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Jet Blue has launched an ab initio training program that it hopes will help to diversify its hiring pool and also give the company control over a pilot's training from start to finish. The four-year program, which has been in the works since last year, is now accepting online applicants, at a cost of $125,000. "We are currently exploring multiple options for financial assistance," the company said, "to help alleviate monetary barriers." The ideal applicant, the company says, would already have a college degree, but no previous flight experience is required. Applicants will undergo a range of tests and assessments, and 24 will be offered a slot in the program. They will be trained in a series of small groups, with the first group expected to begin training late this summer. Graduates are guaranteed a job with JetBlue.

JetBlue said it will partner with CAE to help deliver the curriculum. Students will begin with four weeks of training with JetBlue in Orlando, then continue at CAE's flight academy in Phoenix for 30 weeks, to complete their private pilot training. They will return to JetBlue to train in the Embraer 190 and earn their ATP. After another 12 weeks in Phoenix, trainees will earn their CFI, then work at CAE as salaried instructors until they log 1,500 hours. Once all requirements are met, the trainee will become a new hire at JetBlue, and join a six-week orientation class to become an E190 first officer. "We believe this is going to be an important part of how airlines are going to create pilots in the future," CAE President Nick Leontidis told The Associated Press. The pilots union for JetBlue does not support the plan, saying JetBlue should instead hire pilots working at regional airlines, who currently get passed over. The program is the first of its kind for a U.S. airline. Similar programs overseas generally are free for the applicants.

The application portal is now online. Applicants can submit an application, then are given information about completing application essays. If they are then invited to complete the assessment, a $200 fee is required. Applicants must then obtain a first-class FAA medical certificate to qualify for an on-site interview.

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The future role of Textron Airland's Scorpion trainer/light attack jet is in question now that the Air Force is saying the bid requirements for its new jet trainer are firm. A few years ago, Textron, in partnership with Airland Enterprises, secretly developed a small twin-engine military aircraft that has been touted as an affordable front-line attack aircraft and a modern, low-cost trainer. It now appears the Air Force wants a much more capable training platform and Textron Airland has all but withdrawn from the competition for 350 new trainers. The Air Force is still using the T-38 Talon as its primary jet trainer and the oldest aircraft are more than 50 years old. The Air Force wants airplanes that will train pilots for fifth-generation fighters like the F-35 and F-22 and Textron Airland admits those requirements are out of the Scorpion's league. "We can't. We don't have an aircraft right now that would compete," Textron Airland President Bill Anderson told Defense News in February. At that time, the company was hoping the Air Force would change its requirements but Defense News reported Monday that the program, known as the T-X, was set and would require a sophisticated and powerful platform.

Among the requirements are a high sustained G load and the type of handling and performance that dictate an expensive fly-by-wire control system. Raytheon is partnering with Finmeccanica and CAE to offer the T-100 and Lockheed Martin will bid with the T-50A in cooperation with Korea Aerospace Industries. Boeing and Saab are teaming up and Northrop Grumman is heading up a consortium that includes BAE Systems and L2 for clean-sheet designs. The first aircraft aren't expected for almost a decade and the T-38 will soldier on until then. Some of the airframes will be 70 years old by the time they're retired. Meanwhile, Textron Airland says there are other markets for the Scorpion as a trainer and as a light attack aircraft but it hasn't found a launch customer yet.

Hartzell's popular five-blade carbon-fiber composite propeller now is available for Piper's Meridian and M500 single-engine pressurized turboprops, the companies announced this week. "Hartzell's new Meridian composite prop boosts climb rate while decreasing noise," said Hartzell President Joe Brown. The blades are certified for unlimited life and are 5 to 10 times stronger than wood core blades, according to the company. They feature a stainless steel shank, nickel cobalt leading edge and mesh erosion screen for FOD protection. The prop is 15 pounds lighter than the current factory-installed aluminum four-blade propeller.

The propeller, first introduced in 2013, is also available on Socata's TBM turboprop and the Pilatus PC-12. The prop's performance is driven by both the aerodynamic design and the high-strength materials, the company says. "Hartzell's five-blade propellers provide lower in-flight vibration," according to the company. "Through optimized aerodynamic design, the low-end performance is coupled with improved cruise performance. The larger surface area and blockage effect of five-blade propellers provide quicker descents resulting in smoother touchdowns with less float."

DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, said last week it will develop a new X-Plane to pursue "radical improvements" in aircraft that can take off and land vertically, then shift to horizontal flight mode and reach speeds up to 400 knots. "The design envisions an aircraft that could fly fast and far, hover when needed, and accomplish diverse missions without the need for prepared landing areas," DARPA said. The autonomous aircraft will be developed by Aurora Flight Sciences, based in Manassas, Virginia. First flight tests are projected for 2018.

Aurora's Phase 2 design for the VTOL X-Plane envisions an unmanned aircraft with two large rear wings and two smaller front canards. A turboshaft engine, like the one used by Osprey V-22 aircraft, would drive 24 electric motors, nine integrated into each wing and three inside each canard. Each motor would drive a ducted fan. Both the wings and the canards would rotate to direct fan thrust as needed: rearward for forward flight, downward for hovering and at angles during transition between the two. "This is an extremely novel approach," said Ashish Bagai, DARPA program manager. "It will be very challenging to demonstrate, but it has the potential to move the technology needle the farthest and provide some of the greatest spinoff opportunities for other vertical flight and aviation products."

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Regional carrier GoJet Airlines has put its money on the table to attract pilots and mitigate the shortages that are affecting the industry. The airline, which flies 47 CRJ700 and seven CRJ900 as United Express and Delta Connection from Boise to Quebec City, is guaranteeing new first officers at least $2,700 a month and captains at least $5,000 a month, plus per diems, health and retirement benefits. The figures are based on a minimum of 75 flight hours a month at $36.50 an hour for new pilots and $67.39 a flight hour for captains. Most will likely fly more than the minimum. It was hard to tell from the news release whether the airline or the pilots union was happiest with the deal. "This is an outstanding contract that will take these GoJet pilots to the top of the regional industry in pay and benefits for the CRJ700 and CRJ900 aircraft," said Capt. David Bourne, director of the Teamsters Airline Division. GoJet President Rick Leach said the relatively generous contract is the new reality in the regional business.

"These improvements, combined with our fast captain upgrades and minimal reserve time, will allow us to continue attracting top aviation talent," Leach said in a statement. "The pilot shortage affecting regional airlines and the entire aviation industry is real, and has made recruiting pilots more difficult than ever before. This new contract will ensure that we remain competitive in a very challenging hiring environment." The contract is in effect this month.

A father and daughter walked away from a crash in Long Island over the weekend after deploying the parachute in their Cirrus SR22, with a lucky landing caught on video. "The engine died, and I pulled the parachute, and we landed," pilot Louis Obergh told local reporters. "We got very lucky." The security-camera video clearly shows the impact of the abrupt landing, and also shows how close the airplane was to an industrial building and trees. Shortly after the airplane hits the ground, the chute can be seen collapsing. The FAA said the pilot reported engine trouble about 3 p.m. on Saturday as the airplane approached Republic Airport in Farmingdale, N.Y.

The pilot and his daughter Rachel were returning home from a trip to look at colleges in Rhode Island. Obergh said he had already started to descend to the airport and was flying at about 2,000 feet when the engine died and wouldn't restart. At least two other Cirrus chute deployments have been caught on camera. In Fayetteville, Arkansas, last November, a Cirrus came down next to a busy freeway after the chute was deployed, and in January 2015, the U.S. Coast Guard recorded a deployment at sea.

Video from the New York deployment is posted here.

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In Monday's AVweb Flash, we ran an article from the March 2014 issue of Light Plane Maintenance entitled "The Dangers of Jump-Starting." The article discussed an accident that occurred where the pilot of a Diamond DA-42 with a flat battery jump-started both engines—contrary to the POH. The pilot's actions started an accident chain that culminated in the FADEC commanding a double-engine shutdown and prop feathering shortly after takeoff.

Since the article was written, Diamond redesigned the electrical system to assure stable voltage was available to the FADEC. AVweb has updated and revised the article with the most current information available on the electrical system of the Diamond DA-42, which was provided through the courtesy of Peter Maurer, president of Diamond Aircraft.

Listen up, class! Before you head off to Minnesota for spring break in hopes of scoring some party-time ice fishing, ensure the flights there and back will be safe and classy by acing this quiz.

Click here to take the quiz.

Within the cavernous FAA warehouses in Oklahoma City molders jetsam once vital to National Airspace System (NAS), such as NDBs, Terminal Control Areas, Flight Service Stations (FSS), GADO (General Aviation District Office) and, now, Flight Watch. Time was when you were cruising in your '47 Navion with the canopy slid back, and the ADF pointing to thunderstorms and faulty magnetos, you could tune your Narco SuperHomer to 122.0 MHz and -- through the static -- hear a friendly voice, advising you to wait your turn for weather updates.

