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Budget details released by the White House on Tuesday show an apparent commitment by the Trump administration to privatize the air traffic control system, according to NBAA. “The president’s budget takes the public’s elected representatives out of the equation and leaves it to a private board to ensure the public’s interest is being well served,” said NBAA President Ed Bolen in a news release late on Tuesday. “We are troubled and concerned by this proposal and will review it closely as the legislative process moves forward.” NATA also expressed concern about the proposal, which it says reduces FAA funding by almost $300 million below current levels for the fiscal year beginning Oct.1, and assumes the creation of a separate air traffic control corporation beginning in FY2021. “We cannot make the justification for ATC privatization a self-fulfilling prophecy by making cuts to important programs that need immediate funding,” said NATA President Martin Hiller. “The proposed FAA budget would reduce spending on the modernization of our air traffic control system and continue what has been a six-year downward spiral in airport funding.”

The documents released by the president on Tuesday, which provide greater detail to preliminary budget plans the White House released on March 16, outline the administration’s blueprint for federal spending in the coming fiscal year, according to NBAA. The White House and the big airlines have promoted the notion of privatizing ATC. “With this budget, the president has made clear his administration’s plan to pursue a concept that has raised a host of concerns, not just among aviation stakeholders, but also among congressional lawmakers from both political parties, mayors from across the country, organizations from the political left and right, consumer groups and a majority of Americans,” Bolen said. “As the debate continues in Congress over FAA reauthorization and modernization of the nation’s aviation system, we will work with Congress to promote forward-thinking initiatives that preserve America’s aviation-leadership position and ensure the ATC system continues to serve all Americans in the decades to come.”

A “Budget Fact Sheet” (PDF) posted online by the White House details the administration’s plans for “air traffic control reform.” It concludes: “To accommodate growing air traffic and address the quickly evolving needs of the Nation’s airspace users, the United States needs to change the governance and structure of air traffic control. This transformative undertaking will create a non-profit, non-governmental air traffic control organization that can more nimbly respond to the demand for air traffic services, reduce taxes and Government spending, and maintain Government control of aviation safety.”

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A recent federal court decision (PDF) that the FAA has no authority to require drone users to register is not sitting well with many aviators. Helicopter Association International issued a statement (PDF) this week saying it “strongly disagrees” with the ruling, adding that helicopter pilots “are deeply concerned about our ability to fly safely in airspace where pilots could encounter any unmanned aircraft, be it commercial or otherwise.” The FAA registration program provided a means to educate the public about the hazards of careless drone operation, HAI said. The group asked Congress to return authority over drone operations to the FAA, “to ensure the safety of the National Airspace System.” The National Agricultural Aviation Association also issued a statement this week, asking Congress to reverse the change. Agricultural aircraft are used to treat crops, fight fires and combat pests, consistently operating at the same low altitudes as drones, the NAAA said.

The NAAA also agreed with HAI that the FAA's drone registration program helped to educate users about the hazards of careless drone operations. “We believe that the FAA's drone registration program serves to protect everyone in the air and on land,” the NAAA said. “NAAA now urges Congress to grant the FAA governance and oversight over all forms of aircraft.” The FAA retains the authority to establish no-fly zones, regardless of registration. Re-establishing a drone registration program will require that Congress first changes the law, to give them the authority to do so. As of Tuesday, the FAA’s website for drone registration was still up and running.

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The newly in-production K-Max helicopter, built by Kaman Aerosystems, flew for the first time on May 12, the company announced last week. The aircraft performed “flawlessly,” said test pilot Bill Hart. “I look forward to successfully completing our production flight-test schedule over the coming weeks.” The single-seat K-Max features a counter-rotating rotor system and is designed to be rugged and low-maintenance. It’s optimized for external-load operations and vertical-reference flight. The aircraft can lift up to 6,000 pounds. The first two production aircraft are being built on a newly reopened commercial production line in Bloomfield, Connecticut. They will be delivered to a customer in China, the company said.

