January 4, 2006
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
This issue of AVweb's AVflash is brought to you by ...
POWERLINK FADEC CERTIFIED ON LIBERTY XL-2;
So, Independence Air is going out of business today, most of the big airlines are in bankruptcy or close to it and thousands of airline pilots have been furloughed, but the job market for pilots hasn't looked this good in five years. Kit Darby, who runs Air, Inc., a publishing company that tracks pilot employment, says more than 10,000 jobs will open up this year. He said experienced pilots looking for work can probably find it but a few of them might need an attitude adjustment. "Whatever it is, you just have to get over it," said Darby. "Then you've got to get yourself up and get back to the marketplace. There are a lot of quality jobs out there." Darby said there are a lot of unemployed pilots who have a hard time taking a pay cut, a smaller airplane or a demotion but he urges them to look at the larger picture. Just about any steady flying job is going to pay more and be more satisfying (to a pilot) than just about any other type of career. He said he's had numerous clients that have left the industry in disgust, become successful at something else and then come back begging for a flying job. "It's a lifestyle. It's not just a job," he said.
Most of the new hires are with regional airlines, fractional operators and charters, which, despite the widely publicized problems of the big airlines, are, according to Darby, doing just fine, thank you. "They're growing, they're profitable and they're hiring," he said. But it's not only the bottom half of the market that's looking for pilots. Darby said Continental and Alaska Airlines are both in the market and freight carriers like UPS and FedEx have been unscathed by recent downturns by big iron operators. While it's true that wages are being cut and pension plans restructured, Darby said they're still a pretty good deal. Despite the rollbacks, the average top salary for airline pilots is $168,000 a year and for cargo pilots it's $193,000. (Good luck at the negotiating table.) While some pension funds are in well-publicized trouble, others are fully funded and will supply a secure retirement for thousands of pilots. Others are being replaced by new types of plans based on profit-sharing and 401(k) contributions. "Some of the replacement plans are pretty good," Darby said.
And while such unpredictable events such as 9/11, SARS or even avian flu could sewer the industry again, if things keep on a reasonably even keel, there should be above-average hiring for years to come, according to Darby. That's because over the next 10 years, tens of thousands of airline pilots will hit the mandatory retirement age of 60. However, there are about 9,600 fully qualified pilots currently on furlough and if they start pounding the pavement, how are young, inexperienced pilots supposed to compete? The key word is enthusiasm. "Airlines don't hire the best people, they never have," he said. "They hire people they like." He said a lot of old hands resent having to go through the interview process and may be broadcasting negative vibes loud and clear. An eager, respectful and enthusiastic pilot, even if he or she has less experience, is going to look better to the recruiter.
NEW MACH 1 HEADSET BY LIGHTSPEED: SMALLER CAN BE BETTER
Some people will pay big bucks to fly aerobatics but we'd wager these folks just wanted to get to Pittsburgh. Nobody was reported injured after an American Airlines regional jet reportedly suffered severe roll- and yaw-control problems while en route from Dallas Tuesday evening. According to WTVQ News, the American Eagle Airlines Flight 3629, a Bombardier CJR-700, was cruising at 37,000 feet when the pilot "lost control." Passenger Gene Buttyan told the station that after the impromptu air show, the pilot made an announcement that he was "unable to control the plane" and that he'd "attempt" to make an emergency landing. The attempt was successful and the plane touched down at Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, Ky., about 9:30 p.m. John Hotard, a spokesman for AMR, told ABC news the aircraft suffered problems with a trim mechanism. For those with the stomach to keep going, we can only hope that United Air Lines did not become their default carrier after its computer did a back flip. Flights were delayed throughout the world after United's central computer crashed about 6 p.m. EST. The backup system kicked in, which allowed flights to operate, but passengers stood in long lines as airline staff manually checked baggage and wrote out boarding passes and other documents by hand. The system was back online before midnight but not before delaying more than 200 flights up to 90 minutes. No flights were cancelled, however.
So, just how infuriating can it be to sit in an idling airliner for seven hours while the pilot waits for a break in the weather? According to Reuters, infuriating enough that six German passengers aboard the British Airways flight have filed "false imprisonment" charges against the pilot of the plane, who was trying to get from Berlin to London. Heavy snow prevented the plane from taking off and the pilot elected to wait out the storm. His patience was apparently much greater than that of some of his passengers. After more than three hours, one passenger called a police emergency line on his cellphone, saying he felt like he was being "held hostage." Police did board the plane but, thanks to security regulations, only three passengers, those with carry-on luggage only, were allowed to leave the plane. They left about two hours before the plane was finally able to take off.