Flight Watch was the Weather Channel without pictures for pilots, but it's gone. Sad though that may be, enquiring minds ask, "Flight Watch? Wasn't that an FAA test question years ago?" In part, yes, but it deserves a proper funeral.

So in Brainteaser #216 we asked you to suggest uses for the newly available frequency 122.0.

Additionally, we asked what other FAA programs should be axed.

Responses proved, once again, that Brainteaser readers are creative and slightly demented. We like that.

Here's a highly unscientific distillation of the replies to the question, "What should become of Flight Watch and 122.0?" (Names have been redacted to protect FAA employees who wrote to us on government computers.)

Give Peace a Chance

Most responders recognized the possibility of turning 122.0 into an expansion CTAF (Common Traffic Advisory Frequency). Here's a sampling of unedited comments:

"The 122.0 freq could be assigned as an additional CTAF frequency. On busy days, any present CTAF is subject to saturation."

"Use 122.0 as a CTAF frequency at uncontrolled airports."

"Use it for UNICOM where frequency congestion is a problem."

"Give it to CTAFs so as to free up some congestion from overlapping CTAF transmissions."

Great ideas all, because anyone who flies on VFR weekends knows that CTAFs are awash in squealing verbal garbage, making it often impossible to announce a position or identify the cluck who's announcing every stinkin' leg of the traffic pattern or that he's taxiing to the runway at your airport, so you can confiscate his microphone and return it only after he learns that the radio does not produce lift.

CFI rant over.

Adding another CTAF could dilute frequency congestion, but do we really think that'll make the offenders think before transmitting?

Share The Words

A few submitters suggested using 122.0 as an air-to-air frequency. You know, so you don't have listen on CTAF to the CB chatter from buddies in separate homebuilts calling out performance figures to each other, as in:

Proud Pilot #1 headed to Oshkosh: "I'm indicatin' one-twenty-two, now! How 'bout you?"
Proud Pilot #2 headed to Oshkosh: "Showin' one-thirty at 2400 RPM ... phew-doggie!"

This reader was a bit more specific in frequency allocation, although, perhaps a bit misguided: "Turn 122.0 into the new air-to-air frequency that pilots can use instead of 121.5."

A gentle reminder here that 121.5 is the emergency frequency and not an air-to-air frequency. The Balloon Flying Handbook reminds us that "The air-to-air frequency is 122.75." Balloonists, pestered by circling fixed-wing aircraft, should try calling the intruder on 122.75 to tell them to buzz off. Just don't expect a response.

Another reader thought 122.0 should be a "standby emergency frequency," for use, perhaps, when 121.5 is congested with non-emergency air-to-air chatter.

Frequency 123.45 (aka "Fingers") is periodically utilized for air-to-air, but the FAA (and FCC) might develop heartburn with that. FAA Order 6050.32 reflects the special use of 123.45 MHz: "123.45 MHz is authorized to be used only for non-government flight-test operations, not air-to-air communications. However, the frequency 123.45 MHz is designated as an air-to-air VHF communications frequency to enable aircraft engaged in flights over remote and oceanic areas out of range of VHF ground stations to exchange necessary operational information and to facilitate the resolution of operational problems."

Another reader suggested, "Keep 122.0 MHz open as another optional UNICOM freq or use it as a Flight Following channel."

Easier still, call the nearest Approach Control facility or Center for radar flight following. Those frequencies are accessible on your GPS or go old-school and check the A/FD (Airport/Facility Directory) or sectional charts.

This reader's suggestion simplifies finding frequencies by turning 122.0 into Directory Assistance: "Have a recorded broadcast of all available frequencies in the area ..."

 "In Canada," this pilot writes, "126.7 is used for position-reporting by VFR aircraft who are not with flight following. It improves see-and-avoid, since you can broadcast, 'Over Lake Scugog at 3500 (feet) eastbound.' This leads to brief conversations among pilots flying in the immediate vicinity. When flying VFR in the U.S. when flight following is unavailable, I feel naked, not having a clue where other aircraft are."

The vision of naked, clueless Canadians in U.S. skies is reason enough to reallocate 122.0 for this purpose.

Several readers suggested that Flight Watch retain some of its former weather-reporting status by broadcasting "area forecast-type info such as cloud tops and PIREPs. Kind of an area AWOS." Or used to "report any unusual weather that is not a hazard but very interesting to note."

Another pilot supports the PIREP theme: "Click on 122.0 to leave and to listen to PIREPs. Especially local icing PIREPs." While several pilots suggested that Flight Watch should broadcast NOTAMs affecting the local area, Facebook could handle much of this, too.

