MAKE CHAPTER 288 YOUR AVIATION HOME! E-AB, TYPE CERTIFIED, VINTAGE, WARBIRD, ETC.
THE NEXT EAA 288 MEETING WILL BE JUNE 16
A P-51, RV-8 and an F-1 Rocket: All examples of what makes EAA GREAT!!
MAKE CHAPTER 288 YOUR AVIATION HOME! E-AB, TYPE CERTIFIED, VINTAGE, WARBIRD, ETC.
A P-51, RV-8 and an F-1 Rocket: All examples of what makes EAA GREAT!!
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CONGRATULATIONS TO GRANT BOWMAN OUR 2021 RAY SCHOLARSHIP AWARD WINNER
HE PASSED HIS CHECKRIDE ON NOV 17, 2021
The next date is approaching and we’re already making preparations.
WASHINGTON—The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has added a new feature to MedXPress that allows pilots to track the status of their medical certificates online throughout the application and review process. Prior to adding this new feature, pilots had to call the Office of Aerospace Medicine to check their application status. “If you can track where your ridesharing car is or the status of a company delivering your package, pilots should be able to see online the real-time status of their application,” said Federal Air Surgeon Dr. Susan Northrup “We will continue to explore how we can be more transparent with the aviation community.” As soon as an application is submitted, it will appear in the pilot’s MedXPress profile. Status updates will change as the application moves through the FAA’s review process. If an application is deferred or denied, the applicant will receive detailed information through the mail. The certification process itself does not change. To learn more about the entire FAA medical certification process, click the button below.
EAA CHAPTER 72 - PIKES PEAK REGION
In 2018, a nearly completed RANS S-19 was offered to EAA Chapter 72 as a gift. After we got over the shock and pleasure of this gift, we determined the best use of this extremely well built aircraft would be to raffle the aircraft off. The proceeds of this raffle will be dedicated to scholarships for pilot and mechanic training. In addition, our Chapter will acquire a flight simulator for our region’s pilots to use for recurrency and advanced training. In the interim, until now, we have completed the aircraft with only final paint to be applied in June 2022. EAA Chapter 72 will raffle off a brand new 2022 RANS S-19. There will ONLY be 2500 tickets sold for $100 apiece and sales will begin January 1 and end on December 16, 2022, or sooner if the tickets are sold out prior. The raffle drawing will occur on December 17, 2022 or sooner if all tickets are sold.
The NTSB Urges FAA to Require Safety Assessment, Fixes for Excessive Fuel Flow & Power Loss Issue The NTSB has published a distressing report for Cirrus SR22T owners, recommending action on a possible engine power loss on takeoff. In the report, they reference 6 separate accidents involving Cirrus SR22T airplanes which lost engine power during the takeoff climb, in which 5 showed excessive fuel flow rates as high as 50 gph. The designed fuel flow, with the boost pump on, should deliver 19 gph, or, when set to "High Boost/Prime", as high as 42 gph. Excessive fuel flow could only be accurately diagnosed in 3 of the cases, in which 2 revealed the priming position was selected, and that other by an improperly adjusted slope controller. In 2018, the issue was somewhat addressed by the manufacturer, who instituted warnings about the incorrect use of High Boost/Prime, followed by a software lockout to prevent its activation at pressure altitudes lower than 10,000 feet. The NTSB is wary, however, stating that although the fixes are helpful to increase the level of safety of the design, they cannot completely rule the problem solved. Of the 6 high-fuel-flow accidents, only 3 have been adequately understood. They recommend that additional study be undertaken, saying "We believe that all the potential causes for these failures need to be identified to fully address this hazard. A functional hazard assessment, or FHA, is a top-down process that can be used to examine system functions to identify all potential failure conditions and classify the associated hazards." They note that an FHA was completed early in the SR22T's development and certification, but Cirrus has not performed one specifically targeting excessive fuel flow during takeoff and climb that results in a loss of engine power. They urge the FAA to require implementation to not only complete the study of the problem, but to identify mitigating actions to prevent it going forward, whether through design modification, procedures, or guidance to operators.
