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Volume 26, Number 2a
January 7, 2019
 
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Shutdown Straining System
 
Russ Niles
 
 

As the government shutdown grinds on with no end in sight, calls from the aviation industry to restore funding are getting more strident and the system is starting to show some strain. Possibly the biggest concern is the furloughing of 3,000 “safety specialists,” who support air traffic control functions. Another concern is that virtually all engineering projects, including a new tower and TRACON in Charlotte, have halted because thousands of technical staff are furloughed. The system got through the holiday season and continues to run without any big technical glitches. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association released a video aimed at the general public explaining how important the behind-the-scenes staff are to the integrity of the system and calling for an immediate end to the shutdown. “The stakes are too high for the professional men and women who operate and oversee the safest, most efficient airspace system in the world to be subjected to a political dispute over government funding,” the video narration says.

Meanwhile, AOPA has compiled a roundup of the impacts of the shutdown on GA and it would appear pilot certification and qualification could be the biggest issue. AOPA says all flight standards district offices are closed but most checkrides will still be permitted as long as they don’t require prior authorization. However, written tests have been halted because they require the use of FAA computers and they’ve been turned off for the shutdown. No medical certifications will be issued by the FAA but aviation medical examiners can issue them to ensure medicals are maintained. Decisions on special issuances could be delayed, though. Customs and Border Protection agents are not working any overtime so pilots crossing the border should check with the port of entry they’re planning to use to ensure it will be open. Homebuilders who finish their airplanes can't get their special airworthiness certificates until the shutdown ends.

The shutdown has also affected one of the most common interfaces between GA and the general public. The FAA has said it lacks resources to investigate all the dozens of plane crashes that occur each day and it's causing some problems for local law enforcement. In Michigan, local authorities were told not to expect any investigation after a man died in a crash on an island in Lake Michigan. Near Saginaw, the local sheriff's department has spent a week guarding a crashed aircraft in a park in Chesaning to preserve the scene for FAA investigators. The FAA has already said it won't be doing the autopsy on the deceased pilot and have sent a "kit" and instructions to the local medical examiner to do the examination. The local sheriff has said that if the FAA doesn't show up soon, they'll pack up the scene the best they can and store the wreckage until they get there.

Herb Kelleher: An Industry Giant Passes
 
Myron Nelson
 
 

Herbert D. “Herb” Kelleher, the maverick and much beloved co-founder and Chairman Emeritus of Southwest Airlines, passed away on Thursday, Jan. 3. He was 87.

Herb was a young lawyer recently relocated from the East Coast to Texas when a client, Rollin King, approached him about helping him start a low-fare intra-Texas airline. The eventual airline, born after the conquest of a flurry of lawsuits attempting to stop them in their tracks, first flew June 18, 1971. Today, Southwest Airlines flies more than 4000 flights a day to 99 destinations in 11 countries with much more growth on the horizon. It is the largest U.S. domestic carrier in terms of daily passenger enplanements. In an industry famous for creating small fortunes from large ones, Southwest Airlines is arguably the most successful airline enterprise in global industry history. Equally as successful as the airline has been the long-term performance of its stock, LUV, one of the bluest of the blue chips.

The airline industry is famous for some of the larger than life personalities that it often attracts in its leadership ranks. In that small cadre of colorful “Conquistadores del cielo” (how airline titans refer to themselves during periodic fraternal gatherings), Herb had no equal. Call it charisma, chutzpah or balls, Herb could simply get away with antics and behavior that most stuffed suits would never even contemplate, and about which some surely rolled their eyes.

He could be the court jester or the biggest kid in the room. He could also be your worst nightmare if you were trying to impede his airline. He loved to laugh and get others laughing with him. Behind the disarming clown face facade, however, was a brilliant business mind, a savant-like memory for names and details, and a steely eyed and fierce negotiator. For a picture commemorating the signing of a hard-fought labor contract, Herb and the union negotiators all dressed up and posed as Mafioso, complete with machine guns. Get Herb started on airline business, taxation, regulation and so on and get ready to take notes because graduate school was about to start. He could be profoundly serious at one moment and prancing around in a silly hat the next.

