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Pilots need a better grasp of so-called "higher-order pilot skills" to reduce the accident rate and improve the appeal of flying as a vocation and as recreation, according to the Society of
Aviation and Flight Educators (SAFE). The organization is proposing six projects (PDF)
aimed at working toward those goals. The recommendations result from a two-day symposium on flight training reform involving
148 industry and government leaders in Atlanta in early May. In a nutshell, the symposium determined private flight training is stuck in an instructional time warp in which flight maneuvers and rote
memorization dominate the lessons. Airlines, the military and some independent flight schools are adopting new training regimes that emphasize risk management, scenario-based training and other
pilot-centric methods, but the symposium agreed that most flight schools have been slow to embrace the new training strategies. SAFE says the six projects proposed by those who summarized the
symposium's input and activities can be implemented without onerous regulatory or administrative oversight.
SAFE says there needs to be a study into the root causes of fatal accidents with an eye to remedying them. It also wants instructor and pilot training to emphasize those higher-order pilot skills
that may help cut the accident rate. The FAA's role in that would be to alter its flight test doctrine to include scenario-based testing, risk management and other advanced skills that would be taught
by the refreshed flight schools through revamped curricula and training methods. It's also looking for recognition of the success of students and instructors through an FAA-sponsored pilot proficiency
program and through voluntary accreditation programs for instructors. SAFE is looking for responses on the proposals from the FAA and industry representatives by Sept. 30.
Related Content: AVweb was at the SAFE Symposium in May, and it's been on our minds ever since. Check out this previous coverage for more.
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The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission says LightSquared will not be allowed to build a broadband Internet system that interferes with GPS. In a letter (PDF) to Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-IA, Julius Genachowski says the FCC "will not permit LightSquared to provide commercial service until it is clear
potential GPS interference concerns have been resolved" and that "under no circumstances would I put at risk our nation's national defense or public safety." However, Genachowski also chafes at
suggestions by Grassley that the tentative decision to allow LightSquared access to the L-band of radio frequencies next to those used by GPS system was done quickly and without due diligence. He said
LightSquared's predecessors have had access to the L-band since 1995 and the conditional acceptance of LightSquared's plan to build 40,000 transmitters came at the end of a yearlong process to
transfer the license for that slice of radio frequency spectrum from Skyterra to Harbinger, which became LightSquared. He says the GPS industry has been aware of the fine details of the application
every step of the way and, at one point, the GPS Industry Council wrote a letter saying that interference problems had been resolved. Now that it's apparent they haven't been resolved, Genachowski
says the Commission will "work thoughtfully and carefully through the various interference issues that have arisen."
The GPS industry reacted strongly to the FCC's conditional acceptance of LightSquared's plan, saying the transmitters will be so powerful that they will drown out the much weaker GPS signals.
LightSquared is now testing its proposed system's effect on a variety of GPS-dependent devices, including flight navigation equipment, and will issue a final report on June 15. There will be further
opportunity for public comment after that report is filed. Genachowski makes it clear he'd like to see LightSquared and GPS be able to coexist. He says the L-band is "underutilized" and proposals like
LightSquared's "would result in billions of dollars of new private investment and the creation of tens of thousands of jobs."
The Isle of Man Is Open for Business
The new international conference Isle of Man: An International Aviation Center will be held on 12 July in the Isle of Man. This summit will explore themes such as
Aerospace Cluster, Aircraft Registry: The Journey So Far, Space, Treasury & Tax, Customs and VAT, Legal Issues, Blaydon Jets: A Manx Story, Corporate Service Providers, Tax Advisors, Registering
Airliners in the Isle of Man, MAC Financial, Aircraft Insurance, and Ronaldsway Services.
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Regulations and technological restrictions suggest it may not happen very soon, or at all, but some researchers believe aerial turbines will be tapping high-altitude winds for power generation
sometime in our future and perhaps within the decade. For researchers, the mother lode would be to maintain flying electric generators in the jet stream. Scientists estimate the energy there could
provide for current worldwide power needs 100 times over, annually. That doesn't mean it could happen and, for now, developers are focusing on developing tethered products for deployment at altitudes
below 2,000 feet. According to some, the question isn't "if" these products will start popping up, it's "when." And, for proponents of the technology, the answer to that is sometime within the next
five or six years.
