AARP Opposes Age 65 Retirement for Charter/Frax Pilots - Highly influential U.S. association AARP is opposing a manager’s amendment in the FAA reauthorization bill that would impose a mandatory retirement age of 65 for certain Part 135 charter and Part 91K fractional pilots. “AARP has long opposed mandatory retirement; using an arbi
April 20, 2018
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AARP Opposes Age 65 Retirement for Charter/Frax Pilots

Highly influential U.S. association AARP is opposing a manager’s amendment in the FAA reauthorization bill that would impose a mandatory retirement age of 65 for certain Part 135 charter and Part 91K fractional pilots. “AARP has long opposed mandatory retirement; using an arbitrary age as a proxy for competence is wrong in any occupation, and it is wrong for pilots,” AARP wrote in a letter to House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman Bill Shuster and ranking member Pete DeFazio.

“Pilots should be judged on the basis of their individual ability, flying skills, and their health, not on stereotypes or mistaken assumptions about their fitness based on age,” the association, which has 38 million members, told the congressmen. “The pilots affected are already subject to twice-yearly medical certifications and ‘check ride’ tests of fitness and competency to fly. AARP supports requirements for testing and exams that are designed to measure the job-related characteristics needed to do the job. If different or additional types of tests are needed, the focus should be on determining that.”

AARP argues that the proposal is not about safety. “Otherwise, it would not have a coverage threshold of 100,000 flights per year, which apparently applies only to one company,” it notes. That company is NetJets.

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AINsight: China's Great Potential for Bizav

The vast Asia-Pacific region—and more recently China in particular—represents an almost bewildering set of opportunities and challenges for business aviation. There are now more than 1,800 business jets and almost 1,500 business turboprops based throughout Asia-Pacific. Over the past 10 years, nowhere has the attention of business industry leaders been more geographically focused than on developing growth opportunities in China.

Today, China remains a fast-growing but underdeveloped business aviation market, with just 430 business jets and only 50 pressurized business turboprops currently based in the country.  More than 80 percent of this fleet has been delivered new over the last 10 years, providing a much-welcomed sales counterbalance for Western-based OEMs.

New business aircraft imported into China already face a 22 percent levy in the form of an import and sales tax. A recent threat to impose an additional 25 percent duty on certain U.S.-built aircraft class could crystalize to become part of a tit-for-tat volley of responses from the Chinese government in a downwardly spiraling trade spat with the U.S. Administration.

With highly integrated industrial and commercial supply chains, vast interdependencies in trade and services, and national economies that are growing, China and the U.S. have much common ground between them. Rhetoric might temporarily soothe certain constituents’ angst, but trade sanctions don’t help put new Gulfstream G650s in people’s hangars.

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FAA Bill Poised To Reach Floor Next Week

House leaders are planning to bring the revised five-year FAA reauthorization bill to the floor next week but must first sort through hundreds of amendments proposed so far through the bill and finalize a still-to-come manager’s amendment that is expected to call for a nearly 370 percent increase in the non-commercial jet-fuel tax. Last Friday, House Transportation and Infrastructure Republican and Democratic leaders jointly unveiled the new version of the bill, H.R.4, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, that addresses a host of aviation issues but does not include the controversial air traffic control reform measure that had been the stumbling block to progress on the previous FAA bill.

H.R.4 had been opened for proposed amendments on the Rules Committee through yesterday. The Rules Committee said it expects to meet next week to outline the parameters for a floor vote, and full House consideration is anticipated shortly after that. Lawmakers had indicated a desire to move the bill quickly to prevent it from getting bogged down with non-germane controversial amendments that could come up during an election year.

Even so, more than 200 amendments had been proposed, not including a manager’s amendment from T&I chairman Bill Shuster that will cover a number of other provisions. These are believed to include a proposed boost in the non-commercial jet-fuel tax from 24 cents per gallon to 88 cents.

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Ameco, Lufthansa To Look at Maintenance Collaborations

Aircraft Maintenance and Engineering is poised to extend its reach further into the business aviation market under a new memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed with Lufthansa Technik, the companies announced Monday. This lays the groundwork for a long-term partnership to provide business jet services.

Under the collaboration, the partners will explore areas where they can leverage their strengths to help increase support availability and technical expertise for the growing business jet market in China. They also plan to develop new maintenance offerings to meet market demands. The MoU is the first step in the partnership, with the details to be hashed out.

The collaboration builds on the foundation of Ameco, which was launched in 1989 as a joint venture between Air China and Lufthansa German Airlines. That venture has grown into one of the largest commercial aviation maintenance, repair, and overhaul companies in Asia, with maintenance approvals from 30 regions.

The Beijing-based company has also long supported executive airliners and last year became a Boeing Business Jets warranty center. The company also provides VIP completions. Lufthansa Technik provides an expansive range of commercial and VIP services and completions, with 35 subsidiaries and affiliates and more than 25,000 employees.

In addition, Ameco held a signing ceremony with Sino Jet on Tuesday at ABACE 2018 to provide business jet airframe services.

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World Cup Operations Present Challenges for Bizav

With private aircraft traffic to this summer’s World Cup in Russia expected to equal, if not exceed, the level seen four years ago when Brazil hosted the tournament, trip support experts are urging operators to make their plans now. In the 11 host cities scattered across the country, a strictly enforced slot system will be in effect during the course of the tournament, and even though operators may have already placed requests for their preferred dates and times, Russian authorities have noted that confirmations will not be released until two to three weeks before the start of the matches on June 14.

With the exception of Moscow, aircraft parking will be a major concern, with priority being given to team transports and flights carrying FIFA officials or diplomatic delegations. As a result, aircraft operators will be limited to drop-and-goes at most airports.

“What [authorities] are saying is, depending on the number of passengers that you have on board, they are going to give you anywhere between 40 minutes and two hours [on the ground],” noted Christine Vamvakas, Universal Weather and Aviation’s operations communications manager. “They are not wanting you to receive services such as fuel, catering and the sort, simply because during those days where they’re expecting heavier traffic because of the games, they’re wanting people to come in, drop off, pick up and go.”

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FAA To Order Checks of CFM56-7Bs after Southwest Mishap

The FAA expects to finalize within two weeks a pending Airworthiness Directive calling for ultrasound inspections on CFM56 turbofans of the subset installed on the Southwest Airlines 737-700 that experienced the failure of a fan blade Tuesday during a flight from New York La Guardia to Dallas Love Field.

The AD, first proposed last August in response to an uncontained failure of a CFM56-7B on another Southwest 737-700 in 2016, would cover engines that have reached a certain number of cycles. Although the preliminary AD covered some 220 engines, the final order will likely require inspections of far more, because operators have swapped individual fan blades between engines following repairs.

In the 2016 case, the NTSB determined that a fan blade separated from the fan disk during the flight due to metal fatigue. Preliminary examination of a separated fan blade on the CFM56 that failed in the most recent case, in which pieces of the engine shattered a cabin window above the left wing and killed one of the 144 passengers, also showed metal fatigue in the interior of the blade, said NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt.

Notwithstanding the lack of a final AD, Southwest Airlines on Wednesday said it would accelerate inspections of the CFM56-7Bs in its fleet of 737s. Several other airlines, including Delta, United, and American, have followed suit.

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FAA AD Targets HondaJet Brake System

Two HA-420 HondaJets suffered landing runway excursions and another blew both main tires on landing this month days after the FAA published an Airworthiness Directive that requires a temporary revision to the aircraft's flight manual calling for pilot brake checks and replacing faulty power brake valves (PBVs). The AD, which became effective on April 13, was prompted “by reports of unannunciated asymmetric braking during ground operations and landing deceleration.”

On April 5, HondaJet N104HJ blew both main tires while landing at Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro, North Carolina. Ten days later, N10XN veered off the runway and into the grass while landing at Atlanta Peachtree DeKalb Airport. Two days later, on April 17, HondaJet N166HJ veered off the runway while landing at Iowa’s Harlan Municipal Airport. These incidents remain under investigation. Honda Aircraft stressed there were no injuries in these mishaps and said, “We are dedicated to our mission to provide our customers with the utmost level of safety.”

In February, Honda Aircraft revised its flight manual via Service Bulletin to include a new procedure for pilot checks of the brake system. It also contains instructions for replacing defective PBVs with an improved-design part. Honda Aircraft told AIN, “We have initiated a service campaign to upgrade the supplier-provided power brake valve in all of our aircraft and are 63 percent through the process. The costs will be covered by Honda Aircraft and the supplier."

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Hands On: AIN Flies with the Genesys HeliSAS

Genesys Aerosystems' HeliSAS autopilot and stability augmentation system (SAS) is designed to be engaged at all times during flight—“SAS on before takeoff and SAS off after landing,” as Chad Howard, Genesys field service engineer and test pilot, put it. While hand flying is a good way to maintain “stick-and-rudder” skills, flying manually does get fatiguing on long legs and in turbulence; it can also become a safety factor in low visibility, especially when flying single-pilot.

HeliSAS provides attitude stabilization and force feel, which improve handling and help the pilot avoid inadvertent cyclic control inputs that could result in dangerous attitudes. In whiteouts, brownouts, and other low-visibility situations, where a pilot may lose visual reference, HeliSAS is invaluable in maintaining a safe and stable attitude.

Our demonstration flight took us from Henderson Executive Airport (HSH) to Boulder City Municipal Airport (BLD) and back. As we flew back to Henderson, Howard showed me the system’s “recovery from inadvertent IMC” capability. He had me put the aircraft nose-up and in 30-degree left bank, and then told me to press and hold the force trim release button one-and-a-half seconds until I felt HeliSAS taking control of the cyclic, at which time I should let go of it. I did as told, and watched as HeliSAS rolled the helicopter wings level and settled into a slight nose-up attitude.

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