Forward This E-mail | Edit Email Preferences | Advertise | Contact | Privacy | Help

  • Text size:

    • A
    • A
    • A

NBAA and four businesses have petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals to review the FAA’s deal with the City of Santa Monica to shorten the airport’s runway. Under the deal, the runway would be cut immediately to 3,500 feet from almost 5,000, limiting its use and likely forcing some of the current tenants to immediately find other accommodation. Those who can use 3,500 feet will have the airport until 2028, but it’s likely the City of Santa Monica will become the fuel and maybe even the maintenance provider. "Santa Monica's airport is a vital asset to our aviation system, both locally as well as nationally, and serves as a critical transportation lifeline for the entire Los Angeles basin," Bolen added. "NBAA remains committed to aggressively supporting unrestricted business aviation access to SMO, through this petition and other available channels."

NBAA alleges the deal leaves a lot of loose ends, including some complaints filed by NBAA and others about the city’s administration of the airport. Among those is an allegation the city mishandled airport money. The organization is joined in the petition by two airport businesses, Bills Air Center Inc. and Davidson Aviation Inc., and two businesses that use the airport, Redgate Partners LLC and Wonderful Citrus LLC.

Garmin - All-in-one-ADS-B || GTX 345 || learn more

The Stratos 714 VLJ prototype, designed as a 400 knot, 4-6 place jet, made its second test flight late last month from its home base of Redmond, Oregon, in anticipation of a public debut later this year. Carsten Sundin, Engineering Manager at Stratos, told AVweb of the flight test performance, “We are continuing with expected minor aerodynamic adjustments to dial in the stick control forces. The Stratos 714 is controlled by a side stick and it has a relatively large flight envelope in terms of speed, altitude and also CG range. As expected, this requires some fine tuning of control stick forces.” Stratos expects to fly the new jet, N403KT, to Oshkosh and NBAA this year to gin up excitement from investors and prospective buyers, but they’re not taking deposits. Stratos CEO Michael Lemaire told AVweb, “We are privately funded for the prototype phase, during which we are planning to explore the full flight envelope and draw conclusions for the certification stage. We are not yet funded for the certification phase. At present, we have no plan to take deposits towards deliveries, which are still many years away.”

With the 714, Stratos is targeting a market adjacent to its obvious competitor, the Cirrus Vision Jet, with a similarly sized but noticeably faster airplane: “Our design target was to cruise at 400 knots, carry four people comfortably with their baggage, and with that payload, travel as far as 1,500 nautical miles,” says Stratos. The published performance specifications for the Cirrus list capacity for five adults at a top speed of 300 knots. The Cirrus is propelled by an 1,800-LBF William FJ33 turbofan, while the Stratos is built around the much larger 2,900-LBF Pratt & Whitney Canada JT15D.

NiC3 Cylinders - Longer lifetime Extended warranty - Available now

A Canadair CRJ-700 operated by PSA Airlines struck a deer during takeoff from Charlotte’s Douglas International Airport on Wednesday morning. In an air traffic control recording (full audio from below), the pilot and the tower controller discuss an unidentified “loud bang” heard by the pilots, which the pilot of another aircraft reported as a deer strike. PSA 5320 (call sign, Blue Streak 5320), operating as American Eagle, circled once for a low approach to confirm the extent of any damage to the landing gear, then returned for landing. The right wing was damaged by impact with the deer resulting in significant fuel leakage. Local news reports that all 44 passengers and four crew members were uninjured during the precautionary evacuation conducted just off Runway 36R.


The next Air Force One should be anything other than a Boeing 747; even Northrop Grumman’s next-generation stealth bomber would be a better choice, says a report by Wright Williams & Kelly (WWK). President Trump has tweeted that he finds the $3.2B projection for the Presidential Aircraft Recapitalization program to replace the Air Force’s Boeing 747 based VC-25 to be “out of control.” The report by WWK, a cost-reduction consultancy based in Northern California, focused on the Boeing 737 and the Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider, winner of the Air Force Long-Range Strike Bomber development contract, as possible alternatives to the heavy Boeing jet.

