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Piston-single fleet size and hours flown are expected to decrease roughly 0.8% annually over the next 20 years, says the FAA in its annual Aerospace Forecast. The Aerospace Forecast predicts that general aviation hours flown for all aircraft types will grow slowly, possibly eclipsing 2007 levels by the end of the next decade, with the overwhelming majority of that growth in the fixed-wing turbine sector. Rotorcraft, LSA and experimental usage are forecast to grow modestly over that time period. The FAA report predicts that declines in the number of private pilots will be comparable to declines in the piston-single fleet—shrinkage of 0.7% annually—which would be a marked improvement from the 3.6% decline seen annually since 2010.

On the commercial side, the Aerospace Forecast predicts total revenue passenger mileage of domestic airlines will grow at 2% annually, though the number of pilots holding ATP certificates is expected to grow at a more modest 0.5% as air carriers migrate to larger aircraft.

The FAA says its annual Aerospace Forecast is "consistently considered the industry-wide standard of U.S. aviation-related activities." Readers are warned that the report’s predictions are acutely dependent on assumptions about the U.S. GDP, and the “baseline forecast assumes that the economy experiences a pickup in growth over the next few years as a result of tax cuts and higher infrastructure spending.” Previous FAA Aerospace Reports averaged a 10.6% error in U.S. GDP when forecasting five years into the future, which corresponded with an average 12.0% error in passenger enplanements and a 17.7% error in IFR traffic volume relative to their five-year projections. 

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image: The Ann Arbor News

NTSB investigators have found that the right elevator was jammed on the chartered Ameristar Boeing MD-83 that ran off the runway on March 8 at Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti, Michigan, with the Michigan men’s basketball team, the Wolverines, on board. In an update released on Tuesday, the safety board said their post-accident examination revealed that movement of the control column in the cockpit appeared normal — the control columns were free to move, and the elevator control tabs moved as commanded. However, when investigators tried to move the elevator surfaces by hand, the left elevator moved normally, but the right elevator was jammed in a trailing‑edge-down position (airplane nose down). The airplane had flown to Willow Run two days before the accident, the NTSB said.

Upon further inspection, the right elevator geared tab inboard pushrod linkage was found damaged, which restricted movement of the right elevator surface but allowed movement of the control tab. After the damaged components were removed, the elevator could be moved by hand, the NTSB said. The safety board’s examination of the flight data recorder data showed that during the taxi and takeoff roll, the left elevator moved normally, but the right elevator did not move. During takeoff roll, the left elevator began a large airplane nose-up movement (consistent with rotation) at an airspeed of about 152 knots and continued for five seconds to about 166 knots. There was no change in the airplane pitch attitude during this time. The airplane data then are consistent with the takeoff being rejected. The maximum recorded airspeed was about 173 knots.

The airplane was accelerating for takeoff on Runway 23L at Detroit’s Willow Run Airport about 3:40 local time when the crew rejected the takeoff but overran the end of the runway, breaking through the ILS and approach lighting systems and a perimeter fence. The airplane crossed a road and came to a stop about 1,100 feet past the runway end with collapsed nose gear and main gear in a ditch. One passenger suffered a minor injury during the evacuation. The aircraft was substantially damaged. The Wolverines were headed to Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, Virginia, and were scheduled to play in a Big Ten tournament the next day in Washington. The NTSB investigation is continuing.

The Museum of Flight in Seattle is hosting a 50th birthday party for the littlest Boeing commercial airplane, the 737, on April 9. Brien Wygle, pilot-in-command for the maiden flight, is expected to attend, along with 737 engineers Bob Bogash and Peter Morton and Boeing historian Mike Lombardi. Bob Bogash was also Crew Chief for the restoration of the original aircraft, registered as N73700, which is a permanent exhibit at the Museum of Flight. Boeing will be providing a new 737 MAX for viewing during the celebration, which is scheduled to take off at 1:15 p.m., 50 years to the minute from N73700’s maiden flight. N73700 remained a Boeing test aircraft until 1973 when it was sold to NASA. NASA re-registered the airplane as N515NA and operated it as a flying laboratory until 1997. It was returned to its birthplace at Boeing Field in September 2003. The party, featuring cake, a giant birthday card and panel discussion, will be noon to 4 p.m. (reception from 2 p.m.-4 p.m.) and is open to the all museum visitors.

