The FAA’s handling of a variety of prickly issues from the planned closures of scores of contract control towers to the hotly anticipated Part 23 rewrite to the up-in-the-air fate of leaded aviation gasoline will affect general aviation in important ways for years to come. Get the Part 23 rewrite right, and we could witness a resurgence in GA flying; get it wrong, and we might inadvertently put the industry into a graveyard spiral.
For as long as airplanes have been around, pilots have held a number of beliefs about them that are out of line with reality, which is an alarming fact given that pilots are the ones responsible for making sure a flight goes well and ends well.
Everybody knows that new light airplanes cost too much and don’t do enough. This might be changing. And in this case, change is definitely good.
Part of the problem is our history, but it’s time to let go of the past. The Part-23-view of what makes for a safe light airplane is hopelessly out of date. If the point is to make the economics of building affordable new light airplanes impossible, then today’s Part 23 regulations have come close to achieving their goal.
FAA Administrator Michael Huerta got the chance to experience what it feels like to be raked over the coals yesterday as lawmakers at a House hearing expressed their mounting frustration over his agency’s handling of sequester-related controller furloughs. It was uncomfortable to watch as House members bluntly told Huerta he did a poor job of preparing for the furloughs – first by not sharing information with airlines sooner and second by applying the furloughs blindly across the co
The decision announced by Cessna and parent company Textron last week to put most of the company’s light jet lineup on what it calls temporary hiatus is a sure sign of tough economic times. A year ago Cessna had a lineup of no fewer than six light jets — the Mustang, CJ1+ (discontinued last year), CJ2+, CJ3, CJ4 and the emerging M2.
The news of the bombings at the Boston Marathon yesterday hit me hard. Though I was safe at home in Austin working, I had a close connection to the events. In fact, I had a number of close connections.
When the news came in that there had been explosions near the finish line and that this was an act of terror, my thoughts turned immediately to my friends, more than half a dozen of whom were running the event. Were they okay? Had any of their loved ones been injured? Were there going to be more bombs? I was beside myself.
If you’re here in Lakeland this week for the Sun ‘n Fun fly-in, you know there’s a lot of room to park your plane. The tie-down areas in some places are nearly empty — as of yesterday afternoon, there were five floatplanes in the area reserved for them instead of the usual 50 — and there are huge grassy spaces where previously there would have been warbirds. The question is: is this a sign of the times or a sign of this particular year (or short stretch of years)?
“Pilotage” — the word spoken by my primary flight instructor, retired F-4 instructor Si Campbell, as if it were a spell. It was, he said, the complex art of figuring out where you are by reference to your surroundings. Knowing where you are from the air might sound easy to those non-pilots dwelling between 5 and 6 feet agl, but it doesn’t take many minutes to realize that at altitude, things look very different than they do on the ground. Without navaids, getting lost in the air isn’t just easy to do; it’s almost impossible to avoid.