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Volume 25, Number 29b
July 18, 2018
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Chinook Crew Completes Dramatic Rescue
Mary Grady

The crew of a CH-47F Chinook helicopter used an unusual maneuver—sitting the tail of their aircraft on the mountain for several minutes, while still flying, with the nose in the air—to successfully rescue a Texas man from the slope of Mount Hood, in Oregon, last week. The rescue site, near the top of the 11,249-foot mountain, was covered in snow and ice. The maneuver, known as a “pinnacle landing,” is familiar to military crews but rarely seen in civilian operations. The pilot, Donald Ford, with the Oregon National Guard, told local KOIN-6 news the rescue worked thanks to “old-fashioned stick and rudder skills, just flying the aircraft.” 

Ford said he first tried to attempt a landing on the summit, but was unable to. “The summit is so narrow, it’s actually narrower than the width of the aircraft,” he said. He then had to depend on the crew to help maneuver the aircraft, since he couldn’t see the mountain from the cockpit. As he hand-flew the helicopter, “They were calling me in, telling me to move the aircraft left or right, one or two feet,” he said. “I’m not moving the aircraft until they tell me, and they give me directions.” Mount Hood, with easy highway access from the urban Portland region, is one of the most-climbed mountains in the world. The 27-year-old man who was rescued reportedly had taken drugs on the mountain in a suicide attempt, but then changed his mind and called for help.

JP Instruments 'Primary JPI EDM 930'
Delta Expands Pilot Pipeline
Mary Grady

With an expectation to hire 8,000 pilots over the next 10 years, Delta this week announced it has developed new career-path options to help ensure it has plenty of applicants for those jobs. “Delta conducted several years of research to create a pilot outreach and pathway program that will inspire and attract the next generations of high-quality talent,” said Steve Dickson, Delta’s vice president for flight operations. “We listened to feedback from students, parents, faculty, administrators and Delta employees to help overcome barriers for potential pilot candidates, such as career-path uncertainty and the CFI shortage.” The new Propel program will provide a defined, accelerated career path for future pilots, Dickson said. The program comprises a college path, a company path and a community outreach effort to identify and support aspiring pilots in kindergarten through high school.

The college path will partner with eight universities that offer aviation programs. Select candidates will be provided a “qualified job offer,” providing a defined career path, an accelerated timeline and a Delta pilot mentor. Candidates can choose from several paths, including flying for a Delta Connection carrier, a job-share flying for Delta Private Jets and instructing at an aviation college, or flying military aircraft in the Air National Guard or Reserves. The company path will provide current Delta employees with a career transition opportunity and support if they choose to pursue a pilot career. Both programs will begin to accept applications in August. For community outreach, the company plans to work with a variety of aviation organizations and reach out to students with scholarships, engagement and mentoring. Delta said it is still exploring options for helping prospective pilots to finance their training. More details can be found at Delta’s website.

To Go, or Maybe Not to Go
Rose Marie Kern

In this world where cell phones can perform more functions than the computer of only a few decades past, many pilots prefer to brief themselves. Doing so when the weather is good is easy—when the online aviation weather options show a dry, high pressure system with no indication of turbulence or other adverse weather advisory. But what about when the weather turns dicey?

Discerning Forecasts

What about when satellite and radar both show obscuration, and temperatures are indicating freezing levels at your aircraft’s favored altitudes. Or in the summer time, the clear skies of morning suddenly produce billowy cotton clouds, which shoot upwards as though they are spewing from a can of Redi-whip.

Paying close attention to changes in weather should begin at least 24 hours before the flight. It’s also the time when Flight Service is a good option for helping with a go–no go decision.

Flight Service specialists spend their entire working day looking at weather and other factors related to flight—both nationwide and more specifically in their individual areas of responsibility. When your call comes in, they’ve been talking to other pilots, many of whom could just have flown in the skies you want to transit.

The Abbreviated Briefing

This is a situation where requesting an abbreviated briefing may be more helpful and take significantly less time than going through the entire standard briefing. If a standard briefing is requested the briefer must adhere to the FAA’s required format and ensure that every item is covered.

The other option starts with a pilot specifically stating they want an abbreviated briefing. The briefer then asks the pilot what specifically is needed and will ask questions they need to fulfill the request.

A standard briefing requires the briefer to go over the adverse conditions, TFRs, overall weather synopsis, current and forecast weather, winds aloft and NOTAMS for the entire route. In other words you are getting the whole big picture.