And yet another pilot (or possibly a Lockheed Martin briefer fearing job elimination) suggested 122.0 be turned over to AFSS to do whatever they feel like with it.

Thinking outside the box, this pilot said, "Turn Flight Watch into Wrist Watch, and continuously broadcast the time. This will be useful for timing of holding patterns, non-precision instrument approaches and cooking three-minute eggs. It can also be fed into the aircraft intercom/speaker system to annoy passengers."

Practical absurdities continued with a plan for Flight Watch to serve as a "warning service to indicate where FAA inspectors are conducting ramp inspections."

Advertising Possibilities

What ad exec wouldn't leap at the opportunity to target an audience? Certainly, this Madison Avenue reader sees the potential: "(Why not broadcast) advertising for airport businesses? 'Eat at the Ailerona Flapjack, mention you heard it on 122.0 and get a free flapjack' ?" Or "pan bread," for all you R. Bach barnstorming fans out there.

Running with the commercialization theme, one reader said Flight Watch should be turned into "a job search board (with) Craigslist broadcasts for all those unemployed AMEs after Third-class medical reform passes." Or, he continued, "(Make it) the audio for America's Got Talent, Local Air Show Edition, where local hangar owls provide commentary on landing prowess, pattern-flow violations and POH weight-and-balance deviations sponsored by your local A&P mechanic union or FSDO."

Or make 122.0 a "pilot-help frequency." It wouldn't be for full-blown emergencies but more for, "Could someone remind me how to land in a crosswind?" Like a call-in ask-the-experts show: "Hello, you're on Flight Watch, how can we help?" "Yeah, long-time flyer, first-time caller ..."

Two respondents went all digital on us with these suggestions: "(122.0) could be a data transmission frequency for the new 'texting' between controllers and pilots. Since 122.0 is in the middle of the band, the data won't be scared or intimidated by non-aviation chatter in other adjacent frequency bands."

Never known data to get scared but point taken and expanded upon by this reader who says, "Make Flight Watch the Aviation Twitter site. #stupidpilottalk."

And speaking of stupid pilot talk, this pilot suggests we "use the old Flight Watch frequency for the people who need to say, "All traffic please advise." Variations on that stupid phrase include, but are not limited to, "Traffic in the area, please advise." AIM 4-1-9(g) has more to say on that issue.

At least one pilot has no use for 122.0, Flight Watch or anything associated with it: "I believe 122.0 should be abolished just like that stupid nauseating FAA score. Don't they have other things to waste their money on similar to firing and ruining FAA whistle blower's careers for doing their jobs and not covering up unsafe practices to justify the FAA's numbers to Congress."

Take that and get off my lawn!

Two pilots considered the educational possibilities of Flight Watch in the right hands, beginning with, "122.0 could be a broadcast of updates from the Federal Register with a Jackie Gleason laugh." How sweet it is.

Educational potential continues if "a very sexy female voice could read FARs and help keep us current."

Although not educational in nature, this alternate use for Flight Watch could prove entertaining: "It should be used to tell flying stories AS THEY ARE HAPPENING. Each story must begin with, "Here I am," instead of the venerable, "So there I was." This will increase the efficiency of Nature's gentle way of weeding out pilots who forget to FLY THE PLANE." (All CAPS indicates shouting.)

This entry made little sense, but it was entertaining in a heard-on-a-barstool-at-closing-time way: "(The term) 'Flight Watch' should replace 'Center,' since 'Contact Boston Flight Watch on one-two-seven-decimal-seven-five' just sounds cooler, and it's still two syllables."

What To Eliminate

The survey had two parts. We also asked what else the FAA should eliminate. Here's an IFR suggestion: "Would be nice to eliminate visibility requirements for legal descent below mins for Part 91 pilots. This legality is almost entirely subjective and serves no real purpose. If one can see the runway environment and can land using normal descent and normal maneuvers, subject to good judgment, that should do it." Go for it.

Several readers suggested eliminating FSDO and TSA, and one even went so far as to suggest the FAA should go eliminate itself. We thought those suggestions a bit extreme, because, honestly, without the FAA we'd lose much of the grist for our editorial mill.

One reader was specific regarding which FAA entity should be purged: "Get rid of the ACOs (Aircraft Certification Offices). Do we really need the FAA to validate TCs and STCs? It's 2016. Time for a standards-based approach, with well-trained auditors to check the paper trail. Businesses are there to make money. They won't succeed if they have shoddy products. Let the market decide."

