21 December 2011

Different Ways to Fly

There are lots of different ways to fly. Some people use an airplane, while others prefer something a bit different, like Jeb Corliss, for instance:

05 December 2011

Do You Own a Cessna?

If it is a 100 or 200 series single and was built between 1946 and 1986 then you will need to know about this new requirement that Cessna has added to the manuals for your annual inspection.

It actually isn't anything new and any sharp AME is probably doing all of it already, but as aircraft age the need to keep on top of metal fatigue and corrosion increases.

The inspections are simple, but necessary and as an owner you need to know what is being done to keep your aging Cessna flying.

* Powerpoint presentation on the new requirements (Zip file)

* You Tube video (4:37 in length)

30 November 2011

Wardbird U at Vintage Wings

From Robert Fleck, President, Vintage Wings of Canada

Once again this winter we are offering our “Warbird U” series of educational ground schools. This year will feature the Harvard, Mustang, Spitfire, F-86 Sabre and Swordfish. The ground schools cost $250 for non members (Harvard $200) and $200 for members (Harvard $150). These are the exact same ground schools that our pilots have to take for recurrent training, so in addition to covering all aircraft systems, there is always discussion about how each pilot actually operates the plane, validated by our Warbird U guest who inevitably flew the aircraft in combat.

This is a fund raising event for Vintage Wings and the Canada Aviation and Space Museum.The ground schools make a nifty Christmas gift.

Complete details on the Vintage Wings Website.

15 November 2011

Diamond Solves Financial Woes With Buy Out

As previously reported earlier in 2011 Diamond Aircraft of London Ontario indicated it was in dire trouble and needed a federal government loan or it might not survive.

Company President Peter Maurer said in March 2011 "If we don’t get the funding from the federal government, it puts us in a difficult situation. If the D-JET, for example, in a worse case scenario, were not to continue it would have a negative impact on the rest of the company’s operations...[The debts are] at a level that would be very difficult to satisfy out of piston sales. I’ll let you do the extrapolation."

Of course as we now know the government said "no" and the company went away looking for other options, Maurer oddly saying that he had considered a government bailout a "long shot".

On 13 November the company announced its solution to the crisis. It is now majority owned by Medrar Financial Group, an investment company based in Dubai. The buy-out was for an undisclosed amount.

*Diamond press release
*London Free Press

It is hard not to note the trend here, as I have written before many aviation manufacturers have recently been bought out by middle eastern or far eastern countries. A short list:

* Diamond Aircraft - majority owned by Medrar Financial Group, Dubai
* Cirrus Aircraft - Government of the Peoples Republic of China
* Continental Engines - Government of the Peoples Republic of China
* Liberty Aerospace - 75% owned by the Kuwait Finance House, a wholly owned subsidiary of Kuwait Finance House of Bahrain
* Piper Aircraft - Government of Brunei.
* Epic Aircraft - partly owned by the Government of the Peoples Republic of China

Once again, though I will make the point that in almost all of these cases investment from North America, Europe and other western countries was not to be found. That means that while many people from North America will shake their heads and say "this is too bad", that is all they will do. They didn't pony up and put money on the table to keep these companies going. The case is the same with Diamond. It is pretty obvious that the choice was simply between selling it to interests from Dubai or shutting it down.

If westerners want to retain ownership of our aerospace industry, then we need to stop the "tut-tutting" and start buying companies out ourselves.

*Complete rundown on the Diamond story

11 October 2011

More Free Aircraft!

Back in August 2009 I wrote a blog post about free aircraft, that discussed Hubert Beaujon's great idea of giving away free plans for his Beaujon Enduro on the internet.

Well it turns out he isn't the only one doing this. Amateur aircraft designer and builder Mike Sandlin has posted "technical drawings" for five of his Bug, Goat and Pig glider designs on his website and released them to the public domain. Such charity should not go unnoted, so thank you Mike!

His designs are all ultralight gliders that are easy and inexpensive to build. All have flying examples, too, as can be seen on his You Tube channel. Complete descriptions are on Mike's website.

If you only have time to watch one video then have a look at Mike narrating the flight of the "Red Goat" at Torrey Pines, California.

There are now Wikipedia articles about two of Mike's designs that give a good overview:

* Sandlin Bug
* Sandlin Goat

Yes he gives his designs funny names. I think the Goat is called that because it climbs so well. The Bug stands for "Basic Ultralight Glider" while the Pig is his "Primary Instruction Glider".

Vintage Wings On You Tube

Vintage Wings, the Gatineau Airport based flying museum now has its own You Tube channel, so you can feel like you are in the cockpit.

There are also links to other people's Vintage Wings You Tube videos. Recommended: "Scratch" takes the F-86 Sabre for a ride

08 October 2011

Canada Flight Supplement Error

There have reports from members of COPA Flight 70 Oshawa that the new edition of the CFS, dated 20 October 2011, has pages missing.

They report:

*Pages 1093 to 1124 are missing. (Wiarton, Winnipeg, etc)
*Pages 1029 to 1060 are included twice.

If you find this is the case in your edition please send a message to service@navcanada.ca.

COPA President and CEO Kevin Psutka has asked Nav Canada to investigate this problem and for Nav Canada as a minimum to post the missing pages on their website for free download in the interests of safety.

27 September 2011

Autonomous Flocking UAVs

There are lots of things to contend with in the air these days, but Sabine Hauert, Severin Leven and Dario Floreano of the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale’s Laboratory of Intelligence Systems in Lausanne, Switzerland have added one more: they have taught ten small unmanned aerial vehicles to flock.

This is actually an interesting use of technology, combining small aircraft with Linux to make them fly together in different ways, depending on the parameters entered. This science project shows what is possible with the combination of aircraft and computers.

Story and short video

26 September 2011

Air Show Risks And How They Affect The Public

After the death of Jack "Flash" Mangan in a crash at an airshow in Martinsburg, VA this week while flying a T-28, AVweb has published a very interesting and thoughtful article written by a non-aviator who witnessed the crash. Twenty-year-old Chloe Barkdoll describes the effect seeing this sort of accident has on non aviators. This is very well written and certainly should give airshow organizers and pilots something to think about.

I think her message is clear, while airshows can motivate and inspire people to fly, or at least become aviation fans and supporters, one accident can turn thousands of people into aviation opponents. We need to put safety ahead of all other considerations in airshow planning if we are to avoid this.

20 September 2011

Presentation: "Rejuvenating General Aviation…..from the ground up!"

From: Bruce Dwyer, Professor/Coordinator Aviation Studies, Algonquin College:

Rejuvenating General Aviation…..from the ground up!
Presented by: the Raviator
Time: Monday 26 September 2011, 19:30 hrs
Location: Canada Aviation and Space Museum, Main Theater

You are cordially invited to join Algonquin College students in the Aviation Management and Aircraft Maintenance programs at the Museum next Monday for an evening presentation by Ravi. I have seen Ravi perform this summer at Oshkosh both on stage at the NAFI (National Association of Flight Instructors) breakfast as a guest speaker and heard him perform with his guitar at the Sennheiser booth. Last year I was also at the presentation Ravi gave during the ATAC (Air Transport Association of Canada) meetings.

If you are interested in Aviation and passionate about seeing General Aviation grow in Canada then I think you will enjoy this event and hope that you take the time to come join us next Monday. See Poster Attached!!!

All Flight Schools and Students are welcome to attend!!!

The event is free and you can even enter to win a Sennheiser HD 238 high performance headphone!

12 September 2011

British Commonwealth Air Training Plan Tribute

From John Phillips, West Capital Dev elopments:

In 2011, Vintage Wings of Canada will pay tribute to one of the greatest military and industrial achievements in Canada, indeed the world, during the Second World War. The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) was a stunning achievement in planning, construction, community involvement and aircrew training that involved every province of Canada, hundreds of small and medium sized communities across the country, and hundreds of thousands of airmen from Canada, the British Commonwealth and the United States of America.

The Vintage Wings of Canada "Yellow Wings" program will span a year and a country to bring the story of how everyday Canadians, communities and companies did their part as the Aerodrome of Democracy to win the war against two evil empires.

September 24th, between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm the planes will be at Carp Airport (CYRP). West Capital Developments will be providing a shuttle service from the airport to the Carp Fair which will be going on the same weekend. Planes include the Vintage Wings Harvard, Tiger Moth, Cornell, Finch and Stearman.

