Aviation Minute – May 2013

1. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found texting partly to blame for the recent crash of a medevac helicopter. The pilot sent and received multiple texts while in the air prior to the crash. That distraction plus fatigue led to the pilot’s failure to monitor his fuel. The helicopter crashed from fuel starvation about a mile from a nearby airport. The pilot, a patient, and two flight nurses/EMTs died. See the full story at http://rapidcityjournal.c#DA34B

2. Due to budget cuts, some US Air Force combat squadrons will “stand down” over the next year. Pilots in the “stand down” squadrons will, in essence, loose combat flying proficiency, and the units will have to regain proficiency before any future deployment. The Thunderbirds and Navy Blue Angels are also grounded. See more at http://bismarcktribune.co#DA34E

3. Flight delays from furloughs of Air Traffic Control staff stirred passenger anger in late April. Depending on which side of the political spectrum you are on, the delays are the result of Congress not funding FAA adequately because of the sequester or the result of FAA not adequately preparing for budget cuts. Congressional legislation resulted in many furloughed workers going back on the job.

4. The Solar Impulse is making its way across the US, testing the possibility of an around-the-world flight by a similar aircraft using only solar power. Some stats:

a. Average flying speed is 43 mph

b. Take-off speed is 27 mph

c. Max cruising altitude is 27,900 ft

d. Gross weight is 3,527 lbs

e. With a wingspan of 208 ft, it is closer to the 222 ft wingspan of a C5 Galaxy than the 38 ft wingspan of our Cessna 182s.

Aviation Minute – April 2013

1. NASA reports that, if it detects a large asteroid capable of wiping out humans headed for earth, there are no plans to launch Bruce Willis into space to blow it up.

2. In a scene from “Catch Me If You Can,” a 61-year old French citizen masquerading as an Air France pilot tried to hitch a ride in the jump seat of a US Airways flight from Philadelphia to West Palm Beach, Florida. Wearing an Air France shirt and carrying an Air France bag, he presented a ticket to the gate agent and then asked if there were any first class seats available that he could take as a professional courtesy. When the gate agent told him there were none, he stated something about how much he hated Americans and then walked on the plane and into the cabin. Suspicions were raised when he had trouble opening the jump seat.

3. United Airlines plans to resume flights of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner on May 31. It has been grounded for several months due to a problem with overheating of batteries.

4. Last month I stated that drones were the up and coming thing, and that I expected to be able to report news on them every month. Not much news this month. Codepink, an anti-war group, plans to fly a drone over the home of the CEO of General Atomics, maker of the Predator drones.

5. CAP news. Currently there is no command specialty track for seniors. There is a command code to designate those in command positions. That will change this month with implementation of the Command Specialty Training Track. Some observations: Training is heavily based on a mentoring program. Being assigned to a command position is not a prerequisite to enter the track. Nor, as best I can tell, it is not necessary to be enrolled in the track to be assigned a command position. Of interest to some, you may be able to “jump-start” ratings on the Command Track based on command experience. For example, those who served at least 1 year as a squadron CC or Deputy Commander prior to 30 Apr 2013 may be awarded the Technician rating. That experience plus at least one year as a CC or CV at the group or higher level can be awarded the Senior rating. Those qualifying have until March 31, 2014 to apply for a rating through the jump-start provisions. Go to www.capmembers.com/media/cms/P222_95366131D292D.pdf for more details.

Aviation Minute – March 2013

1. Now that we are tracking them, we are finding that earth has close encounters with large objects regularly. NBC is reporting four close encounters this past week, with the largest object the size of a city block. My recollection of earlier reports of this large object was that it came no nearer than 100,000 miles.

2. NASA announced that, based on the data collected so far from the Mars Rover, conditions on Mars were such that it could support life. Scientists speculated that Mars water, when present on the surface, would have been drinkable by humans.

3. The FAA has issued its aviation forecast for 2013 through 2033. Generally, the fleet, flying hours, passengers and revenue of main carriers steadily grows as does regional airlines, but at a smaller pace. For general aviation, turbine fixed wing and rotorcraft fleet and flying hours grow slowly. The only aviation segment forecast to decline is in the fleet and flying hours of piston fixed wing. For the complete report, go to www.faa.gov/news/updates.

4. While on the above site, check out the affects sequester will have on local aviation. FAA will furlough the majority of its employees for one day each pay period (generally, every two weeks. Plans are to close over 100 air traffic control facilities. No facilities in ND or SD are on the projected chopping block, but if you fly regularly to MN, Anoka County in Minneapolis, Eden Prairie, Crystal, and St Cloud Regional will lose facilities. In MT, airports at Kalispell and Helena are affected. Cheyenne Regional is the only facility in WY.

5. Drones. They are in the news constantly now days. This week is controversy in the Air Force about whether drone pilots should be entitled to combat medals. Last week it was the announcement by the US Attorney General that drones would not be used to kill US citizens on US soil. Also last week was news of an Italian airliner reporting a near miss with a drone while on approach to one of the New York airports.

Suffice it to say that, if you are young, want to get into a niche in your chosen profession where you can start with a concept in its infancy and want to stay in that niche until you retire, consider drones. That applies almost regardless of your profession – aviation, engineering, computers, photography, geography, legal, political. These and other fields will be “writing the book” on drones for years. To watch an excellent report of drones and their future, google “PBS videos”, then “NOVA” and look for the segment titled “Rise of the Drones.”

Aviation Minute – February 2013

1. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner, made of composite material, is the new industry standard for passenger comfort, redundant avionics and systems, and fuel efficiency. The Dreamliner also is not flying. Aircraft have been grounded world-wide while engineers try to determine why their large lithium batteries overheat.

2. The sky is falling! A large asteroid the “size of an Olympic pool” will do a close fly-by of Earth this month. The fact that it is large enough to track makes this a big deal. It will come no closer than 17,100 miles, but that is still closer than many of the satellites

3. Mars Rover continues to make news. For the first time, it has drilled into Mars rock and will analyze the powder. Among other goals of the drilling – evidence Mars may 4. American Airlines and US Airways are talking merger. If approved, the new airline will carry the American Airlines name but will be under US Airways management.