest Airlines Flight 253, has rushed the deployment of Advanced Imaging Technology Devices in every major US airport as well as developed new pat-down procedures. The new devices and procedures were implemented just prior to the holiday traveling season in the hopes of discouraging a similar attack.

Unfortunately for the agency, their less than stellar track record and the invasive nature of the new procedures have ignited the fires of revolt against the agency. From airline pilots and flight attendants, whose unions have been advising to decline the new procedures, to everyday fliers, the new regulations are being met with resistance.

According to US Airway’s and American Airline’s pilot unions, their members should decline the full-body scans in favor of the pat-down. The unions are concerned about exposing the pilots, who already receive a high level of radiation exposure, to even more radiation.

The AIT devices produce radiation known as ionizing radiation, which allows the machines to see through clothing. There are some questions about how safe the machines actually are, considering the fact that they focus potentially high doses of radiation onto the skin. The TSA and Department of Homeland Security maintain that the devices are perfectly safe, but they offer very little support for their stance.

In addition to health concerns, the body scanners and the pat-down protocol have elicited criticism of the invasive nature of the procedures. Considering a very early incident of improper use, it would seem that the body scanners, which can produce extremely detailed images of the body underneath clothing, were doomed from the start. While the devices aren’t supposed to store the captured images, the U.S. Marshals Service has already been the source of a well-publicized leak of images captured and stored by the devices. This means that we have only the agency’s word that there aren’t hundreds of thousands of images awaiting their freedom.

As for the pat-down, the more aggressive procedures have come under scrutiny for the demeaning nature of the pat-downs. Chief among the complaints is the fact that the TSA procedures border on institutionalized sexual assault and that they do it out in the open at the checkpoint. According to the pilot and flight attendant unions, those in uniform who submit to the pat-downs should should insist on a private screening. Michael Roberts, an airline pilot, does them one better and refused to submit to either procedure. He, his lawyers, and the TSA will be meeting in court in order to resolve the issue.

To the agency’s credit, the TSA isn’t bowing down to the criticism – they have made their statements and they are sticking to their policies. Unfortunately the critics, while highly vocal, are not as numerous as they would seem according to a recent CBS news poll showing that 80 percent of respondents support full-body scans. That doesn’t bode well for a grass-roots movement, but there is still hope that the courts can save us.

Check out our Flight Training Resource Center or find flight training near you.

Sources: Airline Pilots Resist New TSA Procedures and TSA to Air Travelers: Drop Dead
This article was written by Matthew Everett, a private pilot, aviation writer, and frequent contributor to AviationSchoolsOnline.com. You can follow him on twitter @leaving_tf or find his blog at http://leavingterrafirma.com.

AOPA Recommends Flight Training Fixes

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

CFIs just “building time” for an airline job was one of the primary obstacles to student pilot retention indicated in a recent study.

A few months ago, AOPA announced that they would be performing an in depth study regarding pilot training. The results of the study were reported at the recent AOPA Summit in Long Beach. The study was performed by experts at APCO Insight and highlighted some changes that could improve flight training. The study indicated that the industry is struggling to retain students, as reported by a survey expert and new private pilot, because it isn’t exploiting the fact that being a pilot has a “cool factor.”

In a conference at AOPA Summit, APCO Insight CEO, Mark Benson reported that flight training industry is overlooking one of its most important promotional tools – the sense of community and feeling of belonging that pilots feel among other pilots. According to Jennifer Storm, AOPA’s head of their Flight Training Student Retention Initiative, the survey revealed a lot of information about the desires of student pilots when it comes to flight schools. In short, efforts to sell flight training have eroded the “specialness” of getting a pilot certificate. Additionally, student pilots are seeking value for their money. It is important that they feel their instructors and flight schools are actively saving them money. Flight training is already pricey, the last thing a student pilot wants is an instructor or flight school that needlessly runs up the cost.

Perhaps one of the defining issues of student pilot retention is instructor retention. According to Benson, the industry needs to attract more CFIs that are committed and involved in their students’ training. It is essential that they keep the student pilots engaged and check in regularly. The extensive research APCO Insight performed for AOPA on student pilot retention indicated that above all, instructors who are just there to “build time” for an airline job were one of the biggest turn-offs for student pilots.

AOPA and APCO Insight shared the results of the study with CFIs and flight schools at an event just before AOPA Summit. Among the issues discussed were: CFI boredom, CFI pay, and training material availability. According to the study, despited the fact that a majority of student pilots characterize flight training as a good thing, the many unprofessional, disorganized, and unmotivated CFIs across the country were at least partly to blame for poor student retention.

For more information on flight training and choosing the right school, check out our Flight Training Resource Center or find flight training schools near you.

Sources: Training Needs A Tuneup
This article was written by Matthew Everett, a private pilot, aviation writer, and frequent contributor to AviationSchoolsOnline.com. You can follow him on twitter @leaving_tf or find his blog at http://leavingterrafirma.com.

Bye Energy Eyes Flight Training Market for Electric 172

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

Bye Energy intends to market their electric Cessna 172 to flight training providers.

The new all-electric Cessna 172 Bye Energy recently announced is more than a proof-of-concept. The company intends to market the aircraft to flight training providers. According to a statement to AVweb, the company wants to “revolutionize the Part 23 training market,” and considering the unique characteristics of this aircraft, there are very few obstacles to prevent their success.

Unlike Light Sport Aircraft, which do not meet some of the requirements of certain flight training providers, Bye Energy is focusing on meeting the needs of traditional flight training providers who would ordinarily purchase a run-of-the-mill Cessna 172. According the company president George Bye, the aircraft is “ideal for training,” and they want the aircraft to be “the point of entry for new pilots.”

In contrast to a four-place, stock Cessna 172, Bye Energy’s aircraft will be a two-place. It will offer two hours of endurance generated by battery and solar power, wing-tip-mounted devices designed to reclaim power from wing tip vortices and, much like regenerative braking on popular hybrid cars, excess power generated by the propeller during descents.

Bye Energy chose the Cessna 172 as a platform for their new technologies, because of it’s wide-spread use world-wide. With over 10,000 having been produced since the 1950s, nearly every pilot on the planet has come across a Cessna 172 at some point in their training. The company has developed a laundry list of new technologies that convert the exceptionally popular aircraft into a fully electric aircraft and slash operating costs.

According to company projections, the all-electric 172 will boast energy costs of only $5-$10 per hour. Assuming a fuel burn of 9 gallons per hour and an average price for a gallon of aviation gas of about $4.90, stock Cessna 172 energy cost is more than $44 per hour. If 90% savings on energy costs isn’t enough, the company also cites a 25,000 hour TBO for their 180-horsepower powerplant, which weighs only 42 pounds. Unfortunately, for all the weigh savings offered by the powerplant, battery technologies are still relatively heavy and bulky. The lithium ion batteries required to power the aircraft, will cancel out any weight reductions, so weight and balance is unlikely to change.

The Bye-improved Cessna 172, which also features some aesthetic changes, will likely fly in early to mid 2011. Thanks to the significantly smaller powerplant, the cowling will be taper to almost nothing, increasing the amount of power generated by the propeller. Current models use a large portion of the propeller to drive airflow for engine cooling. While the proof of concept aircraft features a standard two-blade propeller, a six-blade, composite propeller will drive the conforming aircraft.

For more information on flight training and choosing the right school, check out our Flight Training Resource Center or find flight training schools near you.

Sources: Electric 172 Aimed At Training Market
This article was written by Matthew Everett, a private pilot, aviation writer, and frequent contributor to AviationSchoolsOnline.com. You can follow him on twitter @leaving_tf or find his blog at http://leavingterrafirma.com.

Cessna Adds Cessna Pilot Centers and Increases Skycatcher Production

Friday, November 19th, 2010

Good news from Cessna: Skycatcher deliveries and Cessna Pilot Centers are increasing.

As of November 11th, Cessna Aircraft Co. has sent the fiftieth production model of their popular two-seat Light Sport Aircraft, the Skycatcher, to their U.S. reassembly facility. Cessna continues to increase production on the $112,250 model 162 with the intent of delivering 30 aircraft by the end of the year.

The program, which has introduced a number of changes to the traditional aircraft manufacturing process, has suffered a number of setbacks in the recent past, but Cessna seems to be back on track and plans to deliver at least 150 Skycatchers by the end of 2011.

As quoted by AOPA, Cessna CEO, Jack Pelton said, “We are happy, not only with the increased pace of deliveries coming from Shenyang Aircraft Corporation, but with the high level of quality of the aircraft,” “We are getting these aircraft into operations with individual owners and flight schools. The response from our customers has been excellent.”

The increase in production and deliveries is good news for Cessna Pilot Centers across the country. There are more than 280 flight schools within Cessna’s Pilot Center network and many of them have been waiting for Cessna’s LSA to launch Sport Pilot training programs. The first group of schools that have taken delivery of Skycatchers include schools scattered throughout the US.

In addition to the increasing deliveries of aircraft, Cessna has also announced five additions to their more than 280 Pilot Centers in the United States. The announcement, which was made at AOPA Aviation Summit in Long Beach, welcomed Alliance International Aviation in Chino, California; GenesisFlight Academy LLC in Georgetown, Texas; JacksonAir in Thermal, California; North Florida Flight Training in West Palm Beach, Florida; and Tailwind Flight Center in Appleton, Wisconsin to the Cessna Pilot Center network.

Through their network of flight schools, Cessna aims to “make flying more accessible and to re-energize pilot training.” The expansion of the network, which represents more than 280 possible locations for Sport Pilot training, and increasing deliveries of Cessna’s LSA should come as good news to pilots looking for LSA to rent and train in.

For more information on flight training and choosing the right school, check out our Flight Training Resource Center or find flight training near you.

Sources: Skycatcher production on a roll, CPCs increase
This article was written by Matthew Everett, a private pilot, aviation writer, and frequent contributor to AviationSchoolsOnline.com. You can follow him on twitter @leaving_tf or find his blog at http://leavingterrafirma.com.

FAA to Simplify IA Application Process

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

The FAA is considering a revision to the application process for A&P mechanics seeking IA privileges.

The FAA is proposing to simplify the application process for airframe and powerplant mechanics seeking inspection authorization (IA) in the interest of making the work of aviation safety inspectors handling those applications simpler.

The FAA proposal is published in the November 5th Federal Register and is intended to help inspectors verify the work experience of applicants who are only employed part-time. The proposal is a revision to the vague and often inconsistently applied requirement for an applicant to be “actively engaged” as an A&P mechanic in order to be granted IA. In the past, part-time mechanics have struggled with this clause due to the vagueness of the language, for which no specific regulatory definition is offered, and the shifting definitions offered by the FAA.

Interest groups are concerned that a policy change could unfairly disqualify specialist mechanics who work on older aircraft, which would create a threat to the safety of flight. Additionally, when smaller airports, which don’t offer enough volume to support a full-time mechanic, are considered, part-time mechanics are the sole source of maintenance support for aircraft based at those fields.

Meanwhile, the FAA is concerned that any modifications to the process might introduce widespread confusion like many past attempts to remedy these issues, such as a clarifying memo sent out in 1988 that was rescinded this past April.

A portion of the proposed draft language reads: “The ASI will evaluate the scope of part-time or occasional activity based on the type of maintenance activity, including any special expertise required, and the quantity of maintenance activity performed.” In order to back up their application, the A&P would be expected to supply documentation of any relevant work. The FAA proposal also contains a section intended to protect FAA inspectors that also hold A&P certificates with IA. The fear is that ethical concerns could cause them to lose their inspection authority. If the proposal is accepted, it will amend FAA Order 8900.1, Volume 5, Chapter 5.

For more information on aviation maintenance schools and choosing the right school, check out our Aircraft Mechanic Training Resource Center or find aviation maintenance training near you.

Sources: FAA offers part-time mechanics clearer path to IA
This article was written by Matthew Everett, a private pilot, aviation writer, and frequent contributor to AviationSchoolsOnline.com. You can follow him on twitter @leaving_tf or find his blog at http://leavingterrafirma.com.

ATP Expands Training Fleet, Acquires Six Piper Seminoles

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

In an announcement at AOPA Summit, ATP and Piper revealed ATP's acquisition of six new twin-engine Piper Seminoles.

Airline Transport Professionals and Piper Aircraft Inc. recently announced ATP’s acquisition of a fleet of six Piper Seminole multi-engine piston-powered advanced training aircraft. ATP, a professional pilot training school with locations nationwide will take delivery of the aircraft, which combined are worth almost $4 million, in 2010. The acquisition brings ATP’s training fleet up to 87 Seminoles in addition to 50 Cessna 172s, five Diamond DA40s and a CitationJet.

The joint Piper, ATP announcement was made at the annual Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association’s Aviation Summit 2010 in Long Beach, where both companies are exhibiting. Piper, headquartered in Vero Beach, Florida, is one of the biggest names in general aviation offering nine models of single-engine and twin-engine aircraft. ATP, providing cost-efficient, accelerated flight training, operates the largest multi-engine training fleet providing thousands of graduates an unparalleled amount of multi-engine flight time.

ATP’s recently announced partnership with Mountain State University, under which ATP provides flight training for Mountain State’s ATP Pilot Operations degree program, has driven up demand for ATP’s multi-engine aircraft. ATP’s new Seminoles will allow them to meet that demand. The degree program allows students to complete online coursework for a bachelor’s degree while undertaking standardized, airline-style flight training curriculum, building more than 100 hours of multi-engine flight experience.

