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The FAA on April 24 released the official BasicMed Comprehensive Medical Examination Checklist that pilots who wish to fly under BasicMed need to fill out and have completed by the state-licensed physician performing the medical examination. The agency also published a link to AOPA’s Medical Self-Assessment: A Pilot’s Guide to Flying Healthy online aeromedical course that satisfies the requirement for pilots to complete a medical education course prior to operating under BasicMed.

Although qualified pilots cannot fly under BasicMed until May 1, they can go ahead and make a doctor’s appointment, have the checklist filled out by the physician, and complete the online medical course. Pilots will need to retain the completed exam checklist with their logbook, along with the certificate of completion provided after the pilot successfully completes the online course. Once these requirements are met, pilots just have to wait until May 1 to exercise the privileges of BasicMed.

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FAA DUI/DWI and Substance Abuse Medical Certificate Analysis and Defense

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U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation; member of the Senate General Aviation Caucus; and certified flight instructor with more than 11,000 flight hours, today introduced S. 755, the Fairness for Pilots Act, which broadens protections for general aviation pilots provided by Inhofe’s Pilot’s Bill of Rights, which was signed into law in 2012.

“The Pilot’s Bill of Rights and the implementation of third class medical reform have been great victories for the general aviation community, addressing the concerns brought to my attention by pilots across the country,” Inhofe said. “There remains more work to be done. Building on my past efforts, the Fairness for Pilots Act  increases due process protections for pilots, ensures greater transparency in dealing with FAA, and reduces the unnecessary bureaucratic barriers preventing pilots from flying. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate and the general aviation community to get this bill through Congress and enacted into law.” 

Read the full press release here.

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March 14, 2017

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#FAA chief to testify at Dec. 11 U.S. House hearing on grounded #Boeing #737MAX

#Lawsuit against #Boeing seeks to hold board liable for #737MAX problems

#Boeing Urged by #NTSB to Redesign #737 NG Over 2018 Engine Blowout

#Aircalin Grounds New #A330neo As "Odor Events" Cause Headaches and Eye Irritation in Crew Members

After #LionAir crash, #Boeing doubled down on faulty #737MAX assumptions

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An increasing demand for pilots in the commercial sector coupled with a desire to expand its curriculum have prompted Valparaiso University’s College of Business to add an aviation program to start in the fall of 2017.

VU will partner with Eagle Aircraft, based at the Porter County Regional Airport, to offer varying levels certification for pilots.

Tom Cedel, distinguished visiting professor and a retired Air Force pilot, is assisting in the creation of this program. Cedel said several factors have come together to make it not only possible, but advantageous.

He said the Federal Aviation Administration now allows for certification of pilots with fewer flight hours.

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The FAA has released a final rule on third class medical reform, though it will be several months before pilots can fly under the new program that the agency has named BasicMed.

eams of AOPA experts are examining the Jan. 10 announcement, which at first look appears to closely mirror the legislation signed into law on July 15, 2016. Pilots should note that BasicMed will not be effective until May 1, so they cannot fly under the rule until then.

“BasicMed is the best thing to happen to general aviation in decades,” said AOPA President and CEO Mark Baker. “By putting medical decisions in the hands of pilots and their doctors, instead of the FAA, these reforms will improve safety while reducing burdensome and ineffective bureaucracy that has thwarted participation in general aviation.”

During the announcement, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said, “I believe BasicMed is a win for the general aviation community, and I’m happy that our FAA team has brought it across the finish line.”

Read the full article here.

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“The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other members of the aviation community have developed new standards to improve safety at U.S. airports during inclement weather. On October 1, 2016, U.S. airports, airline flight crews, dispatchers, general aviation pilots, and air traffic controllers will begin using new Takeoff and Landing Performance Assessment (TALPA)standards to reduce the risk of runway overrun accidents and incidents due to runway contamination caused by weather and other factors.

The FAA developed the standards based on the work of the Takeoff and Landing Performance Assessment (TALPA) Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC), which was formed after the December 2005 overrun accident at Chicago Midway Airport.  In that accident, Southwest Flight 1248 ran off the end of the runway and into a city street after landing during a snowstorm.

As a result of the committee’s work, the FAA has developed a new method for airports and air traffic controllers to communicate actual runway conditions to the pilots in terms that directly relate to the way a particular aircraft is expected to perform. TALPA improves the way the aviation community assesses runway conditions, based on contaminant type and depth, which provides an aircraft operator with the effective information to anticipate airplane braking performance.

Learn more about airline accidents.

Airport operators will use the Runway Condition Assessment Matrix (RCAM) to categorize runway conditions and pilots will use it to interpret reported runway conditions. The RCAM is presented in a standardized format, based on airplane performance data supplied by airplane manufacturers, for each of the stated contaminant types and depths. The RCAM replaces subjective judgments of runway conditions with objective assessments tied directly to contaminant type and depth categories.

For example, using today’s assessment process, a runway that is covered with two inches of dry snow would be reported as “FICON 2IN DRY SN OBSERVED AT 1601010139. 1601010151-1601020145” along with Mu values as “TAP MU 29/27/29 OBSERVED AT 1601010139. 1601010151-1601020145.

A Mu number describes a braking co-efficient of friction.

Starting October 1, 2016, the same NOTAM with contaminants would be reported using Runway Conditions Codes as follows:

DEN RWY 17R FICON (5/5/3) 25 PRCT 1/8 IN DRY SN, 25 PRCT 1/8 IN DRY SN, 50 PRCT 2 IN DRY SN OBSERVED AT 1601010139. 1601010151-1601020145

The pilot or dispatcher would then consult the aircraft manufacturer data to determine what kind of stopping performance to expect from the specific airplane they are operating.

