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MAY 2018

The Robson Communities Flight Department with their Dassault Falcon 2000LX at n tio en the home field of SDL (Scottsdale AZ). (L–R) Capt Jordan Klein, Dir of Av & Chief v on Ec Pilot Chris Wible, Founder and Chairman Ed Robson, Karrin Taylor Robson, C EBA & Dir of Maintenance Jim Burkett and Hangar Mgr Vasil Evanoff. s PR

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May 2018 Page

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Contributors in this issue GRANT McLAREN, Editor-at-Large. DON VAN DYKE, ATP/Helo/CFII. Canadian Technical Editor. BRENT BUNDY, Phoenix PD Officer/Pilot. AS350, Cessna 210/182/172. AL HIGDON, Cofounder of the Sullivan Higdon & Sink Ad Agency. KARSTEN SHEIN, Comm-Inst. Climatologist, Natl Climatic Data Center. BOB ROCKWOOD, Managing Partner, Bristol Associates. DAVID BJELLOS, ATP/Helo. Gulfstream IV, Sikorsky S76, Bell 407. JIM WALTERS, ATP/A&P. Boeing 757/767, MD-80. SHANNON FORREST, ATP/CFII. Challenger 604/605. Professional Pilot ISSN 0191-6238 5290 Shawnee Rd, Suite 201, Alexandria VA 22312 Fax: 703-370-7082 Tel: 703-370-0606 E-MAIL:


Publication mail agreement #40030961 E-mail: Member NBAA. Aircraft: Beech Baron N241MS Piper Saratoga N4301M and Beech Sundowner N67135 Qualified subscriptions‚ Those pilots and aviation dept mgrs operating business/ executive aircraft for a living under FAR Part 91 and 135 may qualify for a limited number of free subscriptions. For a complete description of who qualifies and instructions on receiving a qualification form go to our website at 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 Communications 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 703-370-7082. 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 additional mailing offices.

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May 2018



Vol 52 No 5

10 POSITION & HOLD Aviation software by Bob Rockwood A diversity of options is available to increase efficiency in flight departments. 26 EVENT COVERAGE AEA Convention & Trade Show 2018 by Geoff Hill Sold-out exhibit hall was filled with the latest in avionics technologies. 38


PRASE SURVEY RESULTS 2018 Bizav ground service providers are evaluated by Pro Pilot readers. Pro Pilot staff compilation

54 OPERATOR PROFILE Robson Communities by Brent Bundy Real estate mogul Ed Robson visits locations to buy land and build homes using Dassault Falcon 2000LX. 60 CRM Cockpit resource management by David Ison This concept has proven to prevent accidents. Here’s how we can improve it.


64 LOSS OF PRESSURIZATION Dangers of hypoxia by Peter Berendsen Flying over high terrain can decrease your chances of safely descending to breathable levels if oxygen supply is depleted. 68 INTERNATIONAL OPS Bizav flights to and within Europe by Grant McLaren Conditions have improved but rules are tight and services are expensive. 72 HELICOPTER AVIONICS Astronautics RoadRunner EFI by Glenn Connor New drop-in unit replaces HSI with multi-functional guidance providing both synthetic vision and terrain awareness and warning system.


76 CONNECTIVITY Flight department cybersecurity by Shannon Forrest Guarding company privacy by understanding technology pitfalls. 80 WEATHER BRIEF More on wind by Karsten Shein Powerful and changing movements of air pose drastic dangers to pilots. 84


OUTER MARKER INBOUND Jack Northrop and his flying wing aircraft. by David Bjellos

86 ACCIDENT REPORT Phenom 300 lands long and hits embankment by Jim Walters Conflict in the pattern, short runway and excessive speed were key factors.


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May 2018

Vol 52 No 5

Departments BACKED BY

2,150 Experts

16 VIEWPOINT Asset Insight President Anthony Kioussis writes about ethics in the business aviation industry. 20 TERMINAL CHECKLIST Quiz on procedures when flying into AUS (Austin TX). Answers on page 22. 24 SID & STAR Star has a bad dream about being an airline pilot. 30 SQUAWK IDENT Pro Pilot readers tell what qualities their ideal mission-specific aircraft would have. 36 AL LOOKS BACK A return to the Learjet Wichita campus in 2013 shows significant expansion in less than 20 years.

Cover Duncan Aviation was founded in 1956 as an aircraft sales organization and is a founding member of NARA. Since 1956, we have conducted more than 3,500 transactions. Backed by 2,150 aviation experts worldwide, each with an average of 12 years with the company. The aircraft sales team partners with these experts to provide technical support before, during and after the aircraft transaction.

The Robson Communities Flight Department with their Dassault Falcon 2000LX at the home field of SDL (Scottsdale AZ). (L–R) Capt Jordan Klein, Dir of Av & Chief Pilot Chris Wible, Founder and Chairman Ed Robson, Karrin Taylor Robson, Dir of Maintenance Jim Burkett and Hangar Mgr Vasil Evanoff. Photo by Brent Bundy.

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POSITION & HOLD an editorial opinion

Photo courtesy Flightdocs

A diversity of new software options are now available to increase efficiency in flight departments

Flightdocs software is now more intuitive, easier to use and edit, and communicative with other programs because it was developed more recently on an API platform.

By Bob Rockwood Managing Partner, Bristol Associates


here are a number of things I like about writing these articles. First, they are the pulpit from which I get to be a blowhard. Bob’s my name, pontification’s my game. But more than anything, these articles give me a chance to look at things from different angles, and they put me in contact with people doing stuff outside what a peddler like me does daily. Recently I was introduced to a gentleman named Rick Lederman. In 1997 he started Soaring Software Solutions ( Based on his prior work with the Air Force, Rick perceived a need within the aviation environment for software that would track the whereabouts of tools and equipment, and who was using them. Over the years his program has grown to become a complete asset management tool applicable to pretty much any business or endeavor. Rick is an RC flyer and glider pilot (don’t get him talking about his Stemme S12 sailplane unless you have a few hours), so his heart still belongs in the aviation community. However, his asset tracking software could as easily be used in a rail yard, a truck depot or a manufacturing plant. It truly has a wide variety of applications. Because I am but a humble airplane broker, unaware of most everything but whose Gulfstream is for sale, I was fascinated by my conversation with Rick and his description of what his TCMax software could do. He was kind

enough to supply me with a demo version so I could experience its capabilities first hand. I promptly got in so far over my head that I established a direct line to his tech department. In a nutshell, in a manner so simple even I could understand and use it within a couple of hours, TCMax tracks where very expensive tools and equipment are, who has them, how many there are, when more are needed, when they need to be replaced or calibrated or overhauled, what tools are related to what other tools, and who they were passed on to at a shift change, etc. The software even talks to you. I’ve never seen something so complicated and detailed made so easy.

Other software helpful to the flight department This whole experience got me thinking about what other software is out there that gets used or could be used in the typical aviation department. If you go to and search on aviation maintenance management, 129 different software programs pop up that provide MRO tracking. You’ll find CAMP, Flightdocs, WinAir, AMS… Oh, my goodness. And these are just the ones slanted toward the MRO side of things. Then take a look at flight planning software! Google it and you will get over 2 million hits. Now I’m not saying there are 2 million or more separate programs, but there’s a bunch. Think of FOS, Foreflight, Jeppesen, Rocketroute, and you get the idea.


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Knowing where supplies went, who used them, how much you have left, how many you need to order, how much it cost, who you bought it from, etc, is as easy as pulling the trigger on the bar code scanner.

Now, add in Jetnet or Amstat, Conklin & de Decker and Asset Insight as examples of costing software and you have barely scratched the surface. And how about design software that provides Computer Aided Design (CAD) or Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) information. The mind boggles.

Many programs predate API I thought I would call around and see what folks are using and what they think of it. Now this is hardly a scientific sampling, but the overriding comment was “I can’t get it to work right! The programs won’t talk to each other.” It wasn’t atypical for a department to be using CAMP for maintenance tracking, ARINC for flight planning/handling and BART for scheduling. And the programs were operating separately so data was being entered multiple times. Part of the problem here is that many of the programs out there were written on older platforms, before Application Program Interface (API) became commonly used. While the concept of API has been around since the 1960s, it wasn’t until around 2000 when, in combination with data sharing over the web, it started to gain common usage. For those of us that grew up in the stone age, and continue to live there, API is what informs software how it must interact. The best analogy I’ve read is to think of API as a waiter in a restaurant. He takes the diner’s order, communicates this request to the cook, then picks up, reviews, and delivers it back to the diner. The diner’s request is delivered to the waiter in one form, then converted in such a way as to fulfill the needs of the diner.

New programs are written on an API platform New programs, like Flightdocs, are written on an API platform so they will communicate more easily with, for

example, FOS, thereby integrating the flight department’s maintenance and flight planning software. This means that a time and cycle entry made to a flight bag upon landing will populate throughout the enterprise, enhancing accuracy and saving time.

Software to obtain market value of an aircraft Moving on to other software genres, about 100 years ago a group of us set out to develop algorithms that would analyze a plane and spit out its value. We gave up. Spell check wasn’t around yet and we couldn’t figure out how to spell algorithm. Today, there are programs that will do just that. Amstat has developed an add-on to their standard market research offering that does this. You pick a plane from their data base, their software looks at the specs and surrounding market conditions, and bingo, you get the plane’s market value. Another offering is from Asset Insight. Unlike Amstat, which is a market research company, AI is an appraisal company. Therefore, their approach to valuation is quite different and very much more detailed and complicated. Essentially, they are looking at the maintenance condition of a given plane, factoring in market conditions and returning a valuation (Pro Pilot, Jan 2018, page 12). But they go so much further. In addition to reporting a value, they also provide the results of some (patent pending) algorithms that measure a plane’s maintenance status and present it as a single number, or rating, on a scale from new to run out. This can also be viewed as a maintenance financial rating as well. And on top of this, they can provide this information on your plane as it compares to the fleet of similar planes. Confused? Take a trip to and let Asset Insight describe their process. It will be worth your time, and you’ll find it beyond interesting.


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Skin friction coefficient 0.0018 0.0027





Skin friction coefficient 0.0018 0.0027



Tool control and accountability is essential to manage costs, avoid lost tool and foreign object damage to aircraft, track inventories, and save time. One scan records who has it, what job it’s on, and whether it needs re-certification, recalibration or replacement.

Computer Aided Design Before closing, I would also like to point out the software that is operating behind the scenes before a plane becomes a reality. Computer Aided Design software has been around for years, but gets better, it seems, about every 15 minutes. In the 1950s and 1960s, my dad was a tool designer for GM. When designing, for example, a press to stamp out radiator shells, they would typically employ 20–25 people, each designing by hand, on 11x17 or larger drafting paper, 1 or 2 small pieces of the press. By the time this was collated and coordinated, a couple of years would go by. Today, a couple of designers working with connected CAD software could turn out the same project in a couple of months. And any changes to the design will automatically populate throughout the drawings. Then the CAD software automatically generates code to run the Computer Numeric Control (CNC) machine that will produce the parts. And the storage of the information takes a few gigs on a computer instead of a 5x5 storage closet.

Computational Fluid Dynamics Finally, Computational Fluid Dynamics software provides the numerical (and resulting graphical) analysis of the way fluid flows. Yep, air is fluid. So with respect to aircraft, this software saves millions when it comes to understanding the way air flows over a surface (Pro Pilot, Dec 2016, page 92). Now think in terms of all the new designs that are coming about in our world of aviation. We see major projects to develop supersonic planes. We are delving into hypersonic (5 times the speed of sound) missiles. Ramjet technology is at the forefront of study. To give you a better idea of what a CFD study looks like, I’ve included a couple of images. Both relate to studies of one of many proposed eVTOL projects that are ongoing. Because electric motors are so much lighter and less complicated than traditional powerplants, many eVTOL projects include multiple engines to provide vertical lift, with a number of them shut down when flight goes horizontal. So designers are coming up with interesting ways to cage the propellers in order to reduce drag.

Image on top shows skin friction coefficient around a plain nacelle. Image at bottom shows the same nacelle but with propellers that have been caged and folded back along the sides of the nacelle. Drag is increased as a result of the disturbance of air flow around the folded back props.

The variables are infinite, and if each design had to be physically tested to determine the best solution, it would take years and millions of dollars to come up with the best solution. Running a design through CFD software narrows down the choices in a fraction of the time at a fraction of the cost. In the top image above, we see the graphical representation of the skin friction coefficient around a plain nacelle. In the second image, we are looking at this same nacelle, but with propellers that have been caged, and folded back along the sides of the nacelle. It is easy to tell where drag is increased as a result of the disturbance of air flow around the folded-back props. It is also apparent that we could easily look at this same data for any number of different configurations within a short time at (relatively) little expense. It’s obvious I can’t begin to present a comprehensive picture of what software is available to you. The goal here is to remind you of the tremendous selection of products available and the areas of your life it can touch.

Bob Rockwood has been in the aircraft brokerage business since 1978. During his tenure at Omni Intl Jet Trading Floor he began writing The Rockwood Report, which discusses the corporate aircraft market. In 1986 he joined Bristol Associates as a managing partner.


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VIEWPOINT an editorial opinion


Image courtesy Creative Commons

Snake oil merchants in early America would travel from town to town and make impossible claims for their products. With music to draw them in, crowds formed as these unprincipled salesmen would lie to the assembly. Whatever malady an unsuspecting prospect might want to alleviate was said to be cured by the snake oil. Today we continue to have sales people in a myriad of industries, including business aviation, who lack ethical conduct. They’re harder to spot and don’t draw crowds in with banjo players. But their sales pitches can cost gullible prospects thousands of dollars.

By Anthony Kioussis President, Asset Insight


thics, the moral principles that govern our behavior, include how we conduct our business activities. Managers know this and most seek to operate in an ethical manner. However, the definition of “ethical behavior” may not be as clear-cut as just the desire to behave ethically, hence the need for rules. Many people hate rules, viewing them as curtailment of their freedom. Others seek rules as a way of eliminating the gray area that can allow unethical behavior. But there are many cases where people know the rules, agree to follow them, and then break them – in some cases unintentionally.

Examples of ethical behavior Let’s take an employee who signs an agreement with a company in exchange for training, financial or other assistance. They may do this to obtain the credentials necessary to perform a specific company and/or industry function. This agreement states that the employee will not compete with the company or solicit its clients should they decide to leave at some future date. Years later, the employee elects to seek employment in a different function, but with one of the company’s competitors. Is this an ethical transgression? What if the employee took with them various sources of company property, including a company client list or


company files and documents? What if he or she contacted the company’s clients prior to his or her departure to advise that, even though the employee would not be able to provide the same services, he or she knew that the new employer possessed or desired that capability and, of course, the employee would be working there and able to assist. Exactly at what point does this become an ethical, moral, and/or legal issue? Does the new employer incur a responsibility, through the interview and background process, to ensure a breach does not occur by virtue of this hire? Why? Because the employer can be liable if they know of the employee’s ongoing obligations to the former employer, and because it’s the ethical, moral and professional way to conduct business. Some years ago, I was offered a position by a top company contingent on meeting certain requirements, not the least of which was to reveal any “potential” conflict of interest I might have. I provided as much background as possible covering areas where conflict might exist, allowing my future employer to decide if there was a problem and how it could be addressed. Was it time-consuming to go through such a process? Yes, but it exemplified and proved to me the company’s commitment to its stated ethical standards.

The aircraft broker and ethics Many people and companies operating in the business aviation arena represent buyers and sellers in transactions worth tens of millions of dollars. Yet, there are no stan-


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While most aircraft brokers work hard to service their clients’ interests, a lack of industry regulations allows sufficient room for a handful of unethical characters to generate bad publicity for our industry.

Leadership of the National Aircraft Resale Association (NARA) is planning to strengthen the organization’s existing Code of Ethics in an effort to reduce potential gray areas.

dards that one must meet to hold some of those positions. Take, for example, the role of an aircraft broker. While most work hard to service their clients’ interests, there are no industry regulations or formal training requirements in place, allowing sufficient room for a handful of unethical characters to generate bad publicity for our industry.

but an ethical person or company does not view ethical standards through the lens of convenience or preferences. Members of organizations that establish acceptable business standards don’t get to choose which ethics, standards or rules to follow. Unless one has been living in a monastery for the past few years, it would be difficult not to notice the ethics-centered time we live in. While much of the news has been focused on what has taken place in the past, “a new day is coming” (to quote Oprah Winfrey). Those entities, be they individuals or companies, not taking notice of and tightly adhering to acceptable business standards will find it necessary to deal with adverse reputation issues and have to budget for hefty legal bills.

The value of NARA and ASA Enter NARA, the National Aircraft Resale Association. NARA already has standards in place covering ethical behavior by its members, but the organization is taking ethics to a new level. NARA’s leadership is now focused on establishing a full array of ethical standards that are simple to understand and easy for its members to implement. If being “NARA Certified” has value today – and it certainly does in the eyes of many aircraft buyers and sellers – imagine the additional industry clout NARA members will attain once expanded ethical standards are in place. Such a focus on ethics is not a new concept. Take, for example, the ethical standards used by the American Society of Appraisers (ASA) and the organization’s commitment to their enforcement. These standards are adopted by the ASA’s Board of Governors, and filter through to the membership. Moreover, they are a key reason why people seeking an appraisal will request it from an ASA certified appraiser.

Knowing the difference between right and wrong Professional people know the difference between right and wrong. Regrettably, sometimes they are also able to convince themselves that some rules or agreements they’ve made are not entirely relevant to them because they don’t fit the goal they seek to achieve. Nobody said that the difference between right and wrong was fair,

The need for a sharper focus on ethics Kudos to NARA for its focus on this important subject and for the guidance it provides its membership. The organization’s leadership is to be commended for its efforts. It would be nice to see other industry associations that have not adopted such a focus follow NARA’s lead. There may never be a solution for problematic employees, but ethical entities can differentiate right from wrong and make a positive impact on our profession and industry.

Anthony Kioussis is President of Asset Insight, which offers aircraft valuation and aviation consulting services. His 40+ years of experience in aviation includes GE Capital Corporate Aircraft Finance, Jet Aviation, and JSSI.


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Terminal Checklist 5/18 Answers on page 22

Refer to the 62-22 RNAV (RNP) Z Rwy 35L for KAUS/AUS (Austin TX) when necessary to answer the following questions:

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Reproduced with permission of Jeppesen Sanderson. Reduced for illustrative purposes.



  

8. To fly the RF legs, navigation indications do not provide guid ance for a turn until the aircraft passes over the waypoint, followed by an intercept maneuver to the next flight segment. a True b False




7. Select the true statement(s) about flying the approach procedure from BOWTZ. a RNP 0.30 is required to FUNNN. b A course of 262° should be flown from BOWTZ to HEGVO. c A minimum altitude of 2800 ft MSL applies from BOWTZ to HEGVO. d A maximum airspeed of 150 KIAS applies from HEGVO to FUNNN for a category B aircraft.


 



6. Select the true statement(s) regarding the initial and inter mediate approach fixes. a A maximum airspeed of 210 KIAS applies to all IFs. b A mandatory altitude of 4400 ft MSL applies to CAMDY. c RF legs apply to flying the procedure from any IAF or IF. d A mandatory altitude of 5000 ft MSL applies to LAIDY and SMRFF.


  

5. A mandatory altitude of 4000 ft MSL applies to which approach fixes? a LIPSS b LAIDY c SMRFF d BOWTZ e CAMDY

 


4. Select all that apply. To fly the approach from ANGGS, the aircraft’s navigation equipment must have the capability to__ a fly direct to any of the approach fixes. b command a bank angle of 30 degrees. c maintain a TSE within ±0.11 nm for at least 95% of the time to fly to a DA of 765 ft MSL. d load the entire flight procedure into the RNAV system from the onboard navigation database.



3. Select all that apply. An autopilot or flight director driven by the RNAV system is required _____ a to fly to a DA of 765 ft MSL. b to fly the approach from SMRFF IF. c for procedure entry from the enroute environment. d when simultaneous approaches are being conducted.

  

  


2. Select the items required for the approach. a GPS. b Radar for entry from the enroute environment. c Authorization through OpSpecs, MSpecs, or an LOA. d A temperature at or above -6° C when using an uncompensated Baro-VNAV system. e All of the above.



