Category Archives: Aircraft

Aircraft related, airplanes, helicopters, gliders, balloons

Examining the A and P Licensing Test

aircraft mechanic

All aircraft mechanics must pass the Airframe and Powerplant (A and P) Licensing exam prior to being certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This doesn’t mean anyone who wants to be a aircraft mechanic can freely complete the test, receive a 70 percent or higher (the minimum mark to pass), and begin dogfighting with enemy fighter planes. This is far, far from the case. Prior to even touching the examination, aircraft mechanics are required to complete hours of flight training, even more hours at “ground school,” a few hours of takeoff and landing training at an airport, training for the practical test itself, and other odds and ends here and there. If that weren’t enough, certification applicants must also possess a student or sport pilot certificate. Point is getting to being an aircraft mechanic isn’t easy, and once you get there it isn’t much easier. Here is a brief guide of the A and P licensing test. Some of the best A and P aircraft maintenance schools can be found here:

On the first page of the FAA’s Knowledge Test Guide available on it reads, “Federal Aviation Administration airman knowledge tests are effective instruments for aviation safety and regulation measurement. However, these tests can only sample the vast amount of knowledge every aviation maintenance technician needs.” The A and P test is to establish a baseline of knowledge necessary to enter the workforce as a certified A and P technician. Consider the A and P 

like you’d consider the core curriculum of an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree like in many “traditional” areas of study. You need the core not only to become a certified technician, but also as a prerequisite for other areas of study, like if you wanted to get your Associate or Bachelor of Science in Aviation Maintenance Science.

Materials you need to bring to the Oral and Practice Exam:

  • Identification, generally in the form of a valid drivers’ license.
  • FAA Form 8610-2, Rating Application, or Airman certificate. Two copies.
  • Graduation certificate from a Part 147 school.
  • Written test results.
  • Proper payment amount for test administration.

So you know what the A and P is and you know what to bring to the testing center. What kind of questions are you likely to see? To start, it’ll depend. This is because there are three different tests you will need to take to receive an A and P certificate: general, airframe, and powerplant.

The questions you will answer are taken from a pool of hundreds of potential test questions. The test is of the multiple choice variety. Here are a couple examples taken straight from the FAA test guide:

  • Which of the following drill bit types work best when drilling an aramid fiber composite laminate?
    • Tool steel with standard grind.
    • Diamond dust coated.
    • Carbide W-Point.
    • Aluminum propeller blade failure at the site of an unrepaired nick or scratch is usually the result of
      • Material defect.
      • Intergranular corrosion.
      • Stress concentration.

As you can likely infer from the above, the test cannot be completed by just anybody, yet the questions certainly aren’t difficult if you’ve done your homework and studied. You can find test guides across the web or can speak with other aircraft mechanics for similar questions.

Kyle Garrett is the founder of Aviation Schools Online, has over 20 years of experience in the marketing and vocational school industry, and is an experienced instrument-rated private pilot


Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) and General Aviation

NextGen, ADS-B and General Aviation

The other day I wrote about how the JDPO is working hard to design the future of aviation, and how the NextGen is going to address the issues related to the safety, capacity and efficiency of the national airspace system while providing a flexible, expandable platform to accommodate future air traffic growth. You can read my article on NextGen Air Transportation System by clicking here.

JDPO is a group of government bodies, and the industry partners include Lockheed Martin, UPS, and a few other major aviation giants.

What I did not realize was that even General Aviation, and Flight Training institutes like the Embry Riddle (ERAU) are such an active partners in this program. As a matter of fact, after I saw this video I realized that as a matter of fact, this time around, this newer technology was handed over to the general aviation community even before the commercial airlines were able to get their hands on it.

In fiscal year 2006, the FAA approved funding for the implementation of Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) at eight sites. ADS-B is surveillance, like radar, but offers more precision and additional services, such as weather and traffic information. ADS-B provides air traffic controllers and pilots with much more accurate information to help keep aircraft safely separated in the sky and on runways.