That said, companies currently working on the project seem very loosely formed. They are in the development phase and are aware of federal airspace restrictions. One company, Altaeros Energies,
believes it can bypass many restrictions by focusing on altitudes of 2,000 feet and below, according to an article published Thursday by The Associated Press. At that altitude, winds are typically
about two and one half times stronger than they are at 350 feet, where a more typical wind turbine might reach, according to researchers. Proponents say the aerial turbines will be smaller, less
costly and cheaper to build and deploy than conventional windmills. Through wide-scale use, they imagine associated energy costs could drop to 2 cents per kilowatt hour from the 9- to 10-cent range
associated with land-based turbines. Companies currently researching the technology include Altaeros Energies and Sky WindPower -- neither of which have much of an Internet presence. Video of one of their test products is available here. No company has yet demonstrated the ability of their turbines to fly continuously and unsupervised
for extended periods of time.
FedEx pilot Gordon Boettger on Tuesday set the new high mark for glider flight in the northern hemisphere when he covered more than 1,400 miles surfing a mountain wave downwind of the Sierra Nevada
mountain range in his 1972 Kestrel 17. The trip was a 13-hour "yo-yo" flight from Minden, Nev., to Minden, Nev. -- meaning it flew back and forth along the primary wave. But Boettger did have one
section of 854 miles without a turn. He ran at ground speeds up to 231 mph, flew as high as 28,000 feet and spent most of his time near the glider's 135-knot Vne. At one point, he was at 27,000 feet
at Vne and climbing at 1,000 feet/min. "I could have gone to 40,000 feet. It was that kind of day," Boettger told AVweb. "But ATC had me capped at 28." Boettger said the cap probably kept him
below most of the airline traffic as it crossed the California/Nevada border for San Francisco International. Records aside, the flight offers some practical advice for pilots of powered
"There's a lot of things a lot of power pilots don't understand," he said. "Around Lone Pine (California), I heard a Mooney call in at 10,500. He was getting pounded down there. If he'd turned
about three miles upwind it would have been glass smooth ... go up to 14, and he'd probably been able to shut the motor down and go." An experienced mountain wave glider pilot, Boettger was speaking
from experience. As a young man flying a Cessna 172 on a long trip, he intentionally flew the airplane into a mountain wave and saw the vertical speed come up to 500 fpm with the power back. "We got
out of it because we thought the engine might get too cold." Boettger flew the trip with 44 cubic feet of oxygen packed to 1700 psi. By the end of the trip he had about 300 psi left. He filed an IFR
flight plan for the flight and has filed paperwork that allows his flights. He took off at 6:03 a.m. with a tow to about 8,800 feet MSL, which he says is about 4,000 AGL. Boettger flies with a
satellite phone he uses to get weather updates from longtime meteorologist and friend Doug Armstrong, who also updates Boettger's friends with emails throughout the flight.
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The loss of Air France Flight 447 has stirred comments on training and automation, but if you'd like to better
understand the in-cockpit dynamics of a commercial airliner flying overseas through storms at night ... here's a closer look. AVweb's Glenn Pew asked Jason Goldberg, a 15,000-hour professional
airline pilot who flies long-haul overseas routes, about those flights and what it's like to be there. The conversation isn't meant to explain what happened to Air France Flight 447, or to suggest or
second-guess whatever actions were taken by its crew. It's meant to give private pilots and non-pilots an idea of cockpit culture and the flight environment -- and what happens when things go
US Airways Flight 1549, which started out for Charlotte, N.C., on the afternoon of Jan. 15, 2009, should reach its destination in about a week. The fuselage of the Airbus A320-214 that was operated
as Flight 1549 that day started the road journey on the back of a flatbed truck to the Carolinas Aviation Museum on Saturday. The aircraft, which was successfully ditched in the Hudson River after
multiple bird strikes by pilots Capt. Chesley Sullenberger and FO Jeff Skiles, has been in a New Jersey warehouse since then and was almost auctioned for scrap before the museum launched a campaign to
preserve the hull. Sullenberger, who has since retired from the airline and is rumored to be working on a movie about the ditching, will speak at a dedication ceremony for the wreck, which will
continue to be a wreck.
