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While flight hours are significantly down due to shelter-at-home recommendations by state authorities, y Part 91 flight department personnel choose to catch up with training and aircraft maintenance, tud S ry and work to strengthen safety protocols in their flight operations. ala
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Vol 54 No 6
Features 8 POSITION & HOLD Supporting an essential industry at a critical time by Ed Bolen
14 FLIGHT OPS Single-pilot jets by Shannon Forrest Light and very light turbofan-powered aircraft are versatile and economical to operate. 24 PART 91 OPERATIONS What are corporate flight departments doing to cope with the pandemic? by Pro Pilot staff With flight hours significantly down due to shelter-at-home instructions by state authorities, personnel choose to catch up with training and aircraft mx. 28 PILOT COMPENSATION Salary Study 2020 by Pro Pilot staff Demand for pilots continues to grow in business aviation while salaries increase by about 3%. Strong benefit packages are offered to attract and keep pilots.
4 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / June 2020
38 WEATHER BRIEF Summer flying by Karsten Shein Enhanced energy can create a volatile weather cocktail.
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Vol 54 No 6
Professional Pilot magazine
10 TERMINAL CHECKLIST Quiz on procedures when arriving at JEF (Jefferson City MO). Answers on page 12.
18 SQUAWK IDENT Pro Pilot readers explain how their flight activities have changed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
21 PIREPS News from the general aviation industry.
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22 SID & STAR Sid rushes to the airport to take a test.
Cover While flight hours are significantly down due to shelter-at-home recommendations by state authorities, Part 91 flight department personnel choose to catch up with training and aircraft maintenance, and work to strengthen safety protocols in their flight operations. Cover designed by Pro Pilot Art Director José Vásquez.
POSITION & HOLD an editorial opinion
Supporting an essential industry at a critical time Ed Bolen President & CEO, NBAA
certificates expire between Mar 31 and Jun 30, in order to reduce the burden on the country’s healthcare system during the Covid-19 pandemic, and to limit the potential hile our industry has unquesspread of the virus across the pilot community. tionably faced difficult times At the local level, in collaboration with FAA, NBAA before, I want to reaffirm to all of you halted a Covid-19-driven attempt to close GA airports in reading this issue of Professional Pilot Puerto Rico. As a result, all the island’s airports remain that everyone at the National Busiopen – with 3 designated as ports of entry – and authorness Aviation Association (NBAA) ities continue to recognize the single, federal construct continues to work at all levels to support and represent governing our nation’s aviation system. We will remain the broader business aviation community, as our entire vigilant to protect against similar attempts to limit airport world confronts a truly unprecedented situation due to access elsewhere. the Covid-19 pandemic. As always, NBAA has also corrected misleading news Just as with past challenges, our response to the coronaaccounts about the business aviation community and virus relies on our coming together to face this common the effect of the Covid-19 crisis on the industry. This inthreat with a united purpose. We must rededicate ourselves cludes messages published by The Wall Street Journal, to operating safely, taking all necessary precautions to minBloomberg, CNBC, and others following recent stories imize the risk of infection and transmission of the virus, based on false narratives and missing key facts. while ensuring that business aviaThese efforts, across many tion continues flying to support a fronts, are in addition to an extenvariety of important missions and sive variety of Covid-19-focused humanitarian trips. resources and other support for In these turbulent times, NBAA’s members-specific day-to-day priwork at the federal level, before orities. Our dedicated Covid-19 local authorities, with media operational considerations resources, and elsewhere, emphasource (see nbaa.org/coronavirus) sizes the importance of business has a variety of tools to help those aviation to the nation’s economy in the business aviation communiand transportation system, so as to ty think through the legal, mediachieve the right outcomes for the cal, operational, technical, and industry. As one example, NBAA other aspects of flight department welcomed the recent passage of operations. the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and During this crisis, NBAA has also Economic Security Act (CARES introduced 2 new offerings to its Act), which contains NBAA-initi- Clay Lacy Aviation incorporates CDC, DOT, and FAA rec- members – the NBAA News Hour ated provisions that will assist the ommendations with best practices from across the industry interactive webinar series, and the business aviation community. NBAA Insider Daily news service to improve its operations. In addition to creating loan and – to help business aviation stakegrant programs that can apply to general aviation (GA) holders navigate our toughest challenges. I hope you’ll commercial operators, FAR Part 145 repair stations, and participate in an upcoming webinar and subscribe to the other small- to mid-size aviation businesses, the bill adds daily news service. $100 million in Airport Improvement Program funding As NBAA works to support business aviation users and dedicated to GA airports in recognition of their imporoperators around the world, I am encouraged to know the tance to thousands of underserved communities – espepeople and companies in business aviation are also workcially in times of crisis. The bill also temporarily suspends ing to support each other and their communities. air transportation excise taxes for commercial operations. Countless stories tell of companies lending a hand, like NBAA’s advocacy efforts also led FAA to issue a series the aviation businesses repurposing their equipment and of extensions allowing Part 135 operators to temporarily workers to produce protective masks, the regional groups’ forgo certain training requirements relating to crew safecoordinated effort to fly medical supplies to rural areas, ty concerns with Covid-19 and allowing certain personand the charter companies’ work to deliver hundreds of nel up to 3 additional months to complete recurrent and meals to Covid-19-stricken families. upgrade training and qualification activities. These steps Their service underscores our industry’s humanitarian by FAA allow many charter operators to continue flying spirit, especially at a time such as this. As we all work to and provide much-needed assistance to communities and support one another, I offer my thanks to everyone in our medical facilities during the crisis. community for your continued support for NBAA and our FAA also responded to NBAA requests for relief by alindustry. As we have many times before, we will meet this lowing pilots to continue to fly if their airmen medical latest challenge and emerge triumphantly from it.
8 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / June 2020
Photo courtesy Clay Lacy Aviation
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6. Select the true statement(s) when flying this approach using the Columbia Regional altimeter setting. a Use of the VDP is not authorized. b All DAs and MDAs increase by 80 ft. c The approach is not authorized at night. d Using baro-VNAV equipment to fly to LNAV/VNAV mini mums is not authorized.
c The approach may be completed to LNAV minimums, provided a lateral flag or integrity alert does not appear. d If a lateral flag or integrity alert appears, ATC can issue a clearance to remain in a holding pattern until the flag/alert disappears. 8. Select all that apply. Flying a continuous descent final approach (CDFA) to LNAV minimums requires_____ a Radar. b Special authorization. c Use of the 3.00° glidepath angle. d WAAS-certified GPS equipment. 9. Flying the approach with vertical guidance ensures lower landing minimums. a True b False
7. Select the true statement(s) regarding continuing the approach 10. An aircraft is flying to LNAV minimums with GPS equipment to LPV minimums if WAAS service is unavailable. that is not WAAS-certified. If the GPS equipment displays a The flight must proceed to an alternate airport. a RAIM failure after passing the FAF, the approach should be b The approach may be completed to LPV minimums, continued to landing. provided a lateral flag or integrity alert does not appear. a True b False
10 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / June 2020
Not to be used for navigational purposes
5. Select all that apply. Which of the following choices describes correctly a procedure for performing the initial approach and intermediate approach segments when flying direct to FATPI after being cleared for the approach? a Bearing 090° – at FATPI, intercept the 300° course inbound and descend to 2000 ft MSL. b Bearing 270° – descend to 2800 ft MSL within 30 nm of FATPI. At FATPI, intercept the 300° course inbound and descend to 2000 ft MSL. c Bearing 360° – at FATPI, use a direct entry to the course reversal and descend to 2800 ft MSL. Within 4 nm, turn right to intercept the 300° course inbound. d Bearing 090° – at FATPI, use a teardrop entry to the course reversal and descend to 2800 ft MSL. Within 4 nm, turn right to intercept the 300° course inbound.
3. A flight arriving from the north at 5000 ft MSL receives the following instructions: “cleared direct LECNI, expect RNAV (GPS) Runway 30.” The aircraft may descend to 2800 ft MSL within 30 nm of LECNI. a True b False 4. Select all that apply. When flying direct to EDAGY on a bearing of 090° at 5000 ft MSL, a flight that is cleared for the approach should ____ a maintain 5000 ft MSL until reaching EDAGY. b descend to 2800 ft MSL within 20 nm of EDAGY. c descend to 2800 ft MSL within 30 nm of EDAGY. d descend to 3100 ft MSL within 30 nm of EDAGY.
Reproduced with permission of Jeppesen Sanderson. Reduced for illustrative purposes.
2. What equipment may be used to fly the approach to LNAV/ VNAV minimums? a Non-WAAS GPS. b WAAS-certified GPS. c DME-DME RNP-0.30. d Baro-VNAV system with temperature compensation. e Uncompensated baro-VNAV unless the temperature is below −16° C or above 47° C.
1. Select the true statement(s) regarding equipment require ments to fly to LPV minimums. a RAIM must be available. b Baro-VNAV equipment may be used. c GPS equipment must be WAAS-certified. d Ch 86410 must be entered into the GPS equipment.
Refer to the 12-2 RNAV (GPS) Rwy 30 for KJEF/JEF (Jefferson City MO) when necessary to answer the following questions:
Terminal Checklist Answers on page 12 6/20
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Answers to TC 6/20 questions 1. c To fly to LPV minimums, the aircraft must have WAAS-certified GPS equipment, which does not require RAIM. Baro-VNAV equipment may not be used. The primary navigation facility boxes in the briefing section and in the plan view contain the airport’s unique WAAS channel number. A GPS receiver stores this number in its database, so pilots are normally not required to enter the WAAS channel, but the number on the GPS display can be used to verify that the correct approach is selected. 2. a, b, d, e To fly to LNAV/VNAV minimums, the aircraft must have GPS equipment certified for WAAS capability by TSO C145/C147 or have a baro-VNAV system. Procedural note 3 in the Briefing Strip states that DME/DME RNP-0.3 is not authorized. Note 4 places temperature limitations on performing the approach with a baro-VNAV system that does not compensate for extreme temperatures. 3. b According to the AIM 5–4–5, an ATC clearance direct to an IAF or to the IF/IAF without an approach clearance does not authorize a pilot to descend to a lower TAA altitude. If a pilot desires a lower altitude without an approach clearance, the lower TAA altitude must be requested from ATC. 4. b, d A bearing of 090° to EDAGY is within the boundaries of the TAA icon depicted in the lower left of the plan view. The TAA icon indicates a descent to 3100 ft MSL within 30 nm of EDAGY and then to 2800 ft MSL within 20 nm. 5.
b, d The TAA icon for the IAF at FATPI indicates that, when approaching on a bearing of 210° clockwise to 030°, the aircraft may descend to 2800 ft MSL within 30 nm. In this case, the aircraft should not perform the course reversal at FATPI (NoPT), but should intercept the 300° course inbound. This procedure applies to the 270° and 360° bearings to FATPI. When arriving at FATPI on a bearing of 090°, the aircraft must reverse course – a teardrop entry applies and the aircraft must remain within 4 nm as shown on the profile view.
