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A Las Vegas-area company intends to pick up where AOPA left off and reprise the "Summit" convention and aircraft display at the Palm Springs Convention Center Oct. 17-19. Lift Event Management of Henderson, just outside Las Vegas, is apparently patterning their 2014 Aviation Summit after the 2012 Summit in Palm Springs, including the Parade of Planes from the airport to the convention center. Last year, AOPA announced its 2013 Fort Worth show would be the last AOPA Summit and scheduled six regional events in its place. In a prospectus emailed to potential exhibitors, the company says it chose Palm Springs as "the ideal destination to display and showcase the latest in aviation products and services."

The Palm Springs venue was always a popular one for AOPA Summit and, prior to that, Expo attendees, too. Lift intends to follow the same essential format of the AOPA shows, including forums, speakers, exhibition space and a static display outside the convention center. Its promotional material includes photos from what appears to be the last AOPA Summit in Palm Springs. The company is actively seeking participants for all facets of the show.

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The FAA today published a notice in the Federal Register of the availability of two new and eight revised consensus standards for certification of certain light sport aircraft and requested comments on the standards. Under light sport rules, ASTM International (formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials) Committee F37 on Light Sport Aircraft developed the standards with FAA participation. With the formal notice in the Federal Register, the FAA found the new standards acceptable and published them for comment. Under the light sport rules, the FAA expects that certification standards are to be reviewed at least every two years and revised as necessary. Included in the new or revised standards are those that apply to design, quality assurance and continued airworthiness of powered parachutes; design and performance of light sport aircraft; and quality assurance of fixed wing and lighter-than-air light sport aircraft.

Under the light sport rules, federal participation in the development and use of voluntary consensus standards and in conformity assessment activities is required. Those rules are less formal than the rule-making process the FAA must go through to change the Federal Aviation Regulations applicable to certification of non-light-sport aircraft. Accordingly, the FAA announced that its personnel have been working with ASTM International to develop consensus standards for light sport aircraft. The FAA said the consensus standards satisfy the FAA's goal for airworthiness certification and a verifiable minimum safety level for light sport aircraft. Instead of developing airworthiness standards through the rulemaking process, the FAA participates as a member of Committee F37 in developing these standards. According to the FAA, “the use of the consensus standard process assures government and industry discussion and agreement on appropriate standards for the required level of safety.”

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In the first penalty of its kind, federal transportation officials docked Asiana Airlines $500,000 for failing to promptly contact passengers' families and keep them informed about their loved ones after a deadly crash last year at San Francisco International airport. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the U.S. Department of Transportation said it took the South Korean airline five days to contact the families of all 291 passengers. In addition, a required crash hotline was initially routed to an automated reservations line. Never before has the department concluded that an airline broke U.S. laws requiring prompt and generous assistance to the loved ones of crash victims.

Three people died and dozens were injured on July 6 when Asiana Flight 214 clipped a seawall while landing. One of the victims, a 16-year-old girl, apparently survived being ejected onto the ground, only to be run over by a fire truck in the post-crash confusion. Many of the families live in South Korea or China, meaning the airline was their main source of information on the crash half a world away. "The last thing families and passengers should have to worry about at such a stressful time is how to get information from their carrier," U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a prepared statement. Under a consent order the airline signed with the department, Asiana will pay a $400,000 fine and get a $100,000 credit for sponsoring industry-wide conferences and training sessions through 2015 to discuss lessons learned from the situation.

During its third test flight, Cessna Aircraft’s Citation Latitude prototype successfully achieved its full performance envelope, the company said. It reached a maximum speed of 506 mph and an altitude of 45,000 feet with a gross takeoff weight of 29,000 pounds. The first flight took place last week. Michael Thacker, Cessna senior vice president of engineering, said in a statement that from an engineering perspective, Cessna’s team has designed a plane that is proceeding in a predictable, reliable manner.

According to the Wichita Eagle, the test prototype is displaying characteristics of a mature system in its first few flights. Cessna CEO Scott Ernest said, “The Latitude is an aircraft that delivers a lot of firsts from Cessna — the wide fuselage, the stand-up cabin with a flat floor, auto-throttles, the electric door and the improved cabin environment. All these achievements stem from listening to the voice of the customer and getting down to the business of delivering what customers need and desire.” Cessna’s website says certification and first deliveries are expected in 2015.

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Pilots who have a used airplane to sell, or who are looking for one to buy, have a new website where they can post their airplane for sale or shop online. The company plans to offer the airplanes up for bid, and will actively help facilitate the sales, A.J. Brown, vice president for marketing, told AVweb this week. "Most people buy maybe one or two airplanes in a lifetime," he said. "We'll be buying and selling thousands, so our knowledge base will be much greater to help these people." The site, BiddingAce.com, will be up and running by Monday, Brown said.

