News - Page 8 Aviation Articles

High School Aviation Students Restore Historical Biplane Curtiss JN-4D "Jenny"

 

The Fully Restored Curtiss JN-4D "Jenny"

Kentucky is truly making a name for itself in the world of Aerospace education. Recent modifications to the professional flight program at Eastern Kentucky University have put it on the map as one of the top-ranking aerospace schools in the nation. The Aviation Museum of Kentucky offers summer camps for young kids to have an introduction to aviation and their first experiences in aircraft.

Masterfully filling the gap between introduction to aviation and professional training in Kentucky is The Institute for Aerospace Education. This high school program was formed with the simple mission of helping improve students’ STEM learning (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) through the context of aerospace. Since its inception in 2010, more than 23 school districts have been added to the network and begun offering aviation classes in their curriculum.

One of these network schools is located in Tompkinsville. Jon Foote facilitates and teaches the aviation classes for students of Tompkinsville high school at Monroe County Airport (KTZY.) As well as being the owner of the FBO, Foote offers maintenance services to aircraft in need. Through his maintenance service, Foote was contacted by filmmaker Dorian Walker asking to help him restore some work on his Curtiss JN-4D "Jenny" aircraft. Seeing the perfect opportunity to expose his aviation students to a great piece of history, he got permission to let the high school kids help with the restoration.

Proud aircraft owner Dorian Walker

The work took a year to complete, with several students working every day. Three students in particular took the project to heart, spending multiple hours on the weekends working on the plane. Originally built in 1917, the biplane helped train pilots in World War I. After the war the model proved fundamental to the barnstorming age and helped make civil aviation prominent during the 1920s.

Many non-aviation individuals will recognize the historical plane from a postal stamp that was an accidental misprint, showing an inverted Jenny. Because only one sheet was printed featuring this mistake, it has become extremely rare and valuable. A single stamp sold for $977,500 in 2007. A version of this stamp has recently come back into circulation to celebrate National Stamp Collecting Month.

It is amazing that high school students have had the opportunity be around a plane with such historical significance while experiencing maintenance procedures firsthand. The work is now complete and the aircraft has more exciting things on its horizons. Jenny 38262 will be joining six other flying Jenny biplanes in a trip around the country, and will be made available to educational groups for exhibition. There is also talk of this exact Jenny being on display at AirVenture 2014.

 

 

Sleep Apnea and Flying - A Summary of the Situation

In a recent FAA newsletter, Federal Air Surgeon Dr. Frederick Tilton reported the FAA "will be releasing shortly" a policy requiring that pilots with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or greater, and a neck size of 17 inches or greater, undergo screening for sleep apnea prior to receiving a medical certificate. Tilton’s newsletter commentary adds that, over time, additional pilots would be required to submit to OSA screening, as the agency lowers the BMI threshold.

Here’s a link to the newsletter:

AOPA and EAA reacted to the announced policy with strongly worded letters "demanding" that it be suspended. They argued that the policy addresses a problem that exceeds the Federal Flight Surgeon’s mandate, could add a financial burden to the pilot community, and hasn’t been proven to exist. AOPA Thursday expressed its support for the House’s legislation and added some choice words. AOPA president Mark Baker said, "The policy change is arbitrary and capricious and doesn’t make sense given the data." AOPA says that a review of ten years of general aviation accident data "found no cases in which sleep apnea was a causal or contributing factor."

Less than a week ago, U.S. House of Representatives aviation subcommittee chairman Frank LoBiondo (R-2 NJ) introduced H.R. 3578 – legislation that would compel the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) "to ensure that any new or revised requirement providing for the screening, testing, or treatment of an airman or an air traffic controller for a sleep disorder is adopted pursuant to a rulemaking proceeding, and for other purposes." "We thank Representative LoBiondo and other House lawmakers for recognizing that a policy of this magnitude must be vetted through the established rulemaking process, which has proven to be effective so many times in the past," NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen said. "It is imperative that any new burden on aviators, in this case pilots, be thoroughly analyzed in consultation with stakeholders." LoBiondo’s measure has been referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

Where do you stand on this? If you suffer from sleep apnea, does it impact your performance as a pilot?

