Briefing: March 2022


5G NOTAMs Restrict Instrument Flight

The FAA has published 1460 NOTAMs that restrict operations that rely on radio altimeters. The NOTAMs were issued just before the planned rollout of nationwide 5G cellular service by Verizon and AT&T. The companies are using a thin slice of the so-called C-Band of radio spectrum for the service and radio altimeters operate within 200 to 400 MHz of the much more powerful cell signals. Until the impact of the 5G signals on altimeters is known and mitigated, the agency has determined that the use of head-up display (HUD) and enhanced flight vision systems (EFVS) to touchdown, autoland, and helicopter operations requiring radio altimeter data including hover autopilot modes and CAT A/B performance class takeoffs and landings can’t be done where 5G signals are present. The FAA did make an exception for helicopter air ambulance operations but required extra crew training and additional operational requirements especially to conduct night operations.

EPA Moves On 100LL

The Environmental Protection Agency has announced that it “will take the necessary steps to regulate lead pollution from aircrafts (sic)” and that includes the all-important “endangerment finding” on 100LL which is expected by the end of this year. With the endangerment finding, the agency will be able to take measures to mitigate the risk, the most obvious of which is eliminating or restricting the use of tetraethyl lead in avgas. Although many aircraft engines will happily burn high octane unleaded fuel, the big high-compression mills that power big singles and twins used commercially need 100LL.

Delta Drops College Degree Requirement

Delta Airlines has joined American, Southwest and United in dropping a college degree as a prerequisite for its pilots. The airline said in an announcement that while college graduates will get preferential consideration, not having the letters after their name will no longer disqualify first officer candidates. “While we feel as strongly as ever about the importance of education, there are highly qualified candidates—people who we would want to welcome to our Delta family—who have gained more than the equivalent of a college education through years of life and leadership experience,” the airline said in a Facebook post.

Paraplegic Typed On Cirrus Jet

A paraplegic Pennsylvania pilot has become the first to earn a type rating in a Cirrus SF50 Vision Jet. Clayton Smeltz lost the use of his legs in a vehicle accident when he was just 16 months old and earned his private certificate in a Cherokee 10 years ago. Smeltz spent much of his working life so far working for a company that produced mobility products for those with disabilities. He got typed in the jet using hand controls to manipulate the pedals and other controls. “I feel like I just cheated being disabled! As a boy I dreamed of being a jet pilot but of course that would never happen. Now, after a year in the making, we’ve developed adaptive controls that allow the jet to be flown by hand!” he tweeted after the ride.

Pilot Fired For Refusing Unsafe Flight Wins Suit

A Kentucky court awarded a corporate pilot almost $2 million in damages after he was fired not long after he refused a flight on safety grounds. In September of 2017, Ray Justinic, a retired airline pilot, was asked by the real estate management company that employed him to fly staff and insurance people to the Caribbean island of St. Martin to assess damage from Hurricane Irma to a hotel it operated. Justinic refused, citing weather and the fatigue he felt from working all day to load the aircraft with tools and supplies. The company hired another pilot to do the flight and fired Justinic a week later.


FAA investigates alleged intentional plane crash stunt … Santa Clara County in California banned the sale of leaded fuel at its airports … Boeing says its next airplane will be built in the “Metaverse” and Internet-based environment … Denmark wants all its domestic flights fossil-fuel-free by 2030 … Flight Safety acquired simulator manufacturer Frasca … See for breaking news in general aviation.


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