What if your only concerns are the conditions at the destination? Asking for an abbreviated briefing for specific items allows you to only get the current and forecast weather and NOTAMs at that location—cutting out the parts you’ve already gleaned from scanning the online sites.

Another use for an abbreviated briefing is winds aloft. It may be awkward to get that data from some online sites, but a briefer can check a range of altitudes en route easily. Scanning the altitudes/locations, the briefer can tell where along the route the winds can be more favorable, and they can offer suggestions for when an altitude change might be preferable.

Abbreviated briefings can focus on information about a specific location—such as required routing or procedures around the Grand Canyon or through the New York City area.

Some pilots call to ask for density altitude or lifted index information. You can ask for STMP data—special procedures related to air shows or large public events. One of the most popular abbreviated briefing requests is simply TFRs related to presidential movement.

A standard briefing is comprehensive, but it does not include everything a pilot may want. For instance you get the current NOTAMs, but they don’t give you published NOTAMs or the status of military training routes or restricted areas unless you ask for them. Briefers have access to this information though it will take them a bit longer.

Adverse Conditions

If you ask for the abbreviated briefing, the briefer must always provide any adverse conditions in areas you tell them you plan to transit. The current definition of adverse conditions is: Weather Advisories, TFRs and air-port/runway closures at the departure and destination locations.

You can circumvent that if you wish by stating (for the recording) that you already have the adverse conditions en route before asking your specific question.


If you’re aware that there’s icing in the forecast, you may be specifically looking for related PIREPs. The humble PIREP is one of the best resources—when pilots take the time to give them. Now that pilots can enter PIREP data directly into the NWS database through onboard instrumentation they are encouraged to supplement the NWS information with direct observations several times per flight if possible, especially when weather is in their area.

Flight Service keeps an eye on the PIREPs—many times the specialists who have taken a PIREP from a pilot while working the radios will turn around and verbally inform the briefers in their area as soon as urgent weather information is received—severe turbulence and mountain waves, storms or icing. Having heard the in-formation, the briefers keep a higher awareness of what is happening and-can be communicated to other pilots as they call.

More General information

In Flight Service terminology, “abbreviated briefing” also covers situations where pilots may want to know information that is not directly related to a specific flight. For instance, in the days after 9/11 when every aircraft was grounded, pilots called the only phone number they had that linked directly to an FAA facility—the Flight Service Briefing line. Most of them only asked one thing: “When can I take off?” Every one of those calls was counted as an abbreviated briefing.

Briefers take calls from pilots who want more information on how to file ICAO flight plans, where to find information on crossing into the SFR A around Washington, D.C., and who should they call to have a NOTAM issued. They ask briefers where to call in UFO sightings and how they can find historical weather or NOTAM information.

In situations where having a second opinion as to whether you should fly or stay on the ground, call the guys with the most current information and ask for an abbreviated briefing.

Rose Marie Kern worked in ATC and Flight Service for over 34 years. For questions on these topics check her web-site:

This article originally appeared in the February 2018 issue of IFR Refresher magazine.

For more great content like this, subscribe to IFR Refresher!

Aviation's Electric Future
Paul Bertorelli

For today’s blog, I was about to write that hardly a week goes by that we don’t report on some new electric aircraft initiative. Then I was suddenly seized by the impulse to, you know, actually check to see if that statement is correct.

As is so often true of generalities, it’s not correct. Actually, we publish something on electric aircraft about every three days. During the preceding 30 days, nine of the 72 news stories we’ve published had to do with drones or electric aircraft. That’s more than 12 percent and it’s closer to 15 percent if you include all the related drone stories that aren’t specifically about electric aircraft.

Our reporting has revealed that some big players are getting involved in electric aviation—Boeing, Airbus, General Electric, Siemens, to name a few. This, coupled with the sheer volume of stories, understandably gives the impression that critical mass is upon us and viable electric aircraft will arrive “sooner than you think” as the converted acolytes like to say. I’ll leave it to you to decide if sooner is next year or the next decade or just sooner than later.

For this blog, I’ll offer this: All this coverage portends the leading edge of a revolution in flight, the dimensions are which aren’t discernible at the moment. Based on conversations with and emails from readers, I’m convinced that many are too bogged down in doubts about battery capacity and unnatural fears of drone swarming to understand the shape shifting that’s on the aviation horizon due to a fundamental leap in the ease of learning to fly. Never mind rules and regulations, aeronautical decision making, airspace, cost, or the rest of it, just how the barriers to learn to levitate off the surface are, potentially, about to be knocked down.