Variants of Boeing 737 are already in service with the U.S. military as the Air Force C-40 Clipper executive transport and the Navy P-8A Poseidon anti-submarine aircraft.  “It’s the 737’s to lose if we were to go to a civilian aircraft,” Danny Lam, a spokesman for WWK, told Aviation Week, referring to the aircraft’s low cost to operate, the work recently done to militarize other variants of the 737 and that aircraft’s ability to operate out of smaller airfields around the world. The B-21 appears to be a tongue-in-cheek exercise in how to create a transport aircraft that could survive in contested airspace rather than a serious contender to replace the VC-25. Lam told Aviation Week the B-21 “has stealth built in, it’s nuclear-rated and heavily shielded right off the bat.” Referring to his suggestion to convert the compact, windowless and unpressurized bomb bays into a passenger area, “it’s going to be terribly cramped but man, it would be a survivable platform,” Lam said. Commenters noted that significantly higher speed and similar comfort could be achieved using the Air Force’s excess intercontinental ballistic missiles for the same purpose.

Sponsor Announcement
Safelog — The Last Pilot E-Logbook You'll Ever Need!
Tens of thousands of pilots, from student pilots through senior captains, have come to make Safelog the world's most trusted e-logbook system. Access and update your pilot logbook on PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android, and Web. Totals, currency, graphs, instant IACRA, signatures, photos, printouts, and more — all synchronizing seamlessly — mean your logbook is futureproof, safe, and always available. No-cost transition service for users of other e-logbook systems available. Get started now at or today!

More than 90% percent of certification work on new aircraft and aircraft parts is outsourced by the FAA to the manufacturers themselves, according to a GAO report. Similar to the FAA delegation of airman certification authority to Designated Pilot Examiners, the FAA has been authorizing most certification work to be performed by employees of the manufacturers themselves through the Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) program.

Industry representatives approve and asked for more. “We have seen more delegation, and we thank [the FAA] for that,” John Hamilton, VP Engineering for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, told the House Subcommittee on Aviation on Wednesday. Michael Thacker, Senior Vice President for Certification of Textron Aviation, went further in asking the FAA for more delegation: “Overall, the goal of [Aircraft Certification Service] transformation must be to ensure that FAA lowers unnecessary barriers to incorporating safety technologies by fully delegating and utilizing ODAs.” In some cases, the FAA delegates a certification test, but requests to observe the testing as it is performed by the manufacturer. Boeing’s Hamilton told Congress that the FAA’s observation of this certification work creates delays in the certification process.

Boeing was fined $12 million through late 2015 to settle FAA investigations arising from the falsification of certification and repair paperwork, the Seattle Times reported earlier this week. In one case, a mechanic told FAA investigators that the mechanic did not use required inspection tools and had been entering false data into aircraft inspection records for at least seven years, the Seattle Times article reports.

Concerns have been raised for years about the FAA’s level of involvement and technical capacity to be involved in the certification of new aircraft. Following a series of fires that started in the Boeing 787’s lithium batteries, an NTSB report said that the FAA provided insufficient guidance for manufacturers and FAA certification engineers on how to certify these batteries. According to the NTSB, FAA certification staff “did not recognize that cascading thermal runaway of the battery could occur as a result of a cell internal short circuit, [and] as a result, FAA certification engineers did not require a thermal runaway test as part of the compliance demonstration.” The certification plan for the aircraft, including required compliance demonstrations, was written by Boeing and approved by the FAA.

Sponsor Announcement

Military pilots aren’t flying often enough to be as proficient as they need to be, Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, the head of Marine Corps aviation, told reporters in Washington, D.C., recently. "We're about three hours per pilot per month better than we were [in May 2015], but that's not good enough," Davis said, according to "We're still shy of our target.” In the last year, 11 Marine Corps aircraft have been lost in crashes, with 14 crew members killed. "They're still being investigated, but there was nothing wrong with those airplanes, mechanically," Davis said. "These were -- they were qualified, they were proficient -- these were crews that had been flying a fair bit, flying in some pretty challenging conditions."

Davis said the military needs access to more basic aircraft for pilots to fly to build flight time and proficiency. He added that since today’s aviators don’t fly as much as pilots of the past, “We just have to be more structured and more pedantic about how we fly." Investigations are continuing into most of the crashes. But Davis said that, so far, results show that there is no “material failure component,” adding: “It's mainly human error."

Ascend 172 - Click here, for a better than new 172

Before beginning a flight, FAR 91.103 commands that each pilot in command shall become familiar with all available information concerning that flight. Tall order that, but you're halfway to compliance when you ace this quiz.

Click here to take the quiz.

Sponsor Announcement
Wings for Humanity || Call (414) 763-5781 to Help
Give the Gift of Life!
Wings for Humanity is a non-profit humanitarian aid organization working in areas of the world where traditional transportation is unavailable. WFH regularly flies medical workers, medications, and supplies into areas where medical assistance and supplies are needed.

