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EgyptAir Flight 804’s cockpit voice recorder has been found and is being delivered to investigators following Wednesday’s finding of the airliner’s wreckage in the Mediterranean. A salvage team working off a ship had to take tedious steps to retrieve the recorder as it had been damaged in the crash. "The vessel's equipment was able to salvage the part that contains the memory unit, which is considered the most important part of the recording device," officials said in a Reuters report. The National Transportation Safety Board said Thursday it will join Egyptian and French investigators in the probe, according to Reuters.

Two vessels are still searching for the flight data recorder, which is expected to emit signals until around June 24. The Airbus A320 dropped from radar en route from Paris to Cairo with 66 people on board on May 19. Search teams have found debris in the search area and picked up signals from the recorders on June 1. It took until this week to find the main wreckage of the jet as the ocean floor is about 12,000 feet deep in some areas. 

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The ever-creative minds at the City of Santa Monica may have found another way to chip away at the usefulness of the airport they are determined to close. It will be explained at a public meeting Saturday. The city will unveil plans to expand their "airport park" by taking over a 12-acre section of the airport, including ramp space that used to park 24 aircraft. The ramp has been barricaded and the aircraft have moved either to other airports or other areas of the airport. "The expansion of Airport Park follows a directive from City Council on March 24, 2015 to develop recreational uses on two non-aviation parcels with a focus on sports fields to meet a growing community need," the city said in a news release. The FAA has thwarted numerous attempts to close the airport over the last 20 or so years and has so far not reacted to this gambit.

The city has been fighting the FAA, tenants and operators for years over the future of the airport lands and the closure of an FBO in March apparently gave officials an opening they thought they could exploit by declaring the area occupied by the FBO and its ramp "non-aviation" even though there were two dozen aircraft tied down there. The city says residents are invited to "share their ideas for the park’s future expansion on 12 acres of non-aviation land at Santa Monica Airport" from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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AVweb's search of aviation news worldwide found announcements from the Brooklands Museum, Pipistrel, NATA and Embraer. On July 26, the Brooklands Concorde G-BBDG will droop her trademark nose for the first time in almost 35 years as Brooklands Museum marks the completion of 10 years since she officially opened to the public as an exhibition, event venue and virtual flight experience. Slovenian manufacturer Pipistrel announced that aircraft number 800 from the Sinus/Virus family was completed. The aircraft will be shipped to the other side of the globe -- to Argentina.

The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) announced Marty Hiller (Owner and Partner, Marathon Jet Center, Marathon, Florida) will serve as NATA's acting president Sept. 1 when current President and CEO Thomas L. Hendricks steps down on Aug. 31. NATA also announced Board of Directors re-elections and the addition of two new members. Embraer announced that it has commenced the succession process for its CEO position, continuing the work developed by Mr. Frederico Fleury Curado in the last decade. Paulo Cesar de Souza e Silva, an Embraer senior executive since 1997 and currently its president and CEO of Commercial Aviation, will be the new Embraer CEO as of July 2016, in a transition scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.

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The Weekender found plenty of Father’s Day weekend outings on SocialFlight, cookouts included. On Saturday, Boulder Airport Day and Open House will feature aircraft of all kinds, including warbirds, antique and corporate aircraft. Many will be open for cockpit climbs. The Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum will host a special "KidSpace" for building model rockets and balsa wood airplanes, and flying flight simulators.

Dragonfly Aviation in Winder, Georgia, will host its Second Anniversary Party, Open House and Father's Day Celebration on Sunday at Barrow County airport. Show off your airplane, mingle with fellow aviation enthusiasts and enjoy some free food. 

Fly in to Butler Field in Hutchinson, Minnesota, for your choice of a Father’s Day Sunday breakfast or dinner. The pancake breakfast and classic car show will run from 8 a.m. until noon. Pork chop dinners complete with all the fixings will be served from 4 p.m. until 7.

Also Sunday in Redding, California, Aviation Day returns for its annual Father’s Day celebration with breakfast, military and medevac helicopter displays and more. Benton Air Center will offer airplane rides, while helicopter flights will be available from Air Shasta.

