Briefing: October 2021



A flight school Cessna 172 was damaged in a collision with a police drone while on final for a busy GA airport in Toronto in early August. Canadian authorities said the Canadian Flyers 172, with an instructor and student on board, hit a drone operated by the York Regional Police about a mile from the threshold at about 500 feet AGL. The instructor said he assumed they’d hit a bird. The landing was uneventful but the two were shocked at damage left by the drone, which probably weighed 10-12 pounds. An engine teardown will also be needed since the other aircraft went through the prop. Transport Canada classed the accident as unauthorized entry to controlled airspace by the drone because the police didn’t notify NAV Canada of its presence.


Authorities at Reid-Hillview Airport in San Jose, California are hoping that by switching all based aircraft to unleaded fuel they can blunt at least one of the arguments for closing the facility. Earlier this year, a study was released that showed lead levels in the blood of children living near the airport to be marginally higher than average. There were differing interpretations of those results but the increasing availability of unleaded fuel suitable for many piston aircraft offered a partial solution to the sustained opposition to the airport. Local politicians are also eyeing the airport lands to build affordable housing.


The FAA is clamping down on so-called “gray charter” flights in which operators fly for hire without all the certifications required. The agency recommended fines totaling $1.2 million against five aircraft operators for dozens of flights that were disguised as demo or maintenance hops that were really charters. The agency said the flights were “careless and reckless, endangering lives or property.” In addition to giving bogus justification for the flights, the agency alleges the operators used unqualified pilots. Legitimate charter companies have long complained about business bleeding to the gray market.


The National Aeronautic Association is reviving an historic race with a modern twist with the Pulitzer Electric Aircraft Air Race scheduled for May 16-19, 2022. It will cover 1000 nautical miles from Omaha, Nebraska, to near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. NAA is calling the electric aircraft race a resumption of the Pulitzer series of races in the 1920s that were aimed at showing the utility and value of airplanes. In that vein 100 years later, the modern iteration will determine a winner based on total flight time rather than calendar duration. “The cross-country format, rather than a closed-circuit speed event, was selected to emphasize electric aircraft range and reliability, in addition to speed, in a realistic operating environment,” NAA said. Up to 25 “zero-emission electric propulsion” aircraft can be entered.


FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said the paperwork to allow type-specific training in limited, primary, and experimental aircraft isn’t going away anytime soon but the agency is trying to make it as painless as possible. CFIs who want to get paid to teach pilots to fly experimental aircraft will need a letter of deviation authority and instructors on limited and primary aircraft will need written exemptions. It all stems from a legal battle with a Florida operator who was doing flight instruction in a P-40 that revealed inconsistencies between the rules and practices in overseeing those operations. Dickson said it will take four years to rewrite the rules and that’s why the documents being issued online are good for that long.


American Airlines is extending the ban on liquor sales in economy sections until at least Jan. 18 … A Turkish Airlines Boeing 777-300 almost took off from a taxiway at Newark Liberty Airport … Jennifer Homendy has been confirmed as the new chairperson of the NTSB … The NTSB wants the FAA and airlines to improve turbulence reporting to reduce injuries … DHL ordered 12 Eviation Alice electric cargo aircraft … See for breaking news in general aviation.


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