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Volume 25, Number 21a
May 21, 2018
 
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Pilot Shortage: Emirates Parking 18 Percent Of Fleet
 
Russ Niles
 
 

Although the pilot shortage has mainly manifested in regional flight cancellations in the U.S., the largest Persian Gulf carrier, Emirates, is reportedly ready to park 18 percent of its fleet. Airline Geeks says Emirates will also reduce pilot staffing on long-haul flights and that its deployment of pilots might be part of the reason it’s having trouble attracting them. The website says the airline will idle 36 Boeing 777s and 10 A380s by July and it’s cut the frequency of flights to some destinations and eliminated flights to others.

The site reports Emirates pilots are well paid but Chinese airlines are offering signing bonuses of up to $300,000 and allowing pilots to commute to work from anywhere in the world. Working conditions at Emirates are also part of the problem. Emirates pilots work 90 hours a month and the crew rest requirements of its aviation regulators in the United Arab Emirates are more lax than in most countries. That means the airline will be able to start staffing 12-hour and longer flights with three pilots instead of four. Plans are to operate three-pilot crews to Rio de Janeiro, Boston, Sydney, Sao Paulo, New York and Melbourne starting July 1. Pilots also reportedly don’t like the work schedule. Most flights leave between midnight and 4 a.m., meaning their circadian rhythms are frequently out of whack.

Guest Blog: Filling The Right Seat
 
Thomas Turner
 

It’s arguably the best time in history to begin a flying career. Never before could a pilot expect to become a jet first officer so rapidly. Sure, it’s a challenge to log the time needed to earn the ATP that’s now required. But demand is so great that as soon as a pilot meets that minimum, he or she will be snatched up by a regional carrier and given that all-important seniority date.

In the May 16, 2018, AVweb Flash, Mary Grady described a consequence of this rapid advancement: Flight schools are having a hard time finding and retaining instructors. The nationwide flight instructor shortage has become endemic. I’m personally bombarded by unsolicited requests to come teach at any number of colleges and private flight schools, cold-emailed from the FAA’s list of certificated instructors.

The good news: Instructor pay and benefits are increasing. But frankly, most CFIs are only passing through at any price, taking the instructional pathway to the career they want. Even a few extra months teaching and they’ll never catch up with their contemporaries on the airline seniority lists. Instructor pay helps, but it does not fix the problem.

The Transportation Department turns to the old standby: “Launch an initiative to assess the level of interest among veterans in becoming pilots.” As a veteran myself I applaud the decades-long availability of benefits to pay for flight training. Even if interest among vets increases dramatically, however, it still doesn’t solve another nagging problem: the lack of experienced flight instructors. Here’s an idea: Why don’t we call on industry to promote hiring of experienced, retiring airline captains into the flight instructor ranks?

In addition to increasing pay to make this attractive, such a plan needs a high-limits instructor liability policy to cover the captains. One of the biggest disincentives for these folks to teach what they’ve learned in a lifetime of flying is that they usually have significant personal assets they put at risk if they instruct. It can be done—insurance at one organization I’m familiar with has very high limits for its instructors, at a reasonable price. Maybe a nationwide insurance pool, with schools and individuals buying into the program, would offset the risk for airline retirees returning to instruction.

Fix pay and liability insurance, and we might be able to attract a lot of airline retirees to instructing. We can fill the right seats with CFIs who have a lifetime of experience to pass to the next generation.

Thomas P. Turner is Executive Director of the American Bonanza Society Air Safety Foundation (www.bonanza.org), and publisher of the free FLYING LESSONS Weekly e-pub at www.mastery-flight-training.com. A career flight instructor, in 2015 Tom was inducted into the National Flight Instructor Hall of Fame.

Air Heritage's Cool C-123 Provider
 
Paul Bertorelli
 
 

The Heritage Air Museum tours with a nicely restored C-123 Provider, an airplane most people have never seen or even heard of. In this AVweb video shot at AirVenture, the Museum's Jack McMahon tells us all about the airplane.

