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It would appear that almost everything worked as intended at LaGuardia on Thursday night when Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence’s Boeing 737 had a hairy landing in bad weather. Whatever happened with the landing, the aircraft apparently ended up on the overrun and it stopped the plane the way it was supposed to. There were 37 people, most of them reporters, on the aircraft when it landed in heavy rain at LGA. Nobody was injured. A tweet from the New York Port Authority said the aircraft “overshot” the runway but it apparently overran the runway and that’s where more confusion was added by media reports that said the “tarmac” was “torn up” by the Boeing.

What likely really happened was that the plane entered “a field fabricated geotextile sheet measuring 8.4 hectares used to provide base reinforcement for the placement of approximately 400,000 m3 of fill over a 23 m thick layer of normally consolidated clay,” according to sciencedirect.com. In practical terms, the landing gear sunk into the engineered material at the end of the runway and the airplane stopped instead of going through the fence. Pence made his New York appointment and the reporters had a story to tell.

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Boeing is apparently working on a large passenger aircraft with vertical takeoff and landing features. The company received a patent for a tilt-rotor design that has room for at least 100 passengers, according to a Business Insider report Thursday. The VTOL plane has potential for both civilian and military use, according to the report. It seems to be inspired in part by the famous two-engine V-22 Osprey, which Boeing and Bell Helicopters developed for the U.S. military in the 1980s, the first of its kind designed for use by the Marines and Air Force. The patent for the unnamed aircraft includes potential uses for commercial flights, military missions or personal transport, according to the report. Its design includes four engines mounted on two fixed wings along with two large rotors attached on the tips for vertical takeoffs and landings.

The company hasn’t revealed details of its intentions for the VTOL design, but a civilian passenger plane with such capabilities will likely raise speculation about the potential for off-airport commercial transportation. "Boeing files tons of patents so this might not even come to fruition," a Boeing spokesman told Business Insider. "I'm not saying it won’t.” The patented design also calls for lower wings on the airframe compared to the V-22 to allow for passenger exits as well as simpler maintenance, a Seattle Times report notes.  

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Airbus Helicopters said it will cut about 582 jobs at its facilities in France as the company continues to face lower demand along with the aftermath of a fatal crash of one of its H225 rotorcraft in Norway. The cuts, to be achieved through voluntary resignations, will amount to a small percentage of the aerospace giant’s helicopter division in France, which employs more than 9700 people there, Bloomberg reported Wednesday. The cuts are a result of falling demand from the oil and gas industry, which uses commercial-duty helicopters including the 11-ton H225, also called the Super Puma. The European Aviation Safety Agency grounded the model following the April 29 crash off the coast of Norway. That helicopter, carrying 13, was flying under contract for a Norwegian oil company when its rotor blades detached.

EASA in recent weeks has allowed the Super Pumas to fly again, while authorities in Britain and Norway have not, prompting Airbus to challenge the U.K. ban, according to a Reuters report this week. "Frankly we have to understand why they are not following EASA,” an Airbus executive was quoted as saying to analysts. The remark raised questions over how industry regulations across Europe will be managed as Britain prepares to leave the European Union. "We fully respect the right of the U.K. government to exercise their individual assessment of the H225 and we're working with the authorities closely to also have the flight suspension there lifted as soon as possible," an Airbus Group spokesman told Reuters, which noted that the April crash remains under investigation.

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Pilot error, lack of proficiency and operational issues were factors in the deadly collision of two Marine Corps CH-53 helicopters in January, a media investigation revealed. The helicopters, from a squadron of Marine Aircraft Group 24, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing in Hawaii, crashed in the ocean during a late-night training mission on Jan. 14, killing 12. The Super Stallions were in formation when the trailing helicopter struck the leading aircraft with “hundreds of times the force of gravity,” instantly killing everyone on board, according to an article published this week in Honolulu Civil Beat by the Investigative Reporting Program at the University of California, Berkeley. Radar showed the lead helicopter had turned left while the one in trail sped up and slammed into it about 1,500 feet above the surface of the ocean, the report found. 

The report said the Marines’ own investigation found that the crash was the result of “low aircraft readiness leading to inadequate pilot efficiency, human factors, and the squadron’s lack of focus on basic aviation practices.”  Three of the four CH-53 pilots who died in the collision had flown five or fewer hours in the prior 30 days, while the monthly goal was supposed to be 15.1 hours per pilot, the report found. It also noted that two pilots didn’t have enough recent night-flight and night vision goggle experience to be deemed proficient. In addition, military media reported in the days following the crash that the squadron’s commanding officer was dismissed over readiness and quality issues.

