World's Leading Independent Aviation News Service
Volume 25, Number 3c
January 19, 2018
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Drone Used In Surf Rescue
Russ Niles

Australian lifeguards used a drone to drop a flotation device to some swimmers in trouble and are claiming a world first for the resulting rescue. Two teenage boys got caught in a riptide off Lennox Head in New South Wales and were being pounded by surf a half mile offshore when lifeguards were alerted on Thursday. Instead of hitting the surf for a punishing jet-ski trip out to help the kids, the lifeguards took their newly acquired quadcopter out of the box and sent it in search of the swimmers.

The aircraft, which recorded video the whole way, took a little more than a minute to reach the tiring teens and dropped a self-inflating rescue device right between them. The kids grabbed hold and were able to make their way to shore. The lifeguards got the drone the morning of the rescue. Surf Life Saving NSW, which runs the lifeguard service, said it would have taken up to six minutes to reach the boys in a conventional rescue. "I'm just so happy that it was a really good outcome and these two boys were able to make it to shore safely," Jai Sheridan, the lifeguard who flew the drone, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. "Stuff can happen in a matter of seconds out in the surf. It's ever-changing."

When Government Can't Keep Up
Russ Niles

As the U.S. girds for another budget showdown that threatens to shut down the government, aviation, deemed an essential service in most respects, will soldier on. The thousands of FAA, DOT and other government workers who keep it going will go through an annoying and deflatingly disrespectful round of claiming retroactive wages and living without until the politicians wear out this particular set of hot-button issues.

As the arcane system goes through its predictable motions and intrigue through the unending news cycle, the rest of the world is marching on and it begs the question of whether technology has eclipsed government as the fundamental arbiter of how society is shaped.

While the tawdry mess played out in Washington, in Las Vegas, the future of aviation as a viable transit option was on display. At the Consumer Electronics Show, a host of blue chip companies showed they were ready for a world of autonomous drones whisking passengers safely and economically from point to point.

The FAA’s Office of UAS Integration was there but we have to wonder if they were spectators or participants. The sheer number of demos and announcements regarding the airborne use of technology to move people about was staggering. The basic nuts and bolts have been proven and they will be refined as all the smart people who got the technology this far smooth out the inevitable bumps.

But first they have to be able to fly in real-world conditions and if that’s in the FAA’s plans, they’re keeping it to themselves. So far, most of the public announcements coming from the office have to do with inflated nuisance issues regarding conflicts between hobby drones and manned aircraft. Nobody wants to hit a drone but at CES the hardware was so many generations ahead of the two-pound hobby drones that are the subject of that discourse as to be irrelevant to the actual issues surrounding unmanned systems.

To its credit, the FAA has established the UAS Integration Pilot Program. Unfortunately, the term “pilot” is being used in the sense that it’s an experimental or first foray into looking at the topic and has nothing to do with flying, which the tech companies are ready to do.

Nevertheless, the program, which put applicants through a gauntlet of application stages ending a few weeks ago, does seem to have the correct goal to “accelerate safe UAS integration.”

Although the deadlines for the last of the complicated applications passed on Jan. 4, there has been no indication of who will be the Lead Applicants and Interested Parties chosen to influence what will shape what can only be described as a revolution in aviation.

But as the folks who will not only decide who those participants will be but will rule on their recommendations face the coming weeks without paychecks, a half dozen companies are ready to land a pilotless drone on their apartment building roofs to take them wherever they want to go.

Government is supposed to be slow and methodical to make sure its decisions are well founded and deliberate but when government gets too far behind the technology curve it sets up two unsavory scenarios.

One is a steadfast devotion to process and interdepartmental navel-gazing that stifles innovation and inevitably sends cutting-edge companies elsewhere to find the regulatory underpinnings of their businesses.

But perhaps more dangerous is the surrender of regulation in the absence of the infrastructure to create it in the face of mounting public and political pressure to accommodate the next big thing.

The next big thing is here. How the regulators react will fundamentally shape how it integrates not only into the NAS but into society as a whole. 

Unfortunately, for a generally positive outcome, the government has to do a couple of things it can have trouble doing. It has to get it right and it has to do it quickly.

Icom A25N Portable Transceiver
Larry Anglisano

Icom introduced the new A25N portable transceiver to replace its flagship A22. It has a variety of modern features, including Bluetooth connectivity for interfacing with a tablet app, a GPS receiver and more transmit power. In this video, Aviation Consumer Editor Larry Anglisano offers a look at the radio on the Aviation Consumer test bench before heading to the airport to go flying.