Not to be used for navigational purposes 9. Select the true statement(s) regarding the final approach segment. a The threshold crossing height when following the VGSI is 6 ft higher than when following the RNAV glidepath. b To fly the missed approach, begin a climb to 1700 ft MSL at RW35L. c When flying the final approach segment to a DA of 952 ft MSL, the airplane’s navigation equipment must display the RNP value of 0.30. d To fly the approach from FUNNN to a DA of 765 ft MSL, the GPS equipment must change from an RNP value of 0.30 to 0.11 after reaching FUNNN.

1. Select the true statement(s) regarding the approach procedure. a The MSA provides 1000 ft clearance over obstructions within a 25 nm radius of the FAP. b A vector may be flown to any fix prior to FUNNN FAP to begin the approach procedure. c The letter Z in the approach title indicates that another RNP approach procedure is established for Runway 35L. d ATC may provide a clearance that modifies an altitude or airspeed waypoint constraint on the initial segment of the approach.

 



10. The missed approach procedure is based on a 200 ft/nm climb gradient. a True b False


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Answers to TC 5/18 questions 1. d Minimum safe/sector altitudes (MSAs) are for emergency use and normally provide 1000 ft clearance over obstructions within a 25 nm radius of the indicated facility – in this case, the MAWP of RW35L. According to AC 90-101A, Approval Guidance for RNP Procedures with AR, pilots must not modify the lateral path, with the exception of going Direct to Fix (DF), as long as that fix is prior to the FAF and does not immediately precede a radius-to fix (RF) leg. The only other authorized modification to the loaded procedure is a change of altitude and/or airspeed waypoint constraints on the initial, intermediate, or missed approach segments (i.e. to comply with an ATC clearance). If 2 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. The other approach is RNAV (GPS) Y Rwy 35L. 2.

e Procedural note 1 in the Briefing Strip indicates that authorization is required. AC 90-101A indicates that approval must be obtained through OpSpecs, MSpecs, or letters of authorization (LOA). Procedural note 2 indicates that GPS is required and note 3 states that “for uncompensated Baro-VNAV systems, procedure not authorized below -6° C (22º F) or above 54º C (130º F).” A plan view note requires radar for entering the procedure from the enroute environment.


a, b AC 90-101A states that procedures with RNP values less than 0.3 or with RF legs require the use of an autopilot or FD driven by the RNAV system. The DA of 765 ft MSL requires an RNP value of 0.11 and to fly the approach from SMRFF IF requires an RF leg.


a, c, d Both AC 90-101A and AC 20-138D, Airworthiness Approval of Positioning and Navigation Systems provide navigation equipment requirements to fly RNP approaches. The aircraft’s navigation system must have a “Direct-To” function that can be activated at any time to any fix. The equipment must be able to command a bank angle up to 25° to fly an RF leg above 400 ft AGL. The total system error (TSE) must be within the RNP value requirements (in this case ±0.11 nm) for at least 95% of the total flight time. The navigation system must have the capability to load the entire flight procedure into the RNAV system from the onboard navigation database.

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5. a, d According to the plan view, a mandatory altitude of 4000 ft MSL applies to LIPSS and BOWTZ. 6. a, d Ballflag 2 requires a maximum speed of 210 KIAS from each IF to FUNNN. According to the plan view, a mandatory altitude of 5000 ft MSL applies to LAIDY and SMRFF IFs and a minimum altitude of 4400 ft MSL applies to CAMDY IAF. Ballflag note 1 indicates that RF legs apply to all IFs but not to CAMDY IAF. 7. b, d A chart notation would indicate if an RNP value of less than 1.0 was required to fly any initial, intermediate, or missed approach segments. The plan view shows a course of 262° from BOWTZ to MYOPE to HEGVO and a minimum altitude of 2400 ft MSL from MYOPE to HEGVO. According to the table in AC 90-109A, the maximum indicated airspeed for a category B aircraft flying a radius-to-fix leg is 150 KIAS. 8.

b RF legs are defined by fly-by waypoints – the GPS receiver anticipates the turn and displays navigation indications to begin the turn so that the aircraft does not overshoot the next flight segment. The missed approach point and missed approach holding waypoint (indicated by the waypoint symbol in a circle) are fly-over waypoints.


a Procedural note 5 in the Briefing Strip states “VGSI and RNAV glidepath not coincident (VGSI angle 3.00°/TCH 60’).” The threshold crossing height (TCH) on the profile view is 54 ft. The missed approach climb to 1700 ft MSL should be initiated at the DA. According to AC 90-101A, changes to lower RNP values must be complete by the fix defining the leg with the lower value. According to AC 20-138D, it is not necessary for navigation displays, particularly PFDs, to include an actual navigation performance (ANP) or RNP accuracy value. The displays only need to provide an alert if the RNP value for the specific operation cannot be met.

10. a According to AIM 5-4-18, RNP AR approaches are developed based on standard approach speeds and a 200 ft/nm climb gradient in the missed approach.

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We invite readers to submit story lines that would work for a 6-panel Sid and Star cartoon. Send your thoughts by e-mail to Pro Pilot Publisher Murray Smith at If we use your idea we’ll credit you by name and pay you $100.


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AEA 2018 Sold-out exhibit hall was filled with the latest avionics technologies and more than 135 exhibitors. AEA Pres Paula Derks during opening session.

Cutting the opening ribbon are Jamie Luster (left) of Genesys Aerosystems and Efrain Lopez (right) of Georgetown Instrument Services and Castleberry Instruments & Avionics. Behind them (suit and tie) are AEA Chairman David Loso and Vice Chairman Garry Joyce. Genesys Aerosystems (in black shirts) was named the AEA Associate Member of the Year. Lopez was also named AEA Member of the Year.

By Geoff Hill

Director of Communications, AEA


early 2000 avionics manufacturers, repair stations, installers and other general aviation professionals converged at the 61st annual Aircraft Electronics Association International Convention & Trade Show on March 26–29 at the MGM Grand Convention Center in Las Vegas NV. New products and services were unveiled by 37 companies during the ever-popular New Product Introductions session. And more than 75 hours of regulatory, technical and

business management training and professional development courses were conducted, all approved for credit toward the AEA’s Avionics Training Excellence Award, as well as accepted for FAA IA renewal and the AMT Awards Program.

During her annual State of the Association address, AEA President Paula Derks announced that she will retire after next year’s convention in Palm Springs CA. Derks was named the association’s president in 1996. “I have stood at this podium every year for the last 22 years as the president of this association, and prior to that, I have worked for this great organization since the day I graduated from college nearly 40 years ago,” declared Derks. “As you might imagine, AEA is my passion. I will be retiring approximately 12 months from now. This may seem unusual to announce 12 months out, but I want this succession to be as smooth as possible for the AEA. This 12-month transition will allow the board of directors time for a thoughtful and strategic search for the next president. It is the right time for me, and it’s the right time for the next generation of executive leadership.”

Photo courtesy Universal Avionics

Photos courtesy AEA

AEA President Paula Derks announces retirement

Universal Avionics Cessna Citation VII is the 1st aircraft to be STC’d with the InSight Display System. Embedded charts, FMS integration and aircraft present position overlaid on the display increase overall SA. Radios can be tuned from the EFIS Control Display Unit or on the moving map display with cursor clicks. This integrated system offers a path to meet NextGen, SESAR, CPDLC, FANS 1/A+, PBN, and ADS-B requirements. InSight also requires fewer LRUs, which saves power, maintenance downtime and 200 lbs of weight.


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Positively Shocking It’s not just dapper, it’s packed with NextGen charisma. The InSight Display System brings you ADS-B, RNP, LPV, FANS, CPDLC and Data Comm – all the latest in flight deck technology to get you where you need to go. Shocking. Positively Shocking. ADS-B | LPV/WAAS | CPDLC

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Visit to learn more.

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The GoDirect Router, one of Honeywell’s latest connectivity products, boasts a small size and lighter weight, making it compatible with many aircraft platforms across the commercial, general aviation, business, and defense markets.

Photo courtesy Honeywell

Mid-Continent MD302 Standby Attitude Module (SAM) uses solid-state technology and an ARINC 429 input for attitude, altitude, airspeed, slip, and vertical trend indications. High definition display can have either horizontal or vertical orientation with programmable airspeed range markings to match aircraft type. Rechargeable lithium ion battery can be replaced in the field, and upgrades can be accomplished via a USB port.

Photo courtesy Rockwell Collins

MD32 Magnetometer is built specifically for the MD302. Calibrated from the cockpit, it provides independent heading reference with no orientation limitations. A compact design also doesn’t require specific installation hardware.

Photo courtesy Mid-Continent

Photo courtesy Garmin

Garmin G1000H NXi Integrated Flight Deck Next-generation is an all-glass, NVG compatible, integrated suite for helicopters. Dual-core processors drive pilot-selectable split-screens for separate, simultaneous page views. New, enhanced and optional features include WireAware wire-strike avoidance technology, Helicopter Terrain Awareness Warning System (HTAWS), US helicopter-specific charts, and Helicopter Synthetic Vision Technology (HSVT). It’s also equipped with ADS-B, HSI mapping, visual approach capability, and Connext cockpit connectivity with a tablet or smartphone.

The Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion upgrade for the Bombardier Challenger 604 provides a turn-key integrated avionics solution. It meets upcoming aviation regulatory mandates such as ADS-B Out while modernizing the flight experience.


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18-MCJT11231 ADS-B More Models Ad-8.375x10.875-ProPilot.indd 1

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want the speed of an SR71 Blackbird, range of a B777, vertical takeoff and landing ability like a V22 Osprey, and the altitude capability of the Space Shuttle. While I’m dreaming, also 2 engine single pilot certified with the operating cost of a Cessna 172. Rod Smith ATP/Helo/CFII/A&P. Grand Caravan & Bell 206L4 JetRanger Dir of Transportation Kinzer Drilling Pikeville KY

imple for me – it would be exactly like a Hawker 900XP plus the certification to fly up to FL450. Doug Downer ATP. Citation CJ3 Chief Pilot Air Services Traverse City MI

elicopter optimized for offshore oil industry support would be my design focus. As such, it would have 2 engines and maintain full Category A performance up to 35º C. It would be capable of carrying 16 pax with full fuel tanks and fly a 4 hour round trip plus a 30 minute fuel reserve. I would employ maximum automation and a good environmental control system suitable for the full range of hot and cold climates alike. The avionics suite must be simple, intuitive and laid out to minimize pilot head down time. I think these characteristics would make for the perfect offshore oil support helicopter. Michael O’Brien ATP/Helo/CFII. Leonardo AW139 Captain PHI Cantonment FL





S If you were designing an aircraft to fulfill planned missions what would it look like? How many engines? What qualities would it have? What performance?


y design would have 35004000 nm range on twin turbofan engines with a 50,000 ft ceiling and be able to do 4500 ft runway ops. Cabin layout to handle 6-8 passengers, a forward galley, aft lav, and room for internal baggage access. Cockpit would have the latest tech of course, with HUD and SVS. Buford Barrett ATP. Gulfstream IVSP Captain Allbritton Aviation Dulles VA


ould look like the XTI Trifan 600 hybrid-electric aircraft. Has to be able to carry 4 passengers, and I’d like to see a range of 1500 versus the 1200 nm listed for XTI. A 29,000 ft max cruise altitude would be excellent. Primary use is CONUS Midwest and Southern Coastal areas from a NYC base of operations. Basically, I want a more capable XTI Trifan 600 that would meet most of my criteria for my expected type of flight operations. John Correia ATP/Helo. Dornier 328 & Boeing B47 Chief of Flight Ops Military & Versatile Aviation Hazleton PA


or operation in an out of mountainous terrain and short runways, my design would have 3 turbojet engines that would share thrust output with ducted wings and empennage. By blowing air over the surfaces they are fooled into thinking the body is moving faster than it really is, thus allowing shorter takeoff and landing distances. Larry D’Oench ATP. Falcon 2000 & Cessna Chancellor Dir of Aviation USAC Aviation Montville NJ

iaggio Avanti or the Rutan LongEZ incorporating a forward wing or canard would be the kind of unorthodox look I would go for. Efficiency is more important than ramp appeal as long as it’s just for me. Two jet engines would be enough, and it doesn’t have to be the fastest plane ever – I’m more focused on runway performance. Should have seating for at least 8 pax and a range of 4000 nm cruising around .77 Mach. I want plenty of performance so I can take full fuel and full passengers at anytime. Ryan Johnson ATP. Challenger 601 & King Air 350 Captain DC Air Denair CA

he aircraft George Jetson flew in the ‘60s would be a great design to start with. Then we wouldn’t need roads and bridges. And Johnny Quest had an awesome hovercraft for all different types of terrain, but it would need to be closed in with a cabin. Of course, both would need to be affordable to all. Stuart Moyer ATP. Bombardier CRJ 900/700/200 Captain Endeavor Air Livonia MI

et engines able to climb 1500 fpm 1 engine out from ASE (Aspen CO) on 90º F day. Has to have Garmin avionics, a FADEC, and backup attitude/airspeed/nav that are easy for both pilots to see and use. Entry door must be 36 inches wide for bags with a max fuel payload of not less than 1200 lbs. NBAA range of at least 1800 nm, 6000 ft cabin altitude at FL510, runway requirement of 8000 ft or less on a 90º F day at APA (Centennial Airport CO). Enough oxygen bottles for each pilot crew to last 2 hours and 30 minutes for the pax. And not a single pilot capable airplane. John Keller ATP/Helo/CFII. Citation I/CJ1 Owner & Dir of Operations Keller Aviation Services Intl Cave Creek AZ


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swept wing, twin engine prop jet with pusher engines is what I’d design. Forward canard wing with a roomy cabin for 8 passengers and a cruise speed of 400 kts. Also need a service ceiling of 41,000 ft and A range of 2000 nm. Garmin G1000 for the avionics. And a large aft baggage compartment of course. Danny Culler Comm-Multi-Inst. King Air 200 Chief Pilot Eagle Sunrise Air Winston Salem NC esign would be a twin engine jet that could operate on a balanced field length of 5000 ft, and have a 6500 nm range while flying .95 Mach at FL510. Cabin would have to carry 14 passengers and bags comfortably. Stuart Carlin ATP/CFII. Challenger 604 Lead Captain Contract Pilot Summerville SC


ur ideal design would be a 3/4th scale Concorde supersonic jet. Carbon fiber fuselage tube and as many engines as needed for Mach 2.0+. But we still need a 6 hour range to meet mission needs. Henry Putek ATP/FE. Boeing 787 Captain Kestrel Aviation Partners Kailua Kona HI


or my design, it would be 2 engines with a .82 Mach cruise that could carry 8 passengers for 1200 nm in still air. Also a FL380 cruise ceiling so I’m not at FL450 for 2 hours on an uncomfortable oxygen mask breathing dry, fatiguing O2. Mark Williams ATP/CFII/FE/A&P. Citation Encore+ Pilot NetJets Ft Collins CO


ear 35 is already perfect for what we do, so it’s an easy pick for me. Craig Seither Comm-Multi-Inst/A&P. Learjet 35 & King Air 200 Mechanic Inspector Miami Valley Aviation Fairfield OH

ingle engine jet is all we would need for our missions. Has to carry crew plus 4 pax with luggage, and be able to fly from Chicago to South Florida nonstop. Aircraft has to have this range 100% of the time regardless of the weather or season. Jim Jacobi ATP/CFII. Citation CJ1+ & King Air B100 Director of Ops Exec Aero Charter Mgmt Noblesville IN ut together the best features found on the Falcon 900, 6X and 2000. They’re all really great aircraft, so this design would pretty much cover everything we need to do our missions. Galen Baird ATP/CFII. Hawker1000 Dir of Ops & Captain Baird Aviation Green Valley AZ


ery much like PC12 really, but my optimum design would include an automatic emergency descent system. I’d also add a small lav with a drainage valve and port. Javed Sheikh ATP. Dornier 328JET Owner & Captain Crew Resource Mgmt Chicago IL


would use the Piaggio P180 Avanti concept as a baseline to build on, then modify the design for a larger aircraft. Jerry Morelock ATP. Swearingen Merlin IIIC Chief Pilot Pro Field Services San Marco TX Now, or in years past, what aircraft have you especially enjoyed piloting? Why?


ost likely the DC3. Firing up those radial engines, running through the before takeoff checklist and then the roar of those engines that even the Bose could not tame. What a thrill! Kevin Savord ATP. Citation CJ4 Chief Pilot Allied Aircraft Boulder City NV


ad the privilege of flying the 1st civil aircraft incorporating a supercritical wing section design, the Dassault Falcon 50. I really enjoyed flying it because of its reliability and responsiveness in addition to its beautiful silhouette. Short runways were not a problem due to its steep approach capability and outstanding brakes. It was left behind by its successor, the Falcon 900, with a much longer range and payload. Jorge Barroso ATP. Gulfstream G650 Captain & Flight Safety Spvr SEAF Alcobendas, Madrid, Spain


ave always enjoyed flying the UH60 Black Hawk. Even though this helicopter was built long ago, it still has so much useful life left. It has been and remains a great platform for our missions. Trent Thomas Comm-Multi-Inst/Helo. UH60 Black Hawk Pilot HDS Vail AZ


he DC3 offers a feeling of history. The B727 was the last design of a pilot’s airplane before electric jets took over. And the B757 was a great match of an airplane with performance and the update to a glass cockpit. But the CJ3 is a nice size, fun to fly, dependable, and has a 45,000 ft cruise altitude. Ray Justinic ATP/CFII. Challenger 604 Chief Pilot Airtech Hebron KY


asy for this question to conjure thoughts of powerful, fast and sexy aircraft for those of us fortunate enough to pilot an assortment of turbine equipment. But not for me – the plane I enjoyed flying the most was the Cessna 150. My love of flying began in that machine so it, quite naturally, became my 1st and true aviation love. That will never change. Ken Winters ATP/CFII. Challenger 604 Av Dept Mgr Professional Care I Miami FL


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any years ago I owned a Staaggerwing Beech, which was a fun aircraft. These days, my son owns a Waco KS7 that I get to fly occasionally. My favorite corporate aircraft was a Citation Excel. It carried us all over North America and even a trip to England. What an honest, straight forward aircraft. But my all time favorite was a de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver on floats. There is nothing better than a round engine float plane. Malcolm Soare ATP/A&P. Beechjet 400 Maintenance Supervisor Davidson Companies Fort Peck MT


op 3 picks for me are the Cessna Conquest, Pitts S2B and the Hawker 900XP. All great, all different but all wonderful to fly. Greg Hill ATP. Citation Latitude Captain NetJets Jupiter FL


eronca Champ is my favorite because it’s so basic. Just stick and rudder. It takes you back to another time. Darrell Johns ATP/CFII. Legacy 500 Pilot Westmoreland Mechanical Av Youngstown PA


assault Falcon 50 is my number 1 pick. It seemed to be made to be flown by a pilot that loves to fly. Mark Hughes ATP. Bombardier Dash 8 Captain WestJet Encore Burlington, Ontario, Canada


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urrent aircraft we operate, a Lear 45, is my overall favorite. It has the performance to climb directly to FL450 and cruise efficiently at .80 Mach. With a great wing design and trailing link gear, good landings are the norm. But the aircraft that’s at the top of my bucket list is the P51, hands down. Keith Cook ATP/CFI. Learjet 45 Chief Pilot Basler Electric Worden IL


ot to fly over 4400 hours in the CH47 A/B/C/D while serving in the US Army. In my opinion, the Chinook was the best helicopter ever made. In the civilian world I had the privilege of providing 1100 hours of instruction at FSI for the Beech Starship. It was smooth, quiet and a blast to fly. Brian MacInnis ATP/Helo/CFII. Bell JetRanger 206 & King Air 350 Instructor FlightSafety Intl Wichita KS


avorite aircraft for me would have to be the Bombardier CRJ200 and Hawker 800 which I’m flying now. John Stumph ATP/CFII. Hawker 800A Pilot Air Med Intl Birmingham AL


eech 18 was a dream to fly. Piloting this aircraft in northern Alaska was a true delight. A 10,000 lb taildragger with 2 smooth radial engines, 2500 lbs of cargo, 2 small vertical tails to make it easier to land in high crosswinds and the typically harmonious Beechcraft handling. And after returning to home base you just checked the fuel level, added a few gallons of oil to each engine and you were ready to go again. Tim Harold ATP/CFII/A&P. Pilatus PC12/PC6 Captain Yajasi Sentani, Papua, Indonesia


ach aircraft I’ve flown had its own personality, and I’ve enjoyed every single one of them. But so far, I always have a smile on my face when remembering the Piper Cub I received my tailwheel training in. There’s just something alluring about the simplicity of flight in that airplane. Its always great to return to the basics of lift, weight, thrust, and drag in a tandem seat, fabric-covered airplane. Chris Konop ATP/A&P. Premier I Director of Aviation Ali-Gator Air Fairborn OH


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Photos courtesy Bombardier

A 2013 return to the Learjet Wichita campus reveals significant expansion in less than 20 years

Over its 55 years in Wichita, Bombardier Learjet company facilities have grown from a series of Butler-style buildings in 1963 to a broad, sweeping complex of manufacturing, flight test, service support, engineering, and administrative buildings. Since this 1998 photo was taken, another large building has been added.

