Archive for February, 2011

G1000 Flight Training Student Simulator Released

Friday, February 25th, 2011
G1000 simulator

Flight 1 Aviation Technologies claims its product is a cost-effective yet powerful way to learn to use the Garmin G1000

Flight One Aviation Technologies has released a high-fidelity Garmin G1000 all-glass avionics suite simulation that interfaces with Microsoft® Flight Simulator X, Microsoft® ESP™, and Lockheed Martin® Prepar3D™.

According to a company press release, the Flight1 Tech G1000 Student Simulator provides pilots, flight instructors, flight school owners, and home cockpit builders with a cost-effective yet powerful way to learn to use the Garmin G1000 and maintain proficiency.

“Unlike part-task trainers like the G1000 simulator available from Garmin, the Flight1 Tech G1000 Student Simulator works together with Microsoft® Flight Simulator X, Microsoft® ESP™, or Lockheed Martin® Prepar3D™ to provide pilots with an immersive training experience,” explains Vice-President Jim Rhodes.

“The G1000 Student Simulator provides a rich avionics simulation, and the flight simulation provides an unmatched aircraft and environmental simulation. By combining both, pilots can learn and master the G1000 in the same cognitive environment in which they’ll use it. They have to manage the avionics while simultaneously managing the challenges of flying the airplane.”

The G1000 Student Simulator is available in a Student version for personal, non-commercial use (that features photorealistic bezel graphics with functional buttons and knobs) and in a Hardware version designed for commercial use (or for non-commercial use in a home cockpit) that interfaces with the SimKits TRC1000 Glass Cockpit. Future plans include a hardware version designed to interface with the Precision Flight Controls Modular Flight Deck.

The G1000 Student Simulator is available in a Student version for personal, non-commercial use (that features photorealistic bezel graphics with functional buttons and knobs) and in a Hardware version designed for commercial use (or for non-commercial use in a home cockpit) that interfaces with the SimKits TRC1000 Glass Cockpit. Future plans include a hardware version designed to interface with the Precision Flight Controls Modular Flight Deck.

The MFD includes a highly realistic Navigation map as well as Navigation, Waypoint, Auxiliary, and Nearest page groups. Direct To, Flight Plan, and Procedure functionality (including Departures, Arrivals, and Approaches) is also provided, and flight plans can be created, saved, and loaded. Map symbology includes cities, major highways, railroad tracks, city and state names, and water body names. Basic visual Obstacle Warnings are displayed on the Navigation and Inset Maps, basic aural TAWS-B Alerts are provided, and basic Traffic Information Service (TIS) functionality is also simulated.

The G1000 Student Simulator includes an integrated Garmin GFC 700 digital Automatic Flight Control System (AFCS) that realistically models the Flight Director and Autopilot. Flight Director annunciations and Autopilot status are displayed on the PFD. Real-world vertical and lateral modes modeled include Flight Level Change (FLC), Vertical Navigation (VPTH and ALTV), and Glidepath (GP) for WAAS approaches.

“No matter what the platform, we’ve always pushed the limits of what it’s capable of,” says Rhoads.

Source:  Learn and Master the Garmin G1000 All-Glass Avionics Suite … in the Same Dynamic Environment in Which You Fly

New Flight Training Rules Could Create Pilot Shortage

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

A proposed rule that would require airline pilots to take a nine hour break between shifts, and 30 consecutive hours away from flight duty each week, is evoking widespread concern within the airline industry.

Representatives from several major airlines contend that the rule would create a severe pilot shortage and force them to recruit several hundreds more pilots at an enormous cost to their operations and to the industry in general.

The proposed rule stems from a bill called the ‘Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Act’ (H.R. 5900) that was passed by Congress last July and signed into law by President Barack Obama in August 2010. The bill is designed to enhance aviation safety by requiring airlines to ensure that pilots and other cockpit crew members are adequately rested before they start a shift.

In addition, the bill also requires airlines to only hire pilots who have a minimum of 1500 hours of flight time. The statute also mandates more comprehensive background checks and stricter flight training regimens for pilots and other cockpit crew members. Under H.R. 5900, airlines have until August 2013 to ensure that their pilots and co-pilots have an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate with at least 1500 hours of total flight time.

