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2021 September 28

House Passes Amendment Reversing FAA Instruction Policy

Bipartisan legislation will now make its way to the Senate.  An amendment to reverse the FAA’s reinterpretation of flight instruction as an activity for compensation or hire is on its way to the Senate after being passed by the House late last week.  The amendment, put forth by Reps, Kai Kahele, D-Hawaii, and Sam Graves, R-Mo., was added to the National Defense Authorization Act.

The amendment reverses the FAA’s reinterpretation of flight training policy that came as a result of an emergency cease-and-desist order levied at a warbird operator in Florida in 2020.

In April of 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals dismissed a petition for review of the FAA’s emergency cease-and-desist order against Warbird Adventures, a Florida-based company.  The FAA ordered that it cease operating its limited category aircraft in violation of §91.315, which states that no persons may operate a limited category aircraft carrying persons or property for compensation or hire.  In July, the FAA issued a training directive requiring operators of certain categories of aircraft to obtain a letter of deviation authority (LODA) in order to conduct flight training.

The directive reversed 60 years of policy that had flight instruction outside of commercial activities.

Pilots and instructors who wish to voice their opinion on the amendment should contact their Senator.

B-52 Engine Replacement Contract Announced

Rolls-Royce’s new engines are expected to extend use of the bomber for at least three decades.

Rolls-Royce Corp. has been awarded a $500 million, six-year contract to provide commercial replacement engines for the B-52H Stratofortress.

The new engines are expected to extend the lifespan of the fleet of long-range heavy bombers that are currently powered by 1960s-era engines for another three decades.

The upgrades are expected to boost fuel efficiency and extend their range, while also reducing their emissions and maintenance costs.

The engines will be built at its Indianapolis plant, where the company says 150 new high-tech, high-skilled jobs will be created.

The first two modified B-52s are expected to undergo ground and flight testing upon delivery by the end of 2025.  The first lot of operational aircraft outfitted with the new engines will be delivered by the end of 2028, and the entire B-52H fleet is expected to be modified by 2035.

2021 September 22

Microphone Detects Turbulence Hundreds of Miles Away

Much like how infrared light consists of frequencies that aren’t visible to the naked eye, there’s an audio analogue called infrasound.  Infrasound consists of pitches too low to be heard by the human ear, between 0.001 and 20 hertz.

The sudden turbulence sometimes experienced when flying is called clear-air turbulence, so named because there are no visible clouds or atmospheric features to warn of the disruption.  Turbulent invisible air can seemingly come out of nowhere and wreak havoc on aircraft.

Clear-air turbulence has a definite infrasound signature.  If air traffic controllers or pilots could listen in on these whirling vortices before airplanes encounter them, an alternate route could be plotted.

When the test microphones were placed in an equidistant triangular pattern, they were able to pick up and locate atmospheric turbulence more than 300 miles away.

A balloon-launched glider have taken microphones to heights of more than 100,000 feet, from which they slowly makes their way back down to Earth.  Initial testing saw the microphone perform well, even with rushing wind whipping past the UAV.

It is hoped that the data provided by the infrasonic microphone will become ubiquitous in detecting and forecasting turbulence, air traffic control decision-making, and aviation route planning.

2021 September 5

US Military Video Shows Hypersonic Aircraft Test Flight

The U.S. military released new details today (Aug. 25) about the recent test flight of a super-fast prototype aircraft, the unmanned Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2), billed as the fastest aircraft ever built, along with a video showing the vehicle streaking through the sky at more than 20 times the speed of sound (about 13,000 mph) in controlled flight.

2021 July 17

ATC-Pilot Forum at Greenville Downtown Airport (GMU) — July 17 @ 9:30 am - 11:30 am

All pilots are invited to a Pilot - ATC forum to be held at 9:30am on Saturday, July 17th, in the Greenville Jet hangar on the East Ramp at GMU.  For those arriving by car, the address is 100 Aviation Lane, Greenville, South Carolina.  If flying in, use taxiway Foxtrot due to maintenance.