Herb deeply understood business because he deeply understood people ... customers and employees alike. Out of the veritable encyclopedia of Herb stories—most of which are likely true—one of my personal favorites was when Herb “accidentally” left a cigarette lighter etched with the logo of Airbus Industries on the conference table at Boeing headquarters as a new aircraft purchase deal was being negotiated. Classic Herb.

The entire amazing package that was this man served to endear Herb to his employees and associates with near maniacal devotion and commitment.

Herb’s business plan was as elegant as it was simple, and it was sermonized continuously to all employees. Low costs equal low fares that equal steady profits. Steady profits fuel low debt, system growth and job security. Good times were not for feasting nor for the gouging of our customers, but were for preparing for the lean times that were always just around the corner. (The latter concept was not always warmly received by labor negotiators.)

During the heyday growth period of the 1980s and 1990s, Herb, armed with his industry-leading low costs per seat mile, could enter any market of his choosing and set the market price of airfares at a level that would assure profits for him and losses for his competitors. This gave birth to the term “Southwest Effect” that industry watchers and analysts started using as competitors painfully tried to match Herb’s fares.

Herb led his faithful employees like a general in battle, referring to employees as warriors and competitors as the enemy. There was always a battlefront somewhere. Several attempts to clone or copy Southwest’s winning formula came in with a bang and usually went out with a whimper. Without a doubt, billions of dollars have been saved by the traveling public on airfares as a result of the Southwest Effect.

At no time was the brilliance of Herb’s mantra more plainly proven in the field than during the horrific aftermath of 9/11 and its devastating impact on the airline industry. Southwest Airlines, by virtue of its low costs and low debt, was the only airline of its peer group to escape that dark period without furloughing employees or filing for bankruptcy to shed debt and pension obligations. Sometimes job security is never fully appreciated by employees until it is lost.

No discussion on the business life of Herb Kelleher would be complete without mention of his right-hand person, Colleen Barrett. Their professional relationship started when she was the young lawyer’s legal secretary and culminated with Colleen retiring as the president of Southwest Airlines. Together they were a one-two punch of mutual magnification. A duo far greater than just a sum of the parts. As long as Southwest Airlines exists, each of their respective DNA will be woven into its fabric. At Southwest Airlines, the scheduling of operations is done in Central Time. However, it is never internally referred to as Central Time; it is simply referred throughout the company as “Herb time.”

I first met Herb in 1991 as a new-hire pilot. Our class of 20, as were most when Herb’s schedule allowed, was privileged to be able to have a luncheon with Herb and Colleen. Our particular luncheon was unique in that one of the major news networks would be filming our meeting as part of a news special they were putting together on Herb. As the new employees, we weren’t quite sure what to expect, but even amidst the lights and cameras, Herb was simply Herb, even if the network editors would have some bleeping and editing to do afterwards.

He regaled us with stories and nuggets of wisdom until our bellies ached from laughter. After just a simple introduction in that new hire meet and greet, I had a purely happenstance encounter with Herb almost four years later in an elevator at the company headquarters. Not only did he remember my name, but he quoted verbatim a comment that I had made during the luncheon.

Many years later I got a personal note from him complimenting me on an article I had published. This from a guy who had to have met over 50,000 employees over his career. He had a magical way of making everyone in his presence feel special. Hundreds of thousands of employees and their family members have their livelihoods, fortunes and retirements built upon the creation of this incredible man.

That was Herb. There will never be an equal.

Myron Nelson is a Southwest Airlines Captain.

JP International - Video Library
A Bench Tour Of Aspen's New EFIS
 
Larry Anglisano
 
 

If you’re in the market for a retrofit primary EFIS, you’ll can expect entry-level, fly-away pricing for full-featured glass around $8000, and flagship systems well north of $35,000. That’s a big spread and Aspen Avionics hits both ends, and a few price points in between. To help sort out the tricky buying decision, Aviation Consumer magazine Editor Larry Anglisano put Aspen’s latest display line on the evaluation bench for a side-by-side product tour with Aspen Avionics’ Mike Studley.

China Launches Pilot Recruitment Drive
 
Russ Niles
 
 

In case there were any doubts that the pilot shortage is real, the South China Morning Post is reporting that China’s People’s Liberation Army has joined the rest of the aviation world and launched a pilot recruitment drive. The army has created a flashy promotional video aimed at 17- to 20-year-olds and 2019 high school graduates and focuses on its sexiest aircraft, the J-20 stealth fighter. Only a few of the selected candidates will get to fly the fifth-generation fighter but like armed forces all over the world, the PLA needs pilots for its whole fleet and, like its allies and adversaries, it’s offering incentives to fill its cockpits.

The recruitment effort covers 31 of the country’s 33 provinces and those who qualify will get full ride university educations while they train as pilots. Last year China took in 1,480 new pilot recruits, its largest new class ever, and it needs more. It’s cashing in on the economic boom it’s enjoyed for the past 20 years and developing potent new aircraft in all roles, adding hundreds of airframes every year. It’s particularly interested in countering the perceived threat from U.S. F-22s and F-35s, which are expected to number about 500 in total in the region by 2025.

Shutdown Scrubs Space Launch
 
Russ Niles
 
 

The government shutdown has reached beyond the national airspace system and postponed at least one space launch.  According to spacenews.com, Exos Aerospace intended to launch its SARGE suborbital rocket from Spaceport America in New Mexico on Saturday but pushed it back to Feb. 9 in hopes FAA staff will be back at work and able to process a change to its launch license. Exos wants to change the wind restrictions on its license to lessen the chances of a scrub during its launch windows. Scrubbing a flight is expensive because of the high volume of helium needed to pressurize the fuel tanks. It gets vented if the launch is cancelled on launch day.

SpaceX’s Jan. 8 launch of the last load of Iridium Next satellites is unaffected by the shutdown because all the paperwork is done but its first orbital launch of a Crew Dragon capsule could be affected. The unmanned test flight, which will send the capsule to the International Space Station, needs some help from NASA but the people who would support that launch are furloughed. It may also need changes to the launch license because the crew capsule is different from the cargo capsule it has launched repeatedly over the past few years. A pending launch of Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital vehicle could also be affected.

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Rolls-Royce Eyes Electric Speed Record
 
Russ Niles
 
 

Rolls-Royce is heading up the development of an aircraft that it says will set speed records for electric aircraft and further advance emission-free flight. The “Accelerating the Electrification of Flight” project (ACCEL) is taking shape in southern England and that shape looks a lot like the Nemesis NXT Relentless racing plane. Rolls-Royce is planning to exceed 300 MPH in the sleek low-wing to easily surpass Siemens existing record of 210 MPH. The flight is planned for 2020.

While the record is the nominal goal of the flight, there are some important technology advancements that are taking place in support of the speed project. Rolls-Royce says the aircraft will have the most energy-dense battery pack designed for an aircraft that will give the engine a 1,000 horsepower maximum output and a range of about 200 miles. It’s made up of 6,000 cells. The similarity to Relentless is driven by the same design factors that faced Kevin Eldredge in building a racing plane with a big heavy engine in a lightweight airframe. Although the batteries are as light as possible, they still weigh a lot and the weight and balance considerations dictate the long nose with a cockpit toward the aft. The British government is kicking in funding and U.K. firms YASA and Electroflight are also involved in the project.

Herbert Kelleher Dead At 87
 
Kate O'Connor
 
 

Co-founder of Southwest Airlines Herbert Kelleher passed away on Thursday at the age of 87. Kelleher incorporated the Air Southwest Company with businessman Rollin King in 1967 with the goal of creating an affordable airline service in Texas. The first Southwest flight took off in 1971 after several years of legal battles. Kelleher, who was known for his unique leadership style and employee-first approach to management, served as Southwest Airlines executive chairman from March 1978 to May 2008 and as president and CEO of the company from September 1981 to June 2001.

“His stamp on the airline industry cannot be overstated. His vision for making air travel affordable for all revolutionized the industry, and you can still see that transformation taking place today,” said Southwest CEO Gary Kelly. “But his legacy extends far beyond our industry and far beyond the world of entrepreneurship. His true impact can only be accurately measured by the hearts and minds of the people who he inspired, motivated and engaged on a daily basis.”

Kelleher was born in New Jersey in 1931. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan and a law degree from New York University. Before founding Southwest, he relocated to Texas. Kelleher was recognized for his leadership and influence on the aviation industry throughout his career, including being inducted into the U. S. Chamber Business Leadership Hall of Fame and National Aviation Hall of Fame, named CEO of the Year and one of history’s top three CEOs by Chief Executive magazine, and awarded the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy.

