Soloy Helicopters provides utility and charter services across Alaska and beyond with a fleet of 18 aircraft, including Airbus, MD and Bell. At the new home base at IYS (Wasilla AK) are ess n e (Lâ€“R) Asst DOM Joey Bernier, Chief Pilot Rob Gideon, VP Sam Soloy, Founder and r wa A l President Chris Soloy, Dir of Safety Dane Crowley, and Dir of Ops John Baechler. na tio
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Masthead Management January 2020
MURRAY SMITH, ATP/CFI, Publisher (firstname.lastname@example.org) MARCIA ELENI SMITH, Assistant to the Publisher (email@example.com) ANTHONY HERRERA, General Manager (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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Regular contributors DAVID BJELLOS, ATP/Helo. Gulfstream IV, Sikorsky S76, Bell 407. BRENT BUNDY, Phoenix PD Officer/Pilot. AS350, Cessna 210/182/172. GLENN CONNOR, ATP. Cessna 425. GRANT McLAREN, Editor-at-Large. KARSTEN SHEIN, Comm-Inst. Climatologist, Natl Climatic Data Center. DON VAN DYKE, ATP/Helo/CFII. Canadian Technical Editor.
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PAID SUBSCRIPTIONS‚ Rates for 12 issues are set out below: US $50 Canada/Mexico $60 Other countries $80 Back issues $10 per issue Salary Study $20 per issue Only checks in US dollars are accepted. Virginia residents add 5.0% sales tax. Credit cards are not accepted. Make checks payable to Queensmith Communica tions Corp. Mail payment to 5290 Shawnee Rd, Suite 201, Alexandria VA 22312. Allow 4 to 6 weeks for processing. ADDRESS CHANGES‚ Please mail or fax the white carrier sheet containing your current address label along with any corrections to Professional Pilot magazine, 5290 Shawnee Rd, Suite 201, Alexandria VA 22312. Fax to 703-3707082. Allow 6 to 8 weeks for processing. POSTMASTER‚ Send address changes to Professional Pilot, 5290 Shawnee Rd, Suite 201, Alexandria VA 22312. Professional Pilot is published by Queensmith Communications Corp, 5290 Shawnee Rd, Suite 201, Alexandria VA 22312. TITLE AND TRADEMARKS‚ The title Professional Pilot has been trademarked as a magazine title by Queensmith Communications Corp and is duly registered at the US Patent Office. PERMISSIONS‚ Nothing may be reprinted in whole or part without a written permission from Queensmith Communications Corp. All rights in letters sent to Professional Pilot will be treated as unconditionally assigned for publication and copyright purposes and as subject to unrestricted right to edit and to comment editorially. Published monthly. All rights reserved. MAILING AND POSTAGE‚ Periodical postage paid at Alexandria VA and addi tional mailing offices.
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Vol 54 No 1
Features 24 OPERATOR PROFILE Soloy Helicopters by Brent Bundy Alaskan operator meets custumer needs with fleet of 18 helos flying wherever they may be needed across the state. 28 ROTORCRAFT APPLICATIONS Multi-mission helicopters by Don Van Dyke Helos offer operational flexibility either without requiring modification or by being adapted to various roles through installation of mission-specific equipment.
34 AVIONICS PRODUCT SUPPORT SURVEY Pro Pilot readers rate flightdeck equipment manufacturers based on service Pro Pilot staff compilation 42 WEATHER BRIEF Winter flying refresher by Karsten Shein The season of adverse and dangerous weather conditions is upon us.
46 INTERNATIONAL OPS Bizav missions to India and Pakistan by Grant McLaren Diligent pre-planning with the help of local ground handlers is paramount when visiting these unique operating environments. 50 SITUATIONAL AWARENESS The road to zero-zero by Glenn Connor Next-generatopn head-up displays and enhanced flight vision systems with Saab and Vu Systems.
4 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / January 2020
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Vol 54 No 1
Departments 8 GONE WEST Murray Smith, founder, publisher and president of Professional Pilot magazine, passed away on December 25, 2019. 9 TRIBUTE Contributing Writer David Bjellos remembers his dear friend Murray Smith. 12 TERMINAL CHECKLIST Quiz on procedures when arriving at ASE (Aspen CO). Answers on page 14. 16 SQUAWK IDENT Pro Pilot readers share tips with fellow airmen. 22 SID & STAR Oscar Lugnut has wireless sensors installed in the Howler’s engines to save costs and time on maintenance.
Cover Soloy Helicopters provides utility and charter services across Alaska and beyond with a fleet of 18 aircraft, including Airbus, MD and Bell. At their new home base at IYS (Wasilla AK) are (L–R) Asst DOM Joey Bernier, Chief Pilot Rob Gideon, VP Sam Soloy, Founder and President Chris Soloy, Dir of Safety Dane Crowley, and Dir of Ops John Baechler. Photo by Brent Bundy
6 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / January 2020
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Remembering Murray Smith Murray hard at work in his younger years at Pro Pilot’s DCA headquarters.
urray Smith, founder, publisher and president of Professional Pilot magazine, passed away on December 25, 2019 at the age of 89. From an early age, Murray knew he wanted to fly. He also enjoyed drawing, painting and writing. He began taking flying lessons in Waukegan IL at age 14 while working at the airport. He pursued a degree in journalism at the University of Illinois and, after a stint at the Leo Burnett Ad Agency, he enlisted in the US Navy, where he wrote for different government organizations as a technical journalist. However, he had plans to publish a somewhat different aviation magazine with a people approach and a wider variety of editorial content.
Murray (L), his brother Harold and their dog Queenie.
Murray spending happy times flying his Baron 58 N241MS.
Murray combined his passion for aviation, writing and sketching, and, in January of 1967, he published the first issue of Professional Pilot magazine with more than just a corporate jet on the front cover. The picture showed the flight department’s chief pilot with the company’s vice president reviewing plans for the trip next to the airplane. Since then, almost all Pro Pilot covers feature the company’s president, pilot, planes and products. “Looking ahead to the future, I have a well-trained staff and some very good contributors,” Murray stated when we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Pro Pilot. “We continue to innovate, but the basic people approach stays the same.” Murray is survived by his wife Eleni, his sons David and Alex, and a granddaughter. Godspeed, Murray. You will always be remembered. Top photo shows first edition of Pro Pilot, launched in January of 1967.
Murray Smith and his wife Eleni.
Murray and sons Alex (L) and David on a tour of the John D Lucas Printing Company while printing Pro Pilot Nov 1986 issue.
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Murray Smith: The man behind Professional Pilot magazine Half a century of excellence in journalism and integrity. By David Bjellos
e always had a twinkle in his eyes, and when he grabbed your arm and began walking, you were simply along for the ride. You always had the feeling he had just done something mischievous, and he just had to tell someone. His quantity and quality of jokes were legendary. And even if you had heard the same one a dozen times before from him, you always laughed because he told it with such enthusiasm and anticipation.
For decades, Murray and his wife Eleni manned the Professional Pilot booth at industry trade shows like NBAA-BACE and Heli-Expo, and gladly handed out copies of this magazine for free to everyone. The most influential people in aviation knew him by first name, and he loved the attention and respect given him from our community. He was the most irrepressible optimist I have ever met, and he guided Pro Pilot to success beyond perhaps even his
own dreams. Murray passed away, or more correctly – befitting a true airman – flew west Christmas morning. There will never be another like him. Please allow me to share his story. Murray was born in Chicago IL on 21 Dec, 1930, and had actively and passionately grown Professional Pilot into an international trade publication with a large circulation worldwide. He kept the magazine lively and relevant by seeking out experts in their respective fields, and his focus on the accuracy of editorial
content is renowned. These contributions, led by a man of vision with love for aviation, have produced one of the world’s most widely read aviation publications. Amazingly, it has remained private and independent since first published in Jan 1, 1967, a timeframe unequaled by any aviation trade journal, and very few magazines anywhere. Murray entered the US Navy in 1958 as a technical writer, first writing anti-submarine warfare reports and later serving with the VX-1 squadron in Key West FL – part of the Navy’s RDT&E (research, development, test and evaluation) posting. He was also a crew member
Al Higdon & Alex Kvassay
on P-2V Neptune anti-submarine aircraft. Murray evaluated avionics (autopilots, flight directors and navigation equipment) and engineering initiatives like deice boots and weather radar, and wrote detailed technical reports for the Department of the Navy and DOD. He was so adept at producing accurate and informative details on these aircraft and their sub-systems, that the office of
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David Hurley & Robert Sumwalt
Jeff Pino, Nick Sabatini & Matt Zuccaro
Marci Ammerman & Craig Sincock
Admiral Nimitz offered him a posting working for the Navy Chief of Information Office at the Pentagon. Smith worked directly under Admiral Hyman Rickover on “special projects” for 18 months, the details of most of which remain highly classified. Rickover is widely referred to as the Father of the Nuclear Navy. About to be discharged from the Navy, Murray approached his father and asked him about the idea of starting a magazine that would be given away for free, and produce income through advertising. His dad told him he was crazy, and it was a fool’s pursuit. Perhaps like all young men, eager to succeed and make something of themselves (and maybe prove his old man wrong),
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Murray succeeded, and his foresight and tenacity has benefited our cohort immensely. Murray coined the term “responsible journalism” during this conceptual phase of what eventually became Professional Pilot magazine (after early efforts like DATA and other Pentagon-related publications). Originally, he thought to call the magazine Corporate Pilot, following the explosive growth of pure business aviation in the 1950s and 60s, but he settled on Professional Pilot because of its broader appeal. That prescient move today encompasses a wide range of aeronautical pursuits – airborne law enforcement, helicopter emergency medical services, military specialties (Air
Force One, Marine One, VIP transport), and para-public groups (forestry, fish and game, border patrol), in addition to the purely corporate aviation community. The magazine has trained and published some of the industry’s finest journalists, editors and airmen who have thrived under Murray’s tutelage (Bill Garvey, Tom Haines, Clay Lacy and Robert Sumwalt, to name just a few). These fine men and many others prospered greatly due to their time spent with Murray at Pro Pilot and each will be the first to say a large part of their success was due to the prudence and leadership of Murray Smith. Murray’s first pilot certificate was issued in 1948 and he eventually
10 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / January 2020
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Mark Van Tine
became an airline transport-rated aviator, as well as a certified flight instructor with over 7500 hours of flight time. He truly walked the walk of aviation. He remained an active pilot until just very recently, and has owned many GA aircraft. While seeking expertise through freelance authors, Murray always “learned” the subject before publication, and was quick to question anything that would jeopardize the accuracy of content. Because of that, he became an expert across the spectrum of all aeronautical disciplines, such as engineering, alternative fuels, space-flight and human factors. Few aviation editors, much less publishers, can make such a claim today.
Murray was and will always remain the embodiment of a true American entrepreneur, visionary and a lifelong student of aviation and all its endeavors. He has proved that hard work, combined with passion, can achieve success, even in the most difficult of pursuits. Well into a half century at the helm of Pro Pilot, his enthusiasm remained the same as it did when he started, and every month brought a smile to his face as the magazine hit the printer; his fulfillment was completed by generating a product that immediately became useful to the working aviator. Indeed, the stark difference between Pro Pilot and every single other aviation publication is the fact that it is primarily focused on people
Kim & Bob Showalter
and how they use aircraft and related equipment and services. With very few exceptions, the magazine’s front cover always has 4 unique components, dubbed the 4 Ps – plane, pilot, president and product. This emphasis on what truly matters – the individual – is what has made Pro Pilot successful. In recognition to his remarkable accomplishments, Murray was inducted into the Living Legends of Aviation in 2012. He also received the Wesley L McDonald Distinguished Statesman Award from the National Aeronautic Association in 2014 for his lifetime achievements, and I am very proud to have called him friend. Rest in peace, Murray. You will be missed.
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Terminal Checklist 1/20
6. Which apply to flying the final approach at a groundspeed of 100 kts? a Descent angle of 3.0°. b Descent angle of 6.22°. c Descent rate of 664 ft/min. e Descent rate of 1104 ft/min. f Descent gradient of up to 664 ft/nm. 7. Select all that apply to the final approach segment. a The MAWP is at the runway threshold. b Circling to land is not authorized at night. c The aircraft must fly a visual track from WIDMU to the runway. d The aircraft should be configured for final approach after reaching ONCAP. e A minimum visibility of 3 sm applies to category C aircraft when the MALSF is inoperative.
5. Select all that apply to the initial and intermediate approach segments. a Course of 300° from DBL to SITWO. b Course of 123° from NALDY to ONCAP. c Course of 213° from SITWO to NALDY. d Minimum altitude of 13,000 ft MSL from LINDZ to NALDY. e Minimum altitude of 11,900 ft MSL from NALDY to ONCAP.
4. Select the true statement(s) about minimum altitudes and terrain/obstacle depiction. a The highest charted obstacle of 12,045 ft MSL is located to the east of DBL. b The MSA of 15,700 ft MSL provides 1000 ft of obstruction clearance within 25 nm of WIDMI. c The MSA of 15,700 ft MSL provides 2000 ft of obstruction clearance because this procedure is in a mountainous area. d Maintaining a minimum climb of 300 ft/nm to 11,000 ft MSL will enable the aircraft to clear the 9095-ft terrain along the missed approach course.
3. The letter Z in the approach title indicates that: a The approach course is not aligned with the runway. b ASE has more than one RNAV (GPS) approach procedure. c Another approach for Runway 15 uses RNAV as the primary navigation source. d Another Special Instrument Approach Procedure is desig nated for Runway 15.
