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The new Airman Certification Standards for private pilot and instrument rating applicants are a welcome change, pilot examiners said following the rollout of the revamped requirements. The ACS, which replaced the Practical Test Standards, also includes updated knowledge tests. “The new standards are designed to adapt as in-cockpit technology changes and to do a better job of integrating the knowledge and practical tests,” said David Oord, AOPA senior director of government affairs and chair of the working group that developed the changes. “The overall result will be a more meaningful experience for pilots and a test that better reflects all the things pilots need to know, do, and consider in order to fly safely.” 

Pilot candidates and their instructors will find that the ACS lists topics they're already familiar with, such as "personal minimums" and "airworthiness requirements" but will tie each one into knowledge, risk management and skills. The flight operations for the test are the same, with more specifics on risk management. Also, the knowledge tests will undergo regular updates of question banks with the help of industry experts, said Doug Stewart, an examiner and CFI who was part of the working group. The FAA will hold a series of webinars for examiners and instructors on the ACS. The June 25 session is full, according to the FAA’s website, but registration is open while space is available for additional webinars on July 1, 9, 18 and 30. The agency also has a Frequently Asked Questions page (PDF) on its website. 

Listen to AVweb’s discussion with Doug Stewart on the ACS here.

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Two Canadian Twin Otter aircraft are in Punta Arenas at the southern tip of Chile waiting out weather to launch a rescue at the South Pole. The aircraft operated by Kenn Borek Air, of Calgary, Alberta, were dispatched last Wednesday to pick up a person who has fallen ill at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. Because of the extreme weather conditions in the southern hemisphere winter, there are no regular flights in and out of Antarctica. But medical officials have determined that the condition of the crew member at the station, one of 48 people living there at this time of year, warrants the complicated rescue.

When the weather looks flyable, the Canadian crews will head from Chile to the British Antarctic Survey Station at Rothera, the northern tip of Antarctica. From there, one of the Twin Otters will make the trip to the pole while the other waits in Rothera in case it’s needed for search and rescue. “You can’t carry enough fuel to go from Rothera to the South Pole and back, so there’s a point of no return on the way in, after about four or five hours, where you have to make a decision that you are pretty sure you’ll be able to land,” said Peter West, a spokesman for the National Science Foundation, which is coordinating the rescue. Kenn Borek Air is a major aviation contractor in Antarctica in the flying season and has done two previous mid-winter rescues. Although there will be no daylight for the mission, there will be a “dazzlingly bright” full moon to help out the crews, according to Crikey’s Ben Sandilands.

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Solar Impulse 2 is expected to launch from New York to Seville, Spain, Monday on the longest leg of its circumnavigation using solar power only. The flight was to start on Sunday but weather concerns delayed it by a day. The flight will take an estimated 90 hours and will be flown by Bertrand Piccard. The aircraft flew the Pacific in two legs with a prolonged stop in Hawaii to repair batteries damaged in the flight from Japan. Piccard splits the flying with Andre Borschberg.

The aircraft has been at New York’s Kennedy Airport since June 11 when it came from Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania. After Seville, the plane will fly mostly over land on its way to the starting point of the journey in Abu Dhabi. By the end of the flight, the aircraft will have covered more than 20,000 miles.

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The data that could help find the cause of EgyptAir Flight 804’s sudden plunge into the Mediterranean can’t be recovered quickly, according to reports following Friday’s retrieval of the flight data recorder from the wreckage. That unit and the voice recorder, recovered by search teams on Thursday, are heavily damaged and must be repaired before any details can be analyzed, according to an Associated Press report. The recorders are in the hands of Egyptian investigators, but could be shipped elsewhere to other experts, the report said.

The Airbus A320 dropped from radar en route from Paris to Cairo with 66 people on board on May 19. Search teams found debris in the water, followed by signal detections on June 1. What could be a long wait for additional information might continue to fuel speculation, and Egyptian officials have said terrorism is a more likely cause than a mechanical malfunction. Information leaked to the media indicates the aircraft systems detected smoke in a lavatory and a problem with two cockpit windows just before the crash, the AP reported.

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Piper Aircraft’s M600 turboprop received its FAA type certification, the company announced Friday. The clean-sheet wing design, touchscreen avionics and a newly designed interior will meet customer demands in the single-engine turbine market, according to Piper, which has aggressively marketed the M600 since announcing it in April 2015. The airplane will advertise a maximum range of 1484 NM and a cruising true airspeed speed of 274 knots, more than originally expected. 