By Al Higdon

Former Beech and Learjet Communications Executive Cofounder of the Sullivan Higdon & Sink Ad Agency


y 2013 I had visited the Learjet campus in Wichita only once in the past 18 years. Having resigned our firm’s public relations and advertising relationship with the company in 1985, there just was no reason. The single exception was in 2007–2008 while I was serving

First flight of a Learjet 23, on October 7, 1963, set a company in motion. Hundreds of Wichita cars, filled with local residents, lined the roadway adjacent to the Wichita Mid-Continent Airport (now Eisenhower) to witness the historic event.

as interim CEO of the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition (GWEDC). Back then, I led a small group of local governmental and business leaders calling on senior management of each of the community’s 5 major aerospace companies to ascertain how GWEDC might be able to assist them achieve their growth plans for the future that all were considering at that time. As it turned out, the timing was not the best, as the impending economic downturn soon sent each scurrying to hold its own, rather than accelerate growth. But 2013 brought the 50th anniversary of the Oct 7, 1963 first flight of the Learjet. And to its credit, Bombardier Learjet made a pretty big deal out of the milestone. Among the activities, its PR arm produced a series of very interesting newsletters highlighting the earliest days of the company, and asked me to write one of the accounts: “Making the word Learjet synonymous with the term business jet.” During this brief activity I was asked to “come out for a look around.” In a word, I was astonished at the growth of the Learjet campus facilities. The walk through of new building after new building, at least from my reference, was dramatic. Where “in my day” the complex consisted of 4 Butler-type buildings strung in a line adjacent to a tarmac with a single service center building (facing), this was a whole new world of modern, well-lighted and equipped manufacturing, flight test and servicing facil-


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In June 2017, Bombardier Learjet employees and guests attending the delivery ceremony of the 3000th Learjet stand in front of a display of company aircraft for a commemorative photo.

ities. Its focus is not only on the Learjet product line, but the facility also serves as a flight testing center for all Bombardier aircraft built in Canada. I’ve learned the Wichita Bombardier Flight Test Center has supported 26 development and certification programs since 1995, spanning 15,000 test flights. In its 55 years in Wichita, Learjet has had 4 owners: Bill Lear, The Gates Rubber Company, Integrated Resources (a venture capital group), and Bombardier. The first 3 were undercapitalized to achieve what needed to be done to both provide R&D capital for product development and cash to sustain the organization through the rough patches. During these first nearly 3 decades of various ownerships, this lack of sufficient capital was a real problem for the firm. My take on this challenge was that a lesser product would not have survived the unavoidable marginal assistance occasionally imposed by its ownership. But the Learjet was never a “lesser product.” I’m aware there are rumors that Bombardier might be of a mood to put Learjet up for sale. I certainly have zero

Bombardier business jets in flight. From foreground are Global 6000, Challenger 650 and Learjet 75.

In June, 2017, the 3000th Learjet, a model 75, was delivered in Wichita. Taking part, from left: Bombardier Business Aircraft Director of Customer Account Management David Douglas, Learjet Programs and Wichita Site General Manager Tonya Sudduth, Bombardier Business Aircraft President David Coleal, Leggett & Platt Director of Aviation Jeffrey Presslor, Leggett & Platt Pilot Rick Schneider, and Leggett & Platt Director of Maintenance C R Mullere.

insight into that issue. But, from what I was able to observe during 2 fairly recent visits to Learjet in Wichita – including attending a delivery ceremony of the 3000th Learjet in June 2017 – since acquiring the company in 1990, Bombardier has been very good to both the product line and the community. And certainly the company’s line-up of facilities in Tucson AZ, built 40 years ago during the Gates Rubber era, is impressive as well. Additionally, Bombardier Learjet operates services centers in 5 US locales. Without question, Beech and Cessna (now Textron Aviation) as well as Bombardier Learjet will continue to have periodic challenges, as will the business aviation industry in which they participate and compete. But each is an organization built from strength, and it’s been my distinct pleasure to have worked for all 3 of these global gems. And that’s my “look back.” Al Higdon spent 12 years as a public relations executive with Beech and Learjet before co-founding an advertising/pr firm that represented more than a dozen clients in aviation, including Learjet and Cessna, over a 25 year period before his retirement at 60 in 1996. PROFESSIONAL PILOT  /  May 2018  37

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2018 PRASE WINNERS Signature MSP is #1 US FBO. #2 Texas Jet FTW, #3 Pentastar PTK, #4 Million Air HOU, #5 GlobalSelect SGR. Best US Independent Texas Jet FTW. Most Improved Sheltair Air TPA. Best US FBO Chains: Small (3–10) Wilson Air Center, Large (11+) Million Air. Pro Pilot readers returned 1211 forms in 45th annual PRASE (Preferences Regarding Aviation Services and Equipment) Survey of 2018. Original Pro Pilot FBO Survey initiated in 1974.

1 Signature MSP

2 Texas Jet FTW

Pro Pilot staff report

Top International FBOs/Handlers

ignature MSP wins the 2018 S crown as #1 US FBO, same as 2016, 2015 and 2014. Texas

Canada Skyservice YYZ Mexico Cabo San Lucas FBO CSL Caribbean Cherokee Aviation MHH Latin America 3 Pentastar PTK Aerosupport FBO BOG Europe FBO Personnel TAG Farnborough Arpt FAB Line Tech Middle East & Africa Pat Walter, Signature MSP ExecuJet DXB CSR Asia Betsy Wines, Meridian TEB Hong Kong Business Av Ctr HKG

Jet FTW placed #2 after being #1 in 2017. Pentastar PTK placed #3 same as 2017. Top US FBOs US Signature MSP Independent Texas Jet FTW Most Improved Sheltair TPA Small Chain Wilson Air Ctr Large Chain Million Air

Other services

Top 10 US FBOs for 2018 with comparison rankings for the last 4 years 2018






1 Signature






2 Texas Jet






3 Pentastar






4 Million Air






5 GlobalSelect






6 Wilson Air Ctr






7 Million Air






8 Wilson Air Ctr






9 Banyan Air Svcs











10 Signature

Catering – each region has a winner with no overall national one. Northeast – Rudy’s NJ area South – Silver Lining MIA area Mountain – Perfect Landing APA Fuel Brand Phillips 66 Aviation Fuel Credit Card Colt Intl by World Fuel Services Intl Trip Planning ITPS Intl Trip Planning Svcs MRO West Star Pro Pilot Writer Karsten Shein


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egardless of what you fly, excellent ground support is always appreciated. Whether it’s a quick turn, afternoon stop-and-wait or RON, pilots and their executive passengers want to know everything is covered. That it’ll be done right the 1st time.

So PICs and flight departments look for the FBOs and aviation activities that can best help them successfully complete their mission and keep the boss happy. The competition for business is so fierce that even the smallest detail can make all the difference.

Owner/Operator Trey Willis is an ATP/CFII with over 12,000 hours in Learjets, Turbo Commanders and Cirrus aircraft. He flies the Learjet 45/75 for his aircraft management and consulting business covering the Americas, Europe and the Caribbean. Trey knows FBOs and aviation service – he designed, built and ran 3 flight departments, has assisted dozens of others and was an award winning pilot with Walmart for 15 years. He evaluated multiple FBOs, CSRs and services on his 2018 Pro Pilot PRASE Survey response. His form is 1 of the 1211 received providing 29,301 individual evaluations.

These top performers deserve their due, and Pro Pilot was the 1st to showcase the best with an FBO survey. This recognition has remained important enough to the industry that we’ve run a services survey for 45 years straight. So once again, Pro Pilot’s 2018 PRASE Survey highlights the outstanding aviation ground service teams who mastered the finest details. Specific recognition is given for the best Line Techs, CSRs, Catering, Fuel Brand, Fuel Credit Card, Intl Trip Planning, MROs, and Pro Pilot writers. First announcement of PRASE winners is a news release with the overall score results. Then full details of each category’s scores are published in the May edition of Pro Pilot, followed by expanded coverage with photos of the winning teams in the July issue. A good survey should sample the correct demographic, be valid (measure what it’s supposed to), reliable (elicit proper responses) and pure (data is protected). Pro Pilot takes this responsibility very seriously. In the aviation industry you’ll find clear agreement that our surveys are the gold standard. Our controlled process ensures only qualified subscribers take the survey. Their aviation credentials are verified by our subscription process and BPA audits. They know what it takes to have good service, year after year, so FBO validation criteria is still 6 categories – Line team, CSRs, Facility, Amenities, Promptness & efficiency, Value for price. The survey also has blank lines for write-ins and 1 to 10 scores; a format proven to provide the reliability we need to trust responses are accurate. Finally, survey data is compiled, analyzed and certified for accuracy and impartiality by well-respected experts at Conklin & de Decker of Arlington TX. Congratulations to all the winners and support activities that keep bizav strong and vibrant. And a heartfelt “thank you” from Pro Pilot to our dedicated readership for taking the time to carefully evaluate aviation ground activities where they received service. .


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Final results of the 2018 Professional Pilot PRASE Survey Signature MSP voted #1 US FBO Signature MSP moves up 1 position from 2017 and retakes the top spot in this year’s survey. Team members L-R: Kyle Schmaltz, Peter Landis, Doug Drescher, Matthew Hall, Latricia Edwards, Zachary Larson, Traci Gustafson, Pamela King, Karen Hardiman.

( ) denotes 2017 ranking

US FBOs 2018 FBO Airport rank


did not place in 2017

Ranked by category scores and overall ratings Line CSRs Facility Amenities Promptness Value team & efficiency for price

Overall rating

2017 rank

1 SIGNATURE MSP 9.47 9.67 9.70 9.55 9.61 9.22 9.54 (2) 2 TEXAS JET FTW 9.67 9.74 9.06 9.33 9.63 9.60 9.51 (1) 3 PENTASTAR PTK 9.27 9.59 9.18 9.41 9.59 9.50 9.42 (3) 4 MILLION AIR HOU 9.42 9.08 9.76 9.83 9.36 8.96 9.40 (7) 5 GLOBAL SELECT SGR 9.26 9.28 9.73 9.70 9.30 9.07 9.39 (23) 6 WILSON AIR CTR CLT 9.77 9.47 9.13 9.17 9.53 9.17 9.37 (9) 7 MILLION AIR ADS 9.50 9.64 9.21 9.14 9.43 9.18 9.35 (10) 8 WILSON AIR CTR HOU 9.70 9.57 8.30 8.65 9.48 9.61 9.22 (15) 9 BANYAN FXE 9.42 9.32 9.32 9.14 9.07 8.98 9.21 (5) 10 SIGNATURE STP 9.53 9.48 8.97 8.89 9.34 8.93 9.19 (4) 11 BUSINESS JET CTR DAL 9.29 9.13 9.41 9.26 9.09 8.91 9.18 (17) 12 SHELTAIR TPA 9.28 9.56 8.94 8.89 8.94 9.22 9.14 (*) 13 VAIL VALLEY JET CTR EGE 9.62 9.46 9.27 9.04 9.12 8.08 9.10 (24) 14 WILSON AIR CTR MEM 9.29 9.19 9.21 8.89 9.07 8.82 9.08 (8) 15 MERIDIAN TEB 9.17 9.24 9.17 8.93 9.02 8.76 9.05 (20) 16 MONTEREY JET CTR MRY 9.43 9.23 8.91 8.72 9.09 8.88 9.04 (12) 17 EPPS PDK 9.38 9.44 8.54 8.50 9.12 9.15 9.02 (16) 18 JET AVIATION PBI 9.50 9.57 8.35 8.64 9.21 8.74 9.00 (6) 19 JET AVIATION IAD 9.20 9.26 9.25 8.90 9.05 8.11 8.96 (*) 20 SIGNATURE PBI 9.39 9.33 8.56 8.39 9.22 8.61 8.92 (*) 21 BASE OPERATIONS PAGE FIELD FMY 9.00 9.17 9.00 8.72 8.67 8.83 8.90 (*) 22 NAPLES AIRPORT AUTHORITY APF 9.17 9.50 8.64 8.22 9.00 8.67 8.87 (13) 23 ATLANTIC ASE 9.40 9.20 9.20 8.70 8.95 7.68 8.86 (21) 24 DENVER JETCENTER APA 9.14 9.05 8.41 8.36 9.05 8.95 8.83 (22) 25 SIGNATURE TEB 9.17 9.29 8.77 8.60 8.81 8.17 8.80 (30) 26 JET AVIATION TEB 8.81 9.11 8.88 8.74 8.77 8.36 8.78 (28) 27 ATLANTIC LAS 9.09 9.09 8.55 8.59 8.73 8.14 8.70 (29) 28 ATLANTIC TEB 8.88 9.00 8.55 8.22 8.73 8.41 8.63 (31) 29 SHELTAIR FLL 9.05 8.19 8.50 8.36 8.77 8.36 8.54 (27) 30 ATLANTIC BCT 8.90 8.90 8.20 8.15 8.35 8.65 8.53 (*) 31 ATLANTIC SJC 8.85 8.80 8.58 8.32 8.47 8.00 8.50 (25) 32 SIGNATURE IAD 8.82 8.61 8.71 8.50 8.46 7.64 8.46 (33) 33 ATLANTIC MDW 8.77 8.73 8.38 8.31 8.42 7.92 8.42 (32) Ranking Criteria for US FBOs—For 2018 the total number of ranked US FBOs was 33. A minimum of 18 respondents with 6 categories giving 108 individual evaluations from PP subscribers. FBOs acquired after July 1, 2017 retained their former affiliation for this 2018 PRASE Survey.


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One Goal:

Exceeding Your Expectations

Our mission is to take care of your every need, no matter where or when you may be traveling. The professional FBO staff at Jet Aviation makes it a priority to accommodate the wishes of both passengers and crew, focusing on convenience, safety and with the greatest attention to detail.

USA & Caribbean – Boston/Bedford l Dallas l Houston l Los Angeles/Van Nuys l Nassau l Palm Beach l St. Louis l San Juan l Teterboro l Washington/Dulles EMEA & Asia – Berlin Schonefeld/Tegel l Dubai DXB/DWC l Dusseldorf l Geneva l Jeddah l Medina l Munich l Riyadh l Singapore l Vienna l Zurich

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2018 PRASE WINNERS Best Independent US FBO

( ) denotes 2017 ranking


did not place in 2017

Ranked by category scores and overall ratings 2018 FBO Airport rank

Line CSRs Facility Amenities Promptness team & efficiency


9.06 9.18 9.73 9.32 9.41 9.27 9.17 8.91 8.54 9.00 8.64

9.33 9.41 9.70 9.14 9.26 9.04 8.93 8.72 8.50 8.72 8.22

9.63 9.59 9.30 9.07 9.09 9.12 9.02 9.09 9.12 8.67 9.00

Value for price

9.60 9.50 9.07 8.98 8.91 8.08 8.76 8.88 9.15 8.83 8.67

Overall rating

2017 rank

9.51 9.42 9.39 9.21 9.18 9.10 9.05 9.04 9.02 8.90 8.87

(1) (2) (10) (3) (7) (11) (9) (4) (6) (*) (5)

Most Improved US FBO 2018 rank


2017 rank

Sheltair Tampa Intl airport, Tampa FL up 24 places


This award is given to the FBO that made the largest gain in ranking position as compared with the previous year. Sheltair TPA didn’t rank in the top 35 in the list of 2017 US FBOs but moved up into the 12th position in 2018. Hence, Sheltair TPA advanced by at least 24 positions to win Most Improved US FBO for 2018.

Methodology The Professional Pilot PRASE Survey is an annual tabulation of customer opinions of aviation ground services. Executives in charge of flight departments, aviation managers, chief pilots, pilots, CEOs and other qualified subscribers to Professional Pilot magazine are polled once a year in order to determine the PRASE Winners’ List. PRASE is the gold standard of aviation ground service leaders. Pro Pilot uses a multistep process to ensure accurate PRASE survey results. 1 Ballots were sent to subscribers in 5 waves. • PRASE forms were sent to subscribers in Oct 2017. • PRASE forms were sent with the Nov and Dec 2017 of Professional Pilot issues. • Additional mailings were sent to Pro Pilot subscribers separately from the magazine in Jan 2018 and March 2018. Subscribers were instructed to return their completed ballots to Professional Pilot in Alexandria VA. Cutoff date for the 2018 PRASE Survey was April 12, 2018. Late ballots were not included in the tally.

Sheltair at TPA won Most Improved US FBO for 2018.

Strict checking was done and only 1 ballot per participant was allowed. Voting was restricted to only qualified Pro Pilot subscribers. In categories where they compete, members of organizations or individuals were not permitted to submit ballots. Public relations, marketing and advertising personnel are ineligible. Ballots are checked thoroughly to ensure all information listed is current and correct. Careful verification of FBO names is made since some names change because of mergers or acquisitions. The 2018 PRASE Survey received a total of 1211 ballots. Of these forms a total of 1068 met the Pro Pilot acceptance criteria and were used in the analysis. There were 143 ballots disqualified due to inconsistencies, errors, duplications, and lack of required information. 2 Qualified ballots were sent to Conklin & de Decker to transfer the data from the original forms to an electronic database. 3 Database information was analyzed and tabulated by Conklin & de Decker at their headquarters in Arlington TX. A precount as a preliminary step was accomplished followed by a final count to determine the rankings and winners. The winners list was finalized on April 18, 2018.


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We truly appreciate yourPRASE


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May - Avfuel Stand E

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International FBOs/Handlers

( ) denotes 2017 ranking


did not place in 2017

In addition to US FBOs, the Pro Pilot PRASE Survey determines the best international FBOs/Handlers within the following areas – Canada, Mexico, Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, Middle East & Africa, and Asia.

Ranked by category scores and overall ratings

Best Canadian 2018 FBO Airport rank

Line CSRs Facility Amenities team


SKYSERVICE TORONTO YYZ 9.32 9.42 9.14 2 SKYCHARTER TORONTO YYZ 9.42 9.50 8.25 3 SIGNATURE VANCOUVER (Former Landmark) YVR 8.93 8.93 8.60 4 SKYSERVICE MONTREAL YUL 8.93 9.19 8.22 5 SIGNATURE TORONTO YYZ 9.46 8.77 7.69

Promptness & efficiency

Value Overall 2017 for price rating rank

8.92 8.42 8.33 8.04 8.00

9.20 9.33 9.00 8.59 8.92

8.81 9.14 8.92 8.97 8.73 8.75 8.56 8.59 8.31 8.53

(1) (*) (3) (2) (5)



9.58 8.86 9.27

9.58 9.13 8.73

8.68 8.43 7.91

8.58 8.71 7.45

9.42 9.13 8.45

9.11 8.50 8.18

9.16 (1) 8.79 (*) 8.33 (3)

9.40 8.94 8.94

9.30 9.00 9.12

8.20 8.71 8.15

8.00 8.41 7.79

9.10 8.88 8.79

8.80 8.71 8.28

8.80 (*) 8.78 (3) 8.51 (2)


Best Latin American 1 AEROSUPPORT FBO - BOGOTA, COLOMBIA BOG 8.89 8.78 7.89 8.33 2 LIDER AVIAÇÃO - SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL CGH 8.86 8.57 8.57 8.14 3 MAPIEX - PANAMA CITY, PANAMA PAC 8.80 8.80 8.20 7.60

9.22 8.75 8.64 (1) 9.00 8.43 8.60 (3) 8.40 9.00 8.47 (*)

Best European 1 TAG FARNBOROUGH AIRPORT FAB 9.21 9.32 9.63 2 HARRODS LUTON LTN 9.20 9.07 8.93 3 SIGNATURE LE BOURGET LBG 9.00 8.93 8.53 4 SIGNATURE LUTON LTN 8.93 9.00 8.59

9.37 8.64 8.47 8.48

9.21 8.73 9.00 8.56

8.63 9.23 (1) 8.00 8.76 (2) 8.25 8.70 (3) 7.96 8.59 (4)

Best Middle East and African 1 2 3


8.75 9.25 9.75 9.50 9.00 9.00 9.00 9.00 9.00 8.67 7.00 6.67

9.50 8.75 9.25 (*) 8.50 8.00 8.75 (1) 7.67 7.00 7.67 (*)


9.38 9.63 8.88 8.88 9.33 8.67 8.00 8.00 8.33 8.67 7.33 7.00

9.25 9.33 8.67


Best Asian 1 2 3

7.63 8.94 8.33 8.61 7.33 7.89

(1) (*) (*)


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2018 PRASE WINNERS US FBO Chains In the Pro Pilot PRASE Survey the definition of a small chain is 3–10 bases. A large FBO chain contains 11 or more. Those FBOs with only 2 locations are considered as 2 separate independents. FBO groups classified as networks are not considered FBO chains. A PRASE judges panel composed of top av dept mgrs established these definitions in 2011.

