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Pilots banned from being Uber drivers in the sky

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Pilots banned from being Uber drivers in the sky

Cirrus Demo Aircraft

"You're going to Napa in your Cessna? Me too! If you let me hop in, I'll pay my share of the gas!" That arrangement is legal, but the FAA has declared that connecting brave passengers with amateur pilots for a fee is definitely a no-no. The ruling came from a request for clarification by a company called Airpooler, a small plane equivalent of UberX. That service and others like FlyteNow let private pilots post listings for flight dates and destinations, along with a corresponding fee. Thanks to a 1963 decision, such sharing is legal if done by word of mouth or a notice board, provided the pilot only asks for a fair share of the expenses. However, in a rather confusing letter, the regulator told Airpooler that its service violates the spirit of that ruling. Instead of offering a bonafide "joint venture with a common purpose," participating pilots are "holding out to transport passengers for compensation." That means unless you have a commercial ATP or CPL license, using those services is DOA.

[Credit: Brianc/Flickr]

Last Updated on Sunday, 17 August 2014 12:30

The Death of the Original Jumbo Jet, Boeing's 747-400

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The Death of the Original Jumbo Jet, Boeing's 747-400

Later this month, Cathay Pacific's 747 will fly from San Francisco to Hong Kong for the very last time. It's a story we're hearing from nearly every airline still flying the most recognizable passenger jet in aviation history -- rising fuel costs are prompting carriers to ground their fleets, opting to shuttle passengers in more modern (and efficient) airliners instead. Hundreds of 747s still take to the skies every day, but their numbers are dwindling, with Boeing's 777-300ER and 787 Dreamliner, as well as the enormous Airbus A380, picking up the slack. The flagships of yesteryear now litter the desert, with several sites in California serving as a permanent resting place for the plane that was once known as the Queen of the Skies, the Boeing 747-400.  

READ MORE: Engaget


Last Updated on Friday, 15 August 2014 23:34

Cell Discovery brings Cell Disorder Cure Closer

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  Cell Discovery brings Cell Disorder Cure Closer

Date: August 13, 2014

Source: Monash University
A cure for a range of blood disorders and immune diseases is in sight, according to scientists who have unraveled the mystery of stem cell generation. Found in the bone marrow and in umbilical cord blood, HSCs are critically important because they can replenish the body's supply of blood cells. Leukemia patients have been successfully treated using HSC transplants, but medical experts believe blood stem cells have the potential to be used more widely.

A cure for a range of blood disorders and immune diseases is in sight, according to scientists who have unravelled the mystery of stem cell generation.


The Australian study, led by researchers at the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute (ARMI) at Monash University and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, is published today in Nature. It identifies for the first time mechanisms in the body that trigger hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) production.

Found in the bone marrow and in umbilical cord blood, HSCs are critically important because they can replenish the body's supply of blood cells. Leukemia patients have been successfully treated using HSC transplants, but medical experts believe blood stem cells have the potential to be used more widely.

Lead researcher Professor Peter Currie, from ARMI explained that understanding how HSCs self-renew to replenish blood cells is a "Holy Grail" of stem cell biology.

"HSCs are one of the best therapeutic tools at our disposal because they can make any blood cell in the body. Potentially we could use these cells in many more ways than current transplantation strategies to treat serious blood disorders and diseases, but only if we can figure out how they are generated in the first place. Our study brings this possibility a step closer," he said.

A key stumbling block to using HSCs more widely has been an inability to produce them in the laboratory setting. The reason for this, suggested from previous research, is that a molecular 'switch' may also be necessary for HSC formation, though the mechanism responsible has remained a mystery, until now.

In this latest study, ARMI researchers observed cells in the developing zebra fish -- a tropical freshwater fish known for its regenerative abilities and optically clear embryos -- to gather new information on the signalling process responsible for HSC generation.

Using high-resolution microscopy researchers made a film of how these stem cells form inside the embryo, which captured the process of their formation in dramatic detail.


