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The FAA will hold public meetings May 3 and May 4 in Georgia on the proposed rewrite of Part 23 airworthiness standards for normal, utility, acrobatic and commuter category aircraft. The meetings will be held from 8 a.m. to no later than 5 p.m. on each day at the International Convention Center in College Park, Georgia. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the rewrite was issued March 14 and the comment period ends May 13 so this will be the last opportunity for direct comment on the wide-ranging document. "The purpose of the public meetings is for the FAA to discuss the NPRM, hear the public's questions, address any confusion, and obtain information relevant to the final rule under consideration," the notice on the Federal Register reads. "The FAA will consider comments made at the public meetings before making a final decision on issuance of the final rule."

In general, the rewrite moves aircraft certification to a performance- and risk-based regime, replacing the strict prescriptive design requirements standards that have guided aircraft airworthiness for most of the last 100 years. The FAA expects the new rules to maintain safety at least at the level of current rules but give aircraft manufacturers and suppliers streamlined access to new technology, especially the kind of gear that improves safety. The new rules are also expected to make it cheaper and easier to certify aircraft, thus expanding the product selection on the market. Senior brass from the FAA will be on hand at the Georgia meetings.

Swift Fuels has signed a deal with global aviation fuel wholesaler Avfuel Corporation to distribute its 94 MON unleaded aviation fuel. The company announced the deal Friday during Sun 'n Fun and says the deal is "a framework agreement to serve as a template allowing equitable distribution processes amongst the major avgas distributors for Swift 94 MON Avgas, and any future avgas replacements." Avfuel has 600 branded FBOs in the U.S. and distributes to more than 3,000 FBOs worldwide. Swift wants its fuel to have the widest distribution possible to keep prices competitive and ensure fair access to the fuel. "Swift Fuels appreciates the passion, foresight and objectivity of the team at Avfuel to help us craft an equitable process considering the market dynamics of the top North American avgas distributors, thereby allowing our unleaded fuel to be deployed safely, fairly and cost-effectively," said Chris D'Acosta, CEO of Swift Fuels. "We believe this will help streamline our supply-chain planning and execution leading to the availability of more Swift unleaded avgas to strategic markets in the months ahead." 

For Avfuel's part, the company said the agreement "ensures the most competitive price and greatest availability, resulting in a positive outcome for the industry," according to Marci Ammerman, the company's VP of marketing. The fuel was announced at AirVenture 2015 and it's a "drop-in" replacement for 100 LL that uses the same base materials as regular avgas. The fuel is already approved by STC for hundreds of engines and airframes. The 94 octane fuel is suitable for more than half the piston aircraft flying and will get some cash flow going for Swift, whose 102 octane fuel for higher performance engines is one of two fuels (Shell makes the other one) to go on to Phase 2 testing of the FAA's Piston Aircraft Fuel Initiative. That testing won't be done until 2018.

The FAA's rules currently forbid any operator to fly a drone above people, but the FAA now is reviewing that decision, based on a report (PDF) and recommendations from an aviation rulemaking committee. The ARC's consensus report, submitted last Friday, recommends establishing four small UAS categories, with the risk level to people defined primarily by either weight or impact energy of the drone. Drones weighing about a half-pound or less would be allowed in most cases to fly over people. Larger drones would have to maintain a distance of at least 20 feet overhead and 10 feet laterally. Manufacturers also would have to crash-test drones and certify they are unlikely to cause serious injury if the drones struck someone.

The rulemaking committee began meeting March 8. "We commend the committee members for their sincere dedication and for producing a comprehensive report in such a short time," said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. "This type of collaborative government and industry partnership is exactly what is needed to keep pace with this rapidly changing industry and will serve as a model for future rulemaking advisory tasks." The FAA said it will use the information in the report to develop a "flexible, performance-based proposed rule." The public will have an opportunity to comment on the proposal based on the ARC's recommendations.

