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With 4 King Air 200s and 4 Airbus EC145s, the staff of Sanford AirMed provides emergency services in the Dakotas and surrounding states. At Sioux Falls SD HQs are (front, L–R) ? RO M Dir of Ops Fixed Wing John Graney and or of g Sr Exec Dir Mike Christianson with u yo flight and medical crews. do e Wh

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September 2018


Advertisers Index

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Vol 52 No 9

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Contributors in this issue BRUCE BETTS, PhD Dir Science & Technology, The Planetary Society DAVID BJELLOS, ATP/Helo. Gulfstream IV, Sikorsky S76, Bell 407. BRENT BUNDY, Phoenix PD Officer/Pilot. AS350, Cessna 210/182/172. DAVID ISON, PhD, Assoc Prof Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. GRANT McLAREN, Editor-at-Large. BOB ROCKWOOD, Managing Partner, Bristol Associates. KARSTEN SHEIN, Comm-Inst. Climatologist, Natl Climatic Data Center. DON VAN DYKE, ATP/Helo/CFII. Canadian Technical Editor. Professional Pilot ISSN 0191-6238 5290 Shawnee Rd, Suite 201, Alexandria VA 22312 Fax: 703-370-7082 Tel: 703-370-0606 E-MAIL:


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September 2018




Vol 52 No 9

8 POSITION & HOLD Things may have not been so bad for bizav. Maybe they’ll even get better. by Bob Rockwood 16 CONVENTION REPORT APSCON 2018 in Louisville KY by Brent Bundy Airborne Public Safety Association, formerly ALEA, celebrates 1st convention under new moniker at the Kentucky Exposition Center. 28 SAVING LIVES Sanford AirMed by Brent Bundy From the Dakotas to the Great Lakes, 58 pilots bring health care by flying in Airbus EC145 helicopters and King Air turboprops. 42 MRO & REFURBISHMENT Where do you go for MRO and upgrades? by Don Van Dyke Aircraft are being retained longer. Now owners and operators are establishing longer-term relationships with MRO, upgrade and refurbishment providers. 52 EVENT COVERAGE EAA AirVenture 2018 by Dick Knapinsky, Ian Fries & Mark Wilkening OSH show busts all previous figures with 601,000 attendees this year.


56 X-PLANE SUPERSONIC Vision-based flightdecks for supersonic aircraft by Glenn Connor NASA and Lockheed Martin low boom demonstrator will include EFVS and flight vision displays. 60 WEATHER BRIEF Visibility by Karsten Shein The ability to see what’s around you remains a top safety issue for aviation.


64 INTERNATIONAL OPS Security considerations for overseas travel by Grant McLaren Terrorism and crime continue to be dangerous threats in all parts of the world. 68 FLIGHT PLANNING Staying on track when flying oceanic routes by David Ison Intercontinental operations can be some of the most interesting flying. 72 INFLIGHT MEDICAL EMERGENCIES Handling health troubles aloft by Shannon Forrest Having first aid training and medical kits can be of great help.


78 SPACE EXPLORATION Water on Mars by Bruce Betts Evidence of past and present water on the red planet continues to mount up.

4  PROFESSIONAL PILOT  /  September 2018

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September 2018

Vol 52 No 9

Departments 12 VIEWPOINT Owen Davies explains why companies are not buying more new business aircraft.


2,150 Experts

22 TERMINAL CHECKLIST Quiz on procedures when flying into BOI (Boise ID). Answers on page 24. 26 SID & STAR Oscar Lugnut flies the Howler to close a quick deal in Pittsburgh. Nickelpinch doesn’t grasp the advantages of bizjets or use of close-in airports. 36 SQUAWK IDENT Pro Pilot readers tell where they go for MRO and give reasons for choosing their favorite facilities. 76 OUTER MARKER INBOUND Douglas Bader, a UK RAF pilot without peer. by David Bjellos

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.

With 4 King Air 200s and 4 Airbus EC145s, the staff of Sanford AirMed provides emergency services in the Dakotas and surrounding states. At Sioux Falls SD HQs are (front, L–R) Dir of Ops Fixed Wing John Graney and Sr Exec Dir Mike Christianson with flight and medical crews. Photo by Brent Bundy.

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POSITION & HOLD an editorial opinion

Maybe things weren’t so bad for bizav. Maybe they’ll even get better. Table 1 Category

1998 – 2007

2008 – 2017



Average total jets + turboprops in fleet/year



Average % of fleet for sale/year



Total new jets + turboprops sold







Average jets + turboprops for sale/year

Total transactions jets + turboprops sold Average asking price jets + turboprops

By Bob Rockwood Managing Partner, Bristol Associates

panies that had sales divisions were such the exception you’d have thought aircraft brokerage was a disease. But now, everyone whose business is even closely related to corporate aviation has a used plane sales division. In fact, I’m waiting for the day that the local Buick dealership starts advertising “the best Gulfstream IV for sale in the world” on their showroom kiosks. What’s the relationship to aircraft? The owner just bought a Baron. In addition, pilot jobs became scarce between 2008 and 2016, so a whole bunch of jet jocks said, “What the heck, if I can fly ‘em, I can buy ‘em.” Sure, the Buick scenario stretches reality a bit, but the point is taken. As Table 1 shows, there have been more transactions in the decade just past than the one preceding. It just doesn’t feel like it since they are being shared amongst a lot more folks.


% change versus 2008

f you read some of the aviation trade publications, it appears business aircraft sales have become a bed of roses. In fact, I saw a headline recently that said something like “The lost decade for business jets is now over.” My first reaction? What lost decade? Look at Table 1. In sum, when you look at the “lost decade” versus the preceding decade, the number of corporate aircraft for sale as a percentage of the fleet is very similar: the number of new planes sold was substantially higher, the “lost decade” had substantially more transactions, and prices were higher. So what, exactly, was lost? Is it possible we just sold ourselves into the “Gee whiz, things are tough” syndrome? I think so, and I think there were 2 main causes. First, a lot of us older folks were Figure 1 around for the irrational exuberance that was the period 1976 through 1980. PricChange in flight hours for business aircraft compared to 2008 es were rising so fast back then that you 0.00% could order a new Learjet and by the time it was delivered, you could sell it -2.00% for 20% more than what you paid. Then -4.00% there was 2003 through 2008. I mean, -6.00% come on! New plane sales jumped from -8.00% a fairly steady 800 – 900 per year to as high as 1600. Assuming this would con-10.00% tinue would be akin to my thinking I’ll -12.00% get better looking over time. Okay, bad -14.00% example, ‘cause that happens to be true. -16.00% But you get my meaning. -18.00% Cause number 2? Pretty much everyone except for my Uncle Sid got into -20.00% 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 used airplane sales. There was a day when the OEMs wouldn’t even think of Change vs 2008 selling a used plane. Management com8  PROFESSIONAL PILOT  /  September 2018

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Figure 2 New aircraft deliveries to Jul 16, 2018

To give you some idea of where new sales are going, I’ve included Figure 2, showing new deliveries by continent. Those with sharp eyes and a quick draw of calculators will note the numbers are slightly different from the discussion above. This is because, in the figure, we are looking at North America as opposed to just the US.

Price increases are coming






North America


South America



Believe it or not, my third concern is the result of good news. If you compare July 1, 2018 to January 1, 2018, the number of aircraft on the market is down 6.5%; the average days an aircraft remains on the market is down 6%; and the number of planes coming on the market is down 23%. This is a recipe for coming price increases. We have already noted that new turbine-powered business aircraft sales (deliveries) are, so far, slower in 2018 than the same period in 2017. It should also be noted that used plane sales are flat for these same timeframes. Overall, used plane prices have remained flat as well. So, if sales are flat in the light of flat prices, what will happen when prices go up because of a lower supply of used equipment? I’m of the opinion that the main driver of sales is bargain hunting as opposed to underlying demand (see my utilization discussion above). If I’m right, which very occasionally has been the case, rising prices will result in a reduction in the sales activity of used planes. This won’t help OEMs sell new planes.

Let’s look at what’s happening


Having debunked the “old times were the best times” myth, let’s look at what is happening, along with what might happen going forward. I have some concerns. First of all, I am not pleased as punch over the fact that corporate aircraft (turbine powered) utilization on a per aircraft basis still lags what it was a decade ago. Combining FAA, JETNET and Argus data, it appears 2017 lagged 2008 by some 14.56%. Nearly all the sources of this type of information are reporting improvement in 2018, but if you take the Argus and JETNET data from the last couple of years and extrapolate to the end of 2018, it appears the 2018 number will be the same. Figure 1 shows year over year percentage changes between 2008 and 2017 along with my best guess for 2018. Mind you, this is US-based fleet and utilization data. However, nearly 60% of the world’s corporate jets and turboprops reside here, so unless utilization around the rest of the world has gone up dramatically, which it hasn’t, it can’t skew the numbers much. When you combine this information with the continued growth of the “sharing” market, it helps explain the low new aircraft sales numbers we have been seeing. My second area of concern is the lack of new business aircraft sales activity outside the US. According to JETNET, 275 new corporate jets and turboprops have been sold into the US as of July 18, 2018. During this same period, only 67 have been sold throughout the rest of the world. This is completely lopsided even considering the US dominance in fleet size. We have just under 60% of the world’s fleet, but so far in 2018 we account for nearly 80% of new sales. If this imbalance continues, it will be hard to significantly increase new sales numbers. In fact, overall, they are down 9.6% versus this same period in 2017.

None of this matters if we get a surge in world and, to a lesser extent, US GDP. As I, and about a million others have reported, aircraft usage and trading activity go up or down with GDP figures and the optimism or pessimism derived from them. As of this writing, Q1 2018 US GDP growth was 2.2% (adjusted), with Q2 coming in at 4.1%. Of course Q2 will be adjusted one way or another for the next 6 months, but this is it’s best pace since 2014. But no matter how you slice it, given the nervousness/lack of confidence resulting from the difficulties with Brexit, the “my tariffs are bigger than your tariffs” talk, and the preponderance of articles being written cautioning recession within a year or so, it’s still awfully hard to see GDP approaching a quarter-to-quarter rate of 4% anytime soon. And historically, 4% is where we need to be. My paygrade does not allow me to speculate on the direction of GDP. In fact, if I say it is going up there is a better than 50/50 chance it will go down. So, for a change, I’ll remain silent on the issue. But at least I hope to have provided some different perspectives here.

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.

10  PROFESSIONAL PILOT  /  September 2018

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VIEWPOINT an editorial opinion

Many companies currently want to pay stockholder dividends and buy back shares rather than purchase new bizjets. Also, internet-based businesses don’t need factories, machine tools or business aircraft to generate profits.

Source: Standard & Poor’s

By Owen Davies Forecasting International & TechCast Global


he United States is enjoying its best economy since the Great Recession. The global economy is nearly as hot. So why aren’t more companies buying business jets? Okay, that is a slight exaggeration. Corporate aircraft have been selling, just not at anything like the rate airframers once expected. They sold 676 business jets in 2017. At least it was better than 2016 when only 661 business jets were sold, down from 718 in 2015. And that includes “personal jets” and VLJs, both new to the market. It was the industry’s weakest performance since 2004. Bizjet sales predictions have not been meet It looks even worse in light of pre-recession forecasts. In September 2007, Honeywell predicted sales through 2017 of 14,000 new business aircraft worth $233 billion. Projections from Boeing, Airbus and other market authorities were in the same range. “Industry growth has moved into unparalleled territory,” commented Rob Wilson, Honeywell’s president, business & general aviation. Actual sales came to only 11,200 aircraft worth about $221 billion in 2007 dollars. This included some 7800 traditional business jets, 447 VIP airliners, and 3000 turboprops. Instead of the predicted 1400 aircraft sales per year, it comes out to an average of 1120. This 20% shortfall cut revenues by only 5% because of relatively strong markets for high-capacity, ultra-long range models that did not exist in 2007. Yet, it was enough to pinch.

In 2004, a tax “holiday” on profits repatriated from overseas set off a boom in stock buybacks, but not business investment. The 2017 tax break can only accelerate the trend now under way.

“The market has seen a strange and unpleasant mix of false recovery starts, modest gains and serious anomalies,” Teal Group VP Richard Aboulafia commented in late 2017. Yup. On to 2018. It’s the kind of year that marketers dream about, and by many measures business aviation is booming. Flight hours rose nearly 3% in Q1 2018. Operations should reach 4.5 million hours this year, the most since 2003. Leasing, charters and fractional operations report growth from 25% per year to more than 100%. And 70% of bizjet owners in JETNET’s most recent quarterly survey believe the market has finally turned upward. The market itself seems unconvinced. The General Aviation Manufacturers Association reports delivery of 428 business jets in the first half of the year, only 2 more than in 2017. What’s that about? Let’s put this in context. Business aircraft are not the only market where investment is lagging. According to the Congressional Research Service, the growth rate for investment in all business assets since 2010 is 25% below the average from 1946 to 2000, 4.5% instead of 6% per year. Compounded over time, this deficit adds up. In 2017, US companies put $1.64 trillion into structures and equipment. It sounds like a lot. Yet, after inflation, it was barely more than they invested in 2005. Over the same period, the economy has grown by 48%. Non-financial firms in the US are sitting on an estimated $1.9 trillion in cash. Many of them could have made significant business investments out of pocket. And with interest rates so low for so long, any sound company could have

12  PROFESSIONAL PILOT  /  September 2018

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Business aviation unit deliveries per segment (2017–2016)

Source: Jetcraft

A recession in the next few years may push back sales expected after 2020 to later in the decade. It will be deeper, and the lag time longer, if politics delays the dip beyond the presidential election.

borrowed whatever funds it needed. They just aren’t interested. Instead, companies have been using their money to pay dividends or to buy back shares so the rest are worth more. They even borrowed some $2.6 trillion in the decade ending in 2017 and put essentially all of it into stock buybacks. Happy shareholders translate to CEO bonuses a lot faster than future market gains would. This priority is unlikely to change soon. Last December, a pre-tax cut survey of 110 company CEOs by Yale University economists found that only 14% planned to build plants or upgrade equipment in the near future. Even a provision in the tax plan allowing companies to write off most new capital investments immediately, rather than over time, did not convince them to spend for long-term benefits.

Factors to explain this Economists point to a host of factors to explain this. Some see the deficit as a continuing effect of the recession: most of 10 years later, companies remain wary of spending. As Mark Twain noted, “A cat, having sat upon a hot stove lid, will not sit upon a hot stove lid again. Nor upon a cold one.” The International Monetary Fund suggested that uncertainty about government policies might be inhibiting investment. If so, the business jet market could be slow for quite a while. Harvard economist Lawrence Summers points to 3 factors that may have reduced investment: (1) slow economic growth, (2) the dramatic slowing of productivity growth since the late 1990s, and (3) the rise of Internet companies that don’t need factories or machine tools – or business aircraft – to generate profits. Economists at the Bank of France and Paris West University believe companies are not investing because executives don’t see enough extra demand coming along to justify new production capacity. This one factor, they believe, accounts for 80% of the shortfall in business investment. That makes sense to us. No competent executive who sees new profits ahead is likely to leave them on the table.

Why does future demand look weak?

Possible causes range from slow GDP growth to expanding inequality and growing debt burdens throughout the advanced economies. Here in the United States, CVTD airliners college loans, the long decline of middle-class income after inflaUltra long range tion, and the threat of uninsured Super large medical expenses all might suppress consumer buying. MillenLarge nials especially tend to be short Super midsize of cash, and they now form the largest, most influential market for Midsize consumer products, which make Super light up 71% of the US economy. Absent Light radical course changes in Washington, it is difficult to see any of Very light these factors improving soon. Honeywell’s latest forecast predicts that 8300 business jets worth $249 billion will be delivered through 2027, with sales nearing 1000 per year by the end of the period. Bigger aircraft, super midsize through ultralong range, are expected to account for 57% of aircraft sales and more than 85% of spending at least through 2023. Critical factors after that will be strong economies and the arrival of new aircraft models to entice buyers.

Long range bizjets continue selling In all this, we find a mixed message for business aviation. Companies with strong export sales have been making better profits than those depending on the domestic economy, so demand for ocean-hopping jets should continue. And if economic growth remains below pre-recession levels, we all should adjust to it by the second half of the next decade. In the nearer term, many factors are in play. Recent tax cuts for business may yet spur a burst of aircraft investment if company execs decide that higher profits represent a new normal, rather than a temporary blip. In that case, the chance to expense capital investments should help as well. Yet, some time in this period, the next mild recession is due. It even seems the threat of a genuine trade war is not as remote as we once believed. For once, the uncertainties of the present seem harder to resolve than those of the more distant future. In the end we could easily see companies making the same trade-off they did in the recession. They may rely on business aircraft to help them compete in tight markets, yet find it hard to justify adding new planes or replacing old ones with more efficient models. Where that leads is anyone’s guess. We will be watching closely for evidence that the market for business aircraft has begun a period of solid growth rather than making yet another false start.

Owen Davies is a veteran freelance writer and was senior editor at OMNI. He now works as a futurist at Forecasting International and TechCast Global.

14  PROFESSIONAL PILOT  /  September 2018

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APSCON 2018 Kentucky Exposition Center hosts 1st Airborne Public Safety Convention.

Flanked by the APSA Board of Directors. (Center, L–R) Louisville Metro Police Maj Tim Burkett and Jefferson County Sheriff Col John Aubrey cut the ceremonial ribbon to officially open the exhibit floor.

By Brent Bundy

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


or their first annual gathering since adopting a new, broader-reaching name at the beginning of 2018, the Airborne Public Safety Association (APSA), formerly the Airborne Law Enforcement Association (ALEA), met at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville KY July 9–14. While this was the inaugural event under the new moniker, it was the 48th year for the organization’s yearly event, now dubbed Air-

borne Public Safety Convention (APSCON). A lot has changed in the 35 years since this event was last held in Derby City, but the enthusiasm by all involved to see the latest in aerial law enforcement, firefighting, search and rescue, and more was evident throughout the week. Attendance figures were down slightly from last year, although still strong with over 1200 event-goers. They perused the offerings at 143 vendor booths as well as attending the dozens of educational courses covering topics including Tactical Flight Officer training, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Operations, NVG and Thermal Imagery Tactics, and many more.

Robinson R66 Robinson’s flagship R66 was shown outfitted for public safety missions. Discussing the many options for LE agencies were (L–R) Robinson Sr Engr Spcl Projects Ken Martin, City of El Monte Chief Pilot Carl Garlick, and Robinson Acft Sales Monica Campos.

Although there were very few new products unveiled, the major manufacturers showed several aircraft recently delivered to or already in operation by public safety organizations. These included 2 Airbus H125s, one for Seminole County Sheriff’s and one for Broward County Sheriff’s, a Leonardo AW119Kx going to the New York City Dept of Environmental Protection, an MD Helicopters just-converted MD530F returning to Hamilton County Sheriff’s in Ohio, and a Bell 429 operated by Nassau County Police in New York. Robinson showed an R66 while newcomer Kopter debuted their upcoming SH09 in law enforcement configuration. FLIR held their annual Vision Awards and Pig Pickin’ Banquet with Brian Spillane hosting the event, which is a favorite among attendees. Other entertainment for the week included a Bell-sponsored opening reception, MD Helicopters’ Casino Night, the Airborne Public Safety Foundation Awards Reception, and the Airbus Helicopters Friday Night Happy Hour to close out the week. All in all, it was a successful and entertaining first year for the APSA and their new identity. They look forward to another great conference next year as APSCON 2019 heads to Omaha NE July 15–20.