One Aviation Wants To Resume EA550 Production
 
Russ Niles
 
 

The Albuquerque Journal is reporting that One Aviation has attracted new investors, wants to resume building airplanes and is offering to pay most of its back rent to the City of Albuquerque as part of its restructuring process. In a May 17 letter to the city obtained by the Journal, Mike Wyse, the new chairman of the board of directors of One Aviation, offered to pay $790,000 of the $865,000 the city says it’s owed and move into a single hangar from the three it now occupies. It also intends to restart the Eclipse EA550 production line, which shut down in 2017. “We have acquired new investors who want to stabilize our core business,” the Journal reported Wyse as writing in the letter. “Our goal is to remain at the Albuquerque International Sunport and be a long-term partner with the city.” The company is currently under eviction notice.

Wyse is a new spokesman for One Aviation. CEO Alan Klapmeier has previously spoken on the company’s behalf. Wyse is the managing partner of Wyse Advisors LLC, a New York-based restructuring and liquidity company that describes itself as “a boutique financial advisory firm with a primary focus on stressed, distressed and special situations.” Wyse declined further comment in response to an email request for an interview from AVweb.

Chinese Commercial Space Companies Emerge
 
Russ Niles
 
 

The U.S. commercial space industry got increased competition from an unexpected source on Saturday when a Chinese company launched its first private rocket. OneSpace Technologies sent an OS-X rocket to an altitude of about 25 miles from a secret launch site in northwestern China. The GB Times reported the 30-foot single stage solid fuel vehicle named the Chongqing Liangjiang Star flew for four minutes and 15 seconds, reached Mach 5 and covered 170 miles before falling to earth in the target area. It was the second private launch this year after i-Space got a rocket to 100 km, just above the so-called Karman Line, the boundary between atmosphere and space. At least four other companies are working on launch vehicles. But OneSpace says it’s targeting a different market by offering relatively low-cost access to space for small payloads.

According to the Chinese publication, OneSpace Technologies has figured out how to lighten its rockets to the point that it will eventually be able to offer orbital insertions for less than $10,000 a kilogram (2.2 pounds). The first orbital launch for the company is set for sometime in 2020. China opened up the space business to private enterprise in 2015 and the government is itself an investor in some of the companies.

 

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FAA Certifies 777 Folding Wing
 
Russ Niles
 
 

The FAA has certified the folding wingtips that Boeing has installed on its Boeing 777X, the latest iteration of its long-haul stalwart. The new aircraft has longer wings than current models, allowing higher, faster and more fuel-efficient operation, but that means they won’t fit well into a lot of airport gates. Chopping about 15 feet off the wingspan by borrowing a long-accepted design feature of carrier-borne aircraft was a simple solution but these aren’t military aircraft so the FAA needed some safety assurances.

The mechanism itself is a straightforward hinge arrangement with stout locking pins to keep the tips in place in flight. What the FAA needed was redundant systems to prevent pilots from folding up the tips in flight or trying to take off with them in the up position. It’s not clear how much the extra technology is adding to the cost of each aircraft but it doesn’t seem to be slowing sales. Boeing has firm orders for more than 300 from at least eight airlines.

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Question of the Week
 

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Next Generation Tiltrotor Hits Cruise
 
Russ Niles
 
 

Bell’s V-280 Valor tiltrotor aircraft hit its full cruise configuration for the first time May 11 and is expected to be flying farther and faster through the rest of the summer. The aircraft achieved 190 knots with its rotors fully forward and has a design cruise speed of 290 knots. The aircraft is being developed by Bell and Lockheed Martin for the U.S. Army’s Future Vertical Lift Program. It’s about half the size of the V-22 Osprey and a fundamentally different tiltrotor design. The Valor’s rotors and driveshafts tilt while the engines remain stationary. The whole assembly tilts in the Osprey.

