Washington report

Goodbye PTS, hello ACS?

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The Practical Test Standards (PTS) have been the guide for student pilots for decades, spelling out exactly what tasks will be covered on the checkride. But this could be changing soon. An industry group was recently formed to design an enhanced version of the PTS that is more suited to the 21st century.

NTSB shouts – will anyone listen?

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The National Transportation Safety Board (NSTB) recently held a much-publicized meeting in Washington that focused on general aviation safety. The message was clear: the board views the GA accident rate as unacceptably high, and they want action. Their first step was to release five Safety Alerts targeting the leading causes of accidents. The question is, will anyone listen?

Washington Report: sequestration and the FAA

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The series of automatic spending cuts called sequestration is scheduled to kick in on March 1 if the President and Congress do not act to prevent it. This week, FAA administrator Michael Huerta sent a letter that outlines some of the ways his agency will be impacted.

Washington Report: changes in stall training

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Stall training has been a hot topic for many years, but it’s taken on even more importance in the wake of some high profile airline crashes in recent years. The FAA has now responded, with Advisory Circular 120-109, covering training for stalls and stick pusher activation.

Washington Report: FAR Part 23 rewrite

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One of the major reasons cited for the declining pilot population is the high cost of new airplanes, with a new Cessna 172 costing $300,000 or more. But a new group hopes to turn back this tide by simplifying the certification process. Can they succeed?

Washington Report: digital charts no longer free?

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The FAA seems to think all these iPad apps are a threat to their paper chart business, and are thus making noises about charging for the charting data that has been free for the past decade. Is the FAA’s plan a necessary reaction to a changing market or a new and unneeded user fee that will hurt a vibrant industry?

Washington report: the future of 100LL

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The future of avgas has been a hot topic for decades, with predictions of “the end of 100LL” coming every few years. But lately there has been a renewed urgency about the subject, especially as environmental groups and the EPA have turned up the heat.

Washington Report: written testing changes proposed

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In 2011, a rash of Knowledge Test (“the written” to long-time pilots) failures at numerous flight schools caused a bit of a stir, and the FAA admitted that they had added a number of new questions to the test question database without notifying test prep providers or flight instructors. In response, an Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) was formed by the FAA to study the issue of Knowledge Tests in general.