FAA Makes Progress on Dual-Pilot Phase One Testing

faaKITPLANES magazine met with Mark Giron of FAA headquarters on the opening day of Sun 'n Fun to discuss progress on the concept of giving builders the option of having two pilots on board during Phase One testing of new Experimental aircraft. The proposal is in response to NTSB recommendations attempting to lower the accident rate in Experimental aircraft, and points at the problem of inexperienced pilot builders doing their own testing while solo because current Operating Limitations for Experimental aircraft only allow required crew members to be onboard during initial flight testing—and most light Experimental aircraft can be flown by a single pilot.

Unfortunately, statistics show that most accidents in Phase One occur in the first eight hours of an aircraft's life, and a significant portion of those are due to loss of control, with the second major cause being powerplant failures. Inexperienced pilots that get behind the airplane or don't handle engine or fuel system problems properly can come to grief very quickly. Because many builders insist on being in the airplane they built on its maiden flights, they are caught between the rules and a hard place—and many wish they could have an experienced pilot onboard. Although the least risky option is to let an experienced pilot fly the airplane solo on its first flights, many reject this option, and get into situations beyond their skill level.

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AKIA Covers Lengthy Agenda with EAA

Members of the Aircraft Kit Industry Association (AKIA) sat down recently with senior staff at EAA headquarters in Oshkosh, WI to discuss a variety of issues affecting both organizations. With EAA planning to honor the memory of founder Paul Poberezny at next year's AirVenture, all items relating to homebuilt aircraft met with enthusiastic response.

Both organizations support the One Week Wonder project in which EAA will invite the public to experience hands on participation in the construction of a Zenith CH 750 at AirVenture 2014. Construction of the aircraft will be completed in one week, providing people with an opportunity to see how much fun and excitement is involved in building an aircraft.

EAA will be making changes to the area and activities in the north display area (where most kit makers display their aircraft) and the buildings just to the south of that area. AKIA is charged with coming up with an appropriate name for the display space.

Reflecting on a consensus of their membership, AKIA requested that EAA shorten AirVenture by one day, since the field is virtually deserted on Sunday. They also suggested having an "AKIA Day" at AirVenture, which EAA enthusiastically embraced, and will begin working on an outline for appropriate activities.

Jack Pelton (left), Rick Larsen, Sean Elliott, Dick VanGrunsven, Jeremy Monnett, Charlie Becker, and John Monnett explored a wide range of issues affecting EAA and AKIA. (EAA photo)


AKIA will be providing EAA with a list of manufacturers' representatives who will each spend time at Interview Circle during the week discussing the kits they have designed and are currently manufacturing. EAA was asked to provide AKIA members with a new exhibits liaison to assist with AirVenture issues before, during and after the convention. AKIA also stated concern about Sport Aviation magazine and their desire to see more articles about homebuilding which for decades was the core activity of EAA.

Dick VanGrunsven, CEO of Vans Aircraft and President of AKIA, expressed a wish for support and involvement with aircraft building projects for teens. He explained the benefits of involving young people in kit building which are extensive. There was also candid discussion about Transition Training Instructors, LODAs, the Type Club Coalition and encouraging Angle of Attack Systems for homebuilts.
"The meeting was very positive and productive," said VanGrunsven. "We covered many subjects. I found the people at EAA to be very understanding about the importance of the kit and homebuilt aircraft industry. AKIA looks forward to working closely with EAA to further our many mutual interests."

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"