AERO prepares to fly high again

2AERO 2012

FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, Germany — With exhibitors from more than 30 countries as well as some new additions, including a career fair, AERO, which will be held April 24-27, will showcase the entire spectrum of general aviation from powered aircraft, gliders, and ultralights, as well as helicopters and business jets.

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Quantum Leap: NextGen and the GA pilot

For all the talk about NextGen — the Next Generation Air Transportation System — there are many pilots who still think it’s somewhere far off in the future. Think again.

“People are starting to see that we’re way beyond the drawing board or the science experiment stage,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “Many components of NextGen are in place, and NextGen is showing results today.”

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What do GA pilots think about NextGen?

We asked our Facebook fans and subscribers to The Pulse of Aviation about their take on NextGen. Is it the best thing to happen to flying in a while? Or is it just more government-mandated expense to keep airborne?

Here are just a few of their comments:

  • Best thing to happen. But the cost will have to come down before it is widely accepted by individual operators.

  • More expense to satisfy Big Brother!

  • I want no part of it…invasive and too expensive.

  • The only reason anyone in GA should know anything about NextGen is to keep the sport of aviation from being screwed by it.

  • ADS-B is dependent upon GPS. The protection of the broadcast frequencies of our orbiting navaids will have to be ironclad. There can be no political indulgences granted for those wanting to test the compatibilities of new communication technologies in or near the frequency ranges of a GPS signal. The NTSB posted general aviation safety on its Most Wanted List. They should be one of many agencies that require the FCC coordinate more regularly with the FAA on potential navigation frequency interference in the interest of flying safety. ADS-B is a promising technology with many potential benefits. But as always, the Devil is in the details.

  • I agree that the devil is in the details. And, one significant devil is the cost to equip an airplane with ADS-B. Considering the majority of privately owned GA aircraft are 30+ years old, the cost to equip these planes becomes 25%–30% of the value of the plane. In these cases I believe many of these owners will simply be forced to vote with their wallet, and not install ADS-B. It simply makes no economical sense.

  • If a significant portion of the GA fleet does not equip with ADS-B, then the whole system will be marginalized. The FAA needs to make this equipment affordable to the vast majority of owners.

  • ADS-B (aka NexGen) is a fantastic system EXCEPT for two major issues. (1) The uplink NWS Radar imagery is late and too old to be of any value. (2) Worse, the FAA decided to BLOCK uplink under you are ModeS’ing. Their reason is that they want to FORCE you to take advantage of the new technology. In other words, the FAA DOES NOT CARE ABOUT FLIGHT SAFETY. Any pilot who sees what ADS-B provides WILL DECIDE TO TRANSMIT and make the necessary expense to do so. Just like the FAA’s “the iPAD is a new and revolutionary device for aviation” statement clearly indicates their lack of knowledge. There have been tabletPCs for nearly 15 years that do what the iPad does at half the cost.

  • I am a retired air traffic controller and a big supporter of the NextGen program. If the FAA follows through with the concepts the benefits will be worth the change. We have to embrace change as technology allows.

  • As a day good weather VFR pilot I don’t see any benefit for me and my type of flying. Being based in mid-Michigan the only traffic we see is at 30k ft. For the IFR guys that fly in the system it may make sense, but for average VFR GA pilot not much added value. Besides the cost currently to equip my plane exceeds it value by 2 to 1! I guess unless the FAA will foot the bill to equip my plane I’ll just have to give the major airports a wide berth if I get close!

  • NexGen must be considered as an AID, not the end-all and be-all just as any other of our “modern” aids like radar, wx, even radios and other avionics. These aids make the airplane more useful as did the controllable pitch propeller, the retractable landing gear, flaps and reliable engines. BUT, NexGen can be an excellent aid in support of see and be seen operations as well as IFR as there are many areas of the country where radar is quite limited for GA aircraft flying under 10,000 feet. Thus it would provide a very significant margin of safety both in the air and and could provide more safety for SAR operations. If I were active these days I’d go for it in a short minute.

So what do you think? Add your comments below.

Sporty’s Foundation releases annual report


The Sporty’s Foundation has issued its Annual Report, detailing its activities and bequests during 2012.

“Since its inception, The Sporty’s Foundation has provided more than $800,000 in support to assist organizations and programs with a positive force on the health of the general aviation industry,” says Sporty’s Founder and Chairman Hal Shevers. [Read more…]

Innovations: Can you hear me now?

HAI PTT drop cord 2

Oregon’s Hillsboro Aviation operates a number of turbine helicopters for various missions, primarily firefighting during the fire season, and search and rescue missions. Passengers are typically the company’s crew and employees of the contracting agency, noted Tom Dalquist.

“The need to communicate with a number of various operators is required from a number of different positions in the helicopter,” he said, adding that “most of the communication need is typically satisfied with the use of NAT/AEM audio/intercom/communication equipment. The need for a drop cord assembly, providing intercom and FM radio transmit that would hold up to the constant movement, dropping, stepping on, etc. during operations, was apparent.”

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Do you love backcountry flying?

Our Feb. 22 print issue will feature a special focus on Backcountry Flying and while we have a lot of great stories lined up (with a lot of help from the Recreational Aviation Foundation), we wanted to tap into the experiences and knowledge of our readers. We’re looking for your stories — Why do you enjoy backcountry flying? What are some of your favorite places to fly? What do you bring on every backcountry trip? How do you make flights more enjoyable and, of course, safer? Can you share any tips you’ve picked up along the way for new pilots who are ready to venture off the beaten path?

We’d also love to showcase photos from your many backcountry adventures. You can send photos and comments to or, if you prefer, add your comments below.