The K-Max design was created by Kaman founder Charles H. Kaman and certified by the FAA in 1994. It was in production through 2003. The aircraft is currently in use worldwide for firefighting, logging and other missions requiring repetitive aerial lift capabilities, the company said. The U.S. Marine Corps maintains two unmanned K-Max aircraft that were developed with Lockheed Martin, and carried more than 4.5 million pounds of cargo in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2014. Additional unmanned firefighting and humanitarian missions for K-Max are also being developed and tested, the company said.

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Several U.S. manufacturers announced models that now are certified for sales in Europe this week at the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition, being held in Geneva. Piper said it has been awarded approval for its top-of-the-line single-engine turboprop, the M600, which was FAA-certified in June last year. The six-seat aircraft sells for about $3 million. Cirrus said it has received EASA certification for its $2 million Vision jet and has made its first delivery in Europe. Sales of both aircraft are expected to benefit from a recent rule change in Europe that now allows single-engine turbine aircraft to be used for commercial operations in IFR conditions.

HondaJet officials said at the show the company has expanded sales of its twin-engine jet to Southeast Asia, and sold several aircraft to a new fractional ownership program that plans to operate in the United Kingdom and Southern Europe. Larry Anglisano, editor of Aviation Consumer, recently went for a flight trial in the HondaJet; click here for his video report. Also at the show, Cessna said its new super-midsize Citation Longitude jet, at EBACE for the first time, has made its first sale in Europe, with a copy going to Travel Service, in the Czech Republic. The jet is still in development, with four aircraft in the flight-test fleet.

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Airbus Corporate Jets is now offering a corporate-jet version of its A330neo widebody airliner, the company announced at the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition, being held this week in Geneva. The ACJ330neo can carry up to 25 passengers in a customized cabin, with plenty of room for conference/dining areas, a private office, bedrooms, bathrooms and guest seating. With a range of 9,400 NM, the jet can fly nonstop from Europe to Australia. The cockpit features Category 3B autoland and optional dual head-up displays. The company also announced the launch of Airbus Corporate Helicopters, a high-end, custom brand for the VIP private and business aviation market.

ACH will provide customers an “end-to-end exclusive ownership experience,” the company said, including advice to help choose the right aircraft and design the interior. All aircraft also will be kept in top condition by concierge-style service and support. The brand will be offered in three different product lines: the ACH Line, based on Airbus Corporate Helicopters’ in-house style concept, is “light and efficient,” the company said; ACH Exclusive provides a “truly exclusive environment” for those seeking refinement, luxury and comfort; and ACH Editions offers a portfolio of special collaborations and partnerships with luxury brands and designers, ranging from Hermes to Mercedes Benz to designer Peder Eidsgaard.

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GE Aviation says it will work with Aerion Corp. to look at what would be needed to develop an engine for a supersonic jet. “We have thoroughly evaluated over two dozen civil and military engines from all leading engine producers over the past two years,” said Aerion CEO Doug Nichols. That research, he said, led him to conclude that “working with GE Aviation will help us meet the challenging specifications needed to meet our performance objectives.” Aerion’s goal is to design and certify a civil supersonic aircraft by 2025. The announcement was made Monday at the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition, going on this week in Geneva.

Aerion Corp., based in Reno, Nevada, was formed in 2002. It has developed and tested advanced wing technology that uses supersonic laminar flow, in conjunction with NASA and several other aeronautical research institutions. In 2014, Aerion entered into a collaboration with Airbus Group to develop the Aerion AS2 Mach 1.5 supersonic jet. Engineering is underway with first flight planned for 2021 and entry into service in 2023.

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I suppose it was just a matter of time before Dunning-Kruger popped up in an aviation reference and let me proudly say one of our aviation publications made the pioneering leap. The recent reference was a throwaway in an article about accidents used to explain why some pilots take on more weather than they can handle.

On the off chance that you just this morning got broadband access or you’ve been in a coma since 1999, the Dunning-Kruger effect is a psychological phenomenon in which people of relatively low knowledge and experience vastly overestimate their own competence in whatever field is being considered. Here’s a summary of David Dunning’s and Justin Kruger’s research on this topic: “The authors suggest that this overestimation occurs, in part, because people who are unskilled in these domains suffer a dual burden: Not only do these people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it.”