The company is located in the Silicon Valley, in California. CEO Tom Henn said they're working with Iron Planet, which developed a platform for selling construction equipment, and they have adapted that platform for the aircraft marketplace. "We interface with the sellers, and help them post all their data online," says Henn. "We make sure every listing is flawless and looks good, and we'll look for potential buyers and call them to see if they want to place a bid. We're interfacing with the buyers over the phone to try to get that transaction under way."

Tom Henn and A. J. Brown, the CEO and vice president of a new company called BiddingAce.com, hope to provide an easy-to-use online service for those looking to buy or sell a general aviation airplane.  They spoke with AVweb's Mary Grady about their plans.

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Before Civil Air Patrol's Command Council convenes in Washington, D.C., this week for its annual winter meeting, it will gather on Capitol Hill for Legislative Day on Feb. 27 to brief Congress on the U.S. Air Force auxiliary's primary missions of emergency services, aerospace education and cadet programs. Legislative Day will also feature induction of U.S. Senator Tom Harkin into CAP's Hall of Honor. The Civil Air Patrol will thank Harkin for his 30 years of CAP service during a congressional reception in the Senate's Russell Office Building. Harkin -- a former Navy fighter pilot who commands CAP's Congressional Squadron -- will become the 34th person inducted into the Hall of Honor in CAP's 72-year history, and only the second member of Congress, joining former New York congressman and fellow CAP Col. Lester Wolff, who was inducted in 1985.

At Heli-Expo 2014, Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. company, announced a letter of intent for 10 Bell 525 Relentless aircraft. Abu Dhabi Aviation chose the Bell 525 for its versatility to support a number of missions based in the UAE, including offshore oil and gas, emergency medical support, VIP transport, firefighting and search and rescue. Bell Helicopter has designated Abu Dhabi Aviation as the lead customer for the Middle East, Africa and Eurasia. Also at Heli-Expo, Professional Resources In System Management LLC (PRISM) announced the continued growth of its partnership with the USAIG Performance Vector program. Since joining the program in April 2012, PRISM has welcomed 45 fixed and rotary wing USAIG insured operators as subscribers to its highly regarded Safety Management System program.

In 1929, Amelia Earhart and 18 other female pilots set off from California to race to a finish line in Ohio -- and this Friday, historian Bill Meixner will be telling that story, full of adventure, courage, and tragedy, at the International Women's Air & Space Museum at the Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland, Ohio. The story comes with dinner and a chance to visit the museum, where you can learn about the contributions made to early aviation by the Wright brothers' sister, Katharine, all for just $15. For more information, visit the free SocialFlight website or app, where this event is listed along with dozens more around the country.

Other events coming up this weekend include an Emergency Procedures Safety Clinic, scheduled for Saturday at the Socorro Municipal Airport in New Mexico. This event offers pilots a chance to review emergency procedures while flying with an instructor. Participating CFIs have developed simulated scenarios using local airports and airspace for this special training session, sponsored by the New Mexico Pilots Association. Pilots who are in the mood just to relax and explore for the day are invited to a Fly-in/Cruise-in Breakfast at the Wings of Dreams Aviation Museum at the Keystone Airpark, on the waterfront, near Jacksonville, Fla. Breakfast is served from 8 to 10 a.m., followed by a program about building and flying model aircraft, and guided tours of the museum and historic space artifacts. More details, and more events, can be found at SocialFlight.com.

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Maintaining your IFR currency isn’t that hard. Just fly and log in actual or simulated conditions six instrument approaches, “holding procedures and tasks” and “intercepting and tracking” electronic courses within the preceding six months, and you’re golden. Even if you find yourself slightly out of currency in the 11th month, you can go out with a safety pilot and fly the requisite approaches/holds/intercepts, regaining your ability to legally file and fly IFR.

But after 12 full months of being out of IFR currency, you’ll need an instrument proficiency check, or IPC. There was a time, before the most recent revisions to FAR 61, when an IPC—previously known as an instrument competency check— wasn’t structured. That’s no longer the case. “The instrument proficiency check must consist of the areas of operation and instrument tasks required in the instrument rating practical test standards..” So sayeth FAR 61.57. Essentially, you’re taking what could turn out to be another instrument rating checkride. How will you prepare?

Step One

As with a 12-step program, the first thing you should do is admit you have a problem. Getting back into the IFR saddle isn’t the end of the world, but it’s not as easy as it once was, either. To do this right, you’ll need to spend some time studying and you might even need some practice before going for the actual IPC. Then you’ll need to seek out an instrument instructor who’s willing to give you the IPC.

Depending on your situation— how many of your buddies have their double-I and whether the willing instructor knows you and how you fly, for example—you might get off easy. The other extreme? If you rent and the FBO looks at IPCs as a profit center, good luck. As the FAA’s Instrument Proficiency Check Guidance handbook (IPC Guide) states, “an IPC more often requires short-term evaluation of an unknown pilot, possibly with the added challenge of an unfamiliar aircraft and/or avionics.”

As always when someone is gearing up for a new rating, a flight review or even a simple endorsement, we’d encourage trying to make it as much of a learning experience as possible. For the IPC, that might mean getting a high-performance or complex endorsement at the same time, or maybe working in a flight review sign-off (which should be a no-brainer). That said, we wouldn’t advise doing your IPC in something equipped with a Garmin G1000 panel if all you’ve flown before are steam gauges.

Guidance

While some of the foregoing might not brighten your day, here’s something that could: The aforementioned IPC Guide is a comprehensive overview of the IPC and everything you need to know, laid out in a logical fashion. We’d encourage anyone who needs or may need an IPC to download a copy in the PDF format from the FAA’s Web site: tinyurl.com/avsafe-ipc. While you’re at it, you also should grab a copy of the instrument rating’s practical test standards (PTS), also in PDF: tinyurl.com/ avsafe-ifrpts.

Additional guidance is available on the FAA’s FAASTeam Web site, www.faasafety.gov, including both commercial and FAA-sponsored courses designed just for you: the pilot who needs an IPC. At least the one course we previewed for this article isn’t an in-depth review. It does, however, hit the high spots and will help you recall some of the basic numbers and rules applicable to instrument flying.

A final word of advice before tackling some other topics: Don’t show up for your IPC without current charts. Nothing screams “unprepared” like pulling out a book of terminal procedures that expired before the last time you were current. Be sure you’re carrying current approach plates and en route charts for the area in which you’re flying and at least some kind of separate reference listing airport data, like is found in the FAA’s Airport/Facility Directory, the green books. If you’re using an electronic tablet like an iPad for your charting, be sure your EFB soft- ware is up-to-date and the application has current chart data. It also would be helpful if you actually knew how to use the application and had some method of mounting the thing where you can refer to it easily while flying an approach. It’s considered really bad form if you have to ask the double-I to hold your iPad while verifying the inbound course or minimum altitude you’re supposed to be flying.

The Plan

You’ll likely be asked to plan a flight to some destination and obtain a standard weather briefing, file a flight plan and assess whether the airplane’s equipment and status—like its fuel load—will be sufficient. Regardless of whether one is required on that day’s weather, you also should plan for at least two alternate airports.

 Why two? One of the compleat instrument pilot’s dirty little secrets is the alternate airport filed on the flight plan probably isn’t the alternate she’ll use in a pinch. For one thing, it’s unusual—not unheard of, but unusual—for the original destination to go so far down the tubes we can’t get in. The legal alternate is just that: The one we can actually reach after flying to our destination and failing to get in, given the fuel available and distances involved.

Your “real” alternate easily could be some other facility, one sitting astride your flight-planned route, for example, or the smaller facility that’s downwind from your filed alternate. If you’ve got the gas, your alternate could even be your departure point. And unless you’re confronting some really scuzzy and fast-moving weather not complying with your briefing, there’s usually plenty of warning conditions are low enough you’re not going to be able to land at your destination. But only a sadistic double-I with a death wish would launch on an IPC in that kind of weather, right?

Things to Consider

Ideally, you and your double-I will have discussed how he intends to conduct the IPC before you show up for it. This could include such details as the destination for which he or she expects you to plan a flight, the aircraft’s equipment and how you’re expected to use it. Given the FAA’s recent and long-overdue emphases on risk management, you also should expect some qualitative assessment of how you view and respond to weather and equipment-failure scenarios.

For example, what are your responsibilities if you’ve filed with a /G or /R equipment suffix and your panel-mounted GPS soils the bed as you level off at cruise? We won’t spoil it for you: The answer is in the FARs. What about an autopilot failure? You don’t need it legally, but its loss could definitely add to your fatigue over a four-hour flight. How about the #2 nav/comm? If it packs up, what capabilities go with it? What are your legal obligations, if any?

Another thing you might expect to be asked is to explain the delay between a Nexrad image being captured, processed, transmitted and appearing on your in-cockpit display. It’s called latency, and might be as much as 20 minutes. A thunderstorm can move several miles in that time, and we’ve witnessed them blossom from yellow to colors we’ve never seen before in less.

