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The FAA has proposed an AD that would require the removal of certain NavWorx ADS-B transceivers because it claims the devices might broadcast “unreliable position information to air traffic control and nearby aircraft, resulting in potential aircraft collision.” NavWorx says the FAA is wrong and is urging customers to respond to the proposed AD. The FAA says there are about 800 aircraft with Model ADS600-B part number (P/N) 200-0012 and 200-0013 and Model ADS600-EXP P/N 200-8013 transceivers installed and they’re saying it should only take an hour to take them out. The agency says a software change to change the devices’ source integrity level (SIL) was not authorized and that makes them non-compliant with TSO-154c, the TSO that governs ADS-B performance. The agency is also disallowing claims under its ADS-B rebate program for the devices. NavWorx disagrees with both and we have reprinted the company's statement on the matter in its entirety.

The FAA has proposed an AD for our model ADS600-B part number (P/N) 200-0012 and 200- 0013 and Model ADS600-EP P/N 200-8013. The proposal is just that; a proposal. We disagree with the FAA’s positon that the units supposedly communicate unreliable position information. 

The FAA has never shared with us any instance of our units doing so, there is no support for this claim in the docket, and we are unaware of any unit doing so. In fact, for two and a half years the FAA had no problem with the ability of our units to correctly communicate the position of aircraft with the units. 

Unfortunately, in January of 2016 the FAA would have cut off functionality of these units because they were broadcasting a SIL of 0. This action was the result of a March 2015 notice to deny TIS-B access to ADS-B units that were uncertified and broadcasting with a SDA of 0. The units subject to the proposed AD are neither uncertified nor do they broadcast with a SDA of 0. 

To insure continued access to TIS-B data we implemented a minor change so the units would broadcast a SIL of 3, which our testing had confirmed was appropriate, allowing them to continue to be identified for TIS-B purposes. The proposed AD would deny these units access to TIS-B data. 

We intend to file comments on the proposal and would encourage you to do likewise regarding your experience with our units. In the meantime we continue to work with the FAA to resolve our disagreements.

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Textron Inc. says it’s restructuring its Textron Aviation division in response to a “stubbornly soft” business jet market. Some layoffs have already occurred and the company is also offering early retirement incentives. In a conference call on the release of third quarter earnings, Textron CEO Scott Donnelly told financial reporters that while deliveries of business jets in the third quarter of 2016 were actually up over 2015, profit was down and that’s a reflection of the market. Still, the aviation division made $100 million in the third quarter and the company, as a whole, made $421 million in Q3. As might be expected, new jets are selling briskly while old designs are slipping.

The new Latitude, which began deliveries a year ago, is racking up sales while the rebaked XLS+ and Sovereign+ are not keeping up. Textron has high hopes for its larger Longitude super-midsize, which flew for the first time two weeks ago. “Most of our growth is driven by the new products coming onto the market,” he said. “That’s certainly true with the Latitude.” Textron has also recently announced the new Cessna Denali large turboprop single and the large-cabin Hemisphere jet. “At least in the market environment we exist in today, that’s the only way we drive growth.”

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Boeing opened its new manufacturing facility this week in St. Louis, where it will manufacture components of the upcoming 777X jet. The site historically served as an assembly facility for McDonnell Douglas military jets. Boeing merged with the company in 1997. Now, a 424,000-square-foot composite manufacturing complex will produce wing edge and empennage parts for the 777X beginning early next year. The first deliveries of the new wide-body airliner are scheduled to start in 2020. Confirmed orders are up to 306 aircraft, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Boeing has invested $300 million so far in the new plant, which will have about 700 employees there over the next few years and support the 777X assembly operations in Everett, Washington.

Boeing’s expansion in the St. Louis area bodes well for the company’s longtime presence there. The company has about 15,000 employees in the region including those in its Defense, Space & Security division, and state officials said the new composite facility will mean another asset that’s conducive to future growth, the Post-Dispatch reported. “Boeing has had a presence in St. Louis for nearly 80 years. We’ve built more than 12,000 fighter jets here,” the company said in a statement. “With the opening of this new composite center, our well-trained, high-quality workforce is able to demonstrate its versatility and expertise, positioning our region for additional commercial and defense work in the future.”

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The founders of the ModAero NextGen Aviation Festival launched their first event early this year with a great idea — to target millennials, the 18 to 35 age group. But the project got off to a rocky start, when its social media reach of more than 1.2 million translated to just over 500 attendees on the ground. The team now is taking that in stride and working on bigger and better plans for next year, with a festival set for May 19 to 21, 2017, at the Conroe-North Houston Regional Airport in Conroe, Texas. “First-year events are always tough,” event founder Brian Columbus told AVweb this week in an email interview. “We did attract attendees from 26 states, but without the history of an established event, it was difficult to convince the aviation public to travel long distances to a first-year event.”