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Top Letters And Comments, January 4, 2019
 
 

Archaic Flight Procedures

I learned to fly in the 70s and have been flying my own airplane since then. At that time, I didn't think the private pilot flight training was overly difficult. Over the past 40 years since getting my license I have been upgrading the equipment in my plane primarily to make flight planning and execution simpler and more efficient. As part of the upgrades, I installed a Loran in the 80s and after that transitioned to a variety of more capable GPSs. Now I find that much of the equipment and training that I received in the 70s isn’t valuable and often more complicated than it needs to be.

My primary area of concern deals with Magnetic Heading/Compass equipment and Altimeter/pressure sensing equipment. Equipment for both of these would no longer be needed if we transitioned to True North Headings and GPS derived altitudes. While there may be some value in knowing how to use the associated equipment, flying would be much easier to learn and accomplish if we transitioned to the use of even simple GPS equipment.

This would accomplish several improvements. We no longer would have to make the many corrections in determining headings using the relatively inaccurate compass, corrections for flight track when experiencing cross winds, calculating corrections in headings on long flights due to magnetic variation, and periodic remarking of runway numbers and VOR adjustments as magnetic poles change and adjustments when local magnetic variation is inaccurate in some areas. I can see no reason, from a pilot's perspective, for continuing to use compass and magnetic headings in my flying. In addition, I would be happy to dispose of my Compass, Directional Gyro, and unreliable vacuum pump. This would reduce cost, improve equipment reliability and safety of flight.

The other major irritant is our continuing to rely on pressure instruments to determine altitude. The fact that I have to rely on an external source for the barometric pressure and often find that this info is not correct for the area where I am flying makes any altitude reading incorrect. I have often found that the altimeter reading is as much as 500 ft off from my GPS altitude even after getting a current baro. pressure reading from ATC. This fact is not only dangerous when flying in mountainous areas but also when flying in the pattern or flying when air temps vary widely.

I recently added ADS-B out and in equipment and find that the unit puts out a signal which includes the inaccurate pressure derived altitudes but also the GPS altitude. This to me makes absolutely no sense. The aviation world would be much better served if we only used one altitude which can be derived more simply and more accurately using a WAAS enabled GPS. Personally, I would be happy to ditch both my Altimeter and Vertical Speed Indicator. For new airplanes, this would save more money than the cost of one or two simple GPS's.

Now I know this would require several changes in International rules and equipment and there would be some upfront cost in making these changes, but I don't think anyone could make the argument these changes would not only increase safety, decrease equipment costs, and simplify training.

Vern Schulze

When IFR Changed In A New York Minute

Cut the poetic reporting! We want aviation reporting not some "flower child" approach to AvWeb.

Bill

Interesting. I vaguely remember that crash. That was in my freshman high school days. In those days, NYC was so far away from our little city north of Boston. The local Boston TV news covered the incident as did the newspapers. How times have changed. Prior to that incident, Northeast Airlines ran DC3s into our city airport (Lawrence, KLWM). I remember them flying over our house heading to the airport. In summer, dad would take me and my sister to the airport for ice cream and to watch the airplanes land. That is where I caught the aviation disease. Your article brought those memories from the dark depths of my pea sized brain. How aviation has changed. Yet, as you mention, the human element, whether in ATC, the cockpit, maintenance shop, design offices or manufacturing floor, are the key ingredient of a very bad situation.

Leo LeBoeuf

Didn't appreciate the snarky tone of Paul Berge's article about the TWA/United crash over Staten Island.

John Cowan

Airline Blames Pilot Shortage For Cancellations

I read the article on your daily AVweb newsletter this morning and was underwhelmed by the problem you reported: "Airline Cancels All Flights, Blames Pilot Shortage." There's no "Pilot Shortage," there's just a shortage of pilots who will work for peanuts. This California "fledgling airline" needs to add money to their wage scale if it wants to attract qualified, competent, and willing pilots to join its unproven, zero track record venture. Meanwhile, the headline is just another great lie in the "fake news" cycle.

