AVweb AVFlash - Volume 20, Number 12a
September 22, 2013
WingX Warns Against iOS 7 Upgrade
Hilton Software, developers of the WingX Pro aviation app, is advising its subscribers not to upgrade their iPads and iPhones to the new iOS 7 operating system because the new operating system has stability issues. The company says it believes its app is fully compatible with iOS 7 but the operating system itself has a variety of issues, including lock ups, random reboots and strange behavior of the user interface. The issues have been reported on the final release of the system and not just the beta version. The company says it has had bug reports from just five of its thousands of customers but issued the warning out of an abundance of caution.
"We're coming at it from a position of reliability; i.e. a crash or a hang is OK while tweeting but not while flying," the company said in its email to customers. Those who reported the bugs with their devices said the hiccups ranged from complete lockups of the screen and buttons to uncommanded reboots to corrupted screens that didn't look or behave properly. WingX says it has been testing iOS 7 on a variety of devices and configurations and it's working fine so far. "We have not seen one single crash attributable to WingX Pro7 on iOS 7.0," the email said. Many pilots have also reported the app works fine with the new operating system but the possibility of problems prompted the warning. "Because of issues we have seen with iOS7 and unrelated to any third-party app, we cannot recommend upgrading your iPhone or iPad to iOS 7 (for now)," the email said. Those who have already upgraded to the new operating system are advised to upgrade as soon as a new version is available.
SAFE Wants Pilot Experience Data Collected
The Society of Aviation and Flight Educators (SAFE) says the FAA should be looking in pilots' logbooks to help it curtail the GA accident rate. The organization told a recent meeting on the FAA's data collection process that the agency should "start collecting information on pilot recurrent safety training in addition to the data it already collects on airports, aircraft and aircraft activity," SAFE said in a news release. "Everyone in the industry knows the importance of recurrent training for aviation safety," said SAFE Executive Director Doug Stewart. "But there is almost no data on pilot recent experience, time in type of aircraft or the kind of training being used."
Stewart said that as part of its work on the FAA Loss-of-Control workgroup, his group has noticed that "pilot error" accidents are rarely backed up with documentation on the pilot's currency and recency. "That's why we're asking the FAA to start gathering such data," Stewart said. "It would help immensely in determining why these kinds of accidents keep occurring." Most loss-of-control accidents are fatal.
FAA On The CFI Practical As BFR
A new direct to final rule issued Sept. 16 by the FAA introduces a subtle but substantive change for CFI candidates, and according to NAFI chairman of the board Robert Meder, "This is a good thing." The new rule considers practical tests flown for the issuance of a flight instructor certificate, or renewal of a flight instructor certificate, or the addition of a rating to a flight instructor certificate, or reinstatement of the certificate, as meeting 24-calendar month flight review (BFR) requirements. Without specific conditions, they previously did not. The rule goes into effect Nov. 15, and until then, practical test rides for flight instructor candidates will continue to be treated as different from other ratings. It will not automatically satisfy the requirements of the BFR. AVweb spoke with Meder Thursday, and he was optimistic about the change.
"This alleviates confusion for flight instructor candidates who, until Nov. 15, must still specifically ask that the examiner or inspector also log the ride as a BFR ... something the examiner or inspector could, though perhaps rarely would, deny," says Meder. "This brings the CFI practical into conformity with other practical test rides, and should make life simpler." Again, until Nov. 15, certified flight instructor candidates must ask the inspector or examiner to also provide an endorsement for a flight review upon completion of the practical test. The FAA is accepting comments through Oct.15, 2013. And if the agency receives an adverse comment it may withdraw the rule in whole or in part. For more information, click here.
China's Response To Growth Amid Pilot Shortage
China is expecting to lead the region's demand for new commercial pilots as it takes delivery of more than 5,500 aircraft over the next two decades, and its current pilot population may already be stretching work hours to meet demand, so changes are likely coming. China's civil aviation had a shortfall of 10,000 pilots in 2012, Zou Jianjun, a professor at the Civil Aviation Management Institute of China, told ChinaDaily.com.cn. The largest gap, Zou said, is with wide-body qualified captains, and air traffic is expected to grow. One pilot told the news agency he's already flying more than 90 hours monthly, "which is near the authority's upper limit of 100 hours." There are solutions in the works. Some bode well for foreign pilots. Others may bode well for foreign manufacturers.
According to Zou, domestic airlines have started recruiting foreign pilots, but he sees this as a stopgap measure. Some Chinese carriers have sought to establish pilot training centers outside of the country because of China's aviation regulations currently make it difficult for new pilots to build flight experience. And that could persuade the country to take action regarding how it grants access to airspace. Says Zou, "The situation will change if low-altitude airspace is opened." In January, the Chinese government said it recognized general aviation as an economic engine and would be providing targeted funding to jumpstart the industry there. The country has been making slow progress, however, with its plans to open airspace below 1,000 meters, and private flights have been hampered by slow infrastructure development and a difficult control structure. The need for pilots may expedite that development.