More information www.yellowwings.ca

03 September 2011

Ottawa Flying Club Needs Volunteers for Fly Day 1 October 2011

From Marc Desjardins, President, Ottawa Flying Club:

Hosted by the Ottawa Flying Club, Fly Day is an event supported and contributed to by local area pilots, aviation related businesses and organizations, many sponsors, and the Ottawa Rotary Club, and we need volunteers to make it work! Fly Day
Fly Day Pilots Wanted!

Pilots with 4-place aircraft are needed for the 53rd Annual Fly Day at the Ottawa Flying Club to carry out sightseeing flights over Ottawa.

If you are a pilot with:

· A Private or Commercial Licence
· 100 hours or more PIC (special consideration for Algonquin students who wish to volunteer with 85 hours PIC and reviewed by CFI)
· 10 hours on Type
· 10 hours in the previous 12 months (or a checkout by an OFC instructor)
· Familiarity with procedures at Ottawa
· Recency and Currency as per the CARS
· 1 hour PIC or Dual within the last 30 days before FlyDay, and
· a 4-place (or better) aircraft to fly (owned or rented)
...you can take part in Fly Day!


If you fly as a volunteer pilot, you will receive:
· Tax receipts for all operating costs
· Free Fuel
· Landing and Departure at CYOW are waived for participating aircraft

All of the Cessna 172s and the Beech Duchess have been reserved for rental use on Fly Day.

Ground volunteers needed too!

Ground volunteers are needed to escort passengers to and from the aircraft and to marshal aircraft.
As most activities take place on the OFC ramp, ground volunteers are required to be licensed pilots, student pilots with their student pilot permit, or airport authority red pass holders.

To Volunteer

If you are interested in flying or for volunteering for other activities, in taking a ride at the event, in being a sponsor, or contributing a static exhibit, please contact Marc Desjardins.

16 August 2011

Ottawa International Runway 04/22 Repaving

Ottawa International's general aviation runway 04/22 will finally be repaved this summer, starting on Monday 22 August 2011.

The work includes repairing the existing runway surface and some taxiways, plus creating a new taxiway from the button of runway 04 to the Ottawa Flying Club. Designated taxiway "S", the new route will enable aircraft to use the full length off 04 on take-off without requiring a backtrack.

As part of the job most of taxiway "P" and the other unused asphalt left over from the World War II runways in the north in-field will be removed. The part of taxiway "P" that joins "S" to 04/22 will be repaved.

The repaving work by Tomlinson is expected to take 2-3 weeks and thus should be done by mid-September.

* Ottawa Flying Club Article

01 August 2011

30 July 2011

Print Your Own Aircraft?

That may not be as far-fetched as it sounds, in fact it has already been done!

Scientists in the UK designed a small UAV using CAD-CAM software, printed it out with a 3D printer, assembled it and flew it all in a five day period. This is a sophisticated design, too, with a geodesic structure.

3D printing is a relatively new technology that works similarly to a paper printer, except that the 3D printer builds up layers of plastics to form a three dimensional shape.

Now it is true that this is only a small aircraft with a wingspan just under 5 feet, but you have to start somewhere. It wouldn't take a lot to scale this up to man-carrying size and essentially print your own kitplane. The main advantage here is the speed at which this can be done.

* Story
* Video

29 July 2011

Canada eh! ForeFlight on my iPad


ForeFlight is nice software for the iPad. It even has some Canadian information.

You have several options for chart and airport information. The first option below is really US based and gives only coincidental Canadian information along the border. The second option adds dereferencing to approach plates in the USA, not sure if this is true in Canada. The third option adds Canadian IFR information such as departure, approach and arrival plates. As well as Canadain Low and High Enroute charts, but no IFR Terminal Charts. The last choice is the same as the number 1 but for three months.

  1. ForeFlight HD 1 year    74.99
  2. ForeFlight Pro 1 year  149.99
  3. ForeFlight Mobile Aviation Weather, Flight Planning, EFB, and Charts, Canada IFR (1 Year), Seller: ForeFlight, LLC  149.99
  4. Foreflight HD 3 mos 24.99

I selected the 3rd choice above and was immediately billed 149.99 plus HST for a total of CAD$169.49.  I assumed the software is priced in US Dollars, but no, I was charged the same prices in Canadian Dollars at a loss of exchange of about 5%. Thanks Apple!

Canadian pilots that fly under the Instrument Flight Rules IFR  will get most of what they need. The weak link is for Canadian Visual Flight Rules guys like me. The Sectionals are just that FAA charts that happen to include parts of Canada along the border. This is not serious if you live in Southern Ontario, but even there it could mislead one into missing Mandatory Frequency (MFs) airports where one is obligated to use the radio. Also, some Class D Transponder areas could be missed such as around Ottawa. FAA Sectionals always warn pilots to use Canadian Charts and publications in Canadian airspace. There are no Canadian VFR Terminal Area Charts (VTAs).

Most Canadian aerodromes at there. I assume they are also in the US versions of the software. I believe the source is the US defense department data. The current update includes correct frequencies even for pretty small aerodromes, such as Embrun, CPR2. In past versions of the data, frequencies were missing for small airports  like Embrun.

I have not explored the whole package, but clearly the ForeFlight folks have done Canada well in this update.

Michael Shaw


22 July 2011

Dubai to Seattle with Al Hepburn Part 14

Our non-flying day in Anchorage was spent - flying. We got a ride in a Cessna 206 floatplane of Rust's Flying Service up to the glacier. It was neat - we landed on the lake at the end of the glacier and taxied beside the ice walls. Not in the same class as the icebergs in Ilulissat, Camilla, but still pretty impressive. Also there were a few moose on the river flats.

Later in the day, we took off and flew VFR around Mt. McKinley (the highest mountain in North America at 20,300'). Not too sure about the regs regarding height above terrain that goes above 18,000', but ATC said we could not go above 17,500', so we actually never went above 16.5. Got some spectacular photos.

Next day, I was able to convince Wei that 1300 miles direct without a guaranteed tailwind was not a good plan and we decided to stop for breakfast/lunch at Juneau, the state capital (population 30,000). We were IFR at FL270 and could see Mt Logan (~19,000') off to the east, so asked ATC for a deviation to fly around it. No problem. Imagine trying this in China!

We grabbed a burger in Donna's Diner at Juneau (first burger of the trip) and continued on top of a cloud deck down to Boeing Field Seattle. The hotel Wei had booked turned out only to have one bed in the room, but our friendly taxi driver found another. I snuck out at 5:45 next morning and took the high speed ferry to Victoria BC, where I was met by Roy Olmstead, a long time friend from AECL days. Now enjoying some R&R in Campbell River BC before returning to Ontario on Sunday.

That's it, folks. The last update. I hope you enjoyed the tale.

Al Hepburn

19 July 2011

Dubai to Seattle with Al Hepburn Part 13

We had great weather for the trip across Siberia to Anadyr and the Russians were really efficient, so everything went on schedule, until we got to Anadyr. It seems the ferry schedule across to the town has changed. We were told that it now runs only 3 times a day, and the last one was at 5 o'clock, so we'd missed it. They had arranged for us to stay at the airport hotel. No restaurant, no internet, and all for $180 a night. We bought some food in the store and made our own supper and breakfast. It turns out that a private boat could have been arranged. I suspect they were just trying to generate business for the airport hotel.

Next morning, we had a one-hour delay getting fuel and finding a form which had been given to Wei on arrival in Russia. Then we were off on the leg to Anchorage, based on the TAF and a text message from Air Journey about enroute conditions, which fortunately were not complicated. So now we have a day's rest in Anchorage before heading down the coast to Seattle tomorrow. We had hoped to do some sightseeing along the way, but that isn't going to happen, due to a low over the Alaska panhandle and the Queen Charlottes. The good news is we should have some help from the wind, so should be able to make the trip direct. That should put is in to Boeing Field mid afternoon.

17 July 2011

Dubai to Seattle with Al Hepburn Part 12

We had one full day in Harbin, during which the only activity of note was a visit to the Siberian tiger park, a safari park where view the tigers from the safety of buses. Two or three chickens and a couple of ducks were not so lucky. There must have been at least a hundred tigers in the park.

