Archive for July, 2011

New Directory Helps Pilots Find FAA Medical Examiners

Sunday, July 31st, 2011
By Woody Robinson – FindTheData
Screenshot of FindTheData's new AME directory

FindTheData's new AME directory makes finding an FAA doc in your area a snap

I’ve always hosted a tinge of jealously towards those who pursue a lifestyle in aviation. While pilots have fulfilled a near celebrity status, the hard work and dedication required to achieve a successful aviation hobby (or career) is often times overlooked. With intense competition and huge educational costs, pilots understand that the glamor associated with flying is sometimes a hazed stereotype.

For those still interested, finding a credible flight school can be a daunting task. While asking around at your local airport may offer useful information, it’s only a starting point. Whether you’re looking for flight schools that offer part 61 or part 141 flight training programs, Kyle and the folks at AviationSchoolsOnline.com have compiled a great resource that offers insight to the processes of becoming a pilot.

Similarly, FindTheData recently finished building a directory of Aviation Medical Examiners that will allow pilots to get or maintain their medical certificates with ease. You can easily compare and analyze examiners based on several factors (location, medical specialty, first class examiner, etc). Whether you’re a pilot in need of obtaining your medical certificate or simply interested in getting your 60 month renewal (pilots under 40 years old), check out this resource and feel free to offer suggestions or feedback.

Woody Robinson is a graduate of University of California Santa Barbara and now works in Business Development for FindTheBest and FindTheData

Pilots Still Able to Fly Despite FAA Shutdown

Saturday, July 30th, 2011

Despite an FAA shutdown, essential services to pilots will continue. Photo courtesy of Brandon Farris, copyright 2011, http://www.flickr.com/photos/seahawks7757/.

After a recent Congressional adjournment, concerns grew that without reauthorizing the FAA’s operating authority essential services may not be available and aviation would grind to a halt.

Despite furloughs and other shutdowns, the FAA is committed to providing essential services like air traffic control and notam services. Unfortunately, nearly 4,000 employees of non-essential services, including research and development programs and Airport Improvement Programs, have been furloughed and the programs shuttered in the wake of Congress’ failure to pass a reauthorization.

As for essential functions, FAA officials have assured aviation groups that that ATC, notam and flight services, aeromedical branch, and the airman registry branch will to continue uninterrupted.

FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt blasted Congress for their failure to pass a reauthorization bill stating that “These are real people with families who do not deserve to be put out of work during these tough economic times.”

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood added in a statement issued Friday, that he was “very disappointed that Congress adjourned today without passing a clean extension of the FAA bill. Because of their inaction, states and airports won’t be able to work on their construction projects, and too many people will have to go without a paycheck. This is no way to run the best aviation system in the world.”

According to Administrator Babbitt, Congress will have to decide whether to pay FAA employees who are laid-off for the time they spend on furlough. Furloughed employees include “engineers, scientists, research analysts, administrative assistants, computer specialists, program managers and analysts, environmental protection specialists, and community planners.”

Additionally, many other organization can expect to see effects from Congressional inaction. During the days preceding the shutdown, the FAA ceased processing Airport Improvement Program grants which are the life-blood for many airport projects. A number of state-level programs have also been effected by the shutdown which has terminated their access to millions in funds.

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

Source: Update: FAA shuts down, flight ops unaffected
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.

Trouble for iPads in the Cockpit?

Friday, July 29th, 2011

The FAA is proposing an advisory circular that would severely curtail the use of EFBs, including the Apple iPad, in the cockpit. Photo courtesy Brandon Farris, copyright 2011 http://www.flickr.com/photos/seahawks7757/.

The FAA is proposing an advisory circular that would limit the use of iPads and other electronic flight bags (EFBs) in the cockpit below 10,000 feet. AOPA and GAMA, two large aviation advocacy groups, have voiced their opposition to the proposal. Such a proposal could stunt the growth of EFBs over the next few years.

The proposed advisory circular, known as “Guidelines for the Certification, Airworthiness, and Operational Use of Electronic Flight Bags EFB,” is concerned with the use and development of these devices under the Next Generation Air Transportation System. Advocacy groups are concerned that under the current proposal EFB use wouldn’t be allowed below 10,000 feet or that expensive testing programs would be required.

The groups are so put off by the proposal, that they have asked the FAA to scrap the current proposal and start anew. Both AOPA and GAMA have expressed their support for EFB technology, including iPad based solutions, believing that they are an affordable option to provide pilots with NextGen capabilities. Under the proposed advisory circular, however, these devices would no longer provide much benefit to the average pilot.

The concern is that, the proposal applies to “operational use” of all EFBs rather than current regulations which only require “operational approval” in certain situations. The groups are asking that the FAA limit the effect of this proposed change to Part 91 operations to subpart k.