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A Denver man was injured Friday when he lost control of his jetpack. Nick Macomber was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries when he fell from about 20 feet to an asphalt parking lot. Macomber is vice president of Jetpack International, which has developed a hydrogen peroxide-fueled device that will keep a man airborne for about 30 seconds. "He was testing the jetpack," CEO of the company Troy Widgery told local media. "He'd made some recent changes. He had some control issues."

Jetpack International flies the device at exhibitions and it's sometimes used in commercial promotions. Samsung recently used it to introduce its new phone in Ireland. A police photo showed the taped-off parking lot with the jetpack lying in a pool of water and the remnants of foam after the fire department response.

Michel Gordillo, of Spain, was scheduled to talk at Sun 'n Fun this week about his adventures flying an RV-8 around the world, via both North and South Poles — but the intrepid pilot's plans were derailed by border-crossing bureaucracy. Gordillo's team said that when he arrived at the Mexico/U.S. border, Gordillo did as he was told — he crossed the border in Texas on foot to get his passport stamped, then returned to Mexico to his airplane. However, when he landed in Texas, another official said that procedure had been incorrect, and refused to allow Gordillo into the U.S.

The planned route

"It is a very hard moment for Sky Polaris," Gordillo told his online followers. "Sorry, guys!" Gordillo's team said the amended plan was for him to overfly Florida and land at Freeport, Bahamas, and spend the night. He then will continue on to Winnipeg, Manitoba, and fly across the North Pole into Europe. "So because of this small inconsequential issue, Michel missed Sun 'n Fun, missed seeing friends, giving interviews, etc., etc.," Don Pearsall, a spokesman for the global flight, told AVweb. "This is a plan that has been in the works for years."

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George Neal, an award-winning test pilot who earned his Canadian private certificate 80 years ago, died this week at 97. He was recognized last June at age 96 by Guinness World Records as the oldest active pilot after flying his DHC-1 Chipmunk from Brampton Airport to Toronto's Pearson International. Neal began his flying career as a student pilot at the Toronto Flying Club in 1935, became a private pilot the following year, and began working for de Havilland Aircraft of Canada. In 1941, he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force and served as a test pilot and flight commander, rejoining de Havilland in 1946. 

Over the next 37 years, he worked in a number of roles at de Havilland, most notably chief test pilot. He helped develop the DHC-1, DHC-3 Otter and the DH-100 fighter jet.  Neal also served as chief pilot for the National Aviation Museum until 1991. When he was awarded the Trans-Canada (McKee) Trophy by the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute in 1989, his citation stated, "Perhaps no other pilot in Canada has had such a varied and complete career in aviation." Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame inducted him in 1995. "We have lost a pioneer in Canadian aviation," said Tom Appleton, chairman of the Hall of Fame. "On behalf of the Hall, we extend our most sincere condolences to George Neal's family and friends."

New flying clubs in the U.S. could get their first airplane for free under a new program from AOPA. President Mark Baker said AOPA will provide the winning club with a "Reimagined" Cessna 150 that it has built by Aviat Aircraft. "Flying clubs and Reimagined aircraft are great options to bring down costs and get pilots flying more," Baker said. "By bringing them together we hope to get more pilots learning about flying clubs' benefits, and help get a new flying club off the ground." The airplanes are gone over from spinner to stinger and all systems and equipment are put in as-new condition.

To qualify, new flying clubs have to have at least four members and have elected a slate of officers. The club also has to have at least a draft form of its bylaws and have received a quote from AOPA Insurance. It also must appear on AOPA's list of clubs in formation. AOPA has a program aimed at helping pilots form flying clubs and said in a news release that it helped form 10 clubs last year.

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The experience was different than flying in the controlled conditions of an air race, Arch said. "In the middle of the mountains, you are rising and falling. You can't fly as close to the obstacles, which increases the radius, and, at around 300 km/h, things can get a bit tight. Every second, you have to be perfectly clear in your mind that you have wind turbines in front of you and need to know precisely what you are going to do next." In the end, Arch said, the flight was just as much fun as air racing, "with the added benefit that it's not about the time you clock."

Twelve rescue dogs from the United Kingdom were used for an experiment to see if they could be taught to fly a Cessna 182, and after 10 weeks of training on simulators — detailed on a reality-TV show — three of the dogs went aloft with their humans to show off their skills. During the Sky1 series "When Dogs Fly," Mark Vette and his assistants trained the dogs using lights and tones as cues, and treats as rewards. Once in the air, each of the three dogs successfully completed a figure-8 maneuver, with a human copilot in the right seat and a trainer in the back providing cues.

Jamie Theakston, host of the series, said the effort showed off the unique talents of each dog. "People give up on them too easily and this series will show us why we shouldn't," he said. "They are just as deserving and just as intelligent," he said. All 12 of the dogs that starred in the series will go to new homes, the producers said.

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It had been a fun morning. The heater had broken in the TRACON radar room. It was 20 degrees outside, not much better inside, and the hot chocolate I was drinking was losing its steam—literally. On top of that, busy last-minute holiday traffic had been giving our morning skeleton crew a kick in the teeth. 

A Beechcraft King Air checked in. He'd just departed a local uncontrolled field VFR and was requesting a pop-up IFR clearance to New Orleans at FL180. Since he had nothing on file, it was up to me to punch his info into the computer and assign him a routing.

The situation brought to mind a question an IFR reader had asked recently. He'd read my previous article on how ATC handles pop-ups, and had wondered: when the pilot doesn't have a filed route, how do controllers determine the routing to issue when the flight will cross various facilities' airspace?

I was tired and cold. Would I make the King Air bear the brunt of my misery and get a long routing for my own amusement, as punishment for not filing? Would I toss a few darts at an IFR chart on the wall and just clear him via wherever they stuck? In a few discussions I've shared with pilots over the years, several have half-jokingly (half?) suggested that's exactly how we come up with our route assignments.

Routes can vary from the ridiculously simple to the downright convoluted. Given that there aren't actually any personal vendettas or sharp pointy things involved in their selection, just how do controllers conjure them up?

Get In, Get Out

ATC's routing philosophy is simple: issue the shortest safe and legal route available. We examine each flight's route on a case-by-case basis. If we're able to clear an aircraft from point A to B "via direct" without needing to assign additional fixes, navaids, arrival procedures, or airways, then we do. This economy of routing is mutually beneficial.

Chances are, unless a pilot's on a sightseeing flight or doing instrument navigation training, he wants to get to his destination as quickly as possible. Controllers aren't in the business of intentionally making pilots jump through unnecessary hoops. We know shorter routes equal less time and money spent, reduce navigational complexity, and minimize wear on the airplane and pilot.

Time-saving routes are self-serving for ATC as well. It's in our best interest to get the airplane out of our airspace as fast as possible. The less time you're in our airspace, the less time we have to be responsible for your safety. Does that sound like we're dodging responsibility? It's actually quite the opposite.

Our controller mandate is to provide for the "safe, orderly, and expeditious flow of aircraft." By ensuring an aircraft doesn't hit anything, falls in line with other airplanes—who are also not hitting things—and continues to its destination with minimal delay, we've accomplished our job.

We also take workload into account. If you're one of a dozen airplanes on my frequency, you're getting a twelfth of my attention. The sooner you fly out of my airspace, the more attention I have left to give my remaining traffic. If I give you a roundabout routing and force you to linger in my airspace, inevitably airplanes 13 and 14 will show up. I'll have to divide my attention even further, reducing my safety margins.

My coworkers and I don't issue longer routings just for kicks. They're only used when necessary to comply with known restrictions—emphasis on the "known" part.

A Need To Know

The complexity of the route you get is largely determined by how much a controller knows about the airspace between you and your destination. The further the destination from the controller who's issuing you the route, the more likely you're going to get some reroutes later. There's no way for every controller to know every aspect of every ATC facility, so we focus on what affects our own facilities directly.