The museum plans to re-create the atmosphere of the aircraft in the moments after the ditching, so the hull breaches and other damage are being preserved. The tail and wings were shipped separately
and have already arrived in Charlotte. The trucking company hauling the fuselage says it could take three days to get out of New Jersey as it threads through the state's back roads to avoid causing
monumental traffic delays on congested roads. After it gets out of New Jersey, the roads open up some and the trip should go faster. The museum says it will take about four months to reassemble the
aircraft and build the display.
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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has paid the state $2,100 as reimbursement for using a state police helicopter to fly to his son's baseball games. The flights occurred early last week and at first
Christie said he considered dropping in on the games an appropriate use of the helicopter in his quest to "balance his role as governor and as a father," according to an Associated Press report. He's also going to ask the Republican Party to pay
$1,200 for a hop from one of the games to a meeting with fundraisers from Iowa who tried unsuccessfully to get him to run for president.
Christie's initial position that his use of the helicopter was proper was backed up by State Police Superintendant Rick Fuentes, who said the flights didn't cost taxpayers anything because they
were used as routine training flights to keep pilots' skills sharp. Christie relented under a storm of media coverage and criticism, saying the publicity storm was a distraction from other issues
facing the state. He's used the police helicopter 33 times since taking office 16 months ago.
The city council and Mayor Richard Bloom have announced they will not appeal a January ruling that prevents them from banning Category C and D jets at Santa Monica Municipal Airport, but 2015 may
still bring a showdown. The city has argued that those larger, faster business jets at the airport present a safety hazard to nearby houses, some of which sit within 300 feet of the airport's one
runway. But the airport had agreed when it previously accepted federal funds that it would operate without discrimination. That agreement expires in a few years, and there may be bigger battles
Councilman Kevin McKeown on Friday told local paper, The Mar Vista Patch, that the city council has not given up the fight. "We also are engaging the entire community in planning for 2015, when our
current obligations at the airport expire," McKeown said. He added that "we continue to value residents' safety over the somewhat different interests of the federal bureaucracy." The FAA has offered
to help fund the installation of an emergency physical arresting system to act as a safeguard in the event of a runway overrun. The city has rejected those offers.
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Each week, we run a sampling of the letters received to our editorial inbox here in AVmail. One letter that's particularly relevant, informative, or otherwise compelling will headline this section as
our "Letter of the Week," and we'll send the author an official AVweb baseball cap as a "thank you" for interacting with us (and the rest of our readership). Send us your comments and
questions using this form. Please include your mailing address in your e-mail (just in case your letter is our "Letter of the Week"); by the same token,
please let us know if your message is not intended for publication.
Letter of the Week: Airbuses Fly "Like a Video Game"
I would like to offer my comments and perspective with regard to the Air France Flight 447 accident. I have
been a A-330 captain since 2003 and have over 4500 hours in the aircraft. While many A-320 pilots undoubtedly have more series time, I believe this probably makes me one of the most experienced A330
pilots in the world.
When asked how I like the aircraft, I tell people that there is likely no easier airplane to take over an ocean, and that the systems design and presentation is superb. That said, the automation
is more complex and less intuitive than necessary, and the pilot-aircraft interface is unlike that of a conventional aircraft. Most important with regard to this accident is the fly-by-wire sidestick
control. The sidestick itself has a very limited range of motion, making inadvertent over-control very easy. Of even greater significance, the stick itself provides no "feel" feedback to the pilot.
That is, unlike a conventional aircraft, the pilot does not get a sense through pressure of how much input is being sent to the control surfaces. The most important advice I give to pilots new to the
Airbus is to treat the aircraft not as an airplane, but as a video game. If you wait for the sidestick to tell you what you are doing, you will never get an answer.
Taking into consideration that Air France 447 was at FL 350 (where the safe speed envelope is relatively narrow), that they were in the weather at night with no visible horizon, and that they were
likely experiencing at least moderate turbulence, it does not surprise me in the least that the pilots lost control of the aircraft shortly after the autopilot and autothrust disconnected.
Let's keep in mind that these are not ideal conditions for maintaining controlled flight manually, especially when faced with a sudden onslaught of warning messages, loss of autofllght, confusing
airspeed indications, and reversion to "alternate law" flight control, in which certain flight envelope protections are lost.
A very bad Airbus design feature is thrust levers that do not move while in autothrust. They are instead set in a detent which would equal climb trust in manual mode. If the pilots did not reset
the thrust levers to equal the last cruise power setting, they likely eventually ended up in climb power, making it difficult to reset the proper cruise power setting and adding to what was likely
already a great deal of confusion.
But the real problem probably occurred immediately after the pilot flying grabbed the sidestick and took over manually. Unfortunately, airline pilots rarely practice hand-flying at high altitude,
and almost never do so without autothrust engaged. As a result, we forget that the aircraft is very sensitive to control inputs at high altitude, and overcontrol is the usual result. Because the
Airbus sidestick provides no feedback "feel" to the pilot, this problem is dramatically compounded in this aircraft.
I believe the Air France pilot grabbed the sidestick, made an immediate input (because as pilots, that's what we tend to do), and quickly became quite confused as to what the aircraft was truly
doing. This confusion likely was exacerbated by fixating on airspeed indications that made no sense while trying to find a power setting with no airspeed guidance.
When transitioning from autopilot to manual control at altitude in the Airbus, the most important thing to do at first is nothing. Don't move a thing, and then when you do, gently take hold of the
sidestick and make very small inputs, concentrating on the flight director (which, in altitude hold, should still have been providing good guidance). Of course, this is much easier said than done
with bells and whistles going off all over the place, moderate turbulence and a bunch of thunderstorms in the area. As I said before, treat it like a video game.
So why did the Air France pilot find himself at the limits of sidestick travel, and then just stay there, maintaining a control input that simply could not logically be correct? When things go
really bad and we are under intense pressure, it is human nature to revert to what we know from previous experience. Remember, the Airbus flies like no other aircraft in that the sidestick provides
no feedback to the pilot. It is a video game, not an airplane.
I believe the Air France pilot unintentionally fell back on all of his previous flying experience, in which aircraft controls "talkedF" to him when he moved them. Distracted by many confusing
inputs, he instinctively expected to be able to control the aircraft by "feel" while dividing his attention to address other matters. I've seen it happen in the simulator, and in an Airbus this is a
sure way to lose control of the aircraft and is possibly the most dangerous aspect of Airbus design philosophy.
One last note: Airbus pilots often claim that the aircraft "can not be stalled." When the flight controls are in "normal law" this is a reasonably true statement. However, in "alternate law," as
was the case here, stall protection can be lost. If we ever practiced this in the simulator, I don't remember it.
Lest anyone think I am blaming the Air France pilots for this accident, let me be clear. Despite all of my experience in the aircraft, I am not the least bit certain that I would have been able to
maintain control under the same circumstances. I do feel certain that were you to spring this scenario on pilots in a simulator without warning less than half of them would have a successful outcome.
Safely flying the 320, 330 and 340-series Airbus requires something of a non-pilot mindset.
We have spoken with the writer of this letter to confirm his identity and honored his request for anonymity. For another analysis of the trials and challenges of flying an A330, be sure to listen
to Friday's podcast with airline pilot Jason Goldberg.
We're Already There
Ed Hunt asks for a four-seat aircraft that will give 160 mph performance on less than 10 gph. That has been around for years.