Additionally, the groups feel that requiring a stringent and rigorous testing program for off-the-shelf electronics at the operator level is wasteful and impractical. Instead the groups suggest that the FAA limit these requirements to EFB solutions incorporating Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) and RNAV guidance. This would allow simpler devices, like iPads displaying charts or simple handheld GPS receivers, to  improve situational awareness while holding more advanced devices to a higher standard.

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

Source: Electronic flight bag crusher?
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.

Meetings to Boost AOPA Student Retention Initiative

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

AOPA will be hosting a number of regional meetings as part of their Flight Training Student Retention Initiative

AOPA is hosting a number of meetings in Chicago, Long Beach and Dallas as part of their Flight Training Student Retention Initiative. The meetings, which began in May, are intended to integrate the frontline practitioners, such as flight instructors and flight school owners, and the aviation community at large into the process of increasing student retention and success rates. The meetings consist of a presentation on the AOPA initiative followed by small group discussions that are the meat and potatoes of these meetings.

The meeting locations, which were chosen based on flight school density, will host two meetings in order to maximize participation. One meeting is intended to allow flight training providers, such as flight instructors, to offer their insights into how AOPA can help them succeed in growing the pilot population. The other is for members of the aviation community at large. The two meetings work hand-in-hand to gather perspectives from both sides of the flight training equation, instructor and student.

According to reports, AOPA estimates that nearly three in four people who start flight training do not complete their training and earn a pilot certificate. With an overall population in a state of decay, it is important to develop new pilots. These meetings will hopefully impart the AOPA initiative with the right stuff to sort out this completion issue.

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

Source: Student Retention Initiative gains frontline perspective at regional meetings
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.

University to Close Aviation Program

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

The program currently has 7 Piper Arrows used in training for commercial ratings.

After the end of the 2013-2014 academic year, the University of Illinois will no longer have an aviation program. In a 6-2 vote on July 21st, the university’s Board of Trustees elected to close their Institute of Aviation.

The institute has a long history, stretching from as far back as 1946, of graduating pilots for the airlines, aviation industry, and government. The Civil Aeronautics Authority (the pre-FAA era government overseeing aviation) issued the program the first airman pilot examining agency certificate on May 29, 1950.

The July 21st vote to shut down the program is a part of a package of cost-cutting measures designed to help balance the school budget. The decision is not without controversy, however, as it opposes a faculty senate decision not to shut down the program. Unfortunately, proposed savings of $500,000 to $750,000 a year from closing the program coupled with declining enrollment has overshadowed the institute’s graduation rate. The only hope for the program seems to be the Illinois Board of Higher Education, who must approve the closure, or some out of the box thinking.

Program supporters are currently investigating methods to allow the institute to continue offering flight-training opportunity. Specifically, supporters are currently seeking out other schools who might have interest in establishing flight training programs and discussing ways the institute can support those initiatives.

According to the program’s chief pilot, 160 students had enrolled in program courses for the spring. She indicated that the program seems to have fallen out of favor rather than become unviable. The program director quit five years ago and no replacement has been hired. Instead, there have been persistent rumors of the program’s imminent closure which certainly had an effect on the enrollment numbers.

Despite their size, the smallest program on the Urbana-Champaign campus, the program has graduated a number of very successful graduates currently working in all areas of the aviation industry. Their training fleet, which includes 18 Piper Archers, seven Piper Arrows, three Piper Seminoles, and two Cessna 152s. With only one aircraft with a glass cockpit, this is hardly an excessively costly fleet considering the level of enrollment.

For more information on flight training and choosing the right school, check out our Flight Training Resource Center or search our listings by country, city, state/province, or zip code for a flight training school near you.

Source: University of Illinois aviation program to close
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.

Air Traffic Controller Training – Simulator Speeds Process

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011
Southwest Airlines 737 departing Las Vegas

Southwest Airlines 737 departing Las Vegas - Photo courtesy and copyright Brandon Farris

According to a VegasInc.com article, McCarran International Airport at Las Vegas, Nevada, is the site of a new simulator that is used to train air traffic controllers. The simulator gives trainees a very detailed and realistic view of the airport as seen from the control tower. The simulator duplicates the view of the landing strips in all kinds of weather and all times of night or day. With 505,000 takeoffs and landings annually, this airport at Las Vegas is the country’s 8th busiest.

With a hardware cost of $500,000 and a software cost of $400,000, the total cost of the simulator is nearly $1 million dollars. It is used for the training of new controllers and for veteran controllers to brush up on their skills. The simulator enables new controllers to qualify in 1/2 the time that is required using traditional training. This results in real savings, as air traffic controllers have six figure salaries. The traditional method of training allows the trainee to actually control the air traffic while their instructor is on standby to assume control, if necessary. The simulator allows hands-on training without the disastrous consequences of failure.