JP International 'Pilot's Best Friend - Technology that works
AOPA Offers Safety Seminars On Midairs
Mary Grady

Pilots may think that talking to ATC or using ADS-B protects them from midair collisions, but mistakes still can happen, and they can be fatal. AOPA’s Air Safety Institute is taking on the midair threat in a big way, offering in-person seminars at 48 sites across the U.S. this year. “What we hope pilots take away from this seminar is that even if you are doing everything right, you can find yourself in a situation where you are closer in proximity to other airplanes than you realize,” said Richard McSpadden, executive director of the AOPA Air Safety Institute. The new seminar identifies high-risk scenarios and locations, then lays out strategies for avoiding them.

Among the topics covered are human eye limitations that impact the “see and avoid” philosophy, proven techniques for improving your visual scan, maximizing your visibility to other aircraft, the limits of cockpit technology and “danger zones” you may not be aware of. The seminars are funded in part by a donation from Joyce Gardella, whose husband, Paul, a flight instructor, died in a midair crash near Washington, D.C. The first Collision Course event was held last week, in Fairfax, Virginia, and drew a crowd of 225. A full listing of the seminar locations and more information can be found at the ASF website.

Emirates Order Keeps A380 Alive
Russ Niles

Emirates Airlines has extended the production life of the A380 with a firm order for 20 aircraft and an option for 16 more. Airbus had run out of orders for the aircraft and was threatening to end production by 2020 but the new $16 billion order buys it time to sell airlines on the moneymaking virtues of the gigantic aircraft. Emirates, which operates almost half of the world’s 217 A380s and whose critics say is heavily subsidized by the UAE government, swears by the aircraft. 

"We've made no secret of the fact that the A380 has been a success for Emirates,” CEO Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum told Forbes. “Our customers love it, and we've been able to deploy it on different missions across our network, giving us flexibility in terms of range and passenger mix.” The grandeur of the airplane hasn’t really caught on as a marketing tool and even Emirates is using it as an economy hauler on some routes. But a few, like Singapore Airlines, have sacrificed some seats for amenities like bars and they claim some success at that end of the market. From Airbus’s point of view, the use of the 555-seat airliner to reduce congestion at airports is a sales tool for getting the airplane into the rapidly growing Chinese market. Not a single American airline has bought an A380 and North America is not mentioned in Airbus’s Super Jumbo marketing notes.

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Scholarships Available For Aviation Careers
Mary Grady

Students of all ages who are working toward a career in aviation can find scholarships available from a wide range of sources. GAMA said last week it is now accepting applications from high school students for its Edward W. Stimpson “Aviation Excellence” Award, named for the organization’s founder. The $2,000 award will go to a graduating high school senior who has been accepted into an aviation degree program. Applicants are judged on academic skills, extracurricular activities and an essay. For high school music students, the Flying Musicians Association is offering scholarships for flight training through solo (about 15 hours), for juniors and seniors nominated by their music director.

Many other aviation groups offer scholarships for students at all levels, from beginner ground school to specialized career training. Women in Aviation International and the Whirly Girls offer extensive scholarship opportunities, and most are not restricted by gender. EAA, NBAA and AOPA also list scholarship opportunities on their websites. Many groups require applicants to become a member for access to the scholarships.

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Not Your Average Paper Airplane
Mary Grady

Anyone can make a paper airplane in just a few seconds, but the meticulous paper model of a Boeing 777-300ER built by designer Luca Iaconi-Stewart took thousands of hours over nearly 10 years. "I really enjoy the sense of calm and mediation that it brings when I really get into the building process," Iaconi-Stewart told Wired recently. "It's really exhilarating when you get to the end and you see a component coming to life." The details in the 1:60 scale model include all 300 seats in the cabin, rudder pedals in the cockpit and landing gear that retracts, all of it constructed from manila folders and glue.

Stories about the project led to an invitation from Boeing to visit the factory, and a contract from Singapore Airlines to build a model for an ad campaign. Iaconi-Stewart, who is based in the Bay Area in California, is now working on the wings, which he says will take a few years. “I’m not sure why I’m so interested in airplanes,” he told Wired. “They’re so advanced and complex. They’re a testament to human ingenuity.” He has posted a series of videos online showing the details of the project as he creates and tests the landing gear, cargo doors and more.

Picture of the Week
Robert L. Burns wins this week by combining two of our favorite elements, air to air photography and great historic aircraft. That's a Beech AT-11 Kansan on its way to the annual Beech Party in Winchester, Tennessee.

See all submissions

Brainteasers Quiz #239: Have A Little Fun, Already

The FAA can be so serious when discussing regulations and safety of flight -- which are important -- but many of us began flying simply because it was fun. To keep it safely enjoyable, simply ace this quiz.