Fifty years after its introduction, the 737 product line is thriving. Boeing reports that it has delivered over 9,400 of the single-aisle airplanes with orders for another 4,400. The original 737-100 was only 94 feet long with a maximum takeoff weight of 110,000 pounds and a range of only 1,540 NM. The new 737 MAX 9, the first of which rolled off the assembly line earlier this month, is 138 feet long and is expected to be certificated with a maximum takeoff weight of 194,700 pounds with a range of over 3,500 NM. Visually, the older 737s are easily distinguished from their modern successors by their small-diameter, low-bypass turbofan engines. The 737 was the first jet airliner over 80,000 pounds certified to be operated by a two-pilot crew—no flight engineer—much the dismay of the Air Line Pilots Association, which successfully insisted that it be flown by a three-pilot crew for several years after a failed lobbying attempt to prevent certification for two-pilot operations.

Photo Credits: 737 Advertisement by Boeing; N515NA by Robert Bogash; 737 MAX 8 by Boeing

UPDATE: A previous version of this article stated incorrectly the 737 was the first jet airliner certified for a two-pilot crew. The BAC-111 and DC-9 flew before the 737 as two-pilot aircraft. Those airplanes both had maximum gross takeoff weights of less than 80,000 pounds, then the FAA's threshold for two-pilot crew aircraft.

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One of the best flying examples of an F-86 Sabre is for sale by its Canadian owner for the seemingly bargain price of $795,000 USD. Vintage Wings of Canada is selling its Canadair MK-V Sabre, named Hawk One, which has been used as an air demonstration aircraft since 2009. The airplane was flown on behalf of the Ottawa-based private collection by astronaut Chris Hadfield and other pilots and was flown regularly until 2015. The nonprofit foundation that ran Vintage Wings’ flight ops has been restructured and it would appear the notoriously thirsty Sabre is a casualty of that. The aircraft is being sold by Courtesy Aircraft Sales in Rockford, Illinois.

The Sabre in question was built in Canada and has the more powerful Orenda 14 engine that is favored by fans of the airplane. It served in the Royal Canadian Air Force until 1968. It’s painted in the gold and red livery of the RCAF Golden Hawks, the air demonstration team that came before the Snowbirds. The airplane was owned by EAA in the 1990s and flown in U.S. Air Force colors. The aircraft has had a lot of work, including a rebuilt engine, modern avionics, updated ejection seat and dozens of other items far exceeding the asking price. It has 3,506 hours TT and 363 hours since its restoration.

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It had been a busy flight with some heavy weather for a Cessna 182. I was anticipating the final vector for the ILS and fumbling with the tablet’s presentation of the approach plate (I had vowed to make friends with the electronic flight bag). The realization that the sound had unexpectedly changed brought me back to the attitude indicator with a sudden start. It was sitting at a 60-degree angle with the nose well-down.

My first reaction was to pull the power as the increasing sound, airspeed and unwinding altimeter were unimpeachable sources. First responses are all too often instinctive and not the result of a logical thought process—fortunately my response was appropriate.

Next, I needed to validate the direction-of-turn information before I made any further control input. The turn coordinator confirmed that I was in a better-than-standard-rate turn to the left. An arm-full of right aileron and some rudder brought the wings back to level, and the existing trim setting induced a noticeable positive G-force as the elevator took a bite out of the higher airspeed—no need for any added back-pressure.

The altimeter settled down 500 feet below the glide-slope intercept altitude. Approach control sent me an urgent reminder that he had an altitude alert and was showing me well below my last assigned altitude.

Yes, I know I fixated on the tablet for far too long and allowed the unusual attitude to develop. But, as I drove home following the flight, I kept reviewing in my mind the thought process that followed when I glanced back to the AI—and made that mad dash around the six-pack to corroborate the information that each instrument was relaying to me.

Pitch + Power = Performance

As a CFII of 40 years, I am well acquainted with the two basic methods for learning attitude instrument flying—“control and performance” and “primary and supporting.” As only the AI reflects the immediate response to control inputs, it and the throttle, are emphasized in the training process.

The cross-check of the primary and supporting instruments to verify and fine-tune performance is often overlooked in the busy agenda of an IFR operation. A most common situation is the failure to attain the correct pitch for the best rate-of-climb during a missed approach, and droning along at 200 feet-per-minute.

