Aviation Technology - Page 6 Aviation Articles

Look ahead or get left behind

Back in early 2007, the Blackberry was The Smart Phone. They had corporations and governments wrapped up and knew they were the dominant player in the smart phone market. If you asked them how they were doing on June 28, 2007, they would have been very optimistic. On June 29, 2007 the first iPhone was released. In 2014, Blackberry reportedly sold 7 million phones. Apple sold 74.5 million phones in the last quarter of 2014. So how are things looing ahead in your flight department?

Blackberry's parent, RIM, did not see nor did they understand what was happening with society and technology that lead to the original iPhone.  They never saw the warning signs. Today they are almost irrelevant in the mobile device market. The same can happen to any business. If you are a flight department, here are some of the danger signs that this problem is happening in your operation. 

• The business aircraft is used by only a few individuals within your organization.  

• The number of people using your service is decreasing.  

• The company (or your client's companies) are once again growing at a torrid pace, but your annual flight hours are onstant or increasing only slowly. 

If the company is doing better, why aren't you flying more? What is everyone else using for their air transportation needs?  

The elemental reason for each of these danger signs is the same - the service your organization provides is not as relevant to the needs of the potential users as it used to be. There are a number of possible reasons, including:

• The prices are perceived to be too high

• The capabilities of your operation do not meet the needs of the potential users

• Your operation does not have the technology needed by the potential users

• The potential new users do not know your service exists or think it is irrelevant to them

If you are only at the airport and not involved in the daily dealings and changes within your company, then you may be missing out on valuable information. If all you know is that you serve the big boss extremely well, what happens when there is a new big boss? 

There are three things to avoid being irrelevant. One is to get away from the airport and get downtown. The aviation operation is not the big boss' personal air taxi. It is a business asset. You need to understand your business's mission and how the flight department serves the corporate mission. You need to read the reports and sit in on meetings as appropriate. You need to walk around the halls of power and let folks know who you are and what the aviation team is all about.

The second thing is to find out what your current and potential users think or don't think about your service. It is quite easy to get people to tell you how they perceive your service, even busy people. Yes, think of the flight department as a business unit whose customers are in the corporation. Spend time with your current customers and users and listen to find out what they like about the service, what they don’t like and how they would like to see your organization improve. 

The third thing is to understand the future plans of the company. Then be proactive and plan ahead for the flight department so that you can be ahead of what the corporation needs. Don't assume that the current aircraft which does the job quite well will be effective next year, or five years. Where is the company changing? What are the growth opportunities? Or, is the company getting smaller and if so, how can you adjust? 

Just as corporations like RIM can miss out on what the future holds, so can the flight department miss out on what its future holds. Be proud of the quality service you provide, but seek to improve and always be on the lookout for new opportunities with your own company to further advance the company's mission. 

Legendary Designer Burt Rutan Returns to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh in 2015 for VariEze Anniversary

All Rutan designs and canard aircraft invited to Oshkosh for VariEze’s 40th

Photo courtesy Scaled Composites

EAA AVIATION CENTER, OSHKOSH, Wisconsin — (February 19, 2015) — Burt Rutan, the visionary aircraft designer whose innovations made history and changed the aviation world, will be back at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh in 2015 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of his iconic VariEze aircraft.

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015, the 63rd annual Experimental Aircraft Association fly-in convention, will be held July 20-26 at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh.

Rutan’s designs have been groundbreaking for more than 40 years, beginning with the VariViggen in the early 1970s through the concepts that became the SpaceShipOne and SpaceShipTwo vehicles that are launching the era of space tourism. His use of canard wings and composite materials changed the look and efficiency of homebuilt aircraft, with more than 1,000 airplanes based on his designs now flying in the U.S. alone.

"There are few individuals in the history of aviation who can match Burt Rutan’s imagination and accomplishments," said Jack Pelton, EAA chairman of the board. "His presentations are eagerly anticipated whenever he is in Oshkosh. Although he officially ‘retired’ several years ago, his innovative mind continues to push forward with new concepts and ideas that he’ll share at EAA AirVenture in 2015."

Rutan is perhaps publicly known best for his SpaceShipOne design, which in 2004 won the $10 million Ansari XPRIZE as the first successful private spacecraft. He also designed the Voyager, which in 1986 became the first aircraft to fly around-the-world nonstop on a single tank of fuel. That accomplishment earned him, along with pilots Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, the Presidential Citizen’s Medal. Burt Rutan was also named to the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1995 and EAA Homebuilders Hall of Fame in 1998.

His VariEze aircraft first flew in May 1975, with the prototype causing a sensation at that year’s EAA fly-in. That canard design evolved into other Rutan aircraft innovations, such as the Long-EZ, that are still being built today. Rutan’s multitude of interests has also led him into successfully exploring space flight and into electric flight.

In honor of the VariEze anniversary, EAA is inviting all Rutan and canard aircraft owners to come to Oshkosh and participate in the festivities. More details on specific dates and events will be released as they are finalized.

About EAA AirVenture Oshkosh

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh is "The World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration" and EAA’s yearly membership convention. Additional EAA AirVenture information, including advance ticket and camping purchase, is available online at www.eaa.org/airventure. EAA members receive lowest prices on admission rates. For more information on EAA and its programs, call 1-800-JOIN-EAA (1-800-564-6322) or visit www.eaa.org. Immediate news is available at www.twitter.com/EAA.

Should We Keep 121.5 Alive?


Photo: CC BY-SA 3.0

Pilots are trained to use the radio frequency 121.5 in the event of an emergency. Emergency locator transmitters (ELTs) broadcast over 121.5 to notify search and rescue of a downed aircraft. FAA radio facilities, Civil Air Patrol, and often pilots monitor 121.5 as a way to receive distress signals. So why does the FCC, and subsequently the FAA and NTSB, want to ban something simple that could potentially save lives?

The answer lies in the advancement of modern technology – the increased use of the more accurate satellite-based 406 MHz ELT, and the decision of major search and rescue company COSPAS-SARSAT to cease monitoring 121.5 in 2009. But does the introduction of a more reliable system mean that everyone should be required to use it? And should we go so far as to ban the use of an emergency frequency so commonly known to help pilots?

Since 1973, the FAA has required almost all aircraft to have an emergency locator transmitter (ELT) on board. ELTs are small transmitters that emit a signal and provide a way for search and rescue (SAR) to locate a downed airplane, increasing the survival odds for a pilot and passengers. They can transmit on either 121. MHz or 406.025 MHz. It’s commonly known that the 406 MHz ELTs are much more accurate, but a good portion of the general aviation fleet still uses 121.5 MHz ELTs.

121.5 ELTs
Many ELTs commonly used in aviation are designed to transmit an analog signal over the frequency 121.5 when activated, allowing anyone that is monitoring the frequency to hear the distress signal and notify appropriate search and rescue teams. These 121.5 ELTs are inexpensive and simple to use, but they aren’t without their problems.

If an ELT is in the ‘armed’ mode, it will become activated during a crash and transmit a noisy alarm over the frequency 121.5. But sometimes a hard landing will set it off, or it can be accidentally activated during ground operations. More often than not, ELTs are activated in non-emergency situations, and ATC and operators spend a lot of time tracking down false ELT signals. In addition, finding the signal requires homing in to the strength of the signal – a difficult and inaccurate task when the signal accuracy is only limited to about 10 miles.

406 MHz
A 406 MHz ELT transmit a digital signal, which allows for a code to be transmitted along with the distress signal. This code has details about the aircraft, including its registration number and a point of contact.

406 MHz ELTs are more accurate, pinpointing the location of a downed aircraft to within one to three miles, decreasing the potential search area drastically from the of a 121.5 transmitter. And false alerts are less of a problem with 406 MHz ELTs, too, meaning authorities can act immediately upon receipt of a distress signal, instead of spending their time trying to determine if it’s a fake signal or not.

Why Ban 121.5?
It’s easy to see why the 406 MHz ELT is better. What’s less obvious is why we should ban the use of 121.5

The NTSB thinks that the use or 406 MHz ELTs should be mandated. In a 2007 Safety Recommendation letter, the NTSB described the downfall of 121.5 emergency locator transmitters and recommended that the FAA mandate the installation and use of 406 MHz transmitters in all aircraft before major search and rescue organizations COSPAS-SARSAT ceased its monitoring. They NTSB believes that without a mandate, pilots will refuse to upgrade to the 406 MHz units, making it more difficult on search and rescue and possibly creating undue risk.

The FAA agrees, but finds it more difficult to mandate. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association has stood strong against the 121.5 ban, saying that it’s too costly for the approximately 200,000 general aviation pilots to upgrade, and that the decision regarding which ELT to use should rest with the pilots themselves.