Photo courtesy Robinson

Photos by Brent Bundy

Leonardo and NY City Dept of Environmental Protection Police with their recently delivered AW119Kx. Top Row (L–R) NYPDEP Pilot Ralph Pineda, Captain Shane Turck, Asst Chief Frank Milazzo, Leonardo VP Sales Robert Brant, and Head of Mktg Americas Michael Bucari. Bottom Row (L–R) NYPDEP Pilot Craig Patterson, Leonardo Rgnl Sales Mgr Philip Coghlan, Exhibits & Events Spclst Alessandro Volonte, and Tech Rep Michael Kennedy.

16  PROFESSIONAL PILOT  /  September 2018

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Airbus Helicopters displayed this H125 which was recently delivered to Central Florida’s Seminole County Sheriff’s Office. Law enforcement interior completion by Metro Aviation. (L) Seminole County Sheriff’s Office Aviation Section Aircraft Cmdr Bob Crumley and TFO Kevin Stein.

After 2 years of collaboration, FLIR and MAG Aerospace have joined forces to offer FLIRSIM, an immersive, portable, computer-based training system for use in collaboration with the FLIR Star SAFIRE 380 sensors. Concorde has all your aviation battery needs covered. Showing their products was Tech OEM Mgr Bob Burkel.

Hamilton Co Sheriff’s Office’s MD530F From MD Helicopters, (L–R) Dir Biz Dvlpt David Dolenar met with recipients of a recent MD 500E to 530F conversion for the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office in Ohio, Chief Pilot Tim Doyle, Pilot Banipal Koril Seperghan, and TFO Tom Canada. Pratt & Whitney Canada was represented by (L–R) Sr Field Supt Rep Robert Gordon, Cust Mgr Helo Engine Prgms Selma Ben Romdhane, Rgnl Sales Mgr Cust Svc Scott Dial, Mgr Trade Shows & Events Randy Quesnel, and Rgnl Mgr Jeff Winters.

FlightSafety International offers training in most aircraft models being flown in the public safety sector. Rgnl Sales Mgr Woody McLendon (L) and Sales Dir Robert Garrett were available at the conference to discuss available options.

Becker Avionics has been providing state of the art radios and other communications products since 1956. At the show was Consultant Lee Benson. Meeting with customers at Safran were (L–R) Sales Mgr Jaafar Asri, Comms & Events Spclst Tera Norton, and VP Cust Supt Cmrcl Biz Matt Haugk.

Bell showcased this 429, one of 2 such models operated by the Nassau County Police Department in New York.

Spectrolab provides field-proven searchlights, including this Nightsun XP IR LED model presented by (L) Biz Dvlpt Mgr Sales & Mktg Luis Castro and Repair Svc Coord Eddie Bello.

Kopter debuted a public safety rendition of its upcoming SH09, completed by Metro Aviation. The light-single is anticipated to begin deliveries in the second half of 2019. With the prototype are (L–R) Sr Vp Head of Comm & Mktg Cecile Vion-Lanctuit, Config & Reqs Mgr Jan Stähle, Mktg Comm Intern Peyton Roberts, Team Leader Avionics & Electronics Sascha Siegmund, Metro Aviation Chief Engineer David Ohnesorge, Sr VP Larry Roberts, and Mkt Dvlpt Mgr Jonas Hill. SD Communications had a variety of devices offered. Explaining them were Dir Gov Biz Dvlpt Jim Kershaw (L) and GSA Prog/Iridium Prod Mgr Alex Cumming.

18  PROFESSIONAL PILOT  /  September 2018

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Photo courtesy Sikorsky

Sikorsky has had great success with the Firehawk model including recent orders from Cal Fire and San Diego Fire Dept. (Bottom) Rgnl Dir Sales & Mktg Matt Swisher shows a mock-up of the aircraft.

LA County Fire Department’s Sikorsky Firehawk

Textron brought both fixed and rotor wing examples of their public safety offerings. Showing their products were Pilot Nicholas Terrapin (L) and Pilot Flt Ops Jeptha Miller. This Cessna Turbo Stationair HD can be equipped for a variety of LE missions. Garmin aviation products can be found in nearly every aircraft configuration being utilized by public safety departments around the world. With a sampling were Av Prod Supt Mgr Training & Svcs Jeff Hoing (L) and Biz Dvlpt Mgr Mil/Gov Prgms Bill Ferguson.

Evolution Aviation Helmets sells headgear, flightsuits and other safety gear. At the show was Dealer Mark Keller.

Since 1911, StandardAero has become one of the largest independent MRO providers in the industry. Available to discuss their services are Sales Mgr Scott Kern (L) and Rgnl Sales Mgr Scott McEwen.

MAG Aerospace provides all facets of Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance operations including their Virtual System Training Platform, demoed at the show by Dvlper David Woods (L) and Sr Prod Mgr Wesley Fine. Churchill Navigation Founder/CEO Tom Churchill shows the interior of their Mobile Command Center utilized for product development and demonstrations.

Pilatus offers one of the leading fixed wing aircraft in the law enforcement field, the incredibly versatile Pilatus PC-12 Spectre, shown by Sr Proj Eng Jim Saxon. UTC Aersopace Systems manufactures hoists, life rafts, and other safety equipment. Providing a hoist demonstration were Mgr Ops Spcl Prgms Tony Pieske (L) and Biz Dvlpt Mgr Jay Sanchez-Castillo.

Representing Precision Aviation Group MRO were Precision Heliparts Sales Exec Ross Tyner (L) and Precision Aircraft Svcs VP/Gen Mgr Mark Tyler. Heli-One offers world-wide maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services to the helicopter community. At the booth were Event Planner Roya Haifi and S.A.F.E. Structure Designs Pres & CEO Johnny Buscema.

L3 WESCAM displayed a variety of their airborne sensor systems to showgoers. Demonstrating the products was Acct Mgr Doug Bell.

20  PROFESSIONAL PILOT  /  September 2018

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Terminal Checklist 9/18 




1. Select the item(s) required for this STAR. a GPS. c RNAV 1. e Special authorization. b Radar. d Autopilot.

7. If ATC issues the clearance “descend via SADYL Three Arrival, except maintain 8,000,” the flight must_____ a comply with all published altitude restrictions until reaching 8,000 feet MSL. b request an amended clearance from ATC because the chart depicts a bottom altitude of 6000 feet MSL. c immediately initiate a descent to 8,000 feet MSL and comply with the lateral path requirements of the STAR. d descend and maintain 8,000 feet MSL and then comply with any lower published altitude restrictions on the chart. 8. Which altitude limitations/restrictions apply to this arrival? a PELYT—maximum FL210. b PRISN—minimum 6000 ft MSL. c APISE—mandatory 6000 ft MSL.



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6. Select the true statement(s) that apply to receiving a “descend via” clearance from ARTCC. a ARTCC may assign the landing runway when issuing the “descend via” clearance. b The aircraft is expected to comply with the lateral path of the STAR and published altitude restrictions only. c The aircraft is expected to comply with the lateral path of the STAR and with all published altitude and speed restrictions. d “Descending on the SADYL Three Arrival” is an appropriate way to verify to approach control that a “descend via” clearance was issued.




3. Select the true statement(s) regarding programming the navigation equipment to fly this STAR. a Pilots may change waypoint types from fly-by to fly-over and vice versa. b Selecting and inserting individual, named fixes from the database is not permitted. c Manual entry of waypoints using latitude/longitude or place/bearing is not permitted. d The procedure must be retrieved by procedure name from the onboard navigation database.

5. An aircraft at FL250 receives a “descend via” clearance at NEERO. If, after passing PRNCS, ATC issues a clearance to “descend and maintain 15,000” the flight should comply with the published altitude restriction at PELYT before descending to 15,000 feet MSL. a True b False



2. Which of the following is a maximum error limitation that applies to the RNAV 1 equipment requirements to fly the STAR? a Cross-track error/deviation: 1 nm. b Cross-track error/deviation: 0.5 nm. c RNAV system error: 1 nm for 95% of the total flight time. d RNAV system error: 0.5 nm for 95% of the total flight time.

4. Select the true statement(s) regarding the Grid MORA of 101 depicted on the chart. a The area surrounding this MORA is charted to scale. b The minimum altitude of 10,100 provides an obstacle clearance of 1000 feet. c The minimum altitude of 10,100 provides an obstacle clearance of 2000 feet. d The grid containing this MORA is formed by 30 minutes of latitude and longitude.





Refer to the 10-2E SADYL 3 RNAV ARRIVAL for KBOI/BOI (Boise, ID) when necessary to answer the following questions.

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

Answers on page 24



d DIKAC—minimum 6000 ft MSL. e SADYL—minimum 14,000 ft MSL. f MRFEE—maximum 10,100 ft MSL. 9. Select all that apply. After reaching SADYL, ATC issues a clearance to fly a heading of 010°. The pilot should______ a consider the STAR canceled. b prepare to rejoin the STAR at MRFEE. c prepare to intercept the route of 003° from MRFEE to SWAAN. d modify the route in the RNAV system and maintain RNAV 1 accuracy requirements. 10.Select all that apply. To “descend via” the arrival and fly the Runway 28L/R transition_____ a fly a 036° track from MRFEE to DIKAC. b maintain a maximum speed of 210 knots at DIKAC. c expect the RNP approach or radar vectors to the final approach course at DIKAC. d descend and maintain 6000 ft MSL after passing MRFEE until receiving a clearance for a lower altitude.

22  PROFESSIONAL PILOT  /  September 2018

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FLIGHTSAFETY VALUE AD - PROPILOT - Trim: 8.375” w x 10.875” d Terminal Checklist-9-18 lyt CS.indd 23

Bleed: 8.625” w x 11.125” d 8/31/18 11:59 AM

Answers to TC 9/18 questions 1.

a, b, c The procedural notes in the Briefing Strip indicate that radar, GPS, and RNAV 1 are required. No special authorization is required. AC 90-100A US Terminal and En Route Area Navigation (RNAV) Operations states that “pilots must use a lateral deviation indicator (or equivalent navigation map display), flight director and/or autopilot in lateral navigation mode on RNAV 1 routes.”


b, c AC 90-100A states RNAV 1 equipment requirements. Aircraft operating on RNAV 1 STARs and SIDs must maintain a total system error of not more than 1 nm for 95% of the total flight time. Cross-track error/deviation must be limited to 0.5 nm.

3. c, d AC 90-100A lists criteria for requesting or filing RNAV routes or procedures, including SIDs and STARs. RNAV STARs must be retrieved by procedure name from the onboard navigation database and conform to the charted procedure. Whenever possible, RNAV routes should be extracted from the database in their entirety. However, selecting and inserting individual, named fixes from the database is permitted, provided all fixes along the published route to be flown are inserted and waypoints are not entered using latitude/longitude or place/ bearing. Pilots must not change any RNAV STAR database waypoint type from a fly-by to a fly-over or vice versa. 4.

a, c MORAs are represented in abbreviated form by indicating the thousands figures plus the first hundred figure in smaller character. On Jeppesen charts, all MORA altitudes that are 6000 feet or lower have an obstacle clearance of 1000 feet. If the MORA altitudes are 7000 feet or greater, the obstacle clearance is 2000 feet. Grid MORAs are only charted for the To-Scale portion of the chart. Grid MORAs on SID and STAR charts are based on grids formed by 30 minutes or 1 degree of latitude/longitude. In this case, 1 degree applies.


b Unlike a “descend via” clearance, when cleared to “descend and maintain,” the aircraft is expected to vacate its current altitude and begin an unrestricted descent to comply with the clearance. For aircraft already descending via a STAR, published altitude restrictions are cancelled unless re-issued by ATC.

6. c According to the FAA document, Climb Via/Descend Via Speed Clearances Frequently Asked Questions, ARTCCs cannot assign a landing runway but

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may issue the “runway transition” with the “descend via” clearance. The approach (TRACON) controller will assign the actual or expected landing runway. When changing frequency, pilots must advise ATC on initial contact of current altitude, “climbing via/descending via” with the procedure name, and runway transitions, if assigned. FAA Information for Operators 14003 states phrases such as “on the” or “descending on” a procedure are not acceptable and can create miscommunication and additional workload with unnecessary controller queries. A “descend via” clearance means that the aircraft is expected to comply with the lateral path of the STAR and with all published altitude and speed restrictions.

7. a If a flight is cleared to “descend via” a STAR, but the controller adds “except maintain (altitude)” the pilot must comply with all published altitude and speed constraints until reaching the assigned altitude, unless explicitly cancelled by ATC. AIM 5−4−1 provides examples of arrival clearances and describes compliance actions. 8.

b, c, e Altitude restrictions are depicted according to ICAO standards. A line above the altitude shows the upper limit (maximum). A line below the altitude shows the lower limit (minimum). “At” is depicted by a line above and below the altitude value (mandatory). Because no altitude restriction is listed at PRISN, the MEA of 6000 ft MSL applies. However, MEAs and MOCAs are not considered altitude restrictions for the purpose of a “descend via” clearance.


a According to the AIM 5-4-1, if vectored or cleared to deviate off of a STAR, pilots must consider the STAR canceled, unless the controller adds “expect to resume STAR.” The pilot should not modify the route in the RNAV system until a clearance is received to rejoin the procedure or the controller confirms a new route clearance. When the aircraft is not on the published procedure, the specified accuracy requirements (in this case RNAV 1) do not apply.

10. c, d The plan view and Landing text indicate that for the Runway 28L/R transition, an aircraft should fly “from MRFEE on track 036° to PRISN, then on track 044° to DIKAC. EXPECT RNP approach or RADAR vectors to final approach course.” When receiving a “descend via” clearance, the flight is cleared to the charted “bottom altitude” of the procedure—the last published altitude on the assigned STAR or STAR runway transition—in this case, 6000 feet MSL at DIKAC. The restriction “At 210 KT” shown on the plan view at DIKAC indicates that 210 knots is a mandatory airspeed at the waypoint.

8/31/18 11:59 AM

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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.

26  PROFESSIONAL PILOT  /  September 2018

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8/28/18 10:49 AM

I’ll recognize your aircraft. I’ll recognize you. You’ll recognize me. Yep, there’s a theme here. Matt | Line Manager | Clay Lacy BFI

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1/4/2018 8:40:54 AM 8/28/18 10:49 AM


Sanford AirMed

Photos by Brent Bundy

From the Dakotas to the Great Lakes, health care comes by air with 58 pilots flying an 11-plane fleet of Airbus EC145 helos and King Air TPs.

By Brent Bundy

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


enerous philanthropy in the medical world is a common and always appreciated undertaking of those with the means to make a difference. Most major hospital systems work with, or under the support of, a foundation based on donations and fundraising. For the residents of the Upper Midwest region of the US, the benevolence of Denny Sanford has transformed their medical system and provided state of the art healthcare. From the Badlands of the Dakotas to the shores of the Great Lakes and beyond, over the past 4 decades the men and women of Sanford AirMed, by way of airplane and helicopter, have made sure that their benefactor’s wishes to reach everyone in need are met.

History What is known today as Sanford Health began nearly 125 years ago when the Sioux Falls Hospital opened

The Sanford AirMed team provides aeromedical services from their main hub at Sioux Falls Regional Airport in South Dakota and 4 additional bases in North Dakota and Minnesota.

in 1894, followed by St Luke’s Hospital in Fargo ND, 14 years later. Over the next several decades, the success of these 2 hospitals led to mergers and expansion throughout the area. As the idea of transportation of critical patients by aircraft gained momentum in the 1970s, the Sioux Falls-based hospitals obtained a federal government grant and began their own air medical service. Initially operating a Cessna 401 twin-engine airplane, they conducted their first transport on January 1st, 1977. Shortly thereafter, a Bell 230 light-twin helicopter joined the fleet. For the next 20 years, the hospital utilized a 3rd-party vendor service to provide the aircraft and pilots. Following a mechanical-related fatal crash in 1998, the hospital took over the program and obtained their own Part 135 certificate for both fixed and rotor wing operations. During this time, successful local

banker and self-made billionaire Denny Sanford began a continuous flow of donations to the local medical centers. In 2007 alone, he gave a $400 million gift to the Sioux Valley Hospitals and Health System. Bestowing sums of money of this size has accomplished several things including new infrastructure, vast improvements to the program, and incredible advancements for clientele and medicine in general. To show their appreciation, 11 years ago the healthcare system became known as Sanford Health. Over the past 20 years, Sanford has given the organization nearly $1 billion, making it the largest, rural, not-for-profit healthcare program in the country. As of 2018, they operate 45 hospitals and 289 clinics spread over 9 states and 4 countries, with 5 additional countries being added soon. They have over 29,000 employees and 1300 physicians providing coverage to 300,000 square miles.

28  PROFESSIONAL PILOT  /  September 2018

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The new generation H160 boasts a range of unparalleled safety features. Maximized pilot visibility, intuitive information display, unrivalled pilot assistance with Helionix,Ž and unmatched flight envelope protection. What’s more, it carries up to 12 passengers with a radius of action of 120 NM, while burning 15% less fuel. With so many impressive features, the H160 is a huge step forward not just for its category, but for the environment, too. Safety. We make it fly.

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Exec Dir Mike Christianson spent 10 years as an airplane pilot for Sanford before ascending to his current position overseeing all flight operations.

was also replaced. The Sanford team has since progressed to Airbus EC145 light-twin helicopters, all of which are 2010 models or newer. They can carry 2 patients 370 nm at over 130 kts. Pilots are IFR-rated and utilize Night Vision Goggles (NVGs). They currently have 4 helicopters at various bases available to be airborne within 10 minutes – weather permitting.


Aircraft Providing their services to this broad an area has necessitated additional and more capable aircraft. That initial Cessna 401 was soon replaced by 2 Beechcraft King Air B90s, a vast improvement with their greater speed, larger payload and pressurized cabins. Over the years, the B90s were traded out for 200s and, after a merger with Fargo MeritCare, 2 more were added, bringing them to their current fleet of 4. With more than a 1500 nm range, the ability to carry 2 patients and up to 5 medical staff in their Lifeport-modified interiors at a 300+ kt speed, they fit Sanford Health’s needs perfectly. Soon 3 of the 4 King Airs will be upgraded to Garmin G1000 avionics. The 4th is equipped with a G600 setup and is slated for aircraft replacement in the future. As an added measure of safety, all flights are flown as dual-pilot IFR and the aircraft are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. While the King Airs are ideal for fast, long-distance transport, when there is a need for responding to locations without an airfield or when patients need to be taken directly to a hospital, Sanford utilizes their helicopters. Just as the original Cessna was traded for newer, better models, the Bell 230 that started the rotor wing program

Dir of Ops – Fixed Wing John Graney has been with Sanford for 9 years after time as a charter jet pilot and previous EMS assignments.

While their aviation hub is in Sioux Falls, the expansion of the program over the years has allowed Sanford to open additional locations to cover more service areas. The current arrangement has 2 King Airs stationed in Sioux Falls and an additional airplane in each of 2 North Dakota locations, Fargo and Dickinson. With a bit different mission profile, the EC145 helicopters are spread out, 1 per base, in Sioux Falls, Fargo and Bismarck ND, and Bemidji MN. Coordination of flights is handled from the communications center at the Sanford University of South Dakota Medical Center in Sioux Falls, which is staffed by 11 personnel.