READ MORE: ScienceDaily

Blood cells (stock illustration). "HSCs are one of the best therapeutic tools at our disposal because they can make any blood cell in the body. Potentially we could use these cells in many more ways than current transplantation strategies to treat serious blood disorders and diseases, but only if we can figure out how they are generated in the first place. Our study brings this possibility a step closer," one researcher said.
Credit: © abhijith3747 / Fotolia


Last Updated on Friday, 15 August 2014 23:39

CitationAir to Cease Flight Operations

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CitationAir To Cease Flight Operations 

Textron Aviation confirmed to AIN that it will terminate flight operations at its former fractional and charter/management operation, CitationAir, on October 31. The move comes 2.5 years after CitationAir stopped selling fractional shares in new aircraft and ceased renewals for current fractional-share customers in February 2012, saying at that time it would instead focus on its jet card and aircraft management products. The company is now abandoning even that modest plan.

“We previously communicated with our customers regarding the decision to cease selling our fractional, jet card and management products,” a Textron Aviation spokeswoman said. “After diligently evaluating options for the future of CitationAir, we have made the decision to wind down our operations and exit the business. Once all of the fractional interests are repurchased from current owners, the aircraft will be handled through the company’s pre-owned aircraft sales department.” The last fractional share owner contracts at CitationAir would have expired in December next year, a source told AIN.

All “impacted employees are receiving 60-day Warn [worker adjustment and retraining notices],” the spokeswoman added. Textron Aviation would not say how many people are affected, but the source said there are approximately 100 employees still at CitationAir, including 38 non-management pilots. These pilots, who are represented by Teamsters Local 1108, also sent a request to the National Mediation Board late last month asking for a vote to decertify the union.



FAA Looking At Revising Rotorcraft Standards

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FAA Looking At Revising Rotorcraft Standards

The FAA announced it will formally re-examine the certification standards for helicopters under FAR Parts 27 and 29. Currently Part 27 helicopters must weigh 7,000 pounds or less and have no more than nine passenger seats. Helicopters that weigh more than 7,000 pounds and have 10 or more seats fall under the more stringent Part 29.

The FAA sought public comment on the possibility of changes to these rules in February, particularly whether it should change existing weight- and seat-based applicability standards for normal and transport rotorcraft. The FAA noted that “commenters indicated a substantial interest in revising and restructuring the certification standards…and the FAA’s rotorcraft directorate will begin establishing appropriate forums to involve interested parties” to include Transport Canada and the EASA.

“We continue to recognize that the evolution of Parts 27 and 29 has not kept pace with technology and the capability of rotorcraft produced currently,” the FAA noted. The agency said it is interested in new certification standards that are “more efficient and adaptable to future technology.”



Pilatus Rolls Out the PC-24, Its First Jet Airplane

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Pilatus Rolls Out the PC-24, Its First Jet Airplane

To great fanfare, Pilatus rolled out its new PC-24 “Super Versatile” jet on Friday at its home airfield of Buochs, near the town of Stans in central Switzerland. The prototype of the twin-engine business/utility jet was pulled across the runway by 24 horses before coming to rest on a giant Swiss flag painted on the apron, in front of a grandstand with 1,000 VIPs and another 24,000 people.

The Williams FJ44-4A-powered aircraft is sold out for its first three years of production. All orders were announced (84 aircraft) at EBACEin May. During a factory tour, and again at the rollout, Pilatus made it clear that the order book for the $8.9 million twinjet is closed, at least until after first flight, which is expected early next year.



Last Updated on Friday, 08 August 2014 05:02

FAA Spins Third Class Medical Issue

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FAA Spins Third Class Medical Issue

Pending Legislation Forcing Agencies Hand

Aero-Commentary By Gene Yarbrough; ANN Resident Political Analyst / Conspiracy Theorist

The FAA Agents have been out in force this week at AirVenture with up to 14 individual forums or press events all aimed at putting lipstick on the pig that is the third class medical quagmire. In three of these individual forums FAA affiliated medical doctors espoused myriad reasons supporting the FAA position, revealing a coordinated defense.


Dr. Greg Pinnell held an Aviation Medicine Update at the Whitman Field FAA Safety Center. Dr. Pinnell explained that new regulation changes are allowing AME’s to issue third class medicals in the face of many ailments that required a deferment in the recent past. Conditions AME Can Issue (CACI) is a new program that allows your flight surgeon to issue a third class medical and included 10 conditions that usually would have disqualified or outright denied a medical, including high blood pressure, arthritis, and glaucoma. AME Assisted Special Issuance is also a new program that allows your AME to play a larger, more influential roll in the medical certification decision making process. Serious medical conditions such as heart attack, certain cancers, diabetes and substance abuse are now relegated to the local level after initial medical issuance by FAA. However, this relaxation of procedures does little if anything to assist NEW medical certificate issuance due to the continued requirement for initial decision from Oklahoma City, but it is a welcomed relief and hopefully will provide a more sensible route to the all important, if impotent, third class medical.