An air traffic controller’s job would rank near the top as the world’s most stressful job. At times, the controller is tracking dozens of airplanes on the radar screen and trying to keep them from crashing into each other while they are trying to land. He has responsibility for the safety of thousands of lives simultaneously.

A Kansas City Star article demonstrates the difficulty of the job at the country’s busiest airports. The article relates the story of a experimental recruitment program at the Chicago area air traffic control center. The control center has been recruiting the “best and the brightest” for four years. The goal is to train recruits to have the ability to handle all positions in the radar center. The recruits range from walk-ins to experienced controllers from smaller airports. To date, not one recruit has completely succeeded in mastering all positions. This testifies to the extreme demands of the job.

BigFatSimulations.com advertises a game, which they say simulates very realistically, a radar screen showing the airspace over an airport. They state that your blood pressure will definitely rise while playing this game. Quoting the website, “This is no game, but an utterly realistic simulation of a terminal airspace, with human pilot voices.” This article implies no endorsement of the game or the website. If it is as advertised, the game should definitely give the player a feel for the situation facing air traffic controllers.

Learn more about becoming an air traffic controller
See a list of air traffic controller schools

Sources:

Richard N. Velotta/”Simulator Streamlines Air Traffic controller Training”/VegasInc.com
Air Traffic Controller Game/Big Fat Simulations
Jon Hilkevitch/”Recruits Brave Air-traffic Control’s Pressure Cooker: Chicago”/Kansas City Star

U.S. Senate Introduces Pilot’s Bill of Rights

Monday, July 25th, 2011

Two university aviation programs are set to expand in the next five years.

In early July, the U.S. Senate introduced legislation, co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 23 senators, that will act as a bill of rights for pilots. The measure seeks to establish due process rights for pilots undergoing FAA enforcement actions and a clearer set of procedures for NOTAMs and medical certification.

The bill is based largely on the work of the EAA and AOPA in compiling background data and seeking co-sponsors. According to EAA President and CEO Rod Hightower, “EAA supports any legislative actions that enhance pilots’ opportunities for legal due process in FAA enforcement cases.”

The legislation as introduced includes several new protections for pilots and seeks to simplify two areas of much consternation among pilots, medical certification and NOTAMs by establishing centralized archives of simplified NOTAMs, archiving flight service station communications and instituting a thorough review of the medical certification process and forms. Under the bill, the FAA would be required to provide the pilot with all relevant evidence 30 days before the decision for the enforcement action to proceed. It would also further clarify the roles of the NTSB and federal district courts in appeals.

The entire text of the bill is available on Senator Inhofe’s website (http://inhofe.senate.gov/public/) and the senator will host a forum on the bill at EAA AirVenture on Saturday, July 30, in Forum Pavilion 11.

This initiative is important for pilots of any level because one simple mistake is all it takes to get on the FAAs bad side. This is not to say that they are out to get you, but the protections included in this bill will go a long way toward providing a clear path of appeal in the unlikely event of an enforcement action. The added benefits of simplified NOTAMs and medical certification paperwork will really help protect pilots as these two areas are some of the most problematic.

Get more info in our Flight Training Resource Center or flight training school directory.

Source: Pilot’s Bill of Rights Introduced in U.S. Senate
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.

How To Find Money For Helicopter Training

Sunday, July 24th, 2011
Robinson R44 Helicopter - find money for helicopter training

Robinson Helicopters R44 “Raven”

If you’re looking into helicopter flight training, you’re likely no stranger to seeing some pretty substantial price tags. The question is, given the current economic state, how on earth do you come up with $75,000 or $80,000 dollars to pay for a professional helicopter training program? Here’s some ideas on how to find money for helicopter training.

In the past, before the current credit crisis, it was relatively easy to secure educational loans that would cover programs like helicopter flight training. Now, unfortunately, many financial institutions have all but stopped making these loans and the flight training industry is suffering a significant drop in students. The is made all the more worse in the rotary-wing industry by the higher costs associated with helicopter operations.

It’s not all doom and gloom. While the easiest programs may have gone the way of the Dodo, there are a number of options out there. Most notably, companies like Pilot Finance, Inc., have sprung up offering flight training specific loans. Their programs allow you to pay for your training with fixed monthly payments, but train as fast as you’d like. The only drawback is these loans won’t cover the costs of an entire professional program. Other options include personal and home equity loans, if you qualify, or even credit cards. The trouble is, in the current economic climate, the average program will require a combination of these, as none is likely to cover the entire costs.