Imagine a neighborhood where every homeowner is a controller. Stan, a fictional controller at facility "AAA," knows his house's operation intimately, such as where the laundry detergent is, what cable channels he gets, and when he's running low on frosty beverages. It's his responsibility to know all this.

Stan knows his neighbors' names, what cars they drive, and when they usually head to work. He's learned that from observation or from conversations with them. However, Stan has no idea if their fridge is stocked or if they've paid their power bill or what breakfast cereal they eat. None of it is his business, so he doesn't concern himself with those details.

At work, Stan has a similar perspective. He knows everything about his own airspace. He knows the fixes, frequencies, airways, airports, approaches, traffic types and patterns—all of it. He has it on instant recall. He works his traffic well because he knows the daily flow and procedures. He's also got a good grasp of overall geography; New York is that way, Los Angeles is this way, and so on.

Now, ask him about the facilities next door, and his knowledge gets a little fuzzy. He knows their major navaids and airports because those affect his own traffic flow. His facility's letters of agreement with its neighbors specify that traffic passing back and forth through the facility boundaries need to be routed over certain fixes at certain altitudes, so he knows those fixes. But, instrument approaches, airport runway configurations, or their tower frequencies—he's got no idea. That data is useless to him. He'll never clear someone for an approach at one of their airports.

What about the facilities two doors down? Or three down? The further from Stan's backyard, the fewer details he knows and the fewer he needs.

Passing Through

Every controller's knowledge has these logical boundaries. When we're not sure what lies down the road for you, we just have to resort to educated guesses.

So let's imagine an aircraft is currently flying through facility AAA's airspace and is on Stan's frequency. The pilot requests a pop-up IFR clearance to airport FFF. Leaving AAA's airspace on course to FFF would take him through BBB's airspace. The letter of agreement between AAA and BBB says all traffic going from AAA to BBB must be cleared via VOR1. That's all Stan knows, so he clears the airplane to VOR1 and then direct FFF. He hands the airplane off to the BBB controller.

Well, leaving VOR1 direct to FFF has the plane going through the imaginatively named facilities BBB, CCC, DDD, EEE and (ready?) FFF. The airplane continues into BBB and CCC, but when he reaches DDD, there's an issue. A restricted area went active between DDD and EEE. Now, instead of going direct to FFF, the DDD controller has to reroute the plane DDD–FIX1–FIX2–FIX3–EEE–FFF around it, per a letter of agreement between DDD and EEE.

Stan, back in facility AAA, didn't know that restricted area exists. BBB, CCC, and FFF controllers probably don't either. It's well outside their jurisdictions and doesn't affect their traffic flow at all. However, it does affect DDD and EEE, so it's on them to adjust their traffic flow to accommodate it.

Every day I work, I'm doing the same thing: filling in the blanks in other controllers' knowledge. They don't know my house, I don't know theirs. They point traffic in my general direction. Once the airplane is in my yard, I can mold its route to our local flow procedures. That's how it works.

Other controllers across the country will be doing the same for me. I know that if I clear an airplane direct to Los Angeles International or New York's John F. Kennedy, there isn't a snowball's chance in hell they're actually going to go into that complicated airspace without some reroutes. However, I'm sitting several states away and simply don't know about those airports' local procedures. I just need to have faith that another controller down the line will have the appropriate knowledge and fix things.

Technical Support

Where human knowledge ends, sometimes computers can fill in the gaps. 
Remember that King Air wanting to go to New Orleans? I may love New Orleans' food and music, but I don't know a thing about their airspace. Not knowing any better, I generated a flight plan for him direct to New Orleans' Louis Armstrong Airport (KMSY) at FL180, just as requested.

But, when the flight plan printed out, I got a surprise. The routing wasn't just direct to KMSY. The computer had automatically added in a preferred routing: "+ SJI SLIDD2 + KMSY". SJI is the Semmes VOR in southern Alabama, and the SLIDD2 is the SLIDD TWO Standard Terminal Arrival into KMSY. That STAR's initial transition point is—naturally—the SJI VOR.

