Briefing: July 2018
Reports Document Pilot Supply Problems
Flight schools are finding it hard to retain instructors because airlines are hiring them away, according to a report from the U.S. Government Accounting Office. Schools also find it challenging to recruit new students, due to the high cost of training. Also, the Helicopter Association International, in a study undertaken with the University Of North Dakota, projected a shortage of more than 7600 helicopter pilots by 2030. Helicopter mechanics will become even scarcer, with a shortage of 40,613 predicted in the U.S. by 2036. Bills aimed at supporting aviation workforce development have been introduced in both the House and the Senate over the last several months.
Uber Elevate Explores eVTOL Futures
In its second annual conference, Uber Elevate brought together aviation’s innovators to discuss the technologies needed to develop eVTOL flight for urban transport. Pipistrel, Embraer, Aurora Flight Sciences, Bell, and Karem unveiled new designs for future air taxis. Pipistrel’s new design utilizes dedicated propulsion systems for both cruising and vertical lift and can carry 2 to 6 passengers. It will fly longer distances and at higher speeds than previous models, says Pipistrel, and the new integrated vertical lift system will lower operating costs. “Uber will be ready to start commercial service with urban air taxis by 2023,” said Mark Moore, Uber Elevate’s engineering director. Uber also said it has signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA to create a new air traffic control system that could manage fleets of low-flying autonomous aircraft in urban areas.
NTSB Probes Fatal In-Flight Breakup
A student from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and his FAA flight examiner died in April after the Piper PA-28 they were flying lost its left wing in flight. Subsequent investigations by the NTSB found a wing crack in another PA-28 aircraft, which had a similar number of total airframe hours and cycles to the accident airplane and was used exclusively for flight training. The NTSB said it found the crack would have been detected using eddy-current inspection (ECI) techniques, implying that it might be possible to effectively check for cracks without having to remove the wings, as was required for some Piper aircraft in the 1980s following a similar accident.
FAA Considers Changes To Supersonic Ban
The FAA prohibits civil aircraft from flying at Mach 1 or faster over U.S. land areas, and the FAA says that’s not going to change—however, the agency recently proposed two new rules to support the development of civil supersonic aircraft. The first proposed rule addresses noise certification, and the second aims to make it easier to get the special authorization needed to conduct supersonic flight testing. The FAA also said it is “working within the existing statutory and regulatory authority to consider the range of permissible supersonic operations.” In addition, the FAA is assessing the current state of supersonic aircraft technology in terms of mitigating the noise impacts associated with supersonic overland flight. The two proposed rules will be published next year.
NTSB Addresses Loss Of Control
Accidents involving loss of control still account for more GA accident deaths than any other single factor, says the NTSB, and in April the board held a roundtable meeting to address potential solutions. Topics discussed included pilot training, safety culture, and new cockpit technology. Improved data analysis and outreach also can help to bring down the numbers of loss of control accidents, said NTSB chair Robert Sumwalt. More than 1,500 people have died in the last 10 years due to loss of control accidents, according to the NTSB. Video of the discussion is archived online until July 24 at ntsb.capitolconnection.org.
Seattle’s Museum of Flight opened an exhibit about the air war in Southeast Asia on Memorial Day...Richard L. Collins, longtime editor-in-chief at Flying magazine, died in April at age 84...Former Epic Air CEO Fred “Rick” Schrameck pleaded guilty to wire fraud in Oregon...Breaking news in general aviation can be found at www.avweb.com.