Leadership Overseeing the operations of Sanford AirMed is Senior Executive Director Mike Christianson. A Sioux Falls native, Christianson has pursued an aviation career since high school. “I started flight lessons when I was 16, had my Private license by 17. I always knew flying was what I wanted to do,” he recalls. Before joining Sanford, Christianson worked for Great Lakes Airlines for 1 year flying Beechcraft 1900s. “I really liked flying but I felt that I wanted to do more to contribute, and Sanford offered me that opportunity,” he adds. Christianson worked as a line pilot on the fixed wing side for the next 10 years before beginning his ascent up the management ladder. He was promoted to program manager in 2008 followed by positions of director, executive director, and finally his current title. He continues to fly regularly for Sanford.

Corporate operations As mergers and expansion accelerated, Christianson assisted in the unification of the medical flight programs, Sanford Intensive Air and Fargo MeritCare Lifelight, into what is now Sanford AirMed in 2012. This was soon followed by 2 even more ambitious undertakings.

Dir of Ops – Rotor Wing Kerry Berg has been flying helicopters for over 40 years, beginning with his military career in the US Army.

As the hospital began to acquire additional operations in neighboring states, they recognized a need to move their executives and medical staff more efficiently. In 2012, Sanford purchased a 5th King Air 200, solely for corporate use. Christianson explains, “We stepped into this slowly at first, with only a single pilot being staffed fulltime, utilizing off-duty and overtime AirMed pilots to fill in when needed. However, it was very successful and we soon needed to add 2 more fulltime pilots.” Sanford also added 2 more planes, a 1985 Cessna Citation III and a 1977 Dassault Falcon 20, both of which were donated. Consequently, this necessitated hiring 3 additional pilots. The fleet currently flies around 920 hours per year, with the King Air taking the lion’s share at 500 hours, and the rest split between the Citation and the Falcon.

Acquisition of Maverick The 2nd venture began a few years after the corporate enterprise was established, with plans to build a new hangar for both their air ambulance and corporate operations. The location they were eyeing at Sioux Falls Regional Airport was adjacent to Maverick FBO. The timing was right, as the owners of Maverick were looking to sell. So after evaluating the benefits, in 2015, Sanford purchased Maverick. “Everything just seemed to fall into place. This acquisition benefits us on many levels. Maverick allows us to help support our air ambulance and corporate services with stabilized fuel sales, it gives us a nice facility to use as a ‘launchpad’ for corporate flights, and it provides us the opportunity to partner with Midwest Aviation/Charter First, who provide charter services for Sanford Physician Outreach, as well as area businesses and residents. We

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Safety Officer Josh Weiland developed the safety management system utilized by Sanford AirMed flight crews.

use Maverick as a tool for Sanford and our community,” Christianson declares. “Sanford doesn’t support Maverick, it is creating revenue outside of healthcare. The 3 pieces of this puzzle, AirMed, corporate, and Maverick, all fit together perfectly.”

Fixed wing management Until 2012, the Sanford AirMed program was 2 separate entities. After the consolidation, each side of the house has maintained individual managers. Covering the fixed wing group is Director of Operations – Fixed Wing John Graney. He attended South Dakota State University and related, “While in college, I heard about the flight program, went for a discovery flight, and said, ‘This is for me.’” After earning his bachelor’s degree in Aviation Education in 2003, he worked as a flight instructor then was hired by CJ Systems in Rapid City SD, starting as a King Air 100 pilot. This was his 1st foray into EMS flying. “It

Corporate Operations Pilots Jake Fisher (L) and Josh Otzen prepare for a flight in the Dassault Falcon 20.

Sanford’s Dassault Falcon 20 is one of 3 aircraft used to transport executives and clinical teams throughout the region under their Corporate Operations banner.

The company has 4 Airbus EC145s strategically placed across their coverage area to provide maximum accessibility to emergency healthcare.

was interesting, fulfilling work but I didn’t want to be locked down to 1 type of flying so early in my career.” Graney expanded his repertoire when he accepted a Part 135 position with Jet Linx in Omaha NE, flying various jet aircraft for the next several years. Wanting to escape the hectic schedule of charter work, he looked back to the medical field. “I had experience with EMS work, but it was with a vendor program. What I wanted was what Sanford offered, to have everything from pilots to nurses to maintenance all under one umbrella,” Graney explains. However, in 2009, Sanford wasn’t hiring. But he persisted and, after competing with 100 other applicants, he was offered a part-time spot. When Graney joined Sanford, they were flying 2 King Airs, 1 of them 24 hours a day and the other 12 hours a day, along with 1 helicopter. Needs pushed them to 24/7 operations with both King Airs, which brought Graney to full-time status. In 2015, he was promoted to chief pilot, followed 2 years later by advancement to his present role. His duties include overseeing the fixed wing operations, coordinating with maintenance, and responsibilities with new pilots including hiring and training. His title also extends to oversight of the corporate flight division. Graney is quick to point out that the great relationship amongst the management team, including the fact that they are all pilots, makes for a cooperative atmosphere. This involves managing the 38 pilots and 7 aircraft at the 3 fixed wing bases. “We currently have 16 pilots in Sioux Falls for air ambulance and another 6 for corporate. There are 8 assigned to Fargo and 8 in Dickinson, all of which are air ambu-

lance only,” he explains. Pilots work 7 out of 14 days, which helps their quality of life. Sanford is already seeing the effect of pilot shortages in the industry, but they maintain their high standards for hiring. New recruits must have 2000 hours total flight time with 500 hours of multi-engine time, turbine preferred. They are also required to obtain their ATP rating within their 1st year, in alignment with CAMTS accreditation (Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems). Flights are conducted with 2 pilots as a dual-captain assignment and they receive annual training at FlightSafety and King Air Academy. “We operate all hours of the day, in all types of weather, often flying to unimproved airports with poor lighting. We rely on professionals and the level of safety they provide us,” says Graney. “Our goal is to concentrate on care, not just transport.”

Rotor wing management Director of Operations – Rotor Wing Kerry Berg is Graney’s counterpart on the helicopter side of the house. The son of an Air Force KC135 boom operator, his father’s influence pushed him towards the military with aspirations of being a fighter-jet pilot. Berg realized that the college degree requirement wasn’t going to work for him, so he signed up with the Army in 1975 to fly helicopters. For the next 6 years, he flew and instructed in Hueys and Black Hawks. After his commitment was complete, Berg began his civilian flying career. This was a tumultuous time in the helicopter world, which meant a lot of relocating. But it also afforded him the opportunity to accrue time in several aircraft. Berg eventually joined Rocky Mountain Helicopters, the original

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With 4 Beechcraft King Air 200s at their disposal, the Sanford medical teams have all-weather, long-distance capabilities for transporting patients.

program vendor for what would become Sanford AirMed. “I took the job here in Sioux Falls in 1986 and I’ve been here ever since. It’s been an incredible career.” Berg was director over both airplanes and helicopters when the hospital acquired their own Part 135 certificate and eliminated the vendor in 1999. When the certificate was split in 2007, Berg took over the helicopter side where he still runs daily operations. He oversees the 17 pilots under him, all of whom are IFR-certified and accumulate upwards of 4000 flight hours per year, fleet-wide. Pilots are spread across 4 helicopter bases working 12-hour shifts, 7 days on, 7 days off, flying both VFR and IFR. Like the fixed wing side, new pilots must be commercial and instrument rated with 2000 hours of total time, turbine time and ATP preferred. “We have a great reputation and we are very safety-conscious. We send all our people to Flight Safety for training, we have wonderful equipment, an amazing maintenance department, good pay, and a good schedule. This all helps us keep people and attract good pilots when we need them,” Berg says. “We are in the business of helping people and, throughout the Sanford system, you see a commitment to quality, especially here at AirMed.”

Dedication to safety One place the commitment to quality is obvious is in Sanford’s dedication to safety. It was 6 years ago, after 11 years with the AirMed program, that Josh Weiland took over as the Safety Officer. Previously a line-pilot, he now oversees the safety management systems for the aviation and clinical operations. “I’m not a clinician but I handle the air transport aspect of the program. Essentially anything that can affect the safe operation of our aircraft,” he explains.

At the time Weiland took over, AirMed was experiencing rapid growth and they recognized a need for centralized safety monitoring. Weiland assisted in standardizing the training and safety facets of the program, which is now based on an SMS that he developed. “We are somewhat new to this, but we are seeing changes,” he says. “We used to have 4 to 6 safety incident reports per month. In the past 6 months, we’ve had 499, and of those, 17% led to process improvements.” Weiland sums up his goals with the safety program when stating, “We have a safety meeting every month and a safety day every 3 years. This is helping us to be less reactive and more proactive and that is what this industry needs.”

Maintenance The responsibility of the maintenance department is to assure that the pilots have the equipment they need and that it is as safe as can be. In charge of that task for the airplane division of Sanford is Director of Maintenance – Fixed Wing Greg Lostroh. Lostroh has been in the maintenance business since earning his A&P certificate in 1978. That was also the same year he began working on Sanford aircraft, originally for a separate company, then full time under their umbrella in 1990. “Jobs were slim at the time, so I just followed the jobs and soon found myself here in Sioux Falls and I’m still here,” he says. With 90% of the maintenance completed at the Sioux Falls base, 5 of his 7 mechanics are stationed there, with an additional 1 each in Fargo and Dickinson. Lostroh feels fortunate to have a very senior crew with little turnover. “Growth within Sanford has led our needs, not attrition,” he states. “Sanford is a great place to work. Our support from management is excellent, we are never questioned. Sanford’s

DOM – Fixed Wing Greg Lostroh has been working on Sanford AirMed aircraft for over 40 years.

growth is conservative, their maintenance is not.” Director of Maintenance – Rotor Wing, Mick Kennedy, joined the Sanford aviation team in 2011. Kennedy brings a wealth of experience with a career that began in fixed wing and avionics work before transitioning over to rotor wing. Sanford AirMed employs 8 rotor wing mechanics, 2 at each base.

Future and conclusion For over 40 years, this program has provided aeromedical services to the Dakotas and surrounding states. Eleven years ago, Denny Sanford and his altruism changed the healthcare system and its ability to bring much-needed emergency access to the region. Through Sanford’s contributions, he has placed his namesake institution at the forefront of medical care and allowed the Sanford AirMed program to operate at the highest levels of safety and professionalism. This is accomplished with an impressive fleet of 11 aircraft, 58 pilots, 17 mechanics, and over 300 clinical team members flying 7000 hours every year. Calculated growth throughout Sanford Health has assured they will maintain these standards as they remain true to their mission of dedication to the work of health and healing. Brent Bundy has been a police officer with the Phoenix Police Dept for 27 years. He has served in the PHX Air Support Unit for 17 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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entastar at PTK (Pontiac MI) is an excellent Gulfstream shop. Greg Mahanna ATP/CFII. Gulfstream IV Aviation Mgr High Tech Aircraft Portsmouth NH


Where do you go for MRO (Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul)? Which facilities are your favorites? Why?


CI Jet in SBP (San Luis Obispo CA) is where I take our Citation. I’ve been managing jets for 13 years and they’re hands down the best I’ve experienced. Bradford Archer ATP. Citation V/Excel Manager Private Jet Mentors Novato CA


uncan Aviation at BTL (Battle Creek MI). deliver on time and on budget. They always have a solution to squeeze us in. Mark Davis and the team have been great. Never had any issues leaving from maintenance at Duncan BTL. Luke Krepsky ATP/CFII. Phenom 300 Owner & Captain Exec Aire Stevens Point WI


extron Greensboro Service Center at GSO is our choice for MRO service. Matt Svihlik is a great service scheduler. The whole team from the ramp to front desk CSRs are always responsive, pleasant and on top of the job at hand. Case in point, they had parts in hand 2 weeks prior to our ADS-B upgrade. Corwin Lindstrom ATP/CFII. Citation Mustang Aircraft Mgr & Chief Pilot AKS Air Kernersville NC

uality Corporate Aviation at TMB (Miami Executive FL) is where we take our Hawker 800XP for MRO service. They’re always ready to help out with any issues. Duncan Aviation at FXE (Fort Lauderdale Executive FL) is where we go for avionics support. Avionics Crew Leader Gordon Smith is always ready to help out and work with our schedule. He’s very knowledgeable and great to work with. Edward Baro ATP. Hawker 800XP President Compass Aviation Intl Hobe Sound FL


utter Aviation Dallas-Addison at ADS is superb. I’ve had a great relationship with the service manager and entire staff for 5 years and 2 airplanes. Travis Price Comm-Multi-Inst. King Air 90 GTx Chief Pilot Energy Service Bowie TX


pps Aviation at PDK (DeKalb– Peachtree GA) handle our Pilatus PC-12 and Textron Citation. They’re as close to perfect as you could ask for. And if they do make a mistake they’ll always make it right. Robert Richards ATP/CFII/A&P. Pilatus PC-12 & Citation ISP Chief Pilot Star2Star Lake Alfred FL





tandardAero at SPI (Springfield IL) gets our business. They always provide exceptional quality and service at a reasonable cost. Everyone in their operation understands customer service. We’ve never been disappointed in over 20 years of using StandardAero for our MRO needs. Drew Oetjen A&P. Falcon 2000LXS/S Mgr of Aircraft Mx Union Pacific Railroad Omaha NE lliott Aviation MLI (Moline IL) has great service and a knowledgeable maintenance staff. Professional employees at all levels, from line crews and CSRs to management. Bill Sand ATP/CFI/A&P. Citation CJ4/Excel Corporate Pilot Hy-Vee West Des Moines IA


recision Jet Service in SUA (Stuart FL) has given me personal service, attention to detail and timely completion. Mark Wolfrum ATP/CFII/FE. Hawker 800XP Chief Pilot Schumacher Electric Homer Glen IL

est Star at GJT (Grand Junction CO) handles virtually anything on our Challenger 300. They really did a great paint job on our airplane. Duncan Bombardier Authorized Service Facility for Learjet and Challenger aircraft at PVU (Provo UT) is top shelf. Absolutely a great facility and team. Curt Rhodes ATP. Challenger 300 Chief Pilot LVR Management Reno NV

ECHNICAir at INT (Winston-Salem NC) is close by and convenient. They’ve always given me great service. Danny Culler Comm-Multi-Inst. King Air 200 Chief Pilot Eagle Sunrise Air Winston Salem NC


ulfstream Service Center at ATW (Appleton WI) is the MRO we’ve been using for years. They offer consistent, high level quality, fair pricing, low staff turnover, and it’s easy to schedule. Kevin Flood A&P. Gulfstream G450 Aircraft Mx Mgr American Family Madison WI

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clipse Service Centers at ABQ (Albuquerque NM) and DPA (DuPage IL) have the best ability to get parts and are familiar with the aircraft. They’re our choice after doing as much as possible with our A&P at base RAP (Rapid City SD). James Dahlquist ATP/FE. Eclipse 500S Chief Pilot National American University Rapid City SD


uncan Aviation at LNK (Lincoln NE) and BTL (Battle Creek MI) have provided outstanding quality service at reasonable prices for years on our Falcon 50 and Citation. Great mechanic staff and customer service. They did an outstanding job painting our aircraft. Arlie Corbett Comm-Multi-Inst. Falcon 50 & Citation II Line Pilot Heilig Meyers North Chesterfield VA


onstant Aviation in CLE (Cleveland OH) and West Star Aviation in ALN (Alton IL) have provided maintenance support over the past year for our Legacy 500s. They both do an excellent job and have great people who really care about doing the job right, on time and on budget. West Star in particular has really provided outstanding service. Wade Morschauser A&P. Legacy 500 Dir of Mx Michels Corp Fond Du Lac WI


extron Aviation’s facility at HOU (Houston Hobby Airport TX) keep a pedigree service of our Hawker logbook. There are no closer facilities in Dallas-Fort Worth that have the quality of maintenance we need. We feel that using a Textron Service Center will enhance our resale value in the long run. We’ve been happy at Textron HOU for 5 years of service. All the people are known and comfortable to us. Harvey Meharry ATP. Hawker 400XP Flt Dept Mgr & Chief Pilot Southern Multifoods Rusk TX


et Aviation GVA (Geneva, Switzerland) and DXB (Dubai, UAE), as well as Gulfstream Service Centers at LUT (Luton, England) and SAV (Savannah GA) get our business. The majority of our flight operations are conducted on 4 continents so we use each of these facilities with their superb professionals along with Gulfstream FAST support to help us maintain over a 99% successful launch rate. Gulfstream is the preferred choice for proven reliability. Robert Mack ATP. Gulfstream IV/G550 Lead Captain Oriental Energy Resources Brentwood TN


ombardier at ICT (Wichita KS) is the MRO we use. We’re happy with the service and the accuracy of their timeline estimates. Michael Grenke ATP/CFII. Global 6000 Chief Pilot Law Aviation Columbus OH


kytech in DMW (Westminster MD) is the Pilatus Service Center for my PC-12. Pratt & Whitney Canada supports my PT6. They both provide prompt and reliable service that’s the best in the industry. Michael Zimmerman ATP. Pilatus PC-12 Chief Pilot Aurora Flight Sciences Manassas VA


pps Aviation at PDK (DeKalb– Peachtree GA) understands our needs and provides great customer service. Gary Hamilton ATP/CFII/A&P. Robinson R44 & Citation CJ2/CJ1/CJ Owner & Manager Airworx Niceville FL


anyan Air Service at FXE (Fort Lauderdale Executive FL) still gets my vote as the best. T Craae ATP. Pilatus PC-12 EVP American Aircargo Development Osprey FL


rim-Aire Aviation at LXY (Mexia-Limestone County Airport TX) is your facility if your aircraft has Beechcraft’s name on it. We operate a 1986 King Air with full Raisbeck mods. I’ve touted the attributes of Trim-Aire Aviation before and still haven’t had reason to take our maintenance requirements elsewhere. They also work on other manufacturers aircraft and are capable of heavy airframe repair, and turbine and piston engine repair and/or overhaul. I’ve known TrimAire Aviation to do many repairs to aircraft following accidents or incidents requiring major airframe/ engine repair and the customers have been very pleased with their work. They’re conscientious about their work and the pricing is very reasonable. If you are looking for a facility that does their work right the first time and doesn’t “bend-it-to fit and paint-to-match” then I wholeheartedly recommend you contact the President Buddy Miller and give them a chance to prove themselves to you. They treat you like family. Charles Hackett Comm-Multi-Inst. King Air B200 Chief Pilot Challenge Accepted Denton TX


est Star Aviation GJT (Grand Junction CO) has always delivered our aircraft on time as promised. They’re also great at keeping the customer communication lines open so we know what’s going on at all times. Michael Mohr A&P. Legacy 500 Dir of Mx Two Rivers Aviation Sioux City IA


entral Flying Service in LIT (Little Rock AR) is where we take our Hawker 850XP. They’re honest, proficient and their maintenance and avionics shops do excellent work. And the CSRs are friendly, professional and cater to their customer’s specific needs. Jim Thorne ATP/CFII. Hawker 850XP Pilot Marck Industries Bois D’Arc MO