2. Select the true statement(s) regarding the requirements to fly this approach. a Authorization to fly this approach procedure must be specified in OpsSpecs or an LOA. b Aircraft requirements to fly this approach are specified in FAR Part 97 Standard Instrument Procedures. c Pilots are authorized to fly this approach if the procedure is included in the aircraft’s navigational database. d Special authorization, aircrew training, aircraft, and equip ment performance are required to fly the approach.
1. Pilots are authorized to fly this procedure if ATC provides a clearance for the approach. a True b False
Not to be used for navigational purposes
Refer to the 12-7 RNAV (GPS) Z Rwy 15 for ASE (Aspen CO) when necessary to answer the following questions:
Reproduced with permission of Jeppesen Sanderson. Reduced for illustrative purposes.
Answers on page 14
8. Authorized operators may follow a vertical glidepath to a DA of 9280 ft MSL. a True b False 9. The PAPI provides a glidepath angle of 6.22° for this approach. a True b False Select the true statement regarding the missed approach 10.
procedure. a The back course guidance is aligned with Runway 15. b IPKN back course guidance is required to fly to LINDZ. c A minimum climb of 300 ft/nm is required to 14,000 ft direct to LINDZ. d A teardrop entry at LINDZ is appropriate when using the IPKN LDA for guidance. e An offset localizer-type directional aid provides back course navigation guidance to LINDZ.
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Answers to TC 1/20 questions
1. b This approach is designated as a Special Instrument Procedure as indicated by (Special) in the heading information and by the notes on the plan view. The
FAA issued Information for Operators (InFO) bulletin 17015 to address unauthorized use of Special Instrument Procedures. This bulletin states that, “flight crews must not request nor accept an ATC clearance for a Special Instrument Procedure without specific FAA-Flight Standards authorization. Flight crews have accepted ATC clearances and flown Special Instrument Procedures without specific FAA authorization and possession of a current, valid navigational chart. These actions introduce a potential adverse safety impact as operators may not have special training and required equipage to safely operate utilizing Special Instrument Procedures.”
a, d According to AIM paragraph 5-4-8, Standard IAPs are published in the Federal Register (FR) in accordance with FAR Part 97, and are available for use by appropriately qualified pilots operating properly equipped and airworthy aircraft. However, Special IAPs, such the RNAV (GPS) Z Rwy 15 into ASE, are not processed under Part 97 or given public notice in the FR. FAA authorizes only certain individual pilots and/or pilots in individual organizations to use Special IAPs, and may require additional crew training and/or aircraft equipment or performance. Special IAPs may also require the use of landing aids, communications, or weather services that not available for public use. InFO bulletin 17015 emphasizes that unless specifically authorized by FAA Operations Specifications (OpsSpecs) or a letter of authorization (LOA), flight crews must not conduct Special IAPs.
c If two or more approaches use the same primary navigation source for a particular runway, a letter (starting with Z and working back through the alphabet) appears in the procedure title. In this case, the primary navigation source is RNAV.
b, d The highest charted obstacle of 14,128 ft MSL (indicated by the Highest Arrow) is located to the southwest of the airport. Minimum safe/sector altitudes (MSAs) provide 1000 ft clearance over obstructions (in both mountainous and non-mountainous terrain) within a 25 nm radius of the indicated facility. The missed approach instructions in the Briefing Strip require a minimum climb gradient of 300 ft/nm to 11,000 ft MSL. A terrain high point of 9095 ft MSL is shown along the missed approach path on the plan view.
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b, c, d The initial approach segments to NALDY IF are from LINDZ IAF at a minimum altitude of 13,000 ft MSL on a course of 067° and from SITWO IAF at a minimum altitude of 13,000 ft MSL on a course of 213°. The intermediate approach segment is on a course of 123° from NALDY to ONCAP with a descent from the minimum altitude of 11,900 ft MSL to 10,800 ft MSL at WASLO.
6. b, d, e A note on the plan view indicates that excessive descent gradients on final approach of up to 664 ft/nm may be required. The descent/timing conversion table indicates that at a groundspeed of 100 knots, a descent rate of 1104 ft/min enables the aircraft to maintain the descent angle of 6.22°. 7.
b, c, e The profile view shows that the missed approach waypoint (MAWP) of WIDMI is 1.7 nm from the threshold. A visual track from WIDMI to the runway is indicated by the arrow symbols on the profile and plan views. A note on the plan view states that the “aircraft should be in final approach configuration prior to ONCAP.” The landing minimums section indicates that the minimum visibility does not increase if the approach light system (in this case, a MALSF) is out. N/A indicates that circling to land is not authorized at night.
8. a Ballflag note 1 in the profile view indicates “Only authorized operators may use VNAV DA(H) in lieu of MDA(H).” This means that certain authorized flights may input the vertical descent angle (VDA) to display an advisory glidepath to follow to a DA. In this case, the pilot must make a decision upon reaching 9280 ft MSL to continue the approach to landing or perform a missed approach instead of continuing to WIDMI, the missed approach waypoint. The approximate point of reaching the VNAV DA is shown as an arrow on the profile flightpath. 9.
b A note on the plan view indicates that the VGSI and descent angles are not coincident. According to FAA Order 8260.19E, coincidental glidepath angles/ vertical descent angles are within 0.2 degrees with TCH values within 3 ft. The glideslope angle is unusually steep at 6.22° as shown on the descent timing/ conversion table.
10. d, e The missed approach instructions indicate that the aircraft can either perform a climbing right turn to 14,000 ft MSL direct to LINDZ or use the IPKN LDA northwest course of 303°. A minimum climb of 300 ft/nm is required until passing 11,000 ft MSL. A teardrop entry applies to arriving at LINDZ on a course of 303°. The back course guidance to LINDZ is provided by a localizer-type directional aid (LDA) that is not aligned with the runway centerline.
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bad, and ugly. If you can afford a FOQA, I would highly recommend it. Also, have your SMS audited by a 3rd party every 2 years. I would also review AIP category C airports at least 1 day before the flight. On a more personal level, I would say don’t be afraid to brush up on your personal or instrument minutes if you’re rusty. Finally, to help others, huge help for incoming pilots would be to write down and pass down tricks of the trade that you have learned throughout the years. Michael Petridis ATP. Gulfstream G650/G200 G100 SMS Safety Auditor VIP Jets Ovilla TX What safety tips can you share with your fellow pilots? Something that has proved successful in your flight department.
efore takeoff, we always do a PEDS review. Performance: assess the configuration of the flaps, then calculate the runway availability against the runway required. Escape route. Departure SID and headings. Stop altitude. I find it’s a quick refresher for the most important items to examine before takeoff. Christophe Delbos ATP. Falcon 8X/7X Standard Captain TAG Aviation Fillière, France
evelop a safety management system in compliance with ISBAO stage 2, and audit it every 2 years. Adhere to your flight operations manual. Set safety performance targets and indicators. Also, document everything. Consistency leads to safety! Robert Forsythe ATP/CFII. Falcon 2000LXS Chief Pilot Part 91 Ops Ewing Township NJ
o my fellow pilots, I would advise having a GOM/FOM and SOPs, as well as a safety management system in place. After each flight, debrief. Go over the good,
se a checklist. Then adhere to traffic pattern procedures at non-towered airports. This makes for a safe environment for the mix of aircraft types. I would also recommend reviewing chapter 4 of the Aeronautical Information Manual. As a rule of thumb, if you can’t land on the first third of the runway, go around. Finally, heads up! No texting while aviating. Michael Schubert ATP/CFII/A&P. Challenger 601-3A & Gulfstream IV/GII/GI Owner, President & CEO M & S Air Service Honeoye Falls NY
hen I fly and use multiple screens or split screens, I always put the most impending threat on the pilot side, right in front of me. It can be the weather, traffic or the approach. I need it to be front and center so I can continually monitor it. Gary Ott ATP/CFII. Phenom 300 Managing Member & Pilot Marion Flight Operations Marion IN
ight traffic patterns are not authorized at non-towered airports unless specified on the chart or in the A/FD. I see jet pilots doing this routinely in upstate New York. I would recommend reviewing the Federal Aviation Administration Sec. 91.126, 127 and AIM 4-1-9, as well as the AC90-66B by the FAA. All 3 references specify the protocol at non-towered airports. Harrison Freer ATP/CFII. King Air 90A President & Chief Pilot Freer Ideas Queensbury NY
irspeed is everything, even for helicopter pilots. I know rotor RPM is very important because without it a helicopter flies like a grand piano. Many helicopters have crashed with the rotor spinning at 100% because they lost airspeed on a climb out in IMC or more so on a missed approach. Often the pilot does not pull enough power or has the autopilot coupled with a high rate of climb and the helicopter is doing what the pilot wants, but the pilot may be asking for too much. The machine can’t respond accordingly, therefore the pilot gives up airspeed and subsequently loses control as the helicopter pitches up and rolls over. Airspeed is very important in IMC condition as well as OEI operations to fly away safely. Michael Zangara ATP/Helo/CFII. Sikorsky S-76 Chief Pilot, Check Airman & Instructor Pilot Associated Aircraft Group Highland NY
y mentor in the agricultural aviation business had over 40 years of experience as a pilot, IA mechanic, and operator. The best safety tip I received from him was that nothing is on fire. He stressed the value of being patient and not letting anyone, including non-pilot government managers, rush your operation of the aircraft. Your life and reputation are worth far more. Daniel Funk ATP/Helo/CFII. Bell 47 Pilot Board of County Commissioners Kenneth City FL
low down. Just think things through. Think about the aircraft and the process when things start to get convoluted. Jeff Hanson ATP. Airbus A300 Captain FedEx Palmetto FL
16 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / January 2020
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f automated instruments like FMS, GPS and autopilot are not doing exactly what you want or expect them to do, then turn them off and hand fly the airplane! Once you’re stable, you can rebuild the automation one piece at a time, eg, HDG mode, alt hold, check routing in the FMS. Unfortunately, too many pilots try to salvage a failed automation or FMS situation. I would recommend hand flying when any of these anomalies occur, so they don’t get their mission into a heap of trouble. Michael Sigman ATP/CFII. Boeing 737 Captain American Airlines North Richland Hills TX
ely heavily on the foundations of airmanship. Be familiar with your aircraft checklists as well as normal, abnormal, and emergency operations. For you to evaluate and then execute accordingly, you need to be knowledgeable of your aircraft systems’ performance. As a
final point, always work to improve proficiency. Don’t settle for just staying current. John Kendrick ATP/Helo. SA227 Metro & Airbus UH-72A Lakota Aviation Safety Official & Line Captain Berry Aviation Bakersfield CA
consistently use a precision approach to back up a visual approach, especially at night. In areas that have several airports in close proximity, I always request the tower, if available, to increase the brightness of the runway lights and then have them go back to normal. These 2 particular safety tips have served me well for over 45 years of my career. Jeff Siems ATP. Boeing 757/737 & King Air 100/90 Captain Airway Inc Indian Trail NC
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here are 3 lessons I would like to share. First, keep your aircraft under control. Secondly, don’t hit anything. I thank John and Martha King for both these tips. Unfortunately, I learned the third lesson the hard way: you will make mistakes! Dave Tennesen ATP/CFI. de Havilland DHC-3 DHC-2 Captain Kenmore Air Seattle WA
ith regard to weather I’ve adopted a personal mantra that goes: I’ve never been sorry I waited a little longer to takeoff, and I’ve never been sorry I’ve gone around further due to weather conditions. This mantra stems from personal experience and learning from my mistakes. Dwight Albers ATP/CFII. Boeing 787 Captain United Airlines Houston TX
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void the 2-pilot trap of thinking that 2 are better than 1. Every item on each checklist must be reviewed by each pilot individually. It is also crucial that every item on an approach briefing be checked and crosschecked by each pilot. If either or both fail to do so, you’re probably safer with a single pilot setting. Ask yourself if you or the other pilot have ever misread an MDA or stepdown altitude, or echoed something as “accomplished” when in fact you missed it. Ultimately, always keep in the forefront of your mind that familiarity and fatigue are 2 fangs that only need to bite you once. James Denike ATP/CFII. Boeing 727, Citation I & Falcon 100 Owner Double Jay Aircraft Services Newtown CT
lan your flight ahead of time and always anticipate what could go wrong. Prepare for as many eventualities as possible by having a plan in place. Sharkey Baz ATP. Piper Cheyenne II President & CEO B&B Aviation Winter Haven FL
nderstand the pilot envelope as well as the aircraft envelope, and never cross the margins of either. Follow the POH. Terence Winson Pvt-Inst. Daher TBM 940 President Avex Camarillo CA
reventing runway excursions and wrong-surface events should be a priority. Aborted landing opportunities/limitations are aircraft specific. At what point does your AFM prohibit go-arounds? It’s usually dependent on the deployment of aerodynamic devices such as reversers, lift-dump, ground spoilers, or airbrakes. We should follow the AFM and training providers’ guidance regarding cleaning up the configuration on the active runway. The aircraft can be taxied slowly after landing to allow a safe cadence for checklists, even with a short taxi distance. Dean Brock ATP/CFII/A&P. Challenger 604 Captain Executive Flight Services Jacksonville FL
hen flying to a remote airport with little or no information, research a little more. I check runway length and runway headings as well as elevation and any potential obstacles with Google Earth. Carlo Cesa ATP. King Air 350 Captain SPECAV Nyon, Switzerland
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Photos by Brent Bundy
Alaskan operator meets customer needs with fleet of 18 helos flying wherever they may be needed across the state.