Take a look at this video. I’ll wait. The takeaway is this. When the guy is throwing water balloons, bricks and radios at the drone, what’s the operator doing? Nothing. Thanks to GPS-augmented flight stability, it just occupies the same point in space, returning to that point if disturbed. No operator input required in the same way I can park my DJI Phantom at 50 feet while I fish around for batteries for the camera.

If you question if this is scalable, here’s your answer. This appeared in our news feed last week. To be sure, it’s overhyped as a flying car, a concept the industry and the media just can’t seem to let go of and this particular iteration of it may be a dead end. Its endurance and range are too limited to be of much practical use, but that misses the point. The technological underpinnings are conceptually identical to the small drones: stabilized autoflight that the pilot merely displaces to go where he wants to go. One lever for throttle, one for lateral movement or the like. I don’t know specifically how the BlackFly is configured, but that's got to be close. It’s not that it has envelope protection as an option, but that it’s based on envelope protection.

So can anyone fly such a thing? Probably not, but vastly more people can fly it than can or would be willing to master a fixed-wing airplane or conventional helicopter. This particular aircraft is intended as an ultralight, so no certificate or medical required. The ultralight weight limit stunts payload and thus capability and appeal so, at least for the BlackFly, this is likely to limit it to the FAR 103-intended recreational use.

Advancing battery technology will improve endurance, but the commercial viability of such a thing lies in the nexus between price and perceived value. Will enough buyers materialize to spend, say, $150,000, for a novelty vehicle to hop out of their (rural) yard and spin around the fields and pastures to constitute a viable business? No one can answer this yet, although we know precious few are willing to spend that much for a light sport airplane, requiring as it does a certificate, an airport, probably a hangar and significant training. It matters not a whit if the BlackFly itself represents the breakthrough; the technology that animates it already does. There will be others of its ilk. The BlackFly, by the way, is scheduled to appear at AirVenture.

Our flood of electric aircraft coverage has revealed another trend: a necessary impatience with the glacial pace of battery improvement. Although the urban mobility crowd, spearheaded by Uber Elevate, is clinging to pure electric designs, we’re seeing more hybrid proposals, which I see as an open admission that electric propulsion, for all its benefits, isn’t keeping up with what designers imagine to be the use cases. But even at that, hybrids have their limits, too. The SureFly VTOL, which will also be at AirVenture, is a hybrid, but with only a 400-pound useful load and a 70-mile range. As range extension goes, that doesn’t leave me gasping for breath.

And just at Farnborough this week, Rolls-Royce revealed its design for a six-propulsor electric hybrid with a 435-mile range and payload for four or five passengers. It uses a turbine engine to drive a generator with batteries for surge power needed at takeoff. Rolls says it will fly in the early 2020s. If their numbers are realistic, that strikes me as intercity urban mobility sort of range, provided the noise the thing makes doesn’t crump the idea before it gets off the ground. Rolls says its using low noise technology of some kind and that will be a must.

So will demonstrating to regulators that a single motor/prop failure is remote enough not to require exceptional mitigation. But why wouldn’t this be doable? Thousands of single-rotor helicopters have been certified and although a helo can autorotate, the rotor has to actually be there to do it. Rare is the accident when the rotor spins off into space. Why should it be any different with rotors powered by electricity? Or that are smaller?

As we prep for the trek to AirVenture, 2018 marks the first year when there’s likely to be significant numbers of electric aircraft on display, based on what we've heard so far. While these are still in the demo phase, with the exception of Pipistrel’s Alpha Electro, it’s shortsighted to believe that will always be the case. If it were, we would still be traveling cross country looking up the buttholes of oxen.

At Farnborough: Aston Martin VTOL, GE Open Cockpit
Mary Grady

Aston Martin unveiled a luxury VTOL concept this week at the Farnborough International Air Show in Great Britain. The Volante Vision is designed to seat three adults and to be completely autonomous, powered by a hybrid-electric engine. The company partnered with Cranfield University and Rolls-Royce to develop the design. “Vertical mobility is no longer a fantasy,” said Marek Reichman, Aston Martin’s chief creative officer. “We have a unique chance to create a luxury concept aircraft that will represent the ultimate fusion of art and technology.” No plans for further development or production of the aircraft were announced. Also at the show, GE introduced a demonstrator for its open-systems flight deck, now in development.