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ero Charter Maintenance at SUS (Spirit of St Louis Airport MO) is my main MRO out of the variety I use. They’re my home base FBO with a very good maintenance group. And they know my jet after working on it for so many years. Robert Chaleff ATP/FE. Citation Mustang Chief Pilot Midwest Church O’Fallon MO


tandardAero at IAH (Houston TX) is our primary MRO facility, mostly because of their proximity to our home base of HOU (Houston Hobby Airport TX). We have also used West Star at GJT (Grand Junction CO) for maintenance with minor repairs accomplished at EGE (Eagle CO) and RIL (Rifle CO). David Lavikka ATP/CFII. Citation Sovereign, Learjet 45 & King Air B350 Aviation Mgr Johnson and Lindley Spring TX


ulfstream SAV (Savannah GA) is my 1 stop, stop. Fair pricing and the professionals in the Service Center are 2nd to none. Dennis Phillips Private-Multi/A&P. Gulfstream V/G550 DOM Crown Cork Seal Philadelphia PA


et Wrench in DAL (Dallas-Love Field TX) is where we go for dayto-day maintenance. The Textron Mobile Service Unit out of SAT (San Antonio TX) and their service centers at SAT and ICT (Wichita KS) keep our plane maintained and flying safely. Bill Carver ATP. Citation X Chief Pilot Godwin Aviation Dallas TX


xcel Aviation in GLE (Gainesville TX). have great folks and give us excellent service for our Falcon. Kenyon Cox ATP/CFII. Falcon 900 Chief Pilot PRI Parkersburg WV


roadie’s Aircraft at FTW (Fort Worth TX) and their Director of Maintenance Bruce Laney are awesome. I had a Phase 1 and 2 inspection completed there. The service and attention to detail were outstanding and they kept me up to date on findings and progress. Very much a customer oriented facility. Michael Jurlina ATP/FE. King Air E90 Aviation Mgr TPL Trust Dallas TX


mery Air RFD (Rockford IL) has been my “go-to” for 30 years. Their people are outstanding. Jeffrey Welsch ATP. King Air 350 Chief Pilot Bemis Manufacturing Elkhart Lake WI


ECHNICAir in GSO (Greensboro NC) is our MRO. They provide excellent service and communication during our maintenance events. Rarely, if ever, do our events take longer than expected and they’re usually right on their cost estimate. James Martin ATP/CFII. Learjet 31A Chief Pilot Zenith Aviation Manassas VA


our Points Aero at DAL (Dallas-Love Field) is my favorite maintenance facility. They’re always on budget with on time delivery and no post-maintenance squawks. Lisa Cheng, Tim Hill, Howard Gentis, and Chris Gleghorn are the best and easiest team to work with. Gary Sides ATP/CFII. Phenom 300 Chief Pilot Shamrock Capital San Angelo TX


awkeye Aviation at BJC (Broomfield CO) has given me exceptional, on time Learjet service. They have indepth knowledge of all Learjets and provide great value. Landon Switzer ATP/CFII. Learjet 35 Chief Pilot Albatross One Centennial CO


est Star Aviation in ALN (Alton IL) is the exclusive MRO for my Challenger 604s. I’ve had less than desirable experiences over the years at a number of different MROs, but after using West Star the first few times I was convinced they were the best. The sales force and project managers are all involved and the most upfront and knowledgeable that I’ve found. Quotes are always honest and fair. I would recommend them anytime. Allan Grajek ATP/CFI. Challenger 604 Chief Pilot Adios Aviation Boca Raton FL


ansas City Aviation Center (KCAC) at OJC (Olathe KS) has provided all of our PC-12 maintenance since purchasing the airplane new in 2006. Their knowledge of the aircraft has been key to keeping us in the air when we have experienced maintenance issues. Chris Wegener ATP/CFII. Pilatus PC-12 Mgr Flight Ops MRV Services Hiawatha KS


BR Maintenance at DAL (Dallas-Love TX) does excellent work and has good pricing and turnaround times. Their people are honest, flexible and personable. I’ve been dealing with Ron Larson for 13 years, and he is the best in the business as far as I’m concerned. Have used the big names and a few smaller shops, but Ron is absolutely the best there is. Dana Longino ATP/CFII. Citation Sovereign Chief Pilot Lee Lewis Construction Lubbock TX


extron’s Tampa Service Center at TPA have years of experience on our aircraft. Some people have been there 20+ years. And they are the nearest OEM facility to our operation, which is another good reason we go to Textron Tampa. David Naumann ATP/CFII. Hawker 400XP Chief Pilot NHS Management Tuscaloosa AL PROFESSIONAL PILOT  /  September 2018  39

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extron’s Service Center at MCO (Orlando FL) has given us very prompt repairs and excellent customer service. They’re very knowledgeable on Citation jets. Jim Smiley ATP/CFII. Citation CJ4 Chief Pilot Air Smiley Decatur IL


est Star ALN (Alton IL) are very responsive and they always accommodate us on short notice drop-in repairs. We’ve used them for years and they consistently do great work. We trust them for everything from large refurbs down to small inspections. John Maletis ATP/CFII. Global Express President Limnes Aviation Portland OR


tandardAero at AGS (Augusta GA) has always given me quality quotes, very few surprises and competitive pricing. Their experienced maintainers have decades of service in many cases. I also appreciate the timely and accurate billing and their logbook administration is the best I’ve seen. Ben Brewer ATP. Hawker 850XP Chief Pilot INPO Atlanta GA


uncan Aviation LNK (Lincoln NE) does all of our major inspections, avionics and paint work. Overall very pleased with Duncan. John Gould ATP/CFII. Gulfstream G150 Dir & Chief Pilot Excel Group Denham Springs LA


pps Aviation PDK (DeKalb– Peachtree GA) are the Pilatus experts. If it’s broken they have seen it before and they know what it takes to fix it right away. Bottom line – they save me money. Bert Zeller ATP/CFII/FE. Pilatus PC-12NG Chief Pilot McElroy Truck Lines Meridian MS


ombardier Hartford Service Center at BDL (Windsor Locks CT) has superior technicians delivering both on time and on budget maintenance. James Moore ATP/Helo. Global Express & Sikorsky S76C+ SVP Citi Aviation Moneta VA


mery Air RFD (Rockford IL) has kept our Learjet 40XR dispatched with minimal down time. We’ve been with them from purchase prebuy in 2015 to all maintenance to date. We have had very good luck with Emery Air. Geoffrey McIntosh ATP. Learjet 40XR Chief Pilot RR Aviation Hickory Creek TX


onstant Aviation in SFB (Orlando Sanford Airport FL) is mainly where our DOM sends our Phenom 300 and Legacy 500. Every time we pick up the jets they treat us well and are willing to help in every way. Overall I’ve seen outstanding customer service; they get the job done and so far I haven’t heard any complaints. Arnoldo Rojas Comm-Multi-Inst. Legacy 500 & Phenom 300 Pilot Elite Jets Naples FL


olden State Aircraft Maintenance at BFL (Bakersfield CA) is who gets our MRO business for the King Air. Sean Fredsti Comm-Multi-Inst. King Air 200 Director Global Access Air Bakersfield CA


extron Aviation Indianapolis Service Center at IND has provided us with excellent customer service. Jodi Novak ATP/CFII. King Air B300 Captain GAMA Aviation Fowlerville MI


kytech at DMW (Carroll County MD) is fantastic. Customer service is 2nd to none. Jim Tripoli ATP/CFII. Pilatus PC-12NG Flight Mgr Lorch Microwave Sarabe Salisbury MD


ulton Aviation Services at JST (Johnstown PA) provides outstanding service. They’re very fast and perform excellent work. If you want 1st class maintenance then let Matt Lechene do your work. Joe Drummelsmith ATP/Helo/CFI. Citation CJ4, Learjet 75 & Airbus AS365N3 Chief Helicopter Pilot USB Corp Maineville OH


he Maintenance Group at PDK (DeKalb-Peachtree GA) has an outstanding Challenger division with years of experience. Pricing is good and project/event time predictions are spot-on. They’re always flexible and reliable in service for our aircraft and organization. Douglas Ross ATP/CFI. Challenger 601 Aviation Mgr & Chief Pilot WSP Aviation Madison AL


ndy Jet Services at MQJ (Greenfield IN) is our MRO provider. I know when the jet goes in for maintenance it’ll come out fixed, on time and never over budget. Rick Rado and his team run an excellent operation. Jeanne Cleary ATP/CFII. Citation CJ3 Chief Pilot Madison Chemical Madison IN


est Star GJT (Grand Junction CO) has an outstanding team and is truly top notch. I’ve never been anywhere else where a whole team of people are swarming over your aircraft ready to get started as you hand over the keys. Matthew Fishback ATP/CFII. Learjet 45 Aviation Mgr & Captain Precision Aircraft Parker CO

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Squawk Ident


inner Aviation in YNG (Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport OH) has taken care of our C441 since acquisition in 2002. Their knowledgeable and friendly personnel are the best. The maintenance manager is available 24/7 and will send help anywhere to resolve a problem. They have experienced people to work on aircraft ranging from pistons to large jets. And they’re the oldest Garrett-Honeywell factory service center in the world. When maintenance is completed a clean aircraft is returned. I’ve been in aviation almost 60 years and can attest to Winner MRO as one of the best. Arthur Tobey ATP/CFII. Conquest II Aviation Dept Mgr Liberty Steel Products Hubbard OH


ulfstream Service Center in LAS (Las Vegas NV) does excellent work but can be pricey at times. And completion schedule can sometimes be delayed. Frank Govednik ATP/CFI. Gulfstream G200 Dir of Ops JTW Family Services Gardena CA


extron’s Service Center at GSO (Greensboro NC) knows our airplane, has a full range of services and is good to work with. 2 Jim Metz ATP/A&P. Citation X Dir of Aviation RCR Air Lexington NC


uncan Aviation at BTL (Battle Creek MI) does all my paint, maintenance and interior work. Anthony Fantozzi ATP/CFII. Citation X CEO AJF Enterprises Jacksonville FL


agle Creek Aviation Services at EYE (Indianapolis IN) handles everything major for us such as scheduled inspections, modifications, ADS-B, etc. We know they’ll take exceptional care of our aircraft and it’ll be delivered on time and on

budget. I’ve found their prices are always the most competitive. Embraer BDL (Windsor Locks CT) has been great for minor services and unscheduled little issues and we really appreciate the convenience. Customer Maintenance Support Rep Tony Janicki always spends the time to personally ensure we walk out the door satisfied with all questions answered. Jim McIrvin ATP/CFII. Phenom 300 Chief Pilot McIrvin Aviation Warrenton VA


ECHNICAir at OMA (Omaha NE) provides reliable quotes and always lets me know the progress of maintenance and any unforeseen issues that may arise. Donald Kracl ATP/CFII. King Air C90 Chief Pilot JD Kracl Aircraft Ashland NE


estern Aircraft at BOI (Boise ID) is a factory authorized King Air service center and are close by our operation, which is a plus. We go there because they do good work and are very attentive to our needs. Keven Christopherson ATP/CFI. King Air B200 Chief Pilot PacifiCorp South Jordan UT

There for you — from launch to land. Our FBO Pros provide exceptional aviation and maintenance services with a focus on safety and outstanding customer service so your experience at Saker is second-to-none.


tandardAero SPI (Springfield IL) has a very good location not far from our operation. Their work ethic is the best. Peter Gioviano Private/A&P. Falcon 900EX/50B Dir of Aircraft Mx Klein Tools Waukegan IL


est Star Aviation in ALN (Alton IL) is on our home base and they provide a good level of service for all of our Learjet 45 maintenance needs. Keith Cook ATP/CFII. Learjet 45 Chief Pilot Basler Electric Worden IL

GCK Unicom 122.950 • 800.539.5055

PROFESSIONAL PILOT  /  September 2018  41

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Where do you go for MRO, upgrades or refurbishment? New business jet deliveries have remained relatively flat since 2008, suggesting that aircraft are retained longer than usual. It follows that business aircraft owners and operators will be well-served to establish longer-term relationships with MROs, upgrade and refurbishment providers.

Photo courtesy Banyan

aircraft, new products and aging fleet replacements. The business aviation industry continues to be flat, so despite growth at the lower end of the market, total airplane billings dropped by 5% from $9.03B in 2017 to $8.58B. OEMs like Bombardier do forecast a rebounding bizjet market while currently enjoying a windfall from the sale of aircraft parts. However, economic uncertainties and lower fuel prices encourage retention of aging aircraft and delay of fleet renewals. Innovations such as active winglets and initiatives like paperless recordkeeping serve to make mature aircraft and their operation less costly and more efficient. Banyan FXE (Fort Lauderdale Exec, FL) maintenance team working on a Bombardier Challenger 601 in for a 60 month airframe/engine inspection, in conjunction with some avionics upgrades.

By Don Van Dyke

goal is improved quality of service and lower costs.


Business aviation trends

aintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services work to meet requirements for continued airworthiness, pre- purchase inspection, modification, refurbishment, restoration, and many other aspects of aircraft serviceability. But aircraft downtime during MRO is inconvenient and expensive, so returning it to operational readiness within agreed time and financial constraints is critical. Mergers and acquisitions (M&A), divestments, and re-alignments have transformed the MRO industry, creating greater diversity and choice in offered services. Where to go for MRO, upgrades or refurbishment involves understanding the increasingly dynamic and complicated aftermarket. It’s about engaging partnerships which drive value for all parties while keeping relationships and experiences professional. The

Market drivers include greater international demand, increased global access and a shift toward larger

MRO service scope and variety must address changing fleet composition, including both legacy and new generation aircraft as well as opportunities to leverage advanced technologies. The 2018 global civil aircraft MRO market value is $77.4B of which the North American share is $24B. Market segments include airframes, en-

The global civil MRO market value 2018–2028 125 Spending in billion US dollars

ATP/Helo/CFII, F28, Bell 222. Pro Pilot Canadian Technical Editor

MRO aftermarket trends



20 75

12.8 12.9


52.6 32.7

25 0 Airframe




2028 Engine



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At West Star, our avionics experience is your asset. And, like any asset, it’s only valuable when accessible. This is why we’ve made it a priority to make it easier than ever to literally “Connect” directly to our avionics capabilities, technical information, and facilities. More importantly, it means easier access to the right people, at the right location, right when you need them. This ensures that as a customer of West Star Aviation, you get the full benefit of our avionics experience in everything from system installation, upgrade and repair to our extensive library of STCs for the latest solutions for your specific aircraft. Make The CONNECTion with West Star’s avionics experience by visiting today.


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Photo courtesy Constant Aviation

Constant Aviation at CGF (Cleveland, OH) is the single largest US repair company for the Embraer Legacy. Given this niche, the company performs 70% of scheduled maintenance on Legacys in the United States and 99% of 48-month inspections for US - registered Legacys. The NATA 5-Star Award received by Constant is the highest achievable award in recognizing aviation maintenance organizations commitment to technician training.

longer maintenance intervals and allow for more on-condition and onwing mx and field services in place of traditional shop visits and heavy off-wing overhauls. – Emissions standards encouraging replacement of older fleets by greener aircraft requiring less mx. • Demand in traditional maintenance hubs displaced by Middle Eastern MROs. • Improved knowledge management in which all data for a specific part is consolidated into one system. • Advances in technology like additive manufacturing (3D printing), virtual reality, etc. • Inspections using augmented reality to apply improved knowledge management.

Photo by Dylan Patrick/Clay Lacy Aviation

gines, components, and line maintenance. The largest of these is the engine segment, currently accounting for over 42% of the global civil MRO market in 2018 and projected to exceed $52B by 2025. Operators/owners aware of aftermarket challenges in the next 5 years will gain important insights to MRO coping strategies and plans for maintaining currency and competence. Aftermarket disruptors include: • Continued MRO industry consolidation. • Greater OEM presence in the aftermarket as MRO providers. For example, Bombardier offers a comprehensive range of component and aircraft MRO services. Daher TBM selected StandardAero as its MRO services supplier for P&WC PT6 engines that power TBM aircraft. Dassault Falcon Service is the MRO division of Dassault Aviation. Embraer Aircraft Maintenance Services seeks to increase its aftermarket services revenue from 15% to roughly 25% by 2027. Gulfstream maintains 30 service centers worldwide. Textron Aviation Service offers extensive MRO coverage in North America, Europe and Southeast Asia. Exceptionally, however, Piaggio announced in 2016 that it would divest its civil MRO business to focus on the military market. • Factors tending to reduce/displace MRO service demand include: – Newer aircraft with improved onwing time and longer mx windows. – New generation engines that are smarter and more fuel efficient, have

AMTs Jose Vazquez (L) and Joe Bennett work on a Dassault Falcon 900EX EASy at Clay Lacy Aviation VNY (Van Nuys CA).

MRO selection criteria Better understanding of the aftermarket helps in evaluating candidate partners. Rational choices are made by weighing the culture and inner workings of the MRO organization in addition to promises of due care, turnaround time and costs. This process will also aid in developing sharable performance metrics. Evaluation of the candidate MRO’s performance and reputation should include at least the following areas: • Word-of-mouth reviews. A review of work on similar aircraft types detailing overall experience, final price and timing against original quotes, and comments from both satisfied and not-so-satisfied past clients. Any credible shop will not hesitate to show its entire story. • Comparative performance. The industry is dynamic, talent may have moved or retired. So MROs previously considered good (or poor) may have changed, becoming something they were not before. • Currency of qualifications and authorities. A thorough review of factory ratings, approvals and relationships with OEMs, authorities (FAA, EASA, Transport Canada, etc). • Work statement and work scope. These must clearly detail the work to be performed, how amendments, changes or add-ons will be handled, and conclude with an agreement that additional fees are approved as the work progresses and not only at completion. Work to be performed on-site and that which may involve addition-

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Photo courtesy Elliott Aviation

AMT installing Blackhawk XP Engine at Elliott Aviation, which has provided has provided aircraft sales, services and solutions since 1936. It offers mx, parts, accessories, paint, and interiors at FBOs in MLI (Moline IL), FCM (Minneapolis MN) and DSM (Des Moines IA). Elliott is also one of the world’s largest avionics centers. Aftermarket


Design & Manufacture

Operational life

Airframe OEMs


Airframe OEMs

Engine OEMs


Engine OEMs


In-house MRO MROs

Third-party MRO OEM-affiliated MRO


Independent MRO OEM component suppliers


OEM component suppliers MRO component suppliers

OEM and MRO component suppliers

Photo courtesy Duncan Aviation

Structural changes in the aircraft aftermarket result from a mix of activities by OEMs, MROs and suppliers.

al or outside contractors requires clear definition. For example, certain portions of a project (ie, avionics, engine overhaul, interior refurbishment or repair, etc) may involve concurrent work schedules. Additional service providers must be identified and their proposed work detailed, understood and coordinated. • Component handling. Evaluate how the component shop and bonded store is set up to handle the project. When aircraft components are disassembled, they should be properly tagged, stored and secured. The risk of a component being damaged or lost through neglect or improper handling remains a threat. A good MRO tags, wraps and stores all components in a logical, secure and organized manner. • Applied innovations. Many technology innovations remain idle or suffer slow adoption. This is often a result of the aviation maintenance industry being unable to identify practical applications or justify the investment required per implementation. Many technologies such as advanced diagnostic algorithms, Internet-of-Things (IoT), wearables, mobile devices, and chatbots have been available for some time. Each could significantly improve operational efficiencies under appropriate conditions. To advance the state-ofthe-art and to understand what underpins longer-term MRO partnerships, it is useful to know the extent to which a candidate MRO partner is an early technology adopter or is overly risk averse.

Duncan Aviation was founded in 1956 and remains the largest family-owned MRO facility in the world, providing complete acquisition, sales and nose-to-tail support services for business aircraft. The company is well-respected for work quality, ethics and expertise at several locations including this facility at BTL (Battle Creek MI)

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• Paperless aircraft operations. Documents, forms and records drive aircraft maintenance by highlighting required inspections and repairs and ensuring these actions are met. Originally, all documents were paper; now many paper maintenance records are scanned into PDFs for management in systems such as AirVault, Stream and FLYdocs. The next step is use of electronic documents from the start using electronic signatures to validate authenticity. This will yield faster work completion, more accurate and visible data, reduced data-management costs, easier data access for analysis, and expensive rework because of lost or destroyed records. Digital documents may increase maintenance productivity 5–20%. Implementing digital task cards reduces check labor 10–42% and turnaround times 20%.