Strangely enough, though, we haven't heard a whisper of complaint from a planeload of New Year's revelers who were stranded in Bali for three days. According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the Skywest flight left Port Hedland on New Year's Eve and was supposed to return later that night. But a faulty warning light grounded the unidentified aircraft and distance (and likely the holidays) complicated what should have been a simple repair. The passengers were finally flown back to Perth by another airline on Jan. 3. Skywest spokesman Paul Plowman said it was an "unfortunate incident" that, under other circumstances, would have been quickly resolved. "It occurred overseas where we did require the expertise of an Australian licensed engineer plus an original part to try and fix the aircraft but ordinarily if it had occurred here it would have been a problem which could have been solved a lot quicker."
THE SJ30-2 IS THE WORLD'S FASTEST LIGHT BUSINESS JET
A Piper Warrior pilot who spent about 20 minutes in the 37-degree waters of the Hudson River last Monday was released from hospital a little more than a day later, none the worse for wear. John Eberle, 42, the flights pilot and a flight instructor, met with reporters on Tuesday, 27 hours after the Warrior lost power after departure from South Jersey Regional airport and ditched in the Hudson. Mark Sorey, 44, identified by FAA spokesman Jim Peters to The Associated Press as a student pilot, also escaped the ditching but was kept in the hospital longer. Eberle said they were climbing out at about 1,000 feet when the engine just quit. "At this point, I'm contacting emergency -- 'Mayday, Mayday, Mayday, Piper Warrior, one mile north GW Bridge, engine failure, going down.' " And in New York's busy airspace, there were plenty of people listening.
AVweb reader David Faile wrote us to say he heard the Mayday, as did the crew of the Air Force AWACS plane that keeps watch on the Big Apple. Faile said neither he nor the AWACS crew could copy all the message but an airline crew managed to put it all together and relay it. Back in the cockpit, Eberle and Sorey had already decided they were going to get wet. "As we were coming in, we decided to stay straight and level. This would give us the most time to try and restart and also it made more sense rather than try to get to land -- that could jeopardize somebody in a building, somebody in a car. We don't need to bring others into it," Eberle said. The ditching was textbook and the two pilots were able to stand on the wing of the floating plane for a short time while Sorey made a 911 call on his cellphone. But the plane sank before rescue helicopters, which initially had a hard time spotting the two, arrived on the scene.
An Israeli company has received the first-ever certification of an anti-missile system for civilian aircraft. Israel's Civil Aviation Authority this week approved the system, developed by Israel Aircraft Industries (IAIs) Elta Systems Group. The system is specifically designed to thwart terrorist attacks from man-portable air defense systems (MANPADs), which are in the hands of as many as 27 guerilla and terrorist groups around the world, according to Jane's Defense Weekly. The system uses invisible infrared decoy flares to trick the heat-seeking sensors in the missile (the FAA isn't keen on conventional magnesium flares dropping around civilian airports) and a laser version is in the works. The military version of the system is already in use by 200 military transports and helicopters in 15 countries and the civilian model was tested on the Boeing 737. Israels CAA authorization will allow installation on Boeing 767s, and El Al has at least six airplanes waiting. It intends to equip all its planes with anti-missile systems. There's no immediate word on whether the Israeli certification will be recognized by the FAA but El Al has already asked for permission to fly planes equipped with the system into U.S. airports.
IN PRINT & ONLINE, TRADE-A-PLANE HAS EVERYTHING THAT KEEPS YOU FLYING
Investigators are concerned that harnesses holding novice skydivers to their jumpmates may have played a role in the death toll resulting from a crash in Australia earlier this week. Five people died when the Cessna 206, with a pilot and three tandem pairs on board, clipped a tree and crashed into a dam on private property near Brisbane. It flipped on impact, trapping most of the occupants under water. According to the Scotsman newspaper, the harnesses would have made it virtually impossible for them to escape. One woman was thrown from the plane and, despite broken bones and lung injuries, walked about 200 yards back toward the airstrip before being picked up by paramedics. The other survivor, an instructor, was found sitting on the tail of the airplane with his dead partner hanging from the harness. Witnesses included another planeload of skydivers waiting their turn. They said the engine on the plane puffed smoke and began sputtering shortly after takeoff. "There was smoke coming from the engine and it was going, blurp, blurp, blurp," said Debbie Comolatti, who was due to go on the next flight. Investigators pulled fuel samples from the tanker used to fill up the plane as police divers pulled bodies from the plane.