I also realize that in a stressful situation pilots, having not internalized the relationships of the primary and supporting instruments to the various flight profiles, may not be aware of their importance in critical situations where not making the right response can imperil the flight’s longevity.

Many CFIIs essentially stopped emphasizing primary/supporting crosscheck in deference to the adage, “Pitch plus power equals performance”—one of my favorite phrases.

Yes, the FAA written test will have a few questions that you can ponder to determine that, during a Vy climb for example, the airspeed is primary for pitch, supported by the VSI. It’s always a good exercise to periodically recreate the table that shows the various primary/supporting relationships during the ten most common aviating tasks. This is best done on the back of a napkin over pizza with at least three instrument rated pilots participating for maximum entertainment.

Who Is Telling The Truth?

However, as I internalized the bad news the AI was presenting to me that evening, I had a cold feeling that perhaps it had failed and had led me into the unusual attitude over the last few control inputs—maybe it wasn’t my preoccupation with the tablet.

I didn’t want to input any control movement that would exacerbate my predicament. I realized that understanding which way I was turning was critical and that the turn coordinator would supply that information independent of the AI.

While time is of the essence, assurance of the correct response is vital when close to the ground. Know-ledge of the primary/supporting instruments is essential. Yes, I could have used the DG but, with it sharing the same power source as the AI, I wanted an independent basis for confirmation.

In some respects, my brief, and self-imposed emergency, was easily corrected because I did have a functioning AI. Although I used the turn coordinator to confirm the direction of turn, had I not had the AI, getting the wings level could have been a more difficult task. The turn coordinator only provides rate information of up to three-degrees-per-second and it is easy to roll back through wings-level and into the opposite direction if you over control.

Recovering from an unusual attitude without the AI, you are returning the aircraft to S&L by interpreting the primary/supporting indicators. In an upset condition, without an operative AI, there is no immediate means to establish attitude and bank reference. The AI is the only instrument that instantly and directly provides the actual flight attitude and bank angle at any point in time.

A big factor can be the trim setting prior to the upset condition. Airspeeds outside the trim setting can present high G-forces while returning to the previous flight profile—hence the pronounced pitch-up when I achieved wings level. Care must be taken to ensure the aircraft is not overstressed.

Needle, Ball And Airspeed

Practice transitioning to different flight profiles without the use of the AI, and build your knowledge base of the data provided by the other primary and supporting instruments. Although there are those who eschew the needle-ball-airspeed philosophy, it can be a life saver. You’ll get a good appreciation for the delay that various instruments have in reflecting your control input—and a better understanding of the amount of trim used.

It is rare to find a turn-and-bank indicator (the “needle” in the phrase) in a six-pack today. Most have been replaced by turn coordinators. I actually prefer the older style with their “dog-house” because it reminds me that I am not looking at bank angle.

Periodically perform unusual attitudes with various instruments inoperative. An important note of caution here. Initially use small increments of bank and pitch to present the unusual condition, so you need only relatively modest control inputs to recover. You are primarily developing knowledge of the various sources of information, relative to the pitch and bank of the aircraft, to respond with the correct and appropriate amount of control movement.

Anything more than 30-degrees of bank and 15-degrees of pitch can produce recovery forces that may unpleasantly surprise you. An experienced CFII can help you hone these life-saving skills to a higher degree than working with a less knowledgeable person.

Recap

The take-away here is that we need to keep our knowledge and skills of attitude instrument flying in the forefront. The axiom of “fly the airplane” is dominant in the trilogy of aviate, navigate, communicate.

Even if you can’t find three instrument rated pilots (or students) to share your pizza, it is helpful to periodically create the Primary/Supporting table. I’m not talking about simply reviewing an existing table such as the one included with this article. I am suggesting that you sit with a blank piece of paper and examine each maneuver in terms of what information each instrument will provide.

This exercise will reinforce your understanding of the function of each instrument and, when you fly, to be more observant of the primary and supporting instruments.

I’m due for a Flight Review and an IPC, so I am eager to have the CFII give me some unusual attitudes with the AI covered. Perhaps I should do this in the Redbird simulator before I try it in the airplane.

Ted Spitzmiller is a Gold Seal CFII, FASTeam member, and the editor of IFR Refresher magazine.