Pentastar Aviation provides a range of services including MRO, avionics, aircraft management, and advisory consultation. Here a Pentastar AMT conducts 96 month inspection on a Bombardier Challenger 604 at PTK (Waterford MI).

• Remote connectivity. Clear, interactive audio and video access can be made available across the world, allowing safety inspectors, technicians and other qualified personnel to provide training and perform oversight at levels of assurance equivalent to or better than in-person. Although it promotes safety and saves time, money and other resources, this remains a largely unused opportunity. • Cybersecurity. Technology advancements like virtual reality and artificial intelligence will increasingly augment human decision-making to transform the way maintenance is predicted and performed. Increased digitization will likely attract cybersecurity threats against which awareness and preparation are key defenses worthy of review. Several cybersecurity surveys conclude that at least some complacency exists, with many respondents unaware of their company’s cybersecurity efforts. Statistics show that less than half of those surveyed (across MROs, OEMs and operators) have conducted a cybersecurity threat assessment, with only 30% of participating OEMs confirming they have undergone one. • Tightening parts supply. The MRO industry continues to grow and OEMs are delivering more new engines at a faster rate than ever before. Spare parts availability is a concern, putting pressure on the total supply chain. Managing materials and labor costs in the face of tightening supply persists as a challenge. • Staff shortage. Finally, the shortage of qualified aviation mechanics is the single greatest challenge facing

Photo courtesy Jet Aviation

Jet Aviation Vienna at VIE (Vienna, Austria) provides line and base maintenance as well as off-site AOG for Cessna Citation, Challenger 300 & 600 series, Learjet 60, and Gulfstream G550 aircraft from this 4000 sq m hangar facility.

Photo courtesy Pentastar Aviation

• Advanced materials and methods. Additive manufacturing capabilities continuing to evolve. Certifying repairs and services for these types of components requires new thinking and new technologies, again aspects of MRO partnerships which may merit consideration. • Data analytics. Data is critical to improving MRO business decision-making. Better data means more accurate analysis – better decisions, operational efficiencies, cost reductions, and reduced risk – leading to fewer operational disruptions and increased aircraft utilization. Data analytics, including predictive health monitoring (ie, for engines, APUs, landing gear, etc) and analysis that make use of on-condition sensors and information will become essential for the industry. However, certain fundamental issues (such as data ownership, monetizing IP, leveraging IP to gain market share, etc) must be resolved before the data can be fully utilized. The use of digitized data (Big Data) offers great promise to aerospace industry. Improved systems diagnostics will help to reduce No Fault Found (NFF) removals or provide advance notification of failure with greater detail thus allowing earlier positioning of assets and personnel to improve turnaround times. Integrated MRO data (ie, engine and component monitoring and inspection data) within a common platform could be used by either OEMs (to improve designs) or MROs (to improve customer maintenance costs) or both.

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Maintenance Center



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Photo courtesy Stevens Aviation

No of jobs 2016 Median pay, 2017

Job oulook (2016–26)

Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanics and Technicians

Aircraft mechanics and service Technicians

Avionics Technicians




$61,260 / yr $29.45 / hr

$62,540 $30.07

$63,650 $30.60




Photo courtesy West Star Aviation

Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor, Occupational Oulook Handbook, Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanics and Technicians.

the industry today. The shortage is expected to intensify as demand for services increase and the workforce ages. Recruiting skilled staff, ranging from engineers to mechanics to inspectors, is especially difficult on 2 counts. First, the move of government support away from technical schools/training to 4-year colleges caused a shortage of high-quality technical training for jobs like AMTs. Secondly, current FAA requirements for AMT certification make it difficult to attract new candidates to the occupation. Oliver Wyman’s CAVOK Division projects that demand for techni-

cians will outstrip supply beginning in 2022. This suggests that technical workforce development should be a concern for every MRO. StandardAero reports actively recruiting veterans and finding them to be very well-suited for many of its maintenance and technical roles. In fact, 21.5% of the US workforce today is either retired or active/reserve military veterans.

Conclusion The opening question was “Where do you go for MRO, upgrades or refurbishment?” The answer goes well

West Star Aviation East Alton is a full-service FBO at ALN (St Louis Regional Airport) offering MRO and paint shop facilities for all major OEM airframes.

Stevens Aviation’s aircraft expertise includes sales, management, AOG, avionics, MRO, paint, interior and government services at its headquarters in GYH (Greenville-Donaldson, SC) and additional facilities in BNA (Nashville TN) and DAY (Dayton OH).

beyond options of place, time and cost. With ever-quickening pace, choosing and teaming partners in today’s maintenance, repair and overhaul projects demands in-depth examination of provider background and capabilities. Your MRO should be transparent, flexible, communicative, and actively seeking continuous improvement. Well-maintained refers to maintenance which meets or exceeds minimum regulatory standards. Minimum aircraft maintenance standards relate to airworthiness and safety regulations. Well-maintained refers to aircraft maintenance which exceeds minimum regulatory standards and relates to aircraft value and return on investment. While quality of work is clearly important, MRO business practices are even more relevant to achieving the goals of improved aircraft reliability, reduced repair costs, AOG avoidance and retained value. Don Van Dyke is professor of advanced aerospace topics at Chicoutimi College of Aviation – CQFA Montreal. He is an 18,000 hour TT pilot and instructor with extensive airline, business and charter experience on both airplanes and helicopters. A former IATA ops director, he has served on several ICAO panels. He is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and is a flight operations expert on technical projects under UN administration.

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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2018 Contributors:

EAA OSH PIO Dick Knapinski, Dr Ian Blair Fries and Northrop Pilot Mark Wilkening


AA Chairman Jack Pelton commented: “AirVenture 2018 was a great success. The combination of outstanding programs, aircraft variety, a robust economy, and good weather combined to compliment the efforts of our staff members and ther 5000 volunteers who assisted our attendees.” More than 10,000 visiting aircraft flew in to attend the show at OSH

(Wittman Regional, Oshkosh WI) and other airports in east-central Wisconsin. Total showplanes on display were 2979 (a record). There were 1160 homebuilt aircraft (a 5% increase), 1094 vintage airplanes, 377 warbirds (7% increase), 185 ultralights and light-sport aircraft, 75 seaplanes, 22 rotorcraft, 52 aerobatic aircraft and 14 hot air balloons. There were 867 commercial exhibitors. A total of 1500 technical sessions were attended by more than 75,000 people. EAA’s Ford Tri-Motor aircraft carried 2800 people on sightseeing trips. Another 3032

people flew aboard EAA’s Bell 47 helicopters. And 680 visitors flew aboard EAA’s Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, Aluminum Overcast. A record 2714 foreign visitors came to the OSH event from 87 nations. EAA’s Jack Pelton has University of Wisconsin economic study figures showing that AirVenture 2018 brought in $170 million in revenue for the 5 counties in the Oshkosh region (Winnebago, Outagamie, Fond du Lac, Calumet, and Brown) Next year, 2019, EAA AirVenture will celebrate the 50th consecutive year of EAA being in Oshkosh (It started at RFD Rockford IL) and will be held during July 22-28 at OSH.

Photos by EAA/Chris Miller

Photo by EAA/Laurie Goossens

Busting all previous figures, record attendance this year was over 601,000, 2% above 2017’s record total.

EAA CEO & Chairman Jack Pelton speaks to more than 1000 people attending The Gathering Fundraiser on July 26 during EAA AirVenture OSH 2018. Approximately $2.4 million was raised at The Gathering in support of EAA’s youth aviation education programs.

Photo by EAA/Dave Witty

Aerial view of Boeing Plaza, main showcase ramp at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. Highlights include a number of tankers and cargo aircraft honoring the US Air Force Reserve’s 70th anniversary in 2018.

A test bed Boeing 757 operated by Honeywell sports a pylon with an attached Honeywell turboprop test engine.

Newly named Airbus A220 made one of its first public appearances on July 23 at EAA AirVenture OSH 2018.

52  PROFESSIONAL PILOT  /  September 2018

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PC-24, the new light jet built by Swiss manufacturer Pilatus, drew a lot of interested pilots to the Pilatus OSH pavilion. Famed PC-12 turboprop was also on display.

Embraer business jets are having record sales. This Millennium model Phenom 100 was an attention-getter at the show. Embraer aircraft are famed for both flying characteristics and after-sale service.

NASA’s S-3 Viking, the last remaining flying example of this aircraft, made demo flights during the 2018 EAA AirVenture show at Oshkosh.

Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Bell 47s were popular in both civilian and military roles. This one gave rides to some lucky attendees at EAA during the show. It was on display in the warbirds area.

Photos by EAA/Chris Miller

Photo by EAA/Art Eichmann

Dr Ian Fries is a famous doctor, ATP pilot & aviation enthusiast. He visits EAA AirVenture on an annual basis flying in with his Daher TBM 910.

Photo by EAA/Connor Madison

Photo by EAA/Connor Madison

Recently restored by enthusiasts in Wichita, this Boeing B-29 named “Doc” brought cheers from EAA visitors as it flew over OSH Wittman Regional during demos at the show. These 2018 flights marked the 2nd straight year that this B-29 made an appearance at Oshkosh.

A Boeing B-52 trails airshow smoke from its 8 engines as it gives EAA fans a thrill during an afternoon demonstration.

Ford Trimotor transports are still flying and very popular. An example like the one shown above gave rides to enthusiastic AirVenture attendees at during show.

Cirrus SF50 Vision Jet is not only the most popular VLJ worldwide with a backlog of over 600 orders, but Cirrus recently was named winner of the famed NAA-sponsored Collier Trophy award for the accomplishments of this small jet.

A Russian MiG-17F was an attention-getter in the classic jets demonstrations during afternoon shows at OSH.

Cessna Citation M2 continues to be a very popular light jet with many flying worldwide. This one was on display at the Textron pavilion.

HondaJet’s Elite model was on display at the HondaJet pavilion. Sales are increasing on the latest version of this light jet with more range, quieter cabin and a host of other improvements. It is powered by a pair of GE Honda Aero engines.

54  PROFESSIONAL PILOT  /  September 2018

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Vision-based flightdecks for supersonic aircraft The NASA and Lockheed Martin low boom demonstrator will include EFVS and flight vision displays.

The X-59 QueSST cockpit is designed with advanced flight vision technology to enable the pilot to see to navigate and land.

74° 93.83 ft / 28.6 m overall length

29.5 ft / 8.99 m

1.25'' nose-up attitude

Static ground line


93.83 ft / 28.6 m



13.74 ft / 4.19 m


29.5 ft / 8.99 m

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


he days of supersonic flight and the Concorde are, for many, a story of a previous glory in aviation. Yet over the last decade there has been a flurry of announced investor programs, press conferences and new airplane companies staking out claims in the supersonic jet futures market. Builders aim to have new aircraft soon to be arching across the great expanses of the globe at the speed of heat with only a casual utterance of the annoying ban on supersonic flight over land. The genesis of the limit on supersonic flight began in the early days of Century Series jet fighter aircraft roaming


13.74 ft / 4.19 m overall height

true flight Mach number greater than 1...” So even though the Concorde was permitted to fly supersonic over water, its value was severely limited by this decree on high speed flight over land. There are 3 US regulations concerning supersonic flight: FARs 91.817, 91.819 and 91.821. Today’s FAA is more performance-based and technology-agnostic, willing to consider things that are new.

<75 PLdB

Speeding up air travel


55,000 ft / 16,764 m


Mach 1.4

In today’s world of competitive economics, the fast pace of businesses connects around the earth and requires timely travel to invest, coordinate, buy and sell. In this nonstop arena, time is real money. An aircraft that can get you to Europe, Asia or the Americas in half a day has value that can pay for itself. For high speed flight in the commercial air transport world, the Concorde was a marvel of flight until the end of its service in 2003. And with over 2 decades of operations, a great deal of information has been learned regarding aircraft design, economics (good and bad), flightdecks, high altitude operations and, of course, passenger accommodations. Most important is the economics: What is the money-making recipe for supersonic aircraft? Which markets and city pairs should it serve? What are the best passenger configurations? How much should the aircraft cost?

North America. They were “booming and zooming” across the land, rattling windows and picture frames and disturbing chickens laying eggs. When the Concorde started service in 1976, the first supersonic commercial air transport had a glow of modern flight that ran face first into a fractured public opinion on the matter. Surrounded by public and political concerns, FAA regulations related to supersonic flight were created in 1973 with the assumption that flying at the speed of sound always equals a boom. FAR 91.817, Civil Aircraft Sonic Boom, contains preconceived regulatory language which suggests that “sonic boom” is a forever result of high speed flight. Now, almost 40 years later, this rule still says, “No person may operate a civil aircraft in the United States at a

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Supersonic business jets Now consider another angle in aviation: the economics of an ultra longrange business jet. Early speculation was this class of aircraft would have a limited market. It turned out not to be true as there are a great many airborne today. They have very long ranges and very high subsonic cruise Mach numbers, from .885 to .92. Now several companies are betting that there is even more value in time saving flight for the supersonic business jet (SSBJ) market. Accordingly, NASA and the aviation industry began to look at technical solutions to reduce or eliminate the sonic boom. After several successful test programs, NASA and the industry have demonstrated designs where the airplane still goes fast but noise is reduced to a level somewhere between automobile traffic and normal conversation. There’s a sonic “thump,” not a boom. On April 3, 2018 Jaiwon Shin, NASA’s associate administrator for the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, announced that the next X-Plane was to begin the Low Boom Flight Demonstrator (LBFD). The project’s objective is to enable commercial supersonic flight. During the announcement ceremony, Lockheed Skunkworks’ Dave Richardson, winner of the aircraft program, said that it will be a “purpose built experimental aircraft, not a prototype.” NASA’s requirements for the LBFD are a clean-sheet X-Plane program (now named the X-59 QueSST), with both performance parameters and low boom characteristics to prove the safety and viability of supersonic flight over land and populated areas. As Richardson said, “It’s about the data that will be collected… It’s that data that will be used to shape the future.” The plan is for aircraft construction to be complete in 2021 so NASA can begin 3 years of flights over designated communities to gather responses to noise levels. The surveys will take place over populated areas about 50 miles wide, providing a sample of multiple, diverse communities to include cities, small towns and urban areas.

Program details The $247 million dollars contract to Lockheed Skunkworks calls for a flight regime of 1.4 – 1.5 Mach at 55,000 ft with the goal of generating no more than the noise of a car door closing (about 75 decibels). The actual aircraft

is to be constructed from a combination of various aircraft components, to include a T38 rear cockpit seat, a single General Electric F18 F414 engine, and possible parts from the F35, F22 and even the F117. Earlier LM designs for NASA proposed a 94 ft long aircraft with a 29.5 ft wingspan and a fully-fueled takeoff weight of 32,300 lbs. But as it turns out, a good low boom supersonic aircraft design may not include front windows for the pilot.

Decibel scale (dB*) Threshold for discomfort

Concorde 101 dB / 109 Loud music

The supersonic flightdeck The challenges of supersonic aircraft design have a lot of angles, literally, and a major practical issue is the pilot’s view from the cockpit. Previous designs like that of the Concorde required a drooped nose for approach and landing which created large weight penalties. To expand the envelope of design options, in the 80s NASA began researching flightdeck vision systems with options like no front windows, large format displays with cameras, and use of enhanced flight vision and synthetic vision systems (EFVS and SVS). A program called “XVS” or “eXternal Vision System” conducted at NASA Langley Research Center documented the operational and system requirements for supersonic cockpits, validating no droop concepts like the Concorde’s mechanical nose, and resolving certification issues. Now NASA Langley is again spearheading the development of the X-59 vision system flightdeck. This team, led by Randy Bailey with Steve Williams, Lynda Kramer, Trey Arthur, Kurt Severance, Tim Etherington and others, has also become one of the most prolific groups on Earth on the subject of flight vision systems. Randy Bailey also heads the EFVS working group in the now famous RTCA Special Committee 213. Today, teams of OEMs, test pilots and engineers regularly trek to NASA Langley to try out the vision flightdeck facility with EFVS, Combined Vision Systems (CVS) and other vision-based concepts. Some even notice the simulator’s tail number NCC-1701-E of the USS Enterprise from Star Trek.

Operations of the X-59 Current designs of the X-59 don’t have a front window. So NASA Langley team is applying the lessons learned from recent FAA programs for vision technologies to “overcome visibility limitations found in conceptual low boom supersonic aircraft designs,” relates NASA Langley

Fighter aircraft 94 dB / 102


Low-Boom demonstrator concept 66 dB / 75 Normal conversation

Soft whisper

This scale for measuring noises shows that new aircraft designs may be very different and very acceptable to public perception.

Flight Deck Designer Steve Williams. The vision system in the cockpit will use a high-resolution camera and ultra-high-resolution displays that look like a Head-Up Display (HUD) with EFVS. The XVS display, set where the cockpit window would normally be, looks like a HUD with EFVS. It includes all the standard flight instruments and navigation information. The HUD is a Flight Path Vector based display, typical for commercial jets and modern fighter aircraft. The X-59 has a blind spot below the very long nose, so an additional camera is located on the bottom of the aircraft, providing the pilot both top and bottom vision coverage. The sensors are blended together, adding safety and redundancy. PROFESSIONAL PILOT  /  September 2018  57

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X-59 design requires a vision-based cockpit with sensors located above and below the nose to enable the pilot to see using a HUD-like screen.

Another element of the NASA Langley team’s vision cockpit will be the ability to demonstrate how an electronic means of vision or visibility might fit within the current FAA requirements for EFVS use with an eye towards future FAA certification programs. So, in each case of the vision and flight display problem, NASA data in use of a HUD-like display with visual sensors will be shared with the FAA and eventually industry in general, to evaluate the FAA’s new vision system operation and certification requirements. The end result of NASA’s work is a new, modern design flight-deck that will enable the pilot to fly and navigate, see to follow or avoid traffic, and land-based on a vision system.

The FAA EFVS connection to supersonic flight Recently the FAA passed some of the most wide-sweeping regulations in modern history with regards to EFVS. Fortunately, they’re directly applicable to aircraft with no front windows. These new rules permit a pilot to land without natural vision using EFVS alone, and further enable aircraft dispatch in weather below standard minimums if they are EFVS-equipped. You can avoid ground delays due to ceilings and visibility with EFVS and, most importantly, you may begin an approach when weather is below standard minimums, eliminating the current approach ban. And all this is done with a vision sensor that “sees” equivalent to the pilot’s natural vision. These new, far-reaching FAA regulations actually exceed what aircraft can do today. Typically, industry is pushing the FAA to keep up with the times and the technology, but not in this case. And now NASA is applying its expertise

Steve Williams, leading design engineer at NASA Langley, has worked on the Vision Cockpit for the X-59, featuring EFVS and HUD symbology.

along with the new FAA rules to enable supersonic aircraft flightdecks with artificial vision systems. The NASA Langley research team took into account the technical details of displays and cameras as compared to the equivalence of human vision. In one example, they’ve created standards and requirements of “pixels per degree.” NASA determined that to be equal to 20/20 visual acuity requires a minimum of 60 pixels per degree to taxi, depart and land, and for see and avoid or see and follow up to 140 pixels per degree are necessary. What this means in pilot speak is the ability to see an aircraft at far distances, to navigate, see to follow, and see to land. Other items in the requirements list include sensors capable of seeing in the typical, standard atmosphere. This includes haze, clouds, etc, complicated terrain, and even adequate contrast and brightness to deal with glare from the side windows on the displays themselves.