Controllers from GSP Tower and Approach, GMU Tower, and GYH Tower have all agreed to be present.  We will begin with introductions and let them briefly explain their roles and their interactions in such a complicated airspace.  A general question-and-answer period will follow.

The success of the air traffic system and its ongoing availability and use by General Aviation relies on maintaining a good pilot-ATC rapport, particularly as new GA pilots and new Controllers become part of the system.  For the air traffic system to be a success, both pilots and ATC have to build and maintain the rapport on which that success depends.

This meeting's purpose is to improve each others' understanding of their interests with regard to flights and how pilots and ATC can best work together to everyone's benefit.  The goal is for both sides to come out of this meeting with a greater preference to be in communication with each other vs. preferring to avoid communication.

FAASTeam is working to set up Wings credit for those attending.

See this announcement on these websites:  South Carolina Breakfast Club, South Carolina Aviation Association, SocialFlight, and AOPA.

The meeting was a great success.  More than 70 pilots showed up to talk with ATC from GSP, GMU, and GYH.

16 April 2021

New Supersonic Airliner Will Fly From NYC to London in Less Than an Hour

Aerion said the AS3 will make its first flight before the end of the decade, with the ability to fly up to 50 passengers for 7,000 miles, reaching speeds of Mach 4-plus.

The company has created a “boomless” technology that will do away with sonic booms.

Aerion has already been working on the design of the smaller AS2 supersonic business jet for years and says production will begin in 2023.  The company is building a new 100-acre headquarters and production facility in Melbourne, Fla., where it says it will produce 300 AS2 jets.  It also recently announced that NetJets, the world’s largest fractional provider, has pre-ordered 20 AS2’s.

14 March 2021

Air travel highest since March 15, 2020

The Transportation Security Administration processed its largest number of travelers since March 15, 2020, on Friday, as more Americans get vaccinated.

TSA processed 1.357 million people -- more than the 1.257 million people nearly a year ago -- around the time states started ordering COVID-19 lockdowns.

The agency was processing more than 2 million travelers every day in March 2019.

2020 December 22

Boeing Extends 737 Max Sales Streak as Alaska Boosts Order

Alaska Air Group Inc. boosted an order agreement to 68 jets and announced plans to return to a mainline fleet with a single aircraft type.  The airline will stop flying 20 of its Airbus SE A320-family planes immediately, prompting a one-time charge of as much as $250 million this quarter to return the aircraft.  Alaska will end the year with 31 Airbus jets, which it got from buying Virgin America four years ago.

“There is a huge advantage to a simple, single fleet structure,” Alaska Chief Executive Officer Brad Tilden said.  Before the Virgin America deal, Alaska had a long history as an all-Boeing operator.

2020 December 10

Chuck Yeager Leaves a Legacy of Speed

Chuck Yeager died of natural causes on December 7, 2020, at age 97.

The aviation pioneer broke the sound barrier on October 14, 1947, and logged many supersonic flight milestones in his history-making career.

To pilots, his bravery and skill made the Mach 1 flight in the Bell X-1 Glamorous Glennis only one of his many contributions to aviation.

2020 December 2

Ryanair close to new Boeing 737 MAX jetliner order

Budget giant Ryanair is set to place a hefty order for up to 75 additional Boeing 737 MAX jets, throwing a commercial lifeline to the embattled U.S. planemaker after regulators lifted a 20-month safety ban.

Europe’s largest low-cost carrier has been negotiating for months with Boeing over whether to exercise an option for 75 jets, lifting its total MAX order as high as 210 aircraft, as part of a compensation deal for delays caused by the grounding.

An order from one of Boeing’s largest customers is a pivotal moment in efforts by the company to rehabilitate the MAX, once its fastest-selling model.  Each MAX is worth about $125 million at list prices, making a deal for up to 75 jets worth as much as $9 billion.  Ryanair is expected to win discounts closer to two thirds in return for a headline-grabbing relaunch of the MAX that helps fill gaps left by cancellations.

2020 November 18

Boeing Max Cleared to Fly as FAA Lifts Long U.S. Grounding

Boeing Co.’s 737 Max can safely return to the skies with an extensive package of fixes, U.S. regulators ruled, after a scarring 20-month hiatus prompted by a pair of fatal crashes.

The actions, announced Wednesday by the Federal Aviation Administration, mark the end to the longest grounding of a jetliner in U.S. history and set the stage for airlines and other regulators around the world to resume passenger service with the plane.

A criminal probe by the U.S. Justice Department continues.  Frayed relations with the FAA threaten to result in fines or other penalties and the Securities and Exchange Commission also has an open investigation.  Meanwhile, the Covid-19 pandemic has crushed the airline industry, prompting airlines to cancel orders.

2020 November 11

South Carolina Aviation Association Autumn Newsletter

10 November 2020

737 Max Could Be Cleared For Flight Next Week.

27 October 2020

Socialism vs. the Business Jet

"A guy looked at my airplane the other day and said I wonder how many people I could have fed for the price of that airplane..."

I replied, "I am not sure, it fed a lot of families at the Dassault factory where it was built.  I’m sure it fed a bunch of families that rolled the aluminum at the Alcoa factory.  It surely fed a lot of people at the Honeywell factory where the experts built the turbines.  It fed a whole company for a few weeks when I had them build me a new interior.  It feeds the families of the linemen that fuel it.

"That’s the difference between capitalism and a welfare mentality. When you buy something, you put money in people's pockets, and give them dignity for their skills.

"When you give someone something for nothing, you rob them of their dignity and self-worth.

"Capitalism is freely giving your money in exchange for something of value.

"Socialism is taking your money against your will and shoving something down your throat that you never asked for."

It goes further.  The owner did not go on to mention that the jet is a tool which enables him to stay competitive in his own business.  Timely interaction with his customers is crucial to being competitive and obtaining the sales contracts which will mean payments and ongoing operations to his company.  That in turn means that, because of that business jet, all his employees stay employed.  In any business, the cost of tools like an airplane must continually be justified, by generating more revenue and income than is consumed by their cost - they must create profit.

With socialism, you have to endlessly continue to give people the food and other things they need to survive.  They live in grinding poverty, and the money you take from others to feed them grinds those others down into poverty, resulting in general economic decline, until everything is gone and life is reduced to savagery.

Of course, Socialists do not believe in profit.  That is why socialism always and inevitably fails.  Profit is necessary to human survival.

Without a business jet, profitability would be more difficult to achieve and maintain. : Business jets are signs of prosperity.

18 October 2020

American Airlines plans to return Boeing 737 Max to service at year-end

American Airlines Group plans to return Boeing 737 Max jets to service for passenger flights by the end of this year depending on certifictaion of the aircraft from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).  The airline said it will operate a daily 737 Max flight between Miami and New York from Dec. 29 to Jan. 4, with flights available for booking from Oct. 24.

“We remain in contact with the FAA and Boeing on the certification process and we’ll continue to update our plans based on when the aircraft is certified,” the company said in a statement.

9 October 2020

The Animated Reenactment of the Last Two Minutes of Colgan Flight 3407 Bombardier DHC-8-400, N200WQ, at Clarence Center, New York, February 12, 2009

1 October 2020

'I like what I saw,' U.S. FAA chief on Boeing 737 MAX test flight

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Chief Steve Dickson conducted a nearly two-hour evaluation flight at the controls of a Boeing 737 MAX on Wednesday, a milestone for the jet to win approval to resume flying after two fatal crashes.

Dickson, a former military and commercial pilot, and other FAA and Boeing pilots landed shortly before 11 a.m. local time (1800 GMT) at King County International Airport - also known as Boeing Field - in the Seattle area.  But he is not ready to give the jet a clean bill of health, with FAA reviews still ongoing.

If Dickson’s flight and broader reviews go well, the FAA is seen as likely to lift its U.S. grounding order in November, putting the MAX on a path to resume commercial service potentially before year-end.