I tried to have our flight plan brought forward an hour next morning, but as this would have involved a change in permits via Moscow, I decided it was not worth the risk and we left our departure at noon local time. We finally got the nod at 1:30. The delay was blamed on military activity, but Wei says he thinks they were waiting for a bribe to speed things up.

We had a few build-ups to dodge on the way to Khabarovsk, but on arrival the weather was severe clear. We were in our hotel with refuelling complete within an hour of touchdown, so if we have an equally efficient start, things look good for tomorrow. Khabarovsk has a pleasant park with fountains in the middle of town, and an impressive Russian Orthodox cathedral.

A long day is planned tomorrow, from here to Anadyr, with a fuel stop and Magadan. The weather looks good, however.


15 July 2011

Dubai to Seattle with Al Hepburn Part 11

On July 12, we flew from Xian to Beijing. I believe we were the first single engine airplane to be permitted to land there. On arrival the visibility was advertised as 3000m, but it was more like 1000. There is a business aviation center there and that's where we went for another big welcoming committee. Carolyn got in around 5 p.m. This stop was managed by Chinese AOPA, which has 1000 members, a beautiful magazine (at least it is nicely printed and has nice pictures - I couldn't read a word of it, of course), but I doubt if the own an airplane amongst them, unless you count Wei, who I'm sure is a member.

Next day, Carolyn and I went out to the Great Wall and there was an AOPA meeting in the late afternoon, featuring Wei. Only trouble was, he failed to show. He had taken the media out to see the airplane at 08:00, and it took all day to get permission to take them out to the ramp. He finally showed about 10 minutes before the mandatory banquet.

The following day, Carolyn and I visited Tienanmen Square and the Forbidden City. We went by subway, which was an experience in itself, and a guide picked us up as we left the station. He was a school teacher, moonlighting to make a little extra money. Both sites were interesting. Lots of Chinese tourists wanting to be photographed with the round-eyes. The traffic in Beijing was heavy, but not impossible. You might credit this to the fact that, ten years ago, there were only bicycles, so the car population is relatively young. But there's another explanation. Your licence plate in Beijing is only valid one day a week!

On the 15th, we left the hotel at 05:00 to be airborne by 08:00, as mandated by ATC. Carolyn headed back home later that day. When we were ready to taxi, it emerged that there was a problem. The yellow line from our parking spot crossed another parking stand, and there was an A320 parked on this stand. No matter that there was 300 feet between it and the next airplane, and our wingspan was about 45 feet. The system says you must follow the yellow line, so if something is parked on that yellow line, you're screwed. And nobody knew when the A320 was going to move. We weren't the only ones affected - there was a bizjet sitting with his APU running as well. Finally, after 3 hours, they moved the offending airplane, and after a long delay due to departures, we were airborne for Harbin, in northeastern China.

On arrival, there was a presentation of cheques to some deserving school children to further their education. The poor kids had, of course, been waiting for several hours also. It was pretty touching, actually. One of the girls had tears running down her face as she accepted the cheque. This will probably make a huge difference to their lives.

So now, I am in Harbin, a little provincial town of 12 million or so, where we expect to see the Siberian tiger collection at the zoo this afternoon. Tomorrow at noon, we head off to Khabarovsk, Russia, assuming the permits arrive in time. The original plan was to go to Sakhalin, but the airport there is closed for runway repairs, hence the change in plan.

Stay tuned.


14 July 2011

Morrisburg Aerodrome (CNS8) not Closing, For Now.


Pilots fly to Morrisburg to show their support. This photo is looking east towards the golf course from the button of Rwy 25 at Morrisburg CNS8.

Over the past year or so, there had been rumours that the St. Lawrence Park’s Commission was planning to close its Airport (CNS8). On 12 July 2011 a group of Eastern Ontario pilots flew into the airport to meet with the Darren Dalgleish, the Commission’s GM and CEO.

Darren Dalgleish is at the head of the table in the photo.DSC_2870

As requested by Patrick Gilligan of COPA, Darren Dalgleish and some of his staff met us at the airport. We then walked over to the Admin building across the road. 9 planes flew in and about 20 pilots from Cornwall, Iroquois, Ottawa, Carp, Bearbrook, Ingleside and Embrun dropped in to show their support. To use the Darren's language, there is no current plan to close the airport, but the Commission must rationalize each asset, and so far see no revenue and fortunately little cost is associated with their airport. The Parks Commission wants the airport to complement their primary activity at Upper Canada Village. Dalgleish noted that the Parks Commission has to ask the Ontario Government to cover its operating short fall each year to the tune of $1.8M. He noted that he has no experience in running an airport and would welcome any suggestions from the flying community.

Various models of management and operation of the small airports were discussed. JD Ross from Iroquois (CNP7) describe how the City of Iroquois manages their airport successfully in a town recreation park using local pilots to manage the airport under an agreement with the city. The Rockcliffe model was described where the Museum owns the land, they have an Airport Commission, and management and operation is by Rockcliffe Flying Club. Capital projects are shared between the Museum and the Flying Club.

The Parks Commission has no idea how much use the airport actually gets. Their primary concern is exposure to risk and liability. Several pilots noted that the CARs put responsibility for the airports they use directly on them, not specifically the airport operator. That said, it was also noted that aerodromes must follow the CARs too. The Ontario Government self-insures the Park. The pilots suggested that the airport ask pilots to sign a book to keep some record of usage.

Pilots talked about how the airport draws them to Upper Canada Village, the Golf course, Restaurant and marina several times a year. In fact, several attendees arrived early enough to lunch at the Golf course. It is this ability and the easy access to Upper Canada Village that makes the airport an attraction for local pilots. Some suggested wider advertising to draw other flying visitors, perhaps even Airport of Entry status for visitors from outside Canada. Pilots pointed to Lamacaza airport near Mount Tremblent as a successful small airport. As well some suggested hangars and a flight school might work to improve revenues from the airport. Several private airport operators present noted  that when the paved runway is no longer useable they switch to grass which is cheaper to maintain. Only the Mooney pilot from Cornwall indicated he preferred asphalt.

Patrick Gilligan suggested that an annual fly-in breakfast associated with a visit to Upper Canada Village could be used to involve the local communities and pilots, and perhaps raise revenues.  This could be arranged by one or more of the local COPA Flights and take advantage of COPA’s insurance.

It was an upbeat productive meeting introducing aviation to the St. Lawrence Parks Commission management and the Park’s Commission to local Pilots. COPA Flight 8 thanks Darren Dalgleish and his staff for inviting us to meet.

11 July 2011

Dubai to Seattle with Al Hepburn Part 10

Our first internal leg in China, from Changsha to Xian was uneventful. The main impression is that the visibility in the cities is mostly less than 3 km. Wei wants people in China to fly GA. Well, they're going to need an instrument rating before first solo!

Carolyn and I visited the Terracotta Warriors exhibit, and found it most interesting. The had amazing technology 2200 years ago - armour, bronze weapons, pottery in massive quantities, archers, cavalry etc.

Tomorrow, we leave the hotel at 04:20 local, as the want is to be on the ground in Beijing before 09:00 local. The main challenge looks to be low visibility in what the Chinese euphemistically refer to as "mist". Also, some scattered CBs.

Next report from the capital city, which apparently has been the forbidden city for private aircraft up until now.


07 July 2011

Dubai to Seattle with Al Hepburn Part 9

We got off the ground at 11:52 local, and arrived in Changsha, China at 1:37. Despite our agreement to use English unless clarification was required, Wei insisted on talking to the controller in Mandarin, which I think confused him a bit. However, everything was quite unremarkable. Altitudes were, of course, in metric. The weather on arrival was hot and humid. The advertised visibility with 10km+, but I think this is a public relations move. Right now, they are still calling at 7km, but looking out the window, it can't be better than 3km.

This is Wei's home town, so again there was a big welcoming committee. They are saying this is the first single engine airplane to be allowed in to China, but it seems to me a Spanish airline captain flew a Kitfox to Oshkosh via China several years ago. Maybe he went through Taiwan. Also, I think a few single airplanes flew in from Burma during the Second World War. I'm really puzzled by what all the fuss is about. You'd think we'd achieved something remarkable. Now, if we'd been flying a Kitfox, I could have seen cause for celebration.

We were warned by the Boeing Business Jet captain who briefed us yesterday to expect a track offset clearance, but that did not happen. I suspect there is not much demand for the levels at which we fly. Frankly, things were pretty quiet all the way.

We are here for 3 nights, then off to Xianyang, followed by Beijing. Hopefully, based on today's performance, Wei will be able to negotiate a more civilized arrival time.

For some reason eurofpl would not accept our route BEKOL A461 LIG ZGHA. It changed the EET to several hours, so obviously it thought one of the waypoints was on another continent.

Al Hepburn

06 July 2011

Dubai to Seattle with Al Hepburn Part 8

We have permits to go in to China, and it appears we will be operating under English ATC at the airports we will be using, so tomorrow, in we go. Apparently, this will be the first time that a foreign-registered single engine airplane has been allowed in. Also, we are being allowed in to Beijing in a few days, but they are not taking any chances. Arrival after midnight and departure before 6 a.m.

WX tomorrow is forecast to be OK, just some scattered thundershowers. Wish us luck.

Al Hepburn.

03 July 2011

Dubai to Seattle with Al Hepburn Part 7

We had another uneventful flight down from Laos to Ho Chi Minh City yesterday afternoon. There were a few potholes in the road as we descended into Vietnam, but nothing unusual. The handling bill in Laos was again fierce. No wonder, they flew the handler's representative up from Bangkok to look after us, kept her there two nights, then flew her back again! Nobody said anything about GA being competitive in this part of the world.

I shudder to think what the handling bill here is going to be like, since the airplane is occupying an airline stand for the best part of two days, and these stands normally rent by the hour. Ah well, that part of it is not my planning and not my bank account, thank God.

Today, we visited an orphanage, where Wei and his friend (who has been with us since Bangkok) made some donations. The theme of his flight is helping kids around the world. This afternoon we went out on the river for lunch at a small town, Mytho, on another arm of the Mekong Delta. These Chinese never stop eating! We stopped at three different locations and ate at each.

Tomorrow morning we're off bright and early to Hong Kong, where Carolyn should join us. I guess I screwed up on her flight, with the date, airline, etc., so she will arrive a few hours after us, rather than the day before. I had advised Wei before the start of the trip that he should get a qualified Chinese pilot to accompany him in to China, and he said he had one. However, this guy is a Cessna 172 instructor who has difficulty communicating with ATC, as he speaks Cantonese, so that is not very promising. I want to check the Chinese AIP when we get to Hong Kong, but I suspect that, on non-English ATC routes (which he will be on) there will be a requirement to have a crew member with a "Mandarin Competent" statement (similar to our English competent statement) aboard, and Wei does not have one, of course. While Mandarin is his mother tongue, he does not know Mandarin ATC speak, so I don't know whether this proposed trip into China is going to work. He does, however, have the permits from the Chinese government to go in. Maybe he can get a Chinese pilot to brief him in Hong Kong. Stay tuned for the next episode!


30 June 2011

Dubai to Seattle with Al Hepburn Part 6

We arrived here in Laos after an uneventful 1 hour trip from Bangkok.

At Bangkok, there was a media extravaganza on arrival. Two busloads of fans to great the intrepid pilot, then a party in the evening with hundreds of guests, including a representative from the Chinese Embassy (see photo).

We saw the Grand Palace (really, a whole collection of palaces) yesterday morning, but I think some of the food at the party must have disagreed with me, so I took the rest of the day off, and had a small meal in the Italian restaurant (only customer) last night. Pretty well back to normal today, but now Wei has the bug, so it's not only round-eyes who are affected.

Our missing Jep charts finally caught up with us from Reykjavik (have been using my year old ones up to now). It took 1 1/2 hours to drive to the DHL service centre to pick them up, and we never left the city.

The handling bill at Bangkok was the highest so far ($3,500). After this, $1,500 a landing in Russia is going to look like a bargain. For any Scotsmen, the real challenge is to fly around the world and not pay a single handling fee. I doubt if that's possible, except in a real long range airplane, or maybe a balloon.


28 June 2011

Dubai to Seattle with Al Hepburn Part 5

We had a trouble free ride from Agra to Calcutta. In view of the concerns about high oil temperature, we climbed over the airport at Agra before proceeding on course. However, all we saw was a couple of very brief excursions above the redline and this is normal according to the ops manual, so we are putting it down to high ambient temperatures. Socata, the manufacturer of the airplane, do not seem to be concerned.

The weather enroute was better than expected, with only isolated buildups above our level (FL270). So apparently these cloud charts are a bit pessimistic.

As we joined the localizer, tower advised us that there was "heavy rain over the field". Sure enough, we touched down in decent weather and rolled out into a waterfall. We sat in the airplane on the ramp for half an hour before anyone came to meet us.

I'm rather glad we're only staying one night here. The place is like a big, overpopulated trash heap. Quite a jolt to the senses.

Off this morning to Bangkok, where apparently there will be a big media extravaganza. Looks like the weather should be similar to yesterday, with isolated thundershowers forecast. Let's hope they don't get the one on arrival right over the field.


26 June 2011

Dubai to Seattle with Al Hepburn Part 4

We are waiting to see if we can get a new oil temp. probe. Also, since it is the weekend, we cannot get any permits approved to go any futher until tomorrow. We tested the engine on the ground today, and everything was normal. We plan to head towards Kolkuta tomorrow, but stay over the airfield for 10 minutes or so before proceeding enroute. Meanwhile, the dreaded monsoon seems to be advancing. Today, it looks like we might have made it as far as Patna, or even Kolkuta with a bit of luck. The southern alternative, through Sri Lanka and across to Puket does not look like it would have been very nice today either. Stay tuned.


25 June 2011

Dubai to Seattle with Al Hepburn Part 3

Well, here we are in Agra, and all set to visit the Taj Mahal this morning.

It has not been an uneventful trip, but contrary to expectations, weather has not been a major issue.

I forgot to mention in my last report that Wei had no charts beyond Europe. The are apparently resting in the Hotel Borg in Reykjavik. After thinking of the alternative, we decided to press on with my 2010 vintage charts. It has not so far been an issue. The only glitch was that our filed airway through Pakistan was not on the chart, but thanks to the Garmin 750, we had airways defined in the database.

Our brief look at Muscat in the morning revealed quite mountainous terrain, without the high rise architecture of Dubai. They have oil in more moderate quantities, but much more minerals. As usual, we had delays getting out of Muscat. The flight to Ahmedabad (VAAH) was uneventful. On arrival, we had to go through the international terminal. There was a minor problem because we had invited along a friend who was not included in our permit for Agra, our next destination, which is a military airport. However, the handler was able to fix this.

Departure required us to go out through the domestic terminal. So we wound up with a very close run thing getting in to Agra before they closed.

Crossing Jaipur, we had an indication of high oil temperature. The gauge was fluctuating, and I suspect a sensor problem, but this has still to be resolved.

On arrival at Agra, we found the ILS (the only approach for which we had an IAP) was unavailable. Fortunately, it was good VMC, so we just did a visual approach. The main feature of the trip in the dark to the hotel was the incredible traffic. This has to be the definition of anarchy. But we arrived unscathed.

Stay tuned.


23 June 2011

Dubai to Seattle with Al Hepburn Part 2

Dubai was rather interesting, but the whole place is kind of like an oversized American theme park. Construction is evident everywhere. Virtually the whole place was built within the last ten years. Took a desert safari where they take you out and drive you around the desert in SUVs. There are dozens of them out there driving around the dunes which are composed of very fine wind blown sand.

Our departure was delayed by lack of action on the part of the client, and (sorry Trevor) by a glitch in Eurofpl. The locals insisted on adding "R" to the equipment codes, despite the fact that we had G there already, and when did that, we got some kind of weird error (R added and not something or other), which forced us into manual filing. That took a while. Eventually, we had an uneventful flight down to Muscat, arriving after dark. No language problems, because all the controllers are Brits, US etc.

As far as we can see in the dark, Muscat is a lot more interesting and beautiful. We don't know whether we will get out tomorrow or not. Lots of convective cloud with out destination VAAH just on the edge of it. Stay tuned.