Best Small FBO Chain (3–10 locations) Wilson Air Center has held steady as #1 in the Best Small FBO Chain division since the FBO Chain division was split into small and large in 2011. Photo shows happy members (L-R) CSR Kimberly Boyle, Gen Mgr David Peacock, CSR Jazmine Harding, Line Tech Darrel Katoe, Accounting Mgr Gabriel Fonseca, and Concierge Tharren Hayes.

( ) denotes 2017 ranking


did not place in 2017

Ranked by category scores and overall ratings 2018 FBO Airport rank

Line CSRs Facility Amenities Promptness team & efficiency

1 WILSON AIR CTR (CHA, CLT, HOU, MEM) 9.60 9.43 9.04 2 JET AVIATION (BED, CPS, DAL, HOU, IAD, PBI, TEB, VNY) 9.11 9.27 8.76 3 JETCENTERS (APA, COS, FNL) 9.03 9.03 8.24 4 ROSS AVIATION (ANC, FAT, HPN, LGB, SDL, TRM) 8.86 8.93 8.55

9.05 8.64 8.14 8.10

9.41 8.95 9.03 8.90

Value for price

9.19 8.44 8.79 8.48

Overall rating

2017 rank

9.29 8.86 8.71 8.64

(1) (3) (2) (4)

Overall rating

2017 rank

9.08 8.76 8.75 8.74 8.52

(1) (2) (4) (3) (5)

Note: JETCENTERS includes Denver jetCenter, Colorado jetCenter and Ft Collins/Loveland jetCenter.

Best Large FBO Chain (11+ locations) Million Air once again keeps the #1 award as Best Large FBO Chain, as they have for the past 7 years. Management team here: (front row L-R) CEO Roger Woolsey, President Blaine Holt, (top row L-R) Dir of FBO Support & VP Intl Ops John Bridi, Chief Brand & Business Dev Officer Sandy Nelson, and Dir of Marketing Allie Woolsey.

2018 FBO rank

Line CSRs Facility Amenities Promptness team & efficiency

1 MILLION AIR 9.25 9.26 9.02 2 ATLANTIC 9.10 9.16 8.64 3 SIGNATURE 9.07 9.14 8.67 4 SHELTAIR 9.16 8.94 8.47 5 TAC AIR 8.65 8.84 8.51

8.93 8.43 8.53 8.37 8.06

9.12 8.85 8.86 8.85 8.61

Value for price

8.89 8.35 8.22 8.67 8.43

Note: ATLANTIC completed the acquisition of Orion Jet Ctr during Sep 2017.

FBOs acquired after July 1, 2017 are considered as they were, as independent FBOs or part of the other chain, for this survey.


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2018 PRASE WINNERS ( ) denotes 2017 ranking

FBO Line Techs and CSRs


did not place in 2017

Pro Pilot subscribers also voted for their favorite Line Techs and CSRs, scoring them within the categories of Can-do attitude, Knowledge, Attention to detail, and Promptness & efficiency.

Ranked by category scores and overall ratings

Best Line Techs

2018 FBO Airport rank

1 2


Can-do Knowledge Attention Promptness Overall attitude to detail & efficiency

2017 rank



10.00 9.91

9.89 9.73

9.89 9.73

9.89 9.82

9.92 9.80



10.00 9.92 9.89 9.83 9.67

10.00 9.92 9.78 9.83 9.67

9.93 9.92 9.89 9.92 9.67

9.93 9.92 10.00 9.92 9.67

9.97 (1) 9.92 (*) 9.89 (2) 9.88 (4) 9.67 (3)

(1) (2)

Pat Walter

Best CSRs 1 2 3 4 5


Betsy Wines

Other Services—Catering, Fuel Brand, Fuel Credit Card, Intl Trip Planning, and MROs Pro Pilot subscribers assessed 5 additional services—Catering for Aviation, Fuel Brand, Fuel Credit Card, International Trip Planning, and MRO service centers. These were scored based on Quality of service, Value for price, Dependability, and Customer satisfaction.

Best Catering for Aviation by region (Northeast, Middle Atlantic, South, Mountain, Midwest and West) Each region has a winner with no overall national one.

Ranked by category scores and overall ratings 2018 r ank

Quality of Value Dependability Customer Overall 2017 service for price satisfaction rank

Northeast (CT, MA, ME, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VT) 1 RUDY’S

NJ area (EWR, MMU, TEB)

9.47 8.42 9.55

9.33 9.19 (1)

9.78 8.00 9.78

9.78 9.34












Note: Not enough votes received to determine winners for these regions: West (AK, CA, HI, OR, WA),

Middle Atlantic (DC, DE, MD, VA, WV), Midwest (IA, IL, IN, KS, MI, MN, MO, ND, NE, OH, SD, WI).


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Come and visit us on stand W33 at EBACE

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2018 PRASE WINNERS ( ) denotes 2017 ranking


Ranked by category scores and overall ratings

did not place in 2017

2018 r ank

Quality of service

Value Dependability Customer Overall for price satisfaction

2017 rank


9.61 9.33 9.48 9.06 9.38 9.14 9.28 8.96

9.67 9.47 9.44 9.38

9.66 9.57 (1) 9.52 9.38 (2) 9.41 9.34 (3) 9.29 9.23 (4)

9.71 9.33 9.43 9.32 9.25 9.14 9.20 9.00 9.11 8.71

9.63 9.51 9.24 9.33 9.09

9.67 9.59 (1) 9.50 9.44 (5) 9.31 9.24 (4) 9.15 9.17 (2) 9.06 8.99 (3)


Best International Trip Planning 9.31 9.19 9.31 9.44 9.31 (*) 9.20 8.85 9.10 9.15 9.08 (2) 9.23 8.63 9.26 9.17 9.07 (1)






8.90 (4)

Most Preferred MROs (Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul) Category established in 2014

West Star stays as the #1 MRO, a spot they’ve held for the last 5 years. From left to right: Jim Swehla, Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Bob Rasberry, CEO, and Rodger Renaud, President. West Star offers complete refurbishment for aircraft ranging from small TPs to large bizjets. They have 3 main bases at East Alton IL, Grand Junction CO and Chattanooga TN, with satellite facilities in Denver CO, Aspen CO, Houston TX, and Chicago IL.


9.63 9.41 9.43 9.14 9.07

Most Favorite Pro Pilot Writers

Karsten Shein Wx Brief

Grant McLaren Intl Ops

Archie Trammell Radar-tech articles

Alex Kvassay Alex Remembers

9.26 8.53 8.67 8.27 8.50

9.63 9.44 9.24 8.95 8.71

9.68 9.44 9.29 8.73 8.64

9.55 (1) 9.21 (3) 9.16 (4) 8.77 (2) 8.73 (5)

Ranked by total number of votes 2 018 rank 1 KARSTEN SHEIN 2 GRANT MCLAREN 3 ARCHIE TRAMMELL 4 ALEX KVASSAY

2017 rank (1) (3) (4) (2)


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Robson Communities flies Falcon 2000LX Real estate mogul Ed Robson buys land, builds homes and enjoys flying.

By Brent Bundy

Phoenix Police Officer-Pilot AS350, AW119, Cessna 210/182/172


early 60 years ago, a young man with big dreams moved his wife and 3 children from Arlington MA to the deserts of the southwest United States. With only $1400 in his pocket, he arrived in Phoenix with capabilities far more valuable: ambition, drive and tenacity. Traits that this former Marine pilot and Olympic hockey player would draw upon to overcome the obstacles he faced. Over the next 6 decades, Ed Robson would rise from obscurity to become one of the most successful and influential real estate developers in the country.

Robson Communities Founder & Chairman Ed Robson and his wife Karrin Taylor Robson with the company’s Falcon 2000LX.

Photos by Brent Bundy

Robson and his company Robson was adopted shortly after birth in 1930 and raised in the suburbs of Boston. As a child, he took an early liking to outdoor sports, particularly hockey. His love of hockey would pay dividends for the rest of his life. After helping his high school team win both the greater Boston and New England Championships, he accepted a scholarship to play for Colorado College. “Going west was the best thing I ever did,” Robson proclaims with his still notable northeastern accent. After graduation in 1954 with a 54

degree in business and banking, he joined the Marine Corps where he continued his hockey career by playing for Team USA, then as an alternate on the US Olympic team in 1956. At the end of his tour in the Marines, Robson was faced with 2 choices: depart and begin his career in business or re-up for another 3 years and learn to fly. He chose the latter. This decision sent him to Pensacola FL for flight training, which brought up 2 options: jets or helicopters. Although he received commercial and

instrument ratings in both categories, he stuck with rotary wing. “I chose helicopters because I thought I could make a living doing that after I got out of the service,” recalls Robson. It probably didn’t hurt that this choice assigned him to HMR-161 MAG13, a helicopter squadron based in Kaneohe HI. This set him up to fly Sikorsky HRS-2s for the remainder of his time in the Marine Corps. Although Robson didn’t pursue a professional flight career, he did continue flying for a while. He relates a


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story of piloting a rented plane with a friend from Colorado Springs back to Phoenix. They encountered storms along the way, so Robson skirted around the front of the clouds, not wanting to challenge the weather with his limited IFR experience. This flightpath pushed him all the way to Tucson, 100 miles southeast of his desired destination. He soon realized he did not have enough fuel to make it back to Phoenix, so he landed the plane in Casa Grande, called the rental company and told them where their plane was, then took a taxi home. He chuckles when recalling the adventure, “I got to thinking, I’ve probably done enough flying.” Robson found work in the Valley of the Sun with real estate icon Del Webb. Taking the wealth of experience he learned at his time with Webb, Robson and some investors ventured out on their own. After some ups and downs, in 1972 he opened his first big project. It was on 2560 acres of farmland on the outskirts of Phoenix that Robson broke ground on Sun Lakes. Initially selling double-wide mobile homes, his master-planned community eventually blossomed into a town in and of itself. On-site-built homes supplanted the mobile homes and were joined by retail shops, golf courses, and medical offices. Along the way, Robson bought out his partners to become the sole proprietor. This was just the beginning. In the years that followed, Robson Communities would open 6 more locations spread across Arizona and an additional community just outside of Dallas TX.

but the means had to be convenient and effective from a business standpoint. In the late 1970s, Robson purchased a Cessna Citation Bravo. For many years he stuck with the Cessna brand, going through a succession of Citations including a II, a V (one of his favorite planes), and a VII. In 2000, Robson seized an opportunity from his now-deceased mentors’ company. The Del Webb corporation had decided to sell their flight operations and Robson bought the whole Scottsdale-based package: plane, hangar and pilots. This time the plane was a 1-year-old Hawker 800XP. He enjoyed the aircraft but wanted something bigger, so he moved on to a Dassault Falcon 2000, then later to a Falcon 2000EX, which he purchased new in 2008 and still currently operates. While the success of Ed Robson and Robson Communities is clearly the result of the business acumen of its founder, he does give credit and appreciation to the value of aviation. “There are many areas that business aviation has benefited me,” Robson

Robson buys Citations Ed Robson’s success and expansion led to an even greater need for travel,

Dir of Av & Chief Pilot Chris Wible has led the Robson flight dept for the past 18 years.

explains. “It improves the company morale, it gives us flexibility, and it gives us time. It allows my people to do their job then go home at night, no matter where they need to be during the day. People are proud to work for this company and the aircraft is one thing that adds to that feeling.” Known for his generosity to the community in the form of his extensive philanthropy, Robson also frequently takes employees and clients on team-building trips. “Having an aircraft like this is expensive. But it makes us even more productive,” he adds.

Photos courtesy Robson Communities

Luxurious amenities on display at 2 of Robson Communities in Arizona. At left is the Ranch House clubhouse at the Robson Ranch community near Casa Grande and at right the Oasis Pool Complex at the PebbleCreek community in the far west valley of Phoenix.

Personnel When Robson purchased the Del Webb flight program in 2000, as part of the deal he also brought in Director of Aviation and Chief Pilot Chris Wible. An Ashtabula OH native, Wible came to Phoenix in 1982 to work construction with his father. During the 8 years he worked for his dad, he also took up flying, “as a hobby,” Wible says. “Then I followed the CFI route to building hours. I earned my ratings and did some instructing around the area to build some time and experience.” In 1990, he was asked to co-pilot a Piper Cheyenne 400 twin turboprop from Phoenix to Tokyo for the Fukutomi corporation. Upon return from this trip, the chairman called and offered him the fulltime position of flying the Cheyenne. Wible continued flying the 400 until the mid-90s when his first opportunity to fly jet aircraft came his way. The Kencorp company hired him to fly their Learjet 24, primarily for personal flights of executives. He stayed with them until 1995 when he got word of a position opening up with the Del Webb flight department. “I was at lunch with Giant Oil PROFESSIONAL PILOT  /  May 2018  55

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2008, then had the factory-installed blended winglets added in 2016, effectively designating the aircraft a 2000LX.

Flight ops in the Falcon 2000LX

Capt Jordan Klein joined Robson in 2010. After several previous corporate assignments, he feels he’s found his perfect job.

Chief Pilot Ted Morton and he told me, ‘You’ve got to go get that job!’” Wible relates. “I listened to Ted and it changed everything.” He signed on as a captain for Del Webb in their Hawker 800 and 2 years later he took over as chief pilot. Shortly after, he upgraded them to a new Hawker 800XP. In 2000, as Wible states, “the stars aligned” and Robson bought the complete operations of the Del Webb flight department. They continued flying the 800XP until 2002, when Robson decided he wanted a larger aircraft. They had moved the 800XP to Duncan Aviation in Lincoln NE as part of a pre-sale and Dassault’s Dwight Reimer arranged to fly a Falcon 2000 from New Jersey to Lincoln, pick them up, and take them back to Phoenix. Ed Robson walked into the hangar and bought the plane. “Because of the way they took care of us, we’ve been a loyal Dassault family member since then,” Wible proudly declares. The 2000 served the company well until they upgraded to a 2000EX in

They currently fly approximately 200 hours a year, with 20 to 30% of that being international destinations. While Robson will sometimes use the aircraft for personal flights, its primary purpose is for the benefit of the business. Wible explains, “With our communities not only around Arizona but also in Texas, the plane allows us the opportunity to view new development possibilities, enhance customer relations, meet with potential new partners, and conduct on-site management.” Robson also operates a few large boats and associated business ventures which necessitates flights to both coasts for operational needs as well as morale-boosting reward trips for employees and customers. Robson’s well-known philanthropy is not only for the benefactors of his many contributions but for those close to him. Wible tells the story of Robson’s accountant whose wife broke her hip while on vacation in Hawaii. Robson did not hesitate to send his plane, staffed with medical personnel, to pick them up and bring them home for treatment and recovery. “That’s just the way he is. Ed recognizes his good fortune and is always willing to share it with others.” Wible has held good positions with other flight departments but his enjoyment of working for Robson is quickly evident. “We know our schedule a week or so in advance and we rarely have pop-up flights. We are never second-guessed by

DOM Jim Burkett learned his craft in the US Navy when he was 18 and has spent most of his career working on corporate jet aircraft.

Robson, especially in questions of safety.” Annual recurrent training is conducted at either CAE Simuflite or FlightSafety International, which the team attends as a crew.

Jordan Klein and Jim Burkett For pilot staffing, Wible keeps a list of qualified personnel to use when he or his other full-time partner are not available, which is rare. That other pilot is Captain Jordan Klein. Klein was born and raised in Chicago then moved to Phoenix his junior year of high school in 1986. Without an aviation connection in his family, he credits his desire to become a pilot to his days living in Chicago when his dad would take him to O’Hare Airport to eat McDonald’s and watch the planes land. “I’m going to do that someday,” Klein remembers telling his father. Knowing he wanted to fly, Klein later attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott AZ, graduating with an aeronautical science degree in 1995. His first paying

All of Robson Communities feature stunning golf courses. Above are 2 of their championship courses in Arizona, Robson Ranch Arizona Golf Club in Casa Grande (L) and SaddleBrooke Ranch Golf Club in Tucson.


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The Robson Communities Dassault Falcon 2000EX was purchased new in 2008 and upgraded to a 2000LX in 2008 with manufacturer-installed blended winglets. They are currently evaluating options for a newer, larger aircraft.

job in aviation was flying skydivers. He also worked as a flight instructor before hiring on with Cutter Aviation flying sales aircraft throughout the southwest. With only 540 flight hours in his logbook, Klein got his big break. While working at Cutter, 2 pilots delivered a Hawker 800 for maintenance and requested he fly them to Scottsdale, a quick flight to the north. Two weeks later, their chief pilot called Klein with a job offer. He needed a new copilot for his boss, Ken Kendrick, the owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Klein gladly accepted and flew Kendrick’s Hawker 700 and Challenger 600 for the next 3 years. He then moved on to fly a Sabreliner 65 for a private banker, a job that lasted 5 years until the owner sold the plane. After that, Klein tapped into his corporate contacts and began contract flying. In late 2010, one of those contacts put him in touch with Wible at Robson and he’s never looked back. When asked why, after all the jumping around, he stayed with Robson, Klein is quick to respond, “The success of Ed (Robson), without question. Even when times got tough in housing downturns, he never put the plane for sale or sought out a partner or considered putting it on charter. He kept it and he kept us. And I fly with my closest friend, Chris [Wible].” In the often-tumultuous world of corporate pilot work, Klein makes it clear that he has found where he wants to be and whom he wants to work for. “I feel like I bring a positive impact to this company. I’ve loved my entire time here and I feel at home. This is a fantasy job.”

Director of Mx Jim Burkett is the other member of the Robson flight department. His aviation career started early when he joined the Navy at 18 years old and became a mechanic, working on A-7 Corsair IIs. After 4 years of the military, he left and hired on with Duncan Aviation in Lincoln NE. Burkett moved around to a few different companies including another stint with Duncan, where he is still an “on-call guy” to this day due to his expertise and the quality of work he provides. There were numerous location changes, including Saudi Arabia working on Learjet 35s for their government. He eventually made his way to Phoenix and was hired by Del Webb. When Robson purchased Del Webb, Burkett was also part of the package and has continued working on the various aircraft they have flown over the years. While he has maintained more types of aircraft than he can remember, “The 2000 is the best Falcon to work on,” he states. Most work is completed at the company’s Scottsdale base with major maintenance being sent to Duncan in Nebraska. While Burkett keeps quite busy, he feels that 1 mechanic is enough, most of the time. “Occasionally I have to take it out of service longer than I’d like, but Mr Robson is very understanding,” Burkett says. He echoes the sentiments of his pilots when he adds, “This is a great company to work for. Mr Robson is a great guy. He once asked me ‘What is your job?’ I told him, ‘I’m here to protect your interest in your plane.’ He must have liked my answer because I’m still here!”