The six-seat aircraft flies with a 600-horsepower Pratt & Whitney PT6A-42A turboprop engine. With more power than the M500 Meridian, the M600 will offer a step-up model for a price of $2.853 million. The cockpit has dual Garmin touchscreen controllers and G3000 avionics. Safety enhancements include Emergency Descent Mode, Electronic Stability Protection, Level Mode and Underspeed/Overspeed Protection. The M600 underwent more than 1850 hours of testing with three aircraft for certification, the company said. Piper developed the new flagship turboprop as part of three models in the M-Class line that include the M500 and M350.

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No one was injured when a rare Second World War-era Lysander made an off-airport landing near Hamilton, Ontario, on Saturday. The aircraft was on a local sightseeing flight. Only the 64-year-old pilot and a 61-year-old British woman were on board when the engine failed. The aircraft, one of 42 warbirds operated by the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, had taken off from the museum near Hamilton and was at about 1,000 feet when the engine quit. The pilot put the aircraft down in between windmills on a field in nearby Cayuga. The aircraft was damaged but first indications are that it is repairable. The aircraft’s design and lineage no doubt helped the pilot get it down in one piece.

Lysanders were designed in the mid-1930s by Westland primarily as a light transport and liaison aircraft but they were among the first to employ STOL features like self-deploying leading edge slats. Although ungainly looking, the big high-wing single’s short-field performance on unimproved fields earned it a pivotal role in clandestine operations in Europe. Lysanders were used to insert and extract agents behind enemy lines. Lysanders were used as target aircraft after the war and CWH’s aircraft is painted in that yellow and black “bumblebee” livery.

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Overheard while flying through the New York Class B airspace:  

Pilot:  Departure ABC 795 off 14L climbing to 5000'.  

Controller: Is this 725 or 795?  

Pilot:  What did I say?  

Controller:  795.

Pilot:  Oh sorry, I guess this is 725.

Controller:  Don't worry about it, I mix up call signs all day.

Pilot:  Yeah, but I only have one call sign to screw up.

Ed Abrams

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Over the years one of the issues that has plagued aircraft owners and airport sponsors alike is trying to figure out what can be stored in an aircraft hangar that’s on an airport that receives federal grant money through the Airport Improvement Program (AIP). That money comes with strings, the big one is that the airport must be used for aeronautical purposes—and that applies to what is stored in hangars on that airport. I’ve seen local rules that vary from being silent as what can go into a hangar to incredibly restrictive.

Last week the FAA issued its official policy as to what may be stored in a hangar that’s on an airport that receives federal AIP money—and I think the folks in the FAA’s Airport Compliance Division and Office of Airport Compliance did a good job in applying common sense to the subject.

A Little Background

When an airport sponsor accepts grants under the federal Airport Improvement Program, it signs a contract agreeing to use the funds for the purpose they were granted and to operate its airport so that it grants equal access to all aeronautical activities. The purpose is to have as many airports as possible to serve the National Airspace System and for the users of the airports to be able to expect consistent treatment, no matter what they are flying; everywhere they go in the country. When an airport sponsor signs the contract for AIP money, that contract includes a number of specific Grant Assurances, so a pilot flying a helicopter, glider, airplane or balloon or a skydiver descending under canopy is promised equal access to its airport by the airport sponsor. The system isn’t perfect, but it’s been reasonably successful in preventing scattergun local airport regulations that would otherwise ban some aeronautical users based on local whims, power-brokers or prejudices.

One of the guarantees an airport sponsor makes, in writing, in return for federal AIP funds is to use airport property only for aviation-related purposes unless the FAA specifically approves otherwise. That means a city that owns an airport and accepts federal grants cannot, for example, put a soccer field on part of its airport unless it gets FAA approval.

The aviation-related purposes requirement also applies to hangars on an airport that has received federal funding, no matter who owns the hangars. Over the years that requirement has lead to wildly inconsistent local rules about what can be stored in a hangar. I’ve seen airport managers who were ostensibly so frightened about losing federal funding that they refused to allow anything in a hangar except an airplane—no spare cans of oil, no windshield-washing materials, nothing. Other managers refused to allow carpet, a refrigerator or a sofa—despite the widely recognized needs of pilots to have a comfortable place from which to gaze on their airplanes. I, of course, will refrain from offering the comment that some airport manager job descriptions appear to include a requirement to not know whether Amelia Earhart disappeared on an around-the-world flight or went down with the Titanic. Such a sentiment would be beneath me.