20 June 2011

Dubai to Seattle with Al Hepburn Part 1

Well-known (at least to Flight 8 members) globe-trotting pilot Al Hepburn of Pembroke, Ontario is off on another adventure and the Flight 8 blog will be posting updates from Al as he does his trip.

Al explains the trip:

The proposed route is Dubai – Muscat – Amehabad, India – Agra, India, Kolkuta, India – Bangkok – Vientanne – Ho Chi Minh City – Hong Kong. At this point, there’s a big question mark on whether my client, Wei Chen (his website) will be able to fly in to China. He has apparently located a Chinese pilot to help him do this. I was not interested in flying in an environment where ATC was not in English. After China, the plan is to proceed to Seattle via Sakhalin, Russia – Petropavlovsk – Anadyr and Anchorage Alaska. Wei’s main objective appears to be publicizing his trip. He has several publicity events set up that cannot be missed. No harm in hoping, I guess.

There’s a well known quote by Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet: “The best laid schemes o’ mice and men gang aft agley (often go wrong)”.

At this point, the major challenge appears to be getting through the monsoon in India, which sounds kind of scary. You can get an idea of the weather in close to real time by looking at this website.

Remember, India is Z+5.5 hours. Although I intend to use Eurofpl to file the flight plans, there is no real-time tracking available in that part of the world, though Wei does carry Spidertracks which provides tracking to those with whom he is in contact.

The other challenges are the Indian bureaucracy, and what will happen in China. If I’m off the program for 10 days while Wei is in China, Carolyn may come out to Hong Kong to join me. Since Russia is now a known quantity, the bureaucracy there does not loom so large as it otherwise might.

The equipment, by the way, is a TBM 700, which cruises around 275 knots at FL270, and at a stretch can fly 1500 nm.

So, I’m off to Dubai tonight. I’ll send a progress report when there is some progress to report. Wish me luck. Stay tuned.

Al Hepburn

Leavens Aviation Closing

Leavens Aviation, in business since 1927 as an air carrier, aircraft manufacturer and more recently as a parts supplier and engine overhauler will be closing on 31 August 2011. In a recent e-mail to customers the management explains the move:


June 15, 2011

Dear Valued Customer:

As you're probably now aware, Leavens Aviation Inc. has decided to wind-up its operations. After 84 year in the aviation business this is, of course, a very difficult decision but one which we, as a family, felt needed to be made.

Our initial plan had been to wind-up the Parts side of the business and, under different Leavens' ownership structure, keep the shop side of the business going. That, unfortunately, couldn'tbe accomplished.

However, our Propeller, Accessory, Hose and Cable shops appear to have found a new life. two of our long-serving employees (George in Propellers and Harry in accessories) have acquired the shop tooling and equipment and are looking to make a new start in partnership with Quantum Aviation. I hope that you'll hear news from them in the very near future.

Also, we've been able to sell our Engine shop tooling and equipment to the Brampton Flight Centre and I hope thatyou'll hear news from them in the near future as well. Between now and then, however, we still have a few engines on the shelf, deeply discounted and ready to ship. Please review the attached Engine Sheet and let me know if you have any interest.

As to our timeline, we've conditionally sold the Mississauga building and are working to be moved out by August 31, 2011. (We'll still be available after that point, cleaning up our books and records and winding-up the financial side of things.) We're busily selling-off all of our parts inventory and appreciate all of the support that you all have shown during recent weeks. We still have quite a bit of inventory, and some real bargains, remaining.

Thank you all for your business and support over the years and for your many kind words during the past few months. If anyone requires advice on whereto turn for alternate supply sources, please don't hesitate to ask us.

Sincerely yours,

Jeff, Lea Anne, Heather & Bruce Leavens
Leavens Aviation Inc.
(905) 678-1234 ext 211


The company website does not currently reflect this information, but a call today to the company confirms that it is accurate and that the website will be updated soon.

15 June 2011

CYOW Noise Management Committee

Cessna 150


Single engine light aircraft like this Cessna 150 draw a high share of noise complaints at Ottawa’s International Airport.

I attended Ottawa International Airport Authority’s Noise Management Committee meeting 7 June 2011. There is good noise news and bad. First the good news, Ottawa really does not have a noise problem. There was a increase in complaints from 55 in 2009 to 81 in 2010. At the same time there was a small increase in aircraft movements from 129,773 to 132,322. For every 1000 aircraft movements there are .61 complaints. I don’t have statistics for other airports but I am told that this is low in comparison with other major Canadian airports. As one would expect the majority of complaints come from residential areas, particularly for departures to the north that fly over the city off runway 32. Complaints generated by noisier aircraft like First Air’s now retired Boeing 727s have dropped. First Air replaced their B727s with Boeing 767s which are significantly quieter. Still military and noisier civil aircraft such as the older Boeing 737s generate some complaints. The airport is considering modifying its noise abatement procedures to limit the times of day when these noisier aircraft (Chapter 2) can operate. Such a change would be voluntary for Military activities.

The bad news is that many complaints are generated by light flight training aircraft operating on runway 04-22. Unfortunately the flight schools based at the airport chose not to attend the meeting. To mitigate this noise the Airport Authority is asking flight training and itinerant aircraft to turn crosswind after takeoff from runway 22 along Merivale Rd. I saw no reason why this could not be done to help mitigate noise. It would have been helpful if the based flight training operators had been at the meeting to comment on the proposal. My concern is that itinerant pilots likely would not know which road is Merivale Rd.

It was noted that there are a couple of repeat noise complainers, particularly about light aircraft. This is likely true at all airports. Nonetheless, if we can make safe small changes to our flight paths and practices to mitigate these complaints we should do so. circuit-cyow

This figure shows current flight paths in blue along with the noise sensitive area in red. Following Merivale Rd. rather than over the noise sensitive area will not be difficult. Instructors can easily show student pilots the preferred routing to avoid noise complaints. This will move the downwind leg of the circuit farther from the airport and potentially increase risks if an engine failure occurs.

The other unusual complaint is generated by police aircraft. The Airport Authority obviously has no responsibility for this noise, although they do log the complaints. It was suggested that the police consider installing a quieter muffler system similar to those in use in Europe.

Interestingly there was also a discussion of the language used in Noise Abatement procedures, particularly, turbo-prop vs Turbo-jet. Apparently some more modern Turbo-fan aircraft do not believe the noise abatement semantics applies to them?

We light aircraft operators can do our part to mitigate aircraft noise that disturbs our neighbours. We certainly don’t want to see the Airport Authority give up on the north field and close it just because of noise we can control. Let’s do our part!

04 June 2011

What Happened To The 2011 Classic Air Air Rallye?

After attending the 2010 edition of this small airshow I noted that despite the perfect weather that attendance was poor. Probably only 500 spectators showed up on the Saturday of the show when I was there.

In that previous blog posting a number of theories were bandied about as to why the public were a no-show for the Air Rallye. These included the high price ($20 for adults), the economy, that the Air Rallye conflicted with the Central Canada Exhibition (Super EX), the level of disorganization at the Air Rallye, weather that was perhaps too nice, that the Air Rallye was too small and dull and also competition with the free and much larger Vintage Wings Open House and Airshow that was held at Gatineau Airport on the 4 July and which 25,000 people attended plus another free Gatineau Airshow in September that drew 15,000 people.

It looks like Flightworks, the group that has put on the Classic Air Rallye, has somewhat answered the question and also announced their plans for 2011. They say:

"The 2011 Classic Air Rallye"

We've been planning some changes for the Classic Air Rallye for the future. Not all these changes could be implemented for this year, so for 2011 only, here's what's happening."

"With the growth of the Vintage Wings show just across the river in September so close to our August date, the competition for resources - participants, volunteers, media, etc - was becoming too great. Therefore we decided to change our date to the beginning of the airshow season, in early June. The only date the Museum could accommodate us on this year was the June 18th weekend. This of course is the same date as the newly revived Hamilton show. So clearly we wouldn't be able to run the same sort of CAR as in previous years."

"So, for 2011, Flightworks is cooperating with the Museum in staging the Capital Classic Wings and Wheels show on June 18th. This will attract a large number of classic and collector cars, the reenactors, supported by an increased participation by fighting vehicles from the War Museum, and fly-in aircraft. There will not be a formal flying display, but pilots will as usual be welcome to participate and display their aircraft. And we'll be back on the first weekend in June 2012 with the full event."

