Salary survey published

The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) has published its 2010 annual survey report of general aviation service employee compensation. The report includes salaries and benefits for pilots, line-service personnel and maintenance technicians.

Compensation is broken down by geographic region of the country, the company’s gross sales, the size of the town or city in which the company is located, and by the number of employees in the company. In addition to pilots and maintenance technicians, the report includes compensation for inspectors, line service, and customer service representatives, among others.

Association Research Inc., an economic research firm based in Rockville, Maryland, conducted the salary study. For privacy reasons, none of the individual responses are provided to NATA.

The report is provided to NATA members who participated in the survey at no cost. The downloadable pdf version is available for $125 for non-participating members and $299 for non-NATA members. There is an additional $25 charge to receive a hard copy of the report.

For more information: NATA.aero.

Harrison Ford boosts GA on Capitol Hill

AOPA President Craig Fuller and Harrison Ford. AOPA Photo

Star power met political power Tuesday, April 27, when actor Harrison Ford came to Capitol Hill to talk with members of Congress and staff members. The popular star, who is an avid general aviation supporter, drew an estimated 160 persons who heard him tell how he uses his several aircraft and what general aviation means to communities, the economy, and special services, as well personal and business travel.

[Read more...]

Who was really the first to fly?

GUEST EDITORIAL By JOHN BECK

Who was the first person to fly?

Was it that snappy dresser from Brazil, Alberto Santos Dumont? His countrymen fervently think so. His first flight was Oct. 23, 1906. It was recognized by Brazilians and by the French and other Europeans to truly be the first controlled flight of a heavier-than-air aircraft. It had the ability to take off from the ground without any catapult assistance and it was witnessed in public by a large crowd and the scientific community.

Or was it Gustave Whitehead in Fairfield, Connecticut, on Aug. 14, 1901? Eyewitnesses signed depositions years later attesting to that statement. Modern replicas of Whitehead’s aircraft have been successfully flown.

When the Wright Brothers flew in the United States in front of people — the press in particular — they asked that no photographs be taken. They were very secretive because they were afraid that others would steal their designs or technical features of the aircraft. Between 1903 and 1906 they still didn’t have an approved or accepted patent, which was a factor in their secrecy. Their patent (#821,393) was granted May 22,1906 — three years after they first flew. Then in 1908 they were awarded a $25,000 government contract from the U.S. War Department. They went to Paris May 29, 1908, and finally demonstrated the aircraft in front of a very large crowd.

Interestingly, a contract was made between the estate of the Wright brothers and the Smithsonian Institution to display the Wright Flyer at the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C., which stated that if it is proven that anyone else had flown first, the Wright Flyer would be taken back. [Read more...]

Preventing bird strikes

According to audiotapes released by the FAA, US Airways Flight 1549, known as the “Miracle on the Hudson,” suffered a “double bird strike.” A formation of birds had approached the aircraft while it passed through an altitude of about 3,200 feet. When the aircraft hit the birds, the windscreen quickly turned dark brown and both engines ingested birds, causing an immediate loss of virtually all thrust. Passengers and crew later reported hearing “very loud bangs” in both engines, then noticed flaming exhaust followed by silence as the odor of unburned fuel filled the cabin. Fortunately, under the expert guidance of the flight crew, the damaged aircraft landed safely and everyone survived.

Reports of airplanes hitting birds rose dramatically in 2009. In fact, bird strikes last year could top 10,000 for the first time, an average of 27 strikes every day. In the first seven months of 2009, at least 57 bird strikes caused serious damage, three destroyed planes and a corporate helicopter was destroyed, killing eight and injuring six.

Unfortunately birds can cause more damage at airports than just bird strikes. Birds will nest or roost in maintenance buildings and hangars, on top of roofs, and on aircraft itself. Bird droppings are corrosive and can damage most building materials, including steel, aluminum, concrete and more.

[Read more...]

NextGen: Aviation’s smart phone

In a speech to the Wings Club, FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt calls NextGen — the Next Generation Air Traffic Control system — “aviation’s smart phone.”

In the April 21 speech, Babbitt said:

“NextGen matches any of a number of technological breakthroughs that are familiar to us. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that NextGen is aviation’s smart phone. Just like the smart phones put lots of things right at your fingertips, NextGen brings together dozens of improvements in airports, avionics and air traffic control. NextGen offers use of GPS, voice and data communications, and internet access through something we call SWIM. These improvements, when bundled together, result in a much more efficient, responsive, “green” airspace system that serves the traveling public and supports our national economy.”

You can read the whole speech here.