The FAA has tried to provide guidance into “aeronautical-related purposes” when it comes to what can live in a hangar. Until now, its guidelines didn’t always seem to be well considered. For example, the FAA’s proposed policy on airport hangar use issued in July 2014 didn’t consider an amateur-built (homebuilt) airplane to have reached the rarified height of “aeronautically-related” until it was in final assembly. Kit- or plans-built aircraft had to be largely completed elsewhere. Not surprisingly, that proposed policy resulted in more than 2,400 comments from pilots, airport users and aviation alphabet groups. Happily, the FAA listened.

A New Policy is Revealed

On June 9, 2016, the FAA issued its Final Policy on the non-Aeronautical Use of Airport Hangars. I think the combination of thoughtful comments on the proposed policy and the willingness to listen on the part of the FAA’s Office of Airport Compliance and Airport Compliance Division has resulted in a common sense document. The Policy will become effective on July 1, 2017.

As I went through the Final Policy, it appeared to me that the FAA’s consistent bottom line was that so long as the primary purpose of the hangar is for parking an operational airplane, the storage of other items has no effect on the aeronautical utility of the hangar. That makes good sense, in my opinion.

The Final Policy applies to all hangars on the property of an airport that has received federal grants, whether those hangars are owned by individuals and only subject to a land lease with the airport or owned by the airport and leased to individuals. Land on an airport must be used for aeronautical purposes, so any hangars constructed on that land must be used for aeronautical purposes and comply with the FAA’s new Final Policy.

The Final Policy specifically states, “Non-commercial construction of amateur-built or kit-built aircraft is considered an aeronautical activity.” I don’t think the FAA could be more clear and I applaud the stance it took. I note that the FAA also recognized that progress by some homebuilder on their projects is so slow that it appears to be nonexistent to an observer. Accordingly, the Final Policy allows airport sponsors to incorporate construction progress targets in a hangar lease. The goal is to assure that the hangar is used for storage of an operational aircraft within a reasonable time.

In keeping with the requirement that a hangar be used for aeronautical purposes, the Policy says that a sponsor can prohibit the indefinite storage of nonoperational aircraft. We’ve all seen the situation where an owner has stopped flying his or her aircraft and it sits forlorn in its hangar for years—never seeing the sun, much less an annual inspection. In some cases the owner does work on the airplane from time to time, but it never becomes airworthy. The Policy allows sponsors to evict such aircraft so as to provide hangar space for operational aircraft. The FAA’s Final Policy recognized that some airports have a waiting list for hangar space. In my opinion, it’s not fair for someone’s operational airplane to be sitting out on a tie down in a hailstorm when the owner of the flat-tired, five-years-out-of-annual Skylane in hangar 22 hasn’t deigned to visit his pride and joy since the George W. Bush Administration.

The Final Policy says that so long as the hangar is used primarily for aeronautical purposes, non-aeronautical items may be stored in the hangar if the items do not interfere with the aeronautical use of the hangar. I’ve seen several hangars with an active airplane parked front and center as well as bare fuselages and wings of someday-to-be restored airplanes hanging in the rafters. Under the Final Policy, this appears to be perfectly acceptable and probably means saving some antique and classic airplanes.

We’ve all seen hangars where there is an airplane somewhere underneath massive stacks of storage boxes—where getting the airplane out would require excavating with explosives and a front-end loader. Besides not complying with the Policy, they are a fire hazard. Hangar fires, while rare, are to be taken seriously. Aluminum burns with vigor. The Policy gives airport sponsors additional ammunition to compel such hoarders to clean out their hangars or move out.

Airport sponsors have always been able to impose rules for fire safety—the Final Policy does not change that principle. However, the rules have to be reasonable. I’ve seen too many airport bureaucrats attempt to ban storage of commercially purchased fuel containers that otherwise meet fuel storage requirements and are used safely in millions of garages and thousands of hangars across the country. After all, the airplane contains far more fuel in its tanks than is in a half-dozen fuel containers and presents the same risk of fire.


In FAQs the FAA put out in conjunction with its Final Policy, it makes clear that it’s perfectly fine to have furniture and a TV in the hangar—so long as they don’t impede the movement of the aircraft in and out. That's common sense, in my opinion. Besides, a hangar without furniture and a refrigerator somehow just isn’t natural.

A hangar cannot be used as a residence—hangar homes cannot be on an airport that receives federal funding (they can, however, be on adjacent land with connecting taxiways). However, the FAA recognizes that there is sometimes a need for a crew rest facility in a hangar; it just cannot be a residence.

I like what I have seen in the Final Policy, including some little items that will give hangar tenants ammunition against foolish airport regulations such as prohibiting parking one’s car in one’s hangar while out flying. The FAA specifically addresses that issue. I’m looking forward to showing that to the airport manager who enacted such a ban at his fiefdom, er, airport. I’m also going to tell him that Amelia Earhart disappeared on an around-the-world flight attempt. He’ll be stunned.