This year's Wings Over Gatineau airshow will again feature a Canadian EAA convention, the Snowbirds and of course the Vintage Wings fleet. It will be held on 17 September 2011 and is in commemoration of Canada’s First and Second World War Victoria Cross Recipients. As in the past admission will be by donation.

The Classic Air Rallye indicates that they will have a regular airshow next on 2-3 June 2012. It will be interesting to see how that event pans out and whether the new date, as far from the Gatineau shows as possible, will bring the crowds back. My own guess is that even with that date spread, that they are still competing with Gatineau for price and that the past $20 admission for the Classic Air Rallye will have to come down to $10 or less if they are to draw a serious crowd to the event in 2012.

RAA Unveils New Website

The Recreational Aircraft Association, based in Breslau, Ontario, has recently uploaded a new website.

The organization has had several different designs over the years, but this new one, created by George Gregory, is a very simple and clean layout and makes good use of attractive photos.

Have a look at:


03 June 2011

New in Ottawa Skies

It's orange and it makes a very different sound than the S-76A that it replaced on 7 May 2011. Almost everyone in Ottawa has probably seen the new AgustaWestland AW139 that is now operating from the Ornge base at the Ottawa International Airport, since it is hard to miss.

The two crew, 15 passenger aircraft is used in the medical evacuation role by Ornge, the non-profit foundation that runs Ontario's air ambulance service. Their original aircraft were Sikorsky S-76s, at first on contract from Canadian Helicopters and later Ornge-leased. The new AW139s are bigger, faster and louder than the S-76s they replace and also have more range.

Originally an Agusta-Bell joint venture to produce a new Twin Huey-sized medium utility helicopter, the first 54 built were designated AB139s. Bell dropped out of the project and Agusta continued on its own. After merging with the UK company Westland to become AgustaWestland in July 2000, the later build aircraft were designated as the AW139.

Like the similar-sized Bell 212 Twin Huey, the 139 is powered by twin Pratt and Whitney Canada PT-6 powerplants. These are the PT6C-67C version, however and put out 1,531 hp per side, propelling the 14,110 lb gross weight aircraft to a maximum speed of 193 mph. The aircraft is fairly clean for a helicopter and features retractable nose-wheel-configuration landing gear that gives it that higher top speed, a useful asset in medevac flying.

The 139 has a fully-articulated five-bladed main rotor that gives it a very different sound compared the four-bladed S-76 it replaces. It is definitely louder than the S-76 in flight, although the sound is nothing like the sharp bark of the old two-bladed Twin Huey, it is more like a slowly building whir when approaching.

The AW139 has been very successful with a wide range of customers, from the Bulgarian border police to the Lebanese Army. The 139 is the right size for medevac as well as SAR, executive transport, off-shore oil rig support and military troop-transport use. In fact an enlarged derivative, the AW149, was announced at the Farnborough Air Show in 2006 and is being actively developed.

The 139 is built in Italy and also on a second production line at the AgustaWestland Aerospace plant in Philadelphia.

In Ornge service the 139 is being deployed to seven bases. For this mission Ornge is acquiring eight aircraft, leaving one spare, which will be located in Toronto when it isn't needed elsewhere. The Ottawa base was the third to receive their 139, after Sudbury and London. The aircraft at the Ottawa base covers eastern Ontario including Algonquin Park, from Mattawa in the north, to Hawkesbury in the east, Cornwall in the south and Kingston in the west.

The Ornge 139s have special-configuration medevac interiors that include attendant seats that can swivel and traverse, allowing the paramedics to work on patients with unstrapping. The swivelling stretcher installation, that includes a lift and lower mechanism, permits much easier loading and unloading of patients and reduces the potential for paramedic injuries.

The AW139s belonging to Ornge will be a familiar sight around Ottawa and indeed most of Ontario this summer. They are hard to miss with their bright orange paint schemes, with their distinctive sound.

* AgustaWestland AW139 higher resolution photo

19 April 2011

Election 2011

City Center Airport Torontocytz

I sent the message immediately below to the candidates in my riding, Ottawa – Orleans, namely Royal Galipeau (Conservative), David Bertschi (Liberal), Martine Cenatus (NDP) and Paul Maillet (Green).

Dear Candidates

I am writing to you to get your opinions on various issues related to personal aviation.

First, I am a private pilot and owner of a light aircraft. I use it for personal travel. Although it is currently not flying, when it is, it is based at Rockcliffe airport here in Ottawa.

As a pilot I would like to confirm your disagreement with the proposed Kettle Island interprovincial bridge which may potentially make Rockcliffe Airport unusable, not to mention clearly putting truck traffic through the backyards of many families in Ottawa. I live in Orleans and support a new interprovincial bridge being built at Lower Duck Island. This location will remove truck traffic from downtown Ottawa and its residential neighbourhoods. Will you support this option and ensure the continued life of Rockcliffe Airport?

As well Canada lacks a clear policy on airports primarily used by personal aircraft, namely Local and Regional airports. This has lead to the announced closure of Edmonton City Centre airport and Buttonville Airport in Markham, On. Both relieve nearby international airports by attracting corporate and personal aircraft that would otherwise consume valuable capacity built to accommodate scheduled airlines at the international airports. Canadian cities tend to be poorly served by reliever airports when compared to other similar cities in North America and the World. This is largely because of a policy vacuum at the federal government level. Currently all levels of government neglect their airport infrastructure primarily in response to the early 1990s National Airports Policy, which was aimed at removing airports from the federal budget process.

Will you support development of a comprehensive airport policy, dealing with both large and small airports, by the Minister of Transport in consultation with stakeholders and the other jurisdictions?

Also, will you commit to supporting a review of Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELTs) regulations that currently require aircraft owners to install devices that have proven to fail in most accidents and hence save few lives? Better technology is available and government should consider alternatives to the current regulations. Will you support reviewing the Canadian Air Regulations as they apply to ELTs?



Michael Shaw

Captain: Flight 8 - Ottawa - Canadian Owners and Pilots Association

VP, Short Wings Over Canada Chapter (formerly Seaway Chapter) Short Wing Piper Club







Orleans, ON



So far, at 11:40 19 April 2011, only two candidates have replied to my message, the Greens (twice) and the Conservative.

Here are the responses in the order they were received:



Mr. Shaw,

Thank you for your message regarding a new proposed interprovincial bridge.

It is important to understand that this project has been in the making for over fifty years. I have been very clear that I support the conclusions of the Greber Report which acknowledges the need for an interprovincial bridge at Kettle Island. This is the most logical place for a bridge in the NCR.

That said, my primary concern regarding a bridge is that it not intrude on our Greenbelt. The Greenbelt is a treasure in our community and some proposals for a bridge intrude on it. These proposals should not even be considered.

I trust that this information will be satisfactory to you. Thank you for your time.

Sincerely yours,


Royal Galipeau’, the incumbent, seems unwilling to consider other bridge locations, or even mention airport policies, or ELTs. This makes him appear to have a closed mind! Mike


GREEN PARTY: (3 messages)

18:40 18 April

(to Mr. Shaw)

We are for a fair solution that does not create any more fatalities on King Edward by thousands of truck going through the center of the city. This will require cooperation from all communities, but we must put lives first.

That is our position.



Paul Maillet


Green Party of Canada Ottawa Orleans

Tel: 613.841.9216 Cell: 613.866.2503

Web: http://paulmailletgreenpartyorleans.wordpress.com

Twitter @PaulMaillet



14:35 18 April 2011

To me from Rob Schmidt

I saw a response from Paul Maillet about the Kettle Island option and wanted to quickly clarify our position in Ottawa Vanier.

We are against the Kettle Island Bridge option. We believe there are alternatives that mean no new bridge will be built, but if there needs to be a bridge we agree with Mauril's preference: the Canotek Road idea that would preserve the Green Belt and reduce impact on residential communities significantly.

Rob Schmidt

Campaign Manager for Caroline Rioux

Green Party Ottawa Vanier

Sent from my iPad


12:38 16 April

Dear Mr. Shaw

As a retired Air Force Colonel with 33 years service. I do understand the challenges of aviation in terms of rising costs, airspace management, flight safety, airport availability, and the regulatory framework.

