Posts Tagged ‘pilots’

Have you logged “startle” time? ATP training rules make the rating costly.

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

The new requirements from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the Airline Transport Pilot exam, as demanded by Congress after a Colgan Airways accident, will hit in August of 2014. They are focused on giving pilots more experience before they get the ATP rating, and training them in upset recovery. The rules will increase the cost of just that rating, according to one school’s estimate, to $8,500 to $12,000. I got it in 1995 for less than $2,000 just for fun from ISO Aero, now known as Aero Services in Wilmington, North Carolina. The first effect of making airline candidates take more training is to discourage those of us who got it just for fun. The second is to take smaller schools and colleges out of the ATP training market. That’s because they can’t make money now that there is a new requirement for a full motion simulator replicating an aircraft of 40,000 pounds (minimum). Those things cost millions. AOPA and others fought the good fight to keep the requirements reasonable.

In that simulator, candidates are to learn some of the upset recovery techniques. Randy Brooks, a vice president at Aviation Performance Solutions in Mesa, Arizona, said a study of 16 accidents involving upsets (extreme banks, climbs, dives) revealed the pilot did the wrong thing. “In 16 out of 16 accidents the pilot did something that was contradictory to whatever training they would have had,” he said. As it turns out, the International Civil Aviation Organization that happens to be headquartered in Canada (it is for the world, not just Canada) will recommend to the world at some point in the future that upset training extend to those wanting the commercial pilot certificate. Once again, AOPA has officially expressed concerns that the suggestion consider all the consequences. The FAA doesn’t have to follow the suggestion.

Simcom Training Centers’  Tracy Brannon said the new ATP multiengine rules “…elevate the requirements to meet the title of the certificate.” His company, where he is the chief operating officer, is planning an ATP course that will be close to the ones Simcom offers for a full type rating. A full type rating course includes 14 hours in a simulator, and the new FAA requirements for the ATP call for 10 hours. The academic part will also be very similar. He has had inquiries from airline companies interested in sending applicants to such a course.

Brannon pointed out that the new ATP rules apply only to multiengine aircraft. So, the pilots like myself who got the multiengine ATP, just for fun, can still have the option of getting the single-engine ATP that does not fall under the new requirements. Simcom has a Saab 2000 simulator that meets the new requirement for training in a simulated 40,000-pound simulator, but company officials have asked the FAA to consider letting them use less costly simulators for the Hawker 800 and Dornier 328 that simulate aircraft weighing less than 40,000 pounds. There is no word from the FAA as yet on the request.

The FAA guidelines also require that the ATP candidate demonstrate a proper recovery technique after being startled. Brooks manages to startle students while flying an actual training aircraft by distracting them. “Then we’re going to talk about things you like to do besides flying, where you live, whether or not you’ve got kids–anything that will take you out of the cockpit, thinking I’m not going to do something, and wham. You’re going to have a simulated wake vortex encounter, and you’re going to hear me say ‘recover.'” Brooks can train students to automatically recover in three 45-minute flights. The new ATP rules call for use of a simulator for situations where the nose is too high or too low.

Opponents of the new rules warned that they could reduce the supply of airline pilots. “They’re going to pay $12,000 and then we start them out in a $10,000 job,” said the owner of a North Carolina flight school. The full impact won’t be known until after the rules take effect late next summer. In the meantime, a few hours of aerobatic training can pay big benefits. Make sure the instructor startles you before you graduate.

An unusual piloting job; getting cuddly with the bears

Friday, August 16th, 2013

Da bears means, in Alaska, not the Chicago Bears but the real ones. One of the most unusual piloting jobs is taking tourists out to bear country west of Anchorage in Alaska for closeups of grizzly bears doing their fish-eating act. Suggestion: do not eat fish for breakfast the morning of the flight. See what K-Bay Air does here. Video includes beach landings and aerial scenes of Alaskan bear country.

Birthday tribute

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

One of the many IAPs debuting with the start of the current FAA charting cycle today is the BNELE ONE Arrival (RNAV) to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. This standard terminal arrival was designed to bring jets from the lower flight levels over Nashville and Memphis onto an approach to ATL.

The final waypoint on this STAR for arrivals landing to the west on Runway 26 Left or 26 Right is KEAVY, and like many waypoints today, there’s a story behind it.

Keavy Nenninger learned to fly while she was in high school by pumping gas into airplanes at Moontown Airport–a grassroots airport with a 2,180-foot grass runway just outside of Huntsville, Alabama. Ralph Hood wrote about her checkride in Flight Training magazine in the way that only Ralph Hood could write. She earned a degree in aerospace engineering from St. Louis University’s Parks College of Engineering and Aviation in 2010. There, Keavy was a member of the college’s flight team. She pursued a career in aviation, a passion that she lived and breathed. I met her once at a Women in Aviation conference and remember thinking, “Here’s somebody that’s going places in this industry.”

 Tragically, Keavy died July 23, 2011, in an aircraft accident in Maryland. “Keavy’s adventurous spirit was infectious and she died doing what she loved most–flying,” her obituary read.