Flight at the speed of heat The development path of supersonic aircraft is well known – what has been missing is an economical and practical aircraft for bizjets and commercial transportation. The other main issue is FAA regulations for people who generally don’t like to hear loud noises, especially at night. With the FAA moving forward on the regulatory issue and NASA’s community survey work, the stage will be set for public acceptance. And the NASA and LM Skunkworks test aircraft will be opening a door to new opportunities for designers and owner operators. For Future supersonic owners and operators, the new aircraft may soon be able to provide new trade routes and new markets – all be-

cause of speed. This program is also going to change the flightdeck. The development of new FAA operating regulations allowing the use of EFVS for landing without natural vision fits well with the X-59 supersonic aircraft. The X-59 QueSST with no front windows will be validated using a vision system cockpit. NASA’s work on flightdeck technologies and its aircraft operating with EFVS have converted this part of the problem to more like a natural next step than a leap of faith. So, vision-based cockpits will also create a new era of possibilities for manned flightdeck design, and maybe offer solutions to unmanned aircraft still dealing with see and avoid challenges and the need to operate in instrument conditions. However, there are always a reluctant few. I recall some hangar talk and a story about speed and trains. The story-telling pilot, tongue in cheek, said “You know, the government was planning on speed limits for trains to 21 miles per hour, ‘cause going faster would have sucked out all the air.” Turns out our story-telling pilot wasn’t far off on the speed of some trains today. But in aviation, a performance barrier is really just a challenge, and the work fostered by NASA and the Skunkworks team is about to usher in a new era, one where we really fly at the speed of heat. 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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Photo by USAF/SSgt Christopher Ingersoll


The ability to see what is around you remains a top safety issue for aviation. By Karsten Shein Comm-Inst Climate Scientist


o instill respect for visibility as a flight hazard, many instructors tell students the story of 2 fully loaded Boeing 747s that collided on the runway at TFN (Tenerife North, Spain) in 1977. Operating in heavy fog, 1 jumbo had not yet exited the runway when the other began its takeoff roll. By the time the departing pilot saw the other aircraft, it was too late to avoid the crash which took the lives of 583 people. This incident created numerous safety procedures to address low visibility, but in many places, and under certain rules, pilots can still taxi and attempt takeoff in zero visibility. It’s up to the pilot to ensure that he or she can see and avoid any obstacles. Most of us routinely file IFR and think little about possibly punching through a cloud deck or running an instrument approach to minimums. Enhanced vision technology and auto-land systems on many modern business and commercial aircraft have the potential to lull pilots into thinking that physically seeing the airspace around them is not as important as it once was. Nothing is further from the truth. Your eyes are the visual gateway to 1 of the most impressive decision-making processors ever created: your brain. Even before radio navigational aids helped pilots find their way at night or in poor visibility, pilots used dead reckoning and sight to reference landmarks using their maps and knowledge. Obstacles and other aircraft were avoided by seeing them. If they lost visual reference to the world around them, they could easily wind up off course or in an unusual attitude. Though GPS and

Thick fog shrouds RAF Mildenhall Airbase in England. During periods of low visibility, pilots must be careful to avoid collisions while moving about and may use vision enhancement systems to ensure their path remains clear.

autopilots can keep us on course, diminished visibility still causes numerous aircraft accidents every year. Visibility is the distance that one can clearly see an object through the atmosphere. It’s affected both by light and by the molecules, aerosols and particulates in the air. While the concept seems simple enough, many nuances come into play in determining this distance. It’s the light reflecting off the object (or given off by the object) which reaches our eye that allows us to “see” things. Every object reflects a different amount of light, with white reflecting most and black the least.

Preferential absorption Objects also absorb and reflect light preferentially in different wavelengths. This is how we can see color. A green leaf, for example, is very absorbent of reds, yellows and blues, and more reflective of green wavelengths of light, which is why leaves appear green. Once light reflects off something, it must travel through the air to your eye. In doing so, it will be intercepted by billions of molecules of oxygen, nitrogen and other elements. Generally, the wavelengths are too long to be intercepted by these tiny molecules, so without an abundance of larger particles, the atmosphere will remain transparent and visibility will be good. In many places, however, humans produce a lot of particulates that wind up in the air. These can include hydrocarbons and sulfates from burning fuel to dust kicked up in quarries. Even in sparsely populated regions, nature

contributes salts from the ocean and dust and sand in arid areas. Depending on their size and composition, they’ll each contribute to absorbing or scattering the light they intercept. Larger particulates are highly effective at intercepting and scattering visible light. Depending on their size and composition, they may preferentially scatter some wavelengths over others. For example, fine dust is already effective at reflecting yellows and reds (hence the tan colors), but airborne it can also scatter away the shorter green and blue wavelengths, only allowing the longer yellows and reds to pass through. Thus the characteristic brownish to reddish hue of a dust-borne haze.

Humidity also reduces visibility Another way these particulates reduce visibility is that they are often hygroscopic. That is, they attract water. As water vapor condenses, it’s attracted to these particles producing tiny cloud droplets. Though in low concentrations they’re not visible to our eyes, they’re large enough to be very effective at scattering all wavelengths of light. In doing so, these cloud droplets form a watery, whitish haze that can both dramatically reduce visibility and our ability to distinguish colors or perceive the distance to an object. Naturally, further additions of cloud droplets to the air continue to reduce visibility. Eventually, the air contains enough cloud droplets that any light traveling through the region is scattered away, resulting in only diffuse light scattered forward to one’s eyes.

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As concentrations grow even thicker, even diffuse lighting is absorbed within the cloud and the only light that reaches a pilot’s eyes from the cloud is light that has been reflected from the water droplets at the cloud’s edges.

Since visibility depends on light reaching one’s eyes, it would make sense that visibility ought to be lowest at night. However, this isn’t the case. Visibility at night can remain quite good. It’s just that it requires different illumination sources. Distant objects can often be clearly seen in reflected moonlight. But more often, nighttime visibility is dependent on light being emitted from objects themselves, rather from any light reflecting from them. The human eye is capable of seeing a source of light as weak as a single candle up to 1000 meters away. When objects such as aircraft or transmission towers use positional lighting to identify their location, they use lights that are much more powerful and which can be seen from a great distance, even through thin haze. However, bear in mind that if there’s a haze between you and those positional lights, the ability to estimate distance or even color may be lacking, meaning it may become difficult to discern the bearing and range of other nearby aircraft. Lighting can pose another issue for night operations. In a fog or haze, one’s own aircraft light are likely to reflect off the cloud droplets and back into the cockpit, further reducing visibility. In such situations, it’s important to keep positional lighting on but extinguish any navigational lighting, such as taxi or landing lights which would only serve to blind you. Normally, airports have sufficient taxi and runway lighting to help safely navigate around the airport. If they don’t, such as at small rural fields, use taxi lights sparingly or request a guide vehicle or ground crew with wands to help taxi in or out. If both lighting and guidance is ineffective, delay departure.

Dealing with reduced visibility Reduced visibility is most commonly experienced as a muddling and loss of focus of more distant objects. Once clearly seen, these objects may lose color and become more difficult to distinguish from their background. Pilots may find it difficult to accurately judge the distance to the object. This sort of situation is common during episodes of haze or light fog. In heavier fog, which is normally the

Photo courtesy Aviation Nepal

Visibility at night

Airport and especially runway lighting can greatly enhance situational awareness in low visibility, but the conditions that lower visibility can also diffuse these lights and make it difficult to judge their distance from the aircraft. If the lights are not clearly visible, the landing should not be attempted.

cause of significantly low visibility, objects may be completely obscured even if only a few hundred feet away. Any lights emitted by the object will be diffused and scattered to where they hinder one’s ability to accurately locate their source. Using any lights to illuminate those objects will only make the situation worse as your own light is backscattered toward you.

Night vision aids If equipped with enhanced vision technology, such as forward looking infrared (FLIR) or light gathering optics (ie, night vision), you’ll likely be able to “see” through the fog or haze restricting your vision. However, these technologies are not fully immune to the same particulates or water droplets scattering the light. Judging distances can still be difficult, and distant objects that are not emitting light are often lost in the noise inherent to the technology. Regardless, pilots should always exercise extreme caution when operating in low visibility. Minimize use of any non-essential lighting that might scatter back into the cockpit. And minimizing lighting will reduce the glare into other cockpits too. Of course, use of some positional lighting is important to make your aircraft more visible to other aircraft, especially at night.

Disorientation It’s very easy to become disoriented in low visibility, especially if moving about on an unfamiliar airfield. At towered airports we often rely on controllers to keep us clear of any other aircraft or ramp vehicles, but remember they may not be able to clearly see you or those hazards. If you are con-

fident of your location, it can help to report it, especially if you are far from the tower or about to pass an intersection. Ground controllers may even ask for such reports in low visibility. However, always be certain of our location before reporting it. If unsure, it may be best to stop and ask for guidance. Ground radar may help controllers to find you in the soup. Of course, if the visibility is so low that you cannot even see the taxiway markers or edge lights, it may be wise to delay until conditions improve. If you’re having a tough time, even if you’re very familiar with the airport, imagine that there may be another pilot out there who doesn’t know the airport as well and has mistakenly turned into your path.

Reporting visibility Visibility is a critical factor in determining whether operations are in VMC or IMC. It’s also essential in determining minimums for takeoff and landing. Though largely up to pilots themselves to estimate forward visibility when attempting aircraft operations, controllers and technology have established means for accurate visibility reporting. Until the 1990s, and at a few airports even today, visibility was reported by tower controllers based on their ability to see landmarks a known distance away. So, if they could see the red barn that was 3 miles away but not the tower at 5 miles, they might report 4 miles of visibility. At many larger airports transmissometers were set up at runway touchdown zones to read the horizontal visibility, in feet or meters, a pilot might encounter on the runway. This is the runway visual range (RVR). Since the 1990s and the installation of automated reporting systems PROFESSIONAL PILOT  /  September 2018  61

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Photo courtesy Cirrus Aircraft

Since water droplets and particulates don’t emit much infrared radiation, an infrared enhanced vision system can help pilots to distinguish objects based on their variation in temperature. However, objects that do not emit more heat than their surroundings may not be as visible to these systems.

(AWOS or ASOS) at a public airports worldwide, basic transmissometers have been included to provide a standard way of automatically reporting visibility. Like the transmissometers used for RVR, these sensors emit a pulse of light from the transmitter and register how much of the light reached the receiver, often just a meter or less away. Other variations measure the amount of light reflected back to the light transmitter. Either way, this gives a measurement of the ability of light to travel through the atmosphere. This information is reliable, but use with a bit of caution. The measurement is taken at a single location on the airport over a space of less than a meter. At large airports, the observation at the weather station may not be as accurate for visibility at the other end of the runway, especially if the runway dips in elevation, allowing thicker fog to pool there. Pilots should always use their own eyes and judgment to determine if the visibility they are experiencing is aligned with what is being reported.

Forecasting visibility Visibility is one of the basic meteorological variables in terminal area forecasts (TAFs). Values are in statute miles (and fractions) up to 6 sm. Visibility over 6 sm is displayed as P6SM (plus 6 sm). If visibility isn’t expected to change from the previous forecast period, it’s normally omitted. Numerically it can be very difficult to forecast visibility. While the amount of available light is easy to calculate, and information on cloud cover can be reasonably accurate, estimating the quantity of particulates, aerosols and

water in the atmosphere is less precise and prone to a great deal of error. Thus much of the focus on forecast visibility from a weather model standpoint is on the relative saturation of the atmosphere. Visibility is reduced as fog forms and thickens and improves as temps rise and fog evaporates.

Statistical relationships To improve accuracy, many models that forecast visibility rely on statistical relationships. For example, a statistical model for visibility might look at many years of observations of visibility plus more readily predicted variables like cloud cover, temperature, pressure, and winds. Together, patterns of these predicable conditions can be related to visibility to derive reasonably accurate forecasts. However, it’s still largely up to controllers and pilots to both estimate and report visibility, and pilots can estimate future visibility in a general sense. In addition, factors such as a nearby brush fire or strong temperature inversion are taken into account by forecasters when producing TAFs. In the absence of a TAF, pilots can estimate visibility in much the same way forecasters would. A forecast of continued high pressure and light winds will see visibility gradually decline. If visibility is poor due to haze, unchanging weather conditions are unlikely to improve things. If temperature and dew point are close, any cooling, such as with sunset is likely to produce fog that will reduce visibility. While increasing winds will normally improve visibility, if it is blowing from a direction where there is smoke or pollution, that too may diminish visibility.

Viz changes with temp inversions and vertical mixing Normally, visibility tends to deteriorate whenever there are temperature inversions that prevent the mixing of surface air with the air in the free atmosphere. High pressure also indicates the suppression of vertical mixing and concentration of particulates at lower levels. Also critical is the proximity to a major city or industrial center, especially if it’s downwind of a pollution source under calm or variable winds. Particulate emissions from combustion can quickly diminish visibility to a mile or less if the wind is light. Conversely, any sort of change in the weather, such as a passing front, dropping pressure, increasing winds, or afternoon of airmass storms is likely to improve visibility. These changes, too, can be forecast with relative accuracy. Regardless of forecasts, actual reported conditions or even enhanced vision systems, the best tools are the pilot’s own eyes and brain. Can you can operate safely given the visibility around you, and are you sure everyone else is where they claim to be? Naturally, if the visibility is better or worse than reported, let controllers know so they can relay that information to forecasters and your fellow pilots. Karsten Shein is cofounder and science director at ExplorEiS. He formerly was an assistant professor at Shippensburg University and a climatologist with NOAA. Shein holds a commercial license with instrument rating.

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Security considerations for overseas travel Threats, terrorism and crime continue to be dangerous possibilities in all parts of the world.

On international travel, “the best surprise is often no surprise.” While security breakdowns and threats are the exception, well-prepared flightcrew members should be ready for all eventualities.

By Grant McLaren Editor-at-Large


lobal security and travel risks continue to evolve and change for international business aviation. While some regions of the world have become safer, other areas formerly considered safe are now more risky. Assorted threats pop up here and there, often on a more sporadic basis than in the past. So it’s more important than ever to avoid complacency and stay up to date on current and anticipated geopolitical risks along with regional crime profiles. While crews on international duty are unlikely to face such extreme events as roadside bombings, kidnapping, armed assault, and compromised aircraft security, there are plenty of threats that need to be anticipated, often with additional risk mitigation applicable. International support providers (ISPs) occasionally

report cases of aircraft being vandalized and/or illegally accessed, and/ or crews on RON being robbed, but the more typical security risks are less onerous. Although being caught up in a live terrorist event is unlikely, the associated logistical spin-offs could impact your operation. If a security event happens in a major European destination, sections of the city may be shut down and this could impede ability to get to the airport. Ian Humphrey, Jeppesen vendor relations mgr for Africa, Russia, Eastern Europe & Central Asia, recalls a recent case of a Bombardier Challenger baggage hold being opened and cargo stolen while the aircraft was on taxi at LOS (Lagos, Nigeria). However, such creative maneuvers are the exception. More typical, says UAS Mgr Global Risk David Camargo, is unauthorized but less sinister access into your aircraft. “Recently, while a captain and crew were out-

side checking their aircraft in Mexico, ramp personnel entered the cabin to have a look around and help themselves to some bottled water,” he says. “This led to the crew deciding to put a guard on the aircraft for the remainder of their stay.” You don’t have to be in Mogadishu, Rio de Janeiro, or out for some late night clubbing in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico to encounter threats. “For some time it’s been known that crews driving from LBG (Paris-Le Bourget, France) through the A1 tunnel into central Paris were being targeted,” notes Universal Weather Sales Mgr Ground Transportation Tracie Carwile. “Incidents were occurring every couple of months but generally not reported. So, for some time now we’ve been advising crews to use different routes into the city to avoid these risks.” Jeppesen Business Consultant Nancy Pierce has observed more of an overall flight department focus on security and threat mitigation these days, along with greater awareness of risk environments and threat mitigation.

Risk mitigation To effectively evaluate security risks it’s important to consider what region you’re flying to, as well as the particular airports, passengers onboard and purpose of the mission. This all impacts the risk equation. “A country may be considered threat level 3 but the particular area you’re visiting could be well into threat level 4 territory,” says Carwile. “Don’t gamble that the entire region is stable just because the country’s overall threat level is low.” While areas of Colombia, Iraq and Africa have become somewhat safer these days, other locations are now more risk-prone. “Some international destinations have gone from crazy risky to just regular risky. However, we’re seeing more and more ‘safe’ areas become higher risk than in the

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past – including parts of London and Paris,” explains Camargo. Have clear SOPs and security checklists in place to deal effectively with risks and risk response. “Every operator should have these sorts of general security policies in place,” says ITPS Ops Mgr Ben Fuller. “How do you respond in the event of a natural disaster or a security event overseas? In most cases security SOPs and checklists will be based on flight department interaction with in-house security personnel. But, if you don’t have robust in-house security resources there are good 3rd party providers to rely on.”

Avoiding complacency “It’s important that crews guard against complacency,” says Camargo. “Crew members who tend to get into trouble are often those who go to the same locations frequently, become complacent and open themselves up to more risks. Crews who are new to international ops, or who are traveling to new locations, generally have a healthier level of paranoia that helps keep them safe.” Be mindful that local economic conditions influence the political environment. “The world is pretty unstable economically for a lot of people these days,” reminds Carwile. “Crews, as well as passengers, are at risk as crime incidents are often due to perceived wealth.”

Know the mission Pre-trip security and risk mitigation planning is impacted by who’s traveling, the purpose of the mission, destinations visited, and local geopolitical conditions. If top management is traveling to Southeast Asia or Africa to close down a factory, this has different risk implications than if the CEO is just meeting with local business people. “It’s always important to do your due diligence and to research so you understand the true purpose of the passenger mission,” recommends Carwile. “The more information the crew has, the better – even if this involves the crew or security providers signing specific non-disclosure agreements. The problem, in some cases, is that this information is not

Local public taxis are not as safe or efficient an option as pre-arranged and secure transport. However, if you must use public transport, be discreet and do not give drivers any unnecessary information on you or your mission.

shared with the crew and they end up making decisions without complete information.”

Cybersecurity It’s more important than ever to consider cybersecurity and how to minimize loss of sensitive data and company or mission details. Talk with your IT department before taking any laptops, mobile phones or other data storage devices overseas. There are utilities available to remotely wipe data from most devices if they’re lost. Camargo recommends keeping all electronic devices on your person and avoid leaving them in the hotel safe or even onboard the aircraft. “I equate leaving things on the aircraft to leaving them in your car, as you cannot always take airport security for granted,” he says. When calling back to the office or home by unencrypted or weakly encrypted means, including voice over internet protocol (VoIP), assume that someone may be listening in. “Be prepared if you plan to communicate sensitive data via VoIP,” adds Camargo. “Even such generic encryption options as WhatsApp offer some level of protection.”