The Valor first flew last December and it’s not clear when it will enter service. It’s about the size of a Blackhawk helicopter and will carry up to 12 troops or a 9,000 pound slung load. “The V-280 Valor is quickly and consistently demonstrating the maturity of its technology and the overmatch capabilities it will bring to the warfighter,” said Keith Flail, VP of advanced tiltrotor systems at Bell. “This first cruise mode flight is another exciting step in our efforts to deliver revolutionary capability for warfighters at a sustainable cost and years ahead of current schedule projections.”

 

Picture of the Week, May 17, 2018
 
 
A Skywagon ride on Mother's Day weaving through the Washington Cascades on the way to Friday Harbor for a fun-filled day. Photo by Brian Brantner.

See all submissions

737 Crashes In Havana (Updated)
 
Kate O'Connor
 
 

Cuban authorities have confirmed 110 of 113 people died in the crash of a 40-year-old Boeing 737-201 in Havana, Cuba Friday. The aircraft, operated by Cubana,  crashed shortly after takeoff from Havana's Jose Marté Airport.  There were 104 passengers and nine crew members onboard Flight DMJ 0972, which was heading to Holguin, Cuba. There has been no comment about a potential cause but most of the focus has been on the age of the airliner, which was originally delivered to Piedmont Airlines in 1979. The aircraft had passed through five owners before becoming one of three ancient airliners operated by Mexico-based Global Air. 

The plane was wet leased by Cubana from Global so the crew was all Mexican.  Witnesses reported seeing a fireball shortly after the aircraft went down about 12 miles south of Havana near the village of Santiago de las Vegas. There was a significant post-crash fire. Cubana has reportedly taken several of its planes out of service in recent months due to mechanical issues. Officials say the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba limits the availability of spare parts and makes it difficult for the airline to operate a modern fleet of its own so it's forced to outsource the aircraft operations.

Some Aviation Axioms—And Opinions
 
Rick Durden
 
 

 

Nearly 20 years ago I began writing a column—The Pilot’s Lounge—for AVweb. It eventually evolved into the position of Features Editor and writing two or three feature articles each month. As a result of my association with AVweb, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet many of the fascinating and delightful people that characterize aviation, learn a great deal from them and fly some memorable aircraft. I’ve also been lucky enough to be nearby and watch as flight worked its magic on people—widening eyes, softening harsh expressions and enriching lives.

As a pilot who has flown a wide variety of aircraft, spent some time as a freight dog and much more as a flight instructor, and as an attorney working in the world of aviation, I’ve written about the things I’ve learned, sometimes the hard way. I happen to like flying tailwheel airplanes and airplanes on skis and floats, so a fair proportion of my articles have been about techniques for flying those machines. As an aviation attorney I’ve looked into the causes of numerous accidents and worked with true experts in the fields of aircraft design, flight test, crashworthiness, pilot performance and human factors, so those became the topics of many of my articles.

I was recently asked to list what I considered, as a pilot and lawyer, to be some of the more important truths of aviation that a pilot should know and follow to help him or her get as much joy as possible out of flying and avoid as many of its pitfalls as possible. The following is that list—subjective of course—more than a little cynical, but as blunt as I can be. And, I couldn’t help it; I tossed in a few opinions.

Weather

The weather is not going to get better in another five miles.

If you are trying to scud-run, the weather will get worse.

Towers and power lines are affected by weather: They get taller and move nearer to highways, railroad tracks and airports when the ceiling gets very low.

You are most likely to discover an unlighted tower when you are trying to fly low because of weather.

Power lines are invisible against backgrounds other than bright blue sky.

Scud running used to be a reasonable method of getting to one's destination in the flatlands of our country—now with the stunning proliferation of towers, particularly near highways, it is foolish. To do it with any regularity is suicidal.

One close encounter with a tower or a set of power lines appearing out of the haze or fog when scud-running, or going below minimums on an instrument approach, will give you years of the most hideously vivid nightmares you can imagine.

It's not the smartest thing in the world to duck under the glideslope after breaking out of the clouds so as to land short. Many more airplanes crash in the approach lights after an ILS than go off the far end of the runway. There are no prizes for the shortest landing following an ILS.