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Women in Aviation International has disbursed more than $10 million in scholarships to help more than 1,300 women advance in aviation careers, and this year they have $662,625 to give away to contenders who apply by Nov. 14. To qualify, applicants must be a WAI member by Nov. 1, so there’s still time, but the clock is ticking. New this year, all applications may be submitted online. “These are not purely academic scholarships,” says Peggy Chabrian, WAI president. “Funding is available for flight training, including type ratings, and simply for flying for fun or exploring a new area of interest within aviation.”

This year’s 113 scholarships can help with education and training for a variety of professions, including mechanic, engineer, dispatcher, ag pilot, flight instructor, FBO manager, professional pilot and more. Some of the scholarships also will fund a new rating or certificate. A description of all the scholarships, application requirements, the online application and tips for creating a successful application all can be found at the WAI website. The scholarships will be awarded during WAI's 28th annual International Women in Aviation Conference, March 2-4, 2017, to be held at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

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AVweb’s search of news in aviation found announcements from AOPA, Garmin, Simhawk and Jeppesen. AOPA announced the recipients of the AOPA Flight Training Excellence Awards at Redbird Migration Flight Training Conference in San Marcos, Texas. The awards are based on the results of the 2016 Flight Training Poll and recognize and celebrate those who provide a customer experience that supports student pilots and facilitates their entry into all aspects of the aviation community. Garmin International Inc. announced it will expand its portfolio of integrated flight deck upgrades to now include a G5000 modernization program for the popular Citation Excel and Citation XLS. The Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) is targeted for approval in late 2018 and will be available from select Garmin dealers, as well as Textron Aviation Service Centers.

Simhawk Inc. announced the launch of its online marketplace for buyers and sellers of flight simulator time and training services. The marketplace, which brings the benefits of the on-demand economy to the world of simulator training, can be accessed online at simhawk.com and is focused on providing customers with a more efficient way to buy and sell simulator time and training. Jeppesen has teamed with TUI Group, the European charter and scheduled airline service operator, to enhance dispatch operations and training through an integrated in-house program available for airlines and other operators. Together, Jeppesen’s eAcademy program streamlines recurrent dispatch training for operators, while on the job training programs from TUI GOC establishes a complete theory and practical learning environment that is ICAO and EASA-compliant.

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The Brainteaser Quiz #224 bonus question asked how readers were adapting to the brave new world of ACS, which replaced the moldering old PTS. For those who don't keep the FAA's Acronyms and Abbreviations handbook on their bedside table, ACS means Airman Certification Standards, and PTS is the lovable -- but aging -- Practical Test Standards by which most of us earned our certificates and ratings.

Responses ranged from the not-so-happy to the schoolboy crush on the cute, new, testing policy in the classroom. As with all Brainteaser surveys, the responses were scientifically evaluated and cleansed of any identity that might lead the FAA or Russian hackers to the sources. You know who you are, and now the flying world will know what you're thinking, beginning with the ...

Not So Happy

"ACS not needed ... PC police at work," a reader expressed his/her opinion of PC overreach in the aviation training environment.

"It's another way for the FAA (personnel) to make themselves look important."

"The FAA keeps trying 'to make flying safer,' (but) ACS is just another career-enhancing activity for the employees involved in the program."

Career enhancement opportunities aside, it's hoped that the FAA would continue all reasonable efforts "to make flying safer." Of course, it's that "reasonable" angle that occasionally gets out of whack.

"ACS, though well-intended, is terribly confusing to read and to comprehend in order to become useful to this average ASMELI (a smelly?) pilot. It removes far too much from the domain of the CFI -- after all, instructors are taught standards and core knowledge -- and, overall, appears to be an awkward attempt to instruct by micromanagement. Quality of typical didactic lesson plans, materials and presentation in existence appears to be excellent overall. Certification standards will never survive as 'lesson plans.' "

Changes to slow-flight demonstration standards tweaked more than a few CFI noses (including mine) out of joint.

"I'm concerned that in redefining when an applicant should recover from a stall, we are teaching dependence on the artificial stall warning and not how the aircraft behaves as it approaches a stall."

Let me hear an, "Amen!" on that. And this:

"Latest changes to slow flight diminish safety and will lead to more stall/spin accidents, as new pilots will be unfamiliar with airplane characteristic in this flight regime."