The issue of the interprovincial bridge is primarily an issue of the Vanier riding, however, I firmly believe in the urban planning imperative that communities have a strong and significant voice in development decisions that most affect them. That voice I will support. The bridge decision is important in that the congestion and fatality incidence on King Edward is clearly unacceptable. The kettle island decision impacts residents of Manor Park, your airport and the Montfort Hospital. The road network to receive the bridge in Gatineau also deserves consideration. The economics and truck traffic patterns have their arguments. The challenge is to balance competing interests so that all are satisfied to the maximum extent possible. You are one of the stakeholders involved that deserve consideration. That I completely agree with and now we need to be able to make it heard.

Regarding comprehensive airport policy I do agree that a reasonable balance between large and small airports is essential for a country of this size and for the sustainability of large, small and recreational operators. We have the same problem in agriculture between family and corporate farming. Everyone deserves a fair share of the capacity, financial support and resources available. A policy is overdue.

Being a former aerospace engineering officer, the issue of flight safety is always a real concern. I am not aware of ELT failure incidence data, but would always be in favour of better solutions and advances in technology. I agree that air regulations need to keep up to date with advances and more cost effective alternatives. I would support CAR reviews periodically in this respect, and for other improvement opportunities available.

I do hope I am given the opportunity to represent aviation issues in the next parliament.



Paul Maillet

Colonel retired

Candidate - Green Party of Canada Ottawa Orleans

Tel: 613.841.9216 Cell: 613.866.2503

Web: http://paulmailletgreenpartyorleans.wordpress.com

Twitter @PaulMaillet


The Green Party seems to have an open mind and potentially an understanding of the issues. Mike



Their silence is deafening? Current National Airports Policy was developed under the liberals. Minister of Transport was Doug Young.  Mike



Are they afraid to engage a citizen? Mike

07 April 2011

Some Aviation Good News

The aviation news all seems to be bad these days. For instance Narco is in liquidation, there was a tornado that wrecked 40 aircraft at Sun 'n Fun, Diamond Aircraft is not doing well and then there is the price of avgas hovering at $1.50 per litre here in Ottawa and definitely looking to be on the way up.

But there are some good news story in aviation this week. First off the Chinese government buy-out of Cirrus is proceeding and that is a good thing because the company was heading towards bankruptcy and no one in North America seemed interested in buying it. A Chinese-owned Cirrus is better than no Cirrus at all.

At Sun 'n Fun 2011 Cessna launched its new update to the Cessna 400 (Formerly the Columbia 400 and Lancair Certified LC41-550FG before that) which includes a whole new avionics package including IR touchscreens, an updated interior and even snazzy new paint. The TTX model is now the only one in the stable and the older Cessna 350 has been discontinued. The really good news is that the TTX got lots of attention at SNF and picked up 16 orders. That may not sound like many, but Cessna only sold seven of them in all of 2010, so that is a good sign. Cessna also sold 13 high-wing piston singles and one Cessna 208 Caravan and SNF, so they had a good trip there from Wichita.

Also at SNF LoPresti Speed Merchants introduced seven new speed mods and business was brisk for them. Evektor sold seven SportStar light sport aircraft and the WACO Classic sold six brand new Great Lakes biplanes. It seems that at least some people are buying in the aviation world here in 2011.

As far as Ottawa goes the last of the snow has just melted and the next week or two promise temperatures close to 20C or so. It sounds like spring is here and the skies beckon to do some flying.

Some uplifting reading:

* Sun 'n Fun 2011: Green Shoots by Paul Bertorelli
* Cessna Sells 30 Airplanes At Sun 'n Fun By Russ Niles

03 April 2011

Aviation's "elephant in the room"

This week at Sun 'n Fun they had an aircraft-destroying F1 tornado touch down, but the 40-odd planes that were damaged will be repaired or replaced. At least no one was seriously hurt! But other far more damaging things are happening in aviation, ones that are much more long-term than a simple act of nature.

Pete Bunce, the head of the General Aviation Manufacturer's Association (GAMA) brought up the topic that no one wants to talk about, as part of a Sun 'n Fun general aviation "Town Meeting" panel discussion. It is what he called aviation's "elephant in the room", poor salaries for professional pilots that are killing student starts and causing real world safety problems. They were cited as a cause in the Colgan Air crash in Buffalo, for one.

Bunce said, "Nobody wants to talk about that." Flight training is expensive, yet pilots are launching a career with salaries that won't pay their expenses, never mind their student loans, and "there is something fundamentally wrong with that equation."

Bunce is right, young pilots working for air carriers are finding that the six figure salaries they dreamed of no longer exist and that they will be living with their parents for the foreseeable future, unable to make enough to eat. The problem is the same all over North America and indeed most of the globe. Student starts are down as most young people heard what Chesley Sullenberger, the very senior pilot who safely ditched US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River on 15 January 2009, saving the lives of all 155 people on the aircraft said, when he testified before the US House of Representatives's Subcommittee on Aviation of the Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure on 24 February 2009. He told them that his salary had been cut by 40 percent and that his pension, like most airline pensions, had been terminated and replaced by a "PBGC" guarantee worth almost nothing. He also told them that an airline career was no longer worth pursuing and he recommended young people choose something else to do with their lives. He saw the very low pay, not just for new hires, but for all professional pilots, regardless of seniority, as a serious safety problem.

A lot of people have been hanging a solution to this problem for years on the "upcoming shortage of airline pilots" that the flying schools have been pitching to prospective students since the 1970s. I heard it when I learned to fly in the mid-1970s and it hasn't happened yet. Here in 2011, as in 2008, fuel prices are rising quickly again, airlines are cutting schedules and looking at more pilot lay-offs this year and so that old flying school recruiting saw, an "upcoming pilot shortage", isn't likely to happen in the near future either.

Bunce didn't offer any solutions in the panel discussion, but he thought it needed to be discussed.

In theory, in a free labour market, the problem will sort itself out over time, all on its own. Young people are already avoiding flight training and this will, even in a shrinking airline world, eventually result in a pilot shortage and subsequent raising of wages to above starvation levels, or at least to the point where new pilots may have a chance to pay off their student loans and move out of their mom's basement.

Personally I don't see any other way to solve this problem than market forces, but until it does that cadre of young people coming in the door to aviation and getting involved in general aviation as a hobby or as a stepping stone to that hoped-for airline career won't be there.

26 March 2011

Aviation Is a Big Issue in The 2011 Election

The federal election was kicked off today with Prime Minister Stephen Harper's trip to Rideau Hall to ask the Governor General to dissolve Parliament. This was after Harper's government was defeated on a non-confidence motion for not disclosing the costs of new prisons and aircraft. That's right, aircraft. As a result this election campaign is going to feature a lot of discussion about aviation. In fact, this will probably be the first election since Diefenbaker was tossed out in 1963 where aviation will be a central issue.

The Globe and Mail framed the issue succinctly: "Liberal Michael Ignatieff says his party will move a motion of no confidence on Friday, one that will declare the government to be in contempt of Parliament for withholding information related to the cost of Conservative crime legislation and the purchase of 65 fighter jets."

The Canadian Press indicated: "The battle over the cost of the Harper government's stealth fighter has escalated into a war of numbers between the Parliamentary Budget Officer and the Defence Department. Kevin Page today released a rebuttal to senior defence officials, who questioned the math in his latest report, which says the cost of the F-35 Lightning II could reach $30 billion over three decades...The F-35 program in the U.S. has seen huge cost overruns, which Page says will drive up the price tag from an estimated US $75 million to US $148 million for each plane. The department dismisses the figure, but Page pointed out today the Pentagon's latest estimate is US $151 million [per aircraft] and that Washington does not sell aircraft to allies at a price less than what it pays. The jet-fighter deal is expected to be a big issue in the expected spring election because the Liberals have promised to cancel it."

Here is what the opposition has to say on the issue:

so you can see how the battle lines are drawn.

In short it is the biggest government contract ever and it is a sole-source, untendered contract which will see the the aircraft built in the USA and no guaranteed industrial offset contracts for Canadian companies. Instead they will be able to bid on F-35 work against companies in other nations participating in the manufacturing program. The government claims that the F-35 is the only aircraft that meets Canada's specifications, so a competition is not necessary, but they have made the specification "secret" so it is hard to tell.