John

I wonder what they are paying their pilots. With fares at $100 how can an airline flying jets afford to pay flight crews and ground crews and still make a profit to stay in business? Cheap fares for a startup airline just don't work, especially now that pilot salaries are rising to the level they should have been all along. My guess along with low salaries the other issue is that their training dept is not up to training enough pilots to keep up with the airline's schedules. That is a management problem, not a pilot shortage!

Matthew Wagner

Bernoulli Effect

How airplanes fly seem to this student pilot of small airplanes and sailor of boats to be a collection of "force differentials" converted, directed and channeled into forward and upward motion. I think about the basic properties of Physics working in concert giving the airplane the ability to overcome gravity:

  • Force = Mass X Velocity SQUARED
  • The wedge is a force multiplier (the wedge shape is a two-sided ramp - or two lever arms - which may even "cube" the force equation)
  • Gasses act like liquids and an object (hot air balloon) "floating" in a gas act like an object (like a fishing bobber) floating in water
  • Air has weight (0.0807 lbs. per cubic foot at sea level) therefore mass
  • Air can be compressed to a liquid state easily

Thinking about the "wing" shape in a slightly different way we can see the cross section of the wing is a highly specialized "wedge" shape. Push this wedge shape thru air and "force" is generated in an exponential way. The wedge at high speed can generate a tremendous force!

Because air has mass and weight, the hollow spaces of the airplane while standing on the ramp, has the same weight inside as outside. As soon as the airplane gains velocity the weight of the outside air is greater than inside and this differential increases (possibly exponentially) as feet per second increases. This then makes the aircraft (wings AND fuselage) "lighter-than-air" relative to the compressed air outside the surface of the aircraft. A portion of the force for flying is very much like that fishing bobber floating in the pond. This is also the idea of "displacement hulls" for ships and boats; the hull displaces more "weight of water" then the vessel actually weighs.

The outside air rushing past the wings and fuselage is also compressed to a liquid state and with careful control the airplane can "ride" up this nearly hard surface. Think about "surface tension" of water; insects can walk across water; a speed boat lifts out of the water to ride up out of the water on a very small section of its planning hull. (Note too that speedboat hulls are wedge-shaped)

So now we have all this "force." Now what? Because velocity is the critical part of force and we want to move downrange somewhere, velocity and going places fast go hand-and-hand. We only need to direct, control and channel some of the force into the "vertical component" which can be called "lift!" The Bernoulli Effect is convenient because the lower pressure on top of the wing plays into the direction we want to go: up! The airplane "falls up" into the lower pressure zone relative to the higher pressure under the wings. Ailerons, elevator and rudder direct forces for attitude control.

I don't have time to do the math as my CFI wants his car washed and then I have to pick up his lunch. But I can prove my theory; fly your airplane to at least 5,000 AGL; then bring forward velocity to a stop. Yep. Speed is everything.

Frank Kalinski

Picture of the Week, January 3, 2019
 
 
A selfie, captured just north of my home base of Montgomery County Airport (KMGJ), in New York's Hudson Valley. The sun's low position at this time of year facilitates positioning my shadow on the wing of the Liberty XL2; another plus is the huge amount of fenestration on this plane. Serial trials, over a period of days, taught several lessons: remove the headset, take off the sunglasses, wear a low collar or there will be no visible neck and look straight ahead and not at the wing and shadow. Note the shoulder harness, bow of carbon fiber which supports the rear of the windshield, shadow of the instrument panel and curve of a portion of the windscreen. Oh - and sporting a big nose helps... Taken with a Canon G10. Copyrighted photo by Daniel Spitzer.

See all submissions

Short Final: Phraseology
 

Here is a text message exchange between a pilot and his wife on Facebook. It’s always better at home when your flying spouse knows proper ATC phraseology.

Husband: “On the train. Arrive 16:51.”

Wife: “Rog. Report Sevenoaks.”

Husband: “Wilco.”

John Templeton
Washington, UT
Brainteasers Quiz #250: Still Teasing After All These Years
 

This 250th Brainteaser Quiz builds on a legacy of over 2500 questions -- some, admittedly, with questionable answers -- and asks not what the quiz can tease for you, but what you can do to ace this quiz.

Click here to take the quiz.

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