UPDATE 12-5-13: The NBAA welcomes the House Committee passage of H.R. 3578 here.

UPDATE 12-9-13: Advanced Aircrew Academy has an excellent blog posting regarding obtaining the special issuance of an FAA Medical with sleep apnea here.

UPDATE 12-10-13: The Civil Aviation Medical Association (CAMA), the professional organization for Aviation Medical Examiners who provide medical certification exams to the nation's pilots, has joined the consensus against the FAA's new sleep apnea policy announced last month. More information on the EAA's website here.

UPDATE 12-11-13: Reps. Todd Rokita (R-IN) and Sam Graves (R-MO) introduced a bill in the U.S. House today that seeks to abolish the third-class medical certificate for many pilots who fly recreationally. The General Aviation Pilot Protection Act of 2013, co-sponsored by Reps. Bill Flores (R-TX), Mike Pompeo (R-KS), Collin Peterson (D-MN), and Richard Hanna (R-NY), would require pilots who fly recreationally to hold a valid driver's license in lieu of a third-class medical certificate and operate under specific limitations.

UPDATE 12-13-13: During a Dec. 12 webinar presentation to discuss the agency's controversial new OSA-screening proposal with industry stakeholders, Federal Air Surgeon Dr. Frederick Tilton appeared determined to push ahead with the requirements. "If Congress passes a law [forcing industry consultation], we’ll be compliant with it," Tilton said during the webinar. "Until they do so, we will move forward with this." For more on this new development, plus the NBAA's reaction, she their press release here.

UPDATE 12-20-13: The FAA will delay implementation of its new sleep apnea policy planned for next month in order to gather additional input from the aviation and medical community. For more information, as well as the EAA's reaction, click here.

UPDATE 3-6-14: The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) joined a coalition of aviation groups this week in calling for swift passage of U.S. Senate legislation aimed at bringing transparency to any decision by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to implement mandatory testing of pilots and air traffic controllers for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) before receiving a medical certificate.

"As aviation community stakeholders, we are writing to express our support for S.1941, commonsense bipartisan legislation to address the sweeping [FAA] proposal to change the policy on sleep apnea for pilots and air traffic controllers without the benefit of a rulemaking process," reads the March 4 letter to senators. "Further, we wish to express our collective hope that passing this important bill in a timely fashion will be a priority for the U.S. Senate in the coming weeks." Read the coalition's letter in its entirety here.

Red Bull Flies Again!

The Red Bull Air Race World Championship features the world's best race pilots in a pure motor-sport competition that combines speed, precision and skill. Using the fastest, most agile and lightweight racing planes, pilots navigate a low-level aerial track made up of air-filled pylons. Now the race is set to return in February 2014 with a full seven-race World Championship taking place in six different countries – in the U.S. they will take place in Dallas/Fort Worth on September 6th and Las Vegas on October 11th, 2014. It’s return was announced at the Putrajaya Maritime Centre in Malaysia on October 8th.

The Red Bull Air Race World Championship comes to Las Vegas in October, 2014.

There have been several improvements, including standard engines and props for all pilots, changes to the pylons for safety, and a few rule changes. A new highlight is the Challengers Cup, giving pilots who qualify experience racing on the tracks.

Reigning champion Paul Bonhomme of Britain won the last two competitions in 2009 and 2010, and he will be seeking a third-straight win in the 2014 competition.

For more information on the Red Bull Air Race World Championship, click here.

UPDATE - Tickets are now available through RedBullAirRace.com, Ticketmaster.com, lvms.com, texasmotorspeedway.com and in person at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway box office (800-644-4444) and Texas Motor Speedway box office (817-215-8500).

