Think Safety First on July 4th

As you celebrate the Independence Day holiday, keep safety in mind. Know the aviation safety rules while flying your drones and celebrating the 4th.

Here are general guidelines for people flying drones:

  • Dont fly your drone in or near fireworks
  • Dont fly over people
  • Dont fly near airports

To learn more about what you can and cant do with your drone, go to or download the B4UFLY app for free in the Apple and Google Play store.

There are also strict rules prohibiting airline passengers from packing or carrying fireworks on domestic or international flights. Remember these simple rules:

  • Dont pack fireworks in your carry-on bags
  • Dont pack fireworks in your checked luggage
  • Dont send fireworks through the mail or parcel services

Passengers violating the rules can face fines or criminal prosecution. When in DoubtLeave it out!

For more information on the passenger rules for fireworks and other hazardous materials, please go to Leave the fireworks at homeFireworks Don’t Fly poster (PDF).

Source: FAAThink Safety First on July 4th

TSA's alien flight student program gets the AOPA pat-down

AOPA expressed concerns with the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Alien Flight Student Program (AFSP) in a June 12 letter to administrator David Pekoske. Cost prohibitive training requirements and ambiguity with TSA’s definition of flight school employees were among the issues AOPA called out in the letter.

Source: aopaTSA's alien flight student program gets the AOPA pat-down

FAA Surveys Commercial Drone Operators

If youve registered a commercial drone, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) wants to hear from you.

On June 19, the FAA sent a questionnaire to everyone who has registered a commercial drone more formally, an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) for anything but recreational or hobby use. Most of these owners fly their drones for commercial purposes, but the survey population also includes government departments and other users. Hobbyists are not included in this survey.

The goal is to collect information on drone flight activities under the FAAs small drone rule (Part 107), data that will help the FAA improve the services it delivers to the UAS community. Responses to the questionnaire are voluntary and entered 100 percent electronically. The survey will take about 10 minutes to complete.

The questions include areas such as number of drones registered, number and types of missions completed in 2017, primary locations where the operator flies and types of waivers requested. The survey also asks how operators want to get information about drone-related issues from the FAA, and how satisfied they are with the news channels they use now

The questionnaire is completely anonymous, so responses cannot be attributed to an individual.

So if the questionnaire is still sitting on your computer or mobile device, what are you waiting for? We wantand needyour input.

Source: FAAFAA Surveys Commercial Drone Operators

FAA cuts cost of training, proficiency

The FAA on June 27 published a final rule that will allow broader use of technology to reduce the cost of flight training and maintaining proficiency without compromising safety. For years, AOPA has sought and supported these regulatory changes that are expected to save the general aviation community more than $110 million in the next five years.

Source: aopaFAA cuts cost of training, proficiency

AirText introduces lower cost option

AirText LT

Late last year we reviewed a new connectivity option from a company called Send Solutions. Their AirText box offered a semi-permanently installed solution for texting and even phone calls, but at a price far less than traditional in-flight WiFi solutions (which often cost well over $50,000). While the AirText and AirText+ have found their way into a number of airplanes, the price and size meant they were out of reach for most single engine piston airplanes. Now there’s a smaller, less expensive option that will work in almost any airplane.

AirText LT
The new AirText LT is small enough to carry in a flight bag.

The AirText LT is half the price of the original AirText, and is designed to be carried onto the airplane instead of installed. Simply plug into the cigarette lighter and place the small Iridium antenna on the dash or by a side window. The 4.75″ x 3″ x 1″ metal box does not require any roof-mounted antennas or permanent mounting, so it can slide into a side pocket or a flight bag – even renters or flying club members can use it. Once the AirText LT is powered up, simply open the free AirText app on your phone or tablet to start communicating.