Rick Durden is an aviation attorney, a CFII, holds an ATP with type ratings in the Douglas DC-3 and Cessna Citation and is the author of The Thinking Pilot’s Flight Manual or, How to Survive Flying Little Airplanes and Have a Ball Doing It, Vols 1 and 2.

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The plodding search for EgyptAir 804, which went down in the eastern Mediterranean en route to Cairo on May 19, has again ignited the discussion about real-time transmission of critical flight parameters via satellite. In an age when the world is stitched together with numerous satellite systems, doesn’t relying on ancient flight and voice data recorders seem utterly backward?

Perhaps, but there’s also this reality: Real-time data monitoring of everything flight recorders store is still not practical nor would it impact system safety in any broad way sufficient to justify the cost. The reason for that is despite AF447, MH370 and now EgyptAir 804, the number of accidents or incidents in which flight recorders are difficult to access is still quite small in the overall scheme of things. Overall system safety is described by a torrent of data and a couple of flight recorders resting in two miles of salt water represents but a trickle of the total. That’s why, says a friend of mine in the accident investigation business, accident agencies aren’t too spun up about real-time monitoring as a tool to move the safety needle. That fruit is at the very top of the tree.

That’s not to say there isn’t a valid argument for real-time data, however, but it’s economic, not safety-related. A company called Star Navigation is making just that pitch for a system it’s been working on for more than a decade and has now developed for STC-based installation. The Star ADS system is essentially a smart box installed in the airplane that taps into the various data busses—the flight recorders, the ADAHRS system, the engine and electric busses, and so on. It’s highly customizable to the airline’s requirements, but it can be set up to monitor all sorts of parameters and exceedances, such as over-rotation on takeoff, flap and gear overspeed, over-banking—the list is a long one.

For transmitting this data in areas where VHF or wireless links aren’t available, says company CEO Viraf Kapadia, the Star system uses the Iridium satellite phone network. How often it reports and what it reports is, again, something each airline can specify. Kapadia says it’s economically unrealistic to attempt either real-time trend monitoring or full telemetry on oceanic airline flights but that the system can be programmed to push all the data through the pipeline that it can in the event that it senses an aircraft-threatening abnormal, such as a loss of pressurization, rapid altitude loss or fire. That’s the accident scenario that would apply to the EgyptAir 804 loss. Quite a bit of data could have been reported, not the least of which is actual position, before the airplane disappeared. Real-time DFDR/CVR telemetry is out of the question at the moment. And, in any case, investigators had radar data to work with in Flight 804. Even on AF447, the delay in retrieving the recorders had more to do with interagency squabling than it did not having a good position hack. I wouldn't be surprised is that were also the case with EA804.

By airline avionics standards, the Star system is not expensive: about $60,000 installed on a one-off basis, but substantially less at fleet volumes. Operating costs are $13.50 per hour, plus $1250 a month for software and support. That’s about $4000 per month for an airliner turning 200 hours a month or maybe $114 per month per seat for a typical two-aisle airplane—fractions of a cent per seat mile. Still, airlines won’t buy it just to make CNN commenters happy or to assure the relatives if they lose one over the ocean.

Realizing this, Star is pitching the ADS system a cost-management tool, allowing airlines to accurately track maintenance issues and attend to them in the most efficient way. One of the big ones is OOOI for on-off, out-in times used to schedule heavy maintenance like D-checks. Kapadia says many airlines do this manually and inaccurately, giving away flight hours for too-early maintenance hours or grounding airplanes when the maintenance capacity isn’t available but the airplane is timed out. He argues that on this alone, the Star ADS could pay for itself in less than a year; the rest is just operating costs.

This idea is nothing new, by the way. Airbus, Boeing and the major aerospace engine makers have offered data reporting in various forms for years. Kapadia says the Star system is more all-inclusive and thus superior to what’s been offered before. I suppose the market will decide that.

So are we at the point that such systems should be required for oceanic routes? My vote is no. Even though it’s not that expensive, it does add cost for a service that’s unlikely to move the system safety needle much. You can keep adding mandatory safety systems forever, until the aircraft can’t get off the ground for the weight of them. But if a smart airline can make the economic case, why not? Pennies on seat-mile costs do matter on competitive routes and if Kapadia is right, the investment in systems like these might actually reduce them.

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The new Airmen Certification Standards for private pilot and instrument rating applicants will emphasize risk management while making checkrides more efficient, according to Doug Stewart. The pilot examiner and CFI, who served on the original FAA committee charged with rewriting test standards, says the result will be “safer pilots.” 

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