Maybe it’s just me, but I think that’s pretty well a personality requirement for a pilot, no? So are at least three of the so-called hazardous attitudes. You’ve heard them before: Resignation, anti-authority, impulsivity, invulnerability and macho. I’ll let you ruminate on which three apply, but you get the point. Or, maybe you don’t, if my view of the world is as acidly skewed as I will concede it sometimes is.

Dunning-Kruger, if it applies to aviation at all, is probably most noticeable in the 500-hour wonder who professes to know it all. As the eyes roll up into the skull when listening to someone like this, there’s also a little wonder. Well, maybe he really is that good. This leads me to posit that like being injected with vaccine to stimulate antibodies, a little Dunning-Kruger may not be a bad thing. I’d suggest that we all need to gently push the limits of our own comfort zones and, personally, my theory is that this is where advanced skill comes from. You can’t learn to land on a 1500-foot runway unless you try to land on a 1500-foot runway. In the past, we had a name for this: learning.

If you prang one while doing this, perhaps you exceeded your own limits or the airplane’s and this may have been due to lack of knowledge, a skill deficit or just a bad day. Either way, with help from your insurance company, you’re probably well on the way to solving the problem. But if you never confront it in the first place, retiring instead as far inside the guard rails of your own fears as you can get, where’s the fun in that? Or the challenge?

In the accident reports I slog through from time to time, it’s hard to tell if Dunning-Kruger is at work. I think pilots can make basically sound judgments based on good knowledge and preparation, but then screw up the hand-eye coordination part. If a pilot gets in over his head in weather, is that because he overestimated his own skills or just couldn’t have known what he was going to run into? Nobody is prescient. Anyone can be surprised.

At the motorcycle tracks I occasionally inhabit, the running joke is that if you don’t crash once in a while, you’re not trying very hard. The humor is of the graveyard sort, but it offers a truth: Pushing a little makes you better at whatever thing it is you’re trying to do. I found my corner limits once by running wide and low-siding into the dirt. But at least I knew the limits.

The analogy is not a perfect fit for airplanes because the consequences of running wide could be terminal. But I think the principle is, nonetheless, applicable. Maybe that’s where a little bit of Dunning-Kruger is a good thing because it allows you to gently sneak up on what you don’t know, learn it and be less irrationally fearful for lack of skill. And a lot more confident, which, although it can lead to overreach, is also a force multiplier in a consciousness of survival. 

You may have noticed that the current rage in GA is the rusty pilot seminar; AOPA is conducting them. They have a rich vein of corrosion to mine, I’m thinking. But eventually, those pilots will have to get into airplanes and actually fly and keep on flying. I suspect fear has something to do with pilots accumulating rust, but it’s probably a lot more to do with lack of motivation complicated by an anemic budget. There’s a name for that, too: Bored and Broke effect. I can’t suggest a cure.   

If you had around $4.8 million to spend on a new light jet, you might shop the Cessna Citation M2, the Embraer Phenom 100 and the HA-420 HondaJet. After earning Part 23 FAA certification in December 2015, Honda Aircraft Company has already delivered over 40 HondaJets and has spooled up production for a lot more deliveries. In this video, Honda Aircraft Company's manager of flight operation and demonstration discusses the aircraft's design, systems and performance. A flight trial report follows in the July 2017 issue of Aviation Consumer magazine.

 

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Picture of the Week
Picture of the Week

Tricia Cronin came along for Love is in the Air Tour over the Grand Canyon and we love the result. Thanks to everyone who entered this week. Here's a hint from the judges. We like pictures of airplanes, not pictures from airplanes (unless they have airplanes in them.)

Heard recently one morning on JFK tower frequency.

JetBlue:  Tower, is our speed compatible with the aircraft ahead of us?

 Tower:  As long as you don't go to warp factor 6, you should be fine.


Marty Twersky 

 

 

Electronics International 'Aviation Alert! Short video on how EI saved this pilot's life

Rare is the pilot attending a safety seminar who, at some point, doesn't wake up thinking, "Wow! Really?" While you should remain alert in training, you'll feel smug doing so when you ace this quiz.

Click here to take the quiz.

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