In the meantime, the FCC is also considering a ban on 121.5 ELTs. In 2013, they opened up a comment period regarding the banning of 121.5 ELTs, and again AOPA opposed in this letter, stating that the FCC needs to leave aviation safety matters to the FAA. It remains to be known if the ban will come into play, but pilots should expect it to happen eventually, and more importantly, for their own safety, pilots should probably just upgrade to the 406 MHz ELT of they haven’t already.

Could - or should - the ban of 121.5 ELTs mean the death of the 121.5 frequency altogether? After all, the frequency is used for more than just ELTs. It’s an emergency frequency in which a pilot can declare an emergency, and it’s still monitiored by FAA facilities, Flight service stations and the civil air patrol. And many pilots still monitor it, which can be helpful to other pilots and ATC if they do hear something on that frequency. And pilots are taught to switch to 121.5 if they’re intercepted for some reason, such as inadvertent flight through a prohibited area.

What do you think? Should we just accept that new technology is better than the old and move on? Or should we fight to keep 121.5 alive?

New Cost Effective Solutions for Upcoming Mandates

Garmin is Now Offering Standalone ADS-B Solutions

By Conrad Theisen
Avionics Sales Manager for Elliott Aviation

www.elliottaviation.com

Earlier this year, Garmin announced a cost-effective, stand-alone Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) solution for Citation V, Hawker 800A/XP, Hawker 400A/XP, Learjet 60 and Learjet 35A. Their solution, which utilizes Garmin’s GTX 3000 Mode S Extended Squitter (ES) transponders, satisfies upcoming global ADS-B mandates without making costly Flight Management System (FMS) and cockpit display upgrades. What this means for owners and operators of these aircraft is that you now have a much more cost-effective solution to meet your NextGen requirements.

Not only does this solution satisfy upcoming NextGen mandates but paired with the Garmin GDL 88 ADS-B datalink and Flight Stream wireless gateway it gives you the capability to wirelessly receive the benefits of ADS-B In on your mobile device. While not a requirement, the addition of ADS-B In allows you to receive traffic and weather on your mobile device, which in these aircraft, currently do not have any other way of displaying the information.

Elliott Aviation is currently working on an STC to install Garmin’s new ADS-B solution in Hawker 800A/XP and Beechjet 400A/Hawker 400XP, while Executive Aircraft Maintenance is working on the STC for the Citation V and Butler National is pursuing an STC for Lear 60 and Lear 35A. With thousands of these aircraft currently in service, owners and operators now have a way to meet NextGen requirements and get added benefits of ADS-B In without the cost of a full cockpit retrofit.

Conrad Theisen has been with Elliott Aviation since 1996. He started his career as an Avionics Installer and was promoted to Avionics Manager in 2001. In 2009, he led the Customer Service and Project Management teams for all in-house aircraft. He joined the Avionics Sales team in 2012.

 

Honda Flies High

Photo: Courtesy of Honda Aircraft Company

Honda Motor has long been a crowd pleaser. Its cars, motorcycles, and lawnmowers are consumer favorites around the world. Now the Japanese giant is about to try its hand at producing a light jet, and by all indications, the plane will be another winner.

The unusually light and speedy HondaJet, priced at $4.5 million and capable of carrying four to six passengers, looks set to win Federal Aviation Administration certification by first-quarter 2015. It will be the most expensive aircraft in its class, but buyers already are lining up. The company claims that its first two years of production are sold out, though it refuses to disclose exactly how many jets it is capable of producing per year.

Honda has been quietly laying the groundwork for this since 1986. Back then, wanting to better understand aircraft design, Honda sent Michimasa Fujino, now 54, to Mississippi State University’s Raspet Flight Research Lab. It was at Raspet that the young Honda engineer eventually designed and built two research aircraft.

The second of these, the MH02, was an all-composite, 8,000-pound, high-wing twin jet with the engines mounted atop the wings, which Fujino would later enhance and dub Otwem, for over-the-wing engine mount, since that was the key distinguishing feature of the plane. He figured that this aesthetically challenged configuration -- which looked vaguely like a giant attacking insect from a 1950s horror movie -- would allow for bigger cabins and improved aerodynamics. After Honda green-lighted a move into the light-jet market, Fujino set about converting his MHO2 research into a commercially viable aircraft.

As Fujino and his team refined the jet over nearly a decade, they also built a massive, state-of-the-art manufacturing, engineering, and service center in Greensboro, N.C. -- for an estimated $140 million. This is now Honda Aircraft, where Fujino serves as CEO and oversees more than 1,200 employees.

Check out the rest of the Mark Huber’s story here!

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