ATP has chosen the Piper Seminole based on its proven reliability, having provided hundreds of thousands of flight hours around the world, and its compatibility with ATP’s flight training fleet and methodology. The Seminole is a stable and forgiving aircraft that allows students learn advanced flight maneuvers and procedures safely. The Piper Seminole is an aircraft that supports ATP’s mission of providing high-quality multi-engine flight training and offers unmatched reliability. Also, because they already operate a number of Seminoles, ATP is well equipped for maintenance of the Lycoming O-360-A1H6 powered aircraft.

For more information on ATP – Airline Transport Professionals, please see our featured school page.

For more information on flight training and choosing the right school, check out our Flight Training Resource Center or find flight training near you.

Sources: Piper Seminoles Added to ATP Training Fleet
This article was written by Matthew Everett, a private pilot, aviation writer, and frequent contributor to AviationSchoolsOnline.com. You can follow him on twitter @leaving_tf or find his blog at http://leavingterrafirma.com.

New Aviation School to be Built in Glendale

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

There is an annual need for more than 300 new aviation maintenance personnel nationwide.

Glendale Municipal Airport will soon be the site of a new aviation technology school. Western Maricopa Educational Center recently received approval from the Glendale City Council to build the 41,000-square-foot aviation technology school on 6.4 acres near the Glendale Airport. Construction has already begun on the facility, which will require about 50 employees and is projected to be ready Fall 2011.

Western Maricopa Educational Center, serving more than 25,000 students, will utilize the new facility for aviation maintenance training. The program will teach students to service and repair aircraft including engines and avionics systems in preparation for FAA’s Aviation Maintenance Technician certification.

The program consists of four courses and classes meet four and a half hours a day, Monday through Friday. In order to meet the FAA-required 1,944 hours of instruction, the students will also attend classes 62 days over two summers. Completion of the curriculum qualifies students who are at least 18 years old to take the Aviation Maintenance Technician certification exam. By the end of the program, students will have the skills necessary to repair and maintain aircraft including electrical systems, turbine and reciprocating engines, aircraft finishes, sheet metal, welding, landing gear, hydraulics, and propellers.

Within the aviation industry, including airlines and aircraft manufacturers, there is a need for more than 300 new aviation maintenance personnel each year. Students who complete the coursework and pass the exam will be qualified for any number of these positions within the industry that often pay up to $21 per hour. With in Glendale, opportunities exist with Southwest Airlines or any of several companies at the Glendale Municipal Airport.

The educational center is anticipated to enroll 150 students per academic year in their aviation maintenance program. The initial focus for the center is to train young people, but plans include training for adults in the future. The program is designed to provide the young students with technical skills required to successfully compete for well-paying jobs in the aviation industry.

For more information on aviation maintenance schools and choosing the right school, check out our Aircraft Mechanic Training Resource Center or find aviation maintenance training near you.

Sources: Glendale Airport builds new aviation school; creates jobs
This article was written by Matthew Everett, a private pilot, aviation writer, and frequent contributor to AviationSchoolsOnline.com. You can follow him on twitter @leaving_tf or find his blog at http://leavingterrafirma.com.

UAVs for Personal Use?

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

UAVs, in common use in the military, are set to see rapid expansion in civilian use.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, the newest generation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles is set to take over many personal uses. From paparazzi spying on celebrities and private investigators to parents, potential UAV uses are limited only by the imagination.

While UAVs are common place in the military, and the typical picture of a UAV is the missile wielding predator, the subjects of this article are a bit more mundane. The civilian UAV market is set to see rapid expansion beyond simple remote control toys. An early example of a civilian UAV is the Parrot AR.Drone, the small four-bladed helicopter that is controlled via iPhone over a wireless network. The Parrot drone features two cameras and can potentially fly at altitudes up to 160 feet, but beyond beaming back video or simulating combat, its uses are relatively limited by its small size.

That’s where some of the new UAV projects come in. They utilize new technologies to create lighter more capable aircraft that can take on more advanced roles such as MIT’s “personal sentry” which they are developing for potential military uses. The drone works similarly to the Parrot AR.Drone, but features a set of sensors designed to detect enemy combatants and notify the operator. Such a device could be used just as effectively by parents tracking a stray toddler.

When considering the future, not much can be certain, but one thing is assured – the need for qualified UAV operators is only going to increase as these aircraft begin to see civilian use. While current FAA regulations create a huge gray area, only limiting civilian drones to altitudes less than 400 feet agl and barring them from airports, it is likely that new regulations will be created to deal with potential safety concerns.

For more information on unmanned aircraft systems training, check out our UAV/UAS Training Resource Center or find UAV/UAS training near you.

Sources: Drones Get Ready to Fly, Unseen, Into Everyday Life
This article was written by Matthew Everett, a private pilot, aviation writer, and frequent contributor to AviationSchoolsOnline.com. You can follow him on twitter @leaving_tf or find his blog at http://leavingterrafirma.com.