Columbus said next year’s event will include a one-day airshow, on Saturday, May 20. “We had always wanted to hold an airshow, [but] waited until Year 2 for this because we didn't have the large volunteer base needed,” Columbus said. “We are now prepared to do this, and have brought in a professional airshow company to manage and assist this aspect.” Also, the show has partnered with three tenants on the airport to provide access to ramp space so aircraft exhibitors can offer demo flights. Other changes include moving the date from spring break to early summer, when Columbus hopes to avoid this year’s heavy rains. He also plans to focus more on drawing attendees from the local region, while retaining the focus on millennials. Seventy-five percent of ModAero’s social-media followers fit into the millennial demographic, Columbus said. “We have proven that we are reaching a new audience in aviation,” he said, “and that shows a lot of promise for future years.” 

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AVweb's search of news in aviation found announcements from Banyan Air Service, the Recreational Aviation Foundation, the Unmanned Safety Institute and Sporty's. Banyan Air Service at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport will host a free Seaplane Splash-In on Nov. 19, 2016 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Splash-In will include two workshops: Seaplanes 101 and The Seaplane - The Ultimate Outdoor Adventure Vehicle. The Recreational Aviation Foundation, a Bozeman, Montana-chartered nonprofit organization, has added two members to its board of directors. Jack Tyler of Bozeman and Bill McGlynn of Leavenworth, Washington, will take on roles associated with the RAF's mission of preserving and creating airstrips for recreational access. 

The Unmanned Safety Institute announced that it has been accepted as a “Training Provider” to the FAA Safety Team’s (FAASTeam) Program. USI has also made available their professionally developed Small UAS Safety Ground School course through the FAASTeam website at www.faasafety.gov. Sporty's Flight Gear was first introduced 25 years ago to offer pilots reliable flight bags with aviation-specific features, all at affordable prices. Since then, hundreds of thousands of pilots have chosen Flight Gear to protect and organize important aviation gear, but the line has constantly evolved to keep up with changing technology and pilot preferences. The latest evolution is a completely redesigned selection of flight bags and kneeboards.

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Fall conjures memories of bright blue skies, cool mornings and generally good daytime flying. But in aviation, looks can be deceiving. New air masses are on the move, the jet stream begins to flex its muscle over much of the United States, fronts are marching southward, and there’s likely a tropical storm in the Caribbean or the Gulf. How does this affect your flying and how can you avoid an unplanned turn of events?

FAT Is for Fog

Fog makes a prominent appearance in the fall, and it can be serious. We’re talking about heavy fog, actual IMC, and an AOPA Air Safety Foundation study in 2010 found that two-thirds of IMC accidents are fatal. The biggest fog problem during the fall months is valley fog in the western United States—particularly the San Joaquin Valley of central California and the Columbia Basin east of the Washington Cascades.

California’s version is known as tule fog, and it’s implicated every few years in multi-car pileups, one of which involved 126 vehicles in November 2007. The fog hits Fresno, Bakersfield, Stockton, and Sacramento particularly hard, and will often take the airports well below minimums during the morning hours. Afternoon conditions improve to only a couple of miles visibility and 500-foot ceilings. Once it’s dark, things get worse again and the cycle can repeat for days.

Valley fog sets in when moist Pacific air and rain moves inland, followed by a night of clear skies and strong radiation cooling. Once developed, this fog can decouple from the air mass above, and remain in place for days or weeks. It may burn off during the day around the valley’s edges, but tends to rebuild at night. The fog is finally evicted when a Pacific system or some other major pattern change reaches the valleys.

When planning a flight to these valleys, be alert when a cool, rainy Pacific front is expected to move across the area, since this stubborn fog may develop the next night. Good alternates will be found at airports in relatively exposed, higher terrain.

Along the Gulf Coast, advection fog spreading inland from the coast often becomes a problem in the fall, even catching forecasters by surprise. It occurs west of high-pressure areas when a cold-air mass is replaced overnight by a southerly flow of warm, rich air from the Gulf. This causes broad areas of stratus and advection fog as humid Gulf air flows northward across the cool landmass, quickly bringing IMC to locations like Houston and New Orleans during the wee hours of the morning.

Since the fog closely matches ground temperature, it typically doesn’t show up on satellite images. It’s difficult even for forecasters to find until ASOS sites begin detecting it. Because of this, there will be some uncertainty in the overnight TAFs.

When flying at night near the Gulf Coast in light southerly flow, keep an eye on observations and watch for unexpected changes. Your best alternates will be found to the north, in the drier air away from the coast.

Finally, as large weather systems march across the United States, garden-variety radiation fog can set in anywhere there is a combination of wet ground, clear nighttime conditions and light winds. Daytime rain followed by nighttime clearing is all it takes.

Fortunately this radiation fog is quick to lift. While there is no good rule of thumb for an alternate, beefing up your fuel reserve will ensure you can safely get to another airfield if your destination goes below minimums. By mid-morning most airfields will already see substantial improvement.

HVR Is for High Winds

With the jet stream interacting more strongly with surface systems, high winds can be expected in and around surface lows, particularly those crossing the Rocky Mountains. Here, you can encounter some of the roughest rides of your life. The southern and southwest quadrants of these lows particularly favor high winds from the higher instability and interactions with cold air trapped in the intermountain valleys. Look for the strongest winds near and just downstream from mountain passes perpendicular to the wind flow. Rotors and turbulence are also likely downstream from mountain ranges.

Even if the storms leave the mountains and move into the Great Plains, the southern quadrant of deep surface lows retains the potential for potent high winds. This is because of the higher instability in this part of the system and a tendency for strong upper level winds to couple with strong surface winds.

Also, if the area has been under a drought, winds can loft vast amounts of dust thousands of feet into the air over a wide area, sometimes all the way from west Texas into the Dallas and Oklahoma City area. This is most likely during the afternoon, but by evening the dust will settle with VMC conditions returning.

Santa Ana winds are a different wind event that occurs in southern California whenever a strong high-pressure area builds over Nevada. This is most common in December but occurs any time during fall or winter.

Santa Anas drive desert air southwestward over the coastal mountains. High winds are concentrated within and downstream from mountain passes and will affect many airports in southern California. Depending on the temperature of the air mass, the Santa Ana wind emerges to the lee of the mountains as either a cold foehn wind or a warm chinook wind. Because of very low relative humidity and gusty winds, warm Santa Anas are associated with wildfires and the smoke plumes can quickly create large areas of occasionally dense IMC.

HWO Is for Hurricanes

Autumn is prime hurricane season, and a visit to the National Hurricane Center website is a good idea when you’re planning a flight into Florida, the Gulf of Mexico or the Caribbean. Although few pilots will fly into hurricanes, the remnants of a landfalling hurricane often move hundreds of miles inland into the eastern United States and can impact all types of flying operations.

Fortunately the dangerous winds are eliminated by friction within a day or two, but the core of the tropical system can carry astonishing amounts of water and bands of heavy showers and thunderstorms into places like Arkansas and Ohio, along with the potential for severe icing above 10-15,000 feet. At the ground, most airports under a hurricane’s remains are normally IMC until it passes. So even with remnants and weak winds, consider postponing that planned flight for a day until the system passes.

Remains of Pacific hurricanes spreading inland from Baja California are often overlooked. These remains spread northeast into Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, and have traditionally been poorly handled by computer models due to the sparsity of observed data in Mexico.

As with Atlantic hurricanes, these can carry vast amounts of moisture and convection inland, even after crossing the mountains of Mexico. As with landfalling Atlantic hurricanes, pilots should expect IMC and extensive showers in places like Tucson, El Paso, and Midland as these remnants pass through.

ISN Is for Ice

Although winter typically doesn’t dig into the southern United States until December, pilots in northern states experience winter weather as early as October. It’s back to basics: understanding the different types of winter precipitation and how they occur. This is also the foundation for understanding icing, which becomes more of a factor with lower freezing levels during the fall. Knowing what kind of ice and weather is likely requires knowing three things: the temperature in the cloud layer, the cloud type, and the temperatures between the cloud layer and the surface.

Perhaps we have too many traumatic memories of flight school and in our amnesia we remember only grade school science, where if it’s above freezing we get rain, and if it’s below freezing, we get snow. Unfortunately, it’s just not that simple. The problem here is that water can condense and remain in the liquid state well below freezing—a form known as supercooled water.

At temperatures of zero degrees C to -10 degrees C, supercooled drops are common. They are relatively warm and take time to freeze on aircraft surfaces, especially if they are warm or large drops.

Large drops are more likely caused by cumuliform clouds. This forms the dangerous clear ice. At colder temperatures of -10 to -20, the supercooled droplets—typically from stratiform clouds—are smaller and freeze more quickly. This tends to form rime ice. At temperatures of about -15 degrees C or colder, the cloud layer is increasingly more likely to produce ice crystals, which is essentially snow, and with increasingly colder temperatures the layer is almost entirely ice crystals with little or no potential for airframe icing.