Say what you will about ACOs, but not so fast on declaring this 2016, warned one dude who returned to the first part of our survey by saying he wants 122.0 MHz to "play '60s and '70s rock music." Well, OK. Just nothing by The Eagles.

Many readers -- too many to quote each -- want to relegate the FAA's Third-class medical and the Aeromedical Branch to the FAA's Dustbin of History in Oklahoma City. Here, now, is one of the more temperate comments: "What else should the FAA eliminate? The *$#%&^&*^%$ Third-class medical! What is happening with PBOR2 (Pilot Bill Of Rights 2)?"

To which this CFI replies, "Yeah!"

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A couple of months ago, aviation journalists were getting calls from a Japanese survey company with some questions about the aircraft engine market. Over the course of an hour, they asked about market demand, certification requirements and what buyers might expect of a new aircraft engine. The marketeers described themselves as working for a company involved in both the automotive and motorcycle segments. That led me to think of Honda or maybe Suzuki, which also has an automotive line, although few in the U.S. know much about it.

Based on the questions, I suspect the company is thinking about dipping a toe into the aircraft engine market. I cautioned that the water is a lot colder than it looks for such an adventure, but I've long since given up guessing why companies that get into aviation do the things they do. The whole of the industry is, after all, constructed on a foundation that assumes a certain degree of lunacy and just because aviation journalists write about it, doesn't mean we're any less unhinged.

As proof of that, here's a story I wrote almost 15 years ago when another Japanese company was sniffing around with a general aviation trial balloon. Toyota invested some R&D dollars in converting the state-of-art Lexus V-8 engine into what became the FV4000 aircraft engine. They flew it and carried the program through to an actual type certificate, which exists yet today.

A few years later, we got wind of another Toyota project, a four-place composite aircraft that was actually flying in California and I had background conversations with people involved with it. None of them knew of Toyota's plans, but connecting the dots, I was pretty sure Toyota was going to enter the market in 2002 or 2003. I trooped off to Oshkosh convinced that a giant Toyota tent would turn the place on its ear. The timing was perfect, because Cirrus was just hitting its stride and heading for the highest production figures it would enjoy just a few years later.

Didn't happen. Since Toyota never consented to answer questions about its intentions, we have no idea if they were ever serious or just throwing around a little mad money. With annual revenues of $160 billion or so, a few million spent on a quirky airplane project won't get much attention from the bean counters. But somewhere, maybe one of those bean counters bothered to plug some numbers into a spreadsheet and came to the conclusion that, hey, this is nuts. It probably would have been, too. At the time, some people believed that substantially cheaper airplanes really would expand and prime the market.

A new Cirrus SR22 sold for just under $300,000 around 2003 and the thinking was that maybe Toyota could ramp up and automate production to cut that price in half. I have no idea if they could have and, even if they did, if it would have moved the market enough to make it worth the effort. You can share your own opinion in the comments section.

In the meantime, no matter how many market surveys circulate or trial projects run up on the test stand, I'll believe a new aircraft engine when I can get my greasy mitts on the throttle of one installed in a new certified airplane.

ADS-B Unraveling?

You probably read today's story that the Air Force says it doesn't have enough money in its avionics upgrade budget to equip all of its aircraft with ADS-B by the 2020 mandate. Do tell. But I'm quite sure the government expects the rest of us—airlines and GA—to stay the course.

In my view, this adds just another data point to my opinion that the 2020 deadline is going to slide back in some fashion. I'm not saying that it should or that ADS-B is a boondoggle, because I think it has demonstrated benefits. Owners who equip seem satisfied with the decision.

I just think it will be delayed … just because. And the more the FAA absolutely says it won't yield, the more I think it will and we'll be writing stories about it in the not-too-distant future. Not that this would stop me from equipping an airplane if I had one that needed ADS-B to fly in mandated airspace. It's just another reason to giggle at the passing parade.

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Now that BendixKing's KSN770 retrofit navigator is certified and shipping, it's a worthy alternative to models from Garmin and Avidyne — while priced thousands less.  But many buyers are unfamiliar with the KSN770's multi-function capabilities, its feature set, and its flight-planning capabilities.  Aviation Consumer magazine editor Larry Anglisano put the KSN770 — and the company's other retrofit systems — on his test bench for a closer look.

In this video, BendixKing's Chuck Burkhead provides a hands-on demonstration.  You may also want to check out our pre-certification flight test from 2013 here.

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Each week, we poll the savviest aviators on the World Wide Web (that's you) on a topic of interest to the flying community.

Visit AVweb.com to participate in our current poll.

Click here to view the results of past polls.

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