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

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Last week, without much fanfare, Seattle Avionics announced that it’s marketing a new portable dual-band ADS-B In product from uAvionix. It’s called the pingBuddy2 and sells for the eye-opening price of $149. Recall that I reported on uAvionix in this piece I shot at the AEA show in New Orleans last week.

The pingBuddy2 is significant for a couple of reasons. One is the utterly disruptive price. Heretofore, the dual-band portables have sold for six to nearly 10 times as much. I’m thinking here of the Stratus 2S, the Sagetech Clarity and the Levil Technology iLevil 3 SW. To be sure, these aren’t exact comparisons because the more expensive products include onboard GPS and AHARS that put some backup gyro capability on a tablet. One version of the iLevil even has pitot-static input. By comparison, the pingBuddy2 offers just ADS-B In for TIS-B and FIS-B access. You’re on your own to provide it with GPS position data, either through the tablet’s built-in GPS or an external like Garmin’s GLO.

The bigger picture here is that uAvionix, looking forward, is leveraging volume in the drone market to effect some interesting economy of scale. But at this point, it’s somewhat aspirational volume because the requirement for ADS-B on drones hasn’t materialized yet. My guess is it will, but it will take a while. But uAvionix, with its full line of miniature avionics, is betting on that future.

The plus for GA owners and pilots is that even though uAvionix’s market is overwhelmingly in the UAS space, it sees some opportunity to disrupt ADS-B prices for manned aircraft. The company told me late last week that it will be announcing something ahead of Sun ‘n Fun, most likely for the experimental market. This could represent a significant price break. Could that eventually result in significantly cheaper ADS-B Out solution for owners still balking about equipping? Well, maybe. But “significant” is in the eye of the beholder and the trick part here is will the vastly larger demand for UAS ADS-B materialize before the 2020 mandate deadline? My guess is it won’t, because the FAA hasn’t even settled on regulations for the larger drones that will fly in the airspace with manned aircraft, much less figured out how and when to require ADS-B for Part 107 operations.

The argument for those little drones having ADS-B—and you equipping your own airplane—is compelling. The low-power systems uAvionix is producing don’t need to ping ground stations or pipe data into TIS-B or be engaged with ADS-R. 

They just need a simple ADS-B Out pulse so you can see them in your equipped airplane. If you’re really worried about the risk of colliding with a small drone, that’s the argument for equipping both aircraft with ADS-B.

As a point of public policy, the FAA should now look at the potential of volume-driven ADS-B equipage and how it could reach its goal of full participation. Despite all the positive spin you may have heard, the rate of equipage is still lagging. Whether that’s related to cost or cost and other factors is anyone’s guess. My guess is that it’s not all cost. But cheaper—vastly cheaper—ADS-B Out solutions can’t possibly hurt the effort and may very well ignite the torrent of demand the FAA so desperately wants.

To achieve this, the agency simply needs to relax—or eliminate—any kind of TSO requirement for certified ADS-B. It’s lunacy and utterly counterproductive that an RV-8 can run around in the same airspace that a Skyhawk can, but the latter requires a more expensive certified ADS-B receiver. This is at the core of the squabble NavWorx is having with the FAA, which insists that the company’s GPS solution for its low-cost ADS-B boxes doesn’t meet the TSO requirement, even though it meets the TSO performance specs. The FAA is just making it that much more difficult and expensive to equip over an inconsequential technical fine point.

Removing the TSO and certification hoops would make it much more likely that a company like uAvionix could bring cheaper ADS-B to the market. Could we see an under $1000 solution suitable for certified airplanes? uAvionix thinks so, especially if the drone demand it sees over the horizon materializes. But it may not be in time to meet the 2020 witching hour. Still, better late than never.

And while we’re at it, why not just junk the entire idea of TSOs? It’s an idea whose time may be done.

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The Royal Canadian Air Force turned one of their C-17s into a flying museum for a trip back in time. The transport took seven replica biplanes to France where they will take part in ceremonies marking the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

In six weeks BasicMed will take effect and AOPA President Mark Baker updated us on what he's hearing from members and how he hopes neighboring countries will see the benefits of recognizing it.

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The winner is an airplane and water again but not technically a floatplane. Edgar Tello took this beauty of a Seabee testing the waters on a pond at Sugar Valley Airport in North Carolina. Nice work, Edgar.

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