Smaller destinations Note that when operating to smaller secondary destinations overseas, in India or Central/Northern Afri-

ca for example, local intel may be limited and there may be few local security resources to draw upon. In such cases it becomes more difficult to ensure safety, even with routine pre-trip security planning. This could justify setting up a supervisory handling agent at the remote location, someone who will be organizing dedicated executive/crew protection and having get-out-of-town contingency plans at the ready. In some instances it may be best to land at a larger airport, even if its 20 or 30 miles away, with a 24/7 tower and a higher level of airport security.

Cost considerations Additional costs are associated with secure transport, passenger/ crew protection and planning for anticipated risks at destination. Prices for secure transport could be 4 times higher than standard prepaid transport, and executive protection might run thousands of dollars per stop. ISPs note that sticker shock is often an issue, particularly if the flight department has not budgeted for overall security planning well in advance. It’s best to obtain quotes and to consider, early on, the projected return on security investments. “Extra security measures have costs involved but it’s like buying insurance,” says Fuller. “It’s important to put risks and return on investment in perspective. If something goes wrong, will it be catastrophic PROFESSIONAL PILOT  /  September 2018  65

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Cyber security must be top of mind awareness when traveling abroad. Data and communications via PEDs should not be considered secure, so talk with your IT and security teams prior to international travel.

or just a monetary cost? If you have a mid-level manager traveling on a very time-sensitive or mission-critical assignment, things need to go perfectly. You’ll want to mitigate anything that could impede success of the overall mission.” Avoid giving more information than necessary to taxi and transport drivers and hotel staff. The more you give out about what you’re doing or where you’re going just raises your risk profile. “Every person should have to set story when traveling and interacting with random people,” suggests Carwile. “You may just want to say you’re in the fashion industry and visiting for business. It’s best to be as anonymous and in the background as possible.” Camargo adds that you may end up in world of trouble by being too familiar with random people encountered on the road. “In some locations, Brazil has been known for this. You may be tracked by organized crime elements and targeted for attack later,” he says. “You could then be mugged and lose your cell phone, and now the perpetrators may have your executive travel schedule.”

Security tips Traveling as securely as possible often comes down to common sense. Avoid known risky areas, don’t flash jewelry, consider the best hotel and transport options, be aware of your

Major international chain hotels like the Intercontinental in Ho Chi Minh City are often the preferred accommodation options. On the other hand, these facilities are often high profile locations that can make you a target.

surroundings and understand the local culture. There are many steps that can be taken to ensure a more secure and risk-free trip. The challenge is that commonly accepted behavior or dress where you live and work may not be common where you are going, or it unnecessarily raises your threat/criminal profile. Think beforehand, and be informed. Order pre-trip security briefs and have security conversations with your ground handlers. Make it mandatory that all crewmembers know where everyone else is and buddy-up when going outside the hotel. Have a plan in place if something happens. Avoid risky activities such as bar-hopping and extreme sports while on RON. Some crews are using vacation rental and Airbnb accommodations over traditional hotels, but there are pros and cons here. “Major US brand hotels may be more of a target in some areas and they’re often in higher profile and not always in the safest parts of a city,” notes Jeppesen ITP Trip Specialist Jason Cornillez. “Airbnb options might be in safer, more discrete, areas but there are seldom published security standards and it could be more challenging to do your due diligence.”

Summary It’s always prudent to understand where you’re going and for what purposes, as well as potential securi-

ty threats and risk mitigation options. Have a security plan and checklist in place, especially for more volatile regions of the world. Keep in mind that things sometimes go sideways. Each operator should consider their own risk tolerances and cast a wide net in considering all potential risks/threats and risk mitigation measures. “There are complete unknowns you’ll need to be prepared to deal with from time to time,” says Jeppesen ITP Trip Specialist Josh Anderson. “It’s important not to have unrealistic expectations of where you’re going. Service and support may vary and unexpected risks and assorted security threats can pop up at times.” Adds Carwile, “Trust your instincts. If you think you may need additional security at a destination, you probably do. And if you think you’ve researched enough, think again and do some more research.”

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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Staying on track: the devil is in the details when flying oceanic routes

Image courtesy Jeppesen

Intercontinental operations can be some of the most interesting and exciting flying you may ever do.

North Atlantic high level significant weather forecast - VT 1800Z 31 Dec 2013 NAT routes change daily to avoid areas of weather and, depending on direction (eastbound or westbound), they also try to avoid headwinds and take advantage of tailwinds. Note that the depicted westbound NAT routes are avoiding the strong jet stream to the south.

By David Ison, PhD

Professor, Graduate School Northcentral University


n general, almost everything in aviation has more complexity than is often necessary. After all, there is an acronym or abbreviation for just about anything you can imagine related to aviation. Sometimes even more confusing is that the contents of said alphabet soup can mean different things to different people. Yet even among the headache-inducing convolutions of flying, oceanic operations seem to rank towards the top of the list. There are a few reasons why this is so. First, certain oceanic routes, such as those over the North Atlantic, in-

volve airways termed “tracks” which are regularly altered to avoid severe weather, take advantage of tailwinds, or avoid cores of strong headwinds. Thus the track you flew last week is not very likely to be the same one you will fly this week. Second, the rules governing oceanic operations are always in flux to reflect changes to navigation systems, aircraft equipment, procedural intricacies, and safety-related issues. Third, aircraft are not in radar coverage for much of the time out at sea, thus making it a bit more “interesting” for ATC to keep them apart. Spotty communications (depending upon your aircraft systems) and a large volume of aircraft wedged into a confined block

of airspace don’t things any easier. So it should be no surprise that each track system has its own operations manual. The one for the North Atlantic is over 215 pages – maybe not light, but certainly essential reading material. To better understand these unique roadways of the sky, let us take an introductory tour of the world’s oceanic track and route systems.

North Atlantic Track system Starting with what is at least somewhat familiar to most aviators, the North Atlantic Track (NAT) system basically gets aircraft between North America and Europe in an organized and safe manner. Tracks are defined by

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30 W Longitude Gander Oceanic Control



50N / 05


PORTI Domestic route Oceanic route entry and exit points which are named waypoints and are in fixed positions along the coast of Canada and Ireland. The route from the entry point to the exit point is determined by latitude and longitude combinations that are subject to change with the issuance of each new track message. This occurs once or more a day, depending on amendments. To maximize the number of aircraft able to cross the Atlantic, the tracks are unidirectional depending upon the time of day. For example, with all of the overnight flights leaving North America to arrive in Europe by morning, the NAT environment is mostly a one-way street eastbound. The reverse is true when all the flights are leaving Europe later in the day to arrive in North America by afternoon or early evening. There are options to go “the wrong way,” but it will likely require you to either go well out of your way or fly at a potentially undesirable altitude (eg, FL430, FL280). Tracks are identified by letters in the phonetic alphabet, eg, track Romeo for “R.” The only way to know if you are using the correct track “R” is, of course, to have the current track message which can be verified by the Track Message Identification (TMI) number. TMI numbers are included in clearances to be sure everyone is operating on the same page, literally.

Getting aircraft closer together North Atlantic operations have changed a lot over the years, mostly due to improvements in technology. While in theory these enhancements are a good thing, the one drawback is that it makes aircraft and crew requirements somewhat of a moving target. The name of the game for the NAT environment is getting aircraft closer together.

52N / 04


/ 03


Shanwick Oceanic Control 52N LIM / 02 RI 0W




In this depiction of a single North Atlantic track, note there is a track entry waypoint (PORTI) where the aircraft transitions from the domestic route structure to the NAT system. The aircraft then uses daily defined NAT latitude and longitude coordinates for waypoints. Halfway across at 30 West, the aircraft transitions from Gander Oceanic Control to Shanwick Oceanic Control. The aircraft then exits the NAT structure at XETBO to join the European route structure.

As more traffic wants to cross the Atlantic at peak times, there has been pressure to space aircraft as close as safely possible. But this has slowly come to fruition thanks to improved avionics (eg, glass cockpits and precision navigation systems). The first step was Reduced Vertical Separation Minima (RVSM). Reducing vertical spacing from 2000 to 1000 feet occurred years ago and is now widespread in other areas. Recent amendments have been reductions in the lateral spacing of tracks. Back in 2015, Reduced Lateral Separation Minima (RLAT) went from 60 to 30 nm for 3 core tracks. And as of January of 2018, more RLAT tracks are available, and those from FL350390 are now separated by 25 nm. Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) version 7.1 is also, not surprisingly, required throughout the NAT region for an extra layer of safety. Further, because GPS can do a very good job of ensuring 2 aircraft can be precisely in the same place at the same time, the concept of Strategic Lateral Offset Procedures (SLOP) was introduced, where aircraft intentionally offset track centerlines by 1 to 2 nm. Aids to the communication process, which used to be dominated by a constant barrage of HF radio position reports and clearances, has been mostly replaced by Controller Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC) and other satellite communication systems.

Particular procedures A plethora of particular procedures exists in case of emergencies or weather deviations. If you have an engine failure, for example, aircraft must go off track at a 45-degree angle, or do a 180-degree turn (which is a relatively new option), offset by 15 nm and change altitude by 500 feet. With the

requisite calls on appropriate frequencies and datalink, pilots should then monitor TCAS closely. Interestingly, there have been talks for years about pilots using TCAS to “self separate” over the oceans, but for now this has not come to fruition. For weather, the best case is to notify ATC as soon as possible, but in case of a pop-up storm, aircraft are permitted deviations of 10 nm by altering their altitude by 300 feet. As can been seen, all of these things combined are enough to easily keep pilots awake on their all-night journeys to Europe.

Pacific Ocean Organized Track System There are also variable tracks that exist over the Pacific Ocean for routes to and from North America and Asia as well as routes between Hawaii and Asia. The Pacific Organized Track System (PACOTS) is similar to the NAT system but, of course, comes with its own set of rules and guidelines. Tracks here are again defined by track messages and vary due to weather and operational issues. Similar entry and exit points are used to link aircraft from domestic networks and the PACOTS. Although radar and radio coverage is better over these routes, there are still some spots that require the use of alternative communications (eg, CPDLC, HF, etc). In addition to the variable track systems, there is a range of fixed track networks. For example, when flying to and from Hawaii and the West Coast, there are a series of 1-way tracks for aircraft to utilize. Each track is comprised of a series of waypoints, all named with the same first letter. The need for a 2-way arrangement in this region is that flights on these routes are less consistent regarding time of day PROFESSIONAL PILOT  /  September 2018  69

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Depicted here are some of the routes that United Airlines has utilized to fly over the North Pole region. While these routes are efficient, they traverse a harsh area of ice and subzero temperatures with few emergency alternates. Always take into account what lies beneath your route when ensuring that the aircraft and its occupants have the proper survival and flotation equipment.

directionally, thus allowing for flows back and forth without the stringent nature found with NAT and PACOTS. As with the other track systems, there are entry and exit points to each track in both Hawaiian and Oakland airspaces. There is also a set of tracks that stay closer to VHF radio and ground-based navigation coverage for those aircraft unable to comply with the requirements of NAT which follow along the edges of Greenland and near Iceland (named “Blue Spruce” routes). These routes are primarily used by general aviation aircraft and provide the extra level of comfort of being closer to airports in case of problems.

Other tracks Lastly, there are arrays of different tracks such as for flights from South America to Europe as well as those transporting flights to and from Australia and New Zealand to the rest of the world. In addition, polar routes are available so that aircraft can “shortcut” over the poles to reduce inefficient, longer routes on long-haul flights. Unfortunately, as you can imagine, these pathways have few alternates, thus requiring extra attention to aircraft requirements such as ETOPS for commercial operators.

How to prepare for track flying While the rules for operations in each track system vary, common sense should also play a role. After all, you don’t want to be flying over Polar Regions with only your Hawaiian shirt, shorts and flip flops to keep you warm in case something unexpected happens. Also, you want to be sure that flotation and survival gear are in good working order and go above and beyond any equipment requirements mandated by applicable track system guidance. So what is the best way to prepare for dealing with track systems? First is to study the most current regulations and guidance for the areas of operation in which you intend to fly. For example, the ever-changing North Atlantic Operations and Airspace Manual should be viewed regularly as should any other guidance provided by local entities (eg, Nav Canada, FAA, etc). Ensuring that the appropriate and most current track messages are used is paramount. There have been too many cases of pilots using the wrong ones and things getting ugly very quickly. Because many tracks require pilots to enter latitude and longitude manually into their navigation systems, you should be intimately familiar with how to properly do so. Pilots

have been known to accidentally enter N40 degrees 30 minutes as N40 W30 instead. Crew resource management should be leveraged to the max by checking, double checking, and triple checking all route entries and changes. Most companies have elongated procedures to catch errors – if your operator does not yet have similar checks and balances, today is the day to develop some. With extra care, planning, and research, oceanic flying can be some of the most interesting and exciting flying you may ever do. There is nothing more rewarding, even in today’s world of precision navigation, than to see the lights of Ireland come onto the horizon after spending hours over the Atlantic hoping your aircraft navigation wasn’t lying to you all night. You might even get lucky enough to have what is probably the best view of the Northern Lights available on the planet.

David Ison, PhD, has 32 years of experience flying aircraft ranging from light singles to widebody jets. Currently he is a graduate school professor at Northcentral University.

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Handling health troubles aloft

Photos courtesy MedAire

Photo by José Vásquez

Having first aid training and using MedAire can be of great help.

Joan Sullivan Garrett receiving the Meritorious Service to Aviation Award from Ed Bolen at NBAA 2017. Over 3300 general aviation and business aircraft use MedAire to provide emergency services and training. The most common inflight medical events for business aircraft are gastrointestinal (26%), neurological (19%) and musculoskeletal (10%).

By Shannon Forrest

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


ilots are trained to handle emergencies. A significant portion of any flight training curriculum is devoted to learning proper courses of action when mechanical components malfunction. Despite the perception of the general public that it always requires a valiant, heroic effort to safely land an aircraft, pilots know that abnormal procedures are quite common. Even rare events like landing gear or engine failures are routinely practiced. And simulators offer the advantage of running a scenario to conclusion – to both reinforce appropriate behavior and realize the results of poor decisions. In the last case, techniques can be refined, good habits built and performance optimized through consistent repetition. Although serious emergencies are uncommon, a commitment to continuous training increases the chances of properly executed

procedures and desirable outcomes. What pilots don’t usually train for is failure of a far more complex machine they also happen fly around – the human body.

Inflight medical emergencies Nearly all emergencies can be simulated to a realistic degree with 1 exception: those involving an illness or injury to a passenger or crew member. If a Gulfstream G650 pilot were to experience an inflight problem, the solution would likely be found by combining his subject matter expertise of the aircraft with checklists and procedural guidance from the manufacturer. Engineered redundancies and backup systems reduce the likelihood of catastrophic failure. But unlike hydraulic systems in a modern jet, there is no backup pump for the human heart when it malfunctions. Further, the variability in human physiology – from age to weight to medical history – in concert with the effects of altitude and velocity means that every medical situation

experienced inflight is unique. Without assistance from experts who can provide real time guidance or care, pilots and flight attendants are at a major disadvantage when it comes to dealing with airborne medical problems. In this respect, the airlines have a slight advantage over private or business flight departments. Based on the sheer number of people that travel via the airlines, there’s a better than average chance that on any given flight one of the passengers is a doctor, nurse or EMT (it’s almost assured if the departure point happens to be a city with a large medical school or university). If a passenger starts complaining of chest pains while climbing out of Baltimore in a Boeing 737, one of the flight attendants will use the public address system to ask if a “licensed medical professional” is onboard. There likely will be. However, a similar scenario would unfold differently in a Citation X with a single passenger in the back flying over northern Wyoming. When it comes to medical emergencies, Joan Sullivan Garrett may be the most important person you’ve never heard of – unless you attended

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the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) Convention and Exhibition in Las Vegas in 2017. Each year, NBAA presents a Meritorious Service to Aviation Award which is described by the organization as, “business aviation’s most distinguished honor, recognizing extraordinary lifelong professional contributions to aviation.” The award was established in 1950 and past recipients include Lindbergh, Doolittle, Jeppesen, Al Ueltschi (founder of FlightSafety), Archie Trammell, Clay Lacy, astronaut Gene Cernan, and Bob Hoover. The founder of MedAire, Garrett, won in 2017. It would be an understatement to say that someone would be happy to give but not receive Garrett’s gift to the aviation industry. In 1985 she founded MedAire. The back story has been retold many times; she had a profound experience that left a lasting impression on an airevac mission that involved the fatality of a young boy. Garrett was serving as a flight nurse at the time and was dispatched to a car accident in a remote area of Arizona. Shortly after arriving on scene, the 10 year old perished. She realized that although some communities may not have quick access to first responders, lives could be saved by training laypersons to provide initial medical care until advanced medical personnel arrived.

Time is crucial Being in an aircraft in flight is analogous to a remote terrestrial locale. If a medical issue arises, the consequences are identical: time will elapse before the patient reaches professional care. In the medical profession, the first 60 minutes after an injury are referred to as the “golden hour.” If some form of stabilizing care can be administered within this timeframe, the chances of patient survival precipitously increases. Garrett retired as CEO of MedAire in 2006 but left an enduring legacy that has saved countless lives. This includes prompting the FAA to mandate that Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) be carried on all commercial airliners. To date, Medaire is the number one provider of inflight medical and risk management solutions. To achieve its objectives the company philosophy is 3-pronged: com-

Calls to MedLink are routed to emergency room physicians. In 2016 doctors on the ground assisted a total of 45,508 cases.

prehensive and up to date training, an advanced medical kit stocked with supplies correlated with the most likely maladies, and uninterrupted global access to professional medical personnel. The collective benefit of using all 3 elements simultaneously is the key. Having the best medical gear that money can buy is of little value without the knowledge of how to employ it. Those who attend MedAire’s Management of Inflight Illness and Injury course learn basic medical techniques and receive hands-on training using the supplies in the kit. Corporate flight departments and operators who utilize flight attendants on private aircraft might avoid sending pilots to medical training under the belief that a flight attendant will handle any medical issues that arise. But that’s a mistake because it’s not

MedAire’s aviation medical kit contains equipment and medicine tailored to the most likely ailments and emergencies.

unheard of for the flight attendant to become the patient. Pilots of smaller flight departments who lack medical training and fly without a flight attendant might be unknowingly betting the literal health of the company, along with it the continuation of the flight department and the careers of the pilots, on the health of the owner sitting in the back. Kara O’Connell, vice president of marketing for MedAire, touts the validity of the MedAire courseware and medical kit contents because both are consistently revised and reviewed to align with events most likely to occur. Three decades of data from both the airlines and corporate flight departments support her assertions.

MedLink Once training is complete and the aircraft is stocked with an advanced medical kit, the final part of the MedAire triad is the MedLink emergency assistance service. A hypothetical flight is the best way to illustrate the concept. A Bombardier Global Express leaves SJU (San Juan PR) at 10 pm headed for IAD (Washington-Dulles VA). Just prior to reaching the equal time point between the 2 airports, a passenger begins complaining of chest pains and dizziness. At first the passenger dismisses the discomfort as a late dinner of mofongo (garlic flavored

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Diverting to the ideal hospital

MedAire provides initial and recurrent training so crewmembers can effectively employ lifesaving medicines and equipment.

mashed plantains) and cocktails, but the pain begins to worsen. The flight attendant informs the pilots, who contact MedLink through a VHF/HF radio patch or via satcom. The communication is routed to the MedAire facility located with the emergency department of the Banner University Medical Center in Phoenix AZ. Logistic specialists answer the phone and gather initial data about the condition of the patient. The specialist then passes the call to an emergency room physician (on call 24/7) who speaks directly to the flight crew. Based on the assessment of the patient, the physician prescribes a course of action that may include delivering medication from the medical kit. Hopefully the situation improves and the flight continues to the destination.