Critics have noted that the F-35 is short-ranged and single-engined, a factor that has eliminated competitors for past fighter contracts, such as in the late 1970s when the F-16 was ruled out for Canada because of its single engine and we bought the twin-engined F-18 instead.

The F-35 is a stealth strike aircraft, not an interceptor and that brings up the question of what mission does Canada need a stealth attack aircraft for, when our primary role is the air defence of Canada?

If elected the Liberals have promised to not sign the future contract to buy the F-35 and instead hold an open competition to pick an aircraft. Many other global aircraft manufacturers have indicated they would like to be in that competition, including Boeing with their next-generation twin-engined F-18E/F Super Hornet, Eurofighter with their twin-engined Typhoon, Dassault with their twin-engined Rafale and even Saab and their single-engine Grippen.

Price is obviously an issue with the F-35 program behind schedule and over-budget. Unit costs have risen to somewhere around US$150M per aircraft, although the government claims that when the contract is signed in 2013 the price will be US$75M per aircraft.

Another major issue is access to the source code for the software for maintenance and in-flight remote control of the aircraft. On 24 March 2011 Turkey announced it is placing its order for 100 F-35s on hold due to the refusal of the US to provide the software codes to any of the countries buying the aircraft. (This includes Canada). Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül said without the software source code Turkey could not accept the aircraft and will cancel. This should be a big issue for Canada as well, as without these codes the aircraft cannot be fully maintained in Canada, not to mention that the US, or even hackers, could prevent them from being started or control them in flight, changing their targets enroute.

All of this adds up to a very big issue, one that will put aviation at the front of this election, something we haven't seen in many years.

A really complete summary of the Canadian F-35 procurement controversy can be found in this article.

Engage the Election Candidates for GA

By Kevin Psutka

The federal election presents an opportunity for members to engage the candidates on their awareness of and support for GA.

The pressure on GA airports is reaching a critical level where real damage will be done to the national air transportation infrastructure from such developments as the closure of Toronto’s Buttonville and Edmonton’s City Centre airports. Regional and smaller airports are being neglected by several levels of government, thanks to the National Airports Policy (NAP), whose goal was to offload the airport system to local interests. The NAP’s fundamental assumption is that community leaders can make decisions about their airports that are in the best interest of the users of the airport and with consideration for the national network of airports. In fact, this assumption is proving to not be the case as many communities are neglecting their transportation asset or actively pursuing closure options.

I encourage everyone to contact the candidates (find your candidates here) and ask the following question:

“Given the important role that smaller airports play for linking our vast country together and for training pilots and maintenance personnel for the air transportation industry, and given that the National Airports Policy has resulted in a significant deterioration of the air transportation infrastructure, will you support a review of the National Airports Policy with a view to creating an adequate and sustainable network of large and small airports?”

Ask for a written response and copy me on anything that you receive. If I get enough input from members, I intend to produce a list of candidates and their positions on our web site just prior to the election date to help members with their election choice. For those who receive a positive response, I encourage you to follow up after the election to remind election winners of their commitment.

21 March 2011

Diamond lining up for handouts

Diamond Aircraft, with a large plant located in London Ontario, is lining up for money from the federal and provincial goverments and has indicated that the company's future will be very uncertain without the bailout loans. The Financial Post described the company as "in rough shape".

It seems that piston sales have been pretty slow though the ongoing recession and the company has been unable to move its D-Jet single engined jet development project forward, due to lack of investment money, despite a firm 230 orders for the $1.89M per copy aircraft.

To get the D-Jet into production the company has located $20M in private investment, plus a committment of an additional $35M from the Government of Ontario. The Ontario government investment is contingent on Diamond also getting an additional $35M from the federal government. A decision by Industry Canada on that was still pending in late March, due to the government conducting "due diligence on the loan".

If both the federal and provincial loans are provided then, combined with funds already provided, the total provincial and federal government investment would be $100M.

Diamond Presdent and CEO, Peter Mauer indicated "If we don’t get the funding from the federal government, it puts us in a difficult situation. If the D-JET, for example, in a worse case scenario, were not to continue it would have a negative impact on the rest of the company’s operations. [The company debts are] at a level that would be very difficult to satisfy out of piston sales,” he said. “I’ll let you do the extrapolation."

Further reading:

* Financial Post - Planemaker Diamond in rough shape
* AvWeb - Diamond's Future Contingent On Loan?

28 February 2011

Cirrus Sold to Chinese Government

The announcement was made today, 28 February 2011, that Cirrus Aircraft had been sold to China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Co. (CAIGA) of Zhuhai, China. CAIGA is owned by Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC), which is in turn owned by the Government of the People's Republic of China. Anyone who didn't see this coming just wasn't paying attention, as I noted in this blog when Continental was bought by the Chinese.

Of course the company people put the best spin possible on the sale. Cirrus CEO Brent Wouters said: "CAIGA understands the strength and the talent of Cirrus's workforce and the prominence of the Cirrus brand in general aviation. Through this transaction, CAIGA will invest in our employees in both Minnesota and North Dakota by committing to the continued use of our world-class production facilities."

Cirrus co-founder and present Chairman Dale Klapmeier said: "With this transaction, Cirrus will continue to develop and build the best, most exciting aircraft in the world. The original dream remains alive and well at Cirrus. We are just embarking on our next chapter on a global stage."

Of course the question everyone is asking is "will the jobs stay in Duluth and Grand Forks or move to Zhuhai?" Right now everyone is making reassuring noises. Meng Xiangkai, CAIGA’s President, stated: "CAIGA is dedicated to being an international leader in the provision of general aviation products and services, and light piston aircraft is one of CAIGA’s business focuses. We are very optimistic to begin our partnership with Cirrus and add Cirrus’s strong brand as the cornerstone in our aviation product portfolio. We are deeply impressed with Cirrus's performance in the global general aviation industry, especially with its consistent product performance, comprehensive safety features, outstanding management team, highly skilled employee base and advanced production facilities as well as its expanding global footprint. We look forward to working with Cirrus’s management team to build upon Cirrus’s proven success and to further expand production volume in order to cement Cirrus’s existing leadership position in the global general aviation industry, as well as to produce greater job opportunities in Duluth and Grand Forks."

04 January 2011

EAA Tackles COPA Insurance Plan

I just read that the US-based Experimental Aircraft Association has recently announced their own insurance plan for their Canadian members. Canadian members of EAA have long asked for a plan that will cover them, since the main EAA insurance plan is limited to US-based aircraft and owners.

The new EAA Canadian plan is being run by Nacora Insurance Brokers with Global Aerospace as underwriter. At one time Global had been the underwriter for the COPA insurance program, but COPA's broker, Marsh Insurance, moved the plan to the current Travelers 5000 Syndicate at Lloyd's when Global hiked their rates. Since then I think that Global has been keen to get back into the Canadian market and compete with the COPA plan.

The new EAA insurance plan, which they have dubbed "C-PLAN", offers both:

* "Liability only coverage for pilots with optional non-owned hull coverage"
* "Liability and hull coverage for specified aircraft"

These are all via individual quotes, rather than tables, like the COPA Silver Wings plan.

The EAA plan also includes:

*Medical Expenses ($10,000 CAD)
*Search And Rescue ($25,000 CAD)
*Emergency Expenses ($5,000 CAD)
*Headset and Handheld Avionics ($1,500 CAD)
*Personal Property ($5,000 CAD)
*Hangar and Contents ($50,000 CAD)
*Premises Liability Extension
*Work In Progress (WIP) available upon request

Of note the headset and handheld avionics coverage is something the COPA plan has always excluded.

To administer the new plan EAA has set up a new website www.eaainsurance.ca. While it is attractively laid out, it is short on detailed information and really just funnels pilots into requesting a quote for either type of coverage.

In my opinion more competition in the Canadian private aircraft insurance market can only be a good thing as it should result in decreased rates and improved coverage and service.

I would be interested to read posts from any aircraft owners or pilots who have received a quote from the EAA plan and compared it to the COPA plan and other competitive options. How did the quote stack up? If the rates were low are you concerned that this will be a first-year phenomena and that rates will rise in future years once they have built up some business by taking it away from their competition?