Dr. Pinnell reported that, to date, there have been 3 confirmed fatalities attributed to medical issues, with possibly a fourth within the LSA category over the last 10 years. An incredibly small number compared to the number of flight hours in that category over the same time period. Dr. Pinnell agreed that fatalities from medical causes are extremely rare even when looking at the data from all classes of medical certificates issued. When asked if he agreed that a drivers license-based medical standard provided an equivalent or similar level of safety as a non special issuance third class medical, Dr. Pinnell stated he did not agree. He said when drivers licenses from all the States are considered, there is a large disparity in what medical requirements must be met to be issued a drivers license. This explanation seems logical on its face. However, the reporting requirements imposed on any doctor provide a better level of surveillance than a visit to an unfamiliar doctor every three years; if a doctor treats a person for a condition that endangers their safe operation of a motor vehicle they are obligated by law to report that condition to the state issuing the drivers license, this is the part that seems to be completely missed or ignored by the FAA. Therefore, the level of safety may not be glaringly apparent up front but is implicit ... and significantly better ... than the status quo. Dr. Pinnell did admit that the third class medical as it exists does not provide a meaningful, durable level of safety, and recommends a medical certification scenario similar to what Australia uses, i.e. a national standardized driver’s license that would share relevant medical information via a centralized database.

Dr. Bob Achtel hosted a forum on Protecting Your Medical Thursday morning. After reviewing several disqualifying medical conditions Dr. Achtel recommended strategies to preserve your current medical and facilitate an easier recertification process including preparing for your exam as if it were a typical school exam, compiling and reviewing all the necessary paperwork and test reports expected in light of your particular condition(s) before visiting your doctor, correcting problems before seeing your AME, and scheduling a non-flight exam physical. When questioned as to whether the AME is obligated to report any disqualifying conditions found on a non-flight physical, Dr. Achtel affirmed the Physician-Patient confidentiality provisions supersede other regulations.

Later Thursday Dr. Michael Berry held a conference on Hot Aero-Medical Topics. Dr. Berry reviewed the hierarchy of the FAA Medical Branch and how medical appeals processes coursed through the agency up to and including review before the United States Supreme Court, if necessary. Dr. Berry suggested that a General Accounting Office review of medical certification procedures resulted in recommendations being handed down which mandated alleviation of issues that bottlenecked and frustrated the issuance of medical certifications. Out of those recommendations came the Conditions AME’s Can Issue (CACI) program which relegates certain medical conditions that your local AME can immediately issue within his own jurisdiction. Also coming out of the GAO recommendations is the AME Assisted Special Issuance (AASI) program that allows your AME a more direct and influential role in medical certification. Under AASI your AME will request and submit required supporting documentation and facilitate expediting a medical application with his own evaluation. The FAA medical division has finally delegated meaningful responsibility to those that are in the best position to make a determination based on your particular condition and observed abilities.



Cirrus Plans 125 Jets per Year!

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 Cirrus Plans 125 Jets per Year!
Cirrus plans to spool up production of its new SF50 Vision single-engine jet to 125 units per year.
July 29, 2014, 9:45 AM

Cirrus co-founder and chairman Dale Klapmeier said the company plans to spool up production of its new SF50 Vision single-engine jet to 125 units per year after the aircraft is certified in 2015. Klapmeier said the company is exploring various options to expand its production capacity to meet demand, including the foreign manufacture of components.

Cirrus, which currently counts 550 deposits for its jet, flew its first SF50 production prototype on March 24. That aircraft will be joined by two other test aircraft later this year. Cirrus has been flying a nonconforming prototype since 2008. Price remains pegged at less than $2 million. The SF50 will be available with optional weather radar, a “relief station” and upgraded interiors. “Aerodynamically, this is the final product,” said Klapmeier.

The SF50 will feature an emergency whole-aircraft parachute that will deploy from the nose. The canopy assemblies will be dropped from a helicopter attached to weighted barrels as part of the testing process.

The next two production prototypes are nearing final assembly. One aircraft will primarily be used for systems validation, while the other will be used for function and reliability testing.



In Honor of Johnny Winter, Rest in Peace.

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In Honor of Johnny Winter, Rest in Peace.

Birth name:  John Dawson Winter III

Born:  February 23, 1944 Beaumont, Texas, US

Died:  July 16, 2014 (aged 70) St Gallen, Switzerland 


Last Updated on Monday, 21 July 2014 13:36

Cessna Citation X+ Makes First Trans-Atlantic Trip

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Cessna Citation X+ Makes First Trans-Atlantic Trip


Flight Followed 'Standard Flight Plan' En Route To Farnborough
Following closely behind its recent FAA certification, the Cessna Citation X+ completed its first trans-Atlantic crossing in a normal business flight profile in 5 hours, 33 minutes for an average ground speed of 502 knots.

“We filed a fairly standard flight plan to demonstrate the capability a customer can expect in normal operations, and it was very impressive,” said Kriya Shortt, senior vice president, Sales and Marketing for Textron Aviation. “While the operator will realize a huge benefit from the Citation X+ during shorter cross-country flights, long flights like this is where it really shines.”

The Citation X+ flew from the Cessna factory in Wichita, KS to Presque Isle, Maine, then 2,788 nautical miles non-stop to Cessna’s facility at Paris Le Bourget for an event. The Citation X+ then completed its journey at TAG Farnborough Airport. For the trans-Atlantic leg, the aircraft made a direct climb to 45,000 feet, accelerating to an initial cruise speed of .86 Mach, then to .88 Mach for much of the flight to Paris.

“Just as impressive as the speed of the aircraft – and the time saved – is the large cabin, the comfort, and the smart cabin technology that really make this the jet for business,” Shortt said.

The new Citation X+ has seating for up to 12 passengers, a maximum altitude of 51,000 feet, an unmatched maximum speed of Mach 0.935 (536 ktas) and an increased max range of 3,408 nautical miles.

READ MORE: Aero News



Is Gulfstream Mulling A New Bizjet?

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Is Gulfstream Mulling A New Bizjet?

Some Industry Insiders Say An Announcement Will Be Coming Soon

While company executives are playing their cards close to the vest, there is an industry buzz that Gulfstream may be close to announcing a new business jet aimed at Dassault's Falcon 5X.

Business in Savannah reports that Gulfsteam president Larry Flynn (pictured in file photo) alluded to a new product announcement on a recent media flight in an interview with Flightglobal. Aboard a G550, Flynn said to a reporter "We know what we are going to do next, but we haven't announced what we are going to do next."

READ MORE: Aero News


Santa Monica Residents To Have A Say In Airport's Fate

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Santa Monica Residents To Have A Say In Airport's Fate

Industry-Backed Ballot Initiative Will Be Decided In November

A grass-roots organization has gathered enough signatures from Santa Monica residents to have a measure placed on the November ballot which would give them a voice in land use decisions involving Santa Monica Airport (KSMO)

Santa Monicans For Open and Honest Development Decisions says the Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters and Santa Monica City Clerk Sarah Gorman has approved the Voters Decide Charter Amendment for the November ballot. After Santa Monica voters submitted an unprecedented 15,700 signatures in June to place the Voters Decide Charter Amendment on the November ballot, the Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters was required to examine and validate the signatures.

The announcement ensures that Santa Monica voters will have a chance to be consulted before any decision by politicians to redevelop 227 acres of low-density airport land can go into effect.

“Voters will resolve one simple question: should Santa Monica voters be asked for their approval before politicians, developers and special interests can convert 227 acres of low-density airport land for their own purposes,” John Jerabek, a member of Santa Monica Voters for Open and Honest Development Decisions, the sponsor of the initiative, said in a news release. “We think the clear answer is yes. Voters have a right to decide a land use issue that would fundamentally impact the character of Santa Monica.”

Jerabek noted that the low-density land use at Santa Monica Airport protects the community from higher-intensity development that would add to Santa Monica’s well-known traffic problem. Just as importantly, airspace restrictions around Santa Monica Airport protect residents from the development of high-rise buildings within many miles of the field in all directions.

READ MORE:  Aero News

Last Updated on Saturday, 19 July 2014 01:52
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