Airlines such as Southwest and American Airlines have complained that the rules sets standards that most airlines would be hard pressed to meet. They have argued that the requirements would cause pilot shortages because there wouldn’t be enough pilots that are qualified under the new standards.

Several have argued that the rule would force them to spend hundreds of millions of dollars more on salaries, flight training and other expenses. American Airlines for instance, has suggested that the rules would significantly decrease the amount of hours its pilots could fly, thereby forcing it to hire an additional 2300 pilots. Such an undertaking would cost the company an additional $500 million in expenses annually, American Airlines has claimed. Southwest too has publicly proclaimed similar concerns with regard to the proposed regulations and has argued that the rules would result in a massive pilot shortage across the industry.

The bill was passed in the wake of the February 2009 crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407 in Buffalo, New York. The crash killed 50 people, including two pilots, two flight attendants and one off-duty pilot. Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) later attributed the cause of the crash to pilot error most likely stemming from fatigue. The NTSB determined that neither the pilot nor the co-pilot had adequate rest before starting their shift.

H.R 5900 requires the Federal Aviation Administration to develop rules to meet the intent behind the law. The FAA began work on developing the rules last August. It released an initial set of proposed rules last year and received public comments on it through November 30, 2010. The FAA is expected to complete review of the comments and issue its final rules sometime in the first quarter of 2011.


Flight Training – Are Glass Cockpits Safe?

Saturday, February 19th, 2011
DHC-8-402Q Flight Deck

Additional training may be required in glass cockpits - (photo: Bradon Farris)

Technically Advanced Airplanes (TAA) are planes that are electronically engineered with advanced avionics, better known as “glass cockpits.” Featuring multiple electronic displays, including Primary Flight Display (PFD) and Multifunction Display (MFD); these aircraft offer the promise of increased performance and safety levels. But are they safe?

Many question whether the capabilities of the glass cockpit offer a false sense of security, ultimately putting the aircraft and its passengers in danger. The major concern is a lack of pilot training. To some in the aviation industry, glass cockpit training has failed to keep up with the technology.

The FAA introduced the FAA-Industry Training Standards (FITS) program to emphasize the need for “real world” training. The FITS program established a Private/Certificate/Instrument Rating syllabus in TAA, but is  still working on ways to successfully implement the training.

Pilots must be trained to operate dual electrical systems and to understand how the equipment works, how to detect component failure, and how these systems effect the safety and performance of the aircraft. Glass Cockpit Flying, a new book by Robert Littlefield, explains the differences between glass cockpits and traditional “steam gauge” cockpits and offers pilots  tools and tips to safely operate a TAA. Littlefield, who is a Gold Seal Flight and Instrument Instructor, is also an FAA FAASTeam Representative, a Master WINGS holder and a former Designated Pilot Examiner.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found in a study of single engine planes, that glass cockpits were no safer than planes with conventional instruments. The study concluded that planes equipped with glass cockpits had a higher fatality rate. Due to complex systems and aircraft to aircraft function variation, pilots are not always equipped with all the skills they need to safely operate a glass cockpit aircraft. The NTSB made the following six safety recommendations in a report on March 10, 2010:

1. Enhance training requirements and pilot knowledge
2. Require manufacturers to provide the necessary information for better management of system failures
3. Add training elements regarding electronic primary flight displays to training materials and aeronautical knowledge requirements
4. Add training elements about electronic primary flight displays to pilot flight proficiency requirements (initial and recurrent)
5. Support equipment-specific pilot training programs
6. Inform the general aviation community of the importance of reporting defects and malfunctions

Ultimately the safety of the glass cockpit does not rely on the aircraft itself, but in the pilot operating it. Systems will malfunction and things will inevitably go wrong; but a properly trained pilot will have the knowledge and tools to deal with such in-flight challenges.

New Air Traffic Controller Training Announced at WMU

Friday, February 18th, 2011
Air traffic control tower - Seattle

Air traffic control tower - Seattle (photo: Brandon Farris)

Western Michigan University (WMU) announced it will begin air traffic controller training at its Battle Creek Michigan campus in the fall of 2011. The program, part of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI) is designed to fast track prospective controllers through the FAA’s Basic Course normally offered in Oklahoma City.

According to a WMU press release, students wishing to become air traffic controllers will need to enroll into one of two programs currently offered at WMU, the Aviation Science and Administration program or the Aviation Flight Science program.

WMU is now one of only 36 schools in the U.S. that offers the AT-CTI program and is the only institution in Michigan offering the course.

The FAA imposes strict hiring criteria on its air traffic controller candidates, chiefly an age restriction of 31 years. Successful candidates must also be U.S. citizens, pass a medical examination, display excellent mathematical and science skills, and pass a thorough background check. WMU indicated it may use similar criteria when selecting students for the AT-CTI program.

Those who complete the initiative and graduate with an aviation degree from WMU must also pass the FAA pre-employment test for air-traffic controllers and undergo additional training at the administration’s air-traffic academy in Oklahoma City to attain their certification.

“We are working out the course details with the FAA,” said Ryan Seiler, the college’s lead flight instructor and AT-CTI coordinator. “We do know that those who complete our training will be able to bypass some basic pre-requisites at the FAA Oklahoma City academy.

“Prospective students should realize that the FAA is the one doing the hiring and completion of any AT-CTI course work does not guarantee a job,” Seiler said. “That successful result comes with satisfactory completion of a battery of tests, clearances, and an interview process administered by the FAA. “However,” Seiler said, “we believe that our specialized courses will give students a leg up on achieving that success.”

“That is why we are approaching this a little bit differently than other schools,” said Tom Thinnes, the college’s director of recruitment and outreach. “We intend to make this training a part of one or more of our 4-year aviation degree programs, specifically the aviation science and administration curriculum. That will give the students at least two career options, which is what we try to do for them.

“One of the reasons for this approach,” he said, “is the FAA’s 31-year-old, maximum-entry age and the mandatory retirement of air-traffic controllers who reach the age of 56. To be on the safer side, students will want to plan on graduating at least two years prior to their 31st birthday to allow sufficient time for the FAA hiring process.”

The federal government employs about 90 percent of all air-traffic controllers, according to the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to March 2009 bureau statistics, the average yearly salary of U.S. air-traffic controllers was $109,000.

WMU’s College of Aviation is located 18 miles east of the main campus at the W.K. Kellogg Airport in Battle Creek. As the third largest aviation program in the country, the college offers bachelor degrees in flight science, aviation maintenance technology, and aviation science and administration.

For learn more, please visit the Western Michigan University Air Traffic Controller Training page at

UND, USAF Create Alliance for UAS Research

Thursday, February 17th, 2011
Northrop Grumman's RQ-8 Fire Scout UAV

Northrop Grumman's RQ-8 Fire Scout UAV - Photo courtesy of Marion Doss

On Saturday, February 12, the University of North Dakota signed a lease agreement with Grand Forks Air Force Base. The lease provided the University with space to build a home for its unmanned aircraft systems program. The program supports a number of unmanned aircraft research and training systems.

A small signing ceremony was held inside the 5,000 square foot facility that will become the University’s Center for UAS Research, Education, and Training. Present at the signing for UND were Robert Kelly, University President, Al Palmer, Director of the UAS Center, and Bruce Smith, Dean of the School of Aerospace Sciences. Representing the Air Force was Col. Don Shaffer, Commander of the 319th Air Refueling Wing. Governor Jack Dalrymple and U.S. Senator John Hoeven also attended the ceremony.

The lease signing was hailed by all parties as a big step toward cooperation between the U.S. Air Force and UND, paving the way for future partnerships. As the Grand Forks Air Base is growing into the hub of unmanned aircraft technology, the resources that can be provided by the university are a welcome addition to the base.

The University of North Dakota had long been a resource in unmanned aircraft development. It drew together resources from the aerospace department, engineering department, and allied health to become the first institution offering a Bachelor’s degree in unmanned aircraft piloting. The Air Force has expressed extreme interest in the resources that the allied health department can bring to the table in terms of psychological and physiological requirements of future pilots.

The new facility at the base is intended to be up and running by June. University representatives say the first-year class in the piloting program will consist of 30 students, with many more expected in following years.