Why Do People Fly Business Aircraft?

The Oct-Nov Business Jet Traveler (BJT) just arrived in my mail this past week. For the third year they published their Readers' Choice Survey. 1,100 of their subscribers responded with their thoughts and ratings regarding business aviation. The more things change, the more some things remain the same. Let's see.

The top three reasons people fly privately?

1. Save time

2. Ability to use airports the airlines don't serve

3. Ability to work enroute

No surprises. In fact all three really are about the productive use of time. You cannot save time, only spend it wisely. People who value their time use business aviation. That doesn't ever change.

The top three aircraft features among the BJT readers were:

1. Range

2. Economical operation

3. Cabin size

Speed was number five and baggage space, last on their list of choices. Economics was a surprise. Yes range and cabin are perennial favorites much as you'd expect. Speed ties directly into saving time, but not at any cost. So having the title of the World's Fastest Business Jet makes for great PR but if it is too expensive... Economics being number two makes me happy as that is how my company makes it living. I think this all ties into a Best Value for the business aviation user: saving time in a non-stop comfortable environment that makes fiscal sense.

Good news: more than half of the respondents flew the same or slightly more in 2013 than they did in 2012 and expect to fly the same or more next year. I'd say that bodes well for a slow and stable recovery. Only 4% reported that they will fly "much less than in the past year."

One set of questions were the same for fractional, jet card and charter users. It asked the respondents to rate those three sources of business aviation from 1 (low) to 5 (high) among nine factors. What interested me of those nine were customer service, value for the price paid, and overall satisfaction. All three scored very close to the same for customer service:

1. Jet Cards Customer Service = 4.20

2. Charter operators Customer Service = 4.18

3. Fractional shares Customer Service = 4.16

With no breakdown among the numbers reporting in the above categories, I'd say the average customer service levels were very good among the three types of service. I've heard anecdotally that some owners were less happy with fractional share companies but I think I have an answer there. Value was a bit different:

1. Charter value for price paid = 3.70

2. Jet Cards value for price paid = 3.70

3. Fractional shares value for price paid = 3.49

Fractional shares rated lower for value than the other two. They also rated 3.15 for Residual Value Terms. Given the drop and non-recovery in used airplane prices since 2008, I'd expect fractional shares to rate lower here versus a non-ownership option. I think this is where the fractional share owners' disappointment lies. They may have been enthusiastic about the ability of a business jet to maintain its value (or felt they were oversold on that?). When they saw that business airplanes lost value and are not recovering, they expressed their disappointment.

For overall satisfaction, I think the issue of residual values caused fractional share owners to be slightly less favorable towards their overall experience:

1. Charter overall satisfaction = 4.00

2. Jet Cards overall satisfaction = 4.00

3. Fractional shares overall satisfaction = 3.89

BJT showed overall satisfaction broken out by manufacturer for owned airplanes. No numerical average was shown so a direct comparison with charter, jet cards and fractional is a bit difficult. "Excellent" rating were from 38% to 67% except for Hawker Beechcraft at 22%. Their financial woes, especially among Hawker Beechcraft jet owners I'm sure contributed to their lowest "Excellent" ratings. But, at that, they did get 54% of their owners giving them a "Very Good" for overall satisfaction. So for the business airplane manufacturers, every one had over 80% of their customers rating them as very good or excellent. I'd say that is, well, a very good rating for ownership.

Aircraft reliability is also rated quite high among business jet owners with all the major manufacturers having very good to excellent scores by 90% or more of their owners. 

Among the business helicopters, BJT had enough scores to report on Bell and Eurocopter. Oddly, Sikorsky did not have enough responses to be included. While Bell rated above Eurocopter (excellent and very good scores) for each of the categories queried, both manufacturers had fewer excellent rating in all categories versus their business airplane owners. Not sure whether helicopter owners are a fussier group or whether, as an industry, helicopter manufacturers are not quite as good at taking care of their business-flying customers as the fixed wing folks. 