Here is a link to my previous article on ADS-B.

ADS-B Applications for Aircraft

  • Enhanced Visual Acquisition: provides the flight crew with enhanced traffic situational awareness in controlled and uncontrolled airspace/airports.
  • Enhanced Visual Approaches: enhances successive approaches for aircraft cleared to maintain visual separation from another aircraft on the approach.
  • Final Approach and Runway Occupancy Awareness: reduces the likelihood of flight crew errors associated with runway occupancy and improves the capability of the flight crew to detect ATC errors.
  • Airport Surface Situational Awareness – Conflict Detection: reduces the potential for deviations, errors, and collisions through an increase in flight crew situational awareness while operating an aircraft on the airport movement area.

Avionics Technician Careers

The more I am learning about this, the more I worry about that who is going to fix all these avionics when they break down. There is already an extreme shortage of aviation mechanics, and these guys are not even trained to repair avionics! And to be able to repair avionics, one doesn’t even have to be an aircraft or aviation mechanic.

And, from my 20 some years of aviation experience, I know that the avionics technicians are much harder to find nowadays, and they make a lot more money as well. So I started to look around to see who all offer Avionics Training, and I was surprised to find that there are quite a few options out there.

One excellent option is Redstone College in the Denver area. Redstone and Lockheed Martin even have a joint scholarship program for Avionics Training. If I had the choice to go back in time, I know what I would do.

Sean D. Tucker with Oprah Winfrey (video)

Ok guys. The other day I wrote about Sean D. Tucker, the world famous aerobatic pilot, who also is an honorary Thunderbird and Blue Angel, and performs for the the Team Oracle, and was supposed to be on Oprah’s TV show. If you did not get a chance to get the courage, or time, to sit and watch that show, here is a YouTube video recording of the show for you.

And if you do not know who Sean Tucker is, you can click here and read all about him in my previous post. The show was nice; with Sean in it, of course. His competition this time, for the time and attention on the Oprah was Oprah’s new favorite pair of jeans. Obviously, we don’t have the jeans part in this video. If you really want to watch that segment, the one with her jeans, you can always go to YouTube and search for it.

Sean is the only civilian pilot that I know of, who has flown in formation with the Blue Angels, Thunderbirds , and the Canadian Snowbirds. He has many other awards, recognitions, and things like that under his belt.

He trained with Amelia Reid; the first lady of aviation of California at Reid Hillview airport, San Jose, CA. And BTW, so did Rod Machado.

We’ll talk about Amelia Reid and Rod Machado some other time. Now go ahead and watch the Sean Tucker and Oprah video, and leave a comment here if you wish.

Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B)

In one of my previous articles we talked about the NextGen; Next Generation Air Transportation System, and how it is working towards making the future of the air navigation in aviation industry better, safer and automated. We have also talked about how the future of aviation is getting more environment friendly and greener. If you have not read those articles, I suggest you read those as well to get the most accurate and complete information on this topic.

One of NextGen’s most promising initiatives with potential for broad operational applications is Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), a technology that could revolutionize air navigation and surveillance, and be the backbone of the future system.  In fact, some companies, such as United Parcel Service (UPS), are already using ADS-B in their operations, and are realizing savings in jet fuel and faster delivery schedules.

ADS-B uses GPS satellites and ground-based equipment to allow aircraft to broadcast their transmissions with greater frequency and accuracy than the current land-based legacy radar systems.  With ADS-B, pilots will see exactly what the air traffic controller sees.

The Capstone program is a long-term, highly successful application of ADS-B in a non-radar environment.  ADS-B, one of NextGen’s essential foundational technologies, will continue its development with the goal of deployment throughout Alaska.  Since initial deployment, general aviation accidents have decreased by 40%.  The practical information provided by this FAA program has also proven invaluable in guiding the development of NextGen.

