New GA Certification Rules Proposed
After nearly 10 years of lobbying by general aviation advocacy groups, the FAA in March released a draft proposal aiming to overhaul light aircraft certification. Proponents say the changes would cut costs to certify new models and also bring new, safer technologies to the market faster. “This proposal would benefit manufacturers, pilots, and the general aviation community as a whole,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. The proposal affects airplanes with up to 19 seats and a maximum takeoff weight of 19,000 pounds. Comments were accepted for 60 days; the FAA will consider all input before issuing a final rule, perhaps by the end of this year.
Report On Germanwings Crash Finds Fault With Privacy Rules
Aviation authorities in Europe released their final report in March on last year’s fatal Germanwings flight, concluding that airline officials couldn’t have done anything to prevent the crash, since nobody—”neither the co-pilot himself, nor…anybody else, such as a physician, a colleague, or family member”—told anyone at the airline that first officer Andreas Lubitz was suffering from mental-health problems. Investigators at France’s safety bureau, Bureau d’Enquetes et d’Analyses, said changes should be made to patient-confidentiality rules to ensure that authorities are informed when public safety is at risk. All 150 on board died when Lubitz locked his captain out of the cockpit and deliberately flew the Airbus A320 into a mountainside.
Women Aviators Set Records
Women in Aviation International held their annual conference in March, in Nashville, Tennessee, with more than 5000 people attending. The group celebrated awarding more than $10 million in scholarships since 1995. “Thousands of women made powerful connections this week that will enhance their lives and careers for years to come,” said WAI President Peggy Chabrian. Also in March, Women of Aviation Week kicked off with the arrival of an Air Canada flight at Vancouver with an all-female crew in the cockpit and a female air traffic controller in the tower. Organized by the Institute for Women of Aviation Worldwide, the week comprised more than 100 events around the world aimed at showing girls and women that aviation careers are open to them.
JetBlue, GoJet Seeking New Pilots
Responding to a shortage of pilot applicants for entry-level airline jobs, JetBlue has launched an ab-initio flight training program, the first of its kind in the U.S. The air-line said it hopes the four-year program, for 24 students, will help to diversify its hiring pool. Applicants will pay $125,000 for their training, but if they pass all the requirements, they will get a job with the airline. Regional carrier GoJet Airlines, responding to the same dearth of applicants, has raised its starting pay, guaranteeing new first officers at least $2700 a month and captains at least $5000 a month, plus health and retirement benefits.
NASA, DARPA Fund New X-Planes
New experimental aircraft projects will be funded by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and by NASA, both agencies announced in March. NASA has selected Lockheed Martin to create a preliminary design for a low-sonic-boom supersonic X-Plane, with a budget of about $20 million. The next step will be to build a flying half-scale aircraft that will likely be piloted, not a drone. Meanwhile, DARPA said it will develop a new X-Plane to pursue “radical improvements” in aircraft that can take off and land vertically, then shift to horizontal flight mode and reach speeds up to 400 knots. First flight tests for DARPA’s autonomous X-Plane are projected for 2018.
Diamond’s DA62 twin is now FAA-certified…NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Dawn Program Team won the 2015 Robert J. Collier Trophy…Piper now offers a five-blade Hartzell prop on its Meridian and M500…Textron has shifted from dealers to factory-direct sales…A King Air pilot failed to follow correct emergency procedures, leading to a fatal crash in Wichita last year, the NTSB said…Boeing’s first 727 made its final flight…Breaking news in general aviation can be found at www.avweb.com.