Courtesy of Aero News Network
Section 61.65(d) contains the aeronautical experience requirements for a person applying for an instrument-airplane rating. Section 61.65(d)(2)(ii)(C) states, in relevant part, that an applicant must complete 40 hours of actual or simulated instrument time that includes at least one cross country flight that is performed under instrument flight rules and involves "three different kinds of approaches with the use of navigation systems." As noted, the FAA has previously issued two legal interpretations to address what constitutes "three different kinds of approaches with the use of navigation systems." The Glaser interpretation, issued in 2008, concluded that an applicant for an instrument rating must use three different kinds of navigation systems to meet § 61.65(d)(2)(ii)(C). The Pratte interpretation, issued in 2012, confirmed the conclusion in Glaser and further concluded that precision approach radars (PAR) and airport surveillance radars (ASR) are not considered navigation systems for the purpose of meeting the requirements in § 61.65(d)(2)(ii)(C). For the reasons provided in this memorandum, the Office of the Chief Counsel has decided to rescind the Glaser and Pratte interpretations.
Roll out of the integrated Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft to Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida was started on March 17th and completed on March 18th as it was placed in position on LC-39B. Select Find out more for details OR click here to see all 11 hours in 32 seconds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYEScppA5o8
Liftoff! SpaceX successfully launched this mission from Cape Canaveral then landed the brand new booster on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean. It should arrive at Port Canaveral by early next week.
It was a Falcon 9 topped with 53 Starlink spacecraft that lifted off today at 5:27 p.m. EDT from Florida's Cape Canaveral Space Force Station the 230-foot rocket will deliver 53 internet-beaming satellites to low-Earth orbit for the company's 47th Starlink mission to date.
SpaceX launched, on time, another Falcon 9 with 53 Starlink satellites to low-Earth orbit from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The first stage booster supporting this mission previously launched Arabsat-6A, STP-2, COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation FM2, and one Starlink mission. Following stage separation, Falcon 9’s first stage returned to Earth and landed - dead center - on the target of the 'A Shortfall of Gravitas' droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean just off the South Carolina coast. A replay of this mission is available at SpaceX.com
This mission was added after Boeing’s decision to refly the Starliner’s Orbital Flight Test before proceeding with the Crew Flight Test. The rocket flew in a vehicle configuration with two solid rocket boosters and a dual-engine Centaur upper stage.
ULA controlled the launch of the Atlas V rocket from its Atlas Spaceflight Operations Center in Cape Canaveral. As Starliner ascended into space, Boeing commanded the spacecraft from its mission control center at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Boeing and ULA teams also provided support to controllers from Kennedy Space Center and Colorado, respectively, throughout the countdown to launch. NASA teams will monitor space station operations throughout the flight from Mission Control Center at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “We are proud of our partnership role with Boeing in NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and want to thank our mission partners as this is truly a collective accomplishment,” said Tory Bruno, president and CEO, United Launch Alliance. “The successful launch today marks the first critical step toward the future of humans spaceflight onboard an Atlas V and we look forward to the remainder of the mission and to safely flying astronauts in the future.” Starliner is scheduled to depart the space station Wednesday, May 25, when it will undock and return to Earth, with a desert landing in the western U.S. The spacecraft will return with more than 600 pounds of cargo, including Nitrogen Oxygen Recharge System reusable tanks that provide breathable air to station crew members. The tanks will be refurbished on Earth and sent back to station on a future flight.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Transporter 5 mission, a rideshare flight to a sun-synchronous orbit with numerous small microsatellites and nanosatellites for commercial and government customers.
Crew-3's Dragon capsule, named Endurance, undocked from the International Space Station (ISS) Thursday (May 5) at 1:20 a.m. EDT (0520 GMT), ending the mission's six-month stay aboard the orbiting lab. Endurance and its four passengers — NASA astronauts Thomas Marshburn, Kayla Barron and Raja Chari and Matthias Maurer of the European Space Agency.
They splashed down off the Florida coast Friday (May 6) at 12:43 a.m. EDT. You can rewatch their homecoming on Spacex.com.