The United Parcel Service (UPS) is using ADS-B in trials at its hub in Louisville, Kentucky. The company is realizing savings while simultaneously reducing the adverse environmental impact of its flight operations.  The traditional “step-down” landing approach requires planes to use high thrust to level off at different stages, resulting in more fuel burn and additional noise and pollution.  ADS-B allows for an improved landing procedure called Optimized Profile Descents.

Taking advantage of improved situational awareness, Optimized Profile Descents permit planes to constantly descend from cruise altitude all the way to touch-down.  Using Optimized Profile Descents, UPS reduced flight time, allowing more planes to land, while cutting back on emissions and noise.  Once ADS-B is fully implemented, UPS anticipates an annual fuel reduction of 800,000 gallons.  Furthermore, the company forecasts a 30% decrease in noise and an emissions reduction of 34% in the vicinity of airports (3,000 feet or below).

The FAA signed a Memorandum of Agreement with helicopter operators, and oil and gas platform owners in the Gulf of Mexico to improve air traffic control in the region.

Currently, most helicopters operating offshore in the Gulf cannot communicate or be seen by air traffic controllers, requiring pilots to rely mostly on visual flight rules.  As a result, helicopter service to offshore platforms is severely curtailed in poor visibility conditions.

With ADS-B equipment installed on aircraft and platforms, helicopters are able to transmit critical position information to the Houston Air Route Traffic Control Center, resulting in improved communications.  This allows for continued helicopter activity on platforms in poor visibility in contrast to periodic weather-related stoppages.

Network-Enabled Operations (NEO) refers to the ability to link together information from a wide range of sources.  It is a high priority for JPDO and NextGen partner agencies.  NEO provides a platform for interested parties to have consistent, up-to-date, secure, and simultaneous access to the same information.

Boeing C-17 Globemaster or Lockheed C-5 Galaxy

Recently, the US government has decided to discontinue placing any further orders for the C -17 Globemaster III aircraft. However the competition, C-5 Galaxy aircraft are to be ordered instead. When I heard about this, it really got my attention and I spent some time researching information about both the aircraft. There is a lot of information on various websites, not to mention Wikipedia. I have compiled some very concise information here in this article for your review. And of course, if this get’s your attention as well, you may search the internet for related information yourself.

C-17 is manufactured in the United States by the world famous Boeing company, formerly, McDonnell Douglas. The C-5 is manufactured in United States as well by a well known competition (at least in the defense sector) Lockheed. The plant for C-17 is in California, even though the Boeing company headquarters are in Seattle and the defense segment headquarters are in the state of Missouri. C-17 carries on the name of two previous United States military cargo aircraft, the C-74 Globemaster and the C-124 Globemaster II.

Both the C-17 and the C-5 are used for rapid strategic airlift of troops and cargo to main operating bases or forward operating bases throughout the world. Both have the ability to rapidly deploy a combat unit to a potential battle area and sustain it with on-going battle and cargo supplies. Both the C-17 and C-5 are also capable of performing tactical airlift, medical evacuation and airdrop missions.

The C-17 Globemaster III is relatively a much younger and newer aircraft (almost by 25 years) compared to it’s competitor C-5 Galaxy. The C-17 was introduced on July 14th, 1993 and the C-5 in June of 1070. The respective 1st flights of C-17 Globemaster III and the C-5 Galaxy were on September 15th, 1991 and June 30th, 1968.

Boeing is currently carrying out this advertisement campaign trying to gather signed support from the members of the general public to present to the US Congress so they can re-consider their decision against the C-17 Globemaster III. Hopefully, the armed forces, especially the US air force veterans (VA) and others, will help sign this petition and force the congress to review the case of C-17 again.

By the way, C-17s are currently in service with the US Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force, Canadian Forces Air Command, NATO Heavy Airlift Wing, Qatar Air Force, United Arab Emirates, and UK Royal Air Force. C-5 on the other hand, is exclusively and US Air Force aircraft.

I have already signed the petition, as I think it would be the right thing to do. I encourage all of you guys to the same as well. If you have any questions about this, you can post your comments below.