Compared to the AirText and AirText+ there are a few differences in features. Up to six devices can be connected at once to the AirText LT (vs. 16 for the higher end units). Also, unlike the + model, the LT cannot do voice calls. However, the AirText LT still has the thoughtful touches we liked so much on the original products: private messaging for each user (unlike many Iridium devices), smart notifications that tell important contacts when you’re flying, and the option to retrieve METARs and TAFs from distant airports. It will work at any altitude and anywhere in the world.

The AirText LT is available for $4950, including the box, 12V power cable, Iridium antenna, and carrying case. Data plans are reasonable: for $300/year, subscribers get 500 messages with no monthly minimum or maximum. After that, each additional message is five cents.

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Source: Ipad appsAirText introduces lower cost option

Production ceases for Cessna's speed demon

When it first made the scene in 1996, Cessna’s Citation X broke the mold by offering an unapologetic choice to those whose priority was speed—and lots of it. One look at its large 4,500-pounds-thrust Rolls Royce/Allison AE3007C engines and their oversize nacelles broadcast the message: Here’s a 528-knot, 3,450-nautical-mile, 51,000-foot fire-breather for those wanting to cover 3,000 nm with up to eight to nine passengers. With a maximum speed of 0.935 Mach it can cruise deep into the transonic speed range, coming enticingly close to the speed of sound.

Source: aopaProduction ceases for Cessna's speed demon

4 weather tips for Garmin Pilot users

Garmin Pilot has been expanding its weather options lately, with a particular focus on interactive map layers. If you’re only watching the radar and METARs, you’re missing a lot of good information that can help your next flight be smoother and safer. Here are four tools to use.

1. Make TAFs visual with the profile view. Garmin’s split-screen view is a powerful addition to your preflight briefing routine. The profile view shows your trip in 3D, with terrain, obstacles, airspace, and weather all displayed relative to your planned altitude. The en route weather icons in particular offer a lot of information in an easy-to-understand format, including sky coverage and lowest ceiling. To get the most out of this feature, you can move forward in time to see how conditions are forecast to change. Tap the timestamp at the bottom right and use the slider bar to see the TAFs in action. If you notice those white circles moving down, you know conditions are trending towards IFR.

2. Compare icing severity and probability. Icing is a serious threat for most piston airplanes, but fortunately there have never been better tools to help forecast this phenomenon. From the Map page, tap the overlay menu at the bottom left and select Icing, Internet. You’ll see an overlay on the map, but also a new button at the lower right: Severity+SLD. This tells you the map is showing you the severity (light, moderate, severe) of any potential ice, and is displayed in shades of blue. Supercooled Large Droplets (SLD), a serious threat for any aircraft, is shown in red.

You can tap on that button to change the view to Severity+SLD (>25% PRB), which shows the severity of icing conditions that have a better than 25% probability of occurring, or Severity+SLD(>50% PRB) for 50% probability. Finally, you can tap on the Probability option to see how likely it is you’ll encounter any ice – regardless of its severity. A smart pilot will use both forecast tools to get a complete understanding of the atmosphere. Remember to use the altitude and time sliders to see how icing conditions will change in the future and at different altitudes.

3. Alternate Selection Guide. When do you need to file an alternate? How do you pick one? Garmin Pilot makes this a lot easier. First, go to the Trip Planning page and enter your proposed route and ETD. The app will pop up an alert if your destination requires an alternate, per FAR 91.169.

Then, for help finding a good alternate, tap on the Alternate Selection Guide just above. This will show nearby airports and their forecast weather at your ETA. You can show all airports, or only airports with a TAF. You can further filter by airports with a runway over 5000 ft.

4. Show storm tracks. Weather doesn’t always move from west to east, and Garmin’s storm tracks feature is a good reminder. With the radar displayed on the Map page, tap the lightning bolt symbol at the bottom right corner. This will turn on orange arrows for major storm cells. The arrows show the direction of movement, and the marks show where that cell is predicted to be in 15-minute increments. It’s not precise, but it’s a good way to get a feel for a storm’s movement – especially if you animate the radar. This information is also available in flight with SiriusXM weather.

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Source: Ipad apps4 weather tips for Garmin Pilot users