The Soloy Helicopters team works together to provide safe, dependable aviation services to clients in a variety of fields, including oil, gas and mineral exploration, firefighting support and powerline inspection.
By Brent Bundy
Phoenix Police Officer-Pilot AS350, AW119, Cessna 210/182/172
t takes a certain type of person to live and work in the wilderness of Alaska, and working as a helo pilot here is to fly in some of the most demanding and unforgiving environments in the world. For over 40 years, Chris Soloy has been providing aerial services across the Land of the Midnight Sun. Today, with a fleet of modern aircraft and a team of seasoned veterans, Soloy Helicopters continues to offer what few can in a place where few choose to go.
Soloy’s story Growing up as the son of a pilot, company President Chris Soloy’s future was laid out for him early in life. Soloy began flying at 16. By age 18, he had accumulated all of 100 hours
and was flying a Cessna 185 in support of the helicopter company his dad worked for. “That was in 1968,” recalls Soloy. “I was flying all over Alaska, from Barrow (far northern tip) to Juneau, and into Canada.” The following year, he earned his A&P certification and began flying agricultural helicopters in Washington state. Soloy returned to Alaska flying airplanes again. Then he had a chance meeting with a fisherman with whom he discussed offloading procedures. Recognizing a business opportunity, Soloy purchased a wrecked Hiller helicopter, rebuilt it, and began his 1st business of transporting fish from boats to the docks. That was the beginning of Soloy Helicopters in 1979. “I had set a goal early in life to have my own business in Alaska by the time I was 25. I was 4 years behind schedule, but I was in Alaska and I had my own company!” he proclaims.
After the company’s 1st year of operation, work was slow, so Soloy sent his Hiller to Mexico for spraying work. He also found another salvaged Hiller, which he rebuilt. By the 3rd year in business, the original Hiller was out of commission, but Soloy had leased another, along with a turbine-powered Bell 47, bringing his total to 3 helicopters. As workload increased, by 1982 Chris Soloy had purchased 2 new Hughes 500s and found work in mineral mining. “We were still doing the fish work, but that was only for about 45 days each season until they built a dock a few years later. We were also conducting remote site survey and powerline work,” he says. Business was steady and growing until 1998 when Soloy Helicopters closed briefly, and Chris flew for another operator. By 2011, he felt the atmosphere was right and reopened his company, and it has flourished since. Over the years, with the invaluable help of his wife and business partner Jan, the company continued to expand. Today, it operates 18 helicopters and 3 airplanes out of IYS (Wasilla AK).
Facilities and fleet Although Soloy is based in the southern portion of the state, 45 miles north of Anchorage, the company works in every corner of Alaska. “We are a home-grown company. We started small and grew as we could when the need was there,” states Soloy. He credits his success to the reputation that Soloy Helicopters has built, but he also praises his crew. “Up here, it’s very important to have a good team, sometimes just to survive. And I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys. They keep us safe, and that is my goal. I don’t need to expand into a huge company. I just want to keep in demand and to stay happy. And that’s what I’m doing.” Keeping in demand has meant
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Founder and President Chris Soloy has spent most of his life flying in Alaska. He founded Soloy Helicopters in 1979.
expansion. The company’s growth hit strides in Sep 2018, when Soloy Helicopters moved into its IYS facility, which was built to the company’s specifications by Chris’s son Matthew’s construction company. At 14,000 sq ft, there is plenty of room in the heated-floor hangar to house as many as 8 helicopters. The building has ample office space, parts storage, a paint shop, and a machine shop. It is a far cry from Soloy’s beginnings at a small, home-built facility and runway. Chris Soloy states, “When times were tight, I told some of my guys, ‘Well, I can either lay you off or you can come help build a hangar and runway.’ Needless to say, we got a hangar and runway! It all came together because of the people at Soloy.” When the helos are not inside the hangar or on assignment, there is an expansive ramp, capable of holding the entire fleet. Currently, Soloy’s fleet is 18-strong. The company still operates 2 MD 500Ds, although the majority are now Airbus products, specifically AStars. They have 7 B3s, 4 B2s, and 1 BA. Rounding out the collection are also 2 BK117B2s and a pair of Bell Huey 205A-1++. On the fixed-wing side, the company flies a Cessna 206 along with 2 Piper Super Cubs.
Keeping it in the family Second in command is Vice President Sam Soloy, Chris’s son. Although he grew up around aviation in Wasilla, it was not initially in his career sights. “It wasn’t until I was in college in Colorado that I realized it was truly in my blood,” Sam remembers. He then changed schools and majors and earned his degree in
aviation technologies from the University of Alaska Anchorage, while also earning his airplane ratings. “I flew 206s, Super Cubs... pretty much anything I could get my hands on,” he adds. Sam Soloy later received his initial helicopter training in Oregon before returning home and finishing his rotary-wing ratings with his father and the chief pilot at Soloy. Although his family’s name is on the door, Sam was still expected to earn his way up the company ladder. “I started at the bottom, like everyone, and was given more responsibilities as they were earned, doing anything that was asked of me,” he declares. “We work as a team here and I still do whatever is needed. I just have to prioritize my time more carefully now.”
Vice President Sam Soloy flies both helicopters and airplanes at the company. He also holds an A&P certification.
Sam Soloy began as a mechanic and worked his way through an apprenticeship position while earning his A&P. At the same time, he flew as a support pilot and progressed up to a contract pilot. He held the director of operations title from 2015 through 2019, then was promoted to vice president in late 2019. Sam’s new role has forced him to redirect his attention to the daily operations. “I don’t get to fly or work on the aircraft as much. My focus now is on finance, customer satisfaction, and building business relationships. I have to look more at the big-picture items.” Continuing in the teamwork approach, Sam fills in as the director of operations, in the maintenance section, or as a pilot, which his diverse background allows him to do.
Seasonal operations When Sam Soloy stepped up to the vp position, his previous role was filled by Director of Operations John Baechler, who may be the quintessential Alaskan pilot. He was born and raised in Iliamna, a small village of 180 residents located 200 miles southwest of Anchorage. You can’t find a driving distance between those 2 cities because, as Baechler describes, “There are no roads to anywhere outside of Iliamna.” He adds, “The only way in or out is flying. I had my pilot’s license before my driver’s license.” Aviation was a way of life for as long as he could remember. After high school, Baechler set off to the University of North Dakota to earn his BS in commercial aviation. From there, he found work flying cargo in Short 360s out of FAT (Fresno CA). During his downtime, he decided to earn his helicopter rating at FAT. “In the area I grew up in, there was a mining operation called The Pebble Project,” recalls Baechler. “I worked there and got to fly in the company’s helicopters. Years later, after earning my rotorcraft rating, those pilots helped me get hired by Chris Soloy.” That was in 2008, during the period when Soloy had temporarily ceased operations. When Soloy Helicopters reopened in 2011, Baechler and several other employees immediately joined Chris. Baechler began his time with Soloy as a line pilot in the MD500s, then a year later added the AStars to his résumé. In 2013, he took over as chief pilot, the position he held until
Chief Pilot Rob Gideon worked as an airplane mechanic before coming to Alaska to fly helos in 2005. He has been with Soloy since 2011.
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Director of Operations John Baechler, an Alaskan native, has been around aviation his entire life. He has been working with Chris Soloy as a RW and FW pilot since 2008.
Soloy Helicopters moved into its new 14,000 sq ft facility at IYS in 2018. The location serves as the home base for aircraft sent to all corners of Alaska.
late 2019, when he assumed his new role. His responsibilities now have him overseeing the daily operations. As Soloy has expanded in size, so has its scope of expertise. What began as a 1-aircraft, seasonal fish transport business now operates year-round across the entire state of Alaska and beyond. With an emphasis on the utility market, the company specializes in seismic and mineral exploration. Charter work also plays a key role, with services for tower and antenna inspections and AK Fish & Game requests. In addition, Soloy provides firefighting support and heliskiing transport during the “off-season” of the winter months. “In the utility market, especially in Alaska,
Director of Safety Dane Crowley spent several years working in aerial firefighting before joining Soloy in 2014. Pepper, his dog, spends her days next to him.
we pretty much cover everything,” Baechler states. When asked why companies choose Soloy, Baechler is quick to include the founder in his response. “Chris cares about his employees and his customers. He treats them all like family. People recognize that and they stay loyal to him. The Soloy reputation means a lot up here.”
Unique pilots When Baechler was promoted, Chief Pilot Rob Gideon stepped into the vacated position. The Oregon native joined the US Army after high school and worked as a heavy wheel mechanic, assigned to an aviation unit. “I learned then that I enjoyed being around helicopters,” he recalls. After his enlistment, he earned his A&P certification, then began working with Horizon Air as a mechanic. After a transfer from Portland OR to Boise ID, Gideon tired of the schedule and contemplated leaving the aviation industry. That was when he saw a helo flight school at the airport. “I remembered how much I’d enjoyed helicopters, so I began my flight training and received all my ratings up through CFII.” In 2005, Gideon left Horizon for a CFI job to build his flight hours. A couple of years later, he found seasonal work in Alaska flying Robinson R44s, and made the move per-
manent soon after. He met Chris in 2010. And when Soloy restarted in 2011, it was an easy decision to join. When the doors reopened, Gideon flew the 1st revenue-hour flight. While Gideon has only held his title for a short time, he already recognizes the challenges he’ll face. “As a line pilot, I mostly just had to worry about myself. Now, I have an entire group of pilots to watch over!” That group routinely consists of around 23 pilots, most working under contracts. Those contracts can last from 30 to 90 days, depending on the assignment. With the harsh winters in Alaska, most work is done during the 6 months of warmer weather. While on a job that depends on the specific contract, pilots may be in the field for months at a time. Gideon says, “It takes a special type of pilot to work up here. Not just the challenges of the terrain and weather, but the isolation can be a big factor.” Although most of Soloy’s pilots average around 7000 hours of flight experience, with several over the 13,000-hour mark, the company has no minimum requirements. Director Baechler explains this approach when he says, “For us, it’s about the fit of the person to the company, the specific contract, and the type of work. As long as you have the ability to fly and the desire to be here, we will train the skills we require.”
Safety by example Having no minimum requirements does not mean Soloy takes shortcuts in safety, as Director of Safety
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Assistant DOM Joey Bernier has been with Soloy for 4 years, initially as a field mechanic before his promotion in 2018.
Dane Crowley will confirm. He has spent most of his life in Alaska and around aviation. “My step dad was employed by the FAA and I grew up looking out my window at the runway in Bethel. It’s just kind of always been part of my life,” he says. During his senior year of high school, Crowley was hired as part of a fire crew. He would spend the better part of the next 15 years in aerial fire work, including fire attack, mapping, aerial field observation, and most anything on the aviation side of firefighting. Along the way, he earned his degree in natural resources from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. After Crowley’s firefighting days were done, he took a position with a timber company as a resource manager. Due to his experience in firefighting, he was later assigned as their safety person. Crowley was called by Soloy 5 years ago. The company was looking for a non-pilot, non-maintenance person for the director of safety position. Crowley fit the bill and joined the team in 2014. “I’ve been thrilled to be here. Everyone in this organization is on the same page with safety,” he states. This role includes oversight of the aviation operations and occupational safety programs. Soloy utilizes a robust SMS that was developed in-house to meet its specific needs, which Crowley revamped a few years ago. Because of the type of work Soloy’s pilots are involved in, they are under intense scrutiny from the oil and gas producers and the mining oversight organizations, including regular au-
Most major maintenance work on the fleet is conducted during the winter months when flying is at a minimum. The modern facility has heated floors and can house up to 8 helicopters at a time.
dits. “Safety is what we do here,” he says. “Every part of our job must revolve around it. And you need buyin from the top on down. That is exactly what we have. Everyone here leads by example.” Crowley adds, “This company has a family feel to it, both internally and to our customers. The Soloy name means something around here and our reputation is our business.”
Keeping the rotors turning The final step of ensuring that level of safety is the maintenance department. Helping make sure things are done correctly is Assistant DOM Joey Bernier. While seeking a career path, the Alaskan native stumbled onto aviation, as he says. “I was looking for something new and came across the helicopter operator that Chris Soloy had worked for. They hired me as a ‘do anything’ guy. Whatever they needed, I’d do it.” When Soloy reopened in 2011, Bernier decided that he wanted to work there. “Soloy has the best reputation in the valley, and I wanted to be there,” he adds. In 2015, Bernier joined Soloy Helicopters. At the time, he only had his airframe certification, but Chris Soloy offered to give him his powerplant rating, to earn his full A&P. Bernier worked as a field mechanic, joining the pilot and aircraft on contract assignments, as is Soloy’s procedure. He was promoted to his current position in 2018, helping DOM Chris Lanphir oversee the 12 mechanics, including an avionics specialist. Most mx personnel work 120-day
contracts and go home in the winter. With the new IYS facility, annuals and major work, up to and including 12-year inspections, are scheduled during the off-season. Much of the maintenance can be done onsite, but engine and gearbox overhauls are farmed out. Bernier reiterates what his colleagues say when he speaks about working at Soloy. “We really are like a big family,” he says. “When I came here, I knew it was what I wanted for my life and my career. I’ll be here forever. After all, you can’t break up with your family!”
