A few months ago I wrote a feature story that took an in-depth look at the future of aviation biofuel, an area of scientific research that is still very much in its infancy but appears poised for major breakthroughs. In the article, I noted that oil price instability is the chief worry of most every airline CFO around the world, and a big reason why Boeing, Airbus and the Pentagon strongly back biofuel production investment.
I attended a meeting last night at Morristown Municipal Airport (MMU) in New Jersey, where officials from the tower and the FAA were on hand to discuss with local pilots the new Mandatory Occurrence Reporting (MOR) system that many have likened to an ATC snitching program.
I’ve been lucky to have flown a lot of airplanes over the past 20 years, almost all of them belonging to other people. Some were high wings; some were low. Some were taildraggers; some were nose pushers. Some were brand new; some were downright decrepit. Some were fast; some were painfully slow. Some were pleasantly roomy; others were tiny. Some were technologically advanced; others were technologically challenged.
With Cirrus Aircraft’s announcement that it has gotten funding — nearly $150 million, by some accounts — for its single-engine jet, there’s great joy in Duluth, and rightly so. I’ve spoken with a couple of Cirrus reps on the subject, and they’re absolutely thrilled by the prospect, and that’s not because they’re supposed to be acting thrilled. They’re excited because their prospects are excited by the jet, so much so that they get asked by a high percentage of their customers when they can get a jet; a lesser percentage puts money down on the jet, flight unseen.
I recently spent a week on a sailboat as a guest of an experienced captain and his first mate – in this case, literally so because she is also his wife. This was my first real exposure to sailing on the open sea, of which past experiences have been confined to the occaisional summer afternoon, usually in calm weather. Throughout the trip I couldn’t help but compare sailing in a boat with flying in an airplane. This was a fun and satisfying exercise.
If you’re honest about aviation safety you’ve got to constantly ask yourself what you can do to cut down on the risks inherent in flying. Admittedly, taking a hard look in the magic mirror of safety and reflecting honestly upon what you see is not an easy thing to do. It might be one that pilots as a group are inherently bad at. After all, we tend to be confident self-starters who have gotten where we are not so much by questioning what we were doing but by forging ahead despite our doubts, reflecting more on the possible rewards than the risks inherent in what we do.
While details of the F/A-18 crash in Virginia Beach, Virginia are still murky, as always there is something to learn from an accident. In this case, we should all think about how current we are with emergency procedures. Military pilots spend countless hours training in simulators and airplanes for events that likely will never happen to them. We should do the same.
It takes years to build a successful brand, but only a few bad decisions, or in some cases a run of bad luck, to ruin one. That’s what makes the planned revitalization of the storied Bendix/King brand name so intriguing. For the past 15 years, Bendix/King has more or less been a victim of neglect as the weeds were allowed to grow up all around it. In short, the brand suffered from the sort of parental abandonment that would have done in lesser names.
One of my duties here at Flying is to review submissions for one of our most popular columns, the reader-written self-confession piece I Learned about Flying from That, a piece we’ve referred to internally for longer than the 18 years I’ve been here as ILAFT (pronounced “I Laughed.”) Often there’s nothing laughable about it. As you know, some of the stories our pilot authors tell are downright scary. I’ve got one or two such stories of my own to tell. I’m sure you do too.