Have You Ever Scared Yourself?

Here at Kitplanes, we are not just dedicated to helping people find, build and fly their experimental aircraft - we want to make sure that people do it safely so that they can do it for a long time. Most aviation magazines have some sort of "confessional" feature, a place where pilots can share their stories of mistakes or fate that lead to a harrowing few moments in the air. While maintenance issues can sometimes provide these stories, experimental aviation, by its very nature, can provide situations that are unique to our field - problems that can be traced back directly to building or design errors. Many times we make decisions during our build that can affect the safety of flight, and sometimes - we make poor decisions, or don't foresee all of the consequences. Continue reading "Have You Ever Scared Yourself?"

Meet Paul Dye, Kitplanes' New Editor In Chief

Paul Dye
Paul Dye
Kitplanes Editor in Chief

We are excited to introduce Paul Dye as the new Editor in chief at Kitplanes magazine.

Paul retired as a lead flight director for NASA's Human Space Flight program, with 40 years of aerospace experience on everything from Cubs to the Space Shuttle. An avid homebuilder, he began flying and working on airplanes as a teen and has experience with a wide range of construction techniques and materials. He currently flies an RV-8 that he built in 2005 and an RV-3 that he recently completed with his pilot wife. A commercially certificated pilot, he has logged over 4500 hours in many different types of aircraft. When not writing on aviation topics, he consults and collaborates in aerospace operations and flight testing projects.

“Our goal at Kitplanes is to continue the long record of dedication to the details of building and flying experimental aircraft. That means that we will be the leader in technical content for kit and plans built aircraft from the shop to the runway – and beyond. Our editorial policy is to provide useful technical articles that will help pilots select the aircraft that they want to build, assist then throughout the build process with “How To” articles and tips that will make their aircraft what they want it to be, and continue to feed them detailed information on flight testing (and using) their airplane once it is flying.”

Stop by Booth C-034 at Sun ‘n Fun and introduce yourself to Paul.  He is scheduled to be at the booth on Tuesday (4/9), Wednesday (4/10) & Thursday (4/11) from 2-3 PM.

Paul Dye in his RV-3
Paul Dye in his RV-3

ADS-B IN and The Traffic Question

The proliferation of ADS-B IN portable products at this year's EAA AirVenture air show leaves this writer with a couple of vexing questions. When surveying the purveyors of these new and generally very affordable products, I noticed that they advertise the ability to receive FIS-B (flight information services), notably METAR weather, TAF forecasts and Nexrad imagery. Some of them also advertise that the devices can receive traffic information from other ADS-B OUT equipped aircraft.

ADS-B traffic displayed on a Garmin panel-mount GNS.

I fly an ADS-B IN/OUT equipped aircraft (a permanently mounted solution) and I was curious. I know that for me to see the entire traffic picture (the same one the air traffic controllers see on their scopes) my ADS-B has to send a signal out and "ping" the nearest ADS-B station. This happens fast, and the station replies, sending me that picture of where other transponder-equipped aircraft and ADS-B equipped aircraft are, relative to my position in the air. I've flown with it all around the country, and it works well everywhere except eastern Montana, Wyoming, the Dakotas, Nebraska, Idaho and parts of Iowa. That'll change as stations go live, but as of this writing, that's how it is.

An ADS-B IN equipped aircraft cannot "ping" an ADS-B ground station because it has no transmitter. It might, though, pick up the response sent out by the ground station to another ADS-B OUT equipped aircraft passing nearby (kind of like how you might overhear a snippet of conversation between two people in another booth at a restaurant). If there is no aircraft to "ping" the station, an ADS-B IN equipped aircraft sees no traffic in the area. My advice? ADS-B IN equipped aircraft should enjoy having the weather products the units receive, but as for traffic? They'd better keep looking out the window.


Editor's Log, December 2011

It's that time of year again, the time when we undertake the arduous task of updating and compiling the thousands of pieces of data that go into our annual Buyer's Guides. The process has been described in these pages before, and involves contacting every kit, plans or rotorcraft manufacturer from the previous year (plus any new companies we've become aware of) to ask what has changed. Oftentimes, as you would expect, the items subject to revision are number sold and prices. Barring any significant changes to the design, the specifications should be well established, so typically the majority of the data remains the same from year to year. Even so, the verification process is conducted, and it allows us to provide you with information that is not available elsewhere.

The annual Buyer's Guide as printed in the KITPLANES magazine.

Continue reading "Editor's Log, December 2011"

Safety Issues with Technically Advanced Aircraft: Are There Any?

Controversy over results of a recent General Aviation accident analysis generated considerable debate among pilots of technically advanced aircraft (TAA) of both the Experimental and certified types during this year's Sun 'n Fun Fly-In. The study, released in March 2010, suggests that pilots of TAA, those equipped with so-called glass cockpits (EFISes), including primary and multifunction displays, have more  accidents from encounters with adverse weather, on landing and during go-arounds than pilots who are flying with classic six-pack analog instrumentation.

Jeffrey "Mossy" Moss, 2010 U.S. National Flight Instructor of the Year, specializes in training in TAA.

"It's an issue of training," says Jeffrey "Mossy" Moss, the U.S. 2010 National Flight Instructor of the Year, who specializes in flight instruction for TAA. "Face it, without proper training, I mean more than just being able to hit the direct-to button, these aircraft can be dangerous. They fly high, they fly fast, and their  owner-operators  may be more likely to fly into conditions where weather can be a factor. It takes airline-style discipline and some detail-oriented training by someone who really knows the hardware and software of the EFIS to allow the pilot to fully utilize the power of the digital instrumentation. And if you want to be safe, you need to be able to fully use these tools," he says. Continue reading "Safety Issues with Technically Advanced Aircraft: Are There Any?"

Commentary: How Do You Solve a Problem Like Epic? UPDATED

Epic LT. (Photo: Epic Aircraft.)

The winding road traveled by Epic Aircraft rounded what could be the last bend today. On Wednesday, April 7, the bankruptcy judge received a proposal that would, in essence, put a consortium of Epic LT builders in the driver's seat. In the agreement, China Aviation, an aerospace concern owned by the Chinese government, will be allowed to develop the Epic aircraft for sale outside of North America. According to a report in The Oregonian, China Aviation and the LT Builders Group will pay $4.3 million for the assets of the collapsed company.

The lead creditor in the proceeding is quoted as calling the agreement, "an ideal cross between a shotgun wedding and a Mexican standoff." Federal judge Randall Dunn told China Aviation and LT Builders Group this week that if they couldn't come to an agreement, he would award the assets to a third party, Harlow Aerostructures. Continue reading "Commentary: How Do You Solve a Problem Like Epic? UPDATED"