6. a, b, d Procedural note 5 in the Briefing Strip states “Baro-VNAV and VDP not authorized when using Columbia Regl altimeter setting.” According to TERPs, the VDP is based on the angle of the visual glideslope indicator (VGSI) – or, if
there is no VGSI, it is based on an angle of 3.00° or the vertical descent angle (VDA), whichever is greater. Because Runway 30 has a VASI, the VASI angle of 3.00° applies. The MDA when using the Columbia Regional altimeter setting is 80 ft higher at 1320 ft MSL, which renders the VASI descent angle unusable and, therefore, use of the VDP is not authorized. In addition, according to the landing minimums section, the LPV and LNAV/VNAV DAs increase by 80 ft, as do the MDAs listed for the circle-to-land procedure.
7. c, d AC 90-107, which provides guidance for LPV and LP approach operations, indicates that, if WAAS service is not available prior to reaching the FAF, the pilot may complete the RNAV (GPS) approach to LNAV minimums if no lateral flag or other integrity alert appears. However, if a lateral flag or integrity alert does appear, the pilot should request one of the following clearances from ATC: To enter and remain in a holding pattern (fuel permitting) until the lateral flag or integrity alert disappears; to perform a different approach using ground based navigation aids (if available); or to fly to an alternate airport. 8. c AC 120-108, Continuous Descent Final Approach, provides guidance for flying the final approach segment of a non-precision approach as a continuous descent. A CDFA requires the use of a published VDA or barometric vertical guidance (in this case, the glidepath angle of 3.00°). No specific training or aircraft equipment is required. However, operators should provide flightcrews with appropriate ground training before performing CDFA operations. 9.
b As shown in the profile view, the LNAV MDA of 1240 ft MSL is lower than the LNAV/VNAV MDA of 1322 ft MSL. The minimum visibilities of ½ sm, 1½ sm and 1¾ sm (depending on aircraft category) are less than the 2¼ sm required when using vertical guidance to LNAV/VNAV minimums. The lower LNAV minimums are due to the fact that performing the approach to the LNAV MDA brings the aircraft closer to the runway before reaching the missed approach point (as shown in the profile view), and different obstacle assessment areas apply to each approach type.
10. b According to the AIM 1-1-17, if a RAIM failure occurs after the final approach waypoint (FAWP), the pilot should initiate a climb and execute the missed approach. The GPS receiver might continue to operate, but the navigation information should be considered advisory only.
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Embraer Phenom 100EV has a non-stop range of 1178 nm. Pratt and Whitney PW617F1-E engines can deliver a high-speed cruise of 406 kts.
By Shannon Forrest
President, Turbine Mentor ATP/CFII. Challenger 604/605, Gulfstream IV, MU2B
uying real estate and an air craft have at least 1 thing in common: buyers are unlikely to satisfy all their needs and wants with a single purchase, so they must compromise to some degree. In the case of an aircraft, there always seems to be a trade-off between pay load, speed, and mission. Aircraft salesmen pitch that a spe cific model can satisfy every need, but this panacea philosophy rarely translates to operational efficiency across a wide range of operations. A large-cabin jet with a flight attendant, CPDLC, and satellite Internet con nectivity might work well for flying several passengers non-stop across the North Atlantic. However, that aircraft is not the ideal option for fly ing the CEO of a small company on a 500-mile day trip operating out of ru
14 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / June 2020
ral airports. Manufacturers want their products to appeal to a wide range of customers. As a result, niche markets are often underrepresented. The marketing slogan “You don’t build a church for Christmas” is an appropriate analogy. The phrase refers to the fact that church atten dance swells at Christmas but re mains at a consistent and predict able level throughout the rest of the year, so it does not make sense to spend a bunch of money building more square footage just to increase capacity for a single day. Profitability dictates that a company markets – or builds – for the prevailing “normal,” not the outlier. But sometimes the outlier can become a market in and of itself. The single-pilot jet move ment is one such example.
Single-pilot jet market Despite the fact that Cessna was producing single-pilot Citations as far back as the 1970s, the Very Light Jet (VLJ) craze of the early 2000s
brought the single-pilot jet paradigm back to the forefront of aviation dis cussions. At the time, the most vocal advocate for the VLJ or “personal” jet was Vern Raburn, founder and CEO of Eclipse Aviation. Other companies sensed Eclipse was on to something and began de veloping their own VLJs. Some of the designs were unique. Epic Victory, built by Epic out of Bend OR, had only 1 engine, which was mounted on the upper fuselage at the base of the tail. Diamond Aircraft’s D-Jet had air inlets in the leading-edge wing root, which were plumbed into a Y-duct to feed its sole center line-thrust powerplant. Adam A700 used a twin tail boom configuration connected by a horizontal stabilizer. Owner pilots who wanted to eschew the business suit in favor of a mili tary flight suit were attracted to the ATG Javelin, which resembled the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet. Eventually, the legacy aircraft builders developed their own prod ucts to serve the niche. The Cessna Citation Mustang was certified in 2006, and Embraer began delivering Phenom 100s 2 years later.
Economy and VLJs The economic decline of 2008 and 2009 left only the Mustang and Phe nom unscathed. Nearly all the other VLJ builders declared bankruptcy, and those who remained in business shelved their designs. However, the premise that a “clean sheet” jet could be delivered for under a million dol lars was somewhat dubious to begin with. Those who brought products to market had deep pockets and could play the long game. In 2017, Cess na decided to end production of the Mustang. In all, 475 aircraft were delivered. The Phenom 100 is still in production and, according to the General Aviation Manufacturers As sociation (GAMA), Embraer delivered 369 units between 2005 and 2018. Both the Mustang and Phenom are
Photo courtesy Embraer
Light and ver y light turbofan-powered aircraft are versatile and economical to operate.
Citation Mustang & Phenom 100 According to FAA registry data, Mustang owners run the gamut from individuals to charter operators and corporations. The Phenom 100 is comparable. Quest Diagnostics – ATC callsign “labquest” – seems to be the most consistent operator of the Phenom 100, with a fleet of air craft delivering laboratory specimens on a near-daily basis. Quest operates its Phenoms single-pilot. Based on individual aircraft flight histories from FlightAware, a large portion of the legs are 1 hour or less – although a recent westbound leg from MKC (Kansas City MO) to SLC (Salt Lake City UT) blocked over 3 and a half hours of flight time. There are 4 Phenom 100s regis tered to the State of Texas, which uses the moniker “TexDOT” (Texas Dept of Transportation) when checking in
HondaJet uses over-the-wing-mounted engines attached to a fuselage made of composites.
with air traffic control. Officials and employees conducting state business can fly aboard the aircraft. As of May 2020, the Texas Department of Trans portation website advertises a rate of $703 per hour for the Phenom with an additional $400 per day surcharge if a copilot is desired or warranted. For the State of Texas, under 60 min utes seems to be the sweet spot as well. FlightAware tracking shows that one Phenom operated 10 flights be tween April 23 and May 14, 2020, all of which were under an hour. One flight between CLL (College Station TX) and AUS (Austin TX) blocked a short 19 minutes.
HA-420 HondaJet Honda Aircraft Company is con sidered a newcomer to the sin gle-pilot VLJ market. The company was formed in 2006, but its HA-420 HondaJet didn’t receive FAA type certification until December 2015. The most noticeable thing about the HondaJet is that its engines are mounted over the wings. Maximum cruise altitude on the HA-420 is ad vertised at FL430 with an NBAA IFR range (4 occupants) of 1223 nm. Honda did a great job outfitting a VLJ with some finishing touches that are usually reserved for cabin-class aircraft. Executive-style seating is standard. A large baggage area makes it versatile enough for over night stays in addition to the shorter day trips it’s likely to fly most of the time. An optional exterior lavatory
servicing panel eliminates the dread ed walk through the cabin to empty and refill the reservoir-style toilet. A dedicated lavatory with a solid door instead of a flimsy private curtain rounds out the amenities. HondaJet Training is provided by FlightSafety International in a Level D simulator. Officially, there’s no line denoting what makes an aircraft a VLJ. The consensus seems to be that anything below 10,000 lbs MTOW that can carry fewer than 6 passengers falls into the VLJ category. Smaller and lighter jets have ad vantages. They fly economically and can land just about anywhere. A Citation Mustang burns the same amount of fuel during cruise flight that an Embraer 190 does during a single-engine taxi. A smaller foot print means it takes up less room in a hangar and can usually get away with lower ramp fees at FBOs. The Cessna Citation M2’s MTOW of 10,700 lb technically makes it a light (as opposed to VLJ) single-pilot jet, along with the Citation CJ3+ and CJ4, which have MTOWs of 13,870 and 17,110 lb, respectively.
Pilatus PC-24 Pilatus received FAA and EASA certification for its PC-24 single-pi lot jet in December 2017. Pilatus describes the PC-24 as “combining the versatility of a turboprop with the cabin size of a medium-light jet, and the performance of a light jet.” Pilatus is marketing the PC-24 as a PROFESSIONAL PILOT / June 2020 15
Photo courtesy HondaJet
being flown single-pilot in nearly all sectors. Pablo Castello-Branco, now an airline pilot, flew the Cessna Cita tion Mustang single-pilot for 2000 hrs while employed by a high-net worth individual involved with inter national auto racing. Castello-Bran co flew the Mustang extensively in Brazil (the owner’s home), Italy, and the United States, and relocated the aircraft internationally several times. Taking a single-pilot VLJ on an Atlan tic crossing – albeit with fuel stops in Greenland and Iceland – is atypical, but was necessary to get the aircraft in position to support teams during the racing season. Typical missions consisted of segment lengths of 1.5 to 2.5 hours with 2 or 3 people shut tled between racing events. The owner also has a Citation X, but he found the Mustang to be more efficient for day-to-day operation on segment lengths in the 500–600mile range. He liked the Mustang so much that he installed a 5000-ft grass strip at his home in Brasília so that he can walk from his house to the aircraft. This central location al lows the Mustang to reach São Paulo in just over an hour and most Bra zilian cites in roughly 90 minutes. Castello-Branco points out the irony, saying, “Here’s a guy who goes fast for a living and he owns both the fastest and slowest jet Cessna makes. It turns out the slowest jet is the one he uses the most!”