No matter what the weather, there is less gas in the tanks than you hope.

Especially if you are professional pilot, the worse the weather, the more likely it is that you will have a vocal passenger insisting that you go.

The posters on the walls in Air Force Flight Ops rooms were right: There is no reason to fly through a thunderstorm in peacetime.

When making a decision regarding weather, an effective tool is to ask oneself if this might lead to looking stupid in the NTSB report.

Being introduced to flight in ice by an instructor under controlled conditions is hugely valuable and probably a violation of the FARs. It is far, far better than trying to learn about it vicariously or as you start getting ice on the airframe for your first time without an instructor next to you.

If you do get ice on the airframe, do not use the flaps on landing. Go fast and do not reduce the power below what you carried on final approach until the wheels touch the runway. Pulling the power off in the flare will probably cause you to stall and plummet the last few feet to the runway with enough force to collapse the landing gear.

It's always better to turn back too early than too late.

Reality

Departing with one component of a redundant system out of service has a strange way of making the other one fail in flight.

When flying a tailwheel airplane in a crosswind, hard-soled shoes are an invitation to a groundloop.

Even pilots who fly every day need recurrent training. It's the stuff you don't do every day—emergency procedures—that will eat your lunch.

The longer it’s been since you took recurrent training, the greater your risk of an accident—especially one involving runway loss of control. As a pilot, the greatest gift you can give yourself, your family and your passengers is recurrent training every six months.

The human is the weak link in the airplane performance equation—the only way to strengthen it is regular training.

Read everything you can about aviation. AVweb’s archives are a treasure trove, especially John Deakin’s engine articles and Mike Busch’s maintenance pieces.

Despite what fighter pilots say, it's better to be embarrassed than dead.

Saying "any traffic please advise" on Unicom is a waste of words and air time—it gains you nothing that you would not get from a simple position report and it aggravates enough pilots that those who would be of interest to you may say nothing.

Work sample weight and balance problems for any airplane you fly—inadvertently loading an airplane out of the forward or aft CG limit is a mistake that you may only get to make once. The only four-place airplane of which I am aware that you cannot load out of its CG range without putting anvils on one of the seats (or more than 120 pounds in the baggage compartment) is the Cessna Cardinal. As with every airplane you can, however, overload it.

A turning propeller is invisible. Nonpilots are known to walk into them. So are pilots.

Use all the power available on takeoff. The engine was built for it and needs that extra bit of fuel provided at full throttle for cooling. A partial-power takeoff in a horizontally opposed engine is harder on the engine than using full power. It also slows acceleration and rate of climb, prolonging the period of time of high-temperature operation.

The small problem with your airplane that you have delayed fixing will become a major problem at the most remote airport on your trip.

Trying to argue with a controller over the radio is akin to shaking your fist at bad weather; you can't win and you run the risk of making things worse.

Lean-of-peak engine operations are the best way to run your fuel-injected engine. Those who haven't caught on yet may simply be unable to learn or just unwilling.

There is no need to say "with you" when contacting a new controller. It's redundant, uses up air time on increasingly crowded frequencies and most controllers are sick of hearing it.

The world looks different when flying very low and trying to maneuver radically down low. For instance, turning back after an engine failure on takeoff, when you haven't practiced it, has a distressingly high fatality rate.

While speed may be life to fighter pilots, that's only in combat. The reality is that appropriate speed is life: too little after takeoff kills, as does too much on landing. Extra speed on final is not your friend, because energy is a squared function. You've got enough energy to dissipate on landing when touching down near stall speed; anything faster is adding to your challenge. Use all the flaps on landing; they help dissipate that energy effectively.

A pilot who intentionally frightens a passenger is nothing short of a sadist. The victims often come away from the flight despising aviation and may well join the groups that seek to close airports.

