Tag Archives: General Aviation News

Not paying your pilots can be deadly

“Human Factors” statistically has contributed to more than 70% of all commercial aviation hull loss accidents. Initially human factors were considered strictly a flight operations issue, which is now classified as “Pilot Error”, but now include the aircraft maintenance, air traffic control operations and few other areas. You can read more about Human Factors on the wiki.

Airlines based in India

In simpler words, more accidents have happened, where the technology was not at fault, and it was a human error, where incorrect decisions were made. FAA implemented the Crew Resource management (CRM) and Maintenance Resource Management (MRM) programs to counteract human errors. There are many external sources that can and do affect a pilot’s judgment skills and abilities. Many have been identified by the FAA and have been incorporated in the training of the pilots.

Illness, Medications, Stress, Alcohol, Fatigue, Emotions (IM SAFE checklist) are some of the culprits interfering with a good Aeronautical Decision Making process (ADM). I’d like to talk more about Stress here. Many things can cause stress; NOT GETTING PAID at your JOB definitely is STRESSFULL. This is the current situation with many airlines in India, including the state owned Air India!! Many pilots have not received a pay check in months!

Can we look at this simply as a labor code violation, or do you think this can be an accident waiting to happen? Flying an airliner thinking about how you are going to provide for your family? Would you like to be a passenger in one of these airlines, where the pilots have not received their paychecks in months? Probably not. How would you like these airlines to operate in our airspace?

What’s even more disturbing is FAA’s category 1 aviation safety rating for these airlines. FAA does not consider “not paying your pilots” as a threat to safety.

Since 1992 FAA implements a program called International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) and grades countries based on aviation safety rating, and India happens to have category 1 rating, which allows their airlines to fly in and out of our airspace freely. Obviously IASA’s category 1 rating, meaning, India’s oversight of it’s airlines (including the one owned by itself) meets the ICAO standards, and not paying it’s pilots in months is not a safety oversight!!

Louis Zamperini: The Airman Who Could Not Be Broken

Unbroken is the story of Louis Zamperini, a World War II airman whose B-24 bomber was shot down in the Pacific Ocean. Laura Hillenbrand, who also authord Seabiscuit, goes to great lengths to paint an incredible portrait of this pilot’s courage and resilience.

Zamperini was an avid runner before joining the Air Force. In college he broke numerous collegiate records and qualified for the 1936 Games in Berlin. He carried his team to 8th place in the 5000 meters, finishing with an incredible 56-second final lap.

Zamperini was deployed to the Pacific Theatre where his B-24 was shot down and he and one other crew member survived by eating raw fish and birds for 47 days before drifting onto Japanese-occupied land. The two become prisoners of war and are subjected to a harrowing ordeal that at various times nearly costs them both their lives.

Unbroken is an inspiring tale of courage in the face of impossible odds and redemption. Hillenbrand takes great care in telling her subject’s story and, using interviews with family members along with tireless research of Zamperini’s fellow POWs, is able to piece together this tale.

Aside from Zamperini’s incredible story, the book provides a lot of gristle for aviation enthusiasts. The story begins with a young Zamperini who sits up in bed after hearing a loud “whooshing” sound outside his bedroom in the California night sky. He runs out onto the lawn and looks up, only to see the German dirigible Graf Zeppelin floating through the night sky. Hillenbrand also details many of the planes and bombers the U.S. and Japanese militaries employed. Especially interesting are the times when Hillenbrand delves into the rudimentary technology the early U.S. bombers used. Her description of the bomb sights those crafts utilized give a new appreciation for the skill and precision that went into operating them.

Whether you consider yourself an aviation fanatic or you can’t tell the difference between a B-24 and a B-52, Unbroken is a book worth picking up. It’s inspiring subject matter and super-fine detail can be appreciated by everyone.

Logan is a guest blogger who writes about the aviation industry and jet charter services. He takes off from Teterboro airport on a regular basis.

Flight Training Scholarships for the Physically Disabled

In the past I have posted a list of 101 General Aviation and Flight Training Scholarships, Federal Aid for Flight Training, and An Aircraft in each Household – a Dream or Reality. Now read about how a non-profit Able Flight in partnership with a top aviation university, Purdue University is making it possible for disabled individuals to earn their Sport Pilot certificate in less than a month, and that too with full aviation scholarship!