The Last Frontier and beyond Chris Soloy and his team have spent the past 4 decades building a reputation of safe, reliable, trustworthy helicopter services in one of the most inhospitable environments in which pilots can fly. His homegrown, family approach to his employees and clients has proved to be precisely the type of operation that companies look for. Brent Bundy has been a police officer with the Phoenix Police Dept for 28 years. He has served in the PHX Air Support Unit for 18 years and is a helicopter rescue pilot with nearly 4000 hours of flight time. Bundy currently flies Airbus AS350B3s for the helicopter side of Phoenix PD’s air unit and Cessna 172, 182s and 210s for the fixed-wing side. PROFESSIONAL PILOT / January 2020 27
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Multi-mission helos meet market needs Capability is a function of design or conversion. Helos offer operational flexibility either without requiring modification or by being adapted to various roles through installation of mission-specific equipment.
Airbus H125 performs a firefighting mission. It has the mechanical and aerodynamic fittings which distinguish mission-specific military and civilian versions of identical airframes.
By Don Van Dyke ATP/Helo/CFII, F28, Bell 222. Pro Pilot Canadian Technical Editor
elicopter versatility is characterized by diverse, often confusing terms like multi-domain, multi-functional, multi-utility, multi-purpose, multi-payload, multi-service, utility, and others.
However, these concepts are not synonymous, and their use in helicopter promotion, review, and selection is further complicated by the lack of internationally agreed definitions regarding: • the terms “role” and “mission,” and related terms multi-role and multi-mission.
The 5-place Robinson R66 has a 2-bladed rotor system and cruises at up to 110 kts. Hover ceiling over 10,000 ft OGE at MGW and range is 350 nm (no reserve). Marine version is fitted with quick-inflating pop-out floats. R66 serves a range of transport, public service and utility roles.
• basic weight or wake turbulence categories (light, medium, heavy, etc). • criteria for evaluating capabilities which seek to satisfy diverse user requirements. • identification and optimization of acquisition, operating, and life cycle costs. Consistent definition, clear understanding, and uniform application of these fundamental concepts are essential to the efficient, cost-effective acquisition and employment of these uniquely capable aircraft. The discussion presented in this article is based on information distilled from numerous official sources.
Role and mission A role is the primary function for which a given helicopter was designed and equipped, and for which crews are trained. A mission is a task (a clearly defined action or activity to be completed) together with the reason (purpose) therefor. Role. Many, if not most, commercial helicopter roles derive from original military designs and technology innovations. For example, the Bell 211 (HueyTug), introduced in the mid-1960s, was a purpose-built
Leonardo AW009 light single-engine multi-mission helicopter can carry up to 5 people. Basic/advanced training options include VFR day/night flying, IFR compatibility, FDR, NVG, emergency simulation, and external lift operations.
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commercial flying crane version of the Bell UH-1C Iroquois. It was equipped with a new transmission, longer main rotor, larger tailboom, strengthened fuselage, stability augmentation system, and a 2650-shp T55-L-7 turboshaft engine. Similarly, the Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane was developed from the Sikorsky CH-54 Tarhe, and the intermeshing rotor system of the Kaman K-MAX evolved from the synchrocopter design of the Kaman HH-43 Huskie. Mission. Missions are a measure of what a helicopter fleet must be able to do, and are usually matched with helicopter roles on a best-fit basis. Missions are diverse, examples of which may include marketing, demonstration, herding and game capture, airshows, urban air mobility (UAM), autonomy, on-demand mobility, and advanced manned/ unmanned teaming and swarming. Helicopters matched with roles and/ or missions complete each operation with little or no modification.
Multi-role, multi-mission, mission-specific A central value of a helicopter is its suitability, readiness, and availability for tasking. Major objectives of multiple helicopter configurations are to increase availability, utility, and affordability for military and civil users. Multi-role. The term multirole applies to helicopters capable of 2 or more primary functions, either with no required modification or modified with combinations of modular systems, tailored equipment, and/or avionics, allowing the same airframe to change quickly between roles.
MD 902 Explorer twin-engine couples high performance and low direct operating costs with a large cabin to serve markets such as EMS, law enforcement, SAR, media, VIP/executive transport, offshore and utility. It features a fully-articulated main rotor system and low-maintenance hub. NOTAR anti-torque control reduces external noise and pilot workload while enhancing safety.
Development of multi-role helicopters seeks to reduce costs by sharing common airframes, thereby decreasing the logistics footprint and number of personnel required to support different helicopter types. Multi-mission. Operators historically tended to acquire rotorcraft specialized and optimized for their intended domain (eg, maritime, ground). However, the oil and gas industry downturn, in particular, reduced the overall demand for helicopters. This left operators to increasingly seek aircraft capable of serving multiple missions with domain interoperability. Helicopter industry executives believe the current market is looking for greater utility and thus driving demand for rotorcraft capable of completing a greater range of missions.
Kamov Ka-226 is a 7-place twin-engine helo with coaxial rotors. Its unusual interchangeable mission pod enables flexible accommodation or equipment configurations for missions such as SAR, disaster relief, medevac, patrol, ambulance, law enforcement, and fire fighting.
Multi-mission helicopters range from light types like the single-engine Leonardo AW009 (SW-4) to the 3-engine, heavy Leonardo AW101 Merlin. Multi-missions are varied both in the combining of helicopter roles for their achievement and the identification of new applications for multi-role platforms. Multi-mission concepts may also apply to helicopter avionics. Flight management system (FMS) upgrades offer advanced functionality for law enforcement and similar functions, making multiple mission profiles available to the crew at the touch of a button, saving workload and enhancing situational understanding. Mission-specific. Opinions on multi-role and multi-mission helicopters remain divergent. Designing for multiple, nearly exclusive roles
Airbus H160 features one of the largest cabins in its class, of clear benefit to emergency medical service operators and the patients it serves.
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The large-cabin capacity and operating range of the Sikorsky S-92 make it especially well-suited to SAR missions.
from the start may result in less than desired performance. Multi-role aircraft tend to be larger than necessary, to be overly complex, and to exhibit a high cost-to-capability ratio. Certain military and civil aircraft designs, while innovative and technologically possible, have proved costly and failed to meet basic expectations. Expensive post-production modifications and extended procurement times were often the result. Airbus Helicopters announced at Heli-Expo 2019 its focus on purpose-built helicopter types to execute more narrowly-scoped missions. This approach relies on the philosophy that a mission-specific design will do it well, with room to grow into other missions – given time. However, purpose-built helicopters are not easily or quickly converted from one role to another, typified by those customized for military/paramilitary/police, VIP/execu-
tive transport, and emergency medical service (EMS) operations.
Evaluating role/mission designs Different helicopter users (ie, private owners, commercial operators, multi-nationals, armed forces, state agencies, border security services, etc) may use the same helicopter for an assortment of missions. A common goal is to identify an optimum role/mission design which satisfies wide-ranging user requirements at the lowest possible life cycle costs (LCCs). This should involve a formalized decision process for the assessment of different design solutions, but it has to be one which goes beyond simple comparison of performance and equipage. A framework for multi-role helicopter design which optimized LCCs was developed by the Netherlands National Aerospace Laboratory (NLR). Modifying
The multi-role Leonardo AW159 Wildcat was recently introduced into service as an improved version of the Westland Super Lynx military helicopter designed to function in utility, SAR, and anti-surface warfare (ASuW) roles.
this approach, factors dominating mission requirements are defined (flight hours, flight profile, payload, etc), and role features ideally matching these requirements can then be identified. The sensitivity of the helicopter design to each of these parameters is then assessed by trade-off analyses. Comparisons will inform choices by decisionmakers regarding acquisition of new aircraft and retention of existing aircraft. Baseline design. Helicopter designs are normally driven by performance requirements, where mass is historically considered the primary optimization criterion. These are tabulated together with figures of merit based on technical opinion and experience. Simply, the candidate helicopter is then compared with the baseline helicopter and scored. However, convergence of propulsion, autonomy, communication, and perception technologies must also be considered together with other less common influences. These may include: • propulsion alternatives (turbine, electric, hybrid). • safety management manual (SMM) requirements for complex operations. • resolution of cabin and role equipment design issues. • ongoing verification/validation activities on problematic or deficient aircraft systems. • limitations of darkness, weather, density altitude. • cybersecurity and survivability in degraded electromagnetic environments. • energy efficiency and community noise.
Airbus H215 Super Puma is a 4-bladed re-engined version of the original SA 330 Puma, featuring greater performance and capacity for passenger, utility and aerial work missions. It accommodates 17/19 pax, 20/22 troops, or 9900 lbs of external load.
30 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / January 2020
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robinson_r66_aux_tank_ad_propilot_jan_2020.pdf 1 12/16/2019 4:29:58 PM
Fly Long Fly Far Optional Aux Fuel Tanks Extend Flight Endurance Up to 5 Hours
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*Actual flight endurance and mileage may vary. Â© Robinson Helicopter Company. R66 is a registered trademark of Robinson Helicopter Company
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The Sikorsky-Boeing SB>1 Defiant is designed to fly at twice the speed and range of today’s conventional helicopters and offers advanced agility and maneuverability, according to the Sikorsky-Boeing team.
• role of simplified controls and automation in training, recruiting, and retaining pilots. • insurance and liability of OEMs (especially those privately-owned and self-insured). • rate of airworthiness directives (ADs), service bulletins (SBs), service letters (SLs). • decommissioning and re-sale. Multi-role helicopters may be characterized in terms of risk criteria in operations requiring specific approvals, such as performance-based navigation (PBN), low-visibility operation (LVO), extended-range operations, hoist operation, EMS, night vision imaging system (NVIS) or dangerous goods (DG), and operating environment (offshore, maritime, mountainous area, etc). LCCs are influenced not only by the mission characteristics, but also by the maintenance policies applied, which in turn can be affected by design choices. To optimize cost, a multi-disciplinary optimization approach is required at the preliminary evaluation/selection phase.
The Bell V-280 Valor tiltrotor aircraft has been flying since Dec 2017. It is designed to cruise at 280 kts with a combat range of 500 to 800 nm.
The Bell FCX-001 6-place concept helicopter, unveiled at Heli-Expo 2017, features an airframe made from sustainable materials, a hybrid propulsion system, an artificial intelligence copilot, and morphing rotor blades which adapt to different flight conditions.
The future It is expected that the future of multi-role rotorcraft will continue to be influenced by technologies and designs developed for military applications. The US Army Joint MultiRole (JMR) Technology Demonstrator program seeks to realize rotorcraft with significantly improved speed, range, and hover stability while reducing unit and maintenance costs. Candidates are the Bell V-280 Valor tiltrotor (with higher speed and greater range than its competitor) and the Sikorsky-Boeing SB>1 Defiant compound helicopter, which features less downdraft and noise due to its dual rotors. The speed and range of both aircraft are attractive for multirole commercial applications. The JMR Technology Demonstrator effort will inform requirements for the US Army’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) family of systems, which will become operational in the 2030s and is intended to replace Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk and Boeing Apache helicopters.
NATO Industry Advisory Group (NIAG) has recommended that future rotorcraft designs avoid a single main rotor in favor of coaxial, tiltrotor, or compound configurations. Other concepts to be settled include aeromechanics, experimental aerodynamics, and drive systems. The primary roles for which FVL development is supported include conducting assault, urban security, attack, maritime interdiction, medical evacuation, humanitarian assistance/disaster relief, tactical resupply, direct action, non-combatant evacuation operation, and combat search and rescue missions in support of army and joint forces. The experience and technologies gained during the evolution of FVL systems will be shared among a wide field of users and feature in next-generation rotorcraft multi-role capability planning. In both civil and military markets, manufacturers will strive to offer products which are increasingly able to morph from one role to another and with ever greater mission reach and capability. Don Van Dyke is professor of advanced aerospace topics at Chicoutimi College of Aviation – CQFA Montreal. He is an 18,000-hour TT pilot and instructor with extensive airline, business and charter experience on both airplanes and helicopters. A former IATA ops director, he has served on several ICAO panels. He is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and is a flight operations expert on technical projects under UN administration.
32 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / January 2020
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PROFESSIONAL PILOT / January 2020 33
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2020 AVIONICS PRODUCT SUPPORT SURVEY
1 Garmin, 2 Universal Avionics, 3 Collins Aerospace, 4 Honeywell Garmin 1st for 16 yrs, Universal 2nd for 12 yrs, Collins 3rd for 12 yrs, Honeywell 4th for 4 yrs. Operators sent back a total of 724 survey forms, representing a 8.9% return. Total of 693 line evaluations used for results. Pro Pilot Staff Report Data compiled by Conklin & de Decker
echnological innovation, product reliability, user friendliness, and cost of parts are some of the factors that come to mind when acquiring new avionics equipment. However, OEMs’ product support is the most important issue that determines what product will be selected. It’s vital for operators in order to become familiar with them and be able to use their units and systems. This is the 25th year that our 2020 Pro Pilot Avionics Product Support Survey asks readers to share their experiences with their avionics units and systems, and to rank the aftersale product support received from avionics manufacturers. Below, you’ll find avionics OEM survey rankings and narrative commentaries from operators. Garmin continues to claim 1st place, as it has for the past 16 years. Its overall score is 8.47 this year, compared to 8.61 in 2019. This leading company also receives 1st spot in product reliability, cost of parts,
and manuals or CDs. The Garmin Aviation Product Support Center ensures that its products work as they should and makes sure that operators can familiarize themselves with their systems and equipment. Universal Avionics earns 2nd place for the 12th year in a row. For this 2020 tally Universal obtained an overall score of 8.21, compared to 8.02 in 2019 – an increase of 0.19. This is the biggest overall score increase in this year’s survey. Universal ranks 1st in speed in AOG service, tech reps and support from
manufacturer categories and 2nd in product reliability, cost of parts, and manuals or CDs. Best score improvement is in tech reps, with a score of 8.54, up from 8.13 – an increase of 0.41. Universal also has a significant advancement in speed in AOG service, with a score of 8.54, compared to 8.27 in 2019. Universal Avionics’ customer support is provided worldwide by a network of regional offices, field tech reps, service centers, and repair stations. Its UniNet online service center provides access to navigation database, service bulletins, tech manuals, and operator/user manuals.