The airport operator will assess surfaces, report contaminants present, and determine the numerical Runway Condition Codes (RwyCC) based on the RCAM. The RwyCCs may vary for each third of the runway if different contaminants are present. However, the same RwyCC may be applied when a uniform coverage of contaminants exists. RwyCCs will replace Mu numbers, which will no longer be published in the FAA’s Notice to Airman (NOTAM) system.

Pilot braking action reports will continue to be used to assess braking performance. Beginning October 1, the terminology “Fair” will be replaced by “Medium.” It will no longer be acceptable for an airport to report a NIL braking action condition. NIL conditions on any surface require the closure of that surface. These surfaces will not be opened until the airport operator is satisfied that the NIL braking condition no longer exists.

Airports will start reporting runway conditions using the RCAM on October 1. The FAA is advising operators to develop procedures for pilots and dispatchers that address the changes to runway condition reporting procedures.”

– Federal Aviation Administration

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“A precedent-setting FAA enforcement case is being fought before a National Transportation Safety Board administrative law judge over the emergency revocation of private pilot Ralph Rebaya for his allegedly improper commercial operation of a 7 pound drone.  Until the FAA’s newly announced small UAS rules go into effect in August, a commercial drone operator is required to hold a manned aircraft license.

Mr. Rebaya’s case is the first time the FAA has revoked a manned aircraft license for flying an unmanned aircraft.  Although the FAA warned some time ago that pilots could lose their manned aircraft licenses for flying a small drone, it is surprising to me that the FAA actually took this drastic action, especially on an emergency basis. According to the FAA’s order, which was issued June 1 although the flights actually occurred in December of last year, Mr. Rebaya’s alleged conduct was so egregious that “an emergency exists requiring immediate action …with respect to safety in air commerce or air transportation.”   I will let you read the FAA’s complaint and decide just how egregious Mr. Rebaya’s alleged actions were.   I find it hard to understand why it took the FAA six months to decide that an emergency existed or how Mr. Rebaya’s alleged conduct – even if true – rises to a level that warrants taking away his right to fly manned aircraft.  In addition to questioning the FAA’s conclusion that the drone flights in question warrant revocation of his pilot’s license, Mr. Rebaya’s attorney, D. Damon Willens, of Los Angeles, challenges the FAA official’s authority to issue the revocation order.

Mr. Willens  filed a motion today asking the NTSB judge to toss out the FAA’s revocation asserting that the FAA official who issued the order did not have the legal authority to do so.  This is a stunning and unprecedented claim, in my experience.  I can’t recall a single case in my almost ten years as a Member of the NTSB responsible for reviewing appeals of FAA enforcement cases that a case was challenged because the official did not have the legal authority to take the action.  According to Mr. Willens, the emergency revocation was issued by the FAA’s Deputy Chief Counsel even though the regulation delegating authority to issue revocation and suspension orders did not include the Deputy Chief Counsel.  This is particularly disturbing to me because an emergency order is the most significant sanction the FAA can impose since it immediately revokes a pilot’s license – and in this case his right to operate a drone commercially – without the traditional due process requirements of notice and a hearing first.  Mr. Rebaya’s license was revoked on June 1, the day the emergency order was issued, and remains revoked today.  Requests for comment from the FAA on the legal authority of the Deputy Chief Counsel to issue revocations was not immediately responded to.

I checked with noted aviation attorney Kathleen Yodice – a long-time advocate for aircraft pilots and a former FAA attorney – about the significance of this case.  According to Ms. Yodice: “The FAA is normally very diligent about maintaining the appropriate delegations of authority within the agency so that any legal actions are taken in accordance with law and procedure.  It is right for us to expect this sort of diligence from our Federal government.  For the FAA’s Chief Counsel’s office to issue a document over the signature of someone who has not been properly delegated the authority to take an individual’s livelihood away is disturbing.”

Ms. Yodice raised a point worth passing on to anyone subject to FAA investigation: “…it makes me wonder if this sort of critical omission has occurred before but that someone who is not represented by counsel could not know to challenge the authority of the person signing the document.”

Forbes, Logistics and Transportation, June 27, 2016
John Goglia, Contributor
(Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own).

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[From Mashable] Commercial drones are starting to be used for tasks like inspecting oil rigs and crops. But they still require a highly skilled human pilot, and even those that are semi-autonomous usually use prebuilt maps or access the data over a wireless link.

Researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich are making drones more independent. They have demonstrated a small drone that can build its own 3D map of an unfamiliar environment with minimal help from a human operator, and then plan its own routes around a space and its obstacles autonomously.

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The Department of Transportation (DOT) is moving to require drone users to register with the federal government.

The agency said Monday that it is developing a task force to craft a registration system for drones after an increase in the number of pilots who have reported sightings of the devices during flights. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said the forthcoming registration system would help to reduce the possibility of midair collisions between drones and planes.

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NASA’s Working on It

[From KQED Science] Drones have been making headlines this year, and not in a positive light.

They’ve blocked aircraft trying to battle wildfires. Two have dropped down near the White House. Last month in Pasadena, a drone crashed near a stroller, cutting and bruising an eleven-month-old girl.

The Federal Aviation Administration is ultimately responsible for managing drone traffic, and is looking at how to develop regulations. But before drones can be used more widely, someone has to build a system that can track them and evaluate their flight plans, with an eye to where they should and shouldn’t be going.

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