Through your donation-in-kind (airplane, car, land, or other items of value), you can help save a life. For more information, call (414) 763-5781 or go to

I was listening to Unicom at my local airport in Northwest Ohio when I heard the following exchange between two jets on the ramp.

Citation 1234: Taxiing to runway 18 for departure.

Lear 5678: You going to Columbus?

Citation: Yeah

Lear: Wanna Race?

Citation: That's not fair, you're in a Lear!


Ben Stevens 


Sponsor Announcement
Sign Up for the New Kitplanes Homebuilders Portal
Are You Overlooking the Most Affordable Way to Own Your Own Aircraft?
Kitplanes magazine is introducing a monthly electronic newsletter – The Homebuilder's Portal – that will tell you everything you need to know about the fastest growing segment of general aviation.

The Homebuilder's Portal is the only publication that specifically addresses the interests of GA pilots who want to learn more about homebuilt aircraft.

Click here or visit to opt in.

Truth is often stranger than fiction. Perhaps that’s why reports from the Aviation Safety Reporting System are so compelling. There is a lot to be learned by reviewing the mistakes other pilots have made—and who then lived to tell us about them. Here are some recent ones that have several critical learning points.

Attitude Indicator Fails in IMC

The AI indicated that the Skylane was in a steep climb, then a turn. The pilot briefly followed it. Crosschecking, she discovered that the AI was wrong. The vacuum system was functioning and the DG agreed with the compass. Looking for a suction cover to hide the apparently errant attitude indicator, she found one in her flight bag—then dropped it.

Reaching down, she lost her scan, and decided not to try to retrieve it. She said, “It is odd how much the eyes travel back to a failed instrument.” Reading lower than they should, the fuel gauges added to her stress.

The pilot called ATC and explained that she had an instrument failure. The controller asked if it was an emergency. She said no—was that a mistake?

The pilot had approach plates handy for her destination and alternate, but not for the airport to which she now wanted to divert. Attempting to call them up for the new airport on her tablet, she felt overloaded trying to find and brief the plates while flying without the attitude indicator.

She then requested a vector to VFR. The controller discussed options with another pilot and they all decided that she should divert to a nearby airport. Despite having landed there many times, she could not recall the identifier and did not hear the identifier if it was mentioned. She was very disappointed to realize that she was capable of an apparent “brain freeze.”

Unable to locate the airport on the sectional, she asked for and received the identifier from the controller. She then proceeded there in IMC, partial panel. Fortunately, she encountered VFR and landed.

Her postflight debrief noted: “Carry paper charts and approach plates. The iPad shutting off in the middle of all this did not help my situational awareness. Practice partial panel in actual IMC with a more experienced person aboard.

“I was starting to feel more comfortable in IMC after almost 100 hours in actual. The regs are there for a reason. I will work toward more redundancy in my instruments and paper backup in my cockpit.

“I was very disappointed in my ability [to function] in a high stress situation. Not very pleased with control of my head-space in the cockpit. In a simulator I will practice partial panel approaches. I will also work toward experiencing high stress situations in a controlled environment to get control of the near panic I encountered in my cockpit today.”

Although she did a lot of things right, this situation was a prime candidate for an accident based on the chain of problems that were encountered. She quickly recognized the failed AI. She made good use of ATC to make up for her partial “brain freeze” and avoided panic. She headed toward VFR. Most importantly, she never stopped flying the airplane.

On the flip side, lowering her head to retrieve the dropped cover could have caused fatal vertigo. Her failure to declare an emergency deprived her of special ATC handling that could have eased her burden.

Lost in Space

While performing a 180-degree turn toward his first waypoint after departing Monmouth Executive Airport (BLM) in New Jersey, the pilot experienced spatial disorientation at about 900 feet MSL. Moderate to severe turbulence made it difficult to regain control for about 40 seconds. Understandably, this incident caused the pilot a lot of stress. BLM was below minimums so he could not return there. With the plane now under control, he elected to continue the flight.

Cleared to 5000 feet on V229 en route to JFK, ATC directed him to climb to 6000 feet. Acknowledging, he began the climb. Still distracted by the previous loss of control and re-living what had just happened, he climbed past 6000 feet and was called by ATC breaking through 6700 feet. He was then instructed to remain at 7000 feet. The rest of the flight was routine and no aircraft had to be diverted because of his mistake.

He later confessed that losing control so close to the ground rattled him and affected his ability to fly the plane properly. He could have advised ATC of his uncertainty and asked for delaying vectors until regaining his composure. He ended by saying that he was going up with a CFII for an IFR Proficiency Check.