Boeing Lands Billions In Orders For New Models
Lufthansa and two leasing companies have placed orders at a combined total of roughly $19 billion (not including discounts) for large jets that don't yet exist in Boeing's line-up, the 787-10 and the 777-9X. The jets currently exist only as computer designs. Planned production of the 787-10, which will be the largest of the Dreamliner family and capable of carrying about 330 passengers, was announced this summer. The 777-9X is designed to carry 400 passengers and is expected to compete with Airbus' A350 series planes. Punctuating that point, Lufthansa split its order, requesting 34 777-9X jets from Boeing and 25 of Airbus' slightly smaller A350s. Airbus, however, has acquired more orders for the year, overall, which has become somewhat of a trend.
Comparing order books for the two companies through August, Boeing stood at 786 orders won compared to 902 earned by Airbus. Last year's year-through-August numbers left Boeing with 1,203 to Airbus' 833. The numbers reflected the market's excitement for Boeing's 737MAX. Airbus has been consistently strong for the past decade, more often besting Boeing, but not by much. And Airbus does have a 737MAX competitor in the A320neo, which was announced prior to Boeing's design and has acquired more orders.
NTSB Broadens Pilots' Rights In Enforcement Appeals
The NTSB Thursday announced it has issued a Final Rule applicable to the aviation certificate enforcement appeals process and that it is also issuing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to extend one of that rule's benefits to pilots involved in emergency enforcement cases. The Final Rule allows pilots subjected to certificate enforcement to appeal to administrative law judges acting under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Federal Rules of Evidence. Litigants may also seek appeals in a Federal district court or Federal court of appeals. Under the final rule, the FAA must also disclose its enforcement investigative report to a pilot involved in an enforcement case. A separate proposed new rule would extend that specific right to pilots involved in emergency enforcement cases.
The NTSB says the proposed rule is the result of public comments. According to the NTSB, the proposal was the result of "substantive feedback and suggestions" received during the Interim Rule's public comment period. The NTSB says it received 10 comments in response to the Interim Rule and those comments were enough to move the NTSB to action. Both the Final Rule and the proposed rule are available online. Find the Final Rule here. And find the proposed rule (applicable to emergency actions) here. Comments on the proposed rule will be accepted through Oct. 21, 2013.
General's Bold Account Of US F-22, Iranian F-4 Engagement
The Air Force, through Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh, has publicized an account (perhaps the first) involving the engagement of an F-22 Raptor and Iranian F-4s flying within 16 miles of an MQ-1 Predator drone as the UAV flew over international waters off the coast of Iran. Welsh delivered the account Tuesday, saying the event took place in March. According to Welsh, Air Force Reservist Lt. Col. Kevin "Showtime" Sutterfield closed on the F-4s while flying the Raptor. Per the account, Sutterfield flew the jet to well within visual range, unnoticed. He slipped the fighter under the wings of one of the Iranian jets "to check out their weapons load without them knowing that he was there." And then, according to Welsh, Sutterfield "pulled up on their left wing" and "called them and said 'you really ought to go home.'"
Welsh delivered the account before an audience of fellow service members at the Air Force Association's Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition, according to Military.com. The exact location of F-22s deployed in the region has not been released. The military has said instead that Raptors are based in Southwest Asia. Questions surrounding Welsh's account include whether or not other airborne operations vectored or supported the Raptor's approach, allowing it to avoid use of radar and safely maintain stealth while closing on the F-4s, distance between the jets while flying in close formation, and concerns for potential outcomes should the event have become complicated by acts of aggression or error. The Predator, meanwhile, is said to have been conducting reconnaissance while flying over international waters. Earlier Predator flights had attracted airborne response in the form of Iranian jets. Sutterfield's action in March successfully warned them off, said Welch.
Redbird Finalizes Rules on $1 Avgas
To no one’s surprise, Redbird’s Skyport has been inundated with interest in its plan to sell avgas for $1 a gallon during the month of October, as we reported in AVweb two weeks ago. Interest has been so strong, in fact, that the company is setting some limits of both fill-up frequency and volume. Redbird’s Jerry Gregoire told us this week that the company is getting as many as 50 calls a day, with some callers wondering if they can truck in tanks and have them filled at a buck a gallon.
In a word, no. Skyport spokesman Jeff Van West says the point of the cheap avgas is to see if the cost of flying—including the fuel—really is the brake on flight activity that most people assume it is. The company will ask pilots to participate in a brief survey after filling up to illuminate whether cheap gas is really encouraging them to fly more. And there may be a lot of people waiting in line to fill-up, which is why Redbird has set some rules.
Van West says the $1 gas offer remains open to all piston-powered GA aircraft that can fly into the Skyport at San Marcos, Texas under their own power, but only the aircraft’s regular tanks will be filled. Portable fuel systems in trucks or other vehicles don’t qualify for the discount.
The fueling limit with be 200 gallons a day, but owners can purchase additional fuel at the regular price. Anyone who has an aircraft with a capacity of over 200 gallons is perfectly welcome to stay in San Marcos overnight and take another 200 gallons the next day, Van West told us. Normal operating hours during October will be 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Van West says Redbird reserves the right to refuse fueling to anyone it believes is violating the spirit of the cost experiment. For more information and updates on the program, check out this link.
AVmail: September 23, 2013
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