Avionics OEM overall score Manufacturers
Speed in AOG service
2020 Professional Pilot Avionics Product Support Survey
7.90 7.68 7.78 7.76 8.04 8.17 8.22 8.15 8.34 8.16 8.10 7.88 7.81 8.05 8.11 8.20 8.23 8.14 8.16 8.20 8.29 8.25 8.22 8.02 8.21
6.68 7.87 7.52 8.03 7.48 7.84 7.92 8.31 8.21 8.51 8.26 8.42 8.51 8.27 8.55 8.47 8.53 8.51 8.44 8.50 8.56 8.47 8.61 8.47
2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
2008 2009 2010
2001 2002 2005
1995 1996 1997
2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
2010 2011 2012 2013
2005 2006 2008 2009
1999 2000 2001
Not rated in 1993
Comparison of overall average scores
25 years of surveys
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Collins Aerospace, formerly Rockwell Collins, takes 3rd place in this year’s survey for the 12th consecutive year. Overall score earned is 7.88 this year, slightly down from 7.92 earned last year. Collins earns 2nd place in tech reps category and 3rd in product reliability, speed in AOG service, manuals or CDs, and support from manufacturer. Best category increase is in tech reps with a 8.35 score, up from 8.17 in 2019 – a 0.18 improvement. Collins Customer Support, together with its engineers and global network, is dedicated to providing operators with support to keep their aircraft flying 24/7/365. Its CASP (Corporate Aircraft Service Program) provides customer support, budget predictability, and consistent aircraft availability.
2020 Pro Pilot Avionics Product Support Survey
Overall ranking 8.47
Honeywell takes 4th place in the 2020 Pro Pilot Avionics Product Support Survey with an overall score of 7.64, up from 7.46 in 2019 – a 0.18 improvement. This OEM ranks 3rd in cost of parts category. Best category advancement for Honeywell is in cost of parts with a 6.23 score, up from 5.85 – an improvement of 0.38. It was the 2nd best advancement in the survey. It also has remarkable improvement in support from manufacturer with a 7.81 score this year, compared to 7.47 in 2019 – a betterment of 0.34. Honeywell’s Customer and Product Support Program, with its technical support global network of experts and Direct Access mobile app, are available for its operators 24/7.
7.88 184 7.64
Manufacturers rated by 30 or more users
comparisons 2020 vs 2019 Manufacturers
Cost of parts
Manuals or CDs
Support from manufacturer
based on information collected from operators during 2019
* No survey was conducted for 2003 and 2007.
2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
2008 2009 2010
2001 2002 2005
1995 1996 1997
7.60 7.64 7.59 7.73 7.73 7.88 7.83 7.52 7.71 7.67 7.80 7.55 7.47 7.63 7.62 7.60 7.35 7.52 7.60 7.57 7.67 7.61 7.58 7.46 7.64
Data for the 2005 survey was collected in 2004.
2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
2008 2009 2010
2001 2002 2005
1995 1996 1997
7.70 7.66 7.78 7.68 7.82 7.95 7.96 7.74 7.62 7.93 7.81 7.49 8.07 7.92 8.08 7.98 8.05 8.09 8.10 8.12 8.02 8.06 8.00 7.92 7.88
Avionics rated 1993–2020*
PROFESSIONAL PILOT / January 2020 35
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Garmin Garmin Intl Dir of Aviation Support Lee Moore can be called on 913-397-8200. His e-mail is lee.moore@garmin. com.
his is the 25th year that Pro Pilot has used a questionnaire to ask aircraft operators to rate the quality of product support provided by avionics manufacturers. The avionics survey form covers product reliability, speed in AOG service, cost of parts, manuals or CDs, tech reps, and support from manufacturers. It also contains a section for commentaries. During Sep 2019 a target mailing of 8179 survey forms was sent out to a random selection of established qualified Pro Pilot readers. A total of 724 survey forms, representing 8.9% return, came back to the PP office in Alexandria VA by the Dec 16, 2019 cutoff date. Only 1 form per respondent was accepted. After review a total of 531 survey forms met Pro Pilot’s criteria for inclusion in the survey. These forms provided 693 line evaluations to be used in the survey results. A total of 193 survey forms were disqualified due to inconsistencies, significant errors, duplications, lack of information, or for rating hand-held units rather than panel-mounted equipment. Pro Pilot’s minimum requirement to rank in the survey is 30 line evaluations. A total of 10 manufacturers were listed on the form and there were 3 blank lines for writeins of others. Only 4 manufacturers received at least 30 evaluations and were included for rankings— Collins, Garmin, Honeywell, and Universal Avionics. Several other manufacturers received some evaluations but not enough to be included in the survey. They were Aspen (3 evaluations), Avidyne (17), Genesys/Chelton & S-TEC (1), L3 (5), Meggitt (3), Sandel (1), Thales Sextant (3) and other (1). Respondents were asked to rate avionics manufacturers on a scale of 10 (excellent) to 1 (poor) for each category in the survey. Conklin & de Decker of Arlington TX acted as research agent and performed the independent data analysis. The company used an unweighted average to determine category scores.
armin systems just work, making them very reliable. The updates are simple and the tech support Garmin provides is awesome. David Moore ATP/Helo/A&P. King Air 90 Manager KDM Aviation Tyler TX
hat a nice upgrade the G3000 is from the G1000. The functionality is on par with the Collins Pro Line 21, which was our previous avionics system. The initial usage is easy since we live in a culture where there’s an app for everything. It looks and interfaces like a smartphone or a tablet. Drawbacks include having too many submenus and having non-essentials for the flight on the home page, like music. It shouldn’t take 5 inputs to turn on the radar. Ryan Blanchard ATP. Phenom 300E Aviation Dept Mgr Luck Companies Richmond VA
ser-friendly interface and reasonably priced parts are a few reasons why the Garmin G1000 is a great avionics suite. Unfortunately, tech support was not able to provide any guidance to an A&P mechanic in regard to basic troubleshooting. Instead, the tech referred all questions to a Garmin dealer. Overall, apart from this instance, Garmin has been very reliable with customer service. Artem Kulik Comm-Multi-Inst/CFI/A&P. Epic LT Corporate Pilot Assemi Group Fresno CA
GN has upgraded part of the B200T fleet that had the Garmin G600 PFD and the GTN650 for nav/comm to meet PBN and IFR implementation. As a result, the GTN650 was changed to the GTN750 because the screen of the GTN650 is too small.
GTN750 is more convenient in IFR for Airbus cockpit equipment. It’s well suited for operational needs and airline procedures. Jean Pilotto ATP. Airbus A320, Falcon 200 & King Air B200T Captain Safire IGN ENAC Béthisy-Saint-Martin, France
e have the Garmin GTX 345, and it is just a great piece of equipment. It does more than we ever wanted and then some. We’re very satisfied with the reliability of the product and support from the manufacturer. Hal Arnack ATP/CFII. Conquest I Aviation Dept Mgr SAS Lima Cary IL
vionics system I first used by Garmin was the GNS 430 and GTN 750. They were great. Today the G1000 is so intuitive that it has made flying 80% easier. Now we use the NXi upgrade to travel to South America. I use it for navigation and airport information. This system truly makes flying safer. Great job, Garmin! John Labonte Pvt-Inst. Daher TBM 850 Owner & President JL Asset Mgmt Rice Lake WI
est and most reliable avionics products are made by Garmin! I have the GNS 430 installed in my Airbus Helicopters AS350B2 and I am completely satisfied with all aspects of product support. Carmine Berardino Comm-Multi-Inst/Helo. Airbus AS350B2 Aviation Consultant & Pilot RG Aviation Loxahatchee FL
armin is a fantastic company. The G1000 NXi update is wonderful. I’m very pleased with its capabilities. I also know that I can count on their tech reps and their product support is excellent when I need further assistance. Richard Lemon ATP. Citation Mustang Owner MedEx Middleton WI
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ery satisfied with the G1000 NXi upgrade on our Citation Mustang. It is reasonably priced and takes the plane into the future. I am beyond pleased with the outstanding support we receive from Garmin. John Hayes ATP/CFII. Citation Mustang President Jet Air Bend OR
antastic equipment by Garmin. I’m pleased with the Garmin G5000, and the aftersale service is great. James Lenardson ATP/CFII. Citation Latitude Pilot Spartan Chemical Toledo OH
ith only 3 days’ downtime and for a fair price, it was a great leap forward when we updated to the G1000 NXi. The new platform operates significantly faster and has many new and useful features. Steve Seidman ATP. Citation Mustang Owner & Operator RST Ventures West Bloomfield MI
I love the ease of the Universal and its functions so well that I’m keeping it. Mark Fairless Comm-Multi-Inst. Citation II/V/CJ1 Chief Pilot Connair Consulting Trenton IN
Universal Avionics VP of Sales, Mktg & Support Dan Reida can be phoned at 520-295-2300 or 800-321-5253. His e-mail is email@example.com.
niversal UNS-1Lw is a very good piece of equipment. I’m also pleased with the product support from this OEM. Steve Ball ATP. British Aerospace 146 Chief Pilot Formula 1 Letchworth, Herts, United Kingdom
ery pleased with our Universal UNS-1Ew, Collins Airshow 400 and Honeywell Primus 1000 installed in our Learjet 45XR. They are significantly reliable systems and well supported by the manufacturer. Tim Birgsmith ATP. Learjet 45XR Chief Pilot CTI of NC Richmond Hill GA
e have a Universal UNS-1 installed in our Citation V and a Garmin G500 in our Citation CJ1. I’m getting a Garmin upgrade as part of the ADS-B requirement. However,
ur Universal UNS-1Espw installed in the Citation Excel we operate has a few operational quirks—for example, VNAV is not very intuitive. However, it has been very dependable and great for the WAAS/approaches. Alan Dusman ATP/CFII. Citation Excel Aviation Department Mgr Hanover Foods Thomasville PA
think Universal will no longer support its FMS data with hard disk. Owners will have to spend money to change to the new solution of using a memory stick as of Jan 2020. Steve Gustafson ATP. Learjet 36 Chief Pilot JMAC Resources Wenatchee WA
eliability of Universal UNS-1Espw installed in the Citation Excel we operate has been outstanding. It’s been a very satisfactory experience. Greg Ray ATP/A&P. Citation Excel Captain Briggs & Stratton Waukesha WI
2020 Pro Pilot Avionics Product Support Survey
2020 Pro Pilot Avionics Product Support Survey
Speed in AOG service
Manufacturers rated by 30 or more users
Manufacturers rated by 30 or more users
aving the Garmin GNS 530 and GNS 430 set up allows us to have a very reliable dispatch history for our flight department. The manuals and overall support are great. Douglas Olson ATP/CFI. Citation II Captain Tri-State Drilling Buffalo MN
PROFESSIONAL PILOT / January 2020 37
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n 14 years of using the Pro Line 21, it has proved very reliable. Throughout this whole time, I can only recall 1 issue. It was handled quickly by Collins and resolved. Downloads can be aggravating at times. Asa Russ ATP/A&P. Citation CJ4 Chief Pilot Eagle Transport Battleboro NC
Collins Aerospace Sr Dir Avionics Customer Support Laurie Carlton can be reached at 319-2951504. Her e-mail is laurie.carlton@ collins.com.
ombining the Pro Line 4 and FMS 6100 on our G200 has been excellent for our operations. As a pilot, I find it is straightforward to operate and program. I’m satisfied all around. William Rodriguez ATP. Gulfstream G200 Pilot Jet Access Aviation Doral FL
ech reps for Collins are great and provide speedy service to our concerns. However, the Pro Line Fusion still has intermittent glitches. I’ve found that repairs of the radar units are not reliable because the units often have the same issues once the parts are replaced. Allan Cook ATP/A&P. Gulfstream G280 Chief Pilot CPX Charter Lebanon OH
ur Citation XLS+ is equipped with the Pro Line 21. It works well and is very reliable, but I find it somewhat complex and feel it could be more user-friendly. John Gaines ATP. Citation XLS+ Captain Suntrust Bank Atlanta GA
verall, the Pro Line 21 system has been very reliable for our operation for more than 5 years. Support has been responsive, but seeing the problem through to a solution has been difficult at times. David Bamford ATP. Citation CJ1 Flight Dept Mgr R-D Management Arvada CO
vionics system Pro Line Fusion is an excellent product. We have it installed in our G280s, and they have proved very reliable. As with everything related to aviation, cost of parts is high. We will
xceptionally satisfied customers! I give them 10s all around. In the rare case we need support, Collins techs are extremely knowledgeable and helpful. David Bohr ATP/A&P. Gulfstream G150/Astra Chief Pilot The Big Rock Group of Companies Big Rock IL
lmost all aspects of the Pro Line 21 Advanced avionics system are great. It is reliable and predictable, and has a good user interface. It has a few glitches which the software can fix quickly. The database update can be somewhat cumbersome. Wayne Sauls ATP/CFI. Challenger 350 Captain NetJets Eau Claire WI
ried and true, but still not without the occasional bug or hiccup with the Pro Line 21. Collins support is usually proactive in addressing any concerns. Sarah Walther ATP/CFII. Citation CJ4 Pilot BioZyme Kansas City MO
2020 Pro Pilot Avionics Product Support Survey
2020 Pro Pilot Avionics Product Support Survey
Cost of parts
Manuals or CDs
Manufacturers rated by 30 or more users
Manufacturers rated by 30 or more users
find the Pro Line 21 advanced avionics system holds a large database of navigation aids, waypoints, and airport data. These all help me enormously with navigation. It’s a great product with matching support from the manufacturer. Joseph Akins ATP. Challenger 350 Captain NetJets San Ramon CA
be using CASP (Corporate Aircraft Service Program) to help mitigate replacement costs. Our tech rep and support from Collins Aerospace are outstanding. Rick Stoulil ATP. Gulfstream G280 Chief Pilot Hormel Foods Austin MN
Universal Collins Aerospace
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pgrading from the Pro Line 4 to the Pro Line 21 in our Falcon 2000 was a tough transition. Getting new publications and functionality training for our flight department was challenging. Nonetheless, it is a good upgrade. Peter Hearn ATP/CFII. Falcon 7X/2000 Chief Pilot The Working Group Saint Paul MN 2020 Pro Pilot Avionics Product Support Survey Job titles of survey respondents
Honeywell Aerospace Business & General Aviation Customer and Product Support Director Paco Perez can be reached directly by phone at 480-280-8667. He can also be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Talk to Honeywell customer support experts, find your nearest support rep, sign up for operator conferences near you and more using Honeywell’s Direct Access app.
oneywell has been improving its customer support for Business Aviation. The Global Customer Committee is a perfect example of Honeywell accepting customers’ input and creating avionics customers want. Brent Keyes ATP. Gulfstream G550 Director of Aviation Graham Capital Management Bethel CT
23 66 246 196
ur Primus Epic EASy II is a fantastic avionics platform. However, it needs to be updated/upgraded in a more timely manner for compliance with recent mandates. Allen Ratterree ATP/CFII. Falcon 900LX Standards Captain NCM Aviation Morristown NJ
Aviation Dept Mgr, Chief Pilot, Dir of Aviation, Flight Ops Mgr or VP Operations Captain, Line Captain, First Officer or other pilot Owner, Chief Executive, President, VP, General Mgr or other corporate officer Maintenance Chief, Maintenance Mgr or Mechanic
think Honeywell needs to get their FSRs off the help desk lines so they
have more access to their regional customers. Their customers are waiting for their FSRs to reach them after the help desk calls. John Alexander A&P. Falcon 900LX & Citation Sovereign Senior Aircraft Technician Cintas Corp Cold Spring KY
oneywell Primus Epic is a fine product and well supported. I think they are one of the best in the industry. Michael O’Brien ATP/Helo/CFII. Leonardo AW139 AW139 Captain PHI Cantonment FL
ery pleased with the monthly Honeywell Direct-TO Newsletter. It contains excellent material that is useful to operators. Marty Rollinger ATP. Falcon 2000EASy Dir of Flight Operations LECO Granger IN
only have experience with Honeywell products installed on the Challenger 601 and Gulfstreams. And so far we’ve received excellent product support from the manufacturer. David Drake ATP. Challenger 601 and Gulfstream V Captain American Realty Capital Kingston MA
2020 Pro Pilot Avionics Product Support Survey
2020 Pro Pilot Avionics Product Support Survey
Support from manufacturer
Manufacturers rated by 30 or more users
Manufacturers rated by 30 or more users
PROFESSIONAL PILOT / January 2020 39
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e operate the Primus Epic installed on our Leonardo AW139. Based on my experience I can state that the Honeywell HAPP (Honeywell Avionics Protection Plan) works perfectly for us. Akif Gungoren Helo. Leonardo AW139 Maintenance Mgr Setair Istanbul, Turkey
upport from Honeywell for our Primus Epic PlaneView has been excellent. In my opinion it’s a great system. It’s very reliable and never had any malfunctions. Thomas Chapman ATP/CFII. Gulfstream G550/V Instructor Pilot & Aircraft Commander USAF 99th Airlift Squadron Alexandria VA
roduct support for Primus Epic PlaneView installed in the Gulfstream G650ER we operate has been excellent. However, we have some issues with the software waiting for an update call “Block 3” that is supposed to fix all the problems we are having with our new aircraft. Fernando Boye ATP. Gulfstream G650ER Captain Air 31 Miami Beach FL
oneywell technical operations are very responsive in troubleshooting and investigating anomalies. We always receive the results of their investigations. They work hard at making their products as problem and anomaly free as possible. Nitish Iyengar ATP. Gulfstream G650 G650 Fleet Technical Pilot Oceanic Svcs San Diego CA
Avionics OEMs not scored Other manufacturers also received responses but didn’t meet the 30 minimum required to rank in the survey. Avidyne obtained the largest number of those not ranked (17 line evaluations), so their customer support contact information is provided.
Avidyne Avidyne Dir of Customer Experience Bryan Kahl can be reached at 321 751-8494, cell 321-506 1541 or by e-mail using Bkahl@avidyne.com. Customers can use the MyAvidyne.com website, which presents the many services available for Avidyne operators.
Head of Training John McGhie of Queensland Government Air is an ATP pilot with 14,400 hours. His experience enables him to rate Garmin, Honeywell, Collins Aerospace and Universal Avionics in the 2020 Pro Pilot Avionics Mfrs Product Support Survey. He compares the aftersale product support received and shows his levels of satisfaction with these avionics OEMs.
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Winter flying refresher The season of adverse and dangerous weather conditions is upon us.
Gulfstream G650 taxis on snow-covered tarmac in Canada while a snow sweeper clears an adjacent taxiway. Winter ﬂying brings adverse weather that requires extra vigilance, especially on the ground.
By Karsten Shein Comm-Inst Climate Scientist
ith high winds and blowing snow, conditions could have been better, but at least the blizzard had passed and, as the sun dropped below the horizon, the pilots had clearing skies to accompany their departure. Passengers loaded and clearance in hand, the pilot signaled the lineman that they were ready to roll. Toward the end of a crossing taxiway, a sidelong gust of wind hit the business jet. Unfortunately, the aircraft’s tires were treading on a half inch of ice beneath a dusting of snow. The gust provided just enough force to break the tires free and the jet began to slide uncontrollably toward the edge of the taxiway. Even though the jet’s forward motion had been slow, it carried the aircraft off the taxiway and into the grass, breaking a taxiway light in the process. Winter in the middle and high latitudes is frequently a season of dark, cold, and adverse weather that makes flying a challenge. Every winter, dozens of aircraft worldwide run off runways and taxiways, and thousands more flights are delayed or canceled for reasons ranging from blizzard conditions to frozen engine oil.
In a review of the NTSB accident database for Part 135 operations, accidents and incidents involving IMC flying were more than 4 times as common in the winter months than the summer. Of these accidents, a large proportion occur at night, with icing or wet runways, and fog or low ceilings. This combination of factors can result in loss of control, runway excursions, disorientation, and controlled flight into terrain. Although the specifics may change somewhat, the following probable cause statement from a runway overrun accident sums up a number of wintertime, weather-related aircraft accidents. “[Cause was] the pilot’s failure to stop the airplane on the down-sloping, ice-contaminated runway after landing with a tailwind. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s failure to account for the wind conditions and failure to obtain runway conditions.” Unfortunately, a commonality in nearly all of these winter accidents is the investigator’s attribution of pilot error.
More darkness Because of the tilt of Earth on its axis, the 1st thing we must contend with in winter at middle and higher latitudes is the reduced daylight. Fortunately, fall is when daylight hours decrease most. After Dec 21 in the northern hemisphere (Jun 21 in the south), day length gradually increases.
Another factor in the length of daylight is where in a time zone we are. The further west one goes in a time zone, the later in the day the sun rises and sets. Of course, the higher the latitude, the fewer daylight hours. Near the Arctic/Antarctic circles, the winter sun may spend only a few minutes above the horizon each day, while above those latitudes, the sun does not rise at all for several weeks or even months around the winter solstice. While this may not seem significant, at night we lose depth perception, and while some pilots can turn to enhanced vision systems, not all aircraft have light-gathering or infrared vision systems installed. After turbulence encounters, ground collisions by moving aircraft with other aircraft or ground vehicles are the 2nd most frequent type of aircraft accident/incident, especially at night and in reduced-visibility situations such as fog. Operating in darkness only makes it more important that pilots exercise greater situational awareness and caution when operating on crowded tarmacs.
Colder air The lower sun angles and decreased day length mean the air in the high latitudes becomes bitterly cold and dense, pushing equator-ward and moving the polar front and jet stream to lower latitudes. The cooling also increases the temperature differences on ei-
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Icing Winter air at higher latitudes has a freezing level at or near the surface. Given that water droplets in the air can remain liquid to temperatures down to –40° C (–40° F), airframe icing is very prevalent during the winter months. Although icing can occur any time temperatures are near or below freezing and there is visible water in the air, flying through supercooled rain in temperatures between 0° C and –10° C (32° to 14° F) tends to provide the greatest icing threat. Regardless of whether an aircraft is certified for flight into known icing conditions, it is always best to avoid areas where icing is forecast or reported, or flying in or beneath
Photo courtesy NTSB
ther side of the front, frequently generating strong winter cyclones. These storm systems tend to be strongest in the early and late winter when the differences between polar and subtropical air are greatest. The colder air decreases the height of the tropopause, meaning that convective cells don’t rise as high into the flight levels as they do during the summer. But, simultaneously, the stronger upper air circulation in winter usually produces more disruptive clear air turbulence. At the surface, the colder air holds less water vapor, meaning it becomes far easier to saturate the surface layer of air. This is partly why winter skies are often characterized by low ceilings, fogs, and terrain obscuration. Consider air at 30° C (86° F) with 70% relative humidity. Under these conditions, the air would need to add around 9 grams of water per cubic meter of air to saturate. But in winter, air at 2° C (35° F) and 70% relative humidity would only need around 1.6 g/m3 to saturate. Under these conditions, even falling drizzle can provide enough evaporating moisture to saturate the air beneath the clouds, lowering the deck. In addition, the low water-holding capacity of cold air also means it normally only takes a small decrease in temperature to saturate the air without adding water. This is one of the reasons that winter warm and stationary fronts, as well as a subtle air flow along gradually rising terrain, frequently produce enough lift to create widespread advection fog and extensive low stratus ceilings.
On landing in snowy conditions at TEX (Telluride CO), this Learjet 35 left the runway and broke into 3 pieces. Both pilots were slightly injured.
rain clouds when the OAT is in the icing danger zone. If you experience icing in flight, deploy anti- and deicing measures, and seek warmer air if possible. On the ground, in situations where ice could accrete, ensure that your aircraft gets a thorough deicing and that you are departing within its effective window.
Whiteouts One of the most characteristic winter weather events is the blizzard. Mid-latitude cyclonic storm systems swirl up around a central low pressure, and drag a strong cold front along the landscape, dumping copious rain and snow in their path. Behind the front, strong pressure changes and cold air produce more snow and howling crosswinds. This is a situation that can lead to runway excursions and overruns. Pilots should be aware that, while even small airports do their best to keep runways and taxiways open, they only clear the snow. It is rare that an airport will lay down salt or other chemical mixtures due to their corrosive nature with respect to aircraft. Repeated clearing of a runway can pack grooves in the concrete with snow and ice, rendering them useless. Also, early in the storm, snow falling on the warmer pavement may melt and refreeze beneath subsequent snow. Snow removal may not get rid of the ice that coats the runway or taxiway itself.
Blowing snow is an additional slickness factor. In high winds, blowing snow can quickly recoat a cleared runway, and, because it has not had a chance to bond with the pavement or be compacted, it is often as slippery as ice. An aircraft passing over blowing snow can lose its grip and slide sideways in the wind. In winter storms, it is wise to continually monitor reported weather conditions, ask ATC about runway conditions, and stay put if you’re on the tarmac and it looks like you may go sledding. If you are landing on a runway that appears to be contaminated with snow or ice, the best course of action is to try an alternate airport – if possible. Aircraft tires are not generally designed for traction on contaminated surfaces. If that isn’t an option, land as slowly as possible, and use spoilers to reduce speed. Autobrakes should be set and thrust reversers can be used within limits, but high engine pressure ratios can lead to degraded directional control. Never apply hard pressure on your wheel brakes, maintain a straight path, and, if you must turn (as onto a taxiway), do so at a very slow speed. If your tires do skid, try to turn into the skid, and apply gradual braking pressure if your aircraft has antiskid brakes, or ease off on the brakes if they do not. This course may provide a chance of recovering before damaging the aircraft. Given the high winds that often follow a winter cold front, there is poPROFESSIONAL PILOT / January 2020 43
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Water vapor satellite imagery shows an atmospheric river “Pineapple Express” pumping copious moisture into central California in Dec 2010. Atmospheric rivers can generate significant freezing rain, fog, low ceilings, and mountain obscuration.
