Briefing: February 2010


Technical Standards For ADS-B equipment defined, equipage mandate still unknown

We now have approved technical and operational standards for ADS-B equipment—but don’t get too excited. This really means (among other things) that manufacturers can now move forward to develop conforming ADS-B hardware. The FAA’s final rule on what will be required for GA equipage to fly in controlled airspace isn’t due until April of this year. Compliance isn’t required for another decade—provided the system is up and running by then.

A Burst of Sound and Looming Fury in Alternative Fuels

Swift Enterprises’ 100SF, designed as a replacement for 100LL, has been OK’d by ASTM International for use as a test fuel. This allows full-scale testing by companies throughout the industry and is a big step toward certification. Swift claims the fuel will be comparably priced to other GA fuels and more efficient. In a related story, the folks at General Aviation Modifications, Inc. (GAMI), who are known for their efforts in balanced fuel injection and turbonormalizing, have hit upon a formula they call G100UL. This fuel is mixed from available blend stock but has no lead and could meet ASTM D910, the avgas fuel specification. GAMI has filed for a patent and is working out the details on economics and feasibility. Stay tuned.

Lockheed Martin Closing Seven Flight Service Stations

Lockheed Martin says service will not suffer when it closes seven of the remaining 13 Automated Flight Service Stations on Feb. 1 and lays off another 160 flight service specialists and management personnel. The move is reportedly in response to a 13-percent reduction in call volume combined with efficiencies gained with a new communications network. Lockheed Martin says the six remaining AFSS facilities will be able to seamlessly handle the calls, saying, “We determined there will not be any diminished level of support.” If fewer and fewer pilots keep using the AFSS service, we suppose that’ll be correct.

FAA Makes Seemingly Arbitrary Crackdown on Through-The-Fence Agreements

The FAA changed a bit of wording in its airport guidance that changed through-the-fence (TTF) agreements from a “discouraged” practice to a banned one. The new policy effectively outlaws deals in which property owners on land adjacent to an airport are granted access, usually via a gate that leads to a taxiway. The directive forbids renewing any existing TTF agreements and appears to order any FAA-funded airports to cancel existing agreements that don’t have end dates. The policy could have more fallout than inconveniencing fly-in homeowners: Some aircraft businesses (including Quest Aircraft) have their hangars on private land connected to the airport. These businesses could be locked out from the airport on which they depend.

Paper Certificates Become a Thing of the Past

If your U.S. pilot certificate is printed on paper, it’s going to expire on March 31, unless you replace it with the new plastic version. You may have already gotten one if you added a rating in the past few years. If you’ve still got the battered paper version, you can fill out a request for replacement or download a form and mail it in. It’ll cost you two bucks for each certificate you replace, but, as a bonus, you can get a new number that’s not your SSN if you wish at no extra charge.


FAA funding extended through March … Eclipse Aerospace LLC rises from the ashes of Eclipse with plans to sell airplanes this year … Piper’s Cherokee design turns 50 this year … Cessna delivers first production Skycatcher … Wing inspection recommendation for Cessna 336/337s could be a $60,000 repair … Mass DC-3 arrival planned for Airventure 2010 … TSA screening manual was accidently placed online and then copied by thousands of viewers … USAF confirms existence of the new RQ-170 Sentinel unmanned aerial vehicle … Virgin Galactic unveils Space Ship Two, a.k.a., the Virgin Space Ship (VSS) Enterprise … FAA issues AD on Cirrus SR22 known-ice deicing system for possible separation of fluid supply tube … China hopes to deliver five-seat, single-engine turboprop later this year … For breaking news in general aviation, log on to


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