Boeing 737 MAX pilots will get increased ground training on the aircrafts Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) but wont drill the anti-stall software in the sim according to updated training requirements under consideration by the FAA. The Boeing 737 MAX Flight Standardization Board (FSB) has sent draft recommendations to the agency saying MCAS ground training must address system description, functionality, associated failure conditions, and flight crew alerting. These items must be included in initial, upgrade, transition, differences, and recurrent training. To this point, there was no requirement for pilots to be trained on MCAS, which is an anti-stall system designed to push the nose of the aircraft down. In fact, many MAX pilots were unaware that it had been added to the aircraft to combat an increased tendency for the plane to pitch up because of the revised placement of the larger and more powerful LEAP engines.
Boeing took the first steps to get its 737 MAX aircraft back in the air in March with a software update to reduce the influence of an automated pitch control system and reduce the chances that it will trigger spuriously. The focus of the update is the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, which was chiefly designed to counter the MAXs tendency to pitch up at high angles of attack while being hand flown and push the nose over in the case of an impending stall. In the original design, MCAS used data from one of two angle of attack indicators to determine the deflection angle of the horizontal stabilizer. Its believed faulty data from an AOA played a role in the fatal crashes of a Lion Air MAX 8 last October and an Ethiopian Airlines MAX 8 in March. The new software is reported to draw data from both AOAs and limit the MCAS to moving the tail feathers only once, instead of repeatedly countering pilot inputs. Implementation of the software was expected in April after FAA review.
ADS-B innovator uAvionix is offering an online instruction program to qualify A&Ps to install its recently certified skyBeacon ADS-B Out device and its soon-to-be certified tailBeacon product. The skyBeacon adds the ADS-B transmitter to wingtip navigation or nav/strobe lights and requires no panel work or antenna installation. The tailBeacon replaces the position light on the tail. The simple system satisfies the FAAs Jan. 1, 2020 mandate requiring ADS-B Out on aircraft operating in almost all controlled airspace. The devices cost less than $2,000 and installation time is about an hour. The program is in response to demand from shops and independents across the country. uAvionix said it hopes to alleviate the building backlog of conventional ADS-B installations, which can take up to 25 hours of shop time.
The Airbus A220 became the smallest airliner to be approved for 180-minute extended diversion time operations (EDTO), formerly ETOPS, and that could open up lucrative transoceanic routes outside of the normal hubs. The former Bombardier CSeries program, which was acquired by Airbus in July of 2018, targets the 100-150-seat niche and the approval by Transport Canada widens the scope of operations for the highly regarded fly-by-wire airliner. The aircraft was also approved for steep approaches of up to six degrees last summer and with EDTO approval, direct flights from London City Centre Airport to the east coast of North America would be allowed. The approval will also allow the aircraft to be used between Hawaii and the western U.S.
On December 13, Virgin Galactics SpaceShip Two, VSS Unity, made its first trip to space, reaching an altitude of 51.4 miles, just above the 50-mile boundary defined by NASA. Today, for the first time in history, a crewed spaceship, built to carry private passengers, reached Space, said Virgin Galactic CEO Richard Branson. We will now push on with the remaining portion of our flight-test program. The commercial space sector has great potential, said FAA acting administrator Dan Elwell after the flight. The FAA is committed to helping ensure commercial space transportation grows safely. VSS Unity was lifted to 43,000 feet by the WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft, and carried a crew of two pilots, and four NASA experiments.
When a Lion Air Boeing 737 Max 8 with only 800 hours crashed into the ocean in November, killing all 189 on board, the event raised a lot of questions. It behaved erratically in flight before the crew lost control, and several crews had reported problems with the airplane in the days before.
Last year, the FAA offered a $500 rebate to aircraft operators who installed new equipment to meet the 2020 ADS-B mandate, but that offer expired in September 2017. Now the FAA has reinstated the program, with enough funding for 9,800 more rebates. The offer will end on October 11, 2019, or when the money runs out. The FAA has repeatedly said the compliance deadline wont be pushed back, and any aircraft lacking ADS-B-out wont be allowed to fly in most controlled airspace after Jan. 1, 2020. The ADS-B mandate is not going away, said FAA Acting Administrator Dan Elwell. Now is the time for aircraft owners to equip. More details can be found atwww.faa.gov/nextgen/equipadsb/.
Search-and-rescue delays after an airplane crash will become a thing of the past, with Aireons global satellite network in place, the company says. Aireon says the system will be ready to go online in 2019. As long as an aircraft is broadcasting on 1090 MHz ADS-B, we will be able to locate it anywhere worldwide, said Peter Kearney, CEO of the Irish Aviation Authority, one of the partners in the new system. General aviation users dont need to pre-register, but search-and-rescue teams can contact the company for location data. The rescue capability is offered as a free service to the aviation community, Aireon says.
This years AirVenture at Oshkosh was about as close as one could imagine to perfect, said EAA chairman Jack Pelton. Attendance set a new record, with about 601,000 visitors, nearly 2 percent more than last years record crowd. Pelton credited the combination of outstanding programs, aircraft variety, a robust economy and good weather, plus the efforts of EAA staff and 5000 volunteers, who created a show that was upbeat and exciting. Planning is already underway for AirVenture 2019, which will run from July 22 to 28. That show will celebrate EAAs 50th consecutive year in Oshkosh.
With an expectation to hire 8000 pilots over the next 10 years, Delta Air Lines has developed new accelerated career-path options to help ensure it has plenty of applicants for those jobs. Delta conducted several years of research to create a pilot outreach and pathway program that will inspire and attract the next generations of high-quality talent, said Steve Dickson, Deltas vice president for flight operations. The new Propel program will provide community outreach, mentoring, and scholarships to help future pilots launch successful careers.
In June, the FAA put on hold its flight testing for the Piston Aviation Fuels Initiative (PAFI) unleaded 100LL replacement fuels program. The FAA said it would assess issues related to the differences between the two PAFI fuels and 100LL. Both fuel producers, Shell and Swift, are currently evaluating options to mitigate the impacts that these differences will present in fuel production, distribution, and operation in the GA fleet, said the FAA. The FAA also said it will also assess alternative fuels developed outside the PAFI program. Meanwhile, General Aviation Modifications Inc. (GAMI) said its close to completing testing on its own 100-octane unleaded fuel. GAMI sidestepped PAFI in favor of a more streamlined STC approval process.
Flight schools are finding it hard to retain instructors because airlines are hiring them away, according to a report from the U.S. Government Accounting Office. Schools also find it challenging to recruit new students, due to the high cost of training. Also, the Helicopter Association International, in a study undertaken with the University Of North Dakota, projected a shortage of more than 7600 helicopter pilots by 2030. Helicopter mechanics will become even scarcer, with a shortage of 40,613 predicted in the U.S. by 2036. Bills aimed at supporting aviation workforce development have been introduced in both the House and the Senate over the last several months.