UPDATE APRIL 26TH
NASA will roll its Artemis 1 moon rocket off the launch pad today (April 25), and you can watch the action live. The huge Artemis 1 stack — a Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with an Orion crew capsule on top — is scheduled to roll off Pad 39B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida today at about 5:30 p.m. EDT (2130 GMT). Watch it live at space.com
UPDATE APRIL 18TH
Artemis 1's Space Launch System was attempting to complete a "wet dress rehearsal" that began April 1, but after several failed attempts at fueling, the team has decided to roll the stack off Pad 39B and back to KSC's Vehicle Assembly Building to replace a faulty valve and address a leaky umbilical.
Artemis I, formerly Exploration Mission-1, is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions that will enable human exploration to the Moon and Mars.
Artemis 1 is a planned uncrewed test flight for NASA's Artemis program. It is the first flight of the agency's Space Launch System super heavy-lift launch vehicle and the first flight of the Orion MPCV. NASA began the Artemis 1 wet dress on April 1 and intended to wrap it up on April 3. But several technical issues cropped up, twice foiling efforts to load propellant into the SLS' tanks. The mission team initially delayed and ultimately aborted the test, to accommodate the launch of the private Ax-1 astronaut mission, which lifted off from a neighboring pad at KSC on April 8. The plan was to resume the wet dress on April 11. But team members soon discovered a faulty valve in the Artemis 1 stack's mobile launch tower, a problem that pushed the beginning of the procedure back to April 12 and caused a modification to the test design: The team decided to fuel up only the SLS core stage, not its upper stage as well. The wet dress was supposed to conclude April 14, but that's not happening, given that the mission team won't perform the scheduled simulated countdowns. We'll have to stay tuned to learn about the agency's next steps. Uncertainty also surrounds the Artemis 1 launch date; NASA will not set one until the wet dress is done and the resulting data analyzed, agency officials have said. Artemis 1 is a prelude to Artemis 2, which is expected to launch astronauts around the moon in 2024. Artemis 3 will land astronauts near the lunar south pole in 2025 or 2026, if all goes according to plan.
UPDATED May 8, 2022
FAA Says Some Radar Altimeters Need Replacing (This by by Russ Niles - AvWeb)
Reuters is reporting the FAA met with airlines and cellular service providers last Wednesday to plan the eventual replacement of the 10 percent of radar altimeters considered susceptible to interference from 5G C-Band signals. The news agency got a look at a letter to those invited to the meeting and the agency isn’t interested in hearing any other opinions on the topic. Reuters quoted the letter as saying the purpose of the meeting was to set “an achievable timeframe to retrofit/replace radar altimeters in the U.S. fleet.” It further directed aviation representatives “to offer options and commit to actions necessary to meet these objectives.” In the frenzy that followed the fractured rollout of 5G in January, the FAA quickly cleared about 90 percent of the fleet for operations where 5G is available, but the remainder are restricted in the types of instrument landings they can do. As an interim measure, some of the altimeters might be fitted with filters that can suppress the interference, but the agency seems determined to get rid of the offending equipment. There was no mention of who will be paying for the new equipment but it’s bound to come up. It’s also unclear what will happen after the July 6 deadline set by the telecoms to end the restricted operation of 5G near 50 airports that was part of a deal struck with them by the FAA in January. Last week Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said issues with 5G would linger for years.
UPDATED May 3, 2022
Back in April 2021 the FCC auctioned off a new cellular frequency range for use with the new 5G cellular technology, this frequency range is called C-band. However, neither the FCC nor the FAA checked to see if this new frequency wouldn't interfere with existing aircraft radio altimeters. They assumed it would not since they are different frequency ranges; however, since these frequency ranges sit very close together on the spectrum, many aircraft’s radio altimeters receive mask produced interference with the C-band frequencies, this causes radio altimeters installed on aircraft to produce incorrect readings. AT&T and Verizon both agreed on Jan. 18 to delay switching on about 500 5G C-band antennas near key airports until July 5. The FAA conducted a study aimed at finding out which aircraft/models of radio altimeters were prone to interference/inaccurate readings, the agency started work on a fix for this issue a couple of months ago. However, FAA administrator Steve Dickson said that the fix is not fully reliable and while it is a good stop gap, they should work on a more permanent solution to the issue. Dickson previously said that the FAA was working with radio altimeter manufacturers, cellular service providers and the RTCA to develop new radio altimeter standards, and that they hoped to settle on these new standards by early next year.