"Since the Private Pilot ACS went into effect, I've trained students only for the Sport Pilot certificate (which still uses PTS). Now, some of them are upgrading to Private Pilot, and there are inconsistencies between the training they received for Sport Pilot and what they need for Private Pilot. Since Sport Pilot should be a subset of Private Pilot, these inconsistencies need to be addressed by the FAA. In other words, we either need a Sport Pilot ACS now, or need Private Pilot to revert back to the PTS, if we want to use the Sport Pilot certificate as a portal of entry into aviation, and a stepping stone toward higher ratings. Yes, you may quote me."

And we did, although we did so without using your name ... which, technically, doesn't make it a quote. Sorry.

Three readers went straight for the FAA's administrative jugular with variations on: "It was a waste of time and money!"

This comment expands on the wasted resources theme by adding, "Waste of time, effort and CFI energy." But then the respondent waffled under self-reflection: "Might be marginally helpful when/if the FAA coordinates codes with the written results." And mumbled to doubtful conclusion with: "I think, maybe, perhaps, potentially, arguably, we'll see." Where's the Tylenol?

This experienced pilot looked ACS square in its pimply face and growled: "In 2014 I celebrated my 50 years of aviation with the Wright Brothers award. When I started in aviation, FAR Parts 1, 61, and 91 were less than 1/2-inch thick; now they are about 1.5 inches thick."

Doing the math for you, that's three times as much paper, assuming same-weight paper and no e-books. The venerable aviator continues: "I retired from the airlines in 2010 as an instructor, check airman. The regs at the beginning were complete and easy to follow; now you need Boston lawyer just to keep you out of trouble. I go to FAA meetings and find that they (FAA reps) can't answer some of the questions that airman ask. The KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) principle still works, but the FAA must justify itself. You had a pretty good thing with the PTS. Why screw it up? The PTS worked just fine. I see no additional benefit." The reader concluded with a Cassandra warning: "It's done no matter what we may think." The horror … the horror ...

(Author's tip: I can get you a Des Moines attorney for half the price of those hacks in Boston.)

No Big Thing If You Keep an Open Mind

ACS fatalism moderated slightly with this comment: "Though I'll learn to live with the ACS, I fail to see how this benefits students, instructors, examiners or produces more capable pilots. But ..." (You could almost hear the reader sigh, here) "... since it's always adapt or die, methods to prepare students for a new checking paradigm will be found and implemented. The question of who will benefit from it and in what ways is a valid concern. I've read the pro-ACS argument and simply don't find it compelling."

Yeah, but wait until you see the movie! Tom Cruise as the tough FAA ACS coordinator with a heart of gold ... don't want to spoil it, but the IACRA action sequences are even better than the NTSB shootout in Sully.

Theatrics continued as this reader channeled William Shakespeare with a joyless ACS endorsement by saying, "Much ado about nothing. Written questions should have been updated long time ago, but they will hardly have any effect on safety." To which you're probably thinking, "How much better it is to weep at joy than to joy at weeping." (Much Ado About Nothing, Act 1, Scene 1)

Even, here, with lukewarm support for ACS, the slow-flight toad, again, raised its warty head. "ACS has some good points, but the new slow-flight requirements are a big step in the wrong direction."

"ACS does a good job of relating written test questions to the practical test." But ... "It does nothing to promote scenario-based training. In fact, it detracts from scenario-based training with the new definition of slow flight."

Wholehearted ambivalence continued unencumbered by details: "Haven't had any direct involvement with new ACS. Time will tell how new system will fare."

"I haven't had the great pleasure of needing to read the new ACS yet. I am sure that I will, eventually."

Having no familiarity with a subject should never be an impediment toward forming an opinion. Works in politics. Also, having actually read the ACS, I assure you it was no pleasure.

Generally, a Good Thing

"I think it's going to take a bit of time to get fully used to it, but getting rid of irrelevant items in the written test was overdue; same with the practical test. Scenario-based exercises allow for the student to demonstrate application and correlation rather than just basic "by the book" understanding. A pilot must always be prepared for the unexpected, and there is no better time to learn this than from the start." To which many seasoned instructors say, "We've been teaching that way all along."

A pair of succinct responses: "It's a step in the right direction." And, "Generally considered easier to use."

ACS enthusiasm spooled up nicely with these comments:

"I'm a DPE and feel the ACS transition has been pretty painless. It will be much more useful when the learning codes disappear and are replaced with the new system for the knowledge tests. The risk management makes it clearer as to what arrears are to be evaluated."

"I like the new ACS standards." How much? "A lot. It was a much needed change, and they did an excellent job."

"The format is logical and well laid-out. Incorporating and coding elements of the Knowledge Test will make it a lot easier, as a CFI, to provide the necessary post-'written' remedial training."