The city of Pompano, Fla., is asking the FAA to reconsider a Dec. 15 ruling that would force it to abandon long-standing noise-abatement regulations that the FAA says are illegal. For almost 10 years it has been "illegal" to do touch and goes at Pompano Air Park except on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. In 2003, the city tightened the rules even further by outlawing stop-and-go exercises and also banning helicopter training outside of those hours. But, acting on a complaint by AOPA, the FAA said the city had no business restricting air operations and threatened to cancel a 1992 deal that allows the city to use land that was supposed to be used for the airport for a park, a fire house, a water-treatment plant and stables.
Part of the 1992 deal was that Pompano retain the air park and keep it accessible. "This should send a clear message to airport sponsors everywhere," said Bill Dunn, vice president of airports for AOPA. "Treat every user fairly and don't try to stop legal operations with illegal regulations." However, the political reality facing Pompano's leaders might be as unpalatable as the FAA threat is unaffordable. The flight restrictions were imposed after neighbors raised the roof over the noise. One nearby resident lodged more than 100 complaints a month about the helicopter noise. Pompano Mayor John Rayson, himself a pilot, is looking for compromise. "We don't have any business regulating flight operations," Rayson said. "Now having said that, I think the FAA should be sensitive to the community concerns about noise and touch-and-go operations."
AIRCRAFT SPRUCE CARRIES ColorEyes PERFORMANCE SUNGLASSES
A South Carolina teen claims to be the youngest dual-rated pilot in the U.S. According to his local newspaper, The Southern Pines Pilot, Zealand Shouse got a private airplane certificate on Dec. 10 to go along with his lighter-than-air ticket. His father, a former airport manager, is also a CFI and provided most of Zealand's instruction. "It's probably harder when your instructor is your father," Shouse said. "He knew what I was capable of and if I ever seemed to back off from studying or flight lessons, he let me know." In 2004, Shouse was part of the U.S. Hot Air Balloon team that competed in the world championships in Japan. Zealand has spent most of his short life around airports and airplanes and, at age four, would pile up phone books on the seat of airplanes so he could hold the yoke and see over the panel. His next challenge is four years at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, after which he intends to join the Air Force.
Remember four years ago when temporary flight restrictions were the next big threat to GA? Granted, it was a little harder to avoid them when they kept popping up unexpectedly and descriptions were sometimes only available in text form. Well, TFRs are a fact of life, but fortunately the flying fraternity is nothing if not innovative and TFR Check, the latest tool to keep those Blackhawk helicopters off your wing, has been rolled out by Adventure Pilots, which is a nifty site dedicated to getting you out of the pattern and off to other destinations. With updates every five minutes from Jeppesen's database, the TFR Checker offers a great last-minute look at what might be on your flight path, and as long as you know where you're going you can use it. To see if there's anything to avoid, simply type in the airport identifiers on your route and the site flags potential conflicts and offers you graphic depictions of each TFR. The U.S. map shows all restricted airspace at a glance and you can zoom in on a particular area to get more detail. Worth bookmarking if you plan to travel outside your comfort zone -- but do yourself and all of GA a big favor and get an official briefing too.
FAA ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS ARE ON THE RISE!
The first DC-3 to fly passengers for Delta has been restored and will be based at the Delta Heritage Museum, near Atlanta. The plane was rescued from a Puerto Rico cargo operation and rebuilt over five years...
Independence Air, the upstart Dulles-based budget carrier, will fly for the last time tonight. The airline, started in perhaps the most challenging period in U.S. airline history, will lay off most of its 2,700 employees after it failed to find the cash infusion needed to keep going...
Some people get mountains named after them, others lakes, and some cities. AOPA President Phil Boyer has had three theoretical points that exist only in GPS databases named after him and he couldn't be happier. The RNAV fixes PHILB, DEFND and GEEAY are on one of the new GPS approaches to AOPA's home field at Frederick, Md....
Chalk's Ocean Airways hopes to resume flights Jan. 10. The airline suspended operations after a Dec. 19 in-flight wing separation caused the crash of one of its turboprop Mallard amphibs, killing all 20 on board.
