Reaching the next generation


A career in aviation isn’t limited to being a pilot, flight attendant or mechanic. Dozens of girls ranging in age from 13 to 19 learned what their options are during the annual Women Fly event at the Museum of Flight in Seattle March 5.

The event, part career fair, part college fair, is designed to let the girls gather information about potential careers from mentors and college officials.


The day consisted of workshops and a panel discussion with women in aviation from all over the world. At the end of the event the girls lined up to have their programs signed. Here a young visitor collects the signature of Michelle Bassanesi of Italy. Bassanesi, a flight instructor, is the founder of Aviation and Women in Europe.

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The impact of new aircraft types on NextGen

Emerging new aircraft types, such as Very Light Jets (VLJ) and Cruise-Efficient Short TakeOff and Landing (CESTOL) aircraft, have the potential to positively affect the efficiency and capacity of the NextGen Air Transportation System, according to research recently completed by Sensis Corp. and its project team.

Under a NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate contract, “Integration of Advanced Concepts and Vehicles into the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen),” the team analyzed the impact of five advanced vehicles in NextGen scenarios. In addition to a CESTOL vehicle, the team investigated Large Commercial Tiltrotor Aircraft (LCTR), an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), a VLJ and a Supersonic Transport (SST). NASA is currently evaluating the data and recommendations that were generated by the project.

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The danger of fatigue

National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman recently encouraged the sleep research and healthcare community to continue their efforts to educate transportation policy makers of the dangers of fatigue in all modes of transportation.

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Red Bull Race prepares for takeoff



The 2010 Red Bull Air Race World Championship season kicks off in Abu Dhabi, UAE on March 26 and 27. Pilots navigate a low-level aerial track made up of air-filled pylons, flying at speeds reaching 230 mph while withstanding forces up to 12 Gs. Each race is a two-day competition with a Qualifying and Race Day where pilots compete one at a time for the fastest time through the track.

What’s new this year:

  • The Big Apple: On June 19-20, 15 of the world’s best race pilots will compete in the fifth leg of the 2010 Red Bull Air Race World Championship tour over the Hudson River. This is the first time a race will take place in New York. Past stops in the USA have included San Diego, Calif. (pictured above), San Francisco, Calif, Detroit, Michigan and Monument Valley, Utah.
  • Plane & Pilot: Given the differences within the 15-pilot roster in height and weight, the sport this year has instituted a new rule that requires a minimum weight for each plane making the field more even.
  • New Faces: Two new pilots join the 2010 line-up:  Adilson Kindlemann (Brazil) and Martin Sonka (Czech Republic).
  • Just launched is the redesigned online hub for racer #4, Kirby Chambliss. The new site,, will offer fans an interactive gateway into Kirby’s travels on the World Championship tour as well as the last news and information about his #4 race team.

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LSA grabs 25% of GA sales

It has to get better! According to GAMA, the organization that represents the Type Certified aircraft world, “2009 worldwide shipments of general aviation airplanes declined for a second year in a row with a total of 2,276 units delivered, a 42.6% decrease over the previous year’s total of 3,967 airplanes.” However, GAMA numbers include twins and turbines, which include all bizjets. A fairer comparison to Light Sport Aircraft compares only piston aircraft. Here GAMA says, “The piston airplane segment experienced the greatest decline at 54.5%. Shipments totaled 965 airplanes in 2009, compared to 2,119 unit airplanes in 2008.”

Think about those two numbers. They compare to 234 LSA in the difficult year of 2009, down 42% from 2008’s 406-unit performance. LSA sales — as measured by aircraft N-number registrations — show the ratios between general aviation and LSA. In 2009 LSA sales equated to 24% of GA piston sales; both figures are industry-wide. In 2008 the ratio was 19%, so while significantly off, LSA did slightly better than GA piston sales in 2009.

LSA registration numbers are down from 2007 (565 fixed wing aircraft registered) and 2006 (491). But discounting economic woes, the figures appear to show that LSA represent somewhere between 20% and 25% of GA piston sales — and I predict this share will rise, with LSA becoming closer to 33% to 50% of all piston sales.

When will that happen? It could be another five years, allowing for four factors: General economic recovery; increased acceptance of the LSA concept; continued adoption of ASTM standards in more countries; and the opening of potentially giant markets like China and India. Some experts believe global interest in LSA will also stimulate U.S. sales.

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The surprising secret to negotiating a good hangar lease

With the possible exception of that ego-enhanced titan of real estate and self-promotion, Donald Trump, most of us don’t particularly relish the idea of sitting down to hammer out a new contract. We don’t care for the process at the car dealership, we’re skittish in the lawyer’s office where we close on our homes, and we wouldn’t mind skipping the periodic visit to the airport manager’s office where we delve into the myriad unpleasant possibilities that may arise with each new hangar lease.

In short, almost nobody puts contract renegotiation at the top of their list of favorite things to do on a sunny afternoon.

Still, both sides need the protection of a contract. The days of long-term business arrangements that were based on a handshake and a smile are long gone – if they ever existed at all. Both parties need the assurance that they know exactly what they are agreeing to when it comes to negotiations. [Read more…]