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The departure of Rod Hightower on Monday from the helm of EAA doesn't signal any major change in the direction of the organization, chairman of the board Jack Pelton told AVweb on
Wednesday. "This all happened kind of quickly and unexpectedly," Pelton said. "We're still focused on our core mission, which is supporting our EAA membership, volunteers, and employees." He said he
will be overseeing the day-to-day operations of the organization, and no timeline has been set for finding Hightower's replacement. "Transitions are never easy," he said. "My real goal here is to keep
everybody on the track that we've been on and get the day-to-day stuff done while we focus on getting to an airshow in July."
Reaction to the sudden change in leadership was mixed on the EAA online message board.
Some members expressed concern that a core group that wants EAA to focus only on the homebuilder community was behind the change; others felt Hightower had tried to expand the membership and that was
a good way to go. A few said they had thought of quitting, but now would wait and see; others said they had planned to renew, but now would wait and see. Mac McClelland, EAA vice president of
publications, told the local Oshkosh Northwestern that Hightower had
simply failed to move to Oshkosh from his home in St. Louis as the board expected. "I know there's all kinds of complaints, but that's not it," McClelland said. "[The residency] was the unsolvable
requirement. The board sees the president/CEO living in the Fox Valley as essential to the mission."
Three Things You Should Never Say to ATC
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In a surprising move that wasn't all that surprising, EAA's board dismissed Rod Hightower as the association's president. The good news? Jack Pelton will chair the board to get the association
back on track. Paul Bertorelli runs down the plusses in his latest post to the AVweb Insider blog.
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A number of technologies are in the works to solve the problem of sonic booms and resurrect commercial supersonic flight, and recently NASA tested one potential design from Boeing. Two models were
tested in the supersonic wind tunnel at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. The model in the photo is the larger of the two, and it's shown upside-down. The model contains a force
measurement balance used to measure forces on the model such as lift and drag. The smaller model was used to measure the off-body pressures that create a sonic boom. NASA has been funding research by
Boeing and Lockheed Martin to develop designs for a small supersonic airliner that would carry between 30 and 80 passengers and potentially enter service in the 2025 timeframe.
NASA's computer analysis has shown that a long, slender fuselage can reduce the loudness of a sonic boom; however, an 800-foot-long airliner wouldn't be manageable with today's airport
infrastructure. "The long, skinny fuselage is not a practical answer," said Peter Coen, NASA's supersonic project manager at Langley Research Center in Virginia. "In our pursuit of boom reductions, we
examine the whole, three-dimensional shape of the vehicle including the engine configuration." The researchers aim to create a design that would modify the shape of the supersonic shockwaves coming
off the airplane so by the time the shockwave reached the ground the sonic boom would be nearly inaudible. "The booms are still there, but your ear is tricked into hearing a thump," Coen said. He
added that while a supersonic airliner is likely a decade or two away, supersonic business jets could be flying much sooner, because lighter aircraft create weaker shock waves, making the low-boom
design challenge easier to solve.
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As the FAA faces a challenging deadline to integrate unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace by 2015, probably the
biggest challenge is to ensure collision avoidance. This week, an engineering company in Maryland says it has successfully tested an ADS-B-based, fully autonomous collision avoidance system on a UAS.
The test by R3 Engineering took place in August in Newfoundland, Canada. The sense-and-avoid system, with no external command or control inputs, "commanded the UAS's autopilot to depart from its
programmed flight path, execute an internally computed maneuver to avoid a potential collision, and then return to the original planned flight path when well clear of the intruder," the company said
in news release on Wednesday.
The test series included potential collision scenarios between the UAS and stationary hazards, moving ground hazards, and between two UAS aircraft. The system is able to develop target tracks from
data it receives, project potential conflicts at a future time, compute and recommend to the ground-based remote pilot maneuvers such as course or speed change that will maintain safe separation, and
if necessary, send collision avoidance maneuvers directly to the aircraft autopilot, the company said. More flight testing later this year will integrate data from sensors such as radar and
electro-optical/infra-red into sense-and-avoid process. The testing has been funded by the Office of Naval Research and the Department of Defense.