Although it may seem like the best solution is to always descend below the freezing level to escape the ice, there are frequently weather situations where a warm layer is sandwiched between cold layers above and below. This is a textbook pattern found north of warm fronts.

Flying through the lower cold layer, you may encounter melted precipitation from much higher altitudes falling into the cold layer and freezing onto the airplane’s surface in the form of clear ice. The solution here is to either get the plane on the ground or immediately climb into the warm layer. Knowing exactly where these warm and cold layers are before you take off will give you a plan in case the icing gets out of your comfort zone.

LFK Is for Low Level Jets

As the jet stream becomes active across the central United States, the low level jet becomes a prominent part of the weather pattern in Texas, Oklahoma, and adjoining states. The jet stream is a nocturnal band of strong winds, typically 1000-4000 feet above the ground, and it flows from the south to the north from the Gulf of Mexico. Wind speeds in the low-level jet commonly exceed 50 knots, and since the jet is usually decoupled from low-level air during the early morning hours, low-level wind shear may exist in a shallow layer a few hundred feet above the ground.

Since the low-level jet is associated with rich tropical air from the Gulf of Mexico, it produces extensive areas of IMC during the morning, usually in the form of stratus ceilings. Unless a front is located south of the airport, this fog and stratus normally lifts by late morning, resulting in improvement to VMC with cumulus and stratocumulus ceilings.

SAW Is for Surprise Storms

The Great Lakes are a special case because these are large bodies of water that remain relatively warm in spite of atmospheric cooling. This provides two essential ingredients for bad weather: heat and moisture. Just the presence of a front across the Great Lakes during the fall means that pilots should watch for ceilings or visibility to rapidly drop.

Well-developed frontal systems heading for the Great Lakes are an even more serious matter, since the heat and moisture feeds the storm and can cause rapid development. A classic example is the storm system of November 10, 1975. In just 24 hours, a low pressure area over Kansas with an altimeter setting of 29.52 at its center moved almost 1000 miles to Lake Superior, where the pressure dropped to 29.02. The powerful winds resulted in the sinking of the 700-foot SS Edmund Fitzgerald (as in the Gordon Lightfoot ballad) with the loss of all 29 aboard. Almost all aircraft except those in Class A airspace would have encountered extensive layers of clear icing.

The warm lake waters also result in lake-effect weather as cold air masses move across the lake and become saturated with moisture. This produces clouds and precipitation where the lake wind comes ashore, with cloud layers extending 50-100 miles inland. This type of weather is not particularly dangerous, and with the air mass being unstable the result is cumuliform clouds, intense showery precipitation, and good visibility outside the rain or snow showers. Instrument conditions can be persistent at cities such as Buffalo and Erie, but problem areas are localized, and good alternates can be found a short distance inland.

Final Thoughts

Autumn weather changes need not be feared, but the changes in the atmosphere heading into the cool season are indeed profound from a meteorological perspective. Fortunately aviation meteorology is an 80-year old profession and forecasters are well versed in all the hazards the season brings. Careful flight planning and checking the TAF, SIGMET, and AIRMET products almost always assures an uneventful flight. Unfortunately the reality is that even the most sophisticated meteorological models are still an approximation, and TAF amendments are a fact of life. So preparing for the unexpected not only makes good sense but is extra insurance for getting you and your passengers safely to your destination.

Tim Vasquez is a professional meteorologist in Palestine, Texas. See his website at www.weathergraphics.com. 

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

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As a variation of the old and bold pilots cliché, there’s an old Sicilian saying: You can be arrogant; you can be ignorant, but you can’t be both at the same time. It’s appropriate for flying in Alaska, where I live.

Every year we revisit the world of midair collisions and year after year, they happen again. Funny thing is, years ago, pre-GPS, my sloppy flying probably kept me safer. We all know Big Sky theory, which works great in cruise. Then we leave that safe space to deliberately funnel into a procedure called the traffic pattern. It’s the same for everybody from a turboprop down to a Super Cub—same direction, same altitude, but different speeds. One shoe size fits all. How dumb is that?

The original traffic pattern was designed almost 100 years ago. Maybe it’s time to make some changes. Maybe two or three different patterns one inside the other, separated by speed and categories. I have flown targets for the Air Force in Red Flag missions for about seven years now. I have seen more than 60 military aircraft operating in a simulated war in a very small area with zero midairs. So, how on earth do they do that? Two words: discipline and communication.

At present, ADS-B in Alaska is a joke and probably will never circumvent the midair risks at airports. And besides, we need to stop looking for some stupid gadget to fix this. I’ve sat on the ground in Alaska at bush strips and you’re lucky if the pilots make one call in the blind before landing or taking off. I can prove that this is simply complacency.   