Super Versatile Jet (SVJ) – an entirely new category. Company data shows that the balanced field length for a dry, paved, sea-level runway is 2930 ft. Landing distance under the same conditions is given as 2375 ft at max landing weight. With NBAA reserve fuel, 4 passengers, and a single pi lot, the aircraft can fly 2000 miles at long-range cruise speed.
Cirrus Aircraft also created its own category for its single-pilot-operated Vision Jet. The moniker “personal jet” is designed to imply simplicity of operation, so an owner can fly it without hiring a professional pilot. The engine is mounted on top of the fuselage and the empennage culmi nates in a V-tail configuration. Cirrus claims that the wingspan (38.7 ft) allows it to fit inside a 40-ft hangar typical of most municipal airports. A published takeoff roll of 2036 ft and a landing roll of 1628 ft garner a pi lot more runway options. One safety feature not seen on other jets is the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS), which uses a ballistic para chute to return the entire airframe – and occupants – to the surface in the event of a catastrophic emergency.
Transitioning to single-pilot ops Pilot demographics are mixed when it comes to single-pilot jets. Unless a pilot flew jets in the mil itary, he is likely to fall into 1 of 2 categories – never having flown a jet before, or having jet experience, but only in an aircraft requiring 2 pilots. The first group includes those not employed as professional pilots but having a desire to pilot their own aircraft. Overall experience is often a concern for the owner/operator pilot. Pilots flying under a crew concept paradigm are usually taught basic crew resource management and pilot monitoring skills. In a single-pilot op eration, there’s no one to challenge flawed decision-making, or identify, trap, and correct errors before they evolve into an undesired state. Before operating the Mustang solo, Pablo Castello-Branco had flown as part of a 2-pilot crew in corporate jets. He points out that, even with prior jet experience, the single-pilot transition was challenging. The key to his success was twofold. The first
16 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / June 2020
Pilatus PC-24 can operate from smaller downtown airports or rough, unimproved airstrips.
step was having an avionics package that was designed for ease of oper ation and intuitive to use. Accord ing to Castello-Branco, irrespective of the airframe manufacturer, the Garmin avionics suite was the per fect fit for a single-pilot jet. In addi tion to spending 5 years flying the Mustang, he flew 200 hrs in the Em braer Phenom, which sports Garmin avionics. Being familiar and comfortable with the avionics and complemen tary technology, such as electron ic flight bag and flight planning software, is a must for single-pilot jet operators. It all comes down to reducing work load. Reroutes and holding are 2 of the worst clear ances a pilot can get headed into a busy terminal area under instrument conditions. Before electronic charts, a pilot had to unpack, unfold, and frantically search for a phonetical ly dubious intersection or fix he’d never heard of, and program it into the navigation system. The modern ability to type in the name of a fix, have it spatially displayed relative to one’s current position, and point and click seamlessly into the flight plan ensures that situational awareness is maintained and workload stays manageable. The 2nd element in successful sin gle-pilot jet transitions is a period of supervised operating experience. With 2-pilot crews, this happens by default. A pilot who receives training and a type rating and then joins a
crew is “monitored” just by the na ture of the tandem operation. The same can’t be said of a single-pilot jet. Theoretically, after a type rating is obtained, a pilot can hop right in and fly solo. There’s an argument that insurance limitations drive ex periential requirements, but given enough money – or net worth – the insurance argument becomes moot. When the VLJ frenzy was at its peak, FAA realized the potential problems associated with lack of experience, so it restricted pilot-in-command privileges until a pilot obtained an appropriate amount of experience with a “mentor” pilot. One of the best things about civilian single-pilot jet aircraft is that they all have a fully functioning set of dual controls. Jets like the Phenom 100 perform well and can carry decent-size payloads even with a 2nd (although not re quired) pilot in the cockpit. The deci sion to operate single-pilot or add a 2nd pilot may ultimately come down to passenger comfort and the difficul ty of the task at hand. One lesson that continues to plague aviation is that just because you can doesn’t mean you always should. Shannon Forrest is a current line pilot, CRM facilitator and aviation safety con sultant. He has over 10,000 hours and holds a degree in be havioral psychology.
Photo courtesy Pilatus Aircraft
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Our response to COVID-19. claylacy.com/cleancheck
How have your responsibilities and schedules as a professional pilot changed due to the coronavirus epidemic? Also, how is the company you fly for managing the epidemic?
urrently, in my 70s, so, as a DPE, I am sheltering at home. I’m not carrying out practical tests until I can determine that the flight schools are a safe, infection-free environment. I also fly for a major international company which has ceased flying executives until the pandemic begins clearing. In the meantime, we are focusing on maintenance and training that fall under the coronavirus guidelines for safety. Patrick Cannon ATP/CFI. Challenger 350 & Mitsubishi MU2 President Mission Air Services Lewisville TX
or the most part, we’re not flying. I fly for a Part 91 private company. When we do have to fly, we use extra disinfecting procedures pre-, during, and post-flight to reduce the chances of cross-contamination. We also make sure we have a plan b & c in the event of an ATC zero situation, service shortage, or any other possible scenario. Another concern of ours is flight planning with FBOs and complying with local ordinances. In this current environment, you can’t take past services for granted. For example, rental cars are not available at some small airports. Tom Dempsey ATP. Citation Bravo, King Air 250 & Piper Aerostar Corporate Pilot MDM Air, Play Therapy Aviation & King Aviation Marietta OH
e are bound by the wishes of the aircraft owner – his plane, his rules. My duties have moved more towards keeping assets and crew ready for when this situation passes and we are once again able to fly with regularity. Paul McVay ATP/CFII. Hawker 800XP Lead Captain Clay Lacy Watertown CT
here has been no change in my responsibilities, just a stoppage in schedules. However, my principal is elderly, so he is sheltered at home for the duration of this pandemic. There are no known travel plans currently. Due to total inactivity, there is no impact in managing the epidemic. On the plus side, as
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18 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / June 2020
the sole employee in the flight department, I still receive my salary! Gary Nickell ATP/CFII. Sabreliner 65 Chief Pilot Fitness Management Grand Rapids MI
ur schedule has temporarily gone to a 15 days on, 13 off in comparison to an 8 on, 6 off. This allows for fewer crew changes. We have also started a pod concept to keep aircraft based near the pilot’s home to reduce airline travel. Cleaning between flights is more indepth and we now include passenger health screening as well. Pam Barwick ATP. Citation Excel/XLS Captain Fly Exclusive Hobe Sound FL
y responsibilities and availability have not changed. However, there has been significantly less flying. The focus has been more on taking the opportunity to get busy with maintenance items and awareness of preservation issues that need to be considered for aircraft that sit for longer periods than usual. We’re a very small company with 26 years in business. We’ve seen worse downturns and have reserves. Doug Chapman ATP/CFI/A&P. Phenom 300 & Centurion T210 President & Dir of Operations Montana Aircraft Belgrade MT
racticing crew resource management is especially important in today’s potentially distracting times. I have always been very crew-oriented, but I pay extra attention to duty days with rescheduling, and I make sure the entire crew has everything they need to be safe and effective. My schedule, on the other hand, has seen a drastic reduction in flying – about an 80% drop. Jeff Siems ATP. Airbus 321/320/319 & King Air 90 Captain Airway Inc Indian Trail NC
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mployer has staggered the work hours and has a 1 worker per vehicle policy. I fly a restricted category helicopter for mosquito control, and normally I have minimal contact with the other employees. In the future, a review by those several pay grades above me may be done with the usual and customary conclusions. Daniel Funk ATP/CFI/A&P. Scott’s Bell 47 Pilot Board of County Commissioners Kenneth City FL
esponsibilities haven’t changed. However, our schedule has been reduced dramatically. We’ve canceled all upcoming flights and have moved up maintenance to better make use of the downtime. Thomas McCreery ATP. Falcon 900 Lead Captain Snails Pace Aviation Bay Shore NY
ur pilot roster had to be cut from 19 to 12, as well as several office staff. Management has had pay cuts. Elite Jets Charter is engaging our pilot group with home-study, with additional educational and weekly phone meetings to maintain a high level of communication. Maintenance is carrying out needed and additional services on the aircraft. All management is working daily to plan for the hopefully robust return of GA flying. Paul Scott ATP. Phenom 300/Legacy 500 Chief Pilot Elite Jets Charter Naples FL
ince we’re a medevac operation, we already have strict protocols in place for dealing with airborne pathogens. Therefore, our job hasn’t changed. However, considering the Covid-19 virus, we’ve added more layers of protection for our flight crews and patients. Tim Harold ATP. Learjet 35/31 Captain Aero Air Anchorage AK
20 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / June 2020
etJets is one of the finest, most professional firms I have ever worked for. They have been highly proactive, financially strong, have communicated often, and honestly. My responsibilities have remained the same, even though flights are down considerably. In the meantime, I have been keeping up with training requirements. Brad Dick ATP. Citation Latitude SIC Pilot NetJets The Colony TX y workload so far has not diminished as a Global 7500 instructor. This is due to the high demand for initial type rating training. I can see a sharp decline in pilot training, but we still have plenty of work at my company due to personal qualifications to meet in the short-term. Real Bougie ATP. Global 7500 Instructor Pilot CAE Montréal QC, Canada
uring this time, my focus has turned to more readiness and preservation of the assets, and to monitor closely currency for all crewmembers. Everyone is trying to monitor the daily changes and so we’re ready to go if called upon. Our company has been very understanding of the situation, and has decided to keep everyone onboard. In turn, they are asking us to do our part to have the assets and ourselves ready when things turn around. Kenneth Francomano ATP. Gulfstream G650ER/G280 Chief Pilot The Kraft Group Atkinson NH
xtra time has been spent on the ground focusing on engine runs and system runs to keep the plane in good working condition for when we can fly again. Joanna Meek ATP. Legacy 600 Aviation Director W3 Frisco TX
eady with our sterile aircraft, but in our business not everyone can see us when we fly in. We have the same responsibilities and duties to the people who pay our wages. We, the flight crew, are incredibly grateful to be employed. John Nicklas ATP/Helo/CFII. Citation SII Chief Pilot Anytime Aviation Pittsburgh PA
e’ve had to relocate some passengers to where they can wait for this situation to pan out. We’ve also made use of this time to put the plane in the shop and take care of some upcoming mx. Bruce Rainwater ATP. King Air 200 Pilot Houston Sigma Richmond TX
ue to the stay home order for Washington State, our schedule has come to a halt. However, almost all our 20+ companies are still producing because they are essential. Rick Lewis Comm-Multi-Inst. Phenom 300 & King Air 200 Chief Pilot Air Service LLC Spokane WA
y responsibilities now tend, as much as possible, to maintain social distance by doing tasks such as duty sign-in and flight planning remotely as opposed to doing it in high traffic areas. As far as schedule, our customers are flying less, so my scheduling is about 30–40% lighter than normal. For my company’s approach to this epidemic, we screen pilots and passengers more. In addition, we wear face masks a much is possible. Also, our heavy helos have now HEPA filters in the ventilation system, and there are barriers between cabin and cockpit partitions. Michael O’Brien ATP/Helo/CFII. Leonardo AW139 Captain PHI Cantonment FL
Photo courtesy Pilatus Aircraft
Pilatus delivers PC-12 NGX TPs to launch customers
ilatus began delivering its new PC-12 NGX advanced single-engine turboprop aircraft to customers around the world. The NGX model was unveiled to the public at the 2019 National Business Aviation Association’s annual Convention and Exhibition (NBAABACE) in Las Vegas. First delivery of the PC-12 NGX in the United States went to HP Director and former CEO Dion Weisler. Weisler reserved his NGX as soon as Pilatus opened the order book in October 2019, and upgraded from his 2017 model year PC-12 NG through the manufacturer’s authorized sales and service center Western Aircraft in Boise ID.
Pilatus PC-12 flies over Sedona AZ.
In Europe, the first PC-12 NGX delivery went to Dr Ulrich Byszio in Germany. Dr Byszio, a pilot with a passion for all forms of aviation, moved from a popular light jet to his new PC-12 NGX. Additional PC-12 NGX launch customers from Brazil and the United States will be taking delivery of their new aircraft in June 2020. Since its introduction, more than 1750 PC-12s have been produced, and it holds the title of the business aviation industry’s top-selling pressurized aircraft for the past 4 years in a row.
Gulfstream G650 training underway at FSI Dallas
F Photo courtesy FlightSafety
lightSafety International (FSI) announced that training for Gulfstream G650 aircraft is now under way at its Dallas Learning Center using a new FlightSafety FS1000 simulator. Dallas is FSI’s 5th G650 training location, and this is the 6th full flight simulator the company has built to serve G650 operators around the world. FSI has been the official factory-authorized training organization for Gulfstream for more than 5 decades.
FS1000 sim for Gulfstream G650 aircraft.
PROFESSIONAL PILOT / June 2020
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22 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / June 2020
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PART 91 OPERATIONS
What are corporate flight departments doing to cope with the pandemic?
Photos courtesy Johnson & Johnson
With flight hours significantly down due to shelter-at-home instructions by state authorities, personnel choose to catch up with training and aircraft maintenance.
During the time aircraft have been on the ground due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Johnson & Johnson has turned its attention to maintenance. In addition, pilots and company executives have worked together to enhance safety protocols for the flight departments.
By Pro Pilot staff
owntime doesn’t equate to inactivity. Although many aviation activities have experienced a decrease in flight hours, there are corporate flight departments that have kept flying as usual – but with added sanitary precautions adopted due to the Covid-19 pandemic. While many corporate pilots report flight department shutdowns and employee furloughs since the authorities recommended sheltering at home in late March, those who are active have decided to make the most out of this forced break from flying. Aircraft maintenance, personnel training, and improving safety and health protocols are among the activities being conducted during this time.
Training On May 29, 2020, FAA extended through July 31, 2020 4 regulatory exemptions that give scheduled and
24 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / June 2020
on-demand US air carriers grace periods for completing certain training and qualification requirements. These exemptions were issued to give crew members relief from having to don protective breathing equipment or oxygen masks in training, checking, or evaluation. Originally, these exemptions were going to expire on May 31. On the same date, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and other associations requested FAA to extend the effective date for several exemptions, as well as for pilot medical certifications, training proficiency, and a host of other requirements contained in Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) 118. The package provides regulatory relief for affected pilots to remain in compliance with several FAA mandates during the pandemic. To ensure general aviation can continue to play a vital role in Covid-19 response, management, and recovery, the associations requested an
additional month of flexibility for pilots, operators, and certificate holders to comply with certain training, recent experience, testing, and checking requirements provided in SFAR 118; additional relief until September 30 for medical and renewal requirements provided in SFAR 118; and relief for pilots, operators, and certificate holders facing expiring experience, testing, checking, duration, medical, and renewal expirations in July, August, and September.
Reopening flight depts Johnson & Johnson Director of Aviation Carl Sorg reports that his flight department closed temporarily in early March. He expects to reopen soon, subject to company guidance. When the flight department reactivates, the company has put in place a special safety protocol that mandates the use of masks by anyone who boards the plane, and limits the number of passengers to 6 per flight.
AIMI has introduced enhanced safety practices for flightcrew members and company execs while on board the aircraft. Use of nitrile gloves and face masks is one of them. Photos show Mx Mgr Bill Pennell (above), and Aviation Mgr David Bjellos and Gulfstream Captain Chuck Love.
although management is debating whether the masks should come off once the flightcrew is in the cockpit. Each plane carries a sanitation kit for passengers in case they need it while on ground transportation. Each plane also has OEM-recommended cleaning kits. “When the aircraft are back in our base, another full wipedown and ozone treatment are done if necessary,” adds Mitchelson. “Passengers handle their own baggage, as we will be doing very few overnights. If we have to stay on the road, passengers will handle their bags to the plane, and the crew will load bags using disinfectant wipes. Only trusted hotels will be used.” Special medical equipment aboard MPW aircraft now includes a defibrillator. Hormel Foods has stricter safety and health policies in place, including the use of face masks and thorough aircraft disinfection. Pictures show CEO Jim Snee (L) and Pilot M Jenkins (lower right).
Essential flights only Peco Foods Director of Flight Ops Andy Kilgore declares, “Our company’s management determined that flying be ‘business critical only,’ so sales/customer trips were eliminated, as they were deemed non-essential. However, our company has been tagged as ‘essential’ as we are a food supplier. Our facilities have been operating with protocols in place.” Peco has been flying with measures in place similar to those at the company’s plants – temperatures are taken, additional cleanings of aircraft interiors are carried out before and after flights, and sanitizing wipes are available for crew and passengers in the cockpit and the aft cabin. “Before the pandemic, our department was on a record pace for hours flown for the year,” notes Kilgore. “We have had an increase in hours each year for the past 10 years, and 2020 will be the first drop-off from
PROFESSIONAL PILOT / June 2020 25
Photos courtesy AIMI
Photos courtesy Hormel Foods
Wearing gloves is discretionary. If a person becomes ill, they must practice proper hand hygiene, and the flightcrew will provide an airsickness bag for the safe disposal of tissues used. If the situation constitutes an inflight medical emergency, they must call MedAire. “Everyone on board, including the flightcrew, is required to wear masks as per our policies driven by guidance from our medical director,” remarks Sorg. Johnson & Johnson aircraft carry personal protective equipment (PPE) kits and flu kits. Regarding services at FBOs visited during this period, Sorg adds, “We have only had 1 flight so far, to APF (Naples FL). Services available at Naples Airport Authority were fuel only. They only allowed the crew into the building. Pax had to go directly to and from the aircraft in a car.” MPW Director of Aviation Eric Mitchelson also reports a temporary closure of his company’s flight department. MPW’s last flight was on March 13. MPW has special protocols for safe passenger, crew, aircraft and baggage handling for when the flight department is back up and running. Temperatures will be taken prior to entering the building, and passengers and crew will be wearing masks,
Photo courtesy Peco Foods
the year prior. We have only flown into a couple of FBOs during the pandemic, one of which has gone as far as requiring 2-way radio communication prior to arrival to verify the flight’s place of origin to better manage any possible exposure.” Medical equipment in Peco Foods aircraft is limited to first aid kits and AED devices. “We have added Lysol wipes, hand sanitizer, and disposable bags for placing clothing items or shoes to minimize exposure,” adds Kilgore.
Enhanced safety protocols Like most other Part 91 operators, Qualcomm has seen flight cancellations as a result of the pandemic. “We have developed a robust set of protocols which address all as-
As a food supplier, Peco Foods has been deemed an essential business, but the company has limited flying to “business critical only.” When pilots are called to action, crew members and passengers are checked for abnormal body temperature, and disinfecting products are available in the aircraft.
26 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / June 2020
pects of executive travel from hangar door to hangar door,” explains Greg Woods, senior director of corporate aviation. “Our protocols are based on significant industry benchmarks and internal discussions and meetings.” Once these protocols were finalized at Qualcomm, aviation and security presented the changes to company leadership for suggestions and approval. “We are now engaged in a comprehensive change management process to ensure success,” adds Woods. “And although we have not adjusted the health and safety equipment on our aircraft, each passenger is issued a personal medical kit which includes a thermometer for self assessment.”
Best practices Part 91 flight departments that have remained fully operational during this extraordinary period have done so while adopting best safety and health practices from across the industry. “Our management hasn’t officially canceled any flights. We have remained at full operational capacity throughout,” says AIMI Aviation Manager David Bjellos. “We took a compilation of best practices from Gulfstream, NBAA, and our company-specific directives, and made a template for both helicopters and airplanes. It remains a working document and is updated constantly.” To John Deere, the safety of its employees is of the utmost importance. “The company has strict travel restrictions which have affected the frequency of our flight activity,”
says John Deere Aviation Sr Capt Daniel Wolford. The company took the initiative to start manufacturing protective face shields for healthcare workers. “We have shipped more than 350,000 units, and we’ve also encouraged volunteering in sewing cloth masks for those in our communities,” he adds. “There is also a 2:1 employee match program to encourage donations to local food banks and to the American Red Cross.” Alex Panchana, CEO of Alaxair, a management and consulting aviation company based in Zürich, Switzerland, stresses the need for crews and passengers to be protected with gloves, masks, and disinfectants. “In our aircraft, there is always a package of disinfection wipes in the cockpit, cabin, and the galley” he says.
Conclusion With flight cancellations due to the Covid-19 pandemic, those Part 91 pilots who are still flying report that services at their destinations are reduced in all categories. However, special care is being taken at both company hangars and FBOs. Corporate flight departments deemed crucial are taking extreme actions to keep operations safe and healthy, such as running ozone machines daily to disinfect interiors, and limiting aircraft occupancy. With this level of commitment industry-wide, there’s no doubt that corporate flying will continue to play a vital role in the imminent recovery and inexorable growth of the world economy.
Photos courtesy John Deere
John Deere considers the safety of its employees to be of the utmost importance. Although the pandemic has affected the frequency of its flight activity, the company has manufactured and shipped some 350,000 face shields for healthcare workers. Pictured are Pilots Greg Farley (L) and Dan Bishop.
AHEAD OF THE CURVE
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PRO PILOT COMPENSATION
Salary Study 2020 Demand for pilots continues to grow in business aviation while salaries increase by about 3%. Strong benefit packages are offered to keep and attract pilots. Bombardier Global 7500
Dassault Falcon 8X
Pro Pilot Staff Report
alaries have always been the main factor in the home economy. Strong companies with the largest aircraft have increased their pilots’ salaries by around 3%, depending on how well they have done financially during the past year. At the same time, the pilot shortage continues to be an issue for companies. It’s time for airline pilots to retire once they reach the mandatory retirement age of 65. Airlines are in need of pilots, and they continue to pluck pilots from different fields in the industry, offering higher salaries, bonuses, and better benefit packages. Therefore, pilots are in demand, and companies are putting together nice offers for them. However, an unexpected situation has risen in 2020 that has changed the world’s economy – the Covid-19 pandemic. Everyone has been affect-
28 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / June 2020
ed, but it’s important that we highlight the creativity of companies, executives, and pilots in continuing their operations as best they can and implementing protocols designed to keep their crews safe and healthy. Strong companies are managing to keep their pilots by using their reserves and focusing on aircraft maintenance and pilot training while flying time is down. Some companies have focused on transportation of medical supplies to areas badly hit by the coronavirus. Some pilots have had their flying schedules reduced dramatically, and duties have shifted to aircraft maintenance. In other cases, general aviation (GA) pilots are experiencing layoffs, furloughs, and salary cuts. This is a time when pilots should begin planning and start expanding their education and skills in order to be more attractive to employers when it’s time to resume flying. Pilots need to focus on getting the licens-
Airbus Helicopters EC155
es or credentials they’ve been thinking about. This pandemic won’t be endless. Flying activities are slowly coming back. And when that moment comes, pilots want to be ready with improved skills, licenses, and, most importantly, a good attitude for their customers and employers. Professional Pilot magazine has conducted its 2020 Salary Survey based on 1142 robust forms in addition to valuable inputs provided by company flight departments. Some of the latter offer complete packages to attract pilots. However, the salaries cited in this survey are gross in¬comes only. As such, they don’t include bonuses, stocks, or benefits, nor do they take into account factors such as seniority, cross training, number of aircraft flown, or region where the company is located. Pro Pilot uses average, low, and high salary figures to reflect earnings based on aircraft model, job title, and field of operations.
Responses by use of aircraft 0.2% Offshore oil
0.1% Electronic news gathering
0.4% Police 1.0% EMS
Responses by position
Responses by level of education
First officer Av dept mgr
MA/MS degree 10.8%
or the 48th year, Professional Pilot magazine has conducted a salary study by aircraft type, matching compensation to specific fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft models. During March 2020, a total of 9069 survey forms were sent out to a random selection of qualified Pro Pilot readers worldwide. A total of 1379 survey forms, representing a 15.2% return, came back to the Pro Pilot office in Alexandria VA by the cutoff date of May 11, 2020. After review, a total of 1142 survey forms qualified as being properly filled out by eligible respondents. A total of 237 survey forms were disqualified due to inconsistencies,
Responses by company benefits %
errors, part-time or contract pilot positions, or lateness. Each form was reviewed carefully to ensure reliability of data. In addition to survey averages, Pro Pilot compared salaries provided by various corporate flight departments and pilot placement agencies. For monthly military basic rates of pay published by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense, Personnel & Readiness, go to https://militarypay.defense.gov/Pay/Basic-Pay/Active-Duty-Pay/ (Active Duty Pay, January 2020). For 2020 Major US Airline Pay Survey by FAPA Financial Services, go to www.fapa.aero/majorpay.
Responses by achievements %
Responses by licenses held %
PROFESSIONAL PILOT / June 2020 29
2020 US Salary Study Gulfstream G650ER aviation department managers earn an average of $227,000, with a high of $283,000. Chief Pilot earn between $156,000 to the highest compensation of $239,000 per year.
Average Low High
Aviation dept mgr Heavy intl jets
Airbus ACJ318/319 Boeing 727 Boeing 737/BBJ Challenger 600/601 Challenger 604/605 Challenger 650 Falcon 7X/8X Falcon 900/900EX/900LX Global Express/5000/6000 Global 7500 Gulfstream IV/G450 Gulfstream V/G550 Gulfstream G650
219,000 196,000 209,000 182,000 200,000 204,000 216,000 210,000 220,000 226,000 210,000 222,000 227,000
Falcon 2000/2000EX/LX Gulfstream III
Challenger 300/350 Citation Latitude Citation X Embraer Legacy 600 Embraer Legacy 450/500 Falcon 50/50EX Gulfstream Galaxy/G200/G280
167,000 135,000 162,000 132,000 146,000 149,000 148,000 145,000 166,000 170,000 155,000 164,000 172,000 145,000 130,000
288,000 215,000 278,000 253,000 263,000 269,000 274,000 268,000 280,000 285,000 267,000 277,000 283,000
176,000 178,000 180,000 155,000 172,000 161,000 153,000
140,000 144,000 147,000 130,000 144,000 123,000 132,000
112,000 119,000 96,000 108,000 111,000 115,000 88,000 102,000 108,000 111,000
Citation Excel/XLS 136,000 Citation Sovereign 147,000 Falcon 20/200 112,000 Gulfstream Astra/G100/G150 132,000 Hawker 800/800XP/1000 141,000 Hawker 850/850XP/900/900XP 152,000 Learjet 35/36 100,000 Learjet 40/40XR/45/45XR 128,000 Learjet 55/60/60XR 140,000 Learjet 70/75 142,000 Light jets
235,000 187,000 201,000 210,000 222,000 170,000 225,000 209,000 179,000 162,000 174,000 139,000 164,000 174,000 187,000 120,000 152,000 169,000 174,000
Beechjet 400/Hawker 400XP 109,000 93,000 139,000 CitationJet/CJ1/CJ2/M2 106,000 86,000 136,000 Citation II/SII/Bravo/CJ3/CJ4 113,000 95,000 149,000 Citation V/Ultra/Encore 115,000 96,000 151,000 Embraer Phenom 100 101,000 85,000 130,000 Embraer Phenom 300 111,000 97,000 140,000 Premier I 101,000 85,000 129,000
30 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / June 2020
Average Low High
Heavy intl jets
Airbus ACJ318/319 Boeing 727 Boeing 737/BBJ Challenger 600/601 Challenger 604/605 Challenger 650 Falcon 7X/8X Falcon 900/900EX Global Express/5000/6000 Global 7500 Gulfstream IV/G450 Gulfstream V/G550 Gulfstream G650
200,000 172,000 199,000 143,000 174,000 178,000 185,000 178,000 201,000 205,000 179,000 203,000 212,000
Falcon 2000/2000EX/LX Gulfstream III
151,000 131,000 149,000 122,000 128,000 133,000 136,000 129,000 146,000 149,000 132,000 152,000 156,000
223,000 186,000 224,000 175,000 215,000 221,000 219,000 216,000 235,000 241,000 220,000 237,000 239,000
144,000 146,000 148,000 138,000 143,000 135,000 139,000
118,000 120,000 124,000 112,000 114,000 108,000 111,000
173,000 174,000 178,000 159,000 165,000 168,000 162,000
91,000 102,000 85,000 95,000 100,000 102,000 79,000 92,000 99,000 101,000
147,000 158,000 131,000 149,000 144,000 150,000 114,000 128,000 137,000 145,000
Challenger 300/350 Citation Latitude Citation X Embraer Legacy 600 Embraer Legacy 450/500 Falcon 50/50EX Gulfstream Galaxy/G200/G280
Citation Excel/XLS 118,000 Citation Sovereign 130,000 Falcon 20/200 105,000 Gulfstream Astra/G100/G150 119,000 Hawker 800/800XP/1000 116,000 Hawker 850/850XP/900/900XP 132,000 Learjet 35/36 95,000 Learjet 40/40XR/45/45XR 111,000 Learjet 55/60/60XR 119,000 Learjet 70/75 123,000 Light jets
Beechjet 400/Hawker 400XP 101,000 84,000 124,000 CitationJet/CJ1/CJ2/M2 95,000 82,000 121,000 Citation II/SII/Bravo/CJ3/CJ4 102,000 83,000 133,000 Citation V/Ultra/Encore 105,000 85,000 135,000 Citation Mustang 81,000 74,000 98,000 Embraer Phenom 100 84,000 78,000 102,000 Embraer Phenom 300 97,000 84,000 114,000 Premier I 90,000 80,000 112,000
Average Low High
Heavy intl jets
Airbus ACJ318/319 Boeing 727 Boeing 737/BBJ Challenger 600/601 Challenger 604/605 Challenger 650 Falcon 7X/8X Falcon 900/900EX Global Express/5000/6000 Global 7500 Gulfstream IV/G450 Gulfstream V/G550 Gulfstream G650
156,000 139,000 155,000 131,000 147,000 148,000 156,000 149,000 171,000 176,000 156,000 171,000 175,000
Falcon 2000/2000EX/LX Gulfstream III
Challenger 300/350 Citation Latitude Citation X Embraer Legacy 600 Embraer Legacy 450/500 Falcon 50/50EX Gulfstream Galaxy/G200/G280 Embraer Praetor 600
140,000 116,000 141,000 109,000 115,000 122,000 120,000 110,000 129,000 132,000 118,000 130,000 137,000 106,000 99,000
196,000 162,000 189,000 158,000 190,000 206,000 195,000 190,000 221,000 224,000 197,000 214,000 221,000
128,000 130,000 133,000 115,000 128,000 120,000 127,000 129,000
103,000 105,000 109,000 95,000 106,000 96,000 99,000 104,000
86,000 97,000 78,000 90,000 89,000 95,000 74,000 88,000 91,000 97,000
Citation Excel/XLS 101,000 Citation Sovereign 120,000 Falcon 20/200 93,000 Gulfstream Astra/G100/G150 112,000 Hawker 800/800XP/1000 111,000 Hawker 850/850XP/900/900XP 113,000 Learjet 35/36 84,000 Learjet 40/40XR/45/45XR 103,000 Learjet 55/60/60XR 108,000 Learjet 70/75 111,000
181,000 152,000 155,000 157,000 159,000 142,000 155,000 150,000 156,000 162,000
129,000 134,000 117,000 132,000 135,000 136,000 104,000 121,000 123,000 126,000
90,000 79,000 110,000 82,000 71,000 98,000 90,000 75,000 115,000 96,000 79,000 118,000 75,000 68,000 93,000 79,000 71,000 97,000 85,000 75,000 108,000 83,000 71,000 99,000
Heavy intl jets
Airbus ACJ318/319 Boeing 727 Boeing 737/BBJ Challenger 600/601
97,000 87,000 99,000 85,000
85,000 75,000 87,000 77,000
Average Low High
Challenger 604/605 Challenger 650 Falcon 7X/8X Falcon 900/900EX Global Express/5000/6000 Global 7500 Gulfstream IV/G450 Gulfstream V/G550 Gulfstream G650
96,000 101,000 99,000 98,000 104,000 114,000 101,000 106,000 107,000
Beechjet 400/Hawker 400XP CitationJet/CJ1/CJ2/M2 Citation II/SII/Bravo/CJ3/CJ4 Citation V/Ultra/Encore Citation Mustang Embraer Phenom 100 Embraer Phenom 300 Premier I
Embraer Legacy 600 captains can earn an annual salary between $95,000 and $142,000. While First Officers flying the same aircraft make an average of $78,000.
107,000 100,000 107,000 98,000
Falcon 2000/2000EX/LX Gulfstream III
Challenger 300/350 Citation Latitude Citation X Embraer Legacy 600 Embraer Legacy 450/500 Falcon 50/50EX Gulfstream Galaxy/G200/G280
88,000 95,000 89,000 87,000 90,000 101,000 88,000 92,000 95,000 79,000 72,000
105,000 112,000 109,000 107,000 114,000 124,000 112,000 120,000 122,000
86,000 89,000 91,000 78,000 85,000 84,000 78,000
72,000 73,000 77,000 66,000 67,000 66,000 63,000
57,000 63,000 49,000 56,000 62,000 67,000 48,000 55,000 63,000 65,000
77,000 91,000 71,000 80,000 89,000 94,000 66,000 77,000 85,000 88,000
51,000 45,000 52,000 54,000
65,000 61,000 65,000 67,000
Citation Excel/XLS Citation Sovereign Falcon 20/200 Gulfstream Astra/G100/G150 Hawker 800/800XP/1000 Hawker 850/850XP/900/900XP Learjet 35/36 Learjet 40/40XR/45/45XR Learjet 55/60/60XR Learjet 70/75 Beechjet 400/Hawker 400XP CitationJet/CJ1/CJ2/M2 Citation II/SII/Bravo/CJ3/CJ4 Citation V/Ultra/Encore
65,000 76,000 59,000 64,000 70,000 76,000 56,000 67,000 72,000 75,000 56,000 53,000 57,000 59,000
97,000 99,000 102,000 93,000 96,000 94,000 93,000
PROFESSIONAL PILOT / June 2020 31
Aviation department managers, chief pilots and captains operating a Pilatus PC-12NG under Part 91 average annual salaries of $86,000, $80,000 and $72,000 respectively.
Average Low High
Caravan Cheyenne II/III Conquest II King Air 90/100 King Air 200/250 King Air 300/350 Mitsubishi MU2 Piaggio P180 Avanti Pilatus PC-12 TBM700/850 TBM900/910/930
67,000 72,000 73,000 84,000 96,000 100,000 71,000 87,000 86,000 73,000 78,000
Aviation dept mgr 57,000 59,000 62,000 70,000 77,000 83,000 57,000 77,000 74,000 63,000 68,000
84,000 87,000 91,000 108,000 111,000 120,000 86,000 106,000 105,000 88,000 96,000
Chief pilot Caravan 61,000 52,000 79,000 Cheyenne II/III 64,000 53,000 82,000 Conquest II 68,000 58,000 85,000 King Air 90/100 74,000 60,000 91,000 King Air 200/250 87,000 64,000 106,000 King Air 300/350 93,000 68,000 114,000 Mitsubishi MU2 62,000 54,000 80,000 Piaggio P180 Avanti 80,000 63,000 98,000 Pilatus PC-12 80,000 62,000 97,000 TBM700/850 65,000 54,000 81,000 TBM900/910/930 71,000 61,000 86,000 Captain Caravan Cheyenne II/III Conquest II King Air 90/100 King Air 200/250 King Air 300/350 Mitsubishi MU2 Piaggio P180 Avanti Pilatus PC-12 TBM700/850 TBM900/910/930
57,000 58,000 60,000 69,000 81,000 83,000 58,000 71,000 72,000 60,000 65,000
48,000 49,000 54,000 56,000 60,000 61,000 50,000 58,000 57,000 50,000 56,000
72,000 75,000 80,000 86,000 97,000 102,000 71,000 84,000 87,000 74,000 78,000
92,000 96,000 119,000 107,000 88,000 93,000 97,000
81,000 84,000 109,000 97,000 75,000 77,000 84,000
109,000 113,000 159,000 136,000 109,000 111,000 113,000
Average Low High
Bell 412/430 99,000 87,000 116,000 Bell 429 117,000 101,000 145,000 Bell 427 105,000 93,000 136,000 Leonardo AW109 101,000 82,000 121,000 Leonardo AW139 138,000 119,000 150,000 MD 500 series 89,000 74,000 110,000 MD 900 series 104,000 90,000 131,000 Sikorsky S-76 140,000 122,000 179,000 Sikorsky S-92 145,000 130,000 195,000 Chief pilot Airbus Heli AS350/EC120 83,000 73,000 103,000 Airbus Heli AS355/EC135 85,000 75,000 107,000 Airbus Heli AS365/EC155 111,000 99,000 147,000 Airbus Heli EC145 99,000 89,000 129,000 Bell 206/206L/AW119 Koala 82,000 67,000 103,000 Bell 212/222/230 87,000 72,000 100,000 Bell 407/EC130 90,000 77,000 108,000 Bell 412/430 94,000 79,000 110,000 Bell 429 106,000 93,000 132,000 Bell 427 98,000 85,000 126,000 Leonardo AW109 94,000 77,000 109,000 Leonardo AW139 128,000 109,000 137,000 MD 500 series 82,000 66,000 103,000 MD 900 series 97,000 83,000 124,000 Sikorsky S-76 134,000 113,000 171,000 Sikorsky S-92 138,000 124,000 186,000 Captain Airbus Heli AS350/EC120 77,000 Airbus Heli AS355/EC135 81,000 Airbus Heli AS365/EC155 106,000 Airbus Heli EC145 95,000 Bell 206/206L/AW119 Koala 76,000 Bell 212/222/230 81,000 Bell 407/EC130 82,000 Bell 412/430 86,000 Bell 429 99,000 Bell 427 92,000 Leonardo AW109 86,000 Leonardo AW139 117,000 MD 500 series 76,000 MD 900 series 92,000 Sikorsky S-76 128,000 Sikorsky S-92 133,000
64,000 66,000 92,000 78,000 60,000 68,000 70,000 73,000 82,000 77,000 71,000 104,000 59,000 77,000 106,000 117,000
96,000 99,000 134,000 122,000 94,000 92,000 97,000 103,000 121,000 115,000 102,000 124,000 94,000 115,000 154,000 170,000
Corporate helicopter Aviation dept mgr Airbus Heli AS350/EC120 Airbus Heli AS355/EC135 Airbus Heli AS365/EC155 Airbus Heli EC145 Bell 206/206L/AW119 Koala Bell 212/222/230 Bell 407/EC130
32 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / June 2020
Flying an MD902 under Part 91, aviation department managers can earn an average remuneration of $104,000. For a chief pilot average salary is $97,000 and for a captain is $92,000 annually.
Bombardier Challenger 350 captains flying under Part 135, can obtain an average annual remuneration of $121,000, with a high of $142,000 and a low of $96,000.
Average Low High
Heavy intl jets and large jets
Airbus ACJ319 155,000 126,000 173,000 Boeing 737/BBJ 157,000 128,000 174,000 Boeing 757/767 163,000 129,000 176,000 Challenger 601 109,000 102,000 136,000 Challenger 604/605 127,000 112,000 151,000 Falcon 900/900EX 131,000 116,000 153,000 Falcon 2000/2000EX 129,000 107,000 146,000 Falcon 7X 157,000 125,000 174,000 Global Express/5000/6000 151,000 120,000 167,000 Gulfstream III 118,000 99,000 133,000 Gulfstream IV/G450 140,000 116,000 163,000 Gulfstream V/G550 154,000 122,000 170,000 Gulfstream G650 162,000 127,000 181,000 Supermidsize and midsize jets Challenger 300/350 121,000 96,000 142,000 Citation Excel/XLS 89,000 76,000 104,000 Citation Sovereign 98,000 86,000 115,000 Citation X 105,000 97,000 134,000 Embraer Legacy 600 103,000 94,000 119,000 Falcon 50 103,000 92,000 120,000 Gulfstream Astra/G100/G150 96,000 81,000 114,000 Gulfstream Galaxy/G200/G280 107,000 89,000 125,000 Hawker 800/800XP/1000 98,000 81,000 116,000 Hawker 850/850XP/900/900XP 105,000 87,000 123,000 Learjet 35/36 79,000 68,000 96,000 Learjet 40/40XR/45/45XR 87,000 77,000 103,000 Learjet 55/60 96,000 82,000 116,000 Learjet 75 101,000 85,000 121,000
Average Low High
Challenger 601 Challenger 604/605 Falcon 900/900EX Falcon 2000/2000EX Falcon 7X Global Express/5000/6000 Gulfstream III Gulfstream IV/G450 Gulfstream V/G550 Gulfstream G650
81,000 85,000 91,000 89,000 96,000 93,000 70,000 89,000 95,000 103,000
65,000 69,000 71,000 71,000 79,000 73,000 61,000 65,000 72,000 82,000
96,000 101,000 110,000 105,000 117,000 111,000 88,000 98,000 104,000 117,000
Supermidsize and midsize jets
60,000 54,000 57,000 63,000 56,000 57,000 53,000 58,000 52,000 54,000 46,000 48,000 53,000 58,000
92,000 83,000 85,000 91,000 79,000 79,000 79,000 80,000 82,000 83,000 66,000 69,000 77,000 84,000
Challenger 300/350 70,000 Citation Excel/XLS 65,000 Citation Sovereign 65,000 Citation X 71,000 Embraer Legacy 600 64,000 Falcon 50 65,000 Gulfstream Astra/G100/G150 63,000 Gulfstream Galaxy/G280/G200 64,000 Hawker 800/800XP/1000 64,000 Hawker 850/850XP/900/900XP 66,000 Learjet 35/36 54,000 Learjet 40/40XR/45/45XR 56,000 Learjet 55/60 61,000 Learjet 75 66,000
Beechjet 400/Hawker 400XP CitationJet/CJ1/CJ2 Citation Bravo/CJ3/CJ4 Citation V/Ultra/Encore
53,000 52,000 54,000 57,000
47,000 47,000 49,000 51,000
63,000 61,000 62,000 66,000
54,000 63,000 69,000 73,000 64,000 62,000
48,000 53,000 56,000 63,000 56,000 54,000
71,000 79,000 83,000 93,000 80,000 79,000
Charter turboprop Captain Caravan/Conquest King Air 90/100 King Air 200/250 King Air 300/350 Piaggio P180 Avanti Pilatus PC-12
First officer/copilot King Air 90/100 King Air 200/250 King Air 300/350
45,000 47,000 52,000
41,000 44,000 46,000
59,000 63,000 66,000
Beechjet 400/Hawker 400XP CitationJet/CJ1/CJ2 Citation Bravo/CJ3/CJ4 Citation V/Ultra/Encore Embraer Phenom 100 Embraer Phenom 300
83,000 76,000 82,000 84,000 72,000 77,000
69,000 65,000 68,000 66,000 63,000 65,000
102,000 91,000 94,000 103,000 84,000 94,000
First officer/copilot Heavy intl and large jets
Airbus ACJ319 Boeing 737/BBJ Boeing 757/767
94,000 92,000 96,000
73,000 71,000 74,000
116,000 116,000 118,000
King Air 350 captains in Part 135 can earn an annual average of $73,000 with a high of $93,000. FO and copilots reported an average compensation of $52,000 with a maximum of $66,000.
PROFESSIONAL PILOT / June 2020 33
Charter helicopter Captain
Average Low High
Airbus Heli AS350/EC120 Airbus Heli AS355/EC135 Airbus Heli AS365 Airbus Heli EC145 Bell 206/206L Bell 407 Bell 429 Leonardo AW109 Leonardo AW139 MD 900 Sikorsky S-76
71,000 76,000 85,000 87,000 72,000 77,000 85,000 79,000 110,000 73,000 108,000
62,000 67,000 78,000 77,000 59,000 66,000 72,000 64,000 99,000 62,000 101,000
92,000 98,000 105,000 106,000 90,000 96,000 106,000 97,000 128,000 95,000 125,000
First officer/copilot Airbus Heli AS365 Leonardo AW139 Sikorsky S-76
65,000 73,000 73,000
57,000 62,000 62,000
79,000 91,000 91,000
Part 135 captains flying a Sikorsky S-76D register salaries as high as $125,000 with an average of $108,000 per year. FO and copilots can make an average of $73,000.
Captain ATR72 Beech 1900C/D DHC Dash 8-100/200/300 DHC Dash 8-Q400 Saab 340
Average Low High 86,000 52,000 80,000 96,000 63,000
74,000 40,000 55,000 80,000 50,000
96,000 71,000 97,000 111,000 91,000
A captain flying a Bombardier CRJ900 regional jet makes an average salary of $105,000 annually with a highest of $133,000. Right seat pilots can earn an average of $56,000 with a highest of $75,000.
ATR72 Beech 1900C/D DHC Dash 8-100/200/300 DHC Dash 8-Q400 Saab 340
49,000 36,000 47,000 50,000 42,000
35,000 33,000 35,000 41,000 34,000
62,000 49,000 58,000 63,000 53,000
Regional jet Captain Bombardier CRJ100/200 Bombardier CRJ700 Bombardier CRJ900 Embraer ERJ135 Embraer ERJ140/145 Embraer 170/175 Embraer 190/195
100,000 101,000 105,000 93,000 97,000 102,000 104,000
71,000 74,000 85,000 65,000 77,000 76,000 84,000
128,000 131,000 133,000 107,000 127,000 132,000 135,000
First officer Bombardier CRJ100/200 Bombardier CRJ700 Bombardier CRJ900 Embraer ERJ135 Embraer ERJ140/145 Embraer 170/175 Embraer 190/195
49,000 50,000 56,000 48,000 51,000 54,000 55,000
34 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / June 2020
36,000 41,000 43,000 36,000 41,000 43,000 44,000
64,000 70,000 75,000 64,000 70,000 75,000 77,000
ATR72 regional TP captains can earn up to $96,000 yearly, with an average of $86,000 and a low of $74,000. First Officers flying the same aircraft can make a high of $62,000, with an average of $49,000 and a low of $35,000.
Captains in law enforcement flying an AS350 earn salaries as high as $99,000 per year, with an average of $87,000 and a low of $74,000.
Emergency medical service (EMS) fixed-wing
Average Low High
Airbus Heli AS350/EC120 Airbus Heli AS365N Bell 412/430 Bell 206/206L/OH58 Bell 212 Bell 407/EC130 Leonardo AW139 MD 500 MD 900 Sikorsky S-76 Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk
87,000 105,000 102,000 86,000 93,000 90,000 106,000 82,000 92,000 105,000 105,000
74,000 89,000 89,000 73,000 79,000 77,000 90,000 72,000 76,000 86,000 86,000
99,000 114,000 113,000 98,000 109,000 105,000 116,000 95,000 106,000 114,000 114,000
Offshore helicopter Captain Airbus Heli AS355/EC135 Bell 407/EC130 Bell 412/429/430 Leonardo AW139 Sikorsky S-76 Sikorsky S-92
TBM 850 captains in the emergency medical service field earn an average salary of $71,000 per year, with a high of $83,000 and a low of $64,000.
95,000 93,000 98,000 114,000 114,000 121,000
82,000 78,000 82,000 93,000 93,000 105,000
105,000 104,000 107,000 129,000 129,000 135,000
Captain King Air 90/100 King Air 200/300/350 Learjet 35/36 Learjet 45/55/60 Pilatus PC-12 TBM 700/850
Average Low High 72,000 81,000 64,000 78,000 73,000 71,000
63,000 68,000 57,000 70,000 66,000 64,000
82,000 97,000 83,000 96,000 90,000 83,000
Emergency medical service (EMS) helicopter Captain Airbus Heli AS350/EC120 81,000 67,000 92,000 Airbus Heli AS355/EC135 83,000 75,000 100,000 Airbus Heli AS365/EC155 96,000 76,000 109,000 Airbus Heli H145 92,000 78,000 103,000 Bell 206/206L/OH58 80,000 68,000 93,000 Bell 407/EC130 82,000 72,000 98,000 Bell 412/427/430 88,000 75,000 102,000 Bell 429 91,000 78,000 104,000 Leonardo AW109 92,000 75,000 107,000 Leonardo AW119 Koala 84,000 69,000 102,000 Leonardo AW139 102,000 79,000 113,000 MD 900 series 80,000 67,000 94,000 Sikorsky S-76 104,000 79,000 105,000
Electronic news gathering (ENG) helicopter Captain Airbus Heli AS350/EC120 Airbus Heli AS355/EC135 Bell 206/206L/407/OH58
77,000 79,000 76,000
65,000 68,000 64,000
97,000 101,000 96,000
73,000 78,000 76,000 85,000
102,000 111,000 114,000 118,000
Logging/construction helicopter Captain
Bell 429 captains operating in the offshore oil field can earn as much as $107,000 annually, with an average of $98,000 and a low of $82,000.
Bell 205/212/214/412 Boeing BV107/234 Kaman K-Max Sikorsky S-64
84,000 88,000 88,000 92,000
PROFESSIONAL PILOT / June 2020 35
Salary Study All salaries given in US dollars
Heavy intl jets
Aviation dept manager Chief pilot Captain
Average Low High 189,000 166,000 151,000
140,000 128,000 106,000
118,000 104,000 96,000
177,000 158,000 148,000
108,000 94,000 85,000
159,000 136,000 128,000
95,000 84,000 72,000
136,000 121,000 114,000
Aviation dept manager Chief pilot Captain
152,000 135,000 125,000
Supermidsize and midsize jets
Aviation dept manager Chief pilot Captain
Light and entry-level jets
Aviation dept manager Chief pilot Captain
141,000 125,000 110,000 126,000 109,000 97,000
224,000 194,000 183,000
Turboprop Aviation dept manager Chief pilot Captain
113,000 98,000 87,000
85,000 68,000 61,000
123,000 110,000 101,000
Helicopter Aviation dept manager Chief pilot Captain
122,000 102,000 93,000
97,000 83,000 72,000
142,000 124,000 114,000
Charter intl Jet Heavy intl and large jets
Captain 139,000 95,000 165,000 Supermidsize and midsize jets Captain 114,000 81,000 123,000 Light and entry-level jets Captain 92,000 66,000 109,000
Dassault Falcon 7X aviation department managers operating abroad earn average salaries of $189,000 annually, with a high salary of $224,000 and a low of $140,000. Chief Pilots average $166,000, with a high of $194,000 and a low of $128,000.
Captain Bombardier CRJ100/200 Bombardier CRJ700 Bombardier CRJ900 Embraer ERJ135 Embraer ERJ145 Embraer 170/175 Embraer 190/195 Fairchild Dornier 328JET Fokker 70/100
98,000 104,000 112,000 85,000 97,000 103,000 113,000 80,000 81,000
First officer Bombardier CRJ100/200 Bombardier CRJ700 Bombardier CRJ900 Embraer ERJ135 Embraer ERJ145 Embraer 170/175 Embraer 190/195 Fairchild Dornier 328JET Fokker 70/100
56,000 59,000 65,000 53,000 55,000 59,000 65,000 53,000 54,000
82,000 93,000 95,000 79,000 82,000 93,000 98,000 69,000 73,000
117,000 121,000 130,000 105,000 117,000 122,000 133,000 102,000 103,000
44,000 50,000 54,000 42,000 44,000 50,000 54,000 42,000 42,000
75,000 80,000 87,000 72,000 76,000 80,000 87,000 70,000 70,000
Turboprop Captain ATR42 ATR72 DHC Dash 8-100/200/300 DHC Dash 8-Q400 Fairchild Dornier 328 Saab 340 Saab 2000
68,000 76,000 76,000 88,000 62,000 65,000 78,000
ATR42 Turboprop ATR72 Captain 81,000 55,000 98,000 DHC Dash 8-100/200/300 DHC Dash 8-Q400 Fairchild Dornier 328 Helicopter Saab 340 Captain 83,000 63,000 105,000 Saab 2000
36 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / June 2020
Average Low High
47,000 53,000 53,000 58,000 45,000 45,000 52,000
59,000 63,000 60,000 68,000 51,000 54,000 61,000
84,000 94,000 92,000 100,000 77,000 84,000 92,000
42,000 45,000 42,000 48,000 40,000 40,000 43,000
64,000 69,000 64,000 71,000 62,000 62,000 70,000
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Ground Handling, FBO & In-Flight Catering Coordination in MEXICO
Summer weather flying Gulfstream G450 at APC (Napa CA). For most aviation activities, summer is a time of high temperatures and sunny skies, with a chance of thunderstorms, reduced visibility due to haze, thermal turbulence, and increased density altitude.
By Karsten Shein Comm-Inst Climate Scientist
very time of year has distinct weather that can make flying a challenge. In the middle-latitude summer, the added heating of the atmosphere by a sun that is more directly overhead helps to reduce air density and intensify convective activity. The result is that, for aviation, summer is a time associat ed with greater and more energetic thunderstorm activity, more frequent low-level thermal turbulence, and a general decrease in aircraft performance. When we talk about summer as a season, we are generally speaking of those months in the middle latitudes (between about 30 and 60 degrees) where there is a marked increase in temperature from the winter months when the noon sun favors the other hemisphere. This distinction is less pronounced in the tropics and subtropics, where temperatures are more or less consistent through the year, and seasons are marked more by wind and rainfall patterns. Lower-latitude monsoons are tied to the annual progression of the sun. The Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) migrates northward between April and October, and southward from November through March. Having the sun more overhead in the 38 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / June 2020
summer months provides the added heat and evaporating water necessary to power and shift the ITCZ. The heating also strengthens and expands the semi-permanent subtropical high-pressure cells that, in connection with the inflow of the ITCZ, produce the easterly tradewinds that blow throughout the tropics. However, in expanding, the cells may envelop some places, resulting in stagnant airflow – the so-called doldrums that are characterized by clear skies, high temperatures, and calm winds – of ten for weeks at a time. The poleward migration of the ITCZ and the strengthening subtrop ical highs establish routine seasonal patterns of rainfall as the tropical front is directed over land areas such as southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent. Such regular rainfall can facilitate abundant agriculture, but, simultaneously, produces low ceilings, embedded thunderstorms, and often flooding rainfall that can significantly disrupt aviation operations in these regions. There is also less of a seasonal dif ference in temperature at polar lat itudes between the cold and warm months, but it’s more substantial than the temperature changes in the tropics – and becoming more so. In recent years, late summer (Au gust–September) at arctic airports
has seen temperatures sustained at a level which has enabled the thaw ing of the permafrost that underlies airport runways. The softening un derlayment has caused runways to warp and, in some places, collapse, making them dangerous and potentially un usable without substantial repair and reinforcement. So, pilots operating in high latitudes during summer should expect the potential for smooth runways to develop bumps and undulations. It is always wise, especially at the many uncontrolled or remote airstrips in the far north, to overfly the strip before landing. If it doesn’t appear safe, the landing should be aborted. It is in the middle latitudes, howev er, where summer becomes a potent mixture of heat and moisture to pro duce a cocktail of adverse and dangerous flying weather. Thunder storms have been, and likely always will be, among the most dangerous and disruptive of weather events for aviation, and the atmospheric heating enhanced by the sun being more directly overhead makes them even more dangerous.
Thunderstorms Even the most ordinary thunder storm is dangerous. They form when the surface air is heated and hu midified to a point at which it can break through a capping tempera ture inversion and rise into the free atmosphere to form a convective cir culation cell. Most storms will grow and die as simple airmass storms, exhausting their supply of water vapor into drier air aloft and dying within an hour as a lack of windshear aloft causes the denser, dry air to collapse back on the updraft. However, in summer months, 2 things happen that affect thunderstorm frequency and intensity. The first is that the increased so lar radiation reaching the surface during the day heats the surface and the overlying air. Hotter air can hold more water vapor, and the surplus of energy, where water is available,
Photo by Unsplash – Chris Leipelt
Enhanced energy can create a volatile weather cocktail.
Image courtesy NOAA NWS
means a lot of the energy will go into evaporating the water, allowing it to join the atmosphere as a gas con taining a great deal of stored (latent) heat. While the sensible (kinetic) heat facilitates evaporation and the temperature difference that allows the hot, humid surface air to rise, it is the latent heat that sustains the lifting when the cooling air causes the wa ter vapor to condense, releasing the latent heat as sensible heat that helps to keep the temperature of the rising air above the temperature of the air through which it is rising. As long as the rising air remains warmer than its environment, it will keep rising. So, naturally, more heating of a wet sur face and the air above it means more latent energy available in the rising air to sustain and even strengthen a thunderstorm. The second important consider ation is that the surface acts as the heat source for the lower atmosphere. More heat in the daytime means greater warming of the overlying air. At night, however, the ground is cut off from its heat source, so it cools, drawing in heat from the overlying air. In the summer, when nights are more frequently clear (allowing more rapid heat loss), this often means that, by morning, a temperature inversion (warmer air over colder) has set up. It is these inversions that prevent the surface air from rising as it is heated after sunrise. Capping low-level inversions, or caps, are critical to thunderstorm development. In their absence, or if they are too weak, the surface air will need only a little heating before it rises, limiting the energy available and causing the rising air to cool and stabilize quickly with the surround ing atmosphere. At best, this rising air may produce fair weather cumuli and a little bit of light chop on ap proach or departure. Conversely, if the cap is too strong, perhaps 4° C or more – meaning the air above the surface layer is at least 4 degrees warmer than the air beneath it – it is highly unlikely that the surface air will accumulate enough heat during the day to break through the cap, and, again, storms are unlikely. The sweet spot is a cap between about 2–3° C. This is just strong enough to support sufficient energy accumulation in the surface layer that the air is able to punch through at some point during the day,
Ground-based radar at ICT (Wichita KS) shows a large area of moderate to strong convection with tops near FL400. Summer storms are often as visible from the air as they are on radar, making them fairly easy to avoid, although sometimes at the cost of a significant deviation.
and ensuring that the air can remain warmer than its environment as it develops into a potential thunderstorm. Caps that are conducive to thun derstorm formation can be found on atmospheric sounding profiles at around 2000–5000 ft AGL. Inversions above or below that zone mean that the surface layer is either too thin to build up heat, or too deep to prevent the heat from diffusing throughout the layer. Similarly, the air in the surface layer must be both warm and humid. In general, thunderstorms are unlikely if the dew point is less than 13° C (55° F). This is a significant reason why thunderstorms are more likely during summer months. Cooler months in most parts of the middle latitudes will generally not attain such a dew point. Of course, energetic air busting through a cap is not enough to generate a thunderstorm. The air above the cap must remain colder than the ascending air as it cools. It should also be relatively dry in the mid levels of the atmosphere to maintain convective instability aloft. For a thunderstorm to become severe, winds aloft must provide both
speed and directional shear to tilt the cell and promote mesocyclonic rotation within the cell.
Surface heating warms the troposphere The seasonal increase in solar heating of the hemisphere warms the entire troposphere. While the upper limits remain quite cold, the overall warming of the layer means the air molecules spread out as they gain energy. The easiest way to spread out is, of course, to expand into areas where there are fewer molecules. For the atmosphere, this means upward. In the winter, a cold troposphere in the middle latitudes tops out at around 30,000 ft. But, during the hot summer, the warmed air pushes the upper limit of the troposphere to around 50,000 ft. In the tropics, it can be upward of 60,000 ft MSL. In cases where the troposphere is un stable throughout, a convective cell may rise unimpeded to the top of the troposphere, where it will inevitably encounter the strong temperature inversion that marks the base of the stratosphere. This interaction is nor
PROFESSIONAL PILOT / June 2020 39
Photo by Karsten Shein
Fair weather cumuli blanket one section of sky, while larger cumulonimbus appear in the distance, where heated and humid surface air ascended explosively through a convective cap in the lower atmosphere.
mally identified by a flat anvil on the thunderstorm. At such heights, even the most capable business jets may not be able to overfly a summer storm, nor should they if they could.
Haze The same conditions that produce the chance of thunderstorms also tend to reduce visibility. The capping temperature inversions in the lower atmosphere that keep the surface layer air from rising and mixing with the free atmosphere also trap aerosols and water vapor in the surface layer. The pollutants will often rise to concentrate near the base of the inversion. When seen from the cockpit, that boundary is often marked by a brownish line. In areas where water is in greater supply than polluting aerosols, the increasing concentration of water vapor in the warming surface layer air creates a milky white haze. The hazy appearance is due to light in all visible wavelengths being scattered in every direction by the microscopic droplets. An extreme manifestation of this scattering is a billowing cumulus cloud, but at lesser concentrations of water, the air maintains some transparency. Hazy conditions reduce visibility, as well as dimin ishing both depth perception and the ability to distinguish colors.
Density altitude Among the more impactful, yet un derestimated, aspects of summer heat is the increase in densi40 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / June 2020
ty altitude. The heat that expands the summer troposphere, allowing thunderstorms to grow to impressive heights, does so by imparting the air molecules with energy, forcing them to spread apart. The decreased density at a given altitude due to heating is equivalent to the density that would normally be found at a higher altitude. Naturally, with fewer mole cules passing around lifting surfaces and through engine inlets, lift and thrust are both decreased relative to what would be attained in colder air at that same altitude. Increased density altitude and reduced performance are normally most pronounced in the heated surface layer during takeoff or landing. In most cases, it’s a matter of needing additional runway to get in the air or onto the ground safely. However, on very warm and humid days, when operating close to the aircraft’s weight limits, at higher-altitude airports, or at those with shorter runways, the tradeoff may be to reduce aircraft weight in order to have enough runway for departure. Even then, the density may simply become too low for effective operation. Some heat waves have become so intense that even the main runways at major airports may not be long enough at any takeoff weight for an aircraft to reach rotation speed and deflect enough air with its control surfaces to leave the ground. In June 2017, PHX (Phoenix AZ) made headlines when daytime temperatures of nearly 50° C (122° F) grounded many aircraft, especially those with smaller lifting surfaces, control surfaces,
and powerplants, such as business and commuter aircraft. During hot weather, following aircraft operating handbook guidance is critical, and pilots operating aircraft near weight limits may want to avoid midday arrivals or departures. Fortunately, summer also brings a great deal of good flying weather. Crews can do preflight walk-arounds and passengers can deplane with out needing to don a parka. There’s generally no need for an expensive coat of deicing fluid. Also, where winter weather patterns may cover half a continent with low overcast and howling winds for several days, summer squall lines usually move faster, cover less geography, and are interspersed with days of clear air.
Weather briefings Compared to other times of year, summer weather can be a bit trickier to forecast. While large-scale weath er systems such as fronts and lows can be tracked and forecast with confidence, smaller-scale conditions such as temperature inversions and airmass storms – even those that become supercells – remain difficult to predict with precision. Rather, forecasters will issue convective sigmets for large areas in which conditions are likely, and those alerts are updated frequently as conditions evolve. If a forecaster does suggest that thunderstorm activity is likely along your route of flight, that information should be taken seriously because it is based on the existing dynamics being very favorable, even if the forecast can’t give you precise information about exactly where the storms may form. If possible, rerouting around the area of greatest danger is always the safest course of action. In all cases, where convective activity is forecast, it is critical that pilots obtain updated weather infor mation throughout the flight.
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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Professional Pilot Magazine June 2020