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With this week's news that Apple we release the iPad Mini on Nov. 2, aviation app providers are almost certain to see increased sales as a result. "After every new Apple device release, we've
always seen a wave of new pilots and new customers. There's always a group of pilots waiting to see what new technology brings," said Tyson Weihs of ForeFlight, a leading aviation app. AVweb
spoke to Weihs at Redbird Flight Simulations' industry training conference on Wednesday. Although the iPad has achieved impressive penetration in the GA market as an all-purpose navigator, plate
reader, E6B and pre-planner, many users have complained that it's just a bit too large for the cockpit. The Mini measures 7.9 by 5.3 inches and is barely a quarter inch thick. It weighs .68 pounds,
according to Apple. Base price is $329. By comparison, the iPad2 measures 9.5 by 7.3 inches, with a base price of $399.
Weihs says he believes many buyers will pull the purchase trigger on size alone. "The iPad mini is different than previous releases because it brings it to cockpits not previously adopted for size
reasons," Weihs told AVweb. "For example, guys in RVs, we have military customers flying T-38s, so I think this is going to be really good for a number of segments. I think we'll see a big push
as the Christmas season approaches and we'll see a lot of new pilots carrying iPads." Weihs also reports that commercial customers are likely to adopt the iPad in larger numbers this year. During
2012, many carriers and commercial customers were evaluating the iPad against potential Windows or Android entries. "Many of the carriers we've spoken to have cancelled those evaluations and they've
gone back to the iPad," Weihs said. What to expect from apps in the coming year? More emphasis on sophisticated moving maps and integrated functions such as ADS-B and AHRS.
The iPad Mini starts to ship on November 2, providing a new option for pilots to access apps and information in the cockpit. AVweb editorial director Paul Bertorelli talks with Foreflight's
Tyson Weihs about the impact of the new tablet and other new products and innovations in the works for pilots.
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After a year of research and training at its San Marcos, Texas, Skyport simulator lab, Redbird Flight Simulations is poised to roll out a new simulator-based pilot training program that expands its
business beyond sim sales and into the wider market of flight training delivery. The training could, in some iterations, be based on a fixed-cost, fixed-time model that Redbird says it has had success
with at its San Marcos location. Redbird will continue to market its line of affordable simulators while a separate company called Redbird Media will produce training support and outreach materials
based on simulator-centric training. The new system is called Migration and will capitalize on what Redbird has learned from a year of intensive research on simulator training methods at its San
At the company's second industry training conference in San Marcos on Tuesday, Redbird CEO Jerry Gregoire told about 175 instructors, flight school owners and industry professionals that Red Bird's
sim-based training will change the rules for how flight training is delivered to customers while at the same increasing the return on investment for flight schools, a critical part of the GA equation.
Gregoire has long been a critic of an established flight training system that he compared to trying to make progress by "climbing up a mudslide." In a day-long event introducing what will become the
Migration method, Gregoire said current flight training is a game rigged against the student because it depends on instructor and equipment availability, not the would-be student's convenience or
desires. The drop out rate is horrific, said Gregoire, and seems to be getting worse.
Redbird developed the underlying concepts at its Skyport lab and for its version of the training it used a fixed-cost model of $9500 for either private or instrument rating, with the training
completed over a three-week period. Typically, a student spends two dual sessions a day of about an hour-and-half each, plus solo sim sessions. Aircraft sessions are scheduled as the simulator
program progresses. Students can fly as much solo sim time as they like on the way to the rating. As the ideas behind the training filter into the wider market under the Migration nameplate, the
program will be based broadly on Skyport's training findings, but it will up to individual flight schools to decide how fixed costs are set and whether the fixed-time model will be followed. The
training materials will allow some flexibility.