Flying the Plane

Up to now, we haven’t even touched on the key thing on which you’re going to be evaluated: Flying solely by reference to instruments. If it’s been a couple of years since you were IFR current, you likely need some practice before showing up for your IPC. There are a number of ways to skin this cat: One of the simplest might be to get some instrument dual with the double-I with whom you plan to do the IPC. That way, at least you can polish up on the stuff he or she considers important. One of the least-expensive and most-rewarding might be to get some time in an approved simulator or flight training device. In our experience, they’re much harder to fly well than the actual airplane, and you’re likely to learn a few things along the way to perfect your scan and refresh your procedures.

Failing that, get a safety pilot and go roll your own. Use the Instrument Flying Handbook as a refresher on attitude instrument flying, then fly the maneuvers it recommends. That should be a session all its own. Then find a quiet nearby facility with some basic approaches and shoot them until you can’t stand it anymore. For a third session, pop over to Hill Valley Regional and mix it up with some traffic while shooting more approaches. Use all the equipment available in the airplane you plan to use for the IPC: ILS, VNAV, VOR/DME, etc., when practicing.

By this time, you’ve probably figured out that maintaining your IFR currency once you regain it will be easier than getting an IPC every year or so. Work with your double-I to schedule some post-IPC instrument flying so you won’t find yourself in this bind again.

This article originally appeared in the July 2013 issue of Aviation Safety magazine.

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It being general aviation and all, lots of businesses have learned to survive if not thrive on crumbs and scraps. It now looks like one company seems to be betting that AOPA left a bit of a feast on the table last summer when it summarily cancelled its annual fall exposition, lately called Summit. An exposition company called Lift Event Management is taking up where AOPA left off and trying to launch a show next fall in Palm Springs. They’re even calling it…you guessed it, Aviation Summit.

In a professionally prepared prospectus making the rounds this week, Lift Management proposes a three-day show from October 17 to 19. I’m not sure how this will be received, but right out of the blocks, there’s a problem: The NBAA Convention runs from October 21 to the 23, making the two shows back to back. Lift told AVweb’s Tom Bliss that the date may have to be adjusted but even so, for many companies, the time for planning to attend will just be too short. This has been a perennial problem in October for many companies, including us.  Even a small presence at such shows costs $10,000 to $15,000 and for some vendors, a lot more than that. Just as costly is the disruption to normal business for companies that aren’t fat with staff. Five days out of the office takes another five to catch up.

But do we even need another fall show in a season that already has five major expositions, plus several minor ones? When I posed this question to some of the companies at last years final AOPA Summit in Fort Worth, I got mixed reactions. Some were wondering how they would replace the marketing exposure Summit gave them, others were happy for a more restful fall. I shopped Lift’s idea among a few companies yesterday and again got mixed reviews. Aircraft Spruce, which is right in the Palm Springs neighborhood, said they would probably attend it. But halfway across the country, Houston-based ForeFlight said probably not. I think Lift will have a marketing challenge in selling enough exhibition space to turn a profit. They should have started last fall. On the plus side, Palm Springs was always a good draw for AOPA's shows.

I can’t decide whether templating AOPA’s version of Summit—right down to the parade of planes—is a clever bit of marketing coat tailing or just a half-hearted lack of creativity. But it is confusing. One company I e-mailed thought AOPA had reconsidered and was re-instituting Summit. I’m not sure people like that sleight of hand. It’s a weird way to build a new brand. And besides, I always thought Summit was a terrible name. Expo was simply a better choice, succinctly describing what the thing is all about. A summit is either a mountaintop or a high-level diplomatic deliberation.

Still, there may be room for such an expo, whatever you call it. Last fall, I covered a new show in the motorcycle industry called simply AIM Expo. It too was breaking into a well-served market and was superbly executed. The vendors raved about it. Compared to the motor sports industry, GA is rather more anemic, but that doesn’t mean a critical mass of vendors can’t come together to yield a show that’s attractive to consumers. There may very well be a need for it and I think we would all like it to succeed if there is. But it may take a little more planning than Lift has done to pull it off.

We’ll see, I suppose.

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St. Barts, in the eastern Caribbean, is famous for having a short, narrow runway with a tall hill off one end.  It's tricky to get into, and more than one pilot has come to grief in trying.  In this video, AVweb's Paul Bertorelli reviews a landing that went wrong and why.

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The Bower family of Gualala, California would like nothing better than to keep their private, public-use airport open — but since they don't fly themselves, they're hoping those with some skin in the game will pay the $60,000 necessary for repairs.  AVweb's Russ Niles spoke with Julie Bower about the unique situation in a remote corner of Mendocino County.

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