Briefing: February 2013

Looming Pilot Shortage-Fact Or Fallacy?Superjet Pilots Blamed In Fatal CrashVelcro Banned For ELT MountsEAA Acts On NTSB ConcernsTop Gun 3D Coming To ImaxNotams


Some aviation advocates who are convinced that a pilot shortage is looming, with implications for costs and safety, have asked a government agency to conduct a study to confirm their concerns. About 16 groups, including FAA, AOPA, Boeing, and regional airline operators, told the Government Accountability Office, “The aviation industry is entering an era of unprecedented pilot staffing challenges as a result of a struggling economy, bankruptcies, mergers, increasing flight training costs, manufacturing declines and numerous new public laws and regulations.” Some pilot advocates have countered that there is no shortage. CBS aviation news analyst Chesley Sullenberger said the airlines have the means to solve their own problem: “When the airlines create working conditions and have wages that will attract qualified, experienced pilots, they will have enough applicants.”

Investigators concluded that the crew ignored terrain warning systems on a Sukhoi Superjet 100 regional jet that crashed into a mountain during a demo flight last May in Indonesia. “The plane crew was not aware of the mountainous terrain on the flight path due to several factors,” investigators said. “This meant they neglected the warning signals of the plane’s Terrain Awareness Warning System.” The crew also was distracted by a long conversation with a potential buyer who was in the cockpit, according to the report. Forty-five people were killed in the crash. The Russian-built airplane entered service last year, but fewer than 20 have been delivered.

The FAA says Velcro-type hook-and-loop fasteners can’t be used to secure emergency locator transmitters designed and built after Nov. 26, 2012. The new rule came two years after a high-profile crash that killed Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens and four others. The ELT in their Otter came loose on impact and detached from the antenna. The ELT was working properly, but its signals were not transmitted. Aircraft owners aren’t required to replace current ELT straps, but at least one manufacturer already is working to design an inexpensive retrofit option.

The NTSB released a study in May with four recommendations to EAA aiming to improve the fatal accident rate for experimental aircraft, which is 3 to 4 times higher than for the rest of the general aviation fleet. EAA has addressed one of those recommendations by publishing a list of CFIs authorized to offer training in experimental aircraft. “Proper transition training is an essential first step toward safe operation of experimental aircraft,” EAA said. EAA said it has made “significant progress” in meeting all of the FAA recommendations.

“Top Gun,” one of the more iconic aviation films, will soon be released in a newly remastered 3D version. Paramount Pictures said the 1986 film will run for six days in select Imax theaters starting Feb. 8, and then will be available on Blu-ray on Feb. 19. “Rendered in 3D, the film’s complex, long shots reveal extraordinary depth and clarity, allowing viewers to explore every detail of the action,” according to the studio. The U.S. Navy cooperated in the production of the original film, and made several airplanes and an aircraft carrier available for filming.

Fundraising is under way in Dayton, Ohio, for a monument to the Wright brothers’ 1905 airplane … Epic Aircraft purchased a former Cessna manufacturing plant in Bend, Oregon, as it continues to pursue certification of its single-engine turboprop kit design … Solar Impulse, the huge solar-powered aircraft built in Switzerland, may visit the United States in the early summer of 2013 … Stratolaunch Systems, which plans to launch satellites from an enormous airplane high in the atmosphere, has parted with rocket subcontractor SpaceX … A climatologist said jet exhaust in the polar regions might be causing ice-cap melting … For the latest in general aviation breaking news, see


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