Miscellaneous Aviation News

The latest AOPA Pilot magazine arrived today. Some interesting stuff…

The Icon A5 seaplane gets a good review as a flying machine. I want serial number 500!

An Atlanta-based doctor explains why he likes to fly a little airplane to Haiti and treat patients:

There are no insurance companies or hospital administrators to deal with, no reports to write, and no forms to fill out. There are only patients in need of care, and the focus is on healing. “This is what drew me to medicine in the first place,” Rizor said. “At home, it’s easy to forget that.”

Bell Helicopter is laying off 1,100 employees, “more than 15 percent of the workforce.” This announcement comes shortly after United Technologies said that they wanted to unload Sikorsky. Bell and Sikorsky got fat off U.S. military contracts while Airbus Helicopters, formerly “Eurocopter”, invested in new designs and is now the worldwide market leader (with a big recent push into China). If you want to stay competitive in the global economy, it is important to remember that the French and Germans do more than simply shovel cash into the Greek furnace!

Unlike Obamacare, where state and federal governments run web sites that have a monopoly on customers in particular states (at a cost of $ 2 billion/year?), the FAA has for decades had a system in which at least two private companies could interface to their computer systems and offer weather briefings and flight plan filing to pilots. The FAA would pay each company according to how many weather briefings it delivered because each one saved the Feds from answering a phone call. The contracts came up for renewal recently. When the dust settled, the FAA pulled the interface from the smallest company, Data Transformation Corporation, left the interface in place with the 70,000-employee Computer Sciences Corporation, and added an interface for Lockheed Martin, the 112,000-employee government contractor (Lockheed Martin previously won a contract to become the monopoly provider of telephone weather briefings, taking over work that had been done by civil servants). Lesson: Go Big or Go Home if you’re working with the federal government!

As is typical, a portion of the magazine is devoted to the “Charlie-Foxtrot” of getting planes converted to comply with ADS-B. The glorious plan is to have everyone in the system in 2020, almost exactly 25 years after it would have been technically feasible (GPS became “fully operational” in 1995). Personally I think the most exciting product in this area is the Lynx NGT-9000 transponder, about $ 10,000 installed. It has a little screen to show nearby traffic and weather, pulled from the ADS-B In feed. If this can fit in the same panel space as the standard Garmin transponders in older Cirrus aircraft then it seems as though it would be the best way to move into the 2020s.

Note: Oshkosh starts on Monday and that’s traditionally when a flood of product announcements occurs.

Philip Greenspun’s Weblog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *