Briefing: March 2012

User fee Yo-yo: Theyre gone, theyre back, theyre ...Reno will go on in some form; FAA regulation wont change for nowAre you being watched by flying cameras?Financing woes crippling LSA industry FAA FINALIZES FATIGUE RULES AMID CRITICISMNotams


The White House responded to a 8500-signature petition titled “Take Aviation User Fees off the Table” with a treatise called “Why We Need Aviation User Fees.” It concludes that “a $100 per flight user fee is an equitable way for those who benefit to bear the cost of this essential service” and is signed by OMB associate director Dana Hyde. Hyde has twice called for all users to pay or do their “fair share.” The fee would exclude all piston, military and certain other aircraft. Sigh. Here we go again.

Despite the tragic events of the crash at the Reno Air Races last year, the Reno Air Racing Association will have an event Sept. 12-16, 2012. It’s yet to be called an “air race,” and Association President Mike Houghton said if racing is not allowed, the 2012 event will be the last. FAA deputy director John McGraw told the NTSB that current regulations are enough for overseeing shows and races. “If we become aware of a risk that exceeds the boundary of what we think is acceptable, we will make those changes. But not currently.” The Reno Air Races have seen 20 pilots killed since they began 47 years ago. In 2011, Galloping Ghost’s violent crash during the races killed 11 people, including pilot Jimmy Leeward, and injured more than 70 on the ground.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed papers seeking to force the FAA to release information about use of drone aircraft and the identity of entities allowed to fly them inside the U.S. above an altitude of 400 feet. The FAA has not made public any information regarding who has been granted the required authorization for such flights, and how those recipients are using approved aircraft. Last April, the EFF sought records through the Freedom of Information Act and says it has not seen a response from either the FAA or the larger DOT. The L.A. Times reported “at least two dozen surveillance flights” in the latter half of 2011 by law enforcement in the U.S.

Shoppers in the market for a light sport aircraft have lots of choices, but according to a report in the February issue of Aviation Consumer, those choices get thin when it comes to finding a loan. “The LSA industry is stuck in a Catch-22,” the report found, “where low volume of sales hinders financing, but the impediments to financing hinder sales volume.” Well-qualified buyers can finance well-known LSA models with a track record of holding their value. But financing for less-common models or commercial use is virtually unavailable. The latter prevents LSAs from making real inroads at flight schools—except for the Cessna Skycatcher, which is financed directly by Cessna.

Pilots will have a 10-hour minimum rest period prior to flight duty with enough time during that period for eight hours of uninterrupted sleep, according to new FAA rules. But some of the details and exceptions are raising ire. Cargo operator participation is voluntary, and UPS pilots quickly filed a lawsuit to change that. FedEx pilots didn’t go that far but expressed outrage over the rule’s “casual dismissal of cargo pilots and their families.” Beware of freight dog.

Kestral Aircraft is pulling up stakes in Maine and moving their manufacturing back to Wisconsin—just as new-neighbor Cirrus buys the rights to the Epic turboprop design … Cessna says the new Citation Ten will do 527 knots at maximum cruise with a maximum range of 3242 nm. … Aspen Avionics releases higher-resolution, worldwide terrain for its synthetic vision system … Voiceflight voice command for Garmin 430/530s now approved for (almost) all aircraft under 6000 pounds … Hot air balloon crash in New Zealand kills 11 … Cub Crafters delivers 200th Cub LSA … New Cirrus SR models can seat five (as long as they’re skinny and don’t weigh anything) … Rare World War II-era Curtiss Helldiver SB2C discovered off the Florida coast … Despite a small increase in flight hours, the 2010 GA accident rate hit a 20-year low of 1435 accidents, 450 of which involved fatalities. But we’re not sure this is something to brag about … For breaking news in general aviation, log on to


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