Able Flight is a non-profit which provides scholarships to handicapped people to assist them learn to fly, and Purdue University’s Department of Aviation Technology have partnered up, for a joint flight training project for summer 2010. Beginning in later part of May or early June, 2-4 Able Flight scholarship recipients will reside in “accessible” university housing and be trained by university flight instructors at the Purdue University Airport in West Lafayette, Indiana. The student pilots will have the opportunity to earn their Sport Pilot certificates in only a month.

Over the next few months, Able Flight will select scholarship winners from it’s pool of candidates, with priority given to current or incoming Purdue University students and other Indiana state residents with physical disabilities. Current Purdue students may earn course credit for the ground school portion of their training, and other student pilots may qualify for continuing education credits (CEC).

The student pilots will train in specially modified aircraft suited to their physical needs. At least one Sky Arrow LSA will be available for the project and is being provided by Sean O’Donnell of Philly Sport Pilot. Philly Sport Pilot will also provide transitional training for university flight instructors in the Sky Arrow.

“The Aviation Technology program at Purdue is devoted to access to aviation. We see the collaboration with Able Flight as a unique opportunity for a collegiate aviation program to extend the freedom of flight to individuals that might not be aware they can fly. Purdue’s aviation program is world-class and we need the best and brightest individuals. Physical barriers should not impede the opportunity to fly and we want all people to know they can fly at Purdue. Purdue is committed to pre-eminent leadership in aviation technology and Able Flight will bring to us a new cadre of people who otherwise might not consider careers in aviation.” – Dr. Brent Bowen, department head of the program

“We’re excited to work with Purdue to create this opportunity for our scholarship winners. Purdue’s Department of Aviation Technology is not only one of the premier aviation programs in the country, it is an innovative leader in the training of pilots and aeronautical engineers. During their time there, our student pilots will be immersed in flying in a demanding but supportive setting, and have the chance to explore opportunities for future undergraduate and graduate degrees in aviation.” – Charles Stites, Able Flight

If you need more information regarding this, you may visit their respective website. ableflight.org and purdue.edu

New Charter Pilot Jobs in India

A new company in India is launching the country’s first small piston engine airplane on demand air-charter service, starting with a fleet of two Cirrus SR22 aircraft. Manav Singh, the Chairman of Air Car (and Club One Air) states that the seats are expected to be priced competitively with business-class airline tickets and half the price of competition’s air-charter options. The company will fly out of Delhi and serve destinations within a 300 mile radius, including several emerging cities that lack airline service. “Air Car offers the option to travel faster to these places at reasonable rates,” said Uttam Kumar Bose, former CEO of Air Sahara, and a partner in Air Car.

Air Car has 10 SR-22s on order per Mr. U.K. Bose. The company plans to add 2-3 airplanes each quarter and expand nationwide over the next 5 years. The company is also working to offer package deals to corporate clients.

“We will fly to short distances and the price to charter a plane would be as low as an executive class ticket in a full service carrier between Delhi-Chandigarh, which is about Rs. 10,000 one way” Manav Singh, chairman Air Car said.

Managing director of the company Mr. Uttam Kumar Bose said, “In India, only 200 people can afford to charter a plane in a year. We want to change that and provide low-cost options and in the next 2 years we are looking at 20,000 passengers.

So what does all this mean to unemployed DGCA CPL holders in India? New pilot jobs! If Air Car is planning to add 2-3 aircraft per quarter over the next 5 years, that equates to 8-15 new aircraft per year or about 50 aircraft over the next 5 years. Each aircraft usually should have a crew of 4 pilots each (small aircraft, charter on demand type flight operations), and that means 200 new pilot positions over a period of 5 years.

And I don’t think Air Car is going to be strictly SR-22 either. I am sure they are going to add various other smaller piston and jet aircraft to serve India’s short distance charter on demand market. Also, others are definitely going to join in to compete for the same market.

If you are a CPL holder in India, this should be a good news for you.

