Wednesday, September 26, 2007

What is the future of VFR flying?

What has to happen for VFr flying as we have known it to no longer be possible?

Pressure by service providers to charge for airspace?
Regulators requiring increasingly complex equipment? Transponders, ADS-B, Radios
Increasing class A, B, C, airspace at the loss of E, F, G?
Increased training requirements?Is any of this happening currently?

English Language Proficiency - ICAO

ICAO today passed the Level 4 language standard to apply to all pilots wishing to fly internationally.
States have until 2011 to fully implement and document pilots.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Language proficiency

The ICAO 36th triennial Assembly is meeting this week. In today's technical commission IAOPA and FAI presented its joint paper to ask for lower language proficiency standards for VFR pilots.

That request was refused by a vote of 15 for and 23 against. Only 38 States voted out of a possible 192. Most of the countries voting against the proposal appeared to be countries which do not have any VFR General Aviation operations going on in the first place. Among the countries voting against the resolution were Sudan, Samoa, Viet Nam.

It turns out that in this case rules were made for about 1 million licence holders, decided by a majority of 8 States, many of whom may not even really know how VFR flights are conducted.

One has to wonder why 150 States did not bother to express their views on the matter.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Reno Air Races Day 5

The final day of races. Due to the cancellation of the afternoon races on Thursday, Sunday's crowd was offered a full day of racing.

Pull-ups due to engine problems were common, and several dead-stick landings were made. The most notable and event-thrilling one occurred at the end of the supreme race, the Unlimited class, when "Rare Bear", the winning Bearcat, after a scotching near 500 mph pass over the finish pylon, could not reduce power on his engine! He pulled up, was joined by a T-33 to look over the aircraft, flew it almost out of fuel, shut the engine down and 'glided' to a successful landing on the runway.

The races are a 'must see' event - much different from what one witnesses at shows such as Oshkosh. Reno is not an air show. It is a series of very tight low level races around a series of pylons.

Although marred by several fatal accidents this year, the fact that races were clearly flown more safely following the last crash and subsequent afternoon off, shows that such racing can be thrilling and safe.

Plan to go. Arrive by 7 AM and visit the Pit Row where preparations for races are made. Watch your favorite class of aircraft in a race. Visit the winning team's booths/parking area, and spend some time after the show talking to pilots and crew. Bring a friend with a good telephoto lens. Bring sunscreen - these races had 5 continuous days of great weather. And watch the development of the new Super Sport class where anything up to 1000HP goes. I believe these new racers will achieve speeds equal to or greater than the Jet or Unlimited classes.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Reno Air Races - Day 4

The 'cool-down' period imposed yesterday on the racers had a positive effect. Racers kept better separation and altitude.

Speeds were high- some new circuit speeds were set.

Engine problems were prevalent - in one biplane heat of 8 aircraft 3 had to retire from the race before the end. The 'Relentless' aircraft a super sport category, had to pull up just before the finish line with engine problems. Because of the new rule of anything goes he had installed and injection system which might have caused the engine failure. He carried out a successfl dead stick landing.

Crowds swelled today with long lineups to buy tickets for pit access.

The most thrilling of the races is still the roar and over 400 mph speeds of the unlimited class.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Reno Air Races - Day 3

Day 3 at the Reno Air Races saw another fatal accident, this time involving a Formula 1 racer, last year's winner. This race, the silver medal race, had 6 very qualified pilots participating. At the first turn two aircraft collided. One crashed with fatal results and the othe raircraft made a succesful forced landing. Because the course is flown with left hand turns and because the winds required the aircraft to take off in a direction opposite to the course, the aircraft took off and did a scatter turn around a pylon and came back more or less as a group. That caused bunching at the first turn. Wreckage injured some of the judges at the first pylon.

Racing was cancelled for the remainder of the day. Presumably the FAA intervened, there not having been a fatality since 2003. However, although many people were disappointed by the cancellation at noon, the Canadian Snowbirds saved the day by performing an excellent air show. Hopefully racing will resume tomorrow.

Safety briefings in the morning were very thorough. The firefighters and the rescue teams were briefed on the operation of each participating aircraft in the hangars before flying started. Briefings included fuel systems and ways in which canopies are opened.

The unlimited class preparations were underway. I found it interesting that he big radial engines have their engine oil cooled with water, which drips out continuously from the aircraft, starting right after start-up. Some of them run engine boost anywhere from 56 inches to over 120. Their performance is impressive and worth a visit.

The Reno Air Races have a completely different atmosphere about them compared to the likes of Oshkosh. Even Garmin does not have a display. Aircraft are accompanied by very fancy tarilers which house complete machine shops. There is very little other aircraft associated advertising - except Lycoming, a sponsor of the race. T-shirts etc, are over-abundant.

More tomorrow.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Reno Air Races - Day 2

The Unlimited Class of racers took to the air today. The heavy iron included Sea Fury aircraft, Mustangs, Bear Cats and a Tigercat. Their speeds were well over 400 mph.

The Sport aircraft category saw speeds close to 400 mph by the likes of the Nemesis and Relentless, purpose-designed airplanes, Lancair Iv's and Glasairs. Their engines sung and action was thrilling.

The Formula 1 aircraft keep surprising as their speeds are approaching 300 mph on their 200 cubic inch engines. In many ways I find their race most spectacular, knowing that they achieve these speeds on engines which powered Cessna 150's.

First time at Reno was the Super Sport class. These aircraft, including the NXT, Lancair IV's, are able to use up to 1000 cubic inch engines and any fuel available on the field. They achieved over 400 mph and could have raced with the unlimited class of aircraft.

The races have been marred by two fatal accidents - one a take-off accident by a biplane and today by a spectacular fiery crash in front of the grandstands of a L-39 jet. It appears that the aircraft lost control in a turn, likely caught in the wake of a preceding aircraft, and caught a wing tip in the ground.

Other mishaps have occurred - ground loop due to a frozen brake and a pre-takeoff accident during a T-6 race start when a T-6-s tail was chewed by the propeller of another aircraft behing. Neither event caused injury.

Weather promises to remain excellent throughout the races, although winds were gusty today.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Reno Air Races

The first day of the Reno air races has shown that the world does not yet belong completely to the composite aircraft. In the Sport Class a Swearingen SX 300 won with a speed of close to 300 mph against a field which included Lancairs and Glasairs. Of course the contest was a closed course race where pilot skill is a feature.

The event is well attended. During the show Epic landed 3 of its variants - the propjet and the two pure jets. The VLJ's are here!

Tomorrow the Unlimited class aircraft will race - the most popular aircraft.