If you’ve served in the US military, you have a number of other options available to you. For example, the GI bill will cover 60 percent of your training costs for ratings beyond your private pilot certificate. While that’s nothing to scoff at, you’re still on the hook for a tidy sum. Until this year, some veterans qualified for 100 percent funding under the Post 9/11 GI bill for training taken at colleges. An effort to expand this funding to include flight schools passed, unfortunately, this bill capped that funding at $10,000 per year for flight training.

When it comes to paying for your training, there are options, its just a matter of finding the ones that will work for you. The trouble with the current economic climate is that many entry level helicopter pilot jobs are hard to find despite looming shortages. The important takeaway here is that there is money out there, and while it may not cover all of your training, every little bit helps.

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

Related articles:
Helicopter Pilot Salary – What do professional helicopter pilots make?

Source: Finding training money
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.

Boeing Increases Production and Predicts Boom in Demand

Saturday, July 23rd, 2011
Southwest Airlines Boeing 737

Boeing poised to increase the output of its 737 model in 2012 - photo courtesy of and copyright Brandon Farris, Dex Images

In a surprising announcement given the recent economic woes of many US airlines, Boeing said that it plans several major production increases in the next few years. The company released an analysis directly before the Paris Air Show in June 2011 that predicted the world’s fleet of commercial aircraft would double in the next two decades. The aircraft manufacturer predicted a total of $4 trillion in commercial aircraft sales in that time, an increase of 33,500 new aircraft. Boeing cited, amongst other data, a 5.1% uptick in global passenger traffic and the declining age of commercial aircraft.

Due to this predicted increase in demand, Boeing has announced a production increase of 35 planes per month in early 2012 of its 737 model, which is currently being produced at a rate of 31.5 planes a month. Boeing further predicts that this number will rise to 42 per month by the beginning of 2014.

While some industry leaders have been skeptical of Boeing’s predictions, Boeing’s VP of Marketing Randy Tinseth contends that they are based on solid analysis of recent trends in the aviation market. “The world market has recovered and is now expanding at a significant rate,” Mr. Tinseth insisted, citing the growth of air travel in emerging markets and general economic trends in these markets towards open world trade, liberalization and general economic growth. Boeing admits that the US growth in air traffic will be much slower than that in developing economies, with North America’s increase in growth over the past year being a mere 2.3% compared to the robust 7% and 7.2% increases seen in the Middle East and the Asia Pacific regions respectively.

Due to this strong uptick in global growth, Boeing predicts that the most in-demand aircraft models in the next twenty years will be long-range twin-aisle designs that can handle the challenges of globalization and the corresponding increase in international passengers and flights.

Aviloop Promises Lower Cost Flight Training Experiences

Friday, July 22nd, 2011
By the Aviloop Team, pilots and aviation enthusiasts.
Student Pilot at the controls

Aviloop says it features the best aviation products and experiences at 50-90% off

We just love the rush of zooming down the runway and pulling back the yoke to lift off. Amazing, isn’t it? Sure, we know flying is no miracle, yet we still feel like the luckiest folks on the planet when we experience Newton’s laws and Bernoulli’s principle in action. Aaah, the wonders of flight…

If you’re anything like us, you are constantly trying to get your friends to join in on the best hobby ever. But we all know that becoming a pilot is no easy task. It sure takes a lot of time and even more money. Yes, in the end it is totally worth it! That’s why we find it saddening when someone with a dream and a passion for aviation can no longer continue on their journey because they run out of funds. Unfortunately, it happens all too often.

At Aviloop we think no one should be turned away from doing what they love just because they are short a few bucks. We feel even stronger about the other outcome of costly flight lessons – pilots cutting corners and not getting enough training to fully grasp all that flying is. Did you know that the cause in 70% of non-commercial plane accidents is pilot-related?* Wow! This is something that can be fixed. We say, let’s start by providing flight lessons at more affordable rates. Let’s give aviators one less reason to cut corners and get the training they need to stay safe and proficient. This is why Aviloop was launched…

Aviloop.com is a group buying aviation website. We feature deals on the best aviation products and experiences at 50-90% off. Our mission is to change the face of general aviation by making it more accessible, more affordable, more fun, but most importantly – safer. Safety is our number one priority, because we think flying should be a fun and exhilarating experience, not a life threatening one. We even take our safety philosophy one step further – To ensure the safety of our customers, we only feature deals with flight schools that pass our rigorous inspection to become “Aviloop Approved”. We live and breathe aviation and we are here to improve it.

Wouldn’t it be nice to move up a level in your pilot career without emptying out your bank account? Whether you are new to aviation, looking to take an introductory class, get your private pilot license, multi-engine rating, or instrument rating, we have a deal for you with a safe and credible flight school.

Why pay full price when you could get a jaw-dropping discount with a grade “A” instructor?  Right, there is no reason… That’s why you should register at www.aviloop.com and learn about the best aviation deals going on in your airspace.

*According to the 2010 AOPA Nall report