C-5M Super Galaxy Sets 41 World Records

A joint U.S. Air Force and Lockheed Martin flight crew flying a C-5M Super Galaxy strategic transport claimed 41 world aeronautical records in one flight on September 13.

The flight from Dover AFB broke eight existing world marks and established standards in 33 other categories where there had been no previous record attempt. The records were set in the Class C-1.S, Jet category for altitude in horizontal flight, altitude with payload, time-to-climb, time-to-climb with payload and greatest payload to 2,000 meters. The aircraft carried a payload of more than 80,000 kg (the actual measured payload weight was 176,610 lb) to an altitude of more than 41,100 feet in 23 minutes, 59 seconds.

USAF C-5 Galaxy Serial Number 83-1285

The Class C-1.S Jet category is for aircraft weighing from 250,000 kilograms (551,155 pounds) to 300,000 kg (661,386 lb). The C-5M had a takeoff weight of 649,680 lb, which included fuel, crew weight, necessary equipment, and the payload, which was loaded on 29 standard U.S. military 463L cargo pallets. All C-5s are capable of carrying 36 pallets.

The flight set a new record for altitude with payload of 41,188 feet. It also set marks for time-to-climb and time-to-climb with 35,000 kg (77,162 lb), 40,000 kg (88,185 lb), 45,000 kg (99,208 lb), 50,000 kg (110,231 lb), 60,000 kg (132,277 lb), 70,000 kg (154,323 lb), and 80,000 kg payload. The flight took 4 minutes, 13 seconds to reach 3,000 m (9,843 ft) altitude; 7 min., 27 sec to get to 6,000 m (19,685 ft); 13 min., 8 sec. to fly to 9,000 m (29,528 ft); and 23 min., 59 sec to fly to 12,000 meters (39,371 ft).

The flight also broke existing class records for altitude in horizontal flight (41,116 ft) and altitude with 35,000 kg, 40,000 kg, 45,000 kg, 50,000 kg, 60,000 kg, and 70,000 kg payload (41,188 ft). The mission broke the record for greatest payload (80,036 kg/176,610 lbs) to 2,000 meters (6,562 ft) as well.

All of the records will first be certified as United States national records by the National Aeronautic Association, the nation’s oldest aviation organization. The NAA, based in Arlington, Va., is the U.S. representative to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), the sanctioning body for all world aviation records. Formal approval of the C-5M records by the Lausanne, Switzerland-based FAI is expected to take several weeks.

Source: Lockheed Martin

Ever Made a Forced Landing on a Road? Aviation Safety Wants to Hear About It!

If you’ve ever had to make an emergency landing on a road, we’d like to hear more about it. As part of sister publication Aviation Safety magazine’s new podcast series, we’re looking for pilots who have had the combined misfortune and good luck to make a forced landing on a road. Especially if your event includes a “teachable moment,” we may ask you to help inform other pilots about the lessons you learned by participating in an upcoming podcast, moderated by Aviation Safety magazine Editor-in-Chief Jeb Burnside.If you’ve “been there, done that” and would like to share your experience with other pilots, please drop us a note at briefly describing what happened. Please also include your name, e-mail, and telephone number. We’ll take it from there!

SourcedFrom Sourced from: AVweb Top News

Effects of lightning strike on an aircraft

Pilot or a passenger, we all have wondered what would happen if the airplane that I’m flying in is hit by lightning?

We know that friction causes drag.  What we may not realize is that this same friction also creates static electricity.  As an airplane flies through the air it continuously creates a static charge, especially on the aircraft control surfaces.  This situation is only made worse when flying through any kind of precipitation or even worse, volcanic ash.   Static wicks which are attached to the trailing edges of control surfaces are designed to help dissipate this charge to the surrounding air.  Static wicks protect not only our flight instruments and radios but also the flight surfaces themselves.  Without the static wicks attached, the static charge on the surface would try to “jump” the un-conductive control hinges to the rest of the aircraft.  This “jump” or arc could cause permanent damage to the surface itself if the static charge had the opportunity to build sufficiently.  To further protect against this damaging “jump”, manufacturers also attach conductive bonding strips to keep the static build-up to a minimum.