Need continues for Haitian relief

Photo Cutlines:  Photo 1: Rick Garcia’s Piper Seneca V loaded for departure from Lakeland  Photo 2: Left to Right – On the ramp at Cap Haitien - Rick Garcia; Wilbert Merzillus, head of one of the Haitian Hospitals that got the supplies; John Loute, Rick Garcia’s Haitian friend who accompanied him on the trip; two unidentified local Haitian airport workers

On the ramp at Cap Haitien: Rick Garcia (left); Wilbert Merzillus; John Loute; and two unidentified local Haitian airport workers in front of Garcia's Seneca V, which was loaded with medical and other relief supplies.

There is still a need for pilots to help in Haiti, reports Rick Garcia, president of Gulf Coast Avionics at Lakeland-Linder Regional Airport in Florida, who made a relief flight to the earthquake-stricken island March 6.

[Read more...]

Dominican Republic rolls out red carpet for U.S. pilots

The Dominican Republic (DR) is rolling out the red carpet for U.S. private pilots who want to explore the Caribbean island, which is located 650 miles south of Miami.

“With 13 airports that do not charge any fees, it’s easy for private pilots from America to come and explore Dominican scenery and culture, including our spectacular beaches, mountains, waterfalls, and exciting music and dance,” says Magaly Toribio, vice minister of international promotion for the DR Ministry of Tourism. “We want the DR to be the destination of choice for U.S. pilots.”

“It’s safe to fly to the DR,” adds Fernandez Zucco, DR’s minister of airport authority. “Within the 620 miles distance between Florida and DR, you’ll find 56 airfields under FAA regulations, with the path closely patrolled by the U.S. Coast Guard. The longest leg over the sea is about 120 miles.”

All government user fees for general aviation have been eliminated by Presidential Decree for all private aircraft that weigh less than 30,000 lbs. or have a maximum capacity of 12 passengers, he adds.

In order to enter the DR, visitors from the U.S., Canada and Europe don’t need a visa. They just need to pay $10 at the airport for a tourist card.

For more information: GoDominicanRepublic.com.

Discovering common ground

Airshow season has begun. At least it has in Florida, where the Sun ‘n Fun International Fly-In and Expo is in full bloom. The skies are blue, the winds are brisk, and the rain is at least a time zone away. All in all, the conditions are perfect for the central focus of this auspicious annual event – hangar flying.

I know, you thought Sun ‘n Fun was about airplanes, helicopters, homebuilts, warbirds, whiz-bang avionics or some other nonsense. Nope. It’s almost entirely about aviation enthusiasts getting together with other aviation enthusiasts, to talk about everybody’s favorite subject – aviation and how we deal with it!

On opening day I spent an absolutely stellar afternoon talking to pilots from Kentucky, New Hampshire, Florida, Arizona, Virginia, England, and who knows where else. They all had questions, and they all had stories. And yes, each and every conversation I was drawn into was entertaining, enlightening, and entirely worthwhile. Hopefully, the other participants came away with the same sense of connection that I felt. Based on the fist-full of business cards and hastily scribbled notes I collected, it would seem the benefit was mutual. [Read more...]

Bidders ‘dividing the spoils’ of Epic Air

Executives at China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Co. find themselves “dividing the spoils” of Epic Air with pilots who were assembling kit-built aircraft at the Bend company’s plant when it went bankrupt last year.

According to a report in The Oregonian, U.S. bankruptcy Judge Randall Dunn put the odd bedfellows together Friday when he ruled that the Chinese company could buy Epic for $4.3 million — but only if it signed an agreement before April 8 to let a group of Epic customers restart and manage aircraft manufacturing in Bend. The story notes:

“If China Aviation fails to agree with the LT Builders Group by then, Dunn is prepared to let a third bidder — Harlow Aerostructures, of Kansas — buy Epic’s assets. Under either scenario, airplane building appears set to return to Bend, where the recession has taken an especially high toll.”

Gulf Coast Avionics celebrates 25th anniversary

Gulf Coast Avionics President Rick Garcia with his Piper Seneca V in front of the company's LAL hangar.
Gulf Coast Avionics President Rick Garcia with his Piper Seneca V in front of the company's LAL hangar.

Gulf Coast Avionics President Rick Garcia with his Piper Seneca V in front of the company's LAL hangar.

Gulf Coast Avionics, headquartered at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport (LAL) in Florida, is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

The company, which opened as a two-man office in Tampa, Florida, has gone through a “remarkable 25-year period of continuous growth, expansion and recognition as a true one-stop shop for avionics, instruments, and pilot supplies,” according to company officials.

“The past 25 years have seen an amazing transformation of the company from where we started to where we are today,” said Rick Garcia, founder and president. [Read more...]