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As with most things in life, a successful flight is all about preparation; unfortunately, the longer we fly the more complacent we tend to get. We can handle any situation that arises—we can ‘wing it’ when we have to. However, to fly the perfect approach you have to prepare for it.

Reviewing the approaches that may be required both at the primary and the alternate are high on the to-do list. You either have paper copies or you have a fool-proof means of assuring that you will have a copy on your tablet when the time arrives. You checked NOTAMS, WX, aircraft loading and performance, fuel requirements, and all the other things you were taught by your flight instructor (if not, well here is your reminder). There is nothing that tells ATC that they have a winner on the other end of the radio than a pilot requesting a NOTAM’ed out approach. It is hard to sound like a Top Gun after that. 

You’ve executed the departure phase and flown most of the enroute segment. It’s about time to get mentally prepared for the final approach. Think about your biological needs. I don’t drink much water before or during the en route portion of the flight anymore (most of us have learned that lesson). However, I still want to be in top form physiologically during the approach. So, about 45 minutes before the Initial Approach Fix, I drink most of a bottle of water. I like to eat a granola bar or some other snack. This helps wake me up and ensures my blood sugar/hydration needs are met for my brain and reflexes to work to their fullest ability. I then address any bladder needs to prevent distractions when I start the approach.

Briefing The Approach

With my biological needs taken care of, I re-familiarize myself with the approach. I like to conduct a pre-approach brief, even if I am single-pilot. My brief goes something like this: “I am conducting the VOR 16 approach into Little Town  airport. My frequencies are 123.45, and then 122.8. I will be using the Ruffy VORTAC, until I fix DANDY intersection, the IAF, and then will switch to the Limerick Nav Aid—NoPt. My final approach course is 160; final approach fix is 6.9 DME. My altitudes are 1800 feet until SWIFER and then I am clear to descend to 320 feet, my missed approach point is 1.3 DME.”

I find saying it aloud, keeps me in a routine and makes me walk through the entire approach mentally. It is imperative to be aware of the next event trigger during the approach phase, knowing the next point at which heading, altitude, configuration or communication will occur—and what those numbers are when you get there.

With respect to configuration, while it is critical for larger transport category aircraft, even small GA types need planning. Consideration should be given to power settings well before the IAF so that when the point to drop the gear comes you are not above the VLE speed. Consider using the first increment of flap to help stabilize the airspeed especially on some of the higher performance singles like the Cirrus SR-22.

Night approaches require an even higher level of care and planning. At non-towered airports, have you activated the pilot-controlled lighting? Is the landing light on? What kind of runway lighting are you expecting when you go visual? Is the cockpit lighting at the right level to ensure that when you go visual you will have some night vision? Is there a VASI? Most of these questions were answered before you left the ground, but you do know where to find the information if one or more has managed to slip your mind.

Don’t Overlook The Miss

Did you notice what I missed in my earlier brief? If not, don’t feel too bad, many pilots forget to brief it, but it arguably ranks as one of the most important parts of the approach—the missed approach procedure. When I am giving a checkride, I wait to see if the pilot will brief it and if not, you can guess what happens when I call for the missed approach. I don’t do this as a gotcha, but to reinforce the importance of knowing what to do during this critical, high-stress portion of flight.

Far too many missed approaches end tragically because the pilot was not prepared for the miss and was trying to find the procedure on the plate while going through the litany of transitioning the aircraft to get away from the ground—a setup for confusion and vertigo. Those of you who have had to go missed in bad weather know exactly what I mean. This isn’t a time for distractions. All you should need is a cursory glance at the approach plate to confirm the procedure—but only after you are in the climb and well trimmed. Things have a way of happening fast and only speeding up during those critical phases of flight.

Of course, one aspect of flying the perfect approach is the right mind-set at the MAP or DH. How long will you gaze out at the gray matter in front of you before making the judgment to miss? Again, many a pilot has flown the perfect approach to this point and then made the mistake of allowing any number of factors to delay the resolution to push that power forward and accept that the conditions are not there to “go visual.”

What About The Autopilot?