The IMSAFE acronym doesn’t just apply on the ground—it’s equally true in the air. The S is for stress, and this pilot experienced plenty. Here is another incident where a stressed-out pilot thought about telling ATC, asking for some breathing room, but didn’t follow through. The other involved a pilot who miss-set his altimeter by 1000 feet and barely escaped a CFIT accident. Listen when that wise little voice speaks.

The wisdom of departing an airport with weather below approach minimums, leaving no way out if something goes awry soon after takeoff, could be questioned.

Altitude Deviations

An IFR Cessna 182 pilot began a descent from 7000 feet to 5000 feet toward Melbourne, Florida. Turbulence in the middle of a scattered cloud layer between 4000 feet and 8000 feet created up and downdrafts exceeding 500 fpm, making altitude control difficult, forcing him as low as 4800 feet. Even outside the cloud it was still a challenge. The pilot began correcting just as ATC informed him that he was low.

ATC called traffic at twelve o-clock and three miles, opposite direction, VFR at 4500 feet. The pilot saw the traffic almost immediately well below and a little off to the side—no factor. The VFR aircraft had just popped out of a cloud at 4000.

If you are unable to maintain altitude, inform ATC—consider requesting a block altitude. This incident is a caution to all who fly VFR that entering IMC is not just illegal but dangerous. The cloud clearance limits are marginally safe at best. Ask yourself, “How good am I at dodging another aircraft just 500 feet above me that comes out of nowhere?”

An iPad Gotcha

Climbing westbound out of Weiser Air Park in Houston, the pilot debated whether to stay under a cloud layer or get on top. It looked hazy ahead below the clouds but clear on top and the layer was thin, tempting him to climb and stay VFR. His preflight weather check showed his destination as VFR and the satellite image showed isolated clouds to the south.

The rented aircraft lacked GPS. Checking the cloud coverage on his iPad app, the displayed area obscured the airspace rings around Houston’s Bush Intercontinental, Class B airspace. His request for flight following was delayed due to high ATC workload. Once in contact, they advised him that he was in the Class B and gave him exit instructions.

Those of us who fly with the tablet apps (as I do), need to know it well enough to be able to remove the weather layer—it takes only a couple taps. Perhaps that didn’t occur to this pilot. The opacity of the layers can be made more translucent. We should know that, too.

With more pilots moving to tablets in the cockpit, it is vitally important that you know and appreciate the potential problems that can interfere with IFR operations. If you choose to use a tablet in the cockpit, test yourself on your ability to quickly bring-up charts and plates before you commit to IMC.

There are several techniques that can be used to help make the transition. One is to plan and fly IFR in a simulator (yes, even a laptop) with a CFII providing typical ATC interaction. Placement of the device can also be a factor in how easy it is to incorporate it into your scan and work with it in flight.

Fred Simonds is an active CFII in Florida. See his web page at

This article originally appeared in the February 2015 issue of IFR Refresher magazine.

Read More from IFR Refresher, and learn how you can receive a FREE BOOK!

Forward this email to a friend
Tailor your alerts!
Click here to update alerts preferences.
AVweb Insider <="228496">

General aviation pilots have several auto-fume modes. One of them is ADS-B and anything to do with medicals is a good way to get people spun up. So is the argument that the administrator of the FAA should be a pilot.

This is a perennial and it came up last week when President Donald Trump met with airline executives. What we should really be freaked about is that he met with a transportation sector all but dedicated to the demise of general aviation with no one else at the table. The side discussion revolved around Trump’s surprise that FAA Administrator Michael Huerta is not a pilot. Trump’s view is that he should be because the ATC system is so complex that actually having flown in it would be helpful.

But is it really? I think the answer is an inarguable yes. But does a pilot certificate trump (sorry) the must-have skills as, you know, an administrator? My view has always been no. I’d rather have a strong administrator with political connections and inside knowledge of how modern government works—or doesn’t work—than a hot stick who has to learn that stuff on the job in the snake pit of D.C. politics. If complexity were reduced to a scale of 10, understanding ATC would be about a six; understanding the machinations of federal agencies and the internecine politics would be a 19.

Until not that long ago, FAA administrators had always been pilots. Including Michael Huerta, there have been 19 FAA administrators. Fifteen of these have been pilots, four have been drawn from the professional career government management corps. The FAA top job isn’t a cabinet position—that belongs to SecDot—but it’s a presidential-level appointment requiring Senate approval that’s not given to political hacks in the way ambassadorships are. When drawn from inside government, administrators have typically had high-level government managerial experience. Jane Garvey, for instance, was both the first woman and the first non-pilot to hold the job. She had been administrator of the Federal Highway Administration and a transportation official in Massachusetts. (Boston residents may not recall her warmly if the Big Dig is mentioned.) She served under President Bill Clinton and was later criticized for negotiating too-expensive contracts with air traffic controllers.