Previously, the controllers and staff from New Orleans Approach and Houston Center—the facilities responsible for New Orleans—developed a preferred routing to reduce workload and provide more predictable traffic flow. The SLIDD TWO arrival would be inserted into flight plans that met certain requirements. They passed it on to the technical guys, who then programmed it into the various computers that drive each of Air Route Traffic Control Centers around the country.

The computers check all New Orleans-bound flight plan filings and automatically add the SLIDD arrival if it fits certain parameters. For instance, if the King Air was arriving into the KMSY from the west, he may get another preferred routing with another STAR, since the SLIDD2 only applies to arrivals from the east.

Now, when I clear the King Air from his present position to KMSY, he'll already know what to expect down the road and fall into the New Orleans traffic flow. It's even more convenient for traffic departing towered airports. The clearance delivery controller can issue them the preferred routing before the airplane even starts taxiing. A reroute while the airplane is still on the ground is a heck of a lot better than a last-minute one.

I'll be the first to admit, as both a pilot and controller, that certain, circuitous preferred routes can make one's head and wallet hurt. I've come across some really outrageous examples that add a lot of miles and complexity to a route. I'm not sure who prefers those, but it's certainly not pilots.

Remember, controllers are just working with the best tools and knowledge available to them at that moment. It's nothing personal. No matter the routing we give you—whether it's a direct shot or something more involved—ATC's intention is simply to get you safely out of their airspace and on to your destination. Well, maybe unless they're cold and tired.

Tarrance Kramer likes to use the words "cleared direct" as often as possible while working traffic somewhere in the South.

This article originally appeared in the April 2014 issue of IFR magazine.

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ATC:
"Citation N1234, climb via the SID, but do not exceed 200 knots."

Citation N1234:
"Roger. Climb via the SID; do not exceed 200 knots."

[A few moments pass.]

ATC:
"Citation N1234, resume normal speed."

Citation N1234:
"This is our normal speed!"


Brian Conway

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.

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It's convenient for the media narrative to look at events like Sun 'n Fun as barometers for the overall health of GA. If that were ever accurate, I'm not sure it still is. Attendance and exhibitor numbers spike up and sag down from year to year, seemingly not connected to anything to do with the general economy.

We don't have final attendance yet, but during my annual canvass of a dozen vendors, the general perception was that things were flat or slightly down. We saw a few empty vendor spaces, but these may have filled up later in the week. More on that in a minute.

The two biggest things we weren't even expecting: EAA's announcement of STC approvals to install uncertified avionics into certified aircraft and Icon's—how to put this?—brand tarnishment. The latter really had nothing to do with Sun 'n Fun, but appeared to be happenstance timing. But it was being talked about. A lot. I was waylaid by a number of people asking me about it, including one Icon A5 position holder who had cancelled his order due to what he considered an onerous and ill-conceived buyer contract.

First, EAA. As I reported in this blog on Wednesday, this development has the potential to be a significant driver in forcing the prices of avionics upgrades from the stratosphere back down to where the air is breathable. Two shops I talked to, both dealers of major avionics companies, were salivating at the potential. We now wait to see if it will develop as we might hope. The real surprise to me came on Sunday when I was speaking to another avionics maker not related to either the Dynon or the EAA project who was pursuing his own STC for a piece of uncertified gear. And get this: He had been encouraged to do so by his regular FAA contacts. This suggests a real sea change in anticipation of the FAR 23 revision. Again, we'll have to see if it potentiates, but I'm encouraged.

None of this is going to fundamentally reinvigorate the market, but it should at least help keep people in the game at the lower end of the spectrum. We need all of that we can get. At the upper end, at least for the light sport segment, is Icon. The company was buoyed along through 2015 and early this year by overwhelmingly positive press and tightly scripted promotion. It brought itself down to earth last week when its buyer agreement demanding legal fealty from purchasers got picked over in the press. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop and on Friday, it did. Icon released a statement from company CEO Kirk Hawkins conceding that Icon heard the complaints and will recalibrate. Based on the discussion I had with the would-be owner who cancelled, my guess is Icon got an earful. Hawkins complained about "misinformation and misinterpretation regarding our Purchase Agreement and the motivation behind its terms." I'm not sure I get that. We and other media outlets repeatedly contacted Icon for questions and clarifications, only to be either ignored, rebuffed or given summarily vague answers. At AVweb, we now have an amusing game with Icon. We schedule interviews and they cancel them. Two were cancelled last week. Hey, no fair complaining if we can't discuss any of this.