Under pressure Winters can also bring severe clear, with crisp, cold air into which turbines and props can eagerly bite. But the cause of these conditions is strong high pressure that may stretch the limits of pressure altimeters. Occasionally, high-pressure cells over Alaska, Canada and Siberia result in altimeter settings exceeding 31.00 inches of Mercury (1050 hPa) – the record high was 32.01 in Siberia on Dec 31, 1968. Since pressure altimeters generally only set to a maximum of 31.00 in Hg, they effectively become inoperable and should not be relied on for any IFR operations. When abnormally high pressure occurs, some aviation authorities, such as FAA, will issue a TFR prohibiting aircraft operations (eg, FAR
Image courtesy NOAA
tential for lateral forces that can push your aircraft off the pavement if it is traveling over snow or ice. A good guideline is, when there is snow or ice present, reduce your aircraft’s crosswind limit by half. That doesn’t guarantee you won’t leave the pavement, but crosswind limits are established on dry runways. In a recent accident, an Embraer 145 was pushed off the runway at ORD (O’Hare, Chicago IL) by winds with a 22-kt crosswind component. The aircraft’s crosswind limit is 30 kts. Had the pilots halved that number, they might not have attempted the landing. Adverse winter weather is often fairly well forecast, as in this prognostic chart from the US National Weather Service. However, pilots should recognize that there may be substantial uncertainty as to where the rain/snow/freezing rain boundaries will actually occur, as well as the timing and severity of conditions at any given location. Caution must be exercised whenever operating in an affected area.
91.144). However, in other places, no such restriction exists. In those cases, no matter how high you set your pressure altimeter, your actual altitude will always be greater. The best course of action is, of course, to postpone flight until the pressure drops back within altimeter limits, but if pilots choose to fly in those extreme high-pressure conditions (as with overflying the region), they are normally advised to set their altimeters to standard pressure (29.92 in Hg, 1013.2 hPa) to maintain altitude clearance from other aircraft, remain above the minimum enroute altitude for the region, and
avoid flying in conditions (such as at night) where one’s ability to visually locate company traffic or determine their height above the ground or obstacles is compromised. Your ability to see and avoid is the most critical tool in these situations.
Atmospheric rivers In places like the Pacific Northwest and many other coastal regions at higher latitudes, ocean currents keep surrounding air temperatures higher than they otherwise would be. This is due to the impressive amount of heat energy that ocean water can
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Photo courtesy The Globe
store. Because heat flows from hot to cold, the ocean, which in winter is normally warmer than the air above it, continually loses heat to the atmosphere. The result is that the surface layer of the atmosphere is often well above freezing, even though the air above it is below. Conspiring with this set-up is the strengthened winter polar jet that supports storm development out over the ocean, dropping into the lower middle latitudes, frequently driving these storms onshore. An Arctic (or Antarctic) trough in the jet that sits just offshore can funnel one storm after another into a coastal region. Similarly, a strong high (ridge) in the jet sitting just offshore can force the jet to split into a northerly and southerly branch. The southerly (northerly in the southern hemisphere) branch may drive an “atmospheric river” of warm, humid air from the tropics directly onshore, where the onshore airflow, coupled with rising terrain, wrings the moisture from the air in the form of prolonged and heavy rainfall. The “Pineapple Express” that has produced some of the Pacific Northwest’s most extreme floods over the years is one such atmospheric river. This phenomenon normally happens in the winter months, when the jet dips south into the central Pacific, and moisture from the vicinity of Hawaii is able to flow in a narrow band along the polar front into the region stretching from northern California to southern British Columbia. Atmospheric rivers create several issues for aviation, not the least of which is the potential for standing water on runways and taxiways, and flooded approach roads. Because these systems occur during winter, the air may be only a few degrees above freezing. As the air rises into the inland terrain, it may cool to or below freezing, meaning supercooled rain and cloud droplets and potential icing at low altitudes. Moreover, aircraft coming down from cruise must penetrate the widespread precipitation shield. After many hours in the flight levels, the fuel in the wing tanks is below freezing, leading to cold soaking. The cold fuel saps heat from the wing surface, so, even though the air may be above freezing, the rain hitting the subfreezing wing skin will still freeze into a glaze.
Bombardier CRJ is deiced at YYZ (Pearson, Toronto ON, Canada). Deicing is essential before any takeoff if conditions are conducive to ice accretion either on the ground or on climb-out.
That much moisture running onshore also means saturation at low levels. Area airports may be socked in by precipitation fog, which forms as the air saturates due to evaporating rain. Clouds will also likely be low-level stratus, meaning that tall towers and nearby terrain are likely to be obscured. Situational awareness is critical during a winter rain event.
Winter in the low latitudes While middle and higher latitudes tend to be most adversely affected by winter weather systems, the tropics and subtropics fair far better. The intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) – the belt of convection that rings the planet in the tropics – follows the sun. Therefore, during the northern hemisphere winter, the position of the ITCZ is near or south of the equator in most places. This leaves the northern hemisphere tropics and subtropics relatively dry. In fact, in most parts of the tropics, the seasons are not described by temperature swings, but rather are divided into wet and dry periods corresponding to the position of the ITCZ relative to the area. Winter and summer monsoons track this relationship as well. Although we tend to think of monsoon as the rainy season, the word monsoon just means season. In many places, winter monsoons such as the Indian winter monsoon are characterized by cool, dry air flowing in from higher latitudes. This often leads to drought conditions, especially if the monsoon is anchored by a strong high pressure. The same
drivers that deliver this dry weather to India also help to produce a wet winter monsoon in eastern Southeast Asia, drawing in humid air from the South China Sea. Beyond monsoons, the equator-ward shift of the polar front in winter often digs into the subtropics as sharp troughs that can bring brief cold air outbreaks to places such as central Florida, the Mediterranean, and southern China. The atmospheric dynamics generated by these troughs bring the lower latitudes strong cyclones and associated cold fronts with wind, rain, and thunderstorms. In the US, many winter storms develop over Texas and even the Gulf of Mexico, some becoming Nor’Easters that pummel New England. In rare cases, these systems have produced heavy snow along the Gulf Coast. In Feb 1895, the town of Rayne in coastal Louisiana received a record 24 inches of snow. Regardless of where one flies, winter is a season that demands additional care regarding the weather. As always, if you experience weather conditions your fellow pilots should be aware of, be sure to let them know. Karsten Shein is co founder and science director at ExplorEiS. He was formerly an assistant professor at Shippensburg University and a climatologist with NOAA. Shein holds a commercial license with instrument rating.
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India and Pakistan Diligent pre-planning with the help of local ground handlers is paramount when visiting these unique GA operating environments.
By Grant McLaren Editor-at-Large
Taj Mahal (above) is best accessed from AGR (Agra, India), but this location can take up to 30 days for landing permission. BOM (Mumbai, India), at left, offers full GA support services, although obtaining slots and parking here can be problematic at times.
hile international bizav traffic remains steady to and over India and Pakistan, this is a region of the world which often requires additional planning and day-of-operation precautions. Overflight and landing permits for India and Pakistan are relatively easy and should not take long to obtain, and ground handling services are good at major airports of entry (AOEs), but there can be a number of local restrictions to be mindful of. Should you wish to visit a joint use civil/military airport in India, official permit lead times range from 20 business days, in the case of navy-controlled GOI (Goh, India), to 30 business days in the case of air force-controlled AGR (Agra, India). Earlier this year, Pakistan closed its
airspace for several months to overflight and landing of GA aircraft due to tensions with India over the disputed Kashmir region. “It was a total shutdown of overland airspace from Feb 28 through to mid July,” explains ITPS Sr Ops Specialist Chris Linebaugh. “Avoiding Pakistan’s closed airspace added 2–3 hours of flight time to operators flying from DEL (Delhi, India) toward Europe.” Avfuel Account Mgr David Kang adds, “Kashmir is still considered a war zone and both countries have large weapons pointed at this region, so operators should try to avoid it.” Adds UAS International Trip Support Mgr Duke LeDuc, “India can be one of the most challenging operating environments in the world for business aviation. There can be
just so many pieces of the puzzle to juggle in order to make successful trips and avoid day-of-operation delays and potential complications. In this part of the world it’s particularly critical to focus on advance planning, and to work with capable international support providers (ISPs) and local ground handling services.” Changes to permits are possible in both India and Pakistan, but they tend to be more difficult to make within 24 hours of operation. India, at times, may allow only 2 permit revisions, so ISPs caution that it’s best practice to limit schedule changes in this part of the world.
Ops to Pakistan Primary bizav destinations include LHE (Lahore, Pakistan), ISB (Islamabad, Pakistan) and KHI (Karachi, Pakistan). Although permits are often issued within 2–3 days with standard aircraft, crew and pax documentation, the situation can change
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Customs and immigration officers stand ready to process arriving passengers at ISB (Islamabad, Pakistan).
at short notice. “You cannot rely on the airspace always being open. Besides, sudden reactive moves are possible by the military in terms of closed or restricted airspace,” says Kang. “Pakistan is not a country we recommend operators travel through unless they have a need to be there. It’s always best to have contingency plans for destination stops, tech stops, or overflight routings. And, when closed airspace does reopen, it’s not always clearly communicated, unless you’re carefully monitoring FIR NOTAMs.” ITPS recently organized a client trip to 3 destinations in Pakistan – ISB, LHE and KHI – and the operation proceeded smoothly and without issues. “The operator was initially worried about the trip, so they arranged for a local handling agent to fly with them up in the flightdeck,” recalls ITPS Sr Ops Specialist Jon Wells. “But permits came through within a few days, and there were no real issues, no delays or security concerns, plus ground services were more than adequate. Airport slots were not a factor either, fuel uplifts worked well, catering was organized within 48 hours’ notice, and permit revisions were possible. After the trip, the operator felt it was a good experience overall.” Jeppesen Vendor Relations Mgr Ian Humphrey says that GA traffic to and over Pakistan remains steady, although at relatively low volume. “Just be alert to pop-up airspace closures and prior permission required (PPR) mandates that can involve several days’ lead time,” he adds. ISPs point out that there seem to be no restrictions within Pakistan on GA domestic movements, and that cabotage is seldom a factor. However, crew and passengers may need vi-
ISPs recommend to skip the taxi queue at KHI (Karachi, Pakistan) in favor of pre-vetted private transport options.
sas, depending upon nationality, and these can take some time to obtain.
Ops to India Popular bizav stops in India include DEL (Delhi, India), BOM (Mumbai, India), BLR (Bengaluru, India), HYD (Hyderabad, India), MAA (Chennai, India) and CCU (Kolkata, India). In terms of joint use civil/military airports, AGR and GOI are the most visited. ISPs recommend 3 business days for overflight and/or landing permit processing. Note, however, that this takes up to 7 business days if your aircraft is registered in Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, China, or North Korea. Plan on official permit lead time of 30 and 20 business days, respectively, for landing permits for air force or navy-controlled airfields. “We’re often able to process military airfield permits faster, but it’s best to plan on at least 15 days’ lead time,” advises LeDuc. Note that operating to both civilian and military airports in India requires a special permit number. GA access can be most challenging in the case of DEL and, especially, BOM. “There are airport slot and parking issues to be mindful of at BOM in addition to routine runway closures and sporadic GA closures,” explains Kang. “Periodic closures of the primary runway began Nov 4 and will be in place Mon–Sat between 0930 and 1730 local through March 2020. At these times, GA has the lowest priority. Note that these closures may not be announced until a week prior.”
If you plan to operate to BOM, it’s best to put in your slot and parking requests at least 2 weeks in advance, and be prepared to move your schedule around. In many cases you’ll not get the slot time, or even the date, you want. The good news for India is that online visas can now be obtained for crew and are normally processed within 4–5 business days. Online visas, however, are good for only 1 year, as opposed to 5-year-validity visas obtainable at Indian embassies. Another plus, according to ISPs, is that ground handling costs have come down somewhat throughout much of the country. “India had been a much more expensive operating environment, but there’s now generally more competition among ground handlers,” says ITPS Sr Ops Specialist Stephen Bone. In terms of customs/immigration clearance with pets on board, you’ll need to pre-notify and have all required documentation and vaccinations up to date. “There are specific procedures and requirements, depending upon the airport and type of pet you’re carrying,” remarks Kang. “The customs, immigration and quarantine (CIQ) officer may show up. However, if the animal inspector does not arrive or the animal inspection room is not ready, your pet may not be cleared.”
Airway considerations Airway planning can be complex within India, as you have Whiskey domestic-only airways as well as 1-way and timed airways to comply PROFESSIONAL PILOT / January 2020 47
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with charter and cabotage. “India is sensitive to domestic transport of Indian nationals on foreign-registered aircraft, even on private flights, and you’ll need specific permission,” says Kang. “You must prove the connection of passengers to your company, and it takes longer to process these requests.”
Photo courtesy Hadid
Dubai-based Hadid International Services provides bizav support at 4 locations in India and has an FBO at KHI (Karachi, Pakistan).
with. “A planned routing may work one day but not the next because a timed airway may reverse,” says Humphrey. There are no airways accessible to GA between India and China, so you’ll need to loop around to the east via Bangladesh or to the west via Pakistan and the PURPA intersection. Direct routings are not permitted within India, so you must always be on airways. “In some cases, there’s some flexibility in using W domestic airways for international sectors,” says Linebaugh. “In the case of BLR, for example, the only airways in/out are W airways, and these will be approved for international arrivals/departures.