Did it make a difference that she wasn’t a pilot? Hard to say. We cover the administrator from 10,000 feet and aren’t privy to the day to day. At AirVenture, we practically get into fistfights over who will be forced to do the administrator interview because they’re so boring. With Michael Huerta, we simply politely decline the FAA’s offer for press availability because we know the answers will be so banal and I grew weary of explaining why we did the interview in the first place. But that has nothing to do with effectiveness as an administrator. I’ve been told by a couple of sources that Huerta is quite effective inside the agency and in working with small groups.

On paper, Randy Babbitt was the ideal administrator. He came from an airline aviation background, had experience running an airline union so he understood organizational politics and he was just a decent guy. Like all government agencies, the FAA is run by the equivalent of NCOs—the mid-level bureaucrats—who grind out the meetings, churn the data and write the regs and they can sure enough use that stuff to roll the boss.

I saw it happen in real time at AirVenture in 2011. At the time, General Aviation Modifications had stirred up interest in an unleaded avgas replacement by pursuing an STC for approvals. When asked about this, Babbitt parroted exactly what the mid-level FAA staff had been saying to complicate and stall GAMI’s STC at every step. He said STCs had never been done for aviation fuel and doing it that way would create a cumbersome and complex standard, requiring duplicative work by the FAA.

But the FAA had approved several fuel STCs and could have readily approved GAMI’s filing for further testing. Once approved, it could have lived or died in the market. That would have been proper public policy. Instead, six years later, it’s still not done. Babbitt being a pilot didn’t help him look down into the problem and twist the staff levers to do the right thing. I suspect President Trump is learning this lesson several times a day. Compared to the federal bureaucracy, an oil tanker turns on a dime.

So given my druthers, unless the pilot is a skilled administrator and political infighter—not to mention survivor—I’d just as soon put a professional manager in the chair. He or she can always take flying lessons, provided of course the waiting line isn’t too long due thanks to the vast influx of BasicMed returnees soon to choke the flight schools.

Doc Shopping

And speaking of BasicMed, I spent the morning shopping for a doctor to sign the checklist. Encouragingly, I found two—both AMEs, one of whom works in a Doc-in-the-Box. I have several other calls out that haven’t been returned yet.

As I reported, my regular doc declined to sign the checklist and my regular AME demurred, too. The fact that 30 minutes of doc shopping revealed two possibilities makes me believe others will have similar experiences. Of course, they haven’t seen the checklist yet, but an agreement in principle is better than a flat no.

Brent Blue, an AME himself, told me doctors working in urgent care facilities routinely sign such affirmation for DOT-regulated truckers, so they are likely to do the same for BasicMed. Hell, maybe I’ll stay in this flying game a little longer after all.        


Blackhawk Modifications is well known for its carefully focused engines upgrades for Pratt & Whitney PT6-A-powered airplanes. In this video, AVweb looks at their latest mod for the Cessna Caravan, the XP140.

Picture of the Week <="228490">
Picture of the Week

A pretty airplane with a pretty backdrop makes for a pretty nice Picture of the Week. Air to air is always the result of teamwork and the chase plane team of pilot Tom Mitchell, photographer Jay Beckman and Bonanza pilot Tom Rippinger combined for a winner


Our best stories start with you. If you've heard something the flying world might want to know about, tell us. Submit news tips via e-mail here. (Or send them direct to Newstips at


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.

Click here to submit your original, true, and previously unpublished story.


AVweb is the world's premier independent aviation news resource, online since 1995. Our reporting, features, and newsletters are brought to you by:

Tom Bliss

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Elaine Kauh

Rick Durden
Kevin Lane-Cummings
Paul Berge
Larry Anglisano

Ad Coordinator
Karen Lund

Click here to send a letter to the editor. (Please let us know if your letter is not intended for publication.)

Comments or questions about the news should be sent here.

Have a product or service to advertise on AVweb? Your advertising can reach over 225,000 loyal AVwebFlash, AVwebBiz, and AVweb web site readers every week. Over 80% of our readers are active pilots and aircraft owners. That's why our advertisers grow with us, year after year. For ad rates and scheduling, click here or contact Tom Bliss: