September 2012 - Page 3 Aviation Articles

A Day Well Spent With Kentucky Aviators

         The Kentucky Aviation Association is a non-profit corporation promoting aviation facilities, safety, industry, business, recreation, as well as aerospace education throughout the Commonwealth of the state of Kentucky. This is an annual gathering that provides networking opportunities by bringing together aviation professionals, consultants, elected officials, as well as the leaders and support personnel of the Kentucky Department of Aviation and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The purpose of this conference is to fuse the various interests and talents of individuals and companies, bringing them together for discussions regarding issues and topics important to our local airports throughout Kentucky.

         On Friday September 7, 2012 I attended this convention, which was conveniently located at the Galt House in downtown Louisville this year. This would be my very first aviation conference and needless to say I was more nervous than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. No worries though, once I made my way to the registration desk I was well on my way to success. I was welcomed with sincere warmth as I registered and was promptly introduced to the president of the entire organization, Mr. Darrell Watson. Upon meeting this man I was extremely impressed by his unreserved professionalism. This man was immediately accommodating, gregarious and sincere; it was quite an honor to meet him. Upon thanking him for such a pleasant event, I continued into the general area for exhibitors. There were multiple booths set up in this room including companies such as the Kentuckians for Better Transportation (KBT), Loomacres Wildlife Management, Shell Aviation, PDC Consultants (Planning, Design, Construction) and Garver.There was even a booth set up for the aviation school of Eastern Kentucky at EKU.

         The conference agenda was packed with presenters and discussion topics beginning on Wednesday September 5, 2012. My attendance began on the following Friday which allowed me to attend and enjoy three discussions. This particular Friday commenced with a discussion regarding a Wildlife Hazard Management Plan from the United States Department of Agriculture.

Recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has developed a program that provides Federal leadership and expertise in hopes of resolving wildlife conflicts that may threaten public health and safety, specifically in aviation. Increased air traffic as well as urban sprawl and enhanced noise suppression on aircraft is beginning to have effect concentrated populations of birds and other wildlife residing near our airports. This is causing accidental but potentially dangerous occurrences known as wildlife strikes. For those who do not know, a “strike” occurs when a bird or other animal directly collides with an aircraft. Research shows that this may occur while the aircraft is taking off, landing, or in the air. Wildlife strikes have greatly increased in the past 30 years and these often harmful occurrences are not likely to subside on their own. National Wildlife Research Center scientists have conducted the necessary research and are now providing the Federal Aviation Administration with vital information regarding these bird-to-aircraft strike hazards. This research is primarily focused on making the public aware of wildlife hazards at airports, as well as developing management tools to reduce these hazards, and providing biologists, airport personnel, and FAA officials with information regarding the latest strategies for controlling wildlife hazards.

         This discussion was followed by an important message concerning Aviation Education. Seeing as I am currently partaking in flight training and aspiring to become a pilot, this was exceptionally interesting to me. This discussion was held by the President/CEO of the Kentucky Institute for Aerospace Education; Dr. Tim Smith.

Dr. Smith states that the Kentucky Institute for Aerospace Education’s mission is to improve student learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and create career pathways in aerospace throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The Kentucky Institute for Aerospace Education, Inc is a non-profit, tax exempt organization devoted to its students’ limitless abilities and talents. The KIAE operates as an aerospace learning laboratory in collaboration with Frankfort HS Aviation Academy and fellow network schools. From this learning, the KIAE provides toolkits and other resources to schools in the network at no charge including flight kits, aircraft maintenance resources, as well as engineering materials. The KIAE's network of 14 high schools are providing students with experiences in aeronautical engineering, flight, aircraft maintenance, and space systems.

         The final discussion was in reference to the Aircraft Owner and Pilots Association and our last speaker of the day was regional manager, Bob Minter.

AOPA is the largest and most influential aviation association in the world. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to general aviation. Originating in May 1939, AOPA provides member services that range from representation at the federal, state, and local levels to legal services, advice, and other assistance. AOPA has built a service organization that far exceeds any other in the aviation community, hosting a membership base of more than 400,000 pilots and aviation enthusiasts throughout the United States.

         In conclusion, The 2012 Kentucky Aviation Association conference was a wonderful experience. Not only is this an excellent opportunity to meet fellow pilots throughout the community, it is also the time and place to receive various answers for any opinions or questions that you may have. This conference will be held in Bowling Green next year, at the Holiday Inn University Plaza. I hope to attend the 2013 conference and would strongly recommend this event to anyone interested in aviation; reaching all the way out to the farthest corners of the state of Kentucky.

Failure To Ensure Employee Coverage In Drug And Alcohol Testing Program Results In Civil Penalty For Part 135 Operator

An administrative law judge ("ALJ") recently affirmed the FAA's assessment of a $4,400 civil penalty against a Part 135 operator for violations of FAR 135.251(a) (now codified at FAR 120.35(a)) and 135.255(b) (now codified at FAR 120.39(a)). In FAA v. M & R Helicopters, Inc. the FAA alleged that an M & R employee performed safety-sensitive tasks for M & R when he was not included in M & R's random pool for required drug and alcohol testing nor had he set up his own drug and alcohol testing program. Although the employee was also employed by Air Methods, Inc. ("Air Methods") and belonged to Air Methods' drug and alcohol testing program, Air Methods forbade its employees from performing any outside maintenance for other operators. M & R denied the allegations and appealed.

At the hearing before the ALJ, it was undisputed that the employee was not covered by M & R's or his own drug and alcohol testing program. However, M & R argued that since the employee was covered by Air Methods' drug and alcohol testing program, another one of his employers, this satisfied the requirements under the FARs. The ALJ initially observed that the definition of "employer" requires "an individual performing a safety sensitive function for an employer to be covered either by the employer's screening program or the program of the contractor (in this case, Air Methods) when the individual is performing work for the employer within the scope of his employment for the contractor."

Since the employee was not authorized under his employment with Air Methods to perform outside maintenance, he had been working outside the scope of his employment with Air Methods. As a result, the ALJ concluded that absent membership either in the employee's own drug and alcohol testing program or M & R's program, the employee was prohibited by the drug and alcohol testing regulations from performing his work for M & R because he was not covered by an authorized drug or alcohol testing program. Consequently, the ALJ assessed a $4,400 civil penalty against M & R.

This case highlights the need for operators subject to drug and alcohol testing requirements to ensure their employees are subject to a program that will cover their work before they perform any safety sensitive functions for the operator. Failure to comply with these requirements may result in significant civil penalties or certificate action. If you are unclear about the requirements contact me to discuss before you do something that could cause you problems with the FAA.

Time to make the Budget!

Unfortunately, many of us see budgeting as a fruitless exercise and a waste of time. But, budgeting is a very important tool for planning an organizations use of its most limited resource - cash. Managing the cash is critical for any business, or individual. (Please, no replies about governments!) Failure to plan for the incoming and outgoing cash has ruined many a business. And it can negatively impact your flight department.


A budget is just estimate of the future showing the peaks and valleys of cash flow.  A budget can also serve as a benchmark for evaluating actual versus planned for expenses.  Every organization must budget whether it goes through a formal or an informal process.


As an aviation manager, the budget is more than just filling a square for your upper management reporting. It is a very useful tool that can enable you to track the effectiveness of your aviation operation. It can also alert you to the future peaks in expenses, such as scheduled major maintenance or an aircraft upgrade.In fact, for an aviation operation, maintenance is one of the largest expenses, and one in which the aviation organization can have the most control.


As part of your budgeting process, I’d like to offer three tips to help you get started.


Tip 1. Ask for Information. This information flows two ways. Ask upper management about their intended aircraft usage for the next year, or ideally, several years. Will there be more or less flying, any new destinations, etc. If you are budgeting any optional maintenance items or upgrades, ask if next year or the year after works better for the financial goals of the company. 


Tip 2. Document Your Assumptions. Things are different in January than they were the previous September and they will be changes as you go through the year.  Your budget is a best-estimate of the future costs for your aviation operation. As flight activity occurs, are you ahead or behind in the hours flown? How will that change when major maintenance is due? Did you correctly anticipate the magnitude of parts price increases, fuel costs, training costs, etc?


By documenting your assumptions, it will refresh your memory when the actual costs do not equal what was predicted. If and when conditions change, these recorded assumptions will better guide you on revising the budget better than relying on your memory.


Tip 3. Explain the Nature of Maintenance Costs. These costs can occur in significant amounts (engine overhaul) and be unpredictable (unscheduled maintenance). These are often difficult for a financial manager or CFO to understand. These folks tend to favor stable, predictable cash flows - hence the popularity of a guaranteed maintenance program. You may not be bale to change the behavior of your maintenance costs, but you can explain how the engine overhaul expense took 2,500 hours over five years to accrue. Remember, most non-aviation people have automobile maintenance as their reference point.


As a bonus tip, try to visit with the person that you submit your budget to. Try to understand how your aviation budget fits in with the overall corporate budget. Help them to also understand the process that you went through to come up with the budget. 


Budgeting is important to the health of your organization. However, to be truly useful, all parties involved need to understand the process. Best of luck to you!


Cessna-Gulfstream Speed Duel Could Hit Mach 0.95 Limit

Article By: Chad Trautvetter

The transonic speed spat between Cessna’s Citation Ten and Gulfstream’s G650 is likely to hit the stops at Mach 0.95 when it encounters not “the sound barrier” but required safety margins. With the Ten’s top speed now pegged at Mach 0.935, Gulfstream’s G650 could thus leapfrog the Ten only slightly, if the Savannah-based aircraft manufacturer even chooses to do so.

According to the FAA, “FAR 25.335(b)(2) requires at least Mach 0.07 [40 knots at 40,000 feet] difference between the design cruise Mach and the dive Mach,” where the design cruise Mach is effectively the Mmo. This provides a safety margin for upsets and gusts, the FAA said, though it can be reduced “to as little as Mach 0.05, if supported by analysis.” In practice, some applicants have been able to reduce the difference to about Mach 0.06 (34.4 knots), an FAA spokeswoman said.

The Ten’s predecessor, the Citation X, exceeded Mach 1.0 in dive testing, a knowledgeable source told AIN, so it would be possible for the Ten’s Mmo to reach Mach 0.95 if Cessna can get the maximum margin reduction. Meanwhile, the G650 reached a reported dive speed of Mach 0.995, so its maximum permissible limit (without further dive testing) would be Mach 0.945.

But the sub-Mach 1.0 speed crown might be a moot point–the Ten can fly a 2,500-nm trip at high-speed cruise in 5 hours 10 minutes, while under the same conditions the G650 can do it nine minutes more quickly, according to data from the respective manufacturers.

Embraer Starts Phenom 300 Production in Florida

Article By: Chad Trautvetter

Embraer started Phenom 300 production at its Melbourne, Fla. facility this week, the Brazilian manufacturer announced today. Phenom 100s have been assembled at the Florida plant since early last year, with 14 of the U.S.-built light jets delivered to U.S., Canadian and Mexican customers to date.

The first wing and fuselage for Phenom 300 S/N 118 arrived last week at the Melbourne facility, and pre-production work on the assemblies is currently under way. The aircraft, which will be an Embraer demonstrator, will be moved onto the Phenom production line tomorrow, Melbourne facility manager Phil Krull told AIN. S/N 118 is expected to roll off the line in March.

“We have added the Phenom 300 to bring production closer to our customers,” Krull said. “Customers have been benefiting from the delivery of the entry-level Phenom 100 produced in Melbourne since last year and we are now ready to expand these operations.”

According to Krull, the Melbourne facility will deliver 15 Phenom 300s and 24 Phenom 100s next year. The plant has the capacity to manufacture up to eight Phenoms per month, he noted.

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