Amazing NTSB (Animation) US Airways Airbus Crash Ditching in Hudson

NTSB’s investigation hearings of the Jan 15th, 2009 US Airways’ Airbus Flight 1549 bird-strike incident which led to the ditching of the aircraft in Hudson river have generated some potential recommendations – developing an on-aircraft anti-bird technology for rounding-up and wiping-out thousands of Canada Geese. At the hearings, Airbus test pilots supported Captain Sullenberger’s decision; to ditch the aircraft in the river instead of trying to make LaGuardia or Teterboro airports.

Airbus’ fly by wire system was commended for allowing Capt. Sullenberger to maintain the best airspeed for the ditching simply by holding the joystick in full aft position and letting the computers do the the rest; not letting the aircraft stall while he simply maintained the wings level.The hearings also reviewed and made public a rather compelling NTSB video animation with overlay-ed ATC audio and CVR content (textual). A board member’s call for more research into onboard bird-repellant or bird-deterrent technologies is supported by at least one study, conducted by Qantas and Precise Flight, which concluded that aircraft equipped with pulsed landing light system resulted in fewer bird strikes.

2004 Tests conducted by the U.S. Agriculture Department were less definitive; but further research (specifically, into flash frequency and light wavelengths) may be recommended by the NTSB.

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.

Next Generation Air Transportation System – NextGen

The Future of Aviation

NextGen, shorthand for the Next Generation Air Transportation System, refers to a wide-ranging initiative to transform the air traffic control system. It focuses on leveraging new technologies, such as satellite-based navigation, surveillance, and networking. The initiative involves meaningful collaboration among government departments and agencies as well as companies in the aerospace and related industries.

Currently, the U.S. air transportation system handles roughly 50,000 flights over a 24-hour period. By 2025, air traffic is projected to increase two-to-three fold, equating to 100,000-150,000 flights every 24 hours. It is acknowledged that the current U.S. air transportation system will not be able to meet these air traffic demands.

In transforming the national airspace system, JPDO is working with the FAA , NASA , the Departments of Transportation , Defense , Homeland Security , Commerce , and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy .

The Senior Policy Committee of JPDO directs the NextGen initiative. The committee is chaired by the Secretary of Transportation, and includes the Undersecretary for Policy of the Department of Transportation; Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration; Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration; Secretary of the United States Air Force, representing the Department of Defense; Deputy Secretary of the Department of Commerce; Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security; and the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

There are nine capabilities that will enable the transformation of the national air transportation system. The NextGen capabilities are as follows:

  1. Integrated NextGen Information
  2. Separation Management
  3. Capacity Management
  4. Trajectory Management
  5. Security
  6. Flow Contingency Management
  7. Environment
  8. Safety
  9. Flexible Airport and Surface Operations

Providing a high level of security in air transportation is a major goal for NextGen, which envisions a layered, adaptive security system.  This means a system that depends on multiple technologies, policies, and procedures that adapt to individual situations, and can change according to the threat level.  Other security measures will be in place as additional roadblocks to neutralize the threat, whether it is in the airport, on the plane, or in the air.

Intercontinental travel is, of course, a key element of the world’s air transportation system.  “Global Harmonization” is the technical term for coordinating NextGen activities with our counterparts throughout the world.

The FAA entered into an agreement with the European Commission (EC), which formalized cooperation between the NextGen initiative and its European counterpart, the Single European Sky Air Traffic Management Research (SESAR) program.  The FAA and EC are following through to identify opportunities and, as appropriate, establish timelines to implement common, interoperable, performance-based air traffic management systems and technologies.

And by the way, the ability to track any flight, whether commercial airline flights, or privately owned Cessna aircraft, from the convenience of your computer is already available, and I have talked about it in my other post – Live Flight Tracking. And it is Free.

ADS-B; Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast is one of the initiatives of the JPDO’s NextGen program. You can read all about it here; and watch the video as well. It is pretty cool!

Fate of today’s airline industry, a quick overview

So today I decided to get out of my shell, and read up some aviation news on BBC. It has been quite depressing lately, so I had to do something to find some spark in my life, and this is what I found out:

Ryanair may halt ‘rapid growth’

Irish budget airline Ryanair has said it may stop expanding its business if it does not get a better deal on new aircraft from Boeing.