Senator John Hoeven, former North Dakota Governor, has been a supporter for unmanned aircraft advancement in the state for several years. He was instrumental in organizing support and over $10 million in funding for the creation of the Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

Grand Forks Air Base is the current home of several Predator aircraft used by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, but is expecting the Air Guard’s 119th Wing Predators very soon. The base is also in the running for one of four shared airspace development projects.

Click here to learn more about Unmanned Aircraft Systems training at the University of North Dakota.

Bio: Brian Jones is a professional freelance writer and journalist concentrating on issues of interest in science. Contact via twitter @BrianJonesMiami

UND AreaVoices

Airlines Preparing for Pilot Shortage

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011
Virgin America airliner interior

Indications point to a looming pilot shortage - Photo courtesy of and copyright Brandon Farris

The already hectic airline industry is currently facing a new problem as prospective pilots are rapidly turning down commercial airline pilot jobs in lieu of less demanding, more profitable ventures. As pilot salaries have diminished over the years, perfectly qualified candidates are not keen on the idea of earning less than $20,000 a year, for several years, as they work their way up to a top airline gig.

This disinterest comes at a time when airline carriers are looking to hire many new pilots to compensate for a recent wave of retirements. Is it a surprise, though, that pilots should be retiring in the wake of extreme cutbacks that make demanding piloting jobs completely not worth the effort? Until about ten years ago, senior pilots made about $200,000 with full benefits; now, they receive fewer benefits and are paid much less. Airlines like Delta and US Airways furloughed thousands of pilots following the economic downturn, slashed pay for senior pilots, and terminated pension plans. US Airways pilot Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who made headlines with his heroic water-landing in New York City’s Hudson river, told a House of Representatives subcommittee that pay cuts on airline pilot salary have put senior pilots in “untenable” positions. “I do not know a single professional airline pilot,” he said, “who wants his or her children to follow in their footsteps.”

The outfits taking the biggest financial hit, according to aviation professionals, are the regional airlines: the “feeders” that fly travelers from the major airlines to and from small cities. Most pilots start their careers at the regional airlines; now, they are not so inclined. Roger Cohen, president of the Regional Airline Association, fears that some smaller cities will be left without airline service. Others, like Louis Smith, president of, shares his viewpoint, “It’s going to be like a snowstorm that hits only the regionals. They will run short and cancel flights as soon as this summer,” he said.

Resulting from the cutbacks, enrollment at flight schools inevitably dropped. In fact, enrollment has tanked 26% in the last decade, including professional and recreational pilots. The lack of enrollment can also be attributed to the banks, most of which halted loans for aviation training. JetBlue has been one of the only airlines to consistently hire more pilots.

The FAA is doing its best to help reverse the negative trends. In 2007 they raised the mandatory retirement age to 65, from 60. Also, they are helping lighten the load on pilots, allowing for more rest time and fewer hours. The requirements on pilots remain rigorous, however, as prospective pilots of commercial flights must log 1500 hours of flight time. First officers have to fly only 250 hours.

As the rules and benefits for commercial airline piloting become more rigid, it is no wonder that many prospective pilots are looking towards corporate business jobs in aviation.

Search our flight school listings for training options.

Further information regarding the pilot shortage can be found here:

Airline Pilot Hiring: Carriers Offering Incentives For Jobs Abroad

Monday, February 14th, 2011
Pilot Jobs Abroad Increasing

Opportunities for pilots abroad continue to grow – photo courtesy of and copyright 2011 Brandon Farris

The sky ahead seems to be clear for an aspiring airline pilot. Flying is a challenging task and not everyone is successful at it. There are many physical and mental challenges that serve as roadblocks. If one is up to the challenge,  he/she can fulfill a lifelong dream of becoming a professional pilot.

U.S. airline companies are now expanding and they are hiring pilots from abroad, and some foreign airlines are hiring American pilots too. Emirates, Korean Air, Cathay and JAL are a few airlines reaching out to U.S. pilots. When companies run out of skilled and experienced pilot candidates, they hire foreigners. Education and experience are the two main attributes a pilot needs to fly successfully.