"The FAA's online presentation was well done and worthwhile." One wonders who in the FAA wrote that one.

Plaudits continued with, "A good change in the right direction."

"I believe the new ACS standards are great, well thought-out, specific in detail and easier to assimilate."

"I actually favor ACS. It involves the prospective candidate (student) more with actual scenario-based situations and instilling proper safety considerations and actions."

"I recently completed the Instrument knowledge exam after the new test standards were put in place. The revisions to the exam were a welcome change, as I did not have to do anything associated with NDBs or to work out obscure performance requirements. Overall, I did OK on it too." Congratulations.

Although a few responses wandered slightly off the ACS opinion beam, their comments are worth noting:

"What would make flying safer?" this reader rhetorically asks. "Keeping the costs down, the access better, simplify, simplify, simplify the rules for certification and finally make the FAA culture more supportive of GA, not enemies of it. Flying is no different than vitamins."

Oh? Curious where this is headed.

"Take them everyday and they work well, take them only once in a while, the effect is minimal. Flying costs too much and it's little wonder fewer people are engaging themselves in an honorable sport."

OK, not really about ACS or PTS per se but duly noted, as is this comment:

"Get with program, do your jobs and keep GA healthy. We had a fire south of San Jose, Calif., last week and I saw a GA airport, South County, serve as a temporary air base for a fleet of probably 20 helicopters. I wonder how many homes and lives were saved merely (because) there (was) a nearby GA airport?"

This reader might have been slightly off the same ACS/PTS beam but did offer an opinion related to the survey question: "ACS, SchmayCS -- who cares when there's bitching about the expense of ADS-B compliance to be done!"

This laconic reader summed things up in two words: "No comment."

While this one took twice as many to put the ACS/PTS debate to rest: "Just a dumb question!"

That's the lot, and even though there's always bitching to be done on just about every topic, the readers have spoken, we've listened, and ACS is here to stay, even if we're not sure just what the mangy beast really is.

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While I genuinely appreciate the job FAA inspectors do, I rarely feel much empathy for them. But imagining what the inspector had to go through to witness the Yellville turkey drop, I'm empathetic to the point of tears. I'm sure you read the story, but if you didn't, here it is. The upshot is that some folks in Yellville, Arkansas, think it's a good idea to drop live turkeys out of Cessnas as part of the holiday festivities leading to Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

Lacking any regulatory authority to do otherwise, since the drop doesn't endanger anyone in the air or on the ground, the FAA had no objections to it. That's the right decision, by the way, because the FAA has no jurisdiction in animal rights, nor would we want it to. Nor does it have any authority over the exercise of criminal stupidity. Again, as citizens in good standing, we're all free to partake in the dumbest things we can possibly think of. And the turkey drop is that, in my estimation.

Without even getting into how this tarnishes the image of people who fly small airplanes, let's consider the larger issue: This is simply cruelty to animals little different than cockfighting, kicking dogs for the fun of it or terrorizing cats. Turkeys aren't accustomed to being heaved out of flying airplanes and they aren't particularly adept flyers either, so the Yellville project managed to kill a couple of them simply through the act of heaving them out the door. Yes, the turkeys will end up on someone's dinner table anyway, but in the commercial poultry business, slaughtering them is far more humane that letting 30 seconds of gravity end a terrified bird's life.

So forget pilots being involved in the act. This is basic decent human behavior. Civilized society demands that we don't torture animals for mere entertainment. So Yellville, how about we let this year's turkey drop be the last. Maybe take up pumpkin chunking instead. 

CORRECTION: Lynn Lunsford contacted me to point out that he is not an inspector, as the blog said, but is an FAA public affairs officer. An inspector was sent to the event but found that the drop represented no hazard. The inspector determined that the drops were occurring where the pilot said they would and found no basis for enforcement. 

 

 

Garmin is taking a serious run at GoPro with its new VIRB Ultra 30. In this new AVweb video, Paul Bertorelli explains why the Ultra is an excellent choice for an aviation action camera.

AOPA has been answering questions from aircraft owners about the FAA's new ADS-B rebate program, which offers $500 to those who register online, install the equipment and follow verification procedures to claim the rebate. Rune Duke says AOPA has been clarifying some common issues coming from owners, including how to conduct the required flight test and what to do if there's a problem.

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Picture of the Week
Picture of the Week

At 500 feet AGL this photo was taken of a Cirrus SR22 flown by Laurence I. Balter Chief Flight Instructor of Maui Flight Academy.

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