Click here to take the quiz.

Short Final

It was one of those days where the winds were very gusty, and the pattern was just a mess at ILG (Wilmington, DE). It's a training site for controllers and downwinds were being extended by miles, clearances were changing, and everything was just a bit messy. Combined with the gusts, it wasn't a fun day. 

My goal was landing practice since I was new to the plane. After three unimpressive efforts I threw in the towel.I cleared the runway and the following exchange took place. 

Tower: Skyhawk 65R, are you going to do another? 

Skyhawk 65R: No, I don't think so. Today's not my day. 

Tower: (Very loud audible laughter in background) Yeah, that's true for a lot of us today. Taxi via H, remain this frequency.


Joshua Zide

Healthy Pilot #5: Your Ticker—the Whole Ballgame
Tim Cole

Not to get all metaphysical, but the heart is at the very center of who we are and what we do. It feeds the brain with nutrients and life-giving oxygen, and fuels the cells out to the extremities. Any abnormalities of the heart, especially at the controls of an airplane, can lead to stress if not calamity.

Accordingly, being honest with yourself and your physician regarding your heart health is the responsible thing to do. It’s item 18g on the Basic Med checklist.

According to the editors of our sister website University Health News, there are four basic heart conditions or concerns that require attention in order to preclude or forestall a heart problem. Obviously there can be heart problems that are more complicated, but these are the big four and addressing problems associated with these items will go a long way toward maintaining a healthy ticker.

Family history of heart disease: If you are predisposed to heart problems you’ll likely know it from an early age if any first-degree relative (father, mother, brother, sister) suffered a heart condition. But it doesn’t mean you’ll have a lifetime of heart ailments. Some of your family heart history may have been as a result of easily modifiable lifestyle issues: smoking, hypertension or high cholesterol chief among them. A family history of heart problems is not your destiny—so an honest consultation with your doctor can ease your mind and put you on the right path.

Hypertension: Managing high blood pressure is perhaps the easiest way to get out ahead of potential heart problems.  The first telltale sign of high blood pressure might be a persistent headache, a random nosebleed or feeling dizzy, particularly when you get out of a chair. You and your doctor will want to explore the various medication solutions at your disposal—from ARBs to beta blockers—but even a change in diet can have a positive impact on high blood pressure, especially at the lower end of the threshold, which is 135/80 (the new guideline).

Cholesterol: After a lifetime in pursuit of gustatory delights, we can’t blame you if your cholesterol is a bit on the high side. But it’s good to understand what your cholesterol number means on your lipid panel when you have blood work. Good cholesterol is HDL. You want a high number of this type, which attaches itself to LDL, the bad kind, and flushes it back to your liver for waste removal. LDL cholesterol is what clogs the arteries and leads to atherosclerosis. A heart attack happens when atherosclerosis ruptures, causing an emboli that can trigger a heart attack. Triglycerides are fats that store unused energy for later use by the cells. Excess triglycerides can also compromise heart health. To find out more about proper cholesterol levels, click this link.  

Arrhythmias: You might have experienced a rapid, irregular heart beat that settled back to normal after a few minutes. It’s called atrial fibrillation, and it’s a common disorder of your heart’s electrical system, especially prevalent among older people. It starts in the left upper chamber of your heart muscle called the atria, the area responsible for creating the electrical pulse that causes your heart to beat.  (There is also a condition called ventricular fibrillation, but it is less common.) The real problem arises when atrial fibrillation (often shortened to just “Afib”) causes blood to pool inside the heart muscle, particularly around the valves separating your heart’s four chambers, and this pooling can cause a blood clot that could potentially break loose and cause a stroke. Blood thinners are the commonly prescribed drugs to deal with the potential of blood clots, and warfarin (Coumadin) has been the standard for decades. A new generation of medication is now available (Eliquis, Predaxa) that offer the same blood thinning properties but also reducing the frequency of blood tests to check medication levels.

Bottom line: For a pilot to maintain flying privileges under Basic Med attention will need to be paid to the checklist found on Section Two. Rest assured you’ll be able to conquer item 18g (Heart or vascular trouble) with a serious look at the preceding four items. As always, your doctor is your first line of defense in dealing with health complications that could impact your ability to fly.

Meet the AVweb Team

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

Russ Niles

Paul Bertorelli

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Geoff Rapoport

Rick Durden
Kevin Lane-Cummings
Paul Berge
Larry Anglisano

Ad Coordinator
Karen Lund

Executive Vice President, Editorial Director
Timothy Cole


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