Drones are certainly one of the hottest news stories of 2016, with everyone from Disney World to the Department of Defense adopting them for a variety of missions. While drones still have a lot to figure out, it’s clear that they are here to stay – and that could have serious implications for pilots. Are those implications good or bad?
ICON Aircraft’s self-proclaimed mission is to “create products that not only deliver great functional benefit but also deeply inspire us on an emotional level.” But inspiration isn’t the word that comes to mind right now for many ICON position-holders. As the A5 finally gets close to being delivered to pilots, the company’s purchase agreement has raised a number of questions.
The FAA has a reputation for being punitive and unequal in its enforcement, more interested in paperwork and police work than in promoting real safety. If you believe some recent announcements, though, that attitude may be changing. Administrator Michael Huerta spent much of 2015 promoting a new “Compliance Philosophy Order,” which promises to change the way his agency deals with pilots.
The FAA kicked off one of its most aggressive rulemaking efforts in history this week, as the drone industry task force met to consider how to register the hundreds of thousands of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) projected to be sold this Christmas. Will it work?
Reforming (or eliminating) the aging Third Class Medical process has been the dream of aviation organizations and individual pilots for years. This reform seems closer than ever, thanks to a lot of lobbying from a lot of aviation organizations. But as usual, the devil is in the details.
Some pilots fly for the fun of it, to get out and see the world and forget about daily life. Others fly for the utility it provides, allowing them to travel efficiently in support of their business or family commitments. Is one more important than the other? Join our latest debate.
Upon passing the VOR I called the Center controller to inform him that we were entering the hold at Sea Isle and was immediately called on the carpet by my pilot friend with me. He informed me that the controller told us to call him when we were “established” in the hold – not when we were passing the VOR.
More and more airplanes are being equipped with Electronic Stability systems, which monitor the pilot’s performance at all times and gently nudge the controls back towards stable flight. Will such systems improve safety, or are they merely the latest gadget?
Just as I reached to push the call button and alert the crew that the wings were iced, the First Officer announced, “We’re number one for takeoff,” turned immediately onto the runway, and away we went. The clear, ripply ice on the wings was the only thing I could see; I vividly remember thinking, “Well, it’s a good day to die, sun shining, storm passed.”
The single engine vs. twin debate has raged for decades, with some pilots even suggesting that twins are more dangerous. But what about night flying? Many pilots still get nervous when contemplating a cross country flight in a single engine airplane. Is it safe?
One of the double-edged swords for pilots is the issue of Part 91 weather minimums. Unlike commercial operators, private pilots can start an instrument approach even when the weather is below minimums. For takeoff, there really aren’t any minimums, so a zero-zero takeoff would be perfectly legal. But is that a good idea?
A number of rumors (some backed up by the companies involved) suggest that DUAT(S) may be on the chopping block. Whether that happens or not, it raises an interesting question: do we still need DUAT(S)? Add your voice.
Now it’s your turn. We’re going to pretend you have a one-on-one meeting with FAA Administrator Michael Huerta in his office. You have one minute to tell him anything you want, so think carefully.
Since the 1950s, most airplanes have been designed with wing flaps, allowing for steeper approaches, better sight pictures and lower airspeeds at touch down. But how to use those flaps has been an endless source of debate. Should you land with full flaps every time, or are partial flap landings easier and safer in windy conditions?
The iPad, originally dismissed as a novelty, has now become an essential part of many pilots’ flight bags, whether student pilot or airline pro. But have all these features actually made flying safer?
Many pilots value their license not just for the privileges it unlocks, but also for the membership it represents. That membership is in the unofficial “pilot brotherhood,” which bonds together aviators from around the world–regardless of race, class or location.
A pilot complained: “It used to be, pilots were real aviation enthusiasts. But this new breed of pilots, especially the guys who learn to fly in a Cirrus, they don’t care about the joy of flying. They just use their airplanes to travel.” The obvious question is: so what?
As I tied my light sport airplane down, I couldn’t help noticing the Ercoupe sitting adjacent to me. Not only is an Ercoupe a rare craft, this one was notable because it wasn’t tied down–it just had two straps hanging loose from the wings–as if someone started to tie it down and stopped mid-process.
“If you really want to use your license, better get an instrument rating.” This is fairly common advice given to new pilots–the implication being that you can’t really travel in a light general aviation airplane very effectively without an instrument rating. Is it really essential?
Air shows have been slowly fading for the past few decades, mirroring the overall decline in general aviation. This year, the federal government has dealt the final blow, thanks to the budget sequestration. Are air shows a dying species? Join our debate.