It's called the Mooney 201. It will carry 4 people at over 170 KTAS, using less than 10 gph. although you might not get 1,000 miles range with the seats full, you will get a great airplane for under
Raising The Levels
Why does Class A airspace begin at FL180? Why not FL250, for example? Someone suggested that one could fly VFR if they do not wish to be tracked, which is a good idea and would be facilitated if
you could fly VFR higher than FL180.
I always fly in the flight levels, but I fly a C-421C, so no one cares except my office, which always tracks me, and I am glad of it.
Shouldn't we raise the VFR limit to something higher than 18,000 feet? The commercial and business guys don't fly below FL250, so why not raise the ceiling? There is virtually no traffic in that
area. There is not much to see, either, so it is nice to have a guy on the ground watching you in case there is some traffic, but is there a benefit to justify all of the associated cost? I am sure
there must a good justification for this because the government would never do anything that makes no sense, would it?
Advice For Cessna's New CEO
You're going to get a million suggestions [in response to our "Question of the Week," "What's your advice for new Cessna CEO
Scott Ernest?"], so here's just one more: General Aviation needs to be more affordable, or it will continue to shrink. LSAs seemed like a good idea, but $110,000 is still way out of reach of tens
of thousands of would-be aircraft buyers. I don't have any specific suggestions, but making the ownership and operation of GA aircraft much more affordable seems critical for the future of GA.
I was extremely disappointed when Cessna went to China for the Skycatcher. No excuses, Cessna is an American company and if they do not want to build here, then simply sell out the entire company
Get Cessna manufacturing out of China and back to the USA.
Look at LSA as a major market in GA, not just something you need to be a part of. One of the greatest aircraft manufacturers, Cessna, offers the one of the least capable, most expensive, simple
looking examples in the C-162 and can't figure how to produce it in the U.S.!
The LSA specs allow a very good airplane for private ownership, not just training! Put together an innovative design team including automotive manufacturing/process experts and produce an LSA we
can be proud of!
Cessna needs to take the lead on training for people who want to be private pilots (as distingished from people who want to be professional pilots). The first step is to stop relying on [the
current establishment] of the GA community. Those "training" operators are simply beyond repair.
Cessna should start over with company-owned and operated flight schools which make heavy use of flight simulators and all-new multi-media training materials. If you don't fix the training problem,
GA will continue to die a slow death. Fixing training will not be sufficient to reverse GA's long-term decline (at least in the U.S.), but it is a necessary component of the reversal.
George Van Hoomissen
It appears that you do not have an airman license. If so, get one, and take a long cross-country trip in a Skycatcher. You need to understand this industry at its root levels, and not just at the
level of marketing bizjets.
Shut down Cessna.
Pushing 60-year-old, 110 mph designs out the door at almost a half million a pop and a few dated business jets in today's world of advanced aerodynamics and structures is a disgrace. Until they
(Cessna) can stand before the world with truly modern designs built by a competitive, non-union work force they can forget it.
Better Than Average
This was an especially good edition of AVweb. I would probably never have learned as much concerning flight 447 had you not published it.
I'm 74 and too many hours to remember (dusterpilot and charter flights) and I enjoy all of them but this one was especially well done.
Read AVmail from other weeks here, and submit your own Letter to the Editor with this form.
Our best stories start with you. If you've heard something 255,000 pilots might want to know about, tell us. Submit news tips via email to email@example.com. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.
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Can't agree with your spouse on the quickest way to the supermarket? Lil and Roger LeBlanc flew as a crew of two in the King Air 100 doing charters around New England. AVweb's Russ
Niles spoke with Lil about what it was like to live the dream of operating a mom-and-pop aviation enterprise and on the release of her new book The Flight Level Chronicles.
The FAA was shocked shocked! to learn that, despite rules that air traffic controllers shan't snooze on the job, some sleep-starved staff have vectored in the arms of Morpheus. See
what FARs might be lost in your dreams.
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One reason so many people die in stall-related accidents may be that we don't have good training doctrine to detect and respond to loss of power incidents on takeoffs. And we persist in the notion
that turning back to the runway is never a good idea. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli offers a different viewpoint.