The last question asked was "If you could receive a complimentary year of flying on the following, which aircraft would you choose?"  They had four helicopter categories, two turboprop categories and seven business jet categories. You'll have to go see the survey to see if your favorites were the readers' favorites. Let me say that being given any one of those models free to use for a year would make me very happy!

Exhibitor record at leading exhibition for the airport industry

inter airport Europe 2013 will open its doors from October 8 – 11, 2013 at the Munich Trade Fair Centre in Germany. For this year’s show, exhibition organizers, Mack Brooks Exhibitions, announce a record number of exhibitors and a record floor space. More than 630 exhibitors from 37 countries will present their innovations at the 19th International Exhibition for Airport Equipment, Technology, Design & Services. The exhibition range covers all areas of airport planning, design and operation. Solutions for aircraft, passenger and cargo handling, security, airport IT, architectural components as well as Ground Support Equipment will be on display.

"A 10% increase in floor space and 4% more exhibitors compared with the previous exhibition reflect the general recovery of the airport industry. While passenger numbers in growth regions such as Asia have continuously increased over the past two years, passenger figures in Europe have remained static for quite a long time. Now the forecasts predict that the economic situation for the European airport industry will pick up again. Furthermore, the worldwide cargo market is currently also showing first signs of recovery", says Nicola Hamann, Show Director inter airport Europe, on behalf of the organizers, Mack Brooks Exhibitions.

Innovations for all areas of the airport

inter airport Europe, the leading exhibition for the international airport industry, is considered an important barometer for the economic situation of the industry branch as well as for technical innovations. Once again, the exhibitors will showcase new and enhanced products and services to improve the handling processes at airports and make airports more secure, more efficient and more environmental-friendly. From energy-efficient baggage handling solutions to high-speed explosives detection systems and environment-friendly de-icing equipment, there will be a wide range of innovations on display. Visitors can look forward to a large number of live demonstrations and expert exchange about the advantages of new and enhanced products.

Four exhibiting companies will receive the inter airport Europe Innovation Award for their technical advancements. During the official Opening and Awards ceremony on Tuesday, 8 October 2013, at 11 a.m., in the entrance area of the exhibition, prizes will be awarded in the four exhibition categories interRAMP (ground support equipment), interTERMINAL (technical terminal installations and services), interDATA (specialized hard and software) and interDESIGN (architecture and furnishings). Award winners have been selected by an international panel of industry experts.

Visitor Information

The exhibition website features extensive information about the exhibition and its exhibitors. The online show planner is a useful tool for visitors to plan their visit to the show. The online show preview includes profiles and product descriptions of hundreds of exhibiting companies. A personalized show preview can be created by choosing the relevant exhibition categories.

Smartphone users are able to access the official app for inter airport Europe 2013 from www.iae2go.com. The up-to-date exhibitor list, the conference program and the Show Daily can be accessed here as well.

Travel, opening hours, entrance tickets

inter airport Europe 2013 will take place at the Munich Trade Fair Centre, occupying halls B5 and B6, directly linked with the spacious outdoor area for the presentation of large-scale exhibits such as de-icers, push-back tractors, snow sweepers and fire fighting vehicles. Entrance to the show will be entrance Ost (East) of Munich Trade Fair Centre.

The venue is easily accessible by air, road and public transport. Shuttle buses will be running from Munich International Airport at regular short intervals throughout the day.

inter airport Europe 2013 will be open from Tuesday, 8 October 2013, to Thursday, 10 October 2013, from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and on Friday, 11 October 2013, from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Entrance tickets are available at a favorable price via the online ticket shop on inter airport Europe website. Price for a day ticket via the online ticket shop is € 37; for a season ticket € 57; the on-site price of a day ticket is € 47; for a season ticket € 67.

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