Anyone who hopes to fly professionally needs to begin training early. In order to fly commercially, pilots must be 18 years of age or older and have at least a high school education. A bachelor’s degree is also required if he is looking to work in one of the regional or major airlines. Flight hours logged is also an important aspect of applying for airline jobs. A person who has logged 600-700 hours of flying can apply for a job at most of the regional airlines. However, new legislation may up flight time requirements to 1500 hours. Flight time requirements are significantly higher at the major airlines, so pilots need to plan on “paying their dues” to get a position in the cockpit of a major airline.

Commercial pilots need to have corrected vision to 20/20, must be outgoing, have the heart and determination to put in long hours without complaining, and possess excellent concentration and multitasking skills.

Airlines are expanding worldwide and many have vacancies for those seeking jobs abroad. In addition, American pilots taking jobs abroad may find many benefits not available in the U.S. market. Apart from salary, the other benefits of the job can include stays at luxurious villas or apartments, five star hotel stays during trips, medical insurance coverage and flight discounts for family and friends. The salary range is also very extensive. Depending on experience and seniority, airline pilots typically earn between $25,000 and $160,000 annually.

Airline job seekers will be asked to provide a recommendation letter. Getting admission to and graduating from any world-renowned flying academy has its own perks. If an applicant graduated from a flying academy, the academy could help with building flight hours as a certificated flight instructor.

Explore our Featured Flight Schools and Academies here


Flight Training Benefits For Veterans Improve With New 9/11 GI Bill

Sunday, February 13th, 2011
New GI Bill benefits flight training

New GI Bill benefits flight training – image copyright and all rights reserved by Brandon Farris

Veterans with a passion for flying can now soar into the wild blue yonder with extended benefits through the GI Bill 2.0 as part of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act of 2010. Previously vocational and flight-related training were not covered, but now such training will be covered when the law goes into effect on October 1, 2011.

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs under the Post-9 11 GI Bill covers the lesser of the amounts (of $10,000) between actual net in-state tuition costs and the fees charged by flight schools. Other Department of Veterans Affairs programs already covering flight-related training include the Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty and Veterans Educational Assistance Program.Veterans are urged to check with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure that the flight school they chose is VA approved and meets VA qualifications prior to enrollment. Right now VA-approved flight schools are eligible for reimbursement through the Montgomery GI Bill.

In October veterans enrolling in flight schools will be able to receive direct payment through the Post-9 11 GI Bill. It is recommended that veterans who choose to pursue flight training attain a VA Certificate of Eligibility to determine how much military education benefits they may receive to put towards flight training. Regardless of VA reimbursement, veterans are responsible for fees associated with flight training programs.

Veterans who successfully complete an aviation training program will be a part of a growing selection of career opportunities. Flight-related careers are expected to show at least a 12% growth through 2018 according to US Bureau of Labor statistics. Job opportunities may include air cargo carriers, regional airlines, air taxis and low-cost carriers.

While college degrees and commercial pilot license are required for most flight-related jobs, military pilots have an advantage in the face of tough competition. Pilots can also start their professional flight careers working as flight instructors. This allows for the accumulation of flight hours and additional experience that will make veterans pursing aviation careers more attractive for lucrative jobs with commercial airlines.

The average wage for commercial pilots can range from approximately $73,000 to $117,000, depending on experience and specific flight-related job. Veterans can get more information on the Post-9 11 GI Bill at or through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Click this link to see our Featured Flight Schools Directory


Find a GI-Bill School – Aviation Schools for U.S. Veterans
More VA info – resources for veterans – articles, videos, links, and more

Flight Training Costs Creating Pilot Shortage

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

Market forecasts indicate skyrocketing demand for pilots in the next few years, but funding issues are grounding many would-be pilots. Photo courtesy Brandon Farris, Copyright 2011.

In spite of forecasts indicating skyrocketing demand for pilots in the next few years, flight training providers can’t find enough student pilots to keep the doors open. This begs the question, “why aren’t people signing up to fly?” The primary hurdle, or barrier to entry if you will, is a near complete lack of funding options for future career pilots.

