NTSB to study drug trends in aviation accidents

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Transportation Safety Board will consider a study on drug use trends in aviation Sept. 9. It will examine trends in over-the-counter, prescription and illicit drug use documented from toxicology reports of pilots that died in aircraft crashes for the 22 years between 1990 and 2012.

The meeting on the drug trends will follow a meeting to determine the probable cause of a UPS Airlines accident that killed both the pilot and co-pilot in August 2013 as the flight was making an approach into the international airport at Birmingham, Alabama.

Brrrrr, ka-ching

If you’re connected to social media in any way, you’ve no doubt spent a good deal of time in recent weeks watching people get wet. Like flagpole sitting, goldfish swallowing, and stuffing as many college kids into a VW bug as possible, it’s something of a fad. Most commonly referred to as the “ice bucket challenge,” this ridiculous excuse for personal exhibitionism actually has roots in a noble cause.

Roots are one thing. Where the branches go is something else.

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Ask Paul: The oil filter debate continues

In the July 5 print issue of General Aviation News, reader Dennis Reiley offered his thoughts in Letters to the Editor about my column, “Does my engine need an oil filter?”

Here’s a bit of what he had to say: “I have to disagree with Paul. Every internal combustion engine needs an oil filter — even those that have frequent oil changes. An oil filter can mean the difference between getting to your destination safely and experiencing a catastrophic engine failure.”

First, I wouldn’t say Dennis is disagreeing with me, because I understand exactly where he’s coming from. Besides that, I agree with him, but there are other factors that come into play as to whether an engine is equipped with a full flow oil filter or not.
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FAA interpretation of cost-sharing flights raises cautionary flags

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A recent ruling by the FAA regarding share-the-expense rides raises a cautionary flag for private pilots to be sure they are in compliance with not-for-hire regulations. The FAA issued a legal interpretation after several groups launched programs that brought together people wanting to travel to a particular place and pilots intending to go to the same location.

In brief, the FAA’s interpretation of regulations permits pilots to accept payment for a share of expenses so long as both the pilot and parties involved as passengers are traveling to a common destination and the pilot does not pay less than the pro rata share of expenses involving only fuel, oil, airport expenses, or rental fees. If a pilot accepts more than a pro rata share of expenses, he or she is in violation of FAA regulations.

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AirPooler wants FAA clarification on ride-sharing interpretation

 WASHINGTON, D.C. — Steve Lewis, co-founder and CEO of AirPooler, says the FAA’s announced interpretation of flight-sharing-costs is causing confusion among pilots and urges the agency to clarify what it means.

The FAA’s position, he said, is based on a 1963 ruling that was reversed the following year. Lewis said the FAA is now calling cost sharing “compensation”and should cite examples on which its ruling is based.

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Action, reaction, over-reaction

In the political arena opinions are rampant. Facts are often scarce, and statistics are often tweaked until reduced to little more than useless gibberish designed to support an otherwise unsupportable argument.

This is true in every town, every state, and every country. It’s a human trait, not a failing of the left or the right, the north or the south, the American or National league. It’s all of us. It’s you. It’s me.

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VFR sectional? There’s more to know

Photo by Brian Lockoff, courtesy of Goleta Air and Space Museum

One way to avoid mid-air surprises is to know where likely traffic is coming from. That’s easier said than done outside your local area. It’s really tough for new pilots still learning the ropes.

When I was a student in the mid-1960s, I already knew the FAA said to watch out around VORs, where traffic converges. But on a solo stint out to a “distant” VOR, the lesson came in spades.

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GA issues stalled until after election

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congress is now on its summer recess. Members will reconvene Sept. 8 for a session of just two weeks and two days. Once it adjourns Sept. 23, the Congress won’t meet again until after the November election.

This is a short time for a quarreling legislative body to accomplish much of what it was not able to in the previous months and years. However, to some, a short schedule is a good thing.

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Transitions and trade-offs

Go with me on this. It’s a good story.

Annie was a 15-year-old mutt who came to us through the local pound. She was past her date for euthanization when we found her. Somehow her paperwork had been lost, buying her an extra day or two. Thank goodness. When my wife and I walked into the shelter, our two young daughters in tow, there was no doubt which dog lit their hearts on fire. It was Annie. Anastasia, actually. But we called her Annie. My youngest in a fit of rhyming glory dubbed her Annie B’annie. I liked that.

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