Ground handling, fuel, catering, transportation and tech stops Ground handling is often excellent within India and Pakistan, and handlers offer the benefit of guiding you through the high levels of bureaucracy here. “India is particularly bureaucratic, and it’s not a very electronic-oriented or online-friendly environment, as lots of signatures and carbon copies are involved,” says Jeppesen International Trip Support Specialist Adrian Owens. “Ground handlers are indispensable in assisting with filling out required forms, coordinating taxes and fees, and navigating you through a highly complex environment.” ISPs often recommend fueling on arrival in India and Pakistan, as it’s not uncommon to wait 2 hours or more for a fuel truck. “GA is a low
priority for fuel services, and we have operators who show up on the ramp 4–5 hrs prior to departure to ensure fuel delivery,” says Linebaugh. “Be mindful of long departure delays at DEL, where it may take 45–60 minutes just to taxi. This can impact fuel and range for longer-leg trips.” Good catering with Western options is available at all major AOEs in India and Pakistan, but it’s best to provide at least 48 hrs’ advance notification. For local transport, always use pre-vetted providers. “Traffic here, particularly in Delhi, can be intense and chaotic,” says Kang. “It’s a different level of madness to the rest of the world.” In terms of crew accommodations, you’ll find absolutely luxurious and expensive 5-star hotels as well as very basic 1-star properties, with few choices in between. ISPs recommend that you take the best hotel available. Tech stops are rare in India and Pakistan, say ISPs. For a tech stop, you’ll need landing permission and permit processing, and possible fuel delays. In India, you’ll pay tax on any remaining fuel on board if your next flight leg is domestic. “There are better and more efficient alternates for tech stops in this region. Instead, use Sri Lanka, the UAE, Oman, and Bangkok,” recommends Humphrey.
Charter and cabotage In Pakistan you may fly internal legs so long as you don’t carry paying Pakistani nationals on board. India, on the other hand, is stricter
India and Pakistan are unique operating environments. Diligent pre-planning is important prior to day of operation, and you’ll need to have capable ground support set up for each location. “There are so many pitfalls to be mindful of, particularly with India, in terms or airway and airport restrictions, high levels of bureaucracy, and often chaotic conditions on the ground,” says Wells. “In addition, you must ensure you obtain all required clearance numbers. For departures, for example, this clearance will be issued by ATC, after approval from the military, and you cannot depart without it. On international inbounds, you must have your approved clearance number as you approach the FIR.” Despite the occasional complexities and perceived challenges, India and Pakistan are considered stable operating environments. “We have clients who travel to India every month. Their missions are successful with pre-planning and capable ISPs and ground handlers,” remarks Bone. “However, having effective contingency planning is always important, and you do have to roll with the punches from time to time.” Linebaugh is cautiously optimistic when looking to the future. “India has not become a more difficult operating environment for GA. In fact, it’s slowly changing for the better, but there’s still lots of bureaucracy and restrictions to deal with compared to other GA operating regions.”
Editor-at-Large Grant McLaren has written for Pro Pilot for over 40 years and specializes in corporate ﬂight department coverage.
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The road to zero-zero Next-generation HUD and EFVS with Saab and Vu Systems. space. The company manufactures not only aircraft but also submarines, ships, and tracked vehicles. A unique aspect of Saab is that it is an aircraft company that happens to have its own avionics company – and that’s where some serious magic takes place, beginning with the Saab’s new HUDs, flight displays and synthetic vision systems (SVS).
Saab’s new HUD and EFVS with Vu Systems passive millimeter wave sensor will enable takeoff and landing in low visibility. It will provide reliable airport access in all weather, even for non-precision approaches, or approaches with high minimums.
By Glenn Connor ATP. Cessna 425 President, Discover Technology Intl
aab Avionics, a relatively new face in the bizjet world, made a splash at NBAA-BACE 2019. The company stepped out into the competition ring with several innovations and pioneering spirit. Alongside Saab was the unveiling of a strategic partnership with Vu Systems, a technology startup with advanced passive millimeter wave sensors created to supply the customer demand for better and more reliable enhanced flight vision system (EFVS) weather performance. The teaming of the 2 companies is said to have a single focus – the domination of the airborne market with the next generation of vision-based avionics systems. Announced by Saab were 3 significant new commercial avionics programs – a new line of commercial head-up displays (HUDs), a new and
next-generation EFVS, and a radical new product and technology for aircraft overheat detection systems. With so much emphasis by OEMs on performance for range and fuel efficiency, there seemed to be an unfulfilled need for out-of-the-box competitive avionics ideas keeping pace with the aircraft, so Saab brought its “Thinking Edge” motto and a new solution for the road to zero-zero.
Saab Aviation’s current customers Saab’s customer base in aviation today ranges from Boeing and Airbus for large commercial transport aircraft with high-lift devices, flight control actuators and other electromechanical actuators, to international markets for fighter jets, air traffic control towers, and MRO activities supporting the Saab 340 and 2000 aircraft. However, Saab is expansive and deep in technology beyond aero-
The entry into the SVS market is based on technology that is far ahead of conventional systems of today. Saab SVS is a very detailed high-resolution display that is more virtual than synthetic to the eye, and, when integrated with either a primary flight display (PFD) or a HUD, will provide a significant increase in situational awareness for the flightcrew in all phases of flight. Saab’s new Over Heat Detection System (OHDS) is a lightweight high-tech instrument that can detect overheating due to bleed air leakage in an aircraft. The traditional method is to use a special type of electrical wiring filled with eutectic salt, which has a certain melting temperature. Saab, however, developed a fiber-optical sensor that is placed throughout the bleed air ducts (and possible other areas) to provide an alert to high temperatures anywhere along the path of the fiber optic line. In addition, a special optical interrogator has been developed that reads the optical signals converted to temperatures, alerts, and warnings. These developments result in ~90% weight savings and a drastically reduced number of components from conventional overheating detection systems, plus the ability to obtain instrumentation data almost anywhere in the aircraft. With a simplified low-weight, reliable system, aircraft and engine OEMs will be able to detect and measure fire hazzards, strain, and pressure within the structure of the aircraft.
Image courtesy Saab
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Infrared sensor operation
200 ft = typical ILS DH
MMW sensor operation
600 ft = HAT typical RNP DA
PMMW sensor range is more than 2nm
Comparison of infrared and passive millimeter wave sensor performance in terms of range and ability to see the runway. The goal of an integrated HUD EFVS is to enable reliable operations in weather, and alleviate safety concerns related to CFIT, LOC-I, and runway excursions.
HUD offerings by Saab Saab’s new HUD line offers an innovative solution. These HUDs are different in that the pilot sees a much larger total field of view, making it seen much easier on the eyes. The HUD eye box is a general area with the best viewing angle. From an optics perspective, it’s actually where all the light is being reflected by the combiner from the HUD projector, ideally at the pilot’s design eye position for the aircraft. Most HUDs have a curved combiner glass, so the top part of the light reflected from the combiner and the bottom of the combiner need to be focused at this one point to provide the optimal field of view. However, some HUDs are lacking in terms of what is called instantaneous and total field of view. You can easily test this by closing one eye to compare how much of the total field of view you can see. In the Saab HUD, the instantaneous and total field of view are practically the same. Another tech trick in Saab’s HUDs is a much larger eye motion box, which relaxes the viewer from a more typical rigid sitting position. This really helps during long periods of use. As a pilot, you are constantly scanning not only the HUD and EFVS, but the rest of the flightdeck. With the Saab HUD, it seems that during the course of any cockpit routine, just sitting up naturally and looking back out of the cockpit window puts you into a position to see all that is in the HUD. Saab HUDs are specifically designed to integrate multiple EFVS and SVS images, supporting the move to combined vision that is now in play in the market. The symbology requirements begin with a baseline, as required for certification, but Saab offers options for customer in-
novations as well. Other options are available for combiner size and type of HUD. Saab claims that its business and market goals are to provide affordable and highly capable HUDs, specifically dual-HUD configurations for new aircraft and aftermarket retrofit. The company is aiming at the large-cabin bizjet and airline markets. Large aircraft numbers are in the thousands, and production rates for single-aisle planes over the next 20 years are expected to be very large.
A new-generation EFVS The growth in global passenger demand and need for expanded airports for commercial use is also driving the EFVS market. New FAA regulation for commercial carriers went into effect in Mar 2018, followed by what seems to be a serious look by many air carriers. With the publication of a new regulation in 2016 that allows landings without natural vision using EFVS, and now the transition for EFVS to Part 135 and Part 121 operations, the opportunity is there. The strategic partnership with Vu Systems and Saab Avionics’ new HUD and EFVS with combined vision may be a game changer. Vu Systems has pushed the door wide open on a new generation of EFVS with its airborne passive millimeter wave camera. Operating at radio frequencies rather than on infrared, the Vu Cube actually penetrates or “sees through” clouds and fog at ranges of 2–4 miles, according to Vu Systems CEO Stedman Stevens. Physics of millimeter wave sensors operating without limitations in weather has been known for some time. In the past, several development programs, beginning with the Bendix microwave sensor, the Tex-
as Instruments independent landing monitor and, more recently, the USAF millimeter wave radar, proved that point. However, after the research and testing proved successful, there was no commercial millimeter wave EFVS product. Consequently, the Vu Cube was developed as a commercial product. Unlike radiating or emitting devices such as radar, Vu Cube is passive, and views the forward scene much like a thermal camera. The product is able to sense differences in temperature between both terrain and manmade objects such as runways, taxiways, vehicles, or hangars. Because it operates at the longer millimeter wavelength, Vu Cube sees through clouds and fog, as demonstrated in the company’s extensive flight tests. When considering the best way to provide new EFVS products, Vu Systems does it differently, augmenting the current IR sensor products with a capability to penetrate weather to get the aircraft close enough in dense fog or hard deck ceilings so that the IR could offer some benefit. The knowledge that weather (ceilings and visibility) is no longer a factor brings new possibilities to anyone who wants to be on time and improve the safety of the operation, especially scheduled air carriers and Part 135 operators. This new EFVS technology and performance capability removes the need for Cat II/III operations. Now all you need is a long enough runway and a charted instrument approach. Saab had its eyes on both EFVS development and the market demands for a HUD packing something better than the conventional and costly products. As an integrated system that includes HUDs and a new EFVS camera, Saab and Vu concur that ceilings or low visibility become things of the past. The cost benefit PROFESSIONAL PILOT / January 2020 51
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Image courtesy Saab
Saab’s new SVS technology provides a very high-resolution depiction of the airport and terrain through the company’s HUD that is ahead of today’s conventional SVS.
Images from Saab’s aeronautical terrain elevation database and rendering software.
is an EFVS that performs reliably in weather, avoiding delays and maintaining schedule, which is what all flight departments want to offer to company executives.
The need for a visual advantage The development by FAA of EFVS operational rules is based on compliance with the visual segment of the approach. In plain words, this means the ability of the EFVS sensor to view as the natural eye would see the typical visual cues such as approach lights, sequence flashers, the runway terminator light bar, runway, and touchdown zone. When you look at every runway, the visual aids are present based on the type of instrument approach available – the more classic being an ILS. But with the GPS world and a hefty push by FAA for more GPS approaches, we now have thousands of LPV and RNAV approaches to runways that have very modest infrastructure, and the result is often higher minimums than a conventional ILS. The challenge for approaches with high minimums is being able to see the required visual references with the naked eye or seeing with current EFVS equipment, which becomes difficult with the 1st-gener ation of infrared products. For example, say the RNAV minimums to a field with a DA were 500 ft and ¾ miles, but the weather was less than 100 ft ceiling and ¼ mile visibility. In this case, the pilot would need to see the standard visual ref-
erences with EFVS at the 500 ft DA point, regardless of the weather. With today’s 1st generation infrared EFVS, success is based on what’s in the air. In other words, it depends on how much water vapor there is between you and the runway. Often, in the case of 100–¼, with IR alone, it may not be your day. But with the Vu Cube passive millimeter wave EFVS, the ability to see and continue is now similar to that for an ILS: weather is never a factor. Moving to aircraft-centric capability is where many OEMs recognize an advantage, instead of relying on how the airport is equipped. Safe access to places anywhere in the world is an important selling point, and is no doubt one of the reasons why EFVS today is standard equipage with all major bizjet OEMs. However, it is noteworthy that, even though EFVS has been around for more than 15 years, the vision systems concept is relatively new in the air transport segment. FAA recently introduced the requirement for proof of a visual advantage for EFVS operations to land and dispatch under LOA or OPSPEC C048. The visual advantage demonstration is part of the certification process by the aircraft OEM or EFVS supplier, and is merely the difference in what the pilot can see with the natural eye versus what the EFVS sensor can see. Results are used by FAA Flight Standards to establish in your OPSPEC or LOA the level of approval for an EFVS to land operation. FAA also factors the EFVS sensors’
performance into the dispatch approval of the operator, also part of the LOA. The goal of the Vu Cube is to enable reliable operations in all-weather visibility conditions at ranges measured in miles, according to Stevens. His company’s analysis of the EFVS sensors visual advantage is that, “with the Vu Cube, all approaches will be available under all ceiling and visibility conditions.”
The next-generation flightdeck Also at NBAA-BACE 2019, both companies laid out the integration of their products and how the combination will make a formidable team. The strategy, as argued by both Saab’s Jan Widerstrom and Vu System’s Stevens, is the economic value and reliable performance desired in all segments of aviation. The move to the next generation EFVS with Saab’s HUD products looks to be a gamechanger. The ability to see through clouds and fog 100% of the time is not a claim, but a demonstrated capability by the company. New and affordable HUDs on the market with the new SVS capability are another significant consideration for the modern flightdeck. Saab is well established around the world. And with its partnership with Vu Systems, a high-tech start up in North Carolina, there will be even more fun to watch. Glenn Connor is president of Discov er Technology Intl. He is a pilot and a researcher specializ ing in the develop ment of enhanced vision systems and advanced avionics.
52 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / January 2020
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W W W. C O N C O R D E B AT T E RY. C O M
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Professional Pilot Magazine January 2020