Briefing: December 2010

The ADS-B debacle continues to unfoldFAA Expected To Add Photos To Pilot CertificatesSikorsky will Invest In Eclipse Owning an N-number Based in Europe May Lose its CharmA New Effort to Ditch Medical CertificatesNotams


The Office of Inspector General for the Transportation Department reports that the FAA’s ADS-B plan faces “significant risks and challenges.” The number-one issue: Reluctance to purchase and install the required new avionics. “Users have raised justifiable concerns about evolving requirements and uncertain equipage costs and benefits,” the report says and brings back up the idea of cost sharing on incentives for upgrading users. The report also points to promised cost savings by using contractors that have evaporated or ended up costing more than doing things in-house. Meanwhile, the Airline Electronics Association says the new FAA guidelines that require ADS-B equipment to be installed under the supplemental type certificate (STC) process will “stall early equipage, delay early implementation, and, at the extreme, cause the failure of ADS-B implementation all together.”

The FAA will move forward on requiring photos for pilot certificates. The requirement for pilot certificates to have a photo and be capable of carrying biometric data (such as fingerprint or iris scans) has been around since 2004, but the FAA hasn’t completed the process. Currently, pilots are required to carry a government-issued photo ID in addition to their pilot certificate. The current certificates can carry the biometric data, although no such data currently is required.

Sikorsky aircraft confirmed that it will invest in Eclipse Aerospace. “This agreement in principle affords us an opportunity to invest in a great product and to further leverage our strong aftermarket and product-support capabilities for fixed-wing application,” Sikorsky VP Mark Cherry said in a statement. Sikorsky President Jeff Pino, incidentally, has an Eclipse and thinks highly of it.

New rules proposed by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) “would render FAA pilot certificates and instrument ratings issued to pilots living and operating in Europe (including U.S. citizens based in and flying in Europe) effectively worthless, requiring them to essentially start over and retrain and recertify,” said AOPA spokesman Chris Dancy. Dancy also pointed out that a sudden glut of N-number aircraft being offered for sale could further depress the U.S. market. There are an estimated 10,000 pilots in Europe flying under U.S. certificates.

David Wartofsky, the owner of Potomac Airfield, near Washington, D.C., is petitioning the FAA to do away with the requirement for third-class medicals. He suggests the FARs should be changed to require all pilots to have a valid driver’s license, but no medical requirement for piloting an aircraft less than 6,000 pounds max gross weight. “People are in more danger from passing vehicles on the road than small aircraft passing overhead,” says Wartofsky, and adds that liability insurance premiums for small private aircraft versus automobiles support his claim. You can read his full petition at

PiperJet redesigned into the bigger, sleeker Piper Altair … An electric-powered Cessna 172 proof-of-concept aircraft may be ready to fly by next April … NetJets intends to buy up to 125 Phenom 300 light business jets … Garmin announces G5000 flight deck for Part 25 jets … OurPLANE GA fractional ownership company filed for bankruptcy … SwiftFuel performing comparably to 100LL in expanded tests … New Mexico Spaceport officially opens with landing (but not from space) of SpaceShip2 … Emivest Aerospace, manufacturer of the SJ30 light jet, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy … Hawker Beechcraft gave notice to 350 workers and set a timeline for at least 800 more to follow by next August … Aspen Avionics announced the EA100 Adapter for attitude-based autopilot systems to use the Aspen PFD’s digital gyros … iPhone app raises security concerns as it shows range and bearing to nearby aircraft using ADS-B database … For breaking news in general aviation, log on to


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