It is in talks with Boeing about buying 200 aircraft, but says if prices are not cut it will return cash to shareholders instead of buying planes.

Mr. O’Leary took the opportunity to criticize "stupid tourist taxes" and high airport charges, saying that he planned to switch some of his winter capacity to lower cost countries such as Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain. The airline said that market conditions were still "difficult" with "an absence of consumer confidence". "We see no point in continuing to grow rapidly in a declining yield environment, where our main aircraft partner is unwilling to play its part in our cost reduction program."

‘State plan’ for Japan Airlines

Loss-making carrier Japan Airlines (JAL) is to be put under the supervision of a state-backed turnaround body, a report has said.

The Nikkei business daily said that the Enterprise Turnaround Initiative Corporation of Japan may take it over as early as this week. JAL has been in severe financial trouble, hit by falling passenger numbers and high oil prices. Last month, the airline asked the government for emergency funding.

Japan Airlines recently announced plans to cut 6,800 jobs to save money. But the Kyodo news agency reported on Monday that JAL had decided to raise the number of jobs it would cut to 13,000 jobs. JAL made a loss of 99bn yen ($1.08bn; £661m) between April and June.

Aer Lingus to cut almost 800 jobs

Irish airline Aer Lingus said it would cut almost 800 jobs as it tried to save 97m Euros a year ($143m; £90m) by 2011.

Fewer flights, new working methods and new IT systems will see 676 jobs go, in addition to 100 staff who have already been told their contracts will end. Under the proposals higher-paid staff will see their basic salaries reduced, and all employees will see falls in the allowances they receive. The airline has suffered amid falling fares and higher fuel costs.

The company lost 73.9m Euros in the six months to the end of June, more than three times the 21.6m Euros it lost a year earlier. Revenue fell to 555m Euros, down 12.2% on the 632m it made a year ago. On Tuesday, British Airways said it would cut 1,700 jobs and freeze pay.

US airlines report mixed fortunes

US airlines have reported mixed fortunes between July and September as they battle to cope with the sluggish economy at home and abroad.

Delta Airlines – the world’s biggest airline operator – reported a quarterly loss bigger than a year ago and said it would cut capacity by 3% next year. US Airways also lost money, but less than expected, and saw signs of a "soft but improving economic environment". Meanwhile low-cost airline JetBlue bucked the trend and made a profit. It cited lower fuel costs and cheaper fares luring passengers as reasons for its $15m (£9.1m) profit in the period.

Delta – which became the world’s biggest carrier when it bought Northwest Airlines in October 2008 – lost $161m in the third quarter, compared with $50m a year earlier, despite sales rising by 32% to $7.6bn. US Airways lost $80m, compared with the $866m it hemorrhaged between July and September in 2008. Earlier in the week, American Airline’s parent company AMR reported heavy losses for the period – losing $359m including one-off costs, against a profit of $31m a year earlier.

However, Continental and the parent company of AirTran Airways both reported modest profits – citing sharply-lower fuel bills. Gains in the oil price – currently at about $82 a barrel – have prompted worries about the prospect of higher jet fuel costs in the current quarter.

United Airlines and Southwest Airlines are also among those to have reported losses in recent days – saying they could not charge so much for fares and that they were operating fewer flights.

There it is, in a nutshell for you! I feel so great now, and have decided to go back to my hibernation mode again.

Sean D. Tucker with Oprah Winfrey this Thursday

Sean Tucker,

well known aerobatic pilot from the bay area California is scheduled to be on Oprah Winfrey Show tomorrow. So, those of you who do not watch this show regularly (I know I don’t), tune in tomorrow and see what’s up. Or use your TIVO or something. Sean performs for Team Oracle, and is the only civilian pilot who has ever been authorized to and fly in close formation with the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels. He has received various awards in his amazing career, and honorary Blue Angel and Thunderbird are just the two examples.

Sean has trained with the legendary Amelia Reid. Here watch this video of Sean Tucker’s amazing performance. If you click on the links above for Thunderbird and Blue Angels, your can see videos of their performance as well.

UPDATE: If you missed the show, you can watch a video by clicking here. It was pretty cool to watch him with Oprah, and how he says that you become one with the airplane.