Today would have been her 27th birthday.

Her friends will gather for a cookout at Moontown Airport on Saturday evening, May 4–not all that far, by air, from KEAVY, just northwest of Atlanta.

Brush up on safety skills, help the Air Safety Institute

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Air Safety Institute Logo

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing AOPA member Shannon Osborne, a member of the North Jersey chapter of The Ninety-Nines, who has come up with a unique idea to help keep your pilot skills sharp while bad weather limits winter flying.

Shannon has pledged to donate $5 to AOPA’s Air Safety Institute for every course the 16 members of her Ninety-Nines chapter take in the month of February.  In my story, Osborne emphasized that she is a firm believer in AOPA’s safety products.

“I survived an accident where unfortunately, the other pilot didn’t. The skills I learn in these courses can save lives,” she said. “Whenever I get into a situation, I hear the voice of my flight instructor, Tim O’Neil, saying ‘fly the plane.’ You hear these things as a student, and if you keep refreshing that, you can save your life and others.”

Although I’m not a member of her chapter, I was inspired, so I’m going to take up her challenge.  As a student pilot, there many ASI interactive courses, safety quizzes, webinars and safety seminars I can take.  The courses are free and you don’t have to be an AOPA member to take them.  My flight instructor recommended I take “Say It Right,” “Runway Safety,” “Airspace for Everyone,” and “Do the Right Thing: Decision Making for Pilots.”

Since it’s just me, I’ll double my pledge to $10 a course. But I’m encouraging my fellow student pilots to do the same, with an amount of your choosing.  Osborne said that nickels add up to dimes. “If we get a lot of people out there doing this challenge, the money will add up.”

I’ll let you know what courses I took and my total donation at the end of the month.

AOPA members weigh in on GA prospects under second Obama term

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

As one of the administrators of the AOPA Facebook page, I thought it would be interesting this morning to ask members the following question:  “so, the election is over. What do you think the prospects for general aviation will be in a second Obama term? And please — let’s just stick to the GA issue.”  We’ve already had 58 comments this morning.  Below are some of them.

“It’s not ideal for GA growth, but I’m not convinced user fees are inevitable either. I fly for a living, but also for pleasure thanks to a flying club at half the rates of a FBO. With over 10k pilots retiring from US carriers in the next 8 years, something is going to have to give. The pilot shortage finally coming to fruition should have a positive affect. Support AOPA and similar organizations. They are our voice.”

“General aviation will suffer… we pilots won’t have the money to fly! And it’ll be regulated to the point where it’s pointless to fly anyhow.”

“I don’t think the political climate is what GA needs.. what GA needs is a much lower cost of entry to new participants (Next generation training) and new certified airplanes that are capable of at least some useful load which don’t cost $300K new (I’m looking straight at you, Cessna and Piper).”

“Not good. Good thing I have a professional pilot job, because I can’t attract a single student as a part-time CFI due to the overwhelming cost of learning to fly.”

“$20 per Gal AVGAS.”

“It will be the same. Administration proposes user fees, GA rallies its membership with advocacy efforts, and Congress dispenses with user fees.”

“Costs have got to come down. This includes everything from hangar rent, insurance, to aircraft purchases. The days are gone of flour drops and pancake flyins at local airports. Those days need to come back. Also, airports need to be public friendly and appear inviting, not restricting. The FAA needs to push back expensive equipment installs (ADS-B appliances) timeframes and increase training for controllers to handle “flight following requests.”

” I feel for those who are in aircraft manufacturing…. No reason to expect Obama will stop demonizing business GA aviation.”

” In my opinion, the US economy is in such bad shape that either candidate would have had difficulty coping with it. I’m not a fan of user fees – particularly since it already costs so much to fly. However money for economic recovery has to come from somewhere.”

“Hopefully people will start buying airplanes again and get down to the great business of flying again. Lets hope our leader stops criticizing business jets as well!”

” User taxes, higher gas taxes, greater penalty for being successful enough to buy an airplane.”

” It’ll be just fine. Obama is not one dimensional and he sees the economic benefits GA provides. The time for politics is over and we just need to work together for the greater good.”


Heading to the most challenging airport

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

UPDATE: The most challenging airport is Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Watch for an article in a future edition of AOPA Pilot.

AOPA members nominated 270 airports at the most challenging in the country and I had to pick just one for a story. I am headed towards that airport now, and you’ll see  it in the future. Next to me is a Maryland man in his 50s studying a Gleim book for his instrument written exam. On the aisle is a former Army helicopter pilot who says he burned out after 1,600 hours and is no longer in the Army.

We’re in a one-month-old Boeing 737-800 that seats 175. I am lifting one elbow up to type this without disturbing the instrument student. He and a friend bought a Cherokee Warrior for their training. He plans to keep it after training, and finds his purchase with a friend makes training more economical.