Another aspect of my “how to fly a perfect approach” model is to start flying the aircraft manually about 30-minutes out. I want to feel the aircraft and get my control touch back prior to entering the approach phase. I have seen numerous pilots use the autopilot right up to the initial approach fix and then fight the controls when they take the aircraft manually. In fact, many pilots will fly the AP through the approach and then, unexpectantly, have to take control manually at the miss. Even if you are flying something more sophisticated, I find it a good idea to regain that control feel prior to an approach in case you have any autopilot issues.

OK, so you greased it on, brought the aircraft to the turn-off, and cleared the holding bars. Not a bad time to just take a breather; open the cowl flaps, tune to ground, request taxi, and retract the flaps. Take your time, you have been under a relatively high stress model and your body, and brain needs to get settled. Wait until you are serviced and tied-down before you start assessing the flight and patting yourself on the back for a job well-done. However, if you are like most of us, you are yet to fly the perfect approach. In some respects, none of us should ever think that there was nothing in a given flight that couldn’t have been done more effectively, efficiently, or safely. Keep working towards that perfect approach.

Jason Smith is a military instructor pilot and flight examiner. He also holds ATP and CFII ratings and is a FAASTeam member.

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

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I’ve covered this budding electric aviation thing just enough to understand this: The idea that an electric motor has so few moving parts that all you do is keep feeding it power and it will run smoothly forever is just wrong. The minimal parts count is right, but the simplicity isn’t.

But it’s nice to have it demonstrated. I was in a hangar the other day in which a small brushless DC motor—probably under 50 HP—was being tested. It ran smoothly and silently up 2000 RPM, the only noise being the whoosh of the prop blades cutting air. Then, just as suddenly as the motor had spun up to operating speed, it stopped with a thunk as loud and certain as a rod being thrown in a piston engine. Some little bit in the operating software wasn’t happy and pulled the plug on the test. Twice. Code writing skills will be much in demand in the emerging age of electric aviation.

So I made a note while at Aero to prepare a report on how a brushless DC motor actually works. The go-to guy for that is Frank Anton, Siemens' lead guy for the company’s aircraft electric motors. In this brief video, which ran on AVweb a couple weeks ago, he explains how it all works.

That 350-HP motor Siemens had on display was quite a marvel, in my view. At only 110 pounds, it’s the most powerful electric motor of its kind yet developed. But users of this motor will face their own developmental challenges and it’s a mistake to think of them as trivial. As Dr. Anton explains, a brushless DC motor has to know the position of the rotor at all times in order to reverse magnet polarity that would normally be done with brushes in an AC motor. If it gets out of phase, the motor simply won’t run and that’s what I saw in the motor test I observed.

So the motor requires inverters that are robust and reliable if they’re going to even match piston-engine reliability, never mind exceed it. They also need cooling systems and pumps to run them, so if you were thinking electric aviation will be free of leaks, sorry. When you examine an electric propulsion motor closely, it’s astonishing how much power comes out of so little mass. And that means heat that has to be carted off. So yes, electric airplanes will have radiators. They probably won’t need antifreeze, however, because oil is the cooling fluid of choice.

I trolled our YouTube channel to see if anyone would take the bait on claimed power-to-weight ratio of electric motors. And, it being the internet, someone, of course, did. That big Siemen’s behemoth weighs but 50 kg for a power-to-weight ratio of 7 hp/kg or 3.2 hp/lb.

The closest thing to compare it to is the Lycoming IO-540 series which, at 350 hp, weighs about 450 pounds for a power-to-weight of 0.78 hp/lb. Of course, the electric motor enjoys a big advantage and just as obvious, it’s less so when the batteries are considered. Here, it gets complicated, because to be fair, you have to include the weight of the gasoline for the Lycoming, not to mention how long you wish to fly.

Pick a number: 30 minutes. In that case, at current battery energy densities, you’d need a ton of batteries to sustain that power. Literally, a ton. Do the same for 200 pounds of avgas. You can see how far we have to go before a mechanic confronts a leaky radiator in a new electric airplane.

I think just as every technology has, electric propulsion in airplanes will go through teething pains. We’ll see our share of them quit in flight before everything is sorted out. It’s inevitable. And, so what? That’s the price of progress and it’s never been easy. But now you know a little about what’s involved. 

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Thomas Rudolf of Middletown, OH delivers Christmas in July with a lead-off photo we've had in the hopper since last December. Click through for more magical moments from pilots across the land.

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