The flying weather has generally been pretty good, and I hope everyone has been out enjoying it. A lot of fun things have been happening, and we need to take advantage of them because the hot summer will soon be knocking on our door. A rather unique and challenging event took place near the end of last month that few people really seemed know about, and that was a flight Navigation Challenge. An article, by Trent Heidtke, described the successful event in detail in the previous newsletter. The event made you really appreciate all the navigational assistance we now fly with. Many of us, when we fly out for breakfast, or whatever, we set up our GPS, before take-off, press the direct button, and follow the magenta line to our destination, no problem. Flying with only an E6B and a plotter can be a problem. Apparently, the Challenge will be rerun next year, so look for it, and you’ll really enjoy it.
If you have a Bi-Annual Flight Review coming up in your near future, give some thought to participating in the FAA Wings Pilot Proficiency Program. Proficiency training is required for most professional pilots because it does play a key role in aviation safety. Studies have shown that pilots who have participated in the FAA Proficiency Program are much less likely to be involved in an accident, and the program is one way for GA pilots to ensure they are competent, confident, and safe in their flight operations. The Wings program consists of knowledge activities, and many meetings and seminars you attend will meet the knowledge requirements, and the flight activities are selected to address the documented causal factors of aircraft accidents. As a result, the completion of a phase of the Wings program will satisfy the requirements of a Bi-Annual Flight Review. Pilots who maintain their currency and proficiency will always enjoy a safer flight experience. So, ask your favorite flight instructor about the FAA Wings Program.
Light Sport Airplanes have become relatively popular lately, and some come from Eastern Europe. The question has come up: what impact the present conflict in Ukraine will have on their availability, because a number of them, such as the Aeroprakt and the popular Flight Design airplanes, are produced in the Ukraine. The Flight Design airplane has its engineering completed in Germany, but the airframes are being produced in Kherson, Ukraine. As this is written, the factory is still in operation, but in the future it’s hard to say what will happen to the Flight Design and other aircraft that are being produced in the country. Unfortunately, this conflict in the Ukraine is having an impact on all of us, and some in unusual ways.
Not many of us fly B-52s, but some did at one time, and I found this bit of recent news to be rather interesting. The B-52 bomber, which is about 60 years old, is going to be re-engined with the new Rolls-Royce F130 engines, giving it a fresh lease on life. This Stratofortress bomber has been a mainstay in the U.S. Air Force since it was introduced during the Cold War. Like Gen. McArthur once said, “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.” While it may be a bit “shop worn,” this old soldier isn’t fading away quite yet, but will be continuing to fly in the Air Force service for a while longer.
Effective March 25, 2022, it was announced by the Biden Administration that Bill Nolen was named as Acting Administrator of the FAA until the White House nominates a permanent successor. Mr. Nolen had been the FAA associate administrator for aviation safety and had previously been vice president for safety, security, and quality for WestJet Airlines in Canada. The FAA also announced that Deputy FAA Administrator Bradley Mims will take on an expanded role during this interim period, focusing on the FAA’s workforce and the nation’s airports.
On February 28, 2022, the FAA decided to take a more practical approach to the instrument rating requirements. The FAA has recently issued a reinterpretation of the instrument rating experience requirements relating to the use of three different navigation systems, which are not always available to all applicants. Per the FAA Assistant Chief Counsel for Regulations, the regulation’s plain language requires three different types of approaches, not three different navigation systems, for satisfying the applicant’s required experience.
I realize there probably aren’t very many Thrush airplanes in our aviation community, but the FAA recently issued an AD on the Thrush wing spar because of accidents attributed to cracks developing in the lower spar caps. If you’re interested, more information is available here: Thrush Wing Spar AD 2009-26-11
In the last reporting period there haven’t been any changes, or proposed changes, that I’m aware of that could possibly impact our flying activity. Let’s only hope that it stays that way for a while.
I received some information that I found rather interesting, and that is the ranking of airports according to activity, and it was a bit eye opening. In the 2021 ranking of the top 100 airports in the United States, it was not surprising to see the top one was Atlanta Hartsfield (ATL) ATCT with 713,116 operations for the year, Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX) ATCT was number 8 with 438,925 operations. The list continued with the listing of air carrier airports until it came to number 16, Van Nuys (VNY) ATCT with 346,670 ops. Number 18 on the list was Mesa Falcon Field (FFZ) ATCT with 332,943 operations. Number 23 was Prescott (PRC) ATCT with 312,503 ops., and number 31 was Deer Valley (DVT) ATCT with 279,240 operations. Looking to these numbers, it’s apparent the virus pandemic really hit the flight school, with the high number of foreign students at DVT really hard. While on the other hand, Embry Riddle was really ramping up their flight training at Prescott during 2021. The numbers I have for 2022 are limited, and are only for January, and they indicate Mesa FFZ had 66,993 operations, Prescott PRC had 63,014 operations, and Deer Valley DVT had 53,530 operations. Looking at these numbers, you can see why the traffic seems to be a bit high in the southeast valley and in the Prescott area. As the virus concerns seem to be easing up, it will be interesting to see what impact it will have on the year end traffic counts. In the meantime, keep your eyes open and fly safe!
The number of pilot deviations are up again this reporting period, and it’s hard to believe some of the things pilots will do. Some of them just don’t seem to know what type of airspace they are flying in, or are about to enter, and what is expected of them while they are flying in that airspace. In some cases, they seem to be oblivious to what the airport markings mean. In this past reporting period, which ran from February 11 through March 10, there were twenty-six general aviation pilot deviations recorded by the FAA Scottsdale Flight Standards District Office. These deviations were committed by the full range of airman certificate holders, from student through ATPs. In some cases, it’s surprising that they didn’t result in an accident. Of the twenty-six deviations, nine of them were serious enough for air traffic control to issue a Brasher notice to the pilot. When an Air Traffic Controller issues a Brasher Notification, future FAA action will be taken, and the controller is giving the airman the opportunity to make note of the occurrence and collect his thoughts for future interaction with Flight Standards. The airmen can review the circumstances while they are still fresh in his mind, and this enables the airman and Flight Standards to identify and mitigate the risk.
The summary of the general aviation deviations committed this reporting period are as follows:
Seven IFR Deviations, Three Brashers Issued
Four Class Bravo Airspace Deviations, Two Brashers Issued
Seven Class Delta Airspace Deviations, Two Brashers Issued
Five Runway Incursions, One Brasher Issued
Three Failure to Follow ATC Instructions, One Brasher Issued
Pilots always need to be aware of what they are doing, where they are, and what type of airspace they may be entering, and always establish the required radio communications. It would be helpful if pilots would take some time to review the Airman’s Information Manual (AIM) and refresh their memory on what the airport signs and runway markings mean and be prepared to recognize and comply with them. Don’t be the pilot that commits a deviation. For the details of this month’s deviations, see my Pilot Deviations Report elsewhere in this newsletter.
Aviation safety wasn’t very good this past reporting period, because of the number of incidents and accidents that had occurred. The fatal accident in the report was reported last time; however, in the interim time additional information has become available, and the report was rerun with the added information.
Fortunately, all the accidents this reporting period either didn’t result in injuries, or those injuries encountered were minor in nature. I hope we can get the number of incidents/accidents down, and those that happen would be minor in nature.
For a detailed report of the accidents and incidents that occurred, see my Accident & Incident Summary report located elsewhere in this newsletter.
The spring weather has been warming up a bit, and it won’t be too long before summer will be on our doorstep. The evenings have been cool, thus keeping some airport projects on a temporary hold until we can get back into the consistent warmer summer temperatures. However, some airport projects are continuing, with funding that is available from the FAA and the state. Unfortunately, we don’t have the latest details on all these projects, so always check for NOTAMs at your destination airport to determine what may be happening. Getting a surprise when you arrive isn’t what you want. So be cautious and fly informed.
APA will continue to work with airports around the state assisting with the updating of their Airport Master Plans and provide the pilot and aircraft owner’s perspective in the process. The FAA wants to see airports update their master plans approximately every five or so years and incorporate a twenty-year outlook in the process. Assistance with the funding for these master plans is available from the Arizona State Aeronautics and the FAA.
Casa Grande Municipal airport (CGZ) Municipal Airport is the only Arizona airport currently in the Master Plan update process.
THINGS TO DO - PLACES TO FLY FOR BREAKFAST:
The fly-in breakfast at Coolidge Municipal Airport (P08) is on hold until fall.
On the second Saturday consider flying down to Ryan Field (RYN) near Tucson for breakfast or lunch at Ritchie’s Restaurant. They are open from 6 am to 2 pm to serve you.
The Falcon Field Warbirds Squadron fly-in breakfast is on hold until fall also.
Grapevine is now open full time, but the third Saturday of each month is a special time for a group camp dinner on Saturday evening. Come and camp for the weekend! The camp host will prepare the main course, and campers, please bring a side dish or dessert to share. Grapevine, which lies within a National Forest, is heavily used by the Forest Service for fighting wildfires, and the Military for Special Training.
On the last Saturday of the month a fly-in breakfast is put on by the Casa Grande Masonic Lodge in the Terminal of the Casa Grande Airport. Hopefully, it shouldn’t be much longer before a permanent cafe tenant is in place.
Check with the APA Getaway Flights program and online calendar for fun weekend places to fly.