Ed Robson has made it clear that he has every intention of continuing with a flight department, even as others have closed theirs in recent years. His appreciation for Dassault products is also not a secret. When pushed on the matter, both Robson and Wible show a preference for something a bit larger than their 2000LX, which is now a decade old and due for replacement. Robson likes the 7X but feels that it is too much aircraft for their needs. Wible feels that a Falcon 900LX may fit the bill and they are keeping their options open.

Conclusion Throughout his life, Ed Robson has faced trials and triumphs, both personal and professional. He battled polio only to become an Olympic hockey player. His first planned community faced bankruptcy on more than one occasion only to turn around and become the catalyst for a real estate empire that more than 50,000 people call home. The one constant has been Ed Robson and his unwavering drive to overcome and achieve. Outrageous Good Fortune is the title of his autobiography and in it, he states, “Knowledge is power.” During his tenure as one of Arizona’s great land developers, he has recognized the value that business aviation offers to his many ventures and that knowledge has proved to be truly powerful. With his wife, former employee of the Reagan White House and current AZ Board of Regents Member Karrin Taylor by his side, a state-of-the-art aircraft in his hangar, and a top-notch flight crew in the cockpit, Ed Robson has assured the tremendous success of Robson Communities will continue.

Brent Bundy has been a police officer with the Phoenix Police Dept for 26 years. He has served in the PHX Air Support Unit for 16 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.


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What’s new for cockpit resource management? It’s a good concept proven to prevent accidents. FO: I don’t think you’re gonna make it. I don’t think you’re gonna make it. Captain: We’re going around. Oh darn… FO: It isn’t gonna stop, John. We’re not gonna make it, John. Great, John, I told you…

Dismantling captain-knows-best culture

One quick way to destroy any chance at CRM is to treat others in ways that are degrading, insulting or dismissive. It is best to treat others as you wish to be treated.

By David Ison, PhD

Associate Professor College of Aeronautics Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Worldwide


elieve it or not, 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of an accident that accelerated the adoption of what at the time was a novel concept of getting people in the cockpit to work better together: Cockpit Resource Management (CRM). At the suggestion of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) following the accident involving a perfectly airworthy DC-8 being run out of fuel near Portland OR, CRM quickly was recognized as a missing piece in the ways that pilots worked and communicated with one another. Other accidents, such as the infamous collision of 2 Boeing 747s in Tenerife due to an impatient captain, and the loss of an L-1011 in the Everglades due to a burned out light bulb have reinforced this issue. Cockpit crews were not always pri-

oritizing essential tasks such as flying the airplane or doing a good job of communicating such priorities to one another. Examples of poor CRM, or more aptly no CRM, were far too common prior to the late 1970s and early 1980s. This partially stemmed from the philosophy that captains were god-like beings with an authority that should be respected and seldom questioned. In a classic case of captain-knows-best, a Boeing 727 went off the end of the runway on landing due to not only ignoring the FO’s concerns but also insulting him: FO: Isn’t this a little faster than you normally fly, John? Captain: Oh yeah, but it’s nice and smooth. We’re gonna get in right on time, maybe a little ahead of time. We’ve got it made. FO: Sure hope so. Flight Engineer: You know, John, what’s the difference between a duck and a copilot? Captain: What is that? Flight Engineer: A duck can fly. Captain: Well said…

Early on, one of the primary goals of CRM was to dismantle this irrefutable captain culture. As you can imagine, this change was received with resistance. Even today this can be an issue under the wrong circumstances, but it’s safe to say that cockpit relations are much better today than they were prior to CRM. Eventually, it was realized that there is much more to resource management onboard an aircraft than simply what resides in the cockpit. Thus the “C” in CRM was modified from “cockpit” to “crew.” As flight attendants were also at the mercy of captains and the decisions of flight crews, it only made sense to include them in the management of a flight. Often times, the trouble that ensues on an airplane originates outside the cockpit and flight attendants are the experts of the aft part of the aircraft. Flight attendants are the eyes, ears and noses in the cabin for pilots. If flight attendants were not comfortable communicating with the flightcrew, no doubt they’d ignore or keep to themselves certain critical safety concerns. Recalling some of the crews I flew with on an L-1011, which entailed anywhere from 8 to 12 flight attendants, open communications were essential. Not only did we have a “2-story” aircraft (there was a sublevel galley), the sheer number of crewmembers required well-defined teamwork. I always made it a point not to knock flight attendants about their concerns, which ranged from strange smells to odd passenger


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Image courtesy FlightSafety

Threats that can lead to crew error

Successful management of resources entails utilizing all available persons, procedures, technology, documents, and so forth to handle inflight processes – normal or not.

behaviors. It was readily apparent that open channels of communication were better than the alternative. Flight attendants always appreciated their ability to be candid and heard.

Well executed CRM Excellent examples of well executed CRM have become more frequent since its inception. The 1989 crash of a McDonnell Douglas D-C10 piloted by Captain Al Haynes is perhaps a quintessential specimen. The crew, including an extra pilot recruited to assist, managed to coerce a barely controllable airplane to make it to an airport. Instead of losing almost 300 lives that day, the coordinated efforts of the crew and others allowed 185 people to continue to live their lives. More recently, in 2010, an Airbus A380 had an uncontained engine failure leading to a fuel leak, fire, and more. Due to the coordinated efforts of the crew, as well as others on the ground, the aircraft landed safely in Singapore. The benefits of CRM have come to be recognized by other industries and sectors. Maintenance operators have adopted similar philosophies referred to as Maintenance Resource Management (MRM). Dispatchers are now evaluated on Dispatch Resource Management (DRM) during check rides and recurrent training. The

healthcare industry has also adopted elements of CRM. Operating rooms were likened to cockpits as surgeons were “captains” of the room, leading to similarly timid staff when it came to questioning the surgeon’s authority. CRM concepts quickly have been adopted elsewhere in healthcare to avoid the unwanted wrong amputations or the leaving of surgical tools inside the patient.

How can we make things even better? While CRM has undoubtedly been a dramatic improvement in the way aviation (and other) professionals work together, a question remains: How can we make things even better? One answer is expanding the concept of Crew Resource Management even further and to be more inclusive. It is a valid argument to say that a better description of what is needed is simply Resource Management (RM). In this schema, all available resources would be managed in a more fluid and proactive way. According to the International Federation of Airline Pilots Associations, “recognizing that safety depends on the coordination of key people in the entire system and not just on the action of pilots… Evidence shows that a joint CRM course for flightcrews, cabin crews, and other operational

team members can improve the level of understanding and cooperation within the entire team.” For example, in the aforementioned Airbus A380 incident, RM rather than CRM would be a better way of detailing why the outcome that day was favorable. The solution resided with the flightcrew, the flight attendants, maintenance personnel on the ground, operational control and dispatch, air traffic control, as well as airport rescue and firefighting operations. Not to mention the use of technology such as onboard systems status capabilities as well as aircraft documents and manuals. If time allowed, even aircraft manufacturers could be tapped to assist. The net that needs to be cast goes well beyond the cockpit and the aircraft. The critical concept of Resource Management is to allow persons who are experts in their areas of operation to do what they need to do and to adequately coordinate with and communicate across all resource types. There is no such thing as a pilot who knows everything. In fact, the best pilots are those who can admit when they need help. Moreover, it is necessary to ensure open dialog in the absence of isolating or snubbing certain groups. As we have studied, discarding advice from FOs or other flightcrew members can end badly, but the same PROFESSIONAL PILOT  /  May 2018  61

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ties, and 2 extremes come to mind. One company had a very contentious and adversarial relationship between pilots and maintenance personnel. As you can imagine, this was not conducive to RM because there was little trust between groups. Thankfully, this situation eventually got resolved. However, another company I worked for was the complete opposite. All departments and employee groups got along reasonably well and were able to lean on one another when necessary. What good RM boils down to is nothing magical; just treat others in the same manner that you want to be treated. Additionally, respecting people in their positions and realizing no one is perfect can go a long way. While there must be a hierarchy of authority in aviation, the resource management philosophy today is much less unidirectional, rather, it is more sharing-oriented.

could also be true if we ignore other groups, like those on the ground.

Changing with new technology Of course, aviation has remained anything but static since the advent of CRM, so it must evolve along with the industry. One resource that has been rapidly changing is technology. I recall when Flight Management Systems (FMS) and glass cockpits were first introduced and the trouble they caused for pilots during the transition. The addition of each new tool requires pilots to adopt strategies with which to manage them. With appropriate administration, there should be few, if any, “what is it doing?” moments. However, of course, this requires adequate oversight and communication. Two critical components of technology-related RM are pilot monitoring and automation monitoring. Recent unfortunate examples of how much work remains to be done with the technological side of RM do exist. A clear mismanagement of resources was the loss of an Airbus A330 over the Atlantic due to instrument disagreements and a subsequent high altitude stall that was maintained by counterintuitive control inputs all the way until impact. Another example is the case of the improper oversight of automation, the autothrottle system in particular, in a Boeing 777 which subsequent-

ly impacted the seawall short of the runway in San Francisco. It has been argued that some cultures, especially those in Asia, have an extra layer of hierarchical thinking that makes opposing or questioning authority (ie, the captain) problematic. Hopefully, a proactive RM program can help put such issues to rest for the sake of safety. An essential element of effective RM is the identification of weaknesses in the system that must be allocated mitigating assets.

RM needs to be accepted and advocated How does RM work best? Foremost it must be accepted and advocated from the top down. Management has to buy in but not “force” the issue. The same goes for the “local” level, ie, the captain, maintenance manager, purser, and so on. While not everyone is the best communicator or the most congenial, one does not have to be a rhetorician in order to effectually promote an open and collaborative team environment. If you’re an authority figure, let folks know that you‘re open to suggestions and want to be inclusive. While various parts of aviation operations cannot be a democracy per se as there has to be someone in charge, that someone doesn’t have to, nor should be, an autocrat. I have worked for several aerospace enti-

RM works best when everyone works towards the same goal In summary, the takeaways are that RM works best when everyone is on the same page working towards the same goals. In aviation, we all hope to operate safely. Thus there is a common goal. If we can all get back to that simple truth, personalities and egos should dissolve or at least be less of a factor. And this applies to all types of aircraft and operations, from corporate to commercial airlines flying anything from Cessna 172s to Airbus A380s. Humility is something we can all use at one point or another, whether it be asking for help or admitting a mistake. Without modesty, we cannot effectively ensure we get the help we need or that we will make the necessary corrections. Efficacious RM requires open dialogue and acceptance of the concerns of others. Whether it be a dispatcher, ground crew, maintenance personnel, or a chief pilot, they all deserve to be heard and respected. They are each essential assets and essential parts of the flight department’s resource management team. David Ison, PhD, has 32 years of experience flying aircraft ranging from light singles to widebody jets. Currently he is an associate professor for the College of Aeronautics at ERAU–WW.


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Dangers of hypoxia Flying over high terrain can decrease your possibilities of a safe descent to breathable levels if oxygen supply is depleted.

Low oxygen pressure at high attitude

The carotid body, a cluster of specialized cells in the carotid artery, detects low oxygen levels in the blood and alerts the brain. In response, the brain sends signals to the rest of the body to: Increase breathing rate and constrict vessels in the lung. Increase heart rate.

Hypoxia is a condition in which the body as a whole or a region of the body is deprived of adequate oxygen supply.

By Peter Berendsen

ATP/CFII. Boeing 747, MD11


he first hint of daylight appeared over the eastern horizon as I settled into the left seat of my Boeing 747-8i. I had spent a few hours resting in the bunk while the aircraft passed over Eastern Europe and Central Asia through the night, under the able guidance of my senior FO, and FO. We had now just passed the border between Kazakhstan and China close to Almaty in Central Asia. While I settled in the left seat, fresh coffee in hand, the senior FO briefed me as he handed over the aircraft to me as PIC. After the KCA (Kuqa Qiuci, China) VOR we were now headed towards waypoint NOLEP on airway L888. We had passed high terrain with Minimum Grid Altitudes (MGAs) of up to 26,500 ft on the route close to Almaty. The terrain around KCA and Kashgar north of Afghanistan and Kashmir is somewhat lower between 5000 to 10,000 ft. Now, after NOLEP, on our way east towards Chengdu and Hong Kong, the terrain

was rising steeply again to MGAs of about 23,000 ft. Further south, over the main range of the Himalayas on the border to Nepal, the terrain was 27,600 ft. To the north, terrain remained high for about 200 to 300 nm before sloping down to the Gobi desert and the Turfan depression with grids between 17,000 and 5000 ft. For a stretch of over 500 nm we were crossing the Tibetan Plateau north of the Himalayas. If our pressurization failed at these altitudes, we would have had problems. L888 became operational in the late 90s which significantly shortens the route between Europe and Hong Kong. Until then, it was necessary to circumnavigate the Tibetan Plateau in the north via Ürümqi in China’s northwestern Sinkiang province or southerly via Delhi in India. Up to an hour of flight time can be saved, but consideration has to be given for emergencies. The loss of cabin pressure, for example, requires special planning, so an emergency descent may not be possible there. Also, this is a CPDLC-only route and Chinese ATC will not accept you on this route if your CPDLC is not operational.

Pressurization problems can and do happen Airlines operating along this route usually train crews with a special simulator mission for possible emergencies over this challenging and high terrain. While the prospect of a cabin pressurization fault is low, it does happen. A quick review shows several pressurization incidents in the last few months alone. Etihad Flight EY-200, an Airbus A320-200, from AUH (Abu Dhabi, UAE) to KHI (Karachi, Pakistan) experienced a cabin pressure rise over 10,000 ft. Oxygen masks were deployed before the crew could land the aircraft safely at KHI. A Germania Boeing 737-700 enroute from the Canary islands to Berlin was cruising at FL380 close to Gibraltar when the aircraft lost cabin pressure. The pilots performed an emergency descent and landed at AGP (Málaga, Spain). A Tailwind Airlines Boeing 737400 initiated an emergency descent from FL340 and diverted to SOF (Sofia, Bulgaria) after losing control of cabin pressure. Passengers reported the passenger oxygen masks were suddenly released and they felt pressure and pain in their ears. Vueling Airlines Airbus A320-200 EC-HTD lost both packs at FL300 enroute from AGP to BCN (Barcelona, Spain). The crew had to divert to ALC (Alicante, Spain) after an emergency descent. In the US, on December 29, 2017, a Skywest Canadair CRJ-200 operating Delta Flight DL4668 from CID (Cedar Rapids IA) to DTW (Detroit MI) with 38 passengers and 3 crew, was climbing through FL320 about 50 nm west of Milwaukee. The aircraft experienced a sudden loss of cabin pressure, passenger oxygen masks deployed, and the crew performed an emergency descent to a safe landing in MKE (Milwaukee WI) 17 minutes later. One passenger was taken to the hospital with ear pain and the suspicion of a burst eardrum.

Image courtesy Creative Commons

Effects of hypoxia


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Loss of pressurization is usually due to technical reasons, with the quality of maintenance being a contributing factor. A slow rise in cabin altitude to critical values may be due to a lack of pressurized air input, such as the failure of the bleed system or packs. A rapid or explosive loss of cabin pressure is usually caused by a window or door failure. In rare, but well-known cases, it’s happened due to a cabin structural failure. In 1988, Aloha Airlines Flight AQ243, a Boeing 737-200, lost large portions of the cabin roof enroute. This caused a sudden and complete loss of cabin pressure and the death of a flight attendant who was sucked out of the aircraft. Corrosion from exposure to salty ocean air was later found as the main reason for this terrible failure of a great aircraft. While airliners usually operate between FLs 300 to 400, corporate jets may cruise at up to FL500. The speed and severity of the effects of a cabin depressurization depend on the pressure differential. Since cabin pressurization technical schedules are designed based on type-certification, this usually means the cruise altitude and the cabin rate of climb. A failure in the bleed system will allow a slow rise in cabin altitude – if the outflow valves close properly and the cabin itself is well sealed. In these cases, the crew has enough time to descend and don oxygen masks. On the other hand, a failed window will cause a sudden loss of pressure with visibility in the cabin impaired by fog and dust. Additionally, pain in the ears and limbs of passengers and crew is a strong possibility. The volume of the cabin relative to the cross section of the opening in the hull will determine the rate of depressurization. This means that for the failure of a similarly sized window, a wide-body airliner at FL350 will have a slower rate of cabin climb than a corporate jet with smaller cabin volume at the same flight level. Corporate jet pilots cruising at flight levels above FL350 or so should keep this in mind.

Time of Useful Consciousness Time of Useful Consciousness (TUC), is something we all learned about while studying to become professional pilots. It’s defined as the

Photo by Jose Vasquez

Reasons for pressurization failure

Quick-donning oxygen masks can be lifesavers. This EROS mask, worn by Chris Battaglia, formerly a pilot-writer for Pro Pilot and now an airline pilot, was developed by Intertechnique and is now produced by Zodiac Aerospace of France. Squeezing the nose piece of the crew mask will instantly inflate the webbing, allowing the wearer to don the mask in only a few seconds.

amount of time a crew member is still able to perform his duties when experiencing a lack of oxygen supply. Although individual physical conditions such as age and smoking habits do make a difference, it’s generally agreed that TUC varies between 15 to 20 minutes at FL200, 1 to 3 minutes at FL300, 30 seconds to 1 minute at FL350, 15 seconds at FL400 and 5 to 10 seconds at FL450 and beyond. Note the significant decrease in TUC at FL350 and above. The bends, a form of decompression sickness experienced by divers, may also occur at altitude. It’s characterized by pain in one or more joints from dissolved gases forming bubbles as they come out of solution upon depressurization. Sensations can range from a mild, dull ache to incapacitating pain. Decompression sickness (DCS) is caused by nitrogen in the blood flow that can’t dissolve fast enough to stay ahead of ambient pressure that is decreasing too fast. Nitrogen bubbles form in the blood vessels, under the skin or even in the lungs or brain affecting the central nervous system. Flying shortly after diving can make things worse. The FAA recommends waiting 24 hours after 1 day of scuba diving and 48 hours after a week of scuba diving before flying at a cabin altitude of 8000 ft. However, should you be unlucky enough to experience a rapid decompression in your aircraft after scuba diving for a week, all bets are off as serious DCS may occur.

Another limit that is nice to know, but usually not of consequence in civil aviation, is the Armstrong limit. At about 58,000 to 60,000 ft, the pressure of the atmosphere is so low that water in the body boils at body temperature, a condition that can only be overcome with a military-style pressure suit.

Effects of hypoxia Now on to lack of oxygen, known as hypoxia. Effects include fatigue, inability to concentrate, confusion or euphoria, impaired decision-making, poor performance, loss of consciousness and, eventually, death. Caution: Hypoxia doesn’t cause discomfort or pain. It’s dangerous because it starts quietly, sometimes unnoticed. Individuals differ considerably in their ability to withstand hypoxia. In the early stages, one crewmember may be more seriously affected than the others. A crewmember that yawns a lot may be experiencing the first stages of hypoxia. Hypoxic hypoxia, also known as altitude hypoxia, occurs due to the reduced partial pressure of oxygen in surrounding air. In a healthy individual, oxygen saturation in the blood is initially little affected as oxygen partial pressure decreases in the surrounding air with increasing altitude. Night vision may suffer first. The heart is one of the most sensitive organs with respect to oxygen supply, it extracts more oxygen from arterial blood than most other organs. PROFESSIONAL PILOT  /  May 2018  65

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Arterial oxygen saturation levels/hypoxia symptoms vs altitude 25,000 ft 20,000 ft • Circulatory, central nervous system failure • Convulsions

15,000 ft

10,000 ft 5000 ft

• Decrease in night vision

• Impaired flight control • Cardiovascular • Impaired collapse handwriting, speech • Death • Drowsiness • Decreased • Impaired judgement, coordination coordination, efficiency

02 Saturation:








70–60% Critical

The effects of altitude on the body don’t change in a linear fashion, but increase exponentially. While TUC at 20,000 ft may be 20 minutes, it’s only 3 min at 30,000 ft and seconds at 40,000 ft.

Previously unrecognized cardiovascular diseases may be unmasked by lack of blood oxygen, a problem for both crew and passengers. Watch for symptoms of developing hypoxia such as breathlessness, excessive yawning, fatigue – but also euphoria – and the inability to perform well trained tasks, and, finally, unconsciousness.

Fatal cases of decompression There are 2 well documented cases where a slow decompression resulted in the loss of all occupants. In the summer of 2005, a Boeing 737-300 operated by Helios Airways slowly lost cabin pressure while climbing enroute from LCA (Larnaca, Cyprus) to PRG (Prague, Czech Republic). While the crew was incapacitated, the aircraft flew initially as programmed on autopilot and then crashed close to Marathon, Greece. All 121 persons aboard perished. That morning, the pressurization system was set to manual on the overhead panel after maintenance activity. Several checks by the flightcrew didn’t discover and fix this error. They were clearly not familiar enough with the aircraft and ignored or completely misunderstood several system warnings. The passenger oxygen masks deployed automatically at a cabin altitude of 18,000ft. The captain was trying to communicate with ground engineers, but he was clear-

ly showing signs of hypoxia already and was unable to think or speak clearly. After both pilots passed out, Greek F-16s observed a flight attendant with a CPL license entering the cockpit with a portable oxygen mask. However, his skills were not sufficient in this situation, and his heroic effort failed in catastrophe. Early recognition of hypoxia could have avoided those deaths. In the US, the 1999 crash of a Learjet 35 N47BA in South Dakota is a prime example of slow and unnoticed hypoxia onset. Enroute from Orlando to Dallas, the aircraft lost cabin pressure and all aboard fell unconscious. The aircraft flew for almost 4 hours and finally crashed in South Dakota near Aberdeen. PGA Golfer Payne Stewart and his team were on board, 4 passengers and 2 crew perished. The failure of both pilots to quick-don their oxygen masks and breath emergency crew oxygen may only be explained by a slow and unnoticed onset of hypoxia, causing their inability to think and act.

At or below 10,000 ft, masks are taken off, all is reset to normal and then on to the next simulator scenario. However, training for the Tibetan Plateau is different. The briefing is extensive and includes a discussion of turn radius and escape routes. Turn radii at jet speeds and high altitudes are so wide that they may exceed airway and thus Minimum Enroute Altitude (MEA) width. At any point during the 500 nm transit over the Tibetan Plateau, pilots have to know their plan of action. Escape routes are charted on the map and lead through the least high terrain (valleys) to the north and usually end in a diversion to URC (Ürümqi, China) after up to 2 hours of diversion time. A diversion to the south is impossible, as the main Himalayan range means even higher terrain. Emergency descent may only be conducted to the MEA of the escape route, which means usually around 20,000 ft. Passengers may need to breath supplemental oxygen for periods exceeding 15 minutes, which requires the installation of extra oxygen bottles on aircraft used for these routes. Some escape routes even require a climb later on, meaning that, while passenger oxygen may be shut off after 20 minutes when altitude is sufficient in order to conserve supplies, it’ll have to be turned on again later as MEAs rise again as we continue to Ürümqi. This morning, all went well. A beautiful sunrise over the peaks of Gongga Shan mountain, at almost 25,000 ft a significant and welcome marker, signaled the eastern rim of the Himalaya and the much lower lands of Szechuan. While our transit of Tibet was uneventful, we were well prepared for emergencies at all times. It should be remembered that on other routes, such as over Greenland or parts of South America, aircraft also fly over high terrain that won’t allow a quick descent to breathable altitudes. Be prepared!

Simulator training lacks diversity In sim training, we almost always deal with rapid, explosive decompression. A nice bang is heard in the simulator, and the procedure is performed without too much thinking: oxygen masks on, passenger oxygen on, emergency descent, mayday call, and alert surrounding aircraft.

Peter Berendsen flies a Boeing 747 as a captain for Lufthansa Airlines. He writes regularly for Pro Pilot on aviation-related subjects.


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Bizav flights to and within Europe have improved

London has multiple GA-capable airports to choose from, each with its own pros and cons depending on your particular mission. Here, a Dassault Falcon 7X makes final approach to LCY (London, UK).

By Grant McLaren Editor-at-Large


ver recent years the European operating environment has become more user-friendly in certain respects while being more challenging in others. Compared to just a couple of years ago, there are more direct routing options, charter trips have become easier to organize, ground handling quality has improved at many smaller and more out-of-the-way locales, and airports throughout the EU have become more accommodating to GA. “The EU operating environment has become easier today in a number of ways,” says ITPS Ops Mgr Ben Fuller. “Airport slots, access and support services, at most locations, all seem to be getting better. Ground handlers have been adding staff, efficiency seems to steadily improve and ground support providers are investing in augmented capabilities. However, there are still many saturated locations in this region with access and parking issues, particularly during high season and special event periods.”

Rules and regs have tightened The regulatory environment, however, does continue to tighten. There are access issues to consider at many

popular destinations, and applicable EU and EASA mandates are being strictly enforced. Operators must understand all relevant Eurocontrol, EASA, Customs, NOTAM, and local requirements to ensure a trip goes smoothly, concur international support providers (ISPs). “Europe can be a challenging operating environment,” remarks UAS Regional Ops Mgr Duke LeDuc. “You’ll need to consider airway and airport slots, liability insurance must include specific verbiage and defined coverages, Safety Assessment of Foreign Aircraft (SAFA) checks are on the increase, cabotage issues have not gone away, labor strikes are common in summer, and there are various EASA mandates you’ll need to be in full compliance with.” Avfuel Account Specialist David Kang points out that while the EU has become more challenging from a regulatory perspective, it’s become easier in terms of operations. “Regulatory compliance can be somewhat challenging. But once you get past this routine, day-to-day operations are simpler than even just a couple of years ago,” explains Kang. “There are, however, certain EASA equipment mandates to comply with and EU authorities are strict in terms of operators having paper copies of all manuals, support documentation

and insurance policies. You may have electronic data for onboard crew use but inspectors will not be nice or gracious with you if you don’t have printed backup copies somewhere onboard.”

Photo courtesy Dassault Falcon

New rules are tight and ground services are expensive.

Regulatory compliance Operators to the EU must be in compliance with all EASA directives, including 8.33 KHz radio channel spacing, TCAS 7.1 and Mode S transponder mandates. As of Jan 4, 2018, 8.33 KHz channel spacing was expanded to cover core EU airspace below FL195 and, in the future, this may encompass the entire EU. Since 2004, the EU has mandated specific insurance requirements, with liability coverage denoted in Special Drawing Rights (SDR) and based on MTOW. By 2020, ADS-B compliance mandates kick in. “For newer aircraft, equipment mandates are not an issue but these regs can make things challenging for operators of older aircraft,” says Jeppesen Regulatory & Compliance Specialist Kyle Sleeper. “SAFA checks, meanwhile, are on the increase across Europe. Pop up SAFA checks can involve 30 minutes to 2 hours but are not usually an issue for those who’ve planned ahead and have all documentation ready.”


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Lithuanian delegation (above) at ACH (St Gallen–Altenrhein, Switzerland) preparing to leave the DAVOS World Economic Forum. ACH (right) is a popular reliever airfield for Davos attendees. However, its runway length is just 4922 ft long.

TCO from EASA for charter ops The EU operating landscape has become more straight-forward for charter operators, thanks to 2014 implementation of standard Third Party Operator (TCO) approvals. “Previously charter operators not registered in the EU had to obtain security approvals from individual countries, all with their own particular requirements,” says Kang. “Today, you obtain your TCO from EASA. You only do this once and it’s valid for every EU country having operator review requirements. Obtaining a TCO takes 2 to 4 weeks, depending on how well prepared the operator is, but there are requirements to keep paperwork up to date. And you still need to provide about 48 hours prior notice to the individual country for each charter.” Be mindful, also, of regulatory requirements impacting individual EU countries. Since Sept 1, 2016 Finland has required GA operators to file APIS for certain covered flights. In the UK, Air Passenger Duty (APD) must be submitted to tax authorities for all applicable GA flights. “APD mandates can be convoluted for those who’ve not done it before and this process can be complicated to deal with,” says Jeppesen ITP Specialist Jean-Michel Sicaud. “Note that APD procedures differ depending on how frequently you fly to/ from the UK.”

is, of course, always busy during the Davos World Economic Forum, and NCE (Nice, France) fills up during annual Film Festival and Monaco Grand Prix events. If you plan to drop in at PSA (Pisa, Italy) or NAP (Naples, Italy) during high season, plan to reposition for parking. Popular island destinations, including IBZ (Ibiza, Spain) and JTR (Santorini, Greece), can also be problematic in terms of parking during summer months. “We usually get at least 80% of parking requests, including longer term stays, approved for NCE even during peak season. But last minute slots and parking can present issues,” reports Kang. “NAP and other popular Italian locations often do not allow GA overnights and you may be limited to 3 hours on the ground. And while popular Mediterranean islands have limited GA parking, they’re often able to get creative with available ramp space and will find a solution for you.” ITPS Trip Support Specialist Jon Wells points out that it’s still fairly easy to obtain parking at most major EU airports, other than during major local events. “At larger locations such as CIA (Rome, Italy), MXP (Milan, Italy), LBG (Paris-Le Bourget, France) and ATH (Athens, Greece) you can normally park for as long as you want. Even at smaller, busier locations there are often options to consider such as using hangar parking as a backup,” adds Wells.

Access, parking and hotel issues

Smaller and secondary airports

Some EU locations are more challenging than others in terms of GA access. ZRH (Zurich, Switzerland)

ISPs say GA ground handling support and services have improved noticeably over recent years, even

at more out-of-the-way and remote destinations. Even if there’s no FBO, there may be a VIP lounge and/or specialized services available to accommodate the unique needs of GA guests. “It’s no longer just some random dude working out of an airport office, even at smaller regional airports,” says Kang. “10 years ago it had often been a challenge operating to many smaller regional destinations, but today I’m seeing better infrastructure, better handler training and improved coordination with everything from fuel suppliers to catering. It’s rarely the case these days that handlers only show up for 6 hours a day or do not respond to calls or email during off hours.” Despite improvements, there are still considerations to be mindful of at smaller regional locations. Jeppesen Vendor Relations Mgr Africa, Russia, Eastern Europe & Central Asia Ian Humphrey declares, “There can be challenges to consider at smaller airports in France, Italy and elsewhere; places where the local chamber of commerce oversees handling services. Services will be more limited, quality of handling will vary and there may be less clarity in terms of communication and credit options. Operators trying to pay their own bills locally could struggle with credit issues. Labor strikes can add to these challenges. In some cases you may want to consider bringing in a supervisory agent.”

Slots and operational flexibility Eurocontrol airway slots and individual airport slots are key conPROFESSIONAL PILOT  /  May 2018  69

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The ramp at JMK (Mikonos, Greece) consistently fills up during peak travel season so bizav operators will likely need to reposition for overnight parking. Mikonos is one of the tourist island jewels in the Mediterranean, perennially popular with GA during summer months.

siderations when planning EU ops. Airway slots are essential to ensure your routing is fileable with CFMU and you’ll need to submit flight plans so that both airway and airport slots line up. “Obtaining airport slots is not problematic at most airports in Europe, other than more congested destinations such as ZRH, GVA and FRA (Frankfurt, Germany),” says Wells. “At these busier locations you’ll need to be aware of slot availability, peak hours and special events that may be going on. At times it will be difficult to coordinate last minute schedule changes. FRA is one of the more difficult locations in terms of obtaining and revising airport slots.” ISPs point out that airport slots in Europe have become more transparent lately, in terms of what’s available and what’s not, but there can still be issues. “If a new operator to the EU runs into trouble, it’s often slot related,” says Kang. “If passengers expect to depart at 10:30 but your slot time is 10:25 you must file for 10:25. Slots need to exactly match filed time or it can create problems. If you miss a slot, you may be stuck on the ground for a while.”

Escalating costs With increasing GA traffic volumes, EU handling and parking costs have been on the increase. Operating costs to Greece, for example, have doubled recently. And many Central and Eastern EU locations which were not as expensive a few

years back are now priced more in line with other areas. “Prices at what had been bargain locations seem to have pushed up to match more developed locations,” affirms Fuller. “Certain popular airports have become very expensive,” notes Kang. “To park a G450 at LTN (London, UK) for 3 days and 2 nights can run $8000, including ground handling charges. Similar stays at many other airports in Europe will run you over $5000. This is not a part of the world to try to travel to on a tight budget.” “Be aware of what you’re paying for,” cautions Jeppesen Supervisor Vendor Relations Mark O’Carroll. “Ground handling and parking charges have been on an upward trajectory across Europe,” he says. “In monopoly situations, charges are often higher along with – in some cases – lower levels of service. Ask questions in advance to fully understand the charges you’ll be facing.” Don’t forget that crew accommodation options may be limited and could be highly expensive during peak periods and popular local celebrations. “If you have an inkling you may be headed to a region of Europe during peak season, arrange parking and crew accommodations as early as possible,” recommends LeDuc. “Preferred hotels may sell out and you may need to get creative to find any adequate accommodations. For the best choices, many operators routinely book accommodations 2 to 3 months out and 12 months out in the case of the annual Davos event.”

Summary Operating to the EU often seems deceivingly easy and straight-forward, and it often is. But issues do come up and things can go sideways from time to time. You may encounter a stubborn slot issue when revising schedule, SAFA inspectors may turn up at an inopportune moment with their clipboards at the ready, fuel uplift issues could be encountered or you may need to reposition last minute thereby losing non-refundable hotel deposits. Consider the benefits of working with a well-connected ISP, particularly if this is your first GA trip to the region, . “If you do not deal with this operating environment on a regular basis, there’s potential to run into local issues and/or potential operating delays,” says LeDuc. “And if you don’t have a support provider working in your corner, you could end up being treated like the stepchild should a problem come up. You’ll always benefit from having a partner on your side who’s available 24 hours. While the EU is not necessarily a challenging operating environment, ISPs can add value in so many ways in terms of planning and executing European ops.” Editor-at-Large Grant McLaren has written for Pro Pilot for over 20 years and specializes in corporate flight department coverage.


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The desire to excel coupled with more than 20 years of experience!


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Astronautics RoadRunner

Astronautics featured its RoadRunner Electronic Flight Instrument in a Bell 214ST cockpit.

By Glenn Connor ATP. Cessna 425 President, Discover Technology Intl


oming out of HAI 2018 this year was a wide range of new products for workhorse helos, a sign of a stronger market and demand with many products to choose from. But searching in a sea of new widgets for various upgrades and fixes to meet the coming mandates can always be a challenge. Astronautics Corporation of America brings clear thinking and practicality to upgrade decisions with its RoadRunner Electronic Flight Instrument (EFI). This well-packed drop-in unit replaces Attitude Direction Indicator (ADI) and Horizontal Situation Indicator (HSI) instruments with a modern device for your helicopter. This EFI is a high-end replacement unit with modern functionality for older mechanical synchro instruments. The RoadRunner EFI has an easy path to upgrades that includes Synthetic Vision System (SVS) and Terrain Awareness and Warning System (TAWS) for helicopters. It also brings a clear and distinct message to the helo aftermarket segment – expect modern, affordable and lightweight flight instruments from a dedicated company.

Astronautics’ latest products have targeted the challenge of a literal swap and replace for the large number of workhorse aircraft that still have many useful years remaining. They recognized that a replacement instrument needs to have added value to interest a buyer, and that’s where this new EFI’s functions come into play. The RoadRunner EFI is a new display that benefits from the processor power of today. It provides highly sought-after functionality in the very small space of the instrument itself, totally self contained, rather than requiring an additional avionics box or Line Replaceable Unit (LRU). The SVS and TAWS integration of RoadRunner EFI, along with many other functions, provides further market attraction.

RoadRunner EFI The RoadRunner weighs in at only 8 lbs. But the key to the magic of a true swap and replace is that all the connections are included, such as ARINC 429, differential analog, discrete, synchro, and even a USB for software updates and more. Sizes are 4.63x5x6.93 inches for the unit and 5.21x9.73x1.55 inches for the display. Everything fits into the same instrument space designed for

the original mechanical instrument. When replacing the old instruments, 2 cylinders of spinning mechanical stuff are taken out and the whole RoadRunner EFI unit (electronics processor, system, software, and connectors) fits into just 1 of these boxes. A thin LCD panel covers the empty space of the old ADI and HSI and provides new representations of these instruments. Installation is simple – unscrew the old instrument from the panel, unplug the cables and plug in the RoadRunner EFI. At the top of the RoadRunner EFI are basic display controls and to the left there’s a tab covering a USB port. This port enables software updates for future designs rather than replacing the complete instrument. And at the bottom of the RoadRunner EFI are a few well marked buttons for menu selection, NAV modes and soft keys for additional features and functions that include terrain, weather, map, traffic, and TCAS displays, depending on what options have been added. The knobs let you control heading and course selection along with other items such as DH. The RoadRunner EFI as a flight instrument is very well designed with the basics for attitude, heading and navigation. Several other stan-

Photos courtesy Astronautics

New drop-in unit replaces older mechanical attitude and HSI instruments.


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Astronautics designs, develops and manufactures a variety of avionics displays along with cockpit integration. The company has been providing innovative and tailored solutions to its commercial and military customers for 60 years.

Connected aircraft solutions by Astronautics deliver secure and robust connectivity to both rotary and fixed-wing aircraft.

dard features such as a wind direction/speed arrow, DA/DH settings, RADALT indication and full on integration of navigation of GPS and conventional NAVAIDs confirm you’ve moved up in a class of equipment. This flight display has a big corporate aircraft flightdeck look and feel, and is even Night Vision Imaging System (NVIS) compatible. The company that built the RoadRunner EFI is just as interesting as the equipment itself. Astronautics’ background deserves a short bit of storytelling to give some context to their latest innovations being announced. These include a number of helicopter products like the new Air-Ground Communications System (AGCS), cyber systems and more. Astronautics has a foundation based on solid engineering that’s been going on for quite a while in the USA.

Trusted Innovation: The Astronautics Corporation The story of “Trusted Innovation” actually starts in 1959 with the founders of the company. The now legendary brother-and-sister team of Nathaniel Zelazo and Norma Paige created Astronautics Corporation of America. Beginning with supporting the early US Space program in 1959 and then moving into electrotechni-

cal flight instruments in the 1960s, the company had a rapid growth in building the essentials of what’s now our modern flight instrument culture. Many a military pilot today will recall flying the Astronautics ADIs that were seemingly 3D with a rotating earth conveniently marked with heading and pitch. In fact, most aviators all know how they “hugged” this instrument with an integrated ILS in dark and bad weather, trusting it was the thing that would get them home. The move into the digital era with processors followed with the creation of systems for the Black Hawk helicopter, monitors for NASA’s Mission Control, and the purchase of Kearfott Corporation. Now the company is in the software and systems era developing and fielding EFBs, airborne secure servers and new SVS based helicopter flight instruments. Keeping the success going over the decades with innovations seems to be a principle behind each of Astronautics’ generational move in technology. For example, the company has developed modern flightdeck instruments and the AGCS, which provides secure connectivity. Today, more than 150,000 aircraft use Astronautics products and equipment. The company’s depth of products in the helicopter community is quite large, ranging across Airbus,

Bell, Boeing, Leonardo, MD, and Sikorsky. Astronautics’ Primary Flight Display (PFD) line, the AFD 6800, is designed to replace and upgrade helicopter flightdecks and expand special mission shipsets with their PFD and MFD. The MFD is a 6x8 engine flight instrument display and data concentrator that shows information in a variety of formats. The Astronautics AFD 6800 can be expanded to include flight displays, MFDs, and can host 3rd party applications. Astronautics delivered the first MFDs in 2016 to SENER for the Spanish Navy’s Agusta-Bell AB-212s. Astronautics announced upgrades to the system and delivery for the 5th aircraft in 2018. Also one of the key differentiators of this display is its HD video capability with multiple formats and inputs.

RoadRunner EFI new technology The development of a helicopter flight instrument with a Flight Path Vector (FPV) is new to the helo industry, and it’s a unique form of energy management. The green circle symbol with wings, called the Flight Path Vector or Flight Path Marker, enables a pilot to see instantly where the aircraft is going. The conventional fixed pitch symbol and pitch ladder is still PROFESSIONAL PILOT  /  May 2018  73

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The Astronautics RoadRunner EFI displaying Helicopter Terrain Awareness and Warning System (HTAWS) can also be upgraded to include synthetic vision.

displayed and provides the conventional cues for flying. But the FPV, especially when used with SVS, enables a pilot to see the flight path regardless of pitch attitude, and can help them clear an obstacle or terrain or pinpoint a landing area. The RoadRunner EFI HSI also integrates TAWs color convention of the terrain, and the SVS depiction on the ADI includes terrain with an overlay of the pitch scale and the aircraft’s fixed pitch reference symbol. The TAWS integration and display allows the pilot to put into a visual context the aural warning, and build a picture instantly with the use of terrain, obstacle symbols and color. The red color of the RoadRunner EFI is bright enough to get anyone’s attention, and the perspective terrain SVS features that Astronautics is offering will be a new safety tool that will keep pilots out of these situations in the first place. On the EFI display are the navigation essentials, including radar altimeter, the HSI heading and NAV needles for VOR or ILS, DME 1 and DME 2 range, and other lateral and vertical mode information. The HSI also provides the display of obstacles. Astronautics has begun to sign up dealers for the RoadRunner EFI, with distribution in multiple US and international locations.

Original planning for SVS One of the important points to note about the development of the Road-

Runner EFI has to do with the original planning and technology for synthetic vision at the early stages of the system’s development. Astronautics engineers are front line participants in the now famous RTCA 213 Committee for EFVS and SVS. This committee is made up of the leading avionics OEMs and experts in flight deck design. They’ve crafted and fielded several new and significant innovations for the fixed-wing community, and have lately focused on helos. Committee members from Astronautics members brought their own flavor of the helo world to SVS and instrument making, providing RTCA 213 practical wisdom in the development of aviation standards for helo SVS today. There is more to come from this think tank within Astronautics, focused on providing the next generation of helicopter with instruments that will keep pilots safer.

New helicopter secure data and communications As part of their more advanced helicopter products is the move by Astronautics into helicopter connectivity to provide mobile device interface, secure data transfer and cyber world thinking for data communication products. The company’s AGCS is for rotary-wing workhorse fleets of all classes and it’s designed to provide ground connectivity, data download of remote media, and connectivity for the flight crew, mission crew, passengers, and maintenance technicians.

The AGCS is comprised of an airborne communications server, connectivity module and remote media or storage device on the aircraft. The system is being designed to support video streaming as well. The AGCS also provides the ability to communicate through 3G and 4G LTE, a nice affordable way to utilize cellphone tower connections. The specific unit called AFS 6460 also sports WiFi, so anyone on the aircraft can be connected and operating with mobile devices and computers. Announced in 2017 was the Astronautics connected solution for Airbus helicopters as original equipment with wireless access to data inflight or on the ground. These are very small, lightweight devices that Astronautics has engineered for the helicopter community, and the cybersecurity aspects of the company’s systems should interest helicopter operators in need of secure communications both in flight and on the ground.

The road of product creation The creation of any new aviation product is hard, or else everyone would do it. And the construction of reliable helicopter products to meet the challenges of the helicopter operating environment is not for the weak of mind. The development of helicopter connectivity, cyber secure servers and replacement flight instruments must be based on skill and engineering as well as a long-range commitment to a market, which Astronautics made decades ago. Lengthy periods required in the hangar to upgrade your helicopter adds a cost that often times is greater than just money. But with the installation of the new Astronautics RoadRunner EFI and only a few hours of work, you may find that the only “down time” you’ll have is deciding to which museum you should send your old instruments.

Glenn Connor is president of Discover Technology Intl. He is a pilot and a researcher specializing in the development of enhanced vision systems and advanced avionics.


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Guard company privacy by understanding the pitfalls exploited by cyber technology It’s also a good idea to always be more than a little suspicious. tack, or one in which the device gets between the legitimate WiFi source and the user. If the owner of a Personal Electronic Device (PED) allows it to automatically connect to public WiFi networks in the background without authorization, it’s an open invitation for a pineapple scam. Commonly accessed networks are stored in the PED and categorized as “recognized” unless the owner overrides the default. Pineapples can scan all the SSIDs in the area and rebroadcast a counterfeit version using the identical SSID. Because of this capability, allowing a device to automatically connect to an often used WiFi signal at a frequently visited FBO (or a network at one’s own hangar for that matter) is no guarantee that the link is not compromised.

Allowing devices to automatically connect to public WiFi networks increases the chances of a cyber attack that could compromise sensitive information stored in them.

By Shannon Forrest

President, Turbine Mentor ATP/CFII. Challenger 604/605, Gulfstream IV, MU2B


oday is just another typical day trip. Land at the destination and sit at the FBO for a few hours while the boss and the rest of the management team engage in meetings. According to the agenda, there’s enough time to grab the crew car and see some local sights, but there’s always a chance the executives will want to leave early. As a result, the only viable option is mimic the behavior of the other crews in the pilot’s lounge: stake out a spot and try to mitigate the boredom until departure time. It’s the usual scene. A few pilots are ensconced in recliners snoring away while others read the free newspaper and chat with the staff. And there’s always one who’s belief system is diametrically opposed to whatever national news station happens to be on the only television. It seems the only respite from the environment is to venture to the place that’s become a panacea for the mundane trappings of everyday life – the internet.


Connected to a “pineapple”

RC’s Airborne Data Router

A few taps of the smartphone or tablet reveal the names of all the publicly visible WiFi networks in range. The industry term for the common name of a network is called a Service Set Identifier (SSID). A couple of SSIDs down the list is the name of the FBO followed by the word, “pilot lounge.” You connect to the signal but unfortunately, instead of connecting to the FBO WiFi network, you’ve connected to a “pineapple” – the slang coined by hackers to describe a fake Wireless Access Point (WAP) engineered to look like the real one being sought. Anything being transmitted (passenger names, personal data, passwords, etc) is now intercepted and exploited. Ironically, pineapples were designed to probe Wi-Fi networks for vulnerabilities. Because of this, they can interact with hundreds of devices simultaneously. To avoid detection they can be concealed outside of a building and still remain within radio range while on battery power. The true intent was eventually subverted and the device is now used as part of a “man in the middle” at-

Lupita Wilson, a marketing manager at ARINCDirect, points out why connecting to WiFi through the Rockwell Collins Airborne Data Router (ADR) on the aircraft is secure. Because the WiFi signal is largely constrained to the fuselage, an attack using a pineapple – in the air or on the ground – is more the stuff of a Tom Clancy novel rather than reality. Further, data between a PED and the ADR is encrypted. Nonetheless, a potential vulnerability lies in the transition zone when passengers or crew members are walking between the aircraft and the FBO or corporate hangar. One trait of a smart router is that it seamlessly switches back and forth between satellite and cellular sources as the aircraft transitions through phases of flight. Once outside the aircraft, if a PED detects a WiFi network (whether pineapple or legitimate), the device must “decide” whether to continue to use cellular data or revert to the WiFi network. If WiFi is enabled on a PED and set to automatically connect, it will join the unencrypted network. In that sit-


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uation, even a split second is enough to send malware or infect the device. An example would be a passenger finishing an e-mail or completing an online transaction (that started on the aircraft network) as they walk towards the waiting car, hangar, or FBO lobby. It’s possible, likely even, that if the same passenger has previously used a terrestrial WiFi network in the same location, the PED would switch from the aircraft signal and lock on to the previously recognized WiFi network. Whether or not that network is legitimate would be realized only later; perhaps on the next flight when an infected device tries to deliver the “payload” (the cyber industry term for the propagation of malware) via the airborne WiFi.

Achieving protection To protect the airborne network, Wilson highlights that ARINCDirect practices a policy of hyper vigilance when it comes to cyber traffic to and from the aircraft. Uplink and downlink data is encrypted and constantly scanned to look for suspicious activity. If found, the data stream can be shut off as a defensive measure. Experts contend that malware goes after computers in general, not aircraft specifically. However, because all devices on the internet transmit an internet protocol (IP) address, it’s technically feasible to identify a specific router to a particular aircraft. So as a safeguard, ARINCDirect masks the real IP address of the ADR router and randomly replaces it with a cache of other public IP addresses it owns. The end result is that internet data coming from and going to a distinct aircraft looks like it’s attributed to many sources, not just one. RC’s ADR has many security features but operators are cautioned to not just “set it and forget it.” Aircraft router passwords should be changed every 90 days with a combination of characters, letters and numerals. Sure it’s convenient to just leave the network name and password as the name of the corporation, but that’s like leaving the front door open. Even with a strong security foundation behind the scenes, PEDs are an Achilles’ heel and wild card when it comes to any airborne WiFi network. In a perfect world, aircraft networks would consist of “closed” systems where only corporate-issued com-

WiFi pineapples are legal to own, readily available, and are small enough to be concealed. They cause WiFi devices to connect to an illegitimate network that is setup to look like an authentic Service Set Identifier (SSID) address.

puters and PEDs are allowed. But as nonstop internet connectivity is now ubiquitous, that’s not realistic.

Airborne security On a personal level, a couple of techniques can bolster airborne security. First is to insure PEDs have updates installed immediately when they become available. Whenever a manufacturer issues the latest software, it’s common to hear personal narratives about the negatives: it slowed down the smartphone, or something similar. The psychological effect is that people wait to download the most recent version of an operating system or software. Whether publicly disclosed or not, updates contain patches to fix known security flaws. One of the best cybersecurity methodologies is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) at all times when accessing the internet, even on a smartphone. It’s not uncommon for some corporations to require the use of a VPN as part of a corporate cybersecurity policy, but it’s not widely known that individuals can employ a VPN for everyday use as well. A VPN serves 2 important purposes: security and privacy. It’s secure because traffic directed through a VPN is encrypted (even when using a public WiFi network like in a hotel or FBO) and is sent to an additional server before reaching the destination on the internet. And it’s private because a VPN masks the IP address of a device. Who you are and what you are doing is made anonymous.

To get the best value and highest security from a VPN, it’s probably best to pay for service. Like the adage says, if you’re using a free internet product, you are the product. Free VPN providers may be tracking activity, thus defeating the purpose of privacy and security. Lastly, when given the choice between cellular and WiFi, opting to connect to a cellular network is more secure. This technique comes with a couple of trade offs like slower download speeds and higher usage fees, but it may be the better option depending on what sort of transaction is taking place.

Scope of cybersecurity options When it comes to cybersecurity, the level of concern can run the gamut from no worry at all to get out the aluminum foil to protect cell phones from EMPs and alien cosmic rays. Given the media reports that some level of corporate data breach happens on a near weekly basis, a strong defense for crew and passengers is warranted. Even seemingly innocuous internet activity can be used as a source of information to target an individual or group for malicious or nefarious purposes. The following example of what can be accomplished in a single 1-hour online session makes a cogent argument as to why pilots can never be too careful when it comes to leaving a digital footprint. As an experiment, the editorial staff at Professional Pilot tried to garner as much information as possible about


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query provided a satellite map to the pilot’s home address, a phone number and age of the homeowner.

Private info disclosed at no cost

Rockwell Collins Airborne Data Router (ADR) encrypts WiFi signals and uses multiple IP addresses as a defense against hackers.

a single random business jet using open source intelligence methods. Open source intelligence is a means of acquiring data via public source material floating around on the internet. Although official records make up a percentage of the information, the bulk of it is what people display of their own volition. On the afternoon of March 29, 2018, the Gulfstream IV (GLF4) aircraft type was entered into the search feature on, one of many free real-time flight tracking services. There were 8 G-IV aircraft airborne at the time, 3 had N numbers that were openly displayed and identified them as private aircraft (as opposed to charter or fractional ownership). To continue the experiment, one N number was randomly selected and entered into the FAA aircraft registry database. The query provided the name and address of a corporation that coincided with the aircraft destination displayed by FlightAware. As the corporation was not a recognized household name, Google was used to find out more details. The search engine revealed that the entity in question was the world’s largest privately held provider of services within a particular industry sector. A link to the corporate website gave quick access to photos of the CEO and top executives, or, individuals likely to be flying on that aircraft.

Going forward, another Google search using the corporate name and the word “pilot” displayed a LinkedIn account with the name of a person that self-identified as the chief pilot. Plugging the LinkedIn name into the FAA airman registry returned zero hits. However, as the first name sounded like it could be a nickname, just the last name was reentered and this time 10 names returned. Our pilot’s LinkedIn account listed a city and state, so using just the last name and state from the LinkedIn account provided the full first, middle, and last name of a single individual. Clicking on the name displayed the pilot’s address and type ratings, which matched aircraft that the corporation operated. Then the pilot’s nickname, first name and last name were employed in a search on Facebook. Despite privacy settings selected by the user, Facebook always will display 2 photos, if uploaded, of their profile and cover. And there it was, the profile depicted a close up of the pilot’s face whereas the cover showed the pilot in the cockpit of an aircraft consistent with his type ratings provided by the FAA records search. The FAA provided address (an actual physical address) was entered into 3 free data search websites (not revealed here for security). Among other resources, these sites tie into property and tax record systems. The

What’s the next step? Those with no ill intent can bow out here. On the darker side, with 1 hour and no money invested, the internet gave up the following information: A specific aircraft and the company that owns it, the corporate address, pictures of the executives, the name of the chief pilot, his home address, his photo, and all his certificate information. Using this info about the aircraft, the company and its employees as a baseline, much nefarious activity can ensure. In addition to the network and PED hacking already discussed, there’s also social engineering – the act of conning someone to reveal information under false pretenses to get more info. “Hi, this is Amanda at the FBO. One of your captains (insert actual name here) left some important personal real estate documents in the crew lounge. Looks like it might have his social security number on it. It says he lives at (insert address here). I’d really like to get it back to him personally. I’m leaving to go out of town so I’m only available for the next hour or so. Can you give me his e-mail address?” E-mail addresses and phone numbers are often used as user names or can provide access to accounts. The concept sounds far-fetched but the amount of personal info people will reveal when primed with a little cursory information is astounding – and frightening. From unmarked hangars to masking N numbers, corporations go to great lengths to maintain secrecy, which translates into security. The internet of today has become the “loose lips sink ships” of the past. In all, flight department cybersecurity comes down to a dose of technology in concert with a much larger portion of behavior.

Shannon Forrest is a current line pilot, CRM facilitator and aviation safety consultant. He has over 10,000 hours and holds a degree in behavioral psychology.


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Strong winds and gusts Powerful and changing movements of air can pose drastic dangers to pilots.

are occurring in the given cube of air, with associated higher density and therefore pressure.

De Havilland Dash 8-Q300 landing in a strong crosswind at WLG (Wellington, New Zealand). Wind remains a leading meteorological factor in aviation accidents.

By Karsten Shein Comm-Inst. Climate Scientist


ith a frantic phone call the FBO manager said, “You should get out here as soon as you can. The squall line that just rolled through collapsed the hangar. There’s substantial damage to your aircraft.” Such is a phone call no pilot ever wants to get from their FBO, but it happens more often that we may think. Wind remains at the top of the list of meteorological conditions that contribute to aviation accidents. While some of these accidents are to hangared or otherwise unoccupied aircraft, year after year we still manage to fill the investigation files with accidents stemming from pilots taking wind for granted at critical times in a flight.

Air pressure as a force of nature Wind is the force applied against an object by the movement of the air. Uneven heating of the atmosphere by the sun produces differences in air density from one place to another, and at scales of a few millimeters to thousands of kilometers. To understand this, we just need to look at a couple of basic equations that apply to the atmosphere. First is that force equals mass

times acceleration. Density of the air supplies the mass (which is simply the number of air molecules in the volume multiplied by the individual mass of each molecule) and, within that same volume, temperature supplies the acceleration of the molecules. The resulting force is air pressure. The 2nd equation is the ideal gas law, which relates the temperature and pressure of a gas. If temperature increases in a cube of air (fixed volume), it is because the air molecules are absorbing heat energy and becoming more energetic, increasing acceleration and therefore the pressure force within the cube. Conversely, as molecules lose energy to their environment, their acceleration decreases, lowering the pressure force within the cube. We apply fixed volumes to the atmosphere solely to satisfy these equations. We know there are no cubes of air in the atmosphere but the principles remain. As solar energy heats the surface, the energy is absorbed by the overlying air, increasing acceleration. Pressure would increase as well were it not for the ability of the molecules to simply spread apart. That expansion results in fewer molecules in any given cube of air, so less density and less pressure force. Alternatively, chilling the air has the opposite effect, contracting the molecules, meaning more

The atmosphere, like any fluid, is always attempting to achieve a state of equilibrium where density is equal throughout. It does this by its molecules moving from areas of higher density to areas of lower. The greater the difference in density, the faster the molecules will move. Because it’s easier to measure pressure than density, and because the 2 are related, we can use the pressure difference between 2 locations to determine the speed of the air flow. This difference is the Pressure Gradient Force (PGF), and the larger the PGF, the faster the wind. On a weather map, we can easily identify the PGF by drawing lines between areas of high and low pressure and calculating the pressure difference. We can also estimate speed by looking at the spacing of the isobars on the map. Closely spaced isobars mean pressure is changing rapidly over distance, and so the wind will be strong. Widely spaced isobars mean little pressure change and calmer winds. Wind direction, on the other hand, is guided by 2 additional forces: Coriolis and friction. Because the air is moving above a spinning earth, its path appears to curve relative to the surface. Well above the surface, the Coriolis force balances the PGF, but in the opposite direction, which steers the wind perpendicular to the original PGF direction and therefore parallel to the isobar pattern. This flow is called the geostrophic wind. Surface friction slows the wind, and so weakens the Coriolis force relative to the PGF. This results in steering the wind slightly back toward the lower pressure, and is the reason that surface winds spiral into a low and out of a high rather than simply circulating around them as it does in the upper atmosphere. Air also flows vertically in the atmosphere. The density of the atmosphere decreases with increasing altitude. Gravity pulls molecules toward the surface, but at the same time there is a vertical PGF that encourages upward movement of the molecules. At

Photo by Phillip Capper-Wikimedia Commons

Wind speeds


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ay nw ru ff so ee ° gr 50 de



25 20


Headwind component



15 10


5 90°

Because there is constantly some heating and cooling of the atmosphere taking place and it’s somewhat predictable given the geometry between the Earth and Sun (which has produced a set of semi-permanent highs and lows around the planet), we get wind climatologies and prevailing wind patterns that allow airport planners to lay out runways in an effort to minimize crosswinds. Where there is ample room, intersecting runways are designed to provide headwinds under several different weather patterns. Sometimes, however, the terrain or nearby cities force runways to be oriented in less than optimal directions. Most such airports can be found along the coast or along river banks, or else in the valleys and flat top ridges of mountainous regions. These are airports where pilots should anticipate the potential for crosswind takeoffs and landings on most days. However, it’s usually not the general circulation of the atmosphere that gets pilots into trouble. Rather it is the wind extremes. At the most benign end of the spectrum are strong headwinds, which don’t often cause damage or accidents but can rob an aircraft of groundspeed and eat up more fuel and time than planned. Fortunately, upper air weather maps will often provide pilots with a good understanding of the prevailing wind direction and speed aloft. Just remember the idea of geostrophic wind and the PGF relative to isobar spacing. In general, wind speed will increase with altitude up to the jet stream, above which it will decrease appreciably. Bear in mind that, because of air density, a 50-kt headwind at FL190 will have a greater impact on groundspeed than that same headwind at FL330. Wind is the force of the air pushing against the aircraft. As air density decreases exponentially with height in the atmosphere, there are far fewer air molecules that your aircraft


d in

Airport runway layouts



any given level, the forces come into balance in what is called hydrostatic equilibrium. Differential surface heating creates both vertical and horizontal air currents. Heating the surface air expands it, lowering the density relative to the air around it. The surrounding air moves in, while the heated air is diverted upward until it reaches an altitude at which its density matches ambient conditions. Here it will rise no further, but if more air is moving up behind it (as is often the case), the air will spread out horizontally at the higher altitude.








Crosswind component Crosswind calculators or charts will help to quickly determine whether a crosswind is likely to be too much for you or your aircraft to safely overcome. Adding in a gust factor to the calculation can increase that safety margin.

must push aside. The trade off here is that your engines produce less thrust in the less dense air. Additionally, the higher you go, the more likely you are to approach the jet stream and the often-vicious eddies that shear from it. Wherever faster air flows alongside slower moving air, interactions along the boundary zone can cause the faster moving air to shear into the calmer air. An aircraft flying through the shear eddy can be struck by this clear air turbulence without warning and from any angle. Given that these winds may be moving at over 100 kts, it is easy to see how unsecured passengers or objects could be tossed around. Smoother winds can normally be found within the faster air region, or by moving farther away from it. While most eddies are a few meters wide, he largest of them can be up to several hundred meters in diameter.

Surface danger By far, the majority of wind-related aviation accidents take place on or near the surface. Contributing factors include crosswinds, high winds, downdrafts and microbursts, sudden wind shifts, dust devils, gusts, and wind shear. According to NTSB statis-

tics for general aviation in the roughly 8800 accidents between 1983 and 2013 where wind was a factor, crosswinds were the most frequent wind factor (40%), followed by gusts (35%) and tailwinds (20%). Interestingly, wind shear related accidents are relatively infrequent, likely owing to substantial recurrent training addressing wind shear recognition and recovery. High wind accidents are normally associated with parked aircraft that had the misfortune to be damaged by the straight line winds of a passing thunderstorm. Such winds can easily top 60 kts and flip unsecured aircraft. Strong storm outflows have even collapsed hangars, damaging aircraft inside. Most crosswind, gust and tailwind accidents occur during takeoff and landing. Many of these happen because a pilot incorrectly estimates the wind direction or strength, underestimates the crosswind component, or fails to account for the likelihood of a strong gust. A number of these accidents occurred at airports with only visual wind indicators (wind sock, cone or tee) or involved helicopters landing at off-airport sites that had no reliable wind indicator or information (such as is frequently the case with air ambulances). Pilots should make every effort to


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Despite advances in wind shear alerting technology, thunderstorm downbursts remain a significant danger to aircraft that are already flying slowly and close to the ground.



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know the wind situation before taking off or landing. In most cases, current winds are broadcast over ATIS or ASOS/AWOS frequencies, or in some cases from navaid frequencies. They can also be requested from ATC. At untowered fields or when the tower is closed, other pilots or the FBO may be able to provide winds via the CTAF. Similarly, helicopters or aircraft landing at off-airport sites may seek wind guidance from someone on the ground at the site before they land.

Estimating winds In the absence of an unambiguous reporting of wind speed and direction from a source on the ground, pilots might estimate the wind in one of several ways. The first is to reference any wind sock or similar indicator on the airport grounds. Many are even lighted for nighttime use. If possible, pay particular attention to any movement of the indicator. In gusty winds, a wind sock may rise and fall with each gust (as long as the sustained winds are not stronger than the maximum for the sock), while most indicators will move from side to side in shifting winds. Other potential wind indicators include nearby flags or smoke from a smokestack. Even the ripples in a nearby water body may help a pilot estimate the wind condition. Pilots can also try to dial in the weather information from neighboring airports that have an automated system. If a pilot is using visual reference information to estimate winds, it is best to do avoid doing so after starting the approach. A fly-by of the airport will give time to process the information and plan the approach. Similarly, if no other visual cues are available, overflying the approach at altitude to identify any crosswind drift before returning to execute the approach can

help to keep crosswind landing surprises to a minimum. Crosswind components should not be taken lightly. Underestimated crosswinds have contributed to thousands of runway accidents. Aircraft are tested to determine the maximum crosswind the aircraft, flown by an average pilot (not necessarily a tough-as-nails test pilot) can reasonably handle. For most aircraft, that works out to a 90º crosswind of 20% VSO. Calculating the crosswind component involves using a crosswind chart or calculator. The angle between the runway and wind headings, and the reported wind speed will provide the breakdown of headwind versus crosswind. In the absence of a chart or calculator, a rule of thumb is that at an offset of 15º the crosswind is 25% of the wind speed, at 30º it is 50%, 75% at 45º, and at more than 60º pilots should just assume that the full wind speed is the crosswind component.

Be aware of gusts While in gusty winds most pilots will add a gust factor to their approach speeds, most don’t add one into their crosswind calculations. In fact, gusts during crosswind landings have been a factor in many accidents, especially where gusts are more than 15 kts or so above the sustained wind speed. Getting hit by a strong gust at a low altitude and slow speed may result in a wingtip strike, a lateral touchdown or at least make it impossible to regain the centerline in time to land safely. Similarly, a gust on takeoff can easily cause loss of lift or control. As soon as the mains are off, orienting into the wind to maximize a strong headwind for climbout is advised whenever possible. The key is to get as much stability and lift as quickly as possible to get

away from the ground so you have time to recover from any gust-induced upset. The gust factor for adding speed to an approach is gust speed minus sustained wind. You are then suggested to add half of that to final approach speed. In gusty conditions, it is also worthwhile to add at least half the gust factor to your sustained wind in your crosswind calculation. So, if you were facing a 25-kt wind with gusts to 35 kts, using 30 kts will give you a better measure of the possible crosswind conditions you might face. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t attempt the landing if that places your crosswind outside of the envelope, but it does mean you’d want to exercise extra caution as you neared the ground. While pilot reports are very important to inform controllers and your fellow pilots of the conditions you faced as you landed or departed an active runway, these reports may not be the best source of information to a pilot on final approach in gusty winds. Many wind-related landing accidents were preceded by aircraft that landed safely and reported no problem. That is the nature of gusty winds and the variable skill or tolerance of those flying. If at any time in an approach you feel that the wind is behaving beyond your or your aircraft’s capabilities, a go-around is the safest course of action. Gusts often only last a few seconds, and the next approach may be far smoother. Karsten Shein is a climatologist with NOAA in Ashe­ville NC. He formerly served as an assistant professor at Shippens­­burg Uni­versity. Shein holds a commercial license with instrument rating.


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Jack Northrop and the flying wing

The YB-35 (above) became the YB-49 (below) with some structural modifications and turbojet powerplants. The biggest challenge in those early days was finding powerplants with sufficient thrust and reliability. The YB-49 performed far better than the YB-35 but was still underpowered and short on necessary range.

Jack Northrop at the drafting table. Northrop’s vision to perfect an aircraft produced the flying wing. He assembled the best aeronautical minds at the time to join him in the engineering section, and their work has had far-reaching effects.

By David Bjellos

ATP/Helo. Gulfstream IV, Sikorsky S76, Bell 407 Pro Pilot Senior Contributor

Images courtesy Creative Commons


nnovation has given us nearly everything the human mind can imagine, and aviation was fertile ground for early men with vision and determination. There were so many innovators like William Boeing, Glenn Curtiss and the Wright brothers who made their mark and then moved out of the spotlight so early in their careers that original examples of their extraordinary work faded. But remarkably, one pioneer’s breakthroughs remain as fresh in design and concept today as what he imagined in the 1930s; his name was Jack Northrop. Northrop envisioned a flying wing, free of bulky empennage and tail, which would be significantly more aerodynamically efficient. In those days, without fly-bywire or rudimentary stability augmentation, he had to go through numerous designs and models, the most famous being the YB-49. Originally outfitted with 6 massive radial reciprocating engines, the end-product designed for


the Air Force was fitted with 8 Turbodyne turbojets. Flight controls called elevons (a combination of elevators and ailerons) were developed to control all 3 axes of flight, especially yaw. Surprisingly, the wing design was proven to be very stealthy (the term then used by the Air Force was low observability). Pre-planned test flights over Half Moon Bay in California were undetectable by radar until directly overhead. Despite not having any sophisticated autopilots, the wing designs flew in a benign manner, and were deemed suitable for Air Force crews. The YB-49 was intended to compete with the Consolidated B-36 Peacemaker. Stuart Symington, secretary of the Air Force at the time, “suggested” to Northrop that Consolidated and Northrop merge. But Northrop had no desire to give up control, and asked Symington what the consequences would be if there was no merger. Syming-


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Much of Jack Northrop’s early work made its way into the B-2 bomber, as well as numerous smaller flying wing UAS aircraft. Jack’s vision and efforts came at a perfect time in history to have a free hand at experimenting and perfecting this design. Future Air Force and Navy autonomous vehicles (including inflight refueling platforms) are almost exclusively flying-wing design planforms.

ton responded, “You will be Goddamn sorry if you don’t!” Such was the power of the purse, the men and the egos who determined national security. The 2 companies did not merge, and Northrop was defeated financially, personally and emotionally. This single event almost certainly caused him to retreat from the aircraft industry at what would have been the height of his expertise and potential. The B-36 eventually failed as a mainstream bomber when speed replaced range, to which the XB-70 and short-lived B-58 were interim solutions. Imagine what the armed forces’ inventories might have looked like had Northrop been victorious! As microprocessors, fly-by-wire and stealth designs excited the engineering world during the 1970s and 80s, a new design was taking shape: the B-2. Ironically, it would have exactly the same wingspan (172’ 6”) as the YB-49 and, according to Max Stanley, the first Northrop test pilot, “It flew just like the YB-49.” Stanley was given the opportunity to fly the simulator and discuss his earlier flying wing experiences with B-2 engineers and flight crews. He remarked how similar they were. But Northrop would be vindicated, both during his life time and beyond. The aging Jack Northrop was invited to a very secret and special meeting in April 1980 with the architects of the B-2, where he saw his flying wing, remade and improved, a half century later. It was the culmination of his life’s work. Tears filled his eyes and he exclaimed, “Now I know why God has kept me alive these last 25 years.” Jack passed away less than a year later, and a fitting tribute to him was paid by an old friend and fellow pioneer, Donald Douglas Sr, who stated “Every major airplane in the skies today has some of Jack Northrop in it.” Those words were true in the 1930s and still are today. Clear skies and tailwinds, Mr Northrop.

The Northrop Grumman X-47B was the first unmanned, autonomous air system to operate from an aircraft carrier. It has the capability for inflight refueling and multi-mission capabilities for shipboard applications. Northrop Grumman was awarded the Robert J Collier prize in 2013 for this UAS.

The Lockheed Martin MQ-25 Stingray is a technology demonstrator that may replace manned inflight refueling and possible combat applications for carrier ops. Notice the similarities of the X47-B and MQ-25 with the 1930s era YB-49.

David Bjellos is the Aviation Manager for Florida Crystals, flying a GIV-SP, S-76C+ and Bell 407. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Helicopter Association International (HAI).


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Phenom 300 HZ-IBN lands long and hits embankment Conflict in the pattern, short runway and excessive speed on final were key factors.

(Top) Photo of HZ-IBN on approach to Blackbushe airport. Pictured at left is a 2-seat Ikarus C42 microlight aircraft like the one involved in the Phenom 300 crash.

Capt Jim Walters

ATP/A&P. Boeing 757/767, MD80


amiliarity with a particular aircraft and type of operation is usually a tremendous asset for both the confidence of the pilot and the safety of the flight. Generally, it is the product of years of successful, or in the case of aviation, “uneventful” experiences. However, as in this case, when that experience is based on routinely successful outcomes of unsafe situations – intentional or otherwise – the consequences can be fatal. The 9 seat Embraer Phenom 300 HZ-IBN was single pilot light jet with a moderately swept wing and a stretched fuselage inherited from its older sibling, the Phenom 100. Although not required to be, it was equipped with a combined Cockpit Voice and Flight Data Recorder (CVFDR). Owned by Healthy Airlines, a subsidiary of the Saudi Bin Laden Group, HZ-IBN was used in both private and charter capacities. As such, the company had an operations manual and well defined standard operating procedures. The operator owned 2 Phenom 300s which had flown into England’s Blackbushe airport a total of 35 times in the previous 16 months – 15 times with this pilot. Most trips were made to large international airports, and visual ap-

proaches were rarely performed, almost never anywhere other than at BBS (Blackbushe, Hampshire, UK).

Events leading up to the accident On July 31, 2015, the aircraft and its 57 year old, 11,000 hour Jordanian pilot departed BBS early in the morning for a positioning flight to MXP (Milan-Malpensa, Italy). Once there, it picked up 3 passengers for the return to England. They were Osama bin Laden’s stepmother, half-sister and brother-in-law. BBS is adjacent to the congested Farnborough Aerodrome Traffic Zone, and has 1 paved runway oriented 07/25. Landing distance available on runway 25 is 3474 ft, with a 290 asphalt overrun area and a 3-ft high earthen embankment at the far end. There are no instrument approaches to the airport. A missed visual approach requires immediate coordination with Farnborough and London, and precise aircraft maneuvering from the pilot due to constricted airspace. The cruise portion of the return flight proceeded normally. The weather was good, with no low clouds, very light winds and excellent visibility. After communicating with London Control, the flight was handed off to Farnborough Approach. Crossing the south coast of

England and about 15 minutes from landing, the pilot contacted Flight Information with passenger handling details, and received airport advisories and the QNH. Once the pilot had the airport in sight, Farnborough Approach gave him a “pilots discretion” descent clearance, and about 4 miles south of the airport, he contacted Blackbushe Information again, stating his intentions. At that point, the pilot’s plan was to overfly the airport, make a left turn to join an upwind leg to runway 25, followed by a crosswind, downwind, base, and final. However, the congested airspace would require the pattern to be flown close to the runway.

Microlight plane in the pattern Slightly south of the airport, the pilot radioed that he would be maintaining 2000 ft, and that he had another plane in sight. That aircraft was a microlight airplane being operated as a training flight in the pattern, with an instructor and a student aboard, and was maintaining 1500 ft. Shortly thereafter, a Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) Traffic Advisory (TA) was generated in the Phenom due to proximity to the microlight, which had begun the crosswind leg at 1100 ft. The microlight instructor then advised over the common fre-


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PAPI (3.1°)



Helicopter Training Area


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Accident site Rwy 07 Thr Elev 322 511921.17N 0005116.68W (GUND Elevation 151)

quency that he had the Phenom in sight. The accident aircraft turned onto the upwind leg at 1900 ft, 173 kts and clean. The Flight Information Officer advised the Phenom of the microlight’s position, and HZ-IBN responded that he “...Would maintain 2000 ft all the way.” Hearing the exchange over the radio, the microlight replied, “We’ll extend on downwind to let the jet in… Jet in first if you’re happy with that.” The pilot of the Phenom agreed, lowered the landing gear, and started a descent. About a mile and a half abeam the runway, the CVFDR recorded simultaneous warnings from TCAS, Terrain Awareness Warning System (TAWS) and radio transmissions. Once abeam the end of the runway, the autopilot was disconnected, resulting in an automatic aural “autopilot” warning which sounded 4 times. And as the Phenom pilot began to turn onto a base leg, the pilot reported “turning final… err… crossing down to the final for runway two five.” HZ-IBN was at 1570 ft and 164 kts. Blackbushe radio acknowledged, Flaps 1 was selected, and an immediate TCAS alert “traffic, traffic” sounded simultaneously. The Farnborough Approach frequency was still tuned on the 2nd VHF radio, and loud transmissions were still being




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Aircraft Tie Down Points

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Blackbushe airport diagram, showing landing distance available and approximate touchdown point.

received and heard in the Phenom cockpit throughout the approach. Since separation from the nowclimbing microlight was diminishing, the pilot of the jet stopped the descent, added power and pitched up. As flaps 2 was selected, the TCAS sounded a “descend” Resolution Advisory (RA). Both aircraft were at 1280 ft. Perhaps watching the microlight, the Phenom pilot ignored the TCAS direction and chose to aggressively climb at a rate of 2000 fpm. The warning changed to “maintain vertical speed” and the 2 aircraft passed within 980 ft laterally and 320 ft vertically from each other. Two more warnings sounded, “adjust vertical speed, adjust” – “adjust vertical speed, adjust” probably due to the flight path of a 3rd light aircraft at 2300 ft on a southerly track, somewhat east of the base leg being flown. Arresting the climb, the Phenom continued the turn to final, and was now 1.4 nm from the threshold at 1740 ft and 137 kts. Flaps 3 was then selected. At 1 mile from the runway, the TCAS sounded its final alert, “clear of conflict.”

a pitch attitude of 13 degrees nose down. At about 1000 ft above the airport elevation, a series of 6 TAWS “pull up” warnings sounded, all due to excessive vertical speed. The “pull up” warnings continued unabated for 25 seconds, until 50 ft above touchdown elevation. Speed brakes were selected, but the aircraft’s flight control system prevented extension while flaps were deployed, so there was no reduction in speed or rate of descent. At the “five hundred” aural announcement, the airspeed was 156 kts, with a rate of descent of 2500 fpm. At 200 ft the rate of descent was still 2000 fpm. Crossing the threshold at 151 kts, about 43 kts faster than appropriate for the weight, the aircraft floated for 9 seconds, landing 2300 ft down the 3474-ft runway. Even with ground spoilers deployed and hard braking, the Phenom departed the end of the runway overrun area at 83 kts. Perhaps the pilot was considering a touch and go because in the last second of recorded data, the thrust levers were moved out of idle and the spoilers were retracting.

Excessive speed on final

HZ-IBN lands long and strikes the runway end embankment

Now diving for the touchdown zone, HZ-IBN’s rate of descent was 3000 fpm, airspeed of 153 kts and

The aircraft struck the small embankment beyond the overrun. The impact severed part of the nose gear


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Relative positions of HZ-IGN, microlight and other light aircraft, slightly later in the approach. Paired numbers and color codes indicate relative positions of the aircraft when TCAS alerts were generated.

and gear doors. Briefly becoming airborne, the Phenom then impacted several automobiles in a car auction holding lot, separating the wing and causing a severe fire. Although the occupants survived the impact, they were overcome by the resulting heat and toxic fumes, partially fed by the burning cars. Rescue vehicles responded immediately, in part because the Flight Information Officer at the airport, who was watching the jet’s arrival, activated the crash alarm as the aircraft touched down, recognizing that it wouldn’t be able to stop on the runway.

Comprehensive analysis by AAIB The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), part of the Government of the United Kingdom Department for Transport, undertook a comprehensive analysis of the accident and published a final report in December of 2016. One particularly interesting aspect of the pilot’s performance was a review of several previous approaches as recorded on the CVFDR. In April of 2015, this aircraft and pilot flew an approach and landing to runway 34L at JED (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia), which is over 12,000 long. The similarities between that approach and the accident flight are striking;

both had multiple TAWS warnings, high rates of descent and threshold speeds of about 150 kts. During the Jeddah landing, the flaps were still in transit as the aircraft touched down! And a review of the operator’s manuals found that an approach only needed to be stabilized by 200 ft, much lower than recommended by any safety advocacy groups, including the Flight Safety Foundation and ICAO. The operator has since amended that policy, mandating a 500 ft “stabilized and configured” altitude for visual approaches. But a go-around as mandated by company policy, from either that approach or the fatal one at Blackbushe, should have been performed.

How did this flight go bad so quickly? So let’s take a look at how this seemingly “normal” flight went so bad so quickly. The pilot planned a fast visual approach into a very familiar airport, a scenario he had accomplished many times in the past. All goes well until the first anomaly – very slow traffic in the pattern, and in front of him. No real problem, but it takes a bit of time to resolve between the pilots of the 2 aircraft, as there is no positive air traffic control. Just a distraction. Then the first TCAS alert. And continual radio chatter from both the Flight In-

formation Service and Farnborough Approach is heard in the cockpit. Yet another distraction. He’s keeping an eye on the traffic he’s closing in on, receives a somewhat startling TCAS RA, assesses the conflict, disconnects the autopilot and hand flies the initial descent followed immediately by a climb. The mental workload and flight requirements have increased dramatically. Turning final, he’s faced with a high rate of descent, a continuous series of TAWS warnings, aircraft aural annunciations and radio chatter from both VHF radios, all of which produce a chaotic cockpit environment. In the last minute and 13 seconds of flight, there are 29 aural events heard by the pilot of HZ-IBN! There were 6 transmissions on the Blackbushe frequency, 8 from Farnborough Approach, 6 TCAS alerts, 2 automated aircraft alerts, and 7 TAWS alerts and warnings. To add to the mix, the pilot had done this many, many times before and it always worked out, so he was convinced that it would this time too, and fixated on landing. And a complex missed approach might have not been something he wanted to deal with at the end of a long day.

The safe solution would have been a go-around All of these factors, especially while flying single pilot, made for an accident looking for a place to happen. But there was an obvious solution to this completely unstable approach: a go-around. The pilot’s mental capacity was saturated, and as the AAIB stated, “His ability to take on new and critical information and adapt his situational awareness would have been impeded.” We always need to remember that sometimes the best landing is a landing not made at all.

Capt Jim Walters ATP, F-27, MD-80, B757/767, L-1011, A&P, 31,000 hours, Former Director of Safety and Chief Accident Investigator, TWA, former Chairman, ALPA Accident Investigation Board.


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