30 September 2020

Boeing to move all 787 Dreamliner production to South Carolina

Earlier this year, Boeing said it would slash production of passenger jets and cut its workforce by about 10%.  As the pandemic worsened in the U.S. and air-travel demand remained deeply depressed, Boeing said it was weighing cuts beyond the 19,000 already earmarked.  Boeing has assembled the 787 Dreamliner in Everett, Wash., since the first of the popular widebodies rolled off the line there over a decade ago.  It announced plans in 2009 for a second line in North Charleston, S.C., a right-to-work state where attempts to unionize the workforce haven’t succeeded.

Consolidating Dreamliner production in South Carolina would mark another step in the shift of the U.S. aerospace industry to southern states from the West Coast.  Companies have already shed thousands of jobs in California while states including the Carolinas, Florida and Alabama have attracted aerospace businesses with less-clogged infrastructure and cheaper, nonunionized labor.

Boeing employs more than 7,000 workers in North Charleston, where it also has an engine-research facility.  That compares with almost 70,000 staff in Washington, including around 30,000 at the sprawling Everett plant.  The Everett plant, where Boeing also produces 767s and 747s, produced around 15 widebody jets a month at its peak, which would drop to around six and fall further with the 747 program due to end in 2022 and output of the new 777X reduced as Boeing delayed first deliveries until 2022.

After boosting Dreamliner production last year to 14 a month—split evenly between Everett and South Carolina—Boeing has reduced output to 10 and plans to make six a month next year.

With the narrow-body 737 MAX grounded for over a year since two fatal crashes, building and selling more 787s has been crucial to Boeing’s financial recovery.  The company has orders for 526 of the planes and has delivered almost 1,000.  The twin-engine plane overcame years of delays and cost overruns to become a bestseller and is expected to overtake Boeing’s 777 and the Airbus A330 as the most popular wide body jet by 2023, according to analysts at Jefferies.  Airlines are retiring older 777s and A330s in favor of the smaller 787 and Airbus A350.

2020 September 7

Aviation A Smaller Contributor To Climate Change Than Previously Thought

Nitrogen oxides emitted in aircraft exhaust increase the production of ozone, a major greenhouse gas, but they also destroy methane, a big contributor to atmospheric warming.  Also contrails heat and cool the planet at the same time by trapping atmospheric heat while reflecting sunlight.  The net result is that contrails are only about half as bad as previously thought.

Density Altitude for the Pilot

2020 August 29

Lockheed Martin – Celebrating 35 Years in Greenville, South Carolina

2020 August 19

Private flights see rise in demand amid coronavirus pandemic

For those that can afford it, private charter flights provide several benefits for the weary traveler

Due to the current COVID-19 health crisis, the air travel industry has seen a significant decline in interest for commercial flights amid public uneasiness concerning safety and well-being, as well as travel mandates that recommend against, or outright prohibit, visiting certain destinations.

Private charter flights have actually seen an increase in business during the pandemic. The Robb Report reports that some charter companies have actually seen a rise in bookings of 25% this year.  Many of these new customers are reportedly first-time private fliers.

"With check-in, security and access to bathrooms and food, there are about 700 touchpoints that travelers can be exposed to when traveling commercially," said Ian Moore, the chief commercial officer at VistaJet.  "Meanwhile, private aviation offers a seamless and effective private terminal process with only 20 touchpoints."

Commercial air travel has been significantly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.  On average, flights to each state in the U.S. saw a 50% decline in departures between July 2019 and July 2020.

2020 August 13

Air Force helicopter hit by gunfire while flying over Virginia, forced to make emergency landing

A crew member injured in the incident was treated and released from a hospital

The squadron is known for its role in providing transportation for federal government and foreign dignitaries, as well as conducting evacuations and rescues.  In 1957, the unit became the first helicopter squadron to fly an American president when it picked up President Dwight D. Eisenhower on the White House lawn, according to Air Force Magazine.

The UH-1N Huey helicopter, assigned to the 1st Helicopter Squadron at Joint Base Andrews, was flying about 1,000 feet off the ground about 10 miles northwest of Manassas Regional Airport.  The helicopter was practicing an instrument landing when it was struck.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into the incident.

