The right tool for the right task

In a closet at my grandfather’s house, there is a toolbox. It’s a long, narrow rectangular thing, not at all like a toolbox you might find in the local home improvement store today. It’s made of wood with strong, steel hinges and an equally robust hasp, all of which have been worn by time.

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Can you ignore the ADS-B 2020 mandate?

Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast Airspace Rule (§ 91.225) Diagram from Advisory Circular 90-114.

The Jan. 1, 2020 ADS-B mandate has a lot of aircraft owners wringing their hands and seeing red. For those of us at the recreational end of the aviating spectrum (which represents a great many aircraft), plunking down the money it’ll take to equip our aircraft to meet the mandate is not something we care to think about.

So that got me to thinking who the ADS-B Out mandate applies to? Do you fly in airspace that requires a transponder? If not, you might not need to equip for the mandate.

But that question and answer might be overly simplistic, so here’s a few more questions for you: [Read more…]

LA Times opines about Santa Monica Airport

We’ve been saying it for years. But it’s nice to hear the mainstream media pick up the argument. The Los Angeles Times editorial board said, with regard to Santa Monica Airport, “Open to private business and recreational aircraft, it relieves Los Angeles International Airport of some smaller plane traffic. Flight schools, airplane maintenance, charter jet businesses, and emergency and medical flight services all use it as a base.” The editorial goes on to address the safety concerns of neighbors with – are you ready for this – actual data. Well done LA Times.

GA advocates return to Congress

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The mid-term election was a surprise to many people. Some it pleased. To others it caused discomfort. But to officials of general aviation advocacy groups who deal regularly with Congress, election results are neutral.

The associations deal with both political parties over the years and there is no desire to make a comment that could be filed away to remind a person or party that a particular association was not nice in what was said at any time.

Ed Bolen, president of the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), said “we know the value of the industry will continue to be recognized by members of both parties, as demonstrated by the large, bipartisan nature of the House and Senate GA Caucuses.”

He added the caucuses are about evenly divided along party lines. Lawmakers come from urban and rural districts, coastal areas and the middle of the country. In all these places business aviation is essential in creating jobs, helping companies of all sizes succeed, and providing an economic lifeline, he noted.

Officials at the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) said they are encouraged as many key general aviation supporters kept their positions. Two of the incoming Republicans are also AOPA members — Barry Loudermilk of Georgia and former Governor Mike Rounds, elected to fill one of South Dakota’s Senate seats.

There will need to be some rebuilding in the House and Senate Caucuses. According to AOPA, the Senate Caucus will lose at least seven members; the House will need to seek new leadership after Rep. John Barrow (R-Ga.) was defeated.

Tom Cotton, a representative from Arkansas who co-sponsored the House’s General Aviation Protection Act, will be moving from the House to the Senate.

Even with all the changes, the House GA Caucus is still one of the largest in the Congress.

Santa Monica airport problems continue

Although not a Washington subject, the future of Santa Monica Airport (SMO) had a disappointing election result for GA advocates. Currently this important airport in the Los Angeles area is teetering on the edge. Developers want to build industrial sites and offices on the airport. Over recent years there have been exorbitant landing and rental fees and other attempts to strangle the airport.

A measure passed by the voters leaves the City Council in charge of the airport. AOPA worked over the years to keep the airport operating. The association supported an initiative on the Nov. 4 ballot that would have required voter approval before the city could make any changes. This measure failed.

Airport advocates know the importance of an airport in the Los Angeles area to relieve Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and to provide the economic connection with the world that an airport brings.

Bill Dunn, AOPA vice president of airports, said that association will continue to work to keep the airport open.

Having flown into SMO on a few occasions on business, I recognize the value of the airport as a business asset.

Vanity Fair: The Human Factor

We typically steer clear of airline-related topics in General Aviation News. But for William Langewiesche’s feature – The Human Factor – on the Air France 447 in Vanity Fair, I’ll make an exception. As sophistication and automation in all aspects of aerospace has developed over the past few decades our role as pilots must be continuously evaluated. Langewiesche masterfully mixes re-telling the sequence of events that led up to the accident with airline industry analysis and inertia. As a pilot, the story wasn’t an easy read, but worth it. I hope you feel the same.

Progress comes at a cost

At this very moment there is a team of highly skilled professionals who are out of sight and largely out of mind, yet they have been tasked with solving an almost unimaginably difficult puzzle. They work for the NTSB and their charge is to figure out exactly what went wrong last week aboard SpaceShipTwo, the private sector launch system being developed by Virgin Galactic, Scaled Composites, and a collection of truly gifted engineers, technologists, craftsmen, and pilots.

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