"Our customers tell us that they have major frustrations with the inflexibility and high cost of change in some avionics systems," said Alan Caslavka, president of avionics for GE Aviation. "We aim to give our customers the tools to control the configuration of their own systems, avoiding vendor lock and creating a lower-cost route to innovation." In a news release, GE said there is “significant opportunity … [for] operational improvements” in avionics systems. The company is currently working to develop the underlying software and hardware platform, as well as the enabling infrastructure, to provide customers with the ability to customize the look and feel of their flight decks. GE is working with several other companies and academic institutes to develop the technology.

Terrafugia Updates Transition
Kate O'Connor

Flying car company Terrafugia has announced that its Transition will be getting some new features and upgrades prior to the scheduled arrival of the first production vehicles next year. The updates involve some significant alterations, including the addition of a hybrid-electric motor for use when the roadable aircraft is in drive mode. The motor uses a lithium iron phosphate battery, which according to the company is “much safer than other lithium battery chemistries.”

Terrafugia also announced that Dynon will be providing an electronic flight information system and BRS a full airframe parachute for the Transition. “Developing this new technology has allowed us to test several different mechanisms and generate process improvements along the way,” said Terrafugia CEO Chris Jaran. “We are at the critical point where we can implement the best design features based on years of flight and drive testing.” Other updates include an inflight power boost feature, remodeled interior, more cargo space, improved seat belts, airbags and three rearview cameras.

Terrafugia plans to certify the two-seat Transition as a light sport aircraft and has already received takeoff weight and stall speed exemptions from the FAA to that effect. In the air, it cruises at 100 MPH, has a range of 400 miles and a useful load of 500 pounds. Maximum takeoff weight for the aircraft is 1,800 pounds and the stall speed is 54 knots. The Transition has also been built to comply with National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration standards. As shown in the video below, the Transition first flew at AirVenture 2013. It will be on display at Oshkosh again this year.

Healthy Pilot #13 – Keeping Your Ticker Ticking
Tim Cole

The BasicMed checklist we’ve been reviewing in the Healthy Pilot series ticks the usual boxes—dizziness, sensitive gut, cancer, kidney stones and more. They’re all there, even depression and mental acuity.

But the central player in your personal health history is your heart. It unfailingly pumps oxygenated blood out to the extremities, distributes nutrients to the cells, infuses the brain and recycles blood to the lungs where it drops off waste gas and picks up more oxygen—all in one smooth cycle.

As we reach a certain age, three elements become critical to the uninterrupted functioning of your heart—cholesterol management, blood pressure management and heart rhythm management. There are a lot of other things that can go south when it comes to your heart—sticky valves, bulging soft spots in the plumbing or disturbing enlargements that hinder efficiency.

But, for a pilot with no prior or family history of heart trouble, cholesterol, blood pressure and rhythm require a bit of attention as we advance in age and wish to maintain that lofty perch in the left seat.

Your Heart in Focus

Once again we’ve turned to our friends at sister site University Health News to glean a bit of insight into your heart health’s Big Three. We begin with a quick take on cholesterol—what it is and what it isn’t. Cholesterol is not a “fat” in the strictest sense. Our bodies manufacture it to deliver energy to the cells. It’s also present in the foods we eat. But too much cholesterol, particularly the bad kind, can lead to coronary artery disease and, potentially, heart attack.

There are three types of cholesterol—LDL, or low-density lipoprotein; HDL, or high-density lipoprotein; and triglycerides, the main constituent of body fat. LDL cholesterol is vital in keeping our cells functioning, but too much of it can accumulate in the interior walls of our vascular system. HDL is also called “good” cholesterol because it helps scavenge LDL cholesterol so it can be removed as waste. Triglycerides store unused calories in the form of fat and contribute to the main problem caused by the accumulation of cholesterol—atherosclerosis.

Cholesterol and triglycerides set up the classic “clogged arteries” we’re all trying to forestall. When cholesterol accumulates, it forms a fibrous cap. When the fibrous cap breaks, the sudden release of cholesterol creates a clot of blood cells that stops blood flow and damages heart muscle.

To assess your cholesterol level, your doctor will order blood drawn and sent out to the lab, where your “lipid panel” will be evaluated. Total cholesterol and triglyceride levels will be checked. You’ll want a low LDL and a high HDL. Based on risks such as family history and cholesterol value, a medication called a statin might be ordered, which can be very effective in lowering cholesterol. Medications are also available for people with extremely high cholesterol levels, often brought on by a condition called “familial hyperlipidemia.” If that’s the case, ask your doctor about the new class of medications called PCSK9 inhibitors.