We went through the usual airport hassle to get on this nifty crowded jet. Since it seats 175, Southwest gate personnel started boarding early and I ended up getting on among the last 10 people. All 10 had boarding passes that would have allowed far earlier boarding. Got to keep that in mind for future “jumbo” 737 flights on Southwest, and get up at 5 a.m., not 5:25. Also, need to keep those three traffic jams I encountered in mind. Heck, since it’s a new airliner I might even lean my head back on the headrest without worrying about cooties. Umm, nah, better not go crazy. It’s been out there among the crowds a whole month.

When I flew a 172 last week for a “Flight Training” video on grass landings, I and editor Jill Tallman took off when it was convenient. Nobody got our favorite seats. We weren’t worried about being late for the flight. I asked myself if I had honorable goals for the flight, as in not hijacking it, and I did. I didn’t screen myself or my flight bag, even though there is a screwdriver in there that I could use to overpower myself if I was really intent on taking over me. I wasn’t. My shoes never came off–there was never a line. I didn’t get irradiated with a “safe” dose or any dose. Is there no way to get this through to nonpilots?

I’m not saying general aviation is perfect for everything. Certainly, an airline ticket from Baltimore to Denver, my current destination, is a lot less expensive at $480 and a whole lot faster. But if you are sitting in your living room one morning in Frederick, Md., wondering what the leaves look like in New Hampshire–as I did–then GA is the only choice. I bolted Maryland at 10 a.m. and was home by 7 p.m. in a Diamond DA40. This big airliner won’t take you down to 2,000 feet for a better look and then stop in Massachusetts on a whim at a restaurant you just heard about from a pilot in Keene.  Just some thoughts from Seat 16D.

9/11 – How Did You Mark The Day?

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

I was working for an airline (and about to board a flight) when the tragedy of 9/11 happened.  I saw numerous stories of remembrance and how people were acknowledging the 11th anniversary of the event, so I posted the question on the AOPA Facebook page.

We received 34 comments. I’m a student pilot, and I felt the best way to mark the day was to fly with my flight instructor, Alyssa Miller.  Most of the commenters said they were going to fly.  Below are some of the more interesting posts.

Wayne Vaughn I am doing my first cross country solo. I will enjoy my freedom to fly in the nation that is still the most free in the world to show that the terrorists did not succeed.

Denton Finley Celebrating my freedom to fly.

Zak Margolis Flying. I try to make sure I have a log book entry every 9/11.

Joseph Turnbach I have to work today, building Dreamliners for the commercial airlines. I may fly this weekend though and enjoy some South Carolina fall weather.

Douglas Swain Farnam Giving flight lessons. And enjoying the freedom of flight!


P-51, Hollywood actress, attracting new pilots

Monday, September 10th, 2012

Just about everyone is talking about ways to grow the pilot population. AOPA created a new department towards that goal. The Iowa Aviation Promotion Group has created a slick Hollywood-style video featuring Doug Rozendaal flying the Commemorative Air Force’s Gunfighter Mustang but with actress Stephanie Brown stepping out of the cockpit at the end, aimed at increasing the pilot population. She appeared in the TV series “Two and a Half Men,” and several movies including “Ash” and “Dating Games People Play.” It can be licensed for meetings and television ads. It has already proven effective in Australia.

Teddy bear pilot is one cool dude

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

Bring the kids to the computer. Both the model airplane and the bear-pilot are remotely controlled, as are the cameras.  For those that haven’t seen it, click here . Or, if you want to fly your own autonomous drone, check out DIY Drones here.

Aviation as a diplomat

Friday, June 11th, 2010

I’m sitting in the Sheraton Hotel on the lovely Mediterranean Sea beach in Tel Aviv, Israel, as delegates to the IAOPA World Assembly debate resolutions. This part of the biennial meeting is like watching paint dry, but it’s just a small part of the meeting that brings pilots together from around the world. This assembly, the twenty-fifth one for the group, includes representatives from 18 of 68 AOPA’s around the globe and four continents.

Throughout the week we have heard presentations from the delegates on their successes and challenges. As I listen from the perspective of a U.S. pilot, I am relieved to know that we, at least as yet, don’t face any where near the hurdles to aviating as do many of those from other countries. Ridiculous bureaucratic challenges and extreme fees hassle pilots from some of these countries in a way that those of us from the States can’t imagine. Many of the European pilots, for example, must take English language tests on a regular basis at fees from around $40 to several hundred dollars. In Japan, for example, we have learned that while hangar fees at public airports are only about $220 a month, there is an annual airwothiness fee of about $6,500 for an aircraft the size of a Cessna 172 and fuel costs $10 per gallon.
While there are differences among the group, it is amazing to watch as pilots with such diverse backgrounds and cultures come together seemingly as old friends because of the one thing they have in common–aviation. That common bond seems to trump any differences, causing strangers to become instant friends.
One of the aviation successes in Africa is Botswana–mostly because the president of Botswana is an active, enthusiastic general aviation pilot. Perhaps we should seek out a U.S. presidential candidate who is an active GA pilot.
Aviation is a wonderful diplomatic tool. Let’s deploy it worldwide.