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It’s 2015, Do You Know Where Your Drone Is?

Posted by Rocco Cipriano on Mon, Mar 16, 2015

The FAA estimates there will be as many as 7500 drones (aka Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or UAVs) crisscrossing U.S. airspace within the next five years. While some see opportunity, others see mayhem.

In recent months, drones have become a hot topic in both aviation and non-aviation circles. News reports of drone sightings and drone misuse have surfaced in local and national media. Recent announcements by Amazon and Google to use drones as delivery systems have sparked imaginative speculation, and fueled the debate on the appropriate use of drones.

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Tags: Aviation News

Economic Forecasts Call for Bluer Skies

Posted by Rocco Cipriano on Tue, Jan 20, 2015

Without a doubt, business aviation took a big hit during the economic downturn. A great deal of the damage was caused by the perception that the “Haves” were flying around in their plush biz jets while the “Have-Nots” were experiencing an economic free fall.

The sight of automotive and banking industry executives flying to Congressional hearings in multi-million dollar private jets, asking for a handout, did not sit well with the Congressmen and the general public in 2008. Despite valid arguments that corporate jets save businesses time and money, the press skewered executives for this particular company perk, which in turn fueled the public outcry against their perceived conspicuous consumption.

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Tags: Aviation News

What the Air Transportation Industry Can Learn from the Galactic Crash

Posted by Brenda Stoltz on Thu, Jan 15, 2015

On Halloween, the Virgin Galactic SpaceShip Two broke apart over the Mojave Desert, killing co-pilot Michael Alsbury. Alsbury, along with pilot Peter Siebold, who survived the crash, were performing a test flight when something went wrong. While the exact cause of the crash is being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), early findings reveal some sobering lessons that the air translportation indusry can learn from.

Even Experienced Crew Make Mistakes

Humans are fallible, even those who have undergone the best training and have the most experience. Alsbury had 15 years of flight experience, and the Halloween flight was his ninth trip in SpaceShipTwo; Siebold got his pilot’s license when he was 12. Just a week after the crash, NTSB revealed that the 39 year old co-pilot changed the spacecraft’s aerodynamic controls prematurely, causing the tail to rise and create drag, essentially hitting the brakes early. NTSB Chairman, Christopher Hart, cautioned this “feathering” error should not have caused the crash on its own, and is only one of several possibilities the organization was exploring as the cause of the crash.

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Tags: Aviation News

The Key to Fixing the Pilot Shortage in the Aviation Industry

Posted by Brenda Stoltz on Thu, Dec 18, 2014

Last year, the FAA changed the requirements for pilots looking to become First Officers, mandating they must complete 1,500 hours of flight time instead of the previous 250 hours. This significant jump came after the 2009 crash of Colgan Air flight 3407 was found to be caused by pilot error resulting in the death of 50 people in upstate New York. 

While the new rules are meant to improve safety, they also have had the unintentional consequence of adding to an already precarious situation in meeting pilot supply. Retiring boomers, a lost decade of hiring combined with high training costs, and a low initial salary has left the industry with a shortage of qualified pilots needed to fulfill the 4,500 yearly demand for pilots. Without new strategies to fill the gap, the public could be faced with cancelled flights and the industry with reduced revenues. Let’s take a closer look at the problem and underlying cause.

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Tags: Aviation News

Lessons from the Chicago Air Traffic Control Tower Fire

Posted by Brenda Stoltz on Thu, Dec 04, 2014

On September 26, all air traffic in and out of Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway international airports were grounded due to a fire in the basement of the Chicago Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZAU) in Aurora, IL. The center covers 91,000 square miles, and its closure resulted in the cancellation of thousands of flights to and from Chicago area airports over several weeks, causing a ripple effect felt throughout the nation. 

The fire is being blamed on a contract employee, Brian Howard, who is facing multiple charges and is currently awaiting trial.  The damage caused when Howard cut cables; early reports suggest that nearly $123 million in economic activity was lost as a result of the cancelled flights.

“This is one of the most challenging situations that air traffic controllers and other FAA employees have faced since 9/11,” NATCA President Paul Rinaldi said. Rinaldi went on to say that it was almost impossible to overestimate the damage Howard caused.

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Tags: Aviation News

Is the Next Generation Air Transportation System a Reality or Pipe Dream?

Posted by Brenda Stoltz on Thu, Nov 20, 2014

A report by the U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General last month is raising concerns about the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) ability to carry out its upgrade of the nation’s air traffic control system. The program, called the Next Generation Air Transportation System, or NexGen, began in 2003 and was supposed to conclude in 2020. However, funding issues, doubts, and general uncertainty are creating delays and making the program more expensive than originally conceived. All this is making some wonder, is NexGen for real?

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Tags: Aviation News

Airlines Are Counting on Passengers Bringing Their Own Devices

Posted by Brenda Stoltz on Thu, Oct 30, 2014

Hundreds of new planes are taking to the skies without the personal entertainment devices we’ve all come to expect. While some passengers may assume that planes without screens in the headrest are old, the truth is a little more complicated, as more and more airlines are counting on passengers bringing their own devices.

Passengers have been carrying laptops and other mobile devices onto planes for years, but up until recently they haven’t been allowed to use them throughout a flight. Then, in October 2013, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) expanded the use of personal electronic devices to so they may remaining on during all phases of a flight: so long as it is in airplane mode. With this decision, along with growing rates of wi-fi on planes, passengers can stream content using the devices they already carry, and operators want passengers to use these personal devices rather than the airline providing them.

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Tags: Aviation News

NASA Shares Air Traffic Tools With FAA

Posted by Brenda Stoltz on Thu, Sep 04, 2014

The latest piece to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) NextGen initiative was announced recently as NASA released its Terminal Sequencing and Spacing (TSS) computer software tool to the FAA. NextGen is a major overhaul of the nation’s air traffic control system to enable satellite based control in an effort to save time and fuel and increase capacity and safety. TSS supports these goals by creating more efficient flight paths for landing planes. Let’s take a closer look at TSS and why it is so important and the effect it will have on future flights.

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Tags: Aviation News

Will The Skies Soon Be Filled With Amazon Drones?

Posted by Brenda Stoltz on Thu, Aug 21, 2014

We’ve all seen the headlines about Amazon using drones to deliver goods right to your door. And since Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, announced the company’s plan to use “octocopters” for making same-day deliveries — called Prime Air — there has been a lot of talk about commercial drone use. So just how close are we to realizing a sky filled with drones?

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Tags: Aviation News

Living-Wage Standards for Contract Workers Coming To An Airport Near You

Posted by Brenda Stoltz on Thu, Jul 31, 2014

Throughout the country, thousands of low-wage workers have been protesting their low-wage jobs: from fast food to our nation’s airports. Politicians and regulators seem to have heard the airport contract workers and have passed -- or are in the process of passing -- higher minimum wages.

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Tags: Aviation News

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