You’ve Got Rhythm

Your heart is a pump, and your vascular system transports fluid out to your extremities through a system of pipes and valves. The pump is powered by electric pulses that contract the heart muscle at a prescribed rate—more when you are exerting yourself, less at rest. Your heart delivers these electrical pulses through a collection of cells called the sinus node, which are located in the upper wall of the right atrium.

If you experience sinus node disruption or dysfunction, you can develop what’s known as an arrhythmia. Worse case, a severe problem with your heart’s sinus node can lead to cardiac arrest. Warning signs include shortness of breath, palpitations or lightheadedness.  Arrhythmias can also lead to a common condition called atrial fibrillation, where the heart quivers instead of pumps. This can lead to blood pooling, which can lead to clots and, potentially, a stroke.


Blood thinners are the normally prescribed drug for a heart arrhythmia. Warfarin (Coumadin) was the standard for many years, but there is a new class of blood thinners (Pradaxa, Eliquis) that offer easier management.

Serious instances of arrhythmia might be managed through a procedure called sinode ablation, where a probe—infrared, cryo or laser—is inserted in the heart muscle via the femoral artery and zaps the sinus node into a regular rhythm.

Blood Pressure – The Silent Killer

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can cause a cascade of maladies that include stroke, aneurysm, heart failure—even sexual dysfunction. It’s called the silent killer because there are no real symptoms of high blood pressure, and if left untreated, can lead to early, permanent heart problems.

The easiest way to contend with this near universal consequence of aging is early detection and adoption of antihypertensive medications. The threshold of what constitutes high blood pressure has just been lowered to 135/80 from 140/90. The first number is systolic pressure and is a measurement of the pressure inside your heart when your heart beats. The second number is called diastolic pressure and it measures pressure between beats. The lower threshold for hypertension means that millions more people will be classified as having high blood pressure, and will therefore be treated earlier.  


The key to managing blood pressure is continual monitoring—at the doctor’s office, but many physicians now recommend a home monitoring unit that lets you track your blood pressure daily or weekly. If your blood pressure is elevated, your doctor will prescribe any of a number of antihypertensive medications to meet your personal circumstances.

Increasingly, people with high blood pressure are turning to lifestyle changes or natural blood pressure lowering regimens. Losing weight always improves blood pressure values. So does a plant-based diet and exercise. Doctors recommend at lest 150 minutes of cardio exercise weekly, but if you can’t fit that in, any kind of exercise is better than none.

That’s it. Your heart health will take a turn for the better if you concentrate on the Big Three to lower heart disease risk.

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Rolls-Royce Reveals Hybrid VTOL
Mary Grady

At the Farnborough International Air Show, which opened Monday in Great Britain, Rolls-Royce revealed a hybrid VTOL concept that could carry four to five passengers at speeds up to 217 knots with a range up to 435 NM. The design should be flying by the “early 2020s,” the company said in a news release. The concept vehicle uses gas-turbine technology to generate electricity to power six electric propulsors, the company said, which are specially designed to have a low noise profile. It also has a battery for energy storage. It would never need recharging, since the battery is charged by the gas turbine, so it wouldn’t require any special infrastructure. The wings rotate 90 degrees, allowing for vertical takeoffs and landings.

The design could be adapted for personal transport, public transport or military applications and is based upon technologies that already exist or are currently under development, according to Rolls-Royce. “Electrification is an exciting and inescapable trend across industrial technology markets and while the move to more electric propulsion will be gradual for us, it will ultimately be a revolution,” said Rob Watson, who heads up Rolls-Royce’s team working on the project. “Building on our existing expertise in electric technologies and aviation, Rolls-Royce is actively exploring a range of possible markets and applications for electric and hybrid-electric flight. We are well placed to play a leading role in the emerging world of personal air mobility and will also look to work in collaboration with a range of partners.”

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Quest Kodiak 100 Flight Trial
Larry Anglisano

With its second-gen Series II Kodiak 100, Quest Aircraft reaches higher into the upscale turbine market. For 2018, the Kodiak has a more refined interior, upgraded Garmin avionics, plus an option for Aerocet two-piece carbon water floats. The company is also expanding its dealer support network, catering to Part 135 charter ops with specialty missions. In this video, Aviation Consumer Editor Larry Anglisano takes a close look at the new Kodiak 100 with Mark Brown, Kodiak's chief demo pilot. Filmed along the Connecticut River in Eastern Connecticut.


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