The FAA has been holding daily meetings with AT&T and Verizon that it said had “enabled us to closely tailor the areas requiring mitigation while aviation stakeholders take the necessary steps to retrofit existing radio altimeters with antenna filters.”. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has been holding at least weekly meetings on the issue and has told Congress that they were making progress but that it wouldn’t be completely resolved by this summer. The FAA will be holding a meeting on Wednesday May 4, with telecom and airline industry officials, it wants to use the meeting to establish an achievable timeframe to retrofit/replace the radar altimeters which have not been cleared, it will also look at what will happen after July 5 and said that there would be “changes to U.S. national airspace operating environment as a result of future 5G C-band deployment in the coming months.”. The meeting will also include a discussion on prioritizing retrofits with antenna filters which mitigate potential interference from 5G, officials said these filters are currently in production and are able to be retrofitted onto existing radio altimeters, and that a key question was how to determine which aircraft are most at risk of interference from C-band and should therefore get retrofitted with these first.
UPDATED May 2, 2022
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told Congress that the issues surrounding the potential interference with aircraft radar altimeters and the full rollout of 5G cell service won’t all be fixed by the July deadline set in an agreement with Verizon and AT&T. He also said he doesn’t expect the Cabinet-level standoff that happened in January as the industry moved forward with the rollout. After White House intervention, the FAA, FCC and the telecoms agreed to a plan to limit 5G service near airports while the technical details of preventing the interference with the altimeters is worked out. Buttigieg told Congress that all parties are working toward a calm solution “largely because we have much better dialogue and collaboration, not just among regulators but among industries, and have been directly engaging with the airlines, the aviation equipment manufacturers and with the telecom carriers to make sure that we’re on a better path.” There have only been a few scattered reports of 5G interference since the network went live despite dire predictions by airlines and technical groups. There were significant cancellations in Washington State but virtually all were resolved.
UPDATED FEB 4, 2022
FAA Administrator Steve Dickson briefed the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on February 3 about the ongoing effort to enable 5G C-band wireless network activation without compromising aviation safety. General aviation advocates watched with concern that mitigations for many aircraft could be a long time coming.
READ ABOUT IT AT THIS LINK:
UPDATED JAN 24, 2022
The CEOs of American Airlines and United Airlines say cooperation and collaboration in the past week between airlines, telecommunications companies and government agencies minimized the effect of the rollout of 5G cell service to airline service. The release of details on the strength and nature of the 5G signals by the telecoms made it possible to avert the crisis they’d been predicting a week earlier.
UPDATED JAN 18, 2022
(From Flying Magazine)
AT&T on Tuesday said it would delay rolling out 5G service on newly available frequencies, a day after U.S. airlines warned of widespread disruptions in air travel. “At our sole discretion, we have voluntarily agreed to temporarily defer turning on a limited number of towers around certain airport runways as we continue to work with the aviation industry and the FAA to provide further information about our 5G deployment, since they have not utilized the two years they’ve had to responsibly plan for this deployment,” AT&T said in a statement.
“We are frustrated by the FAA’s inability to do what nearly 40 countries have done, which is to safely deploy 5G technology without disrupting aviation services, and we urge it do so in a timely manner. We are launching our advanced 5G services everywhere else as planned with the temporary exception of this limited number of towers. ”AT&T along with another 5G carrier, Verizon Communications, had said they would create buffer zones at 50 airports in 46 markets, where they would turn off transmitters and make other adjustments.
On Monday, U.S. airlines warned the White House that possible interference with radio altimeters could cause delays and cancellations across the passenger and shipping sectors. “It’s the transmission towers for 5G, not the use of 5G in cellphones, that is the issue. It is important to make that distinction. Les Abend, FLYING contributing editor in a letter to the Biden administration obtained by FLYING, airline CEOs warned that if the rollout is allowed to move forward, “the nation’s commerce will grind to a halt. … Unless major hubs are cleared to fly, the vast majority of the traveling and shipping public will essentially be grounded.”
The FCC has authorized AT&T and Verizon to start using the frequencies Wednesday. “This means that on a day like [Saturday], more than 1,100 flights and 100,000 passengers would be subjected to cancellations, diversions or delays,” the letter says. The letter requests that “5G be implemented everywhere in the country except within the approximate two miles of airport runways at affected airports as defined by the FAA. ”Executives signing the letter—organized by industry group Airlines for America—represented passenger carriers Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL), American Airlines (NASDAQ:AAL), United Airlines (NASDAQ:UAL), Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV), Alaska Air Group (NYSE:ALK), JetBlue Airways (NASDAQ:JBLU), and Hawaiian Airlines. Cargo airlines included Atlas Air Worldwide (NASDAQ:AAWW), FedEx Express (NYSE:FDX), and UPS Airlines (NYSE:UPS). It was sent to top officials at the FAA, Federal Communications Commission, Department of Transportation, and the National Economic Council. Phone carriers have long pointed out that 5G is already in use in France, and American air carriers fly there on a daily basis with no issues.
Les Abend, FLYING contributing editor and retired Boeing 777 captain, has been watching the 5G issue unfold for years, noting the technology from 1G to 5G has taken the better part of two decades to evolve.While it may seem that the airlines only recently became aware of the issue and raised the alarm, Abend notes that so many technological things—and the potential impact on industries beyond cellular technology—were not considered during its development. “It’s the transmission towers for 5G, not the use of 5G in cellphones, that is the issue,” Abend says. “It is important to make that distinction.”
The aviation industry warns that 5G transmission will disrupt the signals necessary for the proper operation of several systems on transport category aircraft—and many business jets as well—and one of the most important is the radio altimeter that gives the pilot critical information about the aircraft’s height above terrain. Radio altimeter information systems issue verbal warnings and cautions on takeoff and landing, letting the pilot know how close they are to the ground below the airplane. These callouts are critical for instrument approaches, especially during periods of extremely low visibility—what are known as CAT II and CAT III approaches. “The radio altimeter provides critical information on these approaches. Certain parameters, such as altitude, need to be correct before the approach can continue,” Abend says. For example, an approach might call for the jet to level off at a certain altitude and stay there until they reach the final approach fix before it can continue the descent. “If the pilot loses the ability to determine the aircraft’s height above ground, the pilot also won’t know when to go around,” Abend explains, adding that if the radio altimeter is unreliable, it could result in a canceled flight. “If it is part of the aircraft’s minimum equipment list, it becomes a no-go situation.” If the weather descends below certain minimums and a CAT II or CAT III approach is required, says Abend, the flight may be canceled.
Abend is skeptical of the wireless providers’ assertions that 5G is already in use in Europe where U.S. airlines fly every day without issue.
“I would like to know where those 5G towers are in relation to Paris and Heathrow,” he says. The airport buffer zones promised by Verizon and AT&T were expected to be in place for the next six months.
On Sunday, the FAA announced it has cleared about 45 percent of the U.S. commercial aircraft fleet to perform low-visibility landings at many of the airports but, “even with these new approvals, flights at some airports may still be affected,” the agency said. United Airlines issued a statement Monday saying deployment will result “in the suspension of cargo flights…causing a negative ripple-effect on an already fragile supply chain.
The controversy over the 5G deployment came to a head earlier this month, when— after pressure from the U.S. aviation industry—AT&T and Verizon agreed to delay the release by two weeks, until Wednesday. 5G networks use a set of radio waves called the C-band spectrum. The purpose of 5G is to provide for faster internet operations; however, the FAA and other members of the aviation industry have expressed concern that 5G may interfere with aircraft radio altimeters during approach to certain airports, and therefore have a negative impact on flight safety. The FAA has long been warning about potential safety repercussions from the rollout, arguing that the restrictions could potentially disrupt air travel and cargo shipments around the world, especially when combined with airline staffing issues resulting from COVID-19 and weather delays.
UPDATE as of JAN 9, 2022
The FAA has issued its list of 50 airports that will be protected (Daytona and Sanford aren't on the list) from Verizon and AT&T’s 5G signals for six months and the criteria it used suggests the list would have been a lot longer if the FAA had its way. The list was released Friday, a few days after the telecoms agreed to push back their major rollout of 5G cell service from Jan. 5 to Jan.19 and to put buffer zones around a maximum of 50 airports picked by the FAA until next July 19.
UPDATE as of JAN 4, 2022
The main event between corporate heavyweights—the airline and telecom industries— will have to hold off for another two weeks. Both sides today confirmed the agreement to delay launching the latter’s 5G network, in deference to the former’s concerns over mass flight cancellations due to safety concerns that the powerful broadband signals were close enough on the frequency range that they could corrupt airliners’ radar altimeters. Those altimeters are critical to extreme low-visibility approaches, including autoland procedures.
In a prepared statement, Rich Young, Verizon spokesperson, said, “We’ve agreed to a two-week delay which promises the certainty of bringing this nation our game-changing 5G network in January delivered over America’s best and most reliable network,” echoed by AT&T, which said its network would implement additional protective measures at vulnerable airports over the next six months.
Officials from the airline industry cited the resemblance of their mitigation recommendations to those already implemented in France. That is, limiting or cutting power involving 5G service providers in sensitive areas.
With the telecom giants refusing on Monday to consider the delay, trade group Airlines for America (A4A) had prepared a lawsuit to block the launch of the broadband services. That lawsuit is now shelved, at least temporarily. But A4A said they are keeping their hands close to that shelf, should the telecom giants reevaluate. The infrastructure for their 5G networks has cost AT&T and Verizon in excess of $80 billion to date.
UPDATE as of JAN 1, 2022
Verizon and AT&T say they’ll turn down the power of 5G broadband signals near major airports of their choosing for six months but otherwise the rollout of the much-anticipated system will go ahead as planned on Jan. 5. In a scathing letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and FAA Administrator Steve Dickson released by The Wall Street Journal on Sunday, AT&T CEO John Stankey and Verizon’s Hans Vestberg chided the government officials for what they characterized as an eleventh-hour request to prevent widespread flight restrictions when they’ve had at least a year to prepare for 5G. To read the full AOPA article click this link:
The FAA effectively rejected assertions by the wireless industry and the Federal Communications Commission that 5G C-band transmitters can be activated in January as planned without putting aircraft at risk, pledging a cooperative approach to resolving safety concerns while setting the stage for weather delays and cancellations. The agency issued a pair of airworthiness directives (ADs) that take effect December 9 and are likely to limit a wide range of aircraft operations when the new 5G networks are activated, including scheduled passenger and cargo service, emergency response, and medical transportation.
Assets, Facilities, Products, and Designs Acquired by MidTex Aviation for Resurrection as Enstrom Aerospace
Enstrom declared bankruptcy in January citing severe financial difficulties, allowing its assets to be sold off by a Michigan court. MidTex was able to purchase nearly everything from the company, including pre-owned aircraft, tooling, materials, drawings, intellectual property, and factory equipment. MidTex says they will reopen the factory for operation through a new subsidiary entity named Enstrom Aerospace, retaining the original, 64-year old brand name. The new company aims to not just build new Enstrom helicopters, but provide parts and support while expanding its portfolio of engineering services and component manufacturing..
MidTex has retained a number of former Enstrom employees, contracted to the firm with plans to enter into long-term employment agreements after the acquisition is complete. Michael Dixon, aviation manager for MidTex, sees a great deal of promise in the deal. “Not only will we get a turn-key helicopter manufacturer with a great brand and an established customer base, we will also get an excellent springboard to launch an aerostructures and component manufacturing business,” said Dixon. “Most people don’t realize that Enstrom was vertically integrated, building nearly 90 per cent of the helicopters under one roof. They had the facilities to build almost anything.” “Enstrom had a great relationship with the FAA, and a proven track record of getting certifications quickly and efficiently. Likewise, we look forward to working with the FAA to expand to other aerospace projects, including electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft, fixed-wing, military equipment, and other advanced air mobility products,” added Dixon.. He isn’t the only executive excited about “This was the best possible outcome," said former president Matt Francour. "There are a lot of Enstrom helicopter owners out there who have been holding their breath, and now they can breathe a sigh of relief.” One erstwhile Enstrom alum, Dennis Martin, said the buy will see the company in better shape than ever. “Not only will MidTex bring financial backing to operate the facilities and expand the business – it has a real vision for the future that goes beyond just building helicopters. MidTex plans to invest and grow the company in a meaningful way.”
Note: Thanks to Aero-News for this update article
Customer Support Terminated, Factory Closed, with Liquidation to Come
The Enstrom Helicopter Corporation has sent a letter to dealers and representatives, announcing the end of continuous operations. The company has apparently seen lean times lately, and its owners have directed the company to declare Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Enstrom will leave behind nearly 1,500 unsupported aircraft around the world, now orphaned unless the company is resurrected in some form.
The banruptcy is somewhat unsurprising to some, as the often troubled company has changed hands several times over its lifetime. The helicopter industry is not a particularly high-volume one, and economic doldrums are felt much more keenly in a manufacturer the size of the ~110-strong Enstrom. Technical support for customers is terminated and its factory will be closed on the 21st. The letter sent to dealers and brand representatives from (soon-to-be-former) sales and marketing director Dennis Martin, reads thusly:
"I regret to inform you that after 64 years of near continuous operations, Enstrom will be closing its doors on January 21, 2022. Due to several financial difficulties, Enstrom's owners have directed the company to declare Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Parts, technical support, overhauls, and new aircraft will no longer be available from the factory. In addition, all existing contracts and agreements will become null and void. Finally, all employees, including the senior management team, will be terminated.
Enstrom understands that you all have customers you are supporting, and that this will put both you and your customers in a difficult position. We apologize. Enstrom's management team is aware of multiple groups who have expressed strong interest in buying Enstrom's assets and reopening the company post-bankruptcy. While we have no control over how and when this may happen, we feel that it is highly likely that a new Enstrom will be in a position to support you and your customers relatively quickly."
Aviation has never been a stranger to bankruptcies, especially for small GA and LSA operations. While theoretically the company's demise will result in the end of factory support entirely, the sale of Enstrom's assets - the designs, the certificates, the branding, and the production tooling - should prove enticing to buyers looking for an affordable, boutique helicopter brand. A new deal mirroring the previous sale to Chongqing Helicopter Investment Corporation could be replicated once again, if someone believes they could add something the previous owners missed. Enstrom's sales have never been too impressive, however, as the last sale of note occurred in 2020 with the sale of 3 480B turbine helicopters for Botswana Police. Other banner deals included the sale of a few dozen helicopters to the Royal Thai Army, Indonesian National Police, Peruvian Air Force, and Japanese Self Defense Forces as an advanced light trainer aircraft.
GAMA data from 2006 to 2019 shows that Enstrom's total sales volume for the company was a paltry 206 aircraft worldwide. The high-water mark for the period topped out at 27 aircraft in 2013, right around the time of its purchase by Chongqing. On average, only 15 helicopters a year were shipped worldwide, a number that pales in comparison to any would-be competitors. Enstrom's portfolio was hard to define like its contemporaries, boasting the turbine-powered 480B as well as the light piston-engined 280. A one-off training helicopter model is a hard sell for cash-strapped militaries. Customers want as much parts compatibility as possible, but without economies of scale, pricing will always remain higher than mass-produced competition. At the lower, cheaper end of their product offerings, the piston-engined 280 saw stiff competition from Robinson, who handily outsold year after year. Bringing the company back to health, while not entirely impossible, will mean taking on Hughes, Robinson, and Bell at what they do best. Will someone try? Could we see another pie-in-the-sky purchase, maybe a deal that pivots into sustainable eVTOL for the nameplate and certifications? Only time will tell.
EAA has formed a team to explore ways of improving aviation safety by focusing on responses to the often-tragic 180-degree turn back to the runway following engine failure on takeoff.
This group, led by Charlie Precourt, EAA’s board vice chairman, and Sean Elliott, EAA’s vice president of advocacy and safety, also includes representatives from the flight instruction and flight test communities, academia, data analysis experts, and others.
A recent survey conducted by AOPA of pilots and aircraft owners across the country confirmed what we have been hearing from many members for several years: Older pilots who are just as safe, current, and proficient as any others continue to find their insurance policies unceremoniously dropped or canceled, or much more expensive—just for being a day older than 70.
EAA has reported that the FAA has published draft guidance to implement an optional task-based Phase I program for Experimental Amateur-Built (E-AB) aircraft. Under the program, once an aircraft completes a flight test plan that meets FAA standards, Phase I is complete. The standard 25- or 40-hour flight test period for Phase I will remain an option for all E-AB, and Experimental Light-Sport (E-LSA) continues to carry a 5-hour test period.
The program is part of an upcoming update to Advisory Circular (AC) 90-89B. Flight test programs do not need specific approval by the FAA, but the Circular lays out certain required flight test points and requires the use of test cards for data collection in flight. Users of the EAA Flight Test Manual should find it a straightforward way to complete the requirements of the task-based Phase I program, but anyone may draft a flight test plan that meets the FAA's outline, including kit manufacturers and other experts.
Task-based Phase I ensures that every hour spent in flight testing is meaningful and is contributing to both validating the airworthiness of the aircraft and gathering the data necessary to build a detailed operating manual. This will benefit the builder in ensuring full exploration of the aircraft's operating envelope, and it will benefit subsequent owners in having access to quality data on the aircraft. In exchange for this work, the aircraft will be released from Phase I when it is ready, not based on an arbitrary time requirement.
"This is the result of more than eight years of work by EAA and the FAA and we couldn't be happier that it is now nearing completion," said Tom Charpentier, EAA Government Relations Director. "This will be a true paradigm shift in E-AB flight testing."
This program comes on the heels of EAA's publication of its Flight Test Manual in 2018, which has sold thousands of copies to date. EAA is continuously working to improve it and create new materials and programming based upon the manual.
Task-based Phase I is yet another example of the EAA working collaboratively with the FAA to achieve a win-win solution that benefits the community and enhances safety. The groundwork for this change was laid by the EAA/FAA working group that created the Additional Pilot Program (AC 90-116), which allows another pilot into the cockpit to enhance safety during flight testing.
The Advisory Circular is in draft form and comments will be accepted through April 29. Please note that the relevant language on Task-Based Phase I is housed in Chapter 1, Section 1 of the draft. The rest of the document contains advisory information on flight testing and is not part of the task-based program requirements.
Chapter 288 started in the 1970s, and originally met at nearby Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. The chapter took regular trips to the Spruce Creek Fly-In, located in Port Orange, Florida, and soon moved their meeting location to Spruce Creek. Chapter 288 is unique, because of it's location. 288 is located at the intersection of young aviation enthusiasts from the University and experienced aviators along Florida's Space Coast.
Chapter 288 works to continue the spirit of general aviation in Daytona Beach area. We host several events throughout the year for our members which feature prominent aviators and aviation technology. Chapter 288 members also volunteer at aviation related functions throughout the community to teach people about general aviation. Volunteering at local airshows and hosting
Young Eagles events are some of the ways that EAA 288 members participate in the community. Chapter 288's members are also very involved with the EAA on a national level. The chapter has a good turnout at the EAA's annual fly-in "AirVenture" in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
The EAA works on a national level to help endure the "spirit of aviation." They work to get children who have an interest in becoming a pilot, air traffic controller, mechanic, etc. achieve their goals. EAA sponsors workshops for homebuilders teaching skills neccesary for them to build their own airplanes. Founded in 1953 by Paul Poberezney, the EAA has worked for over 60 years to keep general aviation alive and prospering into the future. They work today with other aviation organizations to ensure that aviation friendly laws are passed in Washington D.C., and to help ensure that general aviaiton will continue well into the future. To learn more about the Experimental Aircraft Association on a national level, and how to join, please visit their website at EAA.ORG