Safety

Items related to aviation safety

How an Hour in a Fart Chamber Saved My Life

There is a lot more to being a pilot than having the stick & rudder skills to keep the ball centered and the blue side up. Sometimes I think we don’t emphasize these skills enough. How are you going to go to the bathroom on this flight? What are you going to eat? (You did remember to bring some food, right?) Do the tone of your radio voice and efficiency of your calls inspire confidence in controllers, or do they earn you disdain and penalty vectors?

I recently used another skill, recognizing my personal hypoxia symptoms, to potentially save my life and my airplane. I learned that skill through several sessions in flatulence-filled funny rooms, also known as hypobaric (or "altitude") chambers. How about we mix it up today and do story first, background second?

Patriot Pilot: Friend or Foe?

I've been on the road for a couple weeks, so I didn't catch the buzz about the self-proclaimed "Patriot Pilot" until just today. A recent CNN article summarizes the story: An airline pilot named Chris Liu is concerned that security measures for airport workers are severely lacking...at least at his home base of KSFO. He feels that TSA is being very hypocritical by enforcing burdensome and intrusive security measures (like full body scans and pat-downs) for airline passengers while letting baggage handlers, marshalers and others onto the flight line by just swiping a key card.

Wanting to let people know about the problems (and I suspect hoping public outcry would put pressure on some bureaucrats to make implement some changes,) he used his phone to record video clips showing some of the weak security measures and posted them on YouTube. (Sorry, he's since taken them down.)

Obviously the airport and TSA didn't like this. They revoked his certification to carry a handgun in the cockpit and sent 6 air marshals to his home to confiscate his weapon. He's naturally a tad worried about further reprecussions.

Nature's Way of Telling you to Stay Home!

I'm a sucker for great photography, especially stuff that really speaks to the beauty of nature. Unfortunately the only thing this photo says to me is STAY ON THE GROUND!

Quality or Quantity? 1500 Hours Now Minimum for ATP

The debate of total time versus training is probably as old as aviation itself. In fact, sailors were probably debating this issue centuries before the Wright Brothers ever got anywhere Kill Devil Hill. Would you rather fly on an airliner piloted by two people who have at least 1500 hours of total flight time or by people trained to operate that specific aircraft in all the normal, adverse and emergency situations it might encounter...even if one of them had fewer than 1500 hours? Is that 1500 hour mark magical? In emergency conditions, is a pilot with 1500 hours guaranteed to save your life when a pilot with only 750 might not? Not in the case of Colgan Airlines Flight 3407. The FO was the low-time crew member with over 2200 hours and they still crashed.

However, ever since that accident some people have been clamoring for higher minimum times for all airline pilots. The bill that made it through congress (HR 5900) set that requirement as a 1500 hour ATP rating for all airline pilots, no matter what seat they're in. Though Some Celebrate this the families of those who died on Flight 3407 celebrate this, I worry that the unintended side-effects of this legislation will cause some serious problems for aviation in America. I don't think I'm alone either.

Azimut 270 - Around the World Dream Flight

This isn't just a cool video. It's the final landings of something very special. Exactly 100 years after the birth of Swiss Aviation, two friends decided to honor aviators of the past with an around-the-world odyssey...

...and what pilot doesn't at least toy with the idea of flying around the world? It's been done before and it'll be done again, but I think it's an impressive accomplishment every time. A couple Swiss pilots recently completed one of these amazing adventures. They flew around the world, in formation, in a pair of Flight Design CTLS LSAs. What a blast! 44,000 kilometers from April 30th to June 19th. They called their adventure "Azimut 270."

The FCC, Your ELT and More Money

As reported by AvWeb, the FCC made an almost completely surprise move by announcing recently a new rule that prohibits "certification, manufacture, importation, sale, or continued use of 121.5 MHz ELTs." Yes, that's right. Within 60 days of this rule getting approved you could be required to spend about $1000 for a new 406 MHz ELT and even more to have it installed.

Specific Recommendations: How to Integrate UAVs into the National Airspace System

I just wrote about the pressure the FAA is feeling to allow UAV operations in the National Airspace System. Although I'm not a fan of the idea in general, I realize it's going to happen some day. As such, I'd like to present some of what I think should end up as regulations for UAV operations. I don't mean this to be a complete list. Please take a minute to read through them and leave a comment with your feedback.

The FAA has contracted the RTCA Special Committee 203 as the body to help them figure out this issue. I don't presume to think any of them read AviationBull, but I hope these points make it to them. As someone who's shared plenty of airspace with UAVs, here are some things we need before we let them into our national airspace system:

"Pressure" on FAA to Approve UAV Operations in Civilian Airspace

AviationBull has been covering developments in Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) issues for some time. The operational and economic benefits offered by UAVs are enormous - they can fly longer and cheaper than equivalent manned aircraft in most cases. Most importantly, they can operate in dangerous conditions that would otherwise put a pilot at risk.

Though these benefits are great, there is one key fact preventing UAVs from flooding our skies: Right now, UAVs are completely incapable of operating safely in the same airspace as manned aircraft.

As Google and the AP report, the FAA is thankfully taking the careful approach to UAV certification in spite of growing pressure.

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