Redbird's chief instructor Roger Sharp told the group that in some 10 months of operation, the lab tested a number of assumptions designed to improve the student's training experience, including
the design of the building itself, how people learn -- or don't learn -- the sometimes daunting technical details of flying and how sim time can best be integrated with actual aircraft time. Redbird
found that much of what pilots are forced to learn is useless rote-and-repeat knowledge designed to meet outdated FAA standards of what pilots are supposed to know. It has stripped down and simplified
the delivery of required knowledge for the ratings.
One novel idea: The instructors aren't hourly employees, but full-time, salaried professionals with benefits. Sharp conceded that this definitely raises overhead, but he insists that it pays off in
a higher margin for the flight school on both the simulator and aircraft investments. The lab has graduated 41 students, including 20 private pilots. Sharp said as a group, these pilots have had a 97
percent first-time pass rate on checkrides and have completed their training in an average of 38 hours for those who pursued the program full-time. The national average is 62 hours.
The Migration system will be rolled out to all comers by Redbird Media, headed by Jeff Van West. Although developed on Redbird simulators, the system can be used by any school with adequate
simulation. The Migration training materials aren't available yet, but are expected to be in the months ahead.
Meanwhile, Continental Motors has already launched its own simulator-based training initiative called Zulu. Continental CEO Rhett Ross summarized this for the conference on Tuesday. Although it's
not yet using the Migration system, Ross said Continental's initial experience has proven one thing: A simulator business can be placed off-airport in a shopping mall and draw both walk-in traffic and
regular student trade. Ross said the storefront location spares the student a long slog through traffic simply for a one-hour flight lesson. The Zulu store has a spacious storefront in downtown Mobile
and three Redbird simulators. It also has two glass-panel 172s for flight training. Ross said Zulu capitalizes on the fact that flight training simply hasn't kept up with customer expectations and he
believes clean, modern facilities and full-time instructors can reset the rules. "We have to look at flight training differently," Ross said. "The customer is different today."
FAA budget cutbacks are almost certain to directly impact the industry next, according to General Aviation Manufacturers Association President Pete Bunce. "The world will be different starting next
year," Bunce told participants Tuesday at Red Bird Simulations' second annual flight training industry conference in San Marcos, Texas. "There will be cuts made," he added, explaining that these might
result in a more difficult regulatory environment for the short term. On the other hand, Bunce said a proposed revision of FAR Part 23 that is now underway shows promise of reducing the hoops aircraft
manufacturers and modifiers have to jump through to gain certification approvals for new aircraft and mods.
The Part 23 Aviation Rulemaking Committee is tasked to simplify Part 23 to manufacturers and will have a menu of options to suit their particular circumstances, rather than having to comply with
rules that don't apply to what they're building or modifying. Even the FAA has proposed the notion of "twice the safety at half the cost." The explosion in changes to Part 23 occurred between 1994 and
1996, said Bunce, amounting to about 800 additional requirements. The changes are so extensive, said Bunce, that the distinction between Part 23 and Part 25, which applies to transport category
aircraft, is sometimes blurred. Bunce said the FAA is also showing flexibility on revising knowledge tests to more accurately reflect the way pilots actually fly in the system.
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Helicopter Speech Recognition hands-free vectoring to any latitude/longitude hands-free entry of Nav/Comm frequencies
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AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Eagles of America at Southwest Georgia Regional Airport
(KABY) in Albany, Georgia.
AVweb reader Matthew Hevey recommended the FBO, writing:
While flying with my family to Atlanta from Orlando Sunday evening before Labor Day, I experienced an alternator failure which required a diversion to KABY (the nearest airport). On very short notice
late on a Sunday before a holiday, they arranged for a rental car in a matter of minutes. Ron (maintenance) kept in contact with me and updated me regularly on the status of repairs. I understand
that they are a relatively new FBO at Albany, and they did a fantastic job with assisting my family and me. Kudos!
AVweb is actively seeking out the best FBOs in the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here next Monday!
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