How about we do this, Icon. We'll record a Q&A session and pledge to publish it in its entirety in exchange for engagement on the questions we have. I think there's no better way to clarify things from the company's point of view. So can Icon turn this around? Actually, I think they can and the Friday announcement was the first step. They at least admit there's a problem and now pledge to own it and address it. Done correctly, it could turn brand tarnishment into brand burnishment. We'll see where they go. But some of those fences may defy mending. The owner I spoke with said he wasn't willing to reconsider his cancellation. And by the way, none of the people I spoke with during Sun 'n Fun felt that Icon was wrong in trying to limit legal exposure. Nor did they feel that installing a flight recorder and/or camera was wrong. I think experienced people in general aviation see the liability problem just as Icon does.  The solution is one of degree and Icon simply went too far, in my view. I'm not sure Icon will ever be able to sell control of secondary sales, however. This is just a fundamental right that buyers may consider non-negotiable. 

One of the questions I ask during my vendor tour is this: Is there any single thing the Sun 'n Fun organization could do to improve the show? This almost always merited a thoughtful pause, but no over-arching suggestion. This indicates to me that Sun 'n Fun has its treatment of vendors about right. A couple told me they thought Sun 'n Fun could lower gate prices a little, but without a peek into Sun 'n Fun's P&L, it's hard to say if that's doable. LP Aeroplastic's George Mesiarik told me kids of a certain age should get in free. "That brings in the next generation," he said. He also told me sales in the booth were down substantially from last year. In the G&N Engine booth, Dennis Wyman told me although traffic may have been down, Sun 'n Fun is still a must. "We have to be here. We get real benefits from this show," he said. When I cruised the show one last time Sunday, one other suggestion bubbled forth. Let the vendors go Saturday afternoon or Sunday noon. Sunday is a dead day and is jokingly known as "vendor bonding day." These businesses are usually short-staffed and need to recover all the time they can. I'd say make it a five-day show and make Tuesday a press day.

Speaking of which, I'll be making my annual plea to move the press center back closer to show center. Located as it is near the museum in the Tom Davis Center, the press center's remote location causes us great difficulty, so much so that we triage some events and simply don't cover them. Vendors count on the press as an exposure multiplier, but that doesn't work very well when we spend so much time trooping back and forth. This year, the golf cart taxi service worked better than ever—tip of the hat to the volunteers—but the setup just builds in inefficiency. I'd argue for something nearer the old press HQ, where the seaplane center is. Even a tent with tables, power and Wi-Fi would do nicely. Here's hoping they can make that work.

What Everybody Ought to Know About the CGR-30P from Electronics International

At Sun 'n Fun 2016, NavWorx was showing off its new, low-cost ADS-B system.

Free ADS-B In || Purchase an IFD440 with WiFi & Bluetooth Plus an AXP340 and Get an MLB100 ADS-B In Receiver from Avidyne

While symbolism alone might win in the presidential-campaign circus, pilots who understand what's behind aeronautical iconography will impress hangar neighbors and have no trouble acing this quiz.

Click here to take the quiz.

OpenAirplane's Fly to Win Contest || Break Free of Gravity, Red Tape, & Cables - All at the Same Time

Continental's six-cylinder engines are among the smoothest and most economical aircraft engines in the industry.  Now Vitiatoe Aviation is offering improvements for the Cessna 206/207 series engines that include crossflow induction for even smoother and more economical operation.  Here's an AVweb profile of the company.

Great Alaska Aviation Gathering || Saturday, April 30 & Sunday, May 1

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