Briefing: September 2013

FAA Sets New Standards for First OfficersPart 23 Revision Effort Gains MomentumNTSB Pushes GA Safety EffortContinental Buys Thielert, Dynon Acquires AFSNOTAMS


Anyone looking for a career in an airline cockpit will be affected by the FAA’s new ruling on first officer requirements. The 2009 Colgan Air crash prompted Congress to demand the new rules. All first officers who fly for passenger and cargo airlines now will be required to hold an aircraft type rating, plus an ATP certificate, which requires a minimum 1,500 hours total time and a minimum age of 23, with several available exemptions. Pilots may be able to qualify for “restricted privileges” if they are at least 21 years old and have a military background or a bachelor’s degree from an aviation program. The rule also requires all ATP applicants to have logged at least 50 hours of multi-engine time and to complete a new FAA-approved training program.

An overhaul of Part 23, the FAA rules that address the certification of general aviation aircraft, is in the works. Now a bill in Congress aims to set a deadline of December 2015 for those new rules to take effect. GA manufacturers are anxious for the change, hoping that the new rules will let them bring new products to market more quickly and at less expense. A joint industry-government committee has completed an 18-month review of the current rules, and recommended a change to ASTM industry-consensus rules, similar to the system now used for light sport aircraft.

The NTSB has made general aviation safety a priority, citing a stubborn lack of improvement in accident statistics over the last 10 years. This summer, the safety board released a series of online videos that aim to address some of the more common causes of GA accidents. The videos explore the issues that were addressed in five safety-alert bulletins published by the safety board in March: risk-management strategies, maintenance issues, flying at night or in reduced visibility, stalls, and careful adherence to procedures for GA mechanics. “We see the same types of accidents over and over again,” said NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman. “What’s especially tragic is that so many of these accidents are entirely preventable.” The five videos, each three to five minutes long, were posted on YouTube (

Continental Motors announced in July that it had acquired the assets of Thielert Aircraft Engines, which had been operating in bankruptcy for several years. Continental and its parent, the China-based AVIC International, said the management of Thielert would be integrated into Continental’s Mobile, Ala., headquarters, but the manufacturing of Thielert’s Centurion diesel engines will continue in Lichtenstein. Also in July, Dynon Avionics, which manufactures avionics for experimental and light sport aircraft around the world, announced that it had acquired Advanced Flight Systems. AFS, located in Canby, Ore., manufactures avionics for the experimental market, including EFIS products, an aircraft monitoring system, and angle-of-attack products that incorporate patented technology. AFS will continue to operate as a separate company, with its own staff, headed by company founder Rob Hickman. Dynon, based in Woodinville, Wash., said in a statement it aims to use its financial resources “to keep AFS strong and vibrant in the experimental community.”

A new company, GreenWing International, has been formed to market the electric eSpyder developed by Yuneec Aircraft … Helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky laid off 200 workers… Anthony Foxx was sworn in as the new Secretary of Transportation … Solar Impulse, the Swiss aircraft powered by solar panels on its wings, completed a cross-country flight from San Francisco to New York … The Navy’s X-47B drone successfully landed on an aircraft carrier at sea for the first time, using the arrested landing system … A 787 caught fire on the ground at Heathrow, and the FAA called for inspections of the ELT and its wiring … Cessna started deliveries of its TTx single-engine model … A 777 operated by Asiana Airlines crashed while trying to land at San Francisco International Airport in visual conditions … The FAA warned pilots to be careful about the effects of prescription drugs … Breaking news in general aviation can be found at


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