Aircraft Ownership

There is a lot of junk for sale out there. Insist on lots of photos and copies of the logbooks before traveling to look at an airplane. Interpret resistance to such a basic request as the owner trying to hide something bad—walk away.

"Fresh Annual" and "Fresh Overhaul" are hooks for suckers. Nobody does a decent annual or overhaul and then sells the airplane. 

Have a prepurchase exam done by a mechanic who knows the aircraft type and that you select—not that the seller selects. Do not ever omit this step when buying an airplane.

Budget one quarter of the purchase price of a new-to-you airplane for repairs that you will have to make in the first year—more if you are planning any upgrades.

Buy insurance—there is no magic bullet to protect yourself from liability if you have an accident. Having the airplane owned by a corporation does not protect you from liability if you were the one flying it. The rule is simple: If you have a risk, insure the risk. You own an airplane. That’s a risk. Insure it.

Insure the airplane for its full value. Underinsuring it means that what is otherwise minor damage may mean that the cost of repairs is so close to the insured value that the airplane is effectively a “total loss” and you either get paid the insured value and have to give up the airplane or pay for the repairs out of your pocket.

Buy “smooth” coverage to get the full benefit of aircraft insurance. A “sublimits” policy—typically $1 million overall with $100,000 sublimits—only gives you $100,000 coverage for each individual hurt in an accident, not $1 million. Because you rarely carry more than two or three passengers, having a full $1 million available to settle lawsuits may mean the difference between a routine settlement and losing your house.

When it comes to the cost of maintaining an airplane, think of what it would cost to buy your airplane new, now. That is the airplane you are maintaining.

The Ugly Stuff: Crashes

Fuel tanks in a tank in front of the cabin or in wing leading edges are an invitation to post-crash fire.

Nylon and polyester clothing melts in the presence of intense heat and sticks to you, causing serious burns.

It's been said by so many because it's so true: Fly the airplane all the way into the crash. So long as it's moving, never give up trying to control the airplane and making it go where you want to go.

Shoulder harnesses have done more to reduce the degree of injuries in aircraft accidents than any other safety device. Not insisting that your passengers wear their shoulder harnesses may subject you to liability should you have an accident. Not wearing an available harness has proven terminally foolish for too many pilots. It may be possible to retrofit shoulder harnesses on an airplane you own. For example, shoulder harnesses can be retrofitted on all seats for all single-engine Cessna airplanes (and the Skymaster) back to the 1945 model year. The hard points were put in at the factory. Check our sister publication, Aviation Consumer, for more information.

Especially in a twin, if you have to put the airplane onto the ground, do it as nearly wings-level as possible and do not stall the airplane prior to touchdown. Airplanes, even old ones, are surprisingly crashworthy (if shoulder harnesses are worn) but not if you hit upside down or with a substantial vertical vector (as after stalling).

If you have to land the airplane gear up, do so on a hard-surface runway. If you screw up and stall, the runway will translate the force into a slide. On grass or dirt there is the chance the surface will compress slightly, forming a crater and then stop the airplane very quickly, injuring the occupants.

To the extent I have been able to chase accident records, there hasn't been anyone hurt in a gear-up landing of a civilian airplane since World War II—so long as the pilot did not try to "save the prop" by shutting down the engine(s). There have been a number of fatal accidents when pilots shut down the powerplant and proceeded to crash short of the runway or go off the end at high speed.

Going around if the approach isn't just right is never, ever an indication of incompetence unless, of course, you are about to run out of fuel.

There are Neanderthals in this world who will gather to critique landings and make snide remarks about pilots who go around. There have been accidents at flight schools and airports where this practice takes place because pilots pressed on and landed out of a bad approach because they knew they would be laughed at for going around. I’m hoping that there’s a special circle of hell for pilots who criticize other pilots for making a go-around.

Successfully managing energy in the process of coming to a stop is the key to any landing—or accident. Slow is always better than fast when it comes to surviving. Going off the end at 25 knots is better than crashing short of the runway at flying speed.

