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Aviation News Talk

A private pilot, founder of Hopscotch Air, attorney and former news anchor shares his take on aviation news. About AndrewS

FAA Ends "Taxi To" Instruction, What Should Go Next?

July 1st, 2010

In part of its on-going effort to reduce runway incursion incidents, the FAA will officially change the way tower controllers give taxi instructions. As of June 30, gone will be the "Taxi to" instruction to be replaced with a lot more words.

For example, if you fly out of Republic-Farmingdale (FRG) on Long Island, a standard taxi instruction from Ground is currently "(call sign) taxi to Runway 1". That instruction allows you to pretty much taxi on any taxiway and allows you to cross any runway- in this case Runway 32-14- to get to Runway 1. However, now the instruction will likely read "(call sign), Runway 1 via Gulf. Hold short of 32." Controllers will give specific taxi instructions and are required, generally, to issue an additional taxi instruction before you cross an intersecting runway. Read More >>

FAA to LSA Industry: Time for Adult Supervision

June 14th, 2010

As a supporter of the light sport effort, and as someone who flies an LSA (the Sportcruiser), the recent audit report from the FAA on the LSA manufacturing industry should set off alarm bells.   You can find the report on avweb’s website here.

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Dan Johnson, chairman of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association, says the report is “tough love’– but we think it’s a bit more ominous than that.

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The FAA audited 30 LSA facilities to determine if they are complying with ASTM. standards.  For those not familiar with how light sport aircraft are marketed and sold, here’s a brief overview.  The FAA created the LSA sector to foster technological developments and bring aircraft to market without the costs associated with government certification.  As such, aircraft that meet LSA standards for weight, size, and speed can be ’self-certified’ by the manufacturer, providing they meet the standards set forth by the ASTM.  (ASTM is an independent group that industries use to set standards for products.)  If the aircraft meets the standard, it can then be sold to the American public without government certifications.  This has no doubt lead to lower cost products, but now there’s a question as to whether it’s also lead to lower-quality products. Read More >>

I’ll Take the Czech: Sportcruiser Reviewed

December 21st, 2009

In pulling the Czech-made LSA SportCruiser out of the hanger, the first thing I noticed is that the plane is so light that you can practically drag it to the next airport, instead of fly it.  But fly it you should.  The Sportcruiser is spiffy, fun, easy to fly, and quite capable of taking you places.

I have flown several LSAs and the Sportcruiser lives up to everything the category of aircraft should be.  I got checked out at Mid Island Aviation at Islip Airport on Long Island (ISP) and now have half a dozen hours in it.  ISP is a big boy airport, where you que up behind Southwest jets to take off.  So the first thing you'll discover is that, yes, you can fly an LSA out of an airport that sits in Class C airspace. Read More >>

Despite Success, LSA’s Have An On-Going Image Problem

September 9th, 2009

The wild early success of the light sport aircraft industry and the excitement over the entire category as we enter year number six, belies one disturbing fact:   The LSA sector still appeals mostly to older pilots  who are concerned about losing their medical. Show up to any LSA event and you'll see exactly what I'm talking about-- those in the cockpits, asking the questions, and working the controls are 70 year old pilots who see an LSA as their only way to keep flying and avoid spending all their money on golf. Read More >>

OSH is a Wrap– Air Show Soars in Weak Economy

August 3rd, 2009

After a good shower and a night sleep, I have returned from what is the awe-inspiring, yearly event that is the EAA Convention in Oshkosh, WI.  Below is a quick video shot with my flip cam and edited on Final Cut.  Please forgive the shaky video, somewhat hack editing job, and lack of a story line. I would especially like to thank Cindy and George from for sharing their camping survival skills.

What was most impressive is that if you attended you might be forgiven for asking "what recession?"  The camp grounds were overflowing with tents and the flight line with spectators.

You can see the video here:

CBS News Airport Story Misses the Mark

July 15th, 2009

Airports are like gardens. If you don't water the plants, clean out the weeds, and avoid walking on the tulips, they will die. Airports need care, and that means they need money to keep them running and safe. There is evidence of this as one airport after another closes. Here is the basic pattern: The airport is neglected, the runways crack, the land becomes an eyesore and the community says "let's build a mall instead." That is why the recent CBS Evening News report that cast a critical eye on stimulus money going to small, general aviation airports was off the mark. Read More >>

How to improve pilot salaries: Try tipping

May 22nd, 2009

A lot has been written about low pilot salaries recently.  Especially the salaries paid to regional pilots.  How can anyone live on $20,000 a year, especially when they have $80,000 in pilot-related school costs to pay off?

We, the passengers on commercial airlines, are partially responsible.  We demand the right to fly coast to coast for $99.  Airlines have little wiggle room in managing fixed costs, such as fuel and maintenance.  Where they have room to drive down costs is with labor.  So they do.  The FAA may require minimum hours to pilot a plane, but it doesn't require minimium pay. Read More >>

Pilots: Stop terrorizing the Capitol; The U.S Air Force is too busy frightening New Yorkers

April 28th, 2009

It has happened again.

An evil-doer private pilot and his co-conspirator wife took an always-dangerous single engine Cessna and flew it right near, gasp, some monument in DC.  This resulted in a miltary response with F16s escorting the pilot out of the area.  Innocent pilots have been caught numerous times flying into the Capitol's restricted airspace.  It has always been accidental.  No any actual terrorist has been caught.  Face it, the only people terrorized in these incidents are the wayward pilots themselves.  There could be a terrible mistake one day and the government will have to answer for it. Read More >>

FAA’s new runway safety videos

April 22nd, 2009

Someone has sent the FAA to film school.

As someone who has spent his career in television production, I can tell you that I was pleasently surprised by the FAA's new runway safety videos.  You may have received the dvd from AOPA.  I recommend watching it.  Not only will the short programs provide you with valuable safety information, they feature excellent aerial video.  They are well shot, well written, and well hosted. Read More >>

The case for medevac choppers made by death of actress

March 23rd, 2009

The terrible death of actress Natasha Richardson highlights the value of medevac helicopters.  According to Tarek Razek, director of trauma services for the McGill University Health Center in Montreal, the lack of a medical airlift may have contributed to Richardson's death. Read More >>