MedAire’s database of healthcare providers The complexity of inflight medical emergencies increases if the patient’s condition requires a diversion. Since the aircraft is out over the ocean in the middle of the night, options are limited. Immediately, the MedAire logistical team gets back to work running through a global database of healthcare providers. This is important for 2 reasons. First, the hospital that receives the patient must be the best suited for the type of symptoms being exhibited. Within the US, trauma centers are numerically ranked on capabilities that include assessment, evaluation,

resuscitation, surgery, intensive care, long term care, and stabilization capabilities. Although a Level 5 trauma center might be closest to the aircraft position based on miles flown, a Level 1 facility further away (the best available and thus the “gold standard” when it comes to hospitals) might give better care under the circumstances. As a result, the advice from MedAire might be to overfly a seemingly suitable airport in favor of another. The theory is getting on the ground the fastest is not the answer, but getting to the most appropriate hospital the fastest is. The second benefit of the MedAire database is that it provides the real time status of facilities. This is especially important when dealing with international diversions. As Kara O’Connell puts it, “There can be a big difference between what a place is supposed to look like versus what it actually does. MedAire ensures that receiving hospitals are properly vetted.” A beautiful photo on the front of a webpage might obfuscate what’s really happening behind the scenes. When Hurricane Irma swept through the Caribbean in 2017, it left a path of widespread power loss and flooding along with it. Hospitals left in the wake were ill-suited to handle the patients they had, let alone new arrivals. Even well after the hurricane, many of these facilities were marginal at best. During a medical diversion this is an example of information that is passed along through MedLink that can affect decision making.

Once a decision to divert has been made, the MedAire team alerts medical providers and arranges ground transportation to get the patient to the hospital. Also, in a foreign country, interpreters can be summoned if needed. It’s important to keep in mind that MedAire staffers aren’t professional pilots, nor do they have any direct influence with air traffic control. It’s the pilot’s responsibility to declare a medical emergency, ask for what’s needed as it relates to flying the aircraft, and comply with regulations until absolved by emergency authority. It’s great to have a Level 1 trauma facility right next to the airport. But if that runway is contaminated with ice and exceeds the crosswind limitation, a pilot may be trading one problem for another. Medlink has no expertise when it comes to aircraft performance limitations so that’s something that the crew is going to have to deal with when a diversion comes into play.

MedAire is a great resource As in any emergency, adrenaline increases and there’s a tendency to do something quickly – even if it’s the wrong thing. A 2-pilot operation becomes single-pilot when a crew member is mentally and physically engaged in relaying information between a flight attendant and MedLink, or is directly involved in providing care himself. Good crew resource management is critical at this point. All crewmembers must communicate and be kept in the loop. MedAire is a great resource in that it provides training, equipment and subject matter experts that can be employed in an emergency. Medical training is like a fire extinguisher: you hope you never need it but when you do you’re glad you have it.

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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Douglas Bader – a pilot without peer Legless pilot became a WWII hero flying Spitfires and Hurricanes for the RAF.

Douglas Bader and Hawker Hurricane at Duxford in September of 1940. He was a leader of 242 Squadron.

By David Bjellos

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


After joining the RAF in 1928, he lost both legs in a December 1931 accident while attempting low level aerobatics. Incredibly, he recovered and retook flight training, eventually passing all his checkrides. He reapplied for flight status but encountered an inflexible bureaucracy. The British had no regulations regarding pilots without limbs, and he was discharged against his will based on medical grounds. By 1939, however, the country was swept up in war and desperately needed pilots. Bader re-applied, passed his checkride and was once again an airman.

Photos courtesy Wikimedia Commons

hen Admiral Chester Nimitz reflected upon the heroism shown by the sailors and Marines at Iwo Jima during WWII, he said, “Uncommon valor was a common virtue.” Those words embodied the ethos of fighting men around the world, pursuing a cause to protect their homeland and freedoms. An extraordinary example of this valor was shown by Douglas Bader, who flew Spitfires and Hurricanes and defended the British homeland after losing both his legs. To say his story is remarkable would be an understatement.

Bader could not bend his legs normally and had to throw his artificial limbs into the cockpit. Once inside, he was able to manipulate the controls with deadly results for the Germans.

German General Adolf Galland befriended Bader, recognizing him as an exceptional airman, and Bader was given freedoms few POW airmen received. Galland went to extraordinary lengths to get Bader a replacement leg after his original prosthesis was lost in his Spitfire crash. This was called “Operation Leg” and approved by Herman Göring.

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“Operation Leg” results are viewed by German officers. The new prosthesis was flown in under heavy guard by the RAF to a POW location for Bader. He judiciously used this to execute numerous escape attempts until he was placed into the “escape-proof” POW camp at Colditz Castle, where he remained until being liberated in 1945.

Prior to his accident, Bader had been a star athlete and had even been chosen to play rugby for England. His youth and fitness surely saved his life from the trauma of a double amputation, but it was his hand-eye coordination that made him an exceptional fighter pilot. Additionally, he was able to withstand higher G-loads than other pilots since blood did not pool in his lower extremities (this was well before G-suits, of course), and this, too, gave him an edge against his squadron mates as well as the enemy. It was 8 years after his accident that Bader qualified on Spitfires and Hawker Hurricanes. He took command of 242 Squadron based in Duxford, a group which had suffered significant casualties during the battle of France. Made up of mostly Canadians, they initially resisted his appointment, but he quickly gained their respect, given his lack of legs and strong leadership and courage. The squadron evolved into a formidable group with an impressive kill record: 67 enemy kills with only 5 pilot losses during the Battle of Britain. Bader’s luck ran out in August of 1941 off the north coast of France. By then, he was an RAF wing commander based at Tangmere. His aircraft was unflyable; the fuselage behind him and the tail and rudder was either blown off or separated from a midair collision. Controversy as to how this occurred remains to this day. Bader attempted a bailout but his right leg prosthesis was jammed in the rudder pedals. Halfway out of the aircraft with the ground rushing up, he pulled the ripcord, and the strain of the opening parachute snapped the retaining strap of the leg and Bader was free… only to drift down to a waiting enemy. He was captured and interrogated. But such was his reputation as an airman that he was treated with great respect once the Germans learned who he was. Bader was befriended by the German General Adolf Galland, who arranged for what was perhaps the most incredible delivery of WWII, or possibly any conflict. Galland made an unusual request on Bader’s behalf from German Luftwaffe Commanding General Hermann Göring. He asked that Bader be allowed to have a new prosthetic leg flown from England to France so that he could be ambulatory. Göring approved, and “Operation Leg” was born. An RAF bomber dropped the leg near St

Omer, and then, with the understated manner only the British can exude, impressed the Germans by continuing onward to bomb occupied targets at Bethune, France. Bader caused the Germans massive headaches by escaping nearly a dozen times (they even threatened to take away his prostheses). So he was finally transferred to an “escape-proof” jail called Colditz Castle, from where he was liberated by the First US Army in April 1945. The mere fact that a man could become independent with artificial legs during wartime England would have been sufficient for most men, but not Bader. His competitive spirit fostered through sports early in his life gave him the will to overcome the loss of his legs, and his passion for aviation got him back – incredibly – into the cockpits of Spitfires and Hurricanes. He became a legend in his own time and was knighted and received numerous honors and awards. Today, the Douglas Bader Foundation provides encouragement and financial assistance to physically challenged individuals. A classroom is named after him in the Etihad Flight College in Al Ain, UAE; and Prince Harry established the Endeavor Fund, designed to assist injured servicemen and women. Bader’s remarkable story and success during the Battle of Britain inspired the Prince to undertake such an effort. As a highlight of the Fund, in 2016 RAF Engineer Alan Robinson became the first amputee since Bader flew in WWII to solo a Spitfire. Conflict between men and nations will always be costly in terms of lives, property and freedoms. Patriotic men and women have always risen to the challenge to defend the liberties they cherish when threatened. Douglas Bader embraced those ideals and was truly forged with uncommon valor. 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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Water on Mars

Perspective view of Osuga Valles, which was carved by intense floods. The water flowed in the direction towards the top of this view, which was created by using stereo images from orbit taken by the high resolution stereo camera on Mars Express. The image resolution is about 17 m per pixel.

By Bruce Betts

Chief Scientist and LightSail Program Manager The Planetary Society


n the planetary science community, there is a joke that the discovery of water on Mars is announced every few months. There was just another water-on-Mars announcement, this one based on orbital radar data from the European Space Agency’s Mars Express spacecraft. But if this one pans out, it really is different. It would be the first discovery of stable liquid water on Mars, albeit under 1.5 kilometers of ice. In order to better understand why this is different, as well as the potential significance of the discovery, it will help to “dive” into the more general background and history of water on Mars. After this, we will come back and discuss the latest reported discovery and its significance.

Water on Mars now: ice and gas We are so used to liquid water on Earth that when we say water, we think of liquid water, and ice as water ice. But elsewhere in the solar

Giant liquid water floods carved the 3000 km long Kasei Valles, much of which can be seen here in this mosaic of images from Mars Express. Water flowed from left to right. Kasei Valles split into 2 main branches that hug a broad island of fractured terrain before rejoining in the middle right of the image.

Hubble Space Telescope view of Mars. The residual (water ice) polar cap can be seen at the top. Early morning water ice clouds can be seen along the left limb of the planet, and a large cyclonic storm composed of water ice is churning near the polar cap. The large canyon system Valles Marineris can be seen at the lower left.

system, there are other ices, and water is rarely a liquid. So, in general, when planetary scientists talk about water in the solar system, they mean H2O in whatever phase it happens to be in. When scientists talk about water on Mars, they are almost never talking about liquid. On the surface of Mars today, water is stable only as a solid (ice) or a gas (water vapor). It acts like dry ice (carbon dioxide) does on Earth going directly from a solid to a gas or from a gas to a solid. Water behaves like this on Mars because of the very low pressures and temperatures. Mars’ surface pressure is less than 1% of Earth’s surface pressure. It’s equivalent to the atmospheric

pressures at more than 100,000 ft (30 kilometers) in altitude on Earth. We’ve known for a long time that Mars has water as ice and as gas, and over the last few decades we’ve worked out where it is. A small portion is in Mars’ atmosphere, enough to sometimes form thin water ice clouds, hazes, and even fogs. During some seasons, however, the water will freeze out on the surface at night, forming thin frosts. There are repositories of water ice in the polar caps, visible from Earth by use of telescopes. Both of Mars’ permanent polar caps are mostly water ice. In the North, that water ice is at the surface during the summer. At the South, which is higher in elevation and thus colder, there are tens of meters of carbon dioxide ice (dry ice) on top of the water ice even in the summer. In the respective winters, both permanent polar caps as well as huge areas beyond the polar caps are covered by seasonal carbon dioxide ice that freezes out of the atmosphere.

Images courtesy European Space Agency

Image by Steve Lee (U of Colorado), Jim Bell (Cornell Univ), Mike Wolff (Space Science Inst) & NASA

Proof of past and present water on our near neighbor planet continues to mount up.

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Mars south polar region

Mars Express radar footprints (blue = brightest radar echo)

Radar image of subsurface

200 km


Brightest radar echoes suggest liquid water

South polar layered deposits (ice and dust layers)

Study area

Image courtesy European Space Agency

1.5 km

Permanent polar ice cap

Image on the left shows the Mars south polar cap and the surrounding region. In the middle is an enlarged picture of the detailed locations where radar profiles were taken. The large blue area close to the center corresponds to the main radar-bright area, detected on many overlapping orbits of the spacecraft. And to the right is one of the Mars Express radar profiles used to infer liquid water 1.5 km below the surface of the planet.

Another large repository of water ice lies very near the surface under a wider area of the polar regions that the polar caps cover. Down to about 60 degrees latitude, water ice is present a few centimeters below the surface. This was predicted by thermal models, then measured indirectly using an orbital gamma ray spectrometer, then actually seen by NASA’s Phoenix lander that dug into the surface and found water ice.

The significance of liquid water on Mars Mars now, with a few possible exceptions including the recent discovery, has water on or near the surface only as a solid or a gas. Why would it be of particular interest to find it in the present or past in liquid form? One of the key reasons relates to whether there was or is any possibility of life on Mars. All life on Earth share in common the need for 3 things: (1) a source of energy, (2) certain atoms including carbon, and (3) liquid water. Consequently, if one ponders whether life could exist elsewhere, one typically ponders whether there is or was liquid water. Having liquid water does not mean there was or is life, but as far as we know, not having liquid water probably means no life. Liquid water, and the other states of water, is also intriguing when trying to understand the evolution of Mars and how it ended up so different than the Earth that is awash in liquid water. Liquid water is also very good at erosion, which can shape surface geological features like the Grand Canyon on Earth.

Wet past of Mars seen from orbit Because of the shape (morphology) of geologic features, mineralogical, geochemical and other evidence, we know that Mars once had lots of liquid water. That knowledge has spawned interest in better understanding Mars’ past environment, including habitability, as well as its present. Spacecraft have provided views of amazing geologic features caused by liquid water. There are giant outflow channels up to thousands of kilometers long and hundreds of kilometers wide. These are thought to have formed by massive floods of liquid water, scouring the land like in the Channeled Scablands in the state of Washington. Older than the outflow channels are the valley networks found mostly in the older southern highlands. These often have patterns resembling the dendritic patterns on Earth caused by rainfall, though they also could have been created in other ways such as groundwater sapping. There are also several other types of landforms on Mars associated with liquid water. These include elaborate deltas, many of which seem to have been deposited as rivers or other flowing water feeding into lakes. Though still debated by scientists, there may have been an ocean early in Mars history that covered nearly half the planet. From orbit, we use spectrometers to split ultraviolet, visible, and infrared light into its component “colors.” From this data we see evidence in some local areas of minerals that typically form in the presence of liquid water, including carbonates and sulfates.

Water on Mars observed from the surface of the planet The landing sites of the landers and rovers sent to Mars over the last decade often were driven by the inferred presence of past liquid water. The 2 Mars Exploration Rovers landing sites both were selected in this way. Spirit landed in a crater at the end of a channel many hundreds of kilometers long thought to be cut by water. Opportunity’s landing site was chosen based on the presence of coarse grained hematite, a mineral almost always created on Earth in the presence of liquid water. Both rovers found evidence of past liquid water on the surface in the presence of certain minerals. Opportunity’s findings have told stories of salty, acidic water and subsurface water. The Curiosity rover landed near delta deposits in a crater thought to have been filled by liquid water at some point in the past. Curiosity set off to explore the mountain of sediments in the center of the crater. Almost since it first landed some 6 years ago, Curiosity has returned stories recorded in the rocks of lots of liquid water, including evidence of pH-neutral, fresh water that we could have drunk if we had been around. In other words, it found evidence of a habitable past environment. The forthcoming Mars 2020 rover is still in the process of landing site selection, but the finalist sites all have evidence of past liquid water. So how did Mars have so much liquid water in its distant past? It may have had a thicker atmosphere allowing liquid water to be stable on the surface. Over time, it lost most of its PROFESSIONAL PILOT  /  September 2018  79

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Mars’ wet present (?) We are now confident that Mars had habitable environments in its distant past. But what about its present? In the last 15 years, there have been reports of evidence of possible short-lived liquid water on the surface of Mars. For example, gullies which are typically carved into the sides of impact craters. New ones that didn’t exist earlier have been observed by orbiters starting with the Mars Global Surveyor. They might be caused by brief flows of probably salty water. Though liquid water is not long term stable at the surface of Mars, it is theoretically possible for liquid water to occur briefly under the right conditions. These would be ideally at lower elevations at warmer times of year and during the day. That, combined with salty water (brines), could allow liquid water for very short periods. Salts lower the freezing point of water, which is why salt is used on icy roads on Earth. A 2nd feature actively forming and changing on Mars are dark features called recurring slope lineae (RSLs) which appear on some steep Martian slopes, including on those of impact craters and canyons. Many have been observed to form over yearly timescales. From observations we have also found deposits of hydrated salts at some of these features, likely a salty residue from a salt-rich water flow. The details of the formation of gullies and RSLs are still debated. If liquid water is involved, it is unclear that this has big implications either for astrobiology or large-scale geology because the liquid water involved likely only exists in that form briefly and in small quantities, and is probably very salty. All of this adds up to not being significant for biology. Also, at least in the case of RSLs, the observed water may be coming from the small amount in the atmosphere, condensing or adsorbing (sticking onto the surface) onto the dust and sand particles. This is interesting but doesn’t have implications for liquid water in the near subsurface which is what might be hospitable for microorganisms.


Tear drop shaped islands, like these in Ares Vallis, are evidence of large scale water flow. Here, the raised rocky rims of impact craters diverted the floods and protected the ground from erosion. This image was taken by the Thermal Emission Imaging System instrument on NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter.

Sub glacial lake In July 2018, Mars Express scientists reported discovery of liquid water beneath 1.5 kilometers of water ice in the South Polar Region of Mars. The discovery was beneath the South Polar Layered Deposits (SPLD), where mostly water ice alternates with layers of dust. The discovery was made using the long wavelength radar of the MARSIS instrument. MARSIS sends radar towards the surface from orbit and detects the reflected radio waves. Strong reflections come from interfaces between different materials, with the strongest coming from the surface atmosphere interface. But some of the MARSIS’ radio waves can penetrate up to 5 km before reflecting and being successfully received. Thus, MARSIS can probe the sub-surface. What MARSIS found in one area in repeated observations was not only the subtle reflections of some of the layers within the layered deposits, but also a strong reflection 1.5 km down. They interpret this as an interface between water ice and liquid water, either as a lake of liquid water or as dirt saturated with liquid water. The bright basal reflection, in other words, the liquid water region, spans 20 km. Sub-glacial lakes under kilometers of ice exist on Earth in Green-

The report of radar discovery of liquid water is significant as the first stable liquid water discovery on present day Mars, providing an important piece of the puzzle that is water on Mars. The implications for habitability are likely small, however. Though liquid water is required by all Earth life, the salt content required to keep water liquid at those temperatures would render at least Earth life untenable, even for halophiles, organisms that like salt. There is also the question of what energy source any life could use. Confirming the discovery may take time. There is another radar in orbit on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, but its shorter wavelengths may not be able to penetrate to the depth of the reported liquid water. At 1.5 kilometers below the surface, this liquid will not be directly sampled for a very, very long time. For reference, the most we have currently drilled on Mars is a few centimeters. The MARSIS spot size on the surface is 5 kilometers. So, there could be many smaller deposits of liquid water or even shallower ones, or maybe not. We’ll likely have to wait a few years for future radar instruments that can help confirm this liquid water and look for more. Meanwhile a whole host of spacecraft are busy exploring other mysteries of water on Mars.

Image courtesy NASA

land and Antarctica. Salts in some of the Antarctica lakes combined with pressure from ice above keep the water liquid to -13º C. Theoretical modeling of the base of the SPLD at the depth of the liquid water detection implies a temperature of -68º C. It would be possible, particularly with some of the salts found on Mars, to keep the water liquid to those temperatures, but it would require extremely high concentrations of salts.

atmosphere due to a combination of solar wind, lack of a global magnetic field, and lower gravity than Earth.

Bruce Betts, PhD, is a planetary scientist with degrees from Stanford and Caltech. He is Chief Scientist at The Planetary Society and has done research focused on infrared studies of planetary surfaces. He also managed planetary instrument development programs at NASA Headquarters.

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