Paul Bertorelli's been looking at the numbers from a single year of GA accident fatalities and he shares his findings on the AVweb Insider blog. When you look at the numbers,
says Paul, it's not easy to see any low-hanging fruit because there isn't any. Stall-related accidents still kill the most pilots every year, but plain, unimaginative loss of control is a close
second. And don't even get him started on the bad judgment calls.
Fly More for Less
Visit the AVbuys page for discounts, rebates, incentives, bargains, special offers, bonus depreciation, or tax benefits to help stretch your budget. We're helping you to locate and view
current offers instantly, with a direct link to sponsors' web sites for details.
Don't see a video screen?
Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.
Originally posted to YouTube by Cindy Monohan/cinziava
Don't forget to send us links to any interesting videos you find out there. If you're impressed by it,
there's a good chance other AVweb readers will be too. And if we use a video you recommend on AVweb, we'll send out an official AVweb baseball cap as a "thank you."
There are only a few LSAs that qualify for true STOL status, and Eastman's CH750 is one of them. With full-span flaperons and leading-edge slats, it won't win any beauty contests, but
it could excel at some short landing contests. In this video, Aviation Consumer editor Paul Bertorelli takes a spin with Eastman's Gary Webster.
AVweb reader Bill Johnson testified to the FBO's stellar service, from big things all the way down to the small:
On a recent business trip to Dothan, I had need of some ramp maintenance for my C310D. Thank goodness I had chosen Flightline of Dothan as my arrival point. Don Smith and his staff were friendly,
very helpful and went way out of their way to take care of my immediate needs. When it became apparent that my requirement was beyond his local resources, rather than direct me to his other
maintenance facility, Don contacted another facility on the field and made arrangments for them to help me. In today's cut-throat world, it is a rare pleasure to see cooperation and collaboration at
this level with the customer's need always put first. If your travels ever take you to Dothan, please make certain to stop in at Flightline of Dothan. You will be glad you did. The people are the
best, service is excellent, facilities are great, and the popcorn is perfect.
AVweb is actively seeking out the best FBOs in the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here next Monday!
Traditional Tactics Need a Fresh Approach
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We were approaching ORD from the east years ago in a B-727, which was famous for being able to descend very steeply, as long as it was not speed-restricted. ORD approach was
changing from an east landing configuration to west, meaning that the airplanes over Lake Michigan were all going to end up high because of the change in plans.
ORD Controller(to a 727 ahead of us):
"If I give you STORY intersection at 11,000 feet, can you make it down from there?"
"Yes, but we'll have to start down right now."
"O.K., start down now; cross STORY at 11,000. Oh, and I need you to do that at 250 knots."
"Hey, we can't come down and slow down at the same time."
Controller(unsure who was giving him a hard time, since the 727 pilot hadn't used his callsign):
"Who said that?"
"Uh, I think it was Newton."
"I guess I deserved that. O.K., which aircraft is anticipating an energy management problem?"
Several of us jumped in and said, "We are!" all at the same time.
As a former physics major, this one really cracked me up. One usually thinks of a comeback line like that on the drive home, instead of instantly as this fellow did.
Heard anything funny, unusual, or downright shocking on the radio lately? If you've been flying any length of time, you're sure to have eavesdropped on a few memorable exchanges. The ones that
gave you a chuckle may do the same for your fellow AVweb readers. Share your radio funny with us, and, if we use it in a future "Short Final," we'll send you a sharp-looking AVweb hat
to sport around your local airport. No joke.
AVwebFlash is a weekly summary of the latest news, articles, products, features, and events featured on AVweb, the internet's aviation magazine and news service.
The AVwebFlash team is:
Publisher Timothy Cole
Editorial Director, Aviation Publications Paul Bertorelli
Editor-in-Chief Russ Niles
Contributing Editors Mary Grady Glenn Pew
Features Editor Kevin Lane-Cummings
Webmaster Scott Simmons
Contributors Jeff van West Mariano Rosales
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