Drop us a line. If it caught your attention, it will probably interest someone else, too. Submit news tips via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.
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Say Again? #58: ATC 207 -- The ILS
Want an easy and relatively safe way to get into an airport that's IMC? Let your friendly air traffic controller give you vectors to the localizer and take that ILS right down to your port. But could there be some subtle tricks waiting to catch you when talking to ATC? This wouldn't be a column by AVweb's Don Brown if there weren't.
Top flight instructors and former air traffic controllers offer tips for managing every phase of your flight. Click through for a sample from former controller, Paul Berge.
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*** PREVIOUS RESULTS ***
Last week, AVweb asked which health factors were most important to our readers, specifically with regard to keeping their medical certificates.
Not surprisingly, the two most popular responses were vision and heart condition. 43% of the pilots who responded to our question are most concerned about their eyes, while another 41% worry about losing certification because their hearts.
A much smaller slice of our readership (only 12% of those who responded) worry about losing their medical over brain-related conditions such as poor memory or cognitive impairments.
The remaining 4% of respondents were most concerned about their hearing and/or muscle control.
*** THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***
Flying VFR vs. flying IFR this week, AVweb wants to know (if you had to pick), which method you'd choose.
Click here to answer
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Submit a Photo | Rules | Tips | Questions
Current POTW Winner | Past POTW Winners
2006 has arrived, and "POTW" submission numbers are beginning to rise back into the sky. Of course, we'll need you to submit your own photos if we hope to stretch that metaphor into the upper atmosphere. We can't offer you an X Prize but we will award a spiffy, brand-new AVweb baseball cap to each week's top winner. Betcha even Burt Rutan would appreciate that ... .
To kick off the New Year, let's welcome a past "POTW" winner Robert "Bob" Burns, who took the top spot two years ago and returns this week to add a second cap to his collection.
Due to privacy issues, AVweb does not publish e-mail addresses of readers who submit photos.
Robert "Bob" Burns
"Ready for Launch"
Bob Burns of Mauckport, Indiana makes his big return to the
"POTW" contest with this McDonnell F-4 Phantom II preparing
for take-off from the U.S.S. Forrestal in August of 1977
"during my first carrier trip," writes Bob.
here to view a large version of this image
Click here for a medium-sized version
AVweb continues to receive a large number of excellent images for our POTW contest. Here are some of the runners-up. Click on the links below to view larger versions.
Used with permission of Terry E. Reece
"Return from the North Pole"
Terry Reece of Cashmere, Washington
also sent us a photo from his personal archives.
This one dates to June of 1972, when Terry had
to fly the last members of the Monzino North Pole
Expedition back to Canada. Deteriorating ice conditions
had left the last members of the expedition stranded on
the ice island T-3, with air travel their only option home.
Here, Terry unloads five passengers and 34 dogs (!)
he brought home on the last trip from T-3. "They were
stacked like cord wood above the windows," writes Terry.
He adds, "cleaning out the aircraft later was no fun!"
Used with permission of Marty Baade
"P-51 Gunfighter at Oshkosh '05"
As winter settles in, now's a good time to
reflect on the halcyon days of summer
with Marty Baade of New City, New York
(should that have been New York City?).
Marty got to see a lot of cool restored
planes at last year's AirVenture and
has us excited about Oshkosh 2006!
A couple of extras for our loyal readers:
copyright © Jim
"Cardinal at Dawn"
Jim Howard of Austin, Texas
is "not a morning person, but about
once a year I like to get up early and see
the sun rise from the cockpit of my Cardinal."
We've gotta confess, Jim it's been so long
since we've seen the sunrise that we weren't sure
what that was in your photo. Thanks for sharing.
"CDF OV-10 Bronco Fire Attack Base"
Randy Minnick of Porterville, California
tells us this beauty can be seen soaring over
the San Joaquin Valley "every fire season."
Randy caught it in a rare moment of downtime.
To enter next week's contest, click here.
A Reminder About Copyrights: Please take a moment to consider the source of your image before submitting to our "Picture of the Week" contest. If you did not take the photo yourself, ask yourself if you are indeed authorized to release publication rights to AVweb. If you're uncertain, consult the POTW Rules or send us an e-mail.
AVflash is a twice-weekly summary of the latest aviation news, articles, products, features and events featured on AVweb, the Internet's Aviation Magazine and News Service. http://www.avweb.com
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