While the profession isn’t as glorious as the old stereotype, being paid to fly is still a dream job. Pilots don’t have as many days off or make as much money as their neighbors think they do, but it’s all worth it for the view. Unfortunately, getting into the left seat of an airliner requires a set of demanding and varied skills that can cost a pretty penny to learn… money that many potential pilot trainees just don’t have.

When you consider the sheer amount of knowledge and skills required to be a proficient pilot – things like managing ever more complicated technology, knowing how to keep the plane in the air, and playing part-time meteorologist – flying can start to look daunting to say the least. Throw in that the cost to have the privilege of trying to make your brain explode by trying to cram in all that information is more than $75,000 and suddenly accounting is starting to look pretty attractive as a career.

The truth is, flight training is difficult and expensive, but it is worth it and there is always a way to make it happen. There are training programs available that meet the needs of nearly every aspiring aviator, but the relatively sparse funding programs are creating a shortage of full-time pilot trainees in favor of students taking a more part-time approach. These students typically take about twice as long to complete a standard ATP program of study compared to full-time students, but by stretching the costs out over a longer period of time they also typically graduate with less debt.

According to figures in Boeing’s Market Outlook for 2010 the aviation industry worldwide will require an average of 23,300 new pilots per year over the next two decades in order to cope with pilot retirements and fleet growth. While a significant portion of this expansion of the worldwide aviation market is very attractive for aircraft manufacturers and potential pilots, US-based pilots have even more going for them. In 2007, FAA pushed back the mandatory retirement age to 65 in order to cope with a similar potential shortage. While this has led to a number of furloughs among younger pilots in the short term, within the next five years nearly two out of every three pilots are facing retirement. Given such an excellent potential job market, this makes the training situation even more problematic for would-be pilots, airlines, and even aircraft manufacturers. Funding troubles aside, one thing is certain – now is the best time to start training if you have the funding.

For more information on flight training and choosing a school, click here.

Source: Cost blamed as training lags pilot demand
This article was written by Matthew Everett, a private pilot, aviation writer, and frequent contributor to You can follow him on twitter @leaving_tf or find his blog at

WMU College Of Aviation Donates $50,000 Flight Simulator

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Boeing 737 take off

Flight Simulator to help pilots prepare for airline careers - New GI Bill benefits flight training - image copyright and all rights reserved by Brandon Farris

Western Michigan University flight training technology will now help students at West Michigan Aviation Academy. Western Michigan University donated a flight simulator to West Michigan Aviation Academy as a part of a continued partnership between both schools.

WMU offers what is considered one of the top college-level aviation programs in the United States. WMAA became the first, and so far only, public aviation charter high school in the U.S. The school initiated classes last fall and is currently enrolling for this fall.

The simulator WMU provided has an estimated value of $50,000. The device arrived at WMAA Tuesday at the school’s location by the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. On Wednesday Lennox Ramsey, a 16 year-old student at the school, demonstrated the flight simulator with instructor Keith Sutherland.

WMAA School Board President Dick DeVos welcomes the new flight simulator feeling that students will benefit the chance to “sharpen skills” needed to prepare for a career in aviation. Dave Powell, Dean of WMU College, announced plans to continue to work with WMAA as they grow and help produce a new generation of aviation professionals.

DeVos sees the simulator as an important part of the school’s training process, saying that it will have “tremendous educational use” and help students experience simulated real-world situations that will take the training out of textbooks and allow aviation concepts to be seen first-hand.

Patrick J. Cwayna, WMAA CEO, sees the addition of the flight simulator as a way of increasing the profile of the school and helping its students to attain a well-rounded education with tools that will lead to success. WMU uses the same type of simulator in its classrooms and feels the addition of such a simulator at WMMA will have a “real impact.”

The simulator teaches students how to operate a Cirrus SR20 plane, which is part of WMU’s aviation fleet. The academy already uses another simulator that serves to give students a basic idea of how a plane operates and how to handle typical operations.

The main difference between the existing simulator the school has and the one acquired from WMU is that the new simulator has real instruments and offers more of a hands-on approach to students. Western Michigan plans to bring part of their fleet to WMAA this summer, which will give students a chance to practice and hone their skills in a real plane.

Learn more about Western Michigan University’s flight training programs.
Sources –