2020 July 30

SC Aviation Week is August 15–22

Aviation Week exists to promote airports and SC's aviation industry by highlighting the impacts our airports and related businesses have on our state's economy.  The week is a partnership between the SC Aeronautics Commission and SC Aviation Association.  Gov. Henry McMaster has proclaimed August 15-22, 2020, South Carolina Aviation Week.

See the Aviation Week Schedule of Events.

2020 July 29

Palmetto Aviation Summer 2020 newsletter of the South Carolina Aviation Association

2020 July 19

Lockheed Martin wins $15B Air Force contract for Super Hercules

The U.S. Air Force on Friday announced it had awarded Lockheed Martin a $15 billion contract for its C-130J Super Hercules aircraft.

The C-130J can carry tons of supplies more than 3,000 miles, according to the company, and can operate with only two pilots and a loadmaster for most missions.

Work on the contract will be performed in Marietta, Georgia – and is scheduled for completion in July 2030.

2020 June 13

NTSB report:  Pilots killed in Greenville plane crash chose to fly despite brake problems

A co-pilot's willful decision to fly a plane with a faulty brake system led to the crash that killed him and another pilot at the Greenville Downtown Airport nearly two years ago,

"Before the accident flight, the airplane had been in long-term storage for several years and was in the process of undergoing maintenance to bring the airplane back to a serviceable condition, which in part required the completion of several inspections, an overhaul of the landing gear, and the resolution of over 100 other unresolved discrepancies."

2020 June 12

Citation 550 Crew Experiences Double Engine Failure

Failure traced to fueling problem.

The pilot-in-command declared an emergency and the crew performed a successful no-engine straight-in approach through a broken cloud deck to Runway 19 and landed safely.  Neither of the two airline transport pilots, the two medical crew, or the three passengers onboard were injured.

2020 June 8

Flight Paths Forward:  The Future Of Business And General Aviation

Plummeting activity due to COVID-19 hit fixed-base operators (FBO) and airports.  Fuel sales collapsed.  "The market just fell off a cliff.  FBOs dropped to pumping 2% of what they were doing.  In the last two weeks, we’ve seen more activity by the Part 135 operators and the FBOs."

COVID-19 has triggered another downturn, but the industry believes the market will recover and may actually benefit in the aftermath of the pandemic.

2020 April 29

COVID-19 Restrictions by State

from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA)

2020 April 16

At least 20 planes destroyed at Walterboro airport after possible tornado

2020 April 8

Palmetto Aviation Spring 2020 newsletter of the South Carolina Aviation Association

2020 April 6

America's Air Traffic Control System Is Suffering Crippling Shutdowns Due To COVID-19

2020 March 25

See wingtip-vortices with low-pass and smoke!

2020 March 18

Caution - XM weather and ADS/B weather data is at least several minutes old when you see it!

2020 January 11

A380 Program Moves Into Operational Support, Aftermarket Phase

2019 May 27

On autopilot: 'Pilots are losing their basic flying skills,' some fear after Boeing 737 Max crashes
        "We’ve been talking about this in the industry for years. Pilots are losing their basic flying skills, and there's an overreliance on automation,"

Those pilots clearly need to fly into an SCBC breakfast once in a while. Flying skills is what the Breakfast Club is all about - that, and fellowship, and seeing all the airplanes, and having an enjoyable and delicious breakfast, and getting to fly, and just plain having fun.

2018 June 23

In Memoriam - Gerald Ballard, President, South Carolina Breakfast Club, 1979-2017

Gerald Ballard was the President of the South Carolina Breakfast Club from 1979 until his final flight off into the sunset, on December 5th, 2017 - almost half of the entire time that SCBC has been in existence. He was 78 years old. The memorial service was held on December 11th, 2017. A memorial fly-in is scheduled for June 23rd, 2018, at Twin Lakes Airpark, at his hangar.

Gerald dedicated a large part of his time to making sure the Breakfast Club was always a great thing to be involved with, and each fly-in a good reason to go flying. His stories always held our interest, and they were the kind of stories that, while you hoped they were not really true, knowing Gerald, they probably were.

Don't miss the Gerald Ballard Retrospective webpage.

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