The airplanes are primarily made of aluminum which is an excellent conductor of electricity.  This conductive property of aluminum creates a “Faraday cage” around the airplane protecting its’ contents. This “cage” shields the contents inside from the current that might be present on the surface of the Faraday cage.   Although there is a lot of static electricity on the outside skin of an aircraft, the aluminum conducts the electricity away from the interior and towards those static wicks.

Now some aircraft are not manufactured with traditional aluminum but with a high-strength composite material; like the Beechcraft Premier or Cessna Columbia.  Fortunately, engineers have designed strike protection into the composite material by making one of the layers a graphite cloth and aluminum ply.  This ply, which is highly conductive, also serves to create the same “Faraday cage” affect that is found on traditionally manufactured airplanes.  Some composite airplanes also have an additional layer of protection against lightning strikes by installing Metal Oxide Varistors (MOV) throughout the circuitry.  MOVs are designed for failure.  If an MOV senses a sudden surge of current (from say a lightning strike) than it is designed to break and protect the rest of the aircraft’s delicate electronic systems.

So obviously with all these various lightning strike/static electricity protection systems, engineers are designing aircraft with the assumption that aircraft stand a reasonable good chance of being struck by lightning.  In fact, it is believed that most commercial aircraft are struck up to twice a year. Most of the time, a lightning strike is a minor event (thanks to those protective systems).  The only evidence left behind in most strikes is a small lightning entry and exit point.   In the photo below, you can see where lightning made a small entry point on the top part of the aircraft’s radome (nose) and you can see the exit point about 6 inches lower.

Sometimes aircraft damage from a lightning strike is more severe.  Lightning has been known to pop circuit breakers (which fails aircraft systems), magnetize control surfaces, punch large holes through aluminum (although this is extremely rare) and flicker or even cause the failure of some glass cockpit displays. This leads us to the next question, has an airplane ever crashed as a direct result of lightning?

I wish I could say no, but accident investigation evidence says otherwise.  The Flight Safety Foundation (FSF) through the Aviation Safety Network lists several airplane accidents where lightning was a direct contributing factor in the accident.  You can see the list for yourself.  The most recent listing is a Dornier 228 that on December 04, 2003 took a direct lightning strike that the crew immediately reported.  The lightning apparently damaged the rudder and made aircraft control very difficult.  Fortunately, there were no fatalities although but the aircraft was considered a total loss.  There are older accidents listed as well by the Aviation Safety Network and some of these, although very tragic, have benefited travel safety today in the form of better design and engineering in aircraft systems.

HAL Pushpak Mk II

The Hindustan HUL-26 Pushpak

was a 1950s Indian two-seat cabin monoplane designed and built by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and based on the Aeronca Chief built in Middletown Ohio from 1945 to 1949. The Pushpak was a high-wing braced monoplane with a fixed tailwheel landing gear. Fuselage was built out of metal tubing and covered in fabric, and the wings were made using aluminum ribs on wooden wing spars, then covered in the same fabric. The Pushpak first flew on the 28 September 1958 and was powered by a 90hp (67kW) Continental flat-four engine. Around 160 aircraft were produced for Indian flying clubs for use as basic trainers.


Pushpak Manual page

General Characteristics

    Crew: 2
    Length: 21 ft 0 in (6.40 m)
    Wingspan: 36 ft 0 in (10.97 m)
    Height: 9 ft 1 in (2.77 m)
    Wing area: 175 ft² (16.26 m²)
    Empty weight: 870 lb (395 kg)
    Gross weight: 1350 lb (612 kg)
    Powerplant: 1 × Continental C90-8F flat-four piston engine, 90 hp (67 kW)


    Maximum speed: 90 mph (145 km/h)