As old airplanes get more valuable, if you wreck a true classic or antique—especially when doing something dumb—don't be surprised when more sympathy is expressed for the loss of the aeronautical work of art than for you. After all, you may just be the product of unskilled labor.

Even the slowest airplane goes fast enough to kill you and thus the most modest trainer deserves the same operational respect as the Mach 2 fighter.

Pilots

A fairly effective way to spot low-time pilots at an aeronautical gathering is to look for the ones sporting shirts and hats covered with patches and wings. Another technique is to watch for the ones who start their aircraft engine at other than nearly idle RPM.

A pilot with any poetry in his or her soul knows that it is always appropriate to quietly thank the airplane for a flight after putting it away. In fact, some assert that those who do not do so may have no soul and should not be allowed in the sky.

The cliché is depressingly true: The chances of making a superb landing are inversely proportional to the number of people watching.

If a pilot has not practiced something, the accident reports make it clear that the chances that he or she can do that something in an emergency are lousy—be it scud run, turn back following an engine failure after takeoff or stop the prop and make a safe landing when the gear won't come down. A lot of people get killed each year trying to do something brand new when they have an emergency. So, go with what you know and have practiced, even if it means damaging the airplane. That's why insurance exists.

When in doubt about a clearance, ask. Even a snide remark from a controller (which happens to be extremely rare) is not nearly as embarrassing as a violation for deviating from a clearance or, worse yet, smacking into another airplane.

Pilots who have spent time in gliders and tailwheel airplanes tend to be much better stick and rudder pilots than those who have not. Significantly better.

Most pilots who make jokes about helicopters are secretly jealous and deep down wish they had the opportunity or money to fly them regularly.

If you do something moronic down low, such as buzz someone or something, don't be the least bit surprised if someone complains. With cellphone cameras and small video cameras, there's a good chance that when they do complain they'll also have the evidence to convict you. Remember, in the 1978 PSA San Diego midair, the 727 descended steeply, on fire, for fewer than 30 seconds. There are good-quality photographs of it. Nearly everyone carries a camera now.

Of Flight and Life

If you care about aviation, attend the local airport board meetings and try to become a member. Pilots are a tiny minority within the population and have to stay involved with the politics that affect airports and flight. Standing around and complaining doesn’t help—decisions about airports are made by the people who show up.

It is almost invariably worth it to get up very early so as to be the pilot in command of an aircraft taking off at sunrise. At the moment of liftoff the world transforms itself from black and white to full color. It is especially true in a balloon.

We are always ambassadors for aviation, for good or for evil, simply because there are so few of us. Our actions are watched and we are the source of comment, often when we least expect it or maybe even want it. Therefore we have no choice but to be a good example all the time.

The round rainbow around your airplane's shadow on a cloud is called a glory. The first time you see one the name will make eminent sense.

Pushing the prop to high RPM on downwind makes much more noise than you realize and pisses off far more people than you can imagine. And they are the ones who will vote to close your airport.

Spend as much time as possible on grass runways. They are good for the aviator's soul. If you can, take a walk on one (yes, avoid airplanes) and think about all of those who have come before you to use it as a place to reach into the sky. You might also consider it to be more than just a strip of grass, but as a place from which you can launch in the most modest of airplanes and proceed to go anywhere in the world. I'm not sure why, but a walk on a grass runway when it's not being used, perhaps of an evening, as a gentle breeze caresses your cheek, is one of the best ways to relieve stress of which I know.

No matter how modest, an airplane that lifts you into the sky is a real airplane; it doesn't get any more real than that; there are only differences in degree.

There is nothing more beautiful than this world when viewed from aloft.

This is my final regular feature for AVweb. Features are being taken over by Kate O’Connor. I wish her as much joy writing them as I have had.

Rick Durden is a CFII who holds an ATP with type ratings in the Douglas DC-3 and Cessna Citation and is the author of The Thinking Pilot’s Flight Manual or, How to Survive Flying Little Airplanes and Have a Ball Doing It, Vols. 1 & 2.

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