My personal airplane has a Garmin GNS480W. Technically, my airplane is a TAA. When I’m flying from point A to Point B and I want to switch from the last CTAF to the landing CTAF, I go to next airport, push info, push freq, push CTAF, and then activate. This takes the proper frequency out of the current database and places it into the active frequency. That’s the benefit of a flight management system. I have copilots that about a third of the time hand crank in the incorrect frequency. You don’t get any points for making a CTAF call on the wrong frequency. This is a common mistake.

A few years ago, I landed at Galena, VFR, at about noon. I was supposed to meet a buddy flying in a different airplane. I had to drop some supplies and my next stop was clearing but not yet good VFR. So I decided to wait on the ground and eat my lunch. Sitting on my tire, I turned on my handheld to listen for my friend. Three planes involved here: a Super Cub—Part 91 hunting guy—a Navajo and a 16-passenger Part 135 turboprop.

The weather was 5000 feet broken and 10 miles vis. No control tower. As I’m digging into my lunch, I hear this: “Galena traffic, Super Cub landing ski 25.” The Cub lands on the ski runway parallel to the paved runway. Looking east about 10 miles, I saw a turboprop pop out of the bottom of the ceiling into VFR. At that exact moment, I hear a Navajo announcing on the CTAF that he's about to enter the downwind for runway 25. Textbook perfect. By the way, the Navajo made an earlier announcement 10 miles out from the west. Immediately after the Navajo made the downwind call, the turboprop made its one and only call for a 9-mile straight-in final to 25.

By this time, the Cub pilot had dropped off two moose quarters, started up, rolled 200 feet and while taking off, announced he’s departing ski 7. He crosses 25 with the turboprop on a 3-mile final and passes under the Navajo by 500 feet. Great lunch entertainment! After the turboprop landed and shut down, I casually chat up the crew who asks if I saw the Cub pass in front of them. The Navajo driver saw everything and his comment happens every day.

What really transpired may be typical. The turboprop was cancelling IFR with center when it popped out at the same time the Navajo made the first CTAF call. So they never heard it. The Navajo had the right of way because he was in the pattern before the turboprop made its call and was lower. The Navajo pilot saw and heard the Cub and the turboprop and simply extended his downwind, staying outside the mix.

To the Cub pilot, the CTAF call is just a chore; he’s on a mission. The turboprop crew was oblivious to what was happening in front of them. Do you think two pilots at a non-towered airport who are both landing or taking off and who both talk to each other on the CTAF and both properly understand their positions and intentions would run into each other? I don’t think so.

In Alaska—and everywhere else--a CTAF system is in place to serve aircraft from 19 passengers down to Super Cubs. Less than half of the traffic uses an actual traffic pattern. Here comes Fat Albert at 170 knots straight in with one CTAF call that’s so fast you barely catch two syllables. This is not an ADS-B, FAA or NTSB issue; the buck squarely stops at just us pilots and the way we’re sometimes doing it is not conducive to a safety culture.

CTAF is a safety system if the chain of custody is unbroken. Otherwise, it’s an act in futility. Which means pilot A’s brain must properly state aircraft type, location, altitude and specific intention. That voice then goes into the headset of everyone else listening, so that pilot B and pilot C know what to expect and where to look. I believe that all straight-in finals require three separate CTAF calls at three equally spaced locations: 10 miles out, 5 miles out and a 2-mile short final. I know it may be difficult for us to change our bad habits and make three CTAF calls each time, but do it by thinking of it not as a chore, but as a means of survival. 

Both Garmin and GoPro rolled out new action cameras this month and since aviation is a target market, our sister publication, Aviation Consumer, took a look at these new products.

Picture of the Week
Picture of the Week

Mark Robidoux caught this postcard-perfect image of a seaplane in National Geographic light. Nice shot Mark.

Back in the 70's I was in the pattern at Palamar Airport, along with several other aircraft. One fellow was having issues with his radio. 

Tower: ”N1234 turn off your radio." 

After several long seconds.

Tower: ”OK turn it back on"


John Heiser

 

The new organizers of the Flying Aviation Expo, led by Scheyden Precision Eyewear President Jeff Herold, hope to build on past successes and build the show into the premier GA event for the West Coast. Herold tells AVweb how this month's event came together. 

Aviation experts are everywhere, especially when we're not needed. But exhibiting a thin grasp of disparate subjects is what makes for good presidential politics and great hangar chatter, all skills one masters when acing this quiz.

Click here to take the quiz.

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