Do helicopters come to mind when you think of Italian style, design, and luxury? Maybe not, but Mecaer Aviation Group (MAG) is changing that.
The company headquartered in Monteprandone, Italy, with facilities across the U.S., the U.K., Italy, Canada, and Russia, offers integrated systems for helicopters, general aviation, and business aircraft. Basic trainer systems are also offered for flight control, landing gear, and actuation systems. In addition, the certified company performs completions and modifications, as well as maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) services. MAG owns over 60 supplemental type certificates (STCs), and has the ability to write their own STCs under FAA and EASA regulations. [Read More...]
A few months ago, I was conducting a commercial pilot practical test for an applicant in the South Florida area. At the beginning of the exam, the applicant held up his copy of the FAA practical test standards (PTS) next to his face and took a selfie with his phone. He then proceeded to request I “hold on a minute” so that he could post the picture on Facebook. At the time, I didn’t really mind as this moment was significant to him. Maybe it was his way of calming his nerves: no harm, no foul.
The ground portion of the exam was going well as we proceeded into the performance planning portion of the scenario. We were a little over an hour into the exam, so I offered the applicant an opportunity for a short break. He accepted and proceeded to step outside. After a few minutes, I decided to walk to the FBO for a cup of coffee. As I walked outside, the applicant was holding his phone up with a selfie stick to conduct a live video on social media about the exam. To my surprise, he decided it was a good idea to turn the camera in my direction and introduce me into his video efforts. I waved in the direction of the camera and kept walking. To be clear, I was now getting annoyed by this activity. [Read More...]
With a new year comes a hunger for the new and different. Rotorcraft Pro presents a fresh look at which helicopters and equipment are under development as we start 2017. [Read More...]
Helicopter Event Coverage
The field of aviation training devices and simulators is an ever evolving and interesting area. As expenses increase in so many sectors of the rotorcraft industry, devices (which don’t move) and simulators (capable of motion) help contain training and certification costs. [NOTE: In this article, the terms “sim” and “simulation” are used at times to collectively refer to both types of trainers.] Sims can create flight scenarios that are too dangerous to duplicate in actual aircraft, and make practicing other procedures safer. For example, more fatal training accidents occur practicing autorotations than any other skill. Simulation for such scenarios can save lives.
Basic aviation training devices (BATDs) and advanced aviation training devices (AATDs) are now so affordable that primary flight schools have embraced using them to teach instruments, navigation, systems, and emergency procedures. Until the introduction and acceptance of these devices, these schools simply could not afford to acquire high-end flight training devices or full flight simulators.
Simulation is governed by two FAA groupings: those that fall under the authority of AFS-205 National Simulator Program, and those that are governed by AFS-810 General Aviation and Commercial Division. [Read More...]
During my first meeting with the Puerto Rico National Guard (PRNG) aviation unit, I casually remark, “If you guys work with marine assets around the island, it would be cool to include them in some of our photography.” Without hesitation, the U.S. Army major responsible for handling me pulls out his phone and says, “I know a guy who captains a Coast Guard boat. Maybe I can get him to join us in the bay for some photos with the helicopter.” Soon “Coast Guard guy” is on the phone indicating that he got the supervisor’s approval. If we want to work with his ship, he will be in San Juan Bay around 14:30 for an escort mission. As you will see, such cooperation and coordination is common in Puerto Rico, and born out of necessity.
LAY OF THE LAND … AND SEA
Puerto Rico is a Caribbean archipelago that includes the namesake island, and a number of smaller ones like Mona, Culebra, and Vieques. At 110 miles wide and 40 miles long, the main island is actually quite small, especially when compared to its western neighbor, Hispaniola, which includes the countries of Haiti and Dominican Republic. Still, don’t let Puerto Rico’s small footprint fool you. With over 3.5 million residents and a large tourist population, its diverse terrain has become a mecca for all things outdoors. You can surf world-class waves at dawn, spelunk the world’s largest caves by mid-morning, leap off a jungle waterfall in the afternoon, and summit a 5,000-foot mountain as the sun is going down.
During the night, darker, more hidden activities often occur. Puerto Rico can be a hotbed of drug smuggling, human trafficking, and other illegal activities. Although not its primary mission, the PRNG aviation unit plays a vital role in protecting the island and its people from some criminally bad guys.
However, the operational area for the PRNG aviation unit is not just restricted to the island itself. The area extends west to Isla de Mona (an island between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico), and all the way east to St. John’s, U.S. Virgin Islands. This expands the operational area to a staggering 7,600 square miles, with much of those miles over water. [Read More...]
ANVIS-9 TYPE 7 NVGs
Puerto Rican National Guard Aviation Unit
Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawks
Ever wonder how many times you signed your name and A&P number after the word “airworthy.” For me, it’s in the thousands. So, how does a mechanic define it?
For some, the definition is rigid: the aircraft must be in like-new condition with a pristine record trail. For others, it’s a gray area of personal decision, defined by an aircraft’s use, age, and regulatory compliance.
Regardless of interpretation, the airworthy condition of an aircraft is the core function of a mechanic. Yet, an official FAA definition of this fundamental word is lacking within our maintenance regulations and guidance material. Let’s try to find one.
Numerous articles, papers, and FAA documents offer various descriptions of airworthy. The common accepted version today requires an aircraft to conform to its type design and to be in a condition for safe operation.
Looking to the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs), essential terms and their definitions are usually given at the beginning of a chapter, part, or section, along with an applicability clause. FAR Part 1, Definitions and Abbreviations, applies to “Subchapters A through K of this chapter,” so it seems it would be a logical place to find a definition for airworthy, since our Part 43 falls under Subchapter C.
Unfortunately, the definition is not listed in FAR Part 1, or Part 43, or Part 65 for that matter. Given its significance, you would think airworthy, or airworthiness, would have its own part in the FARs. [Read More...]
Southeast Aerospace launched in 1993 in a one-room office in a strip shopping center. The four members of the Braddock family were the entire company. Marianne handled administrative duties; the Braddock boys sold. “We had a small repair station at the time with literally one bench,” Braddock recalls. “We’d peddle parts, take the profits, and reinvest them into the repair station until we built it up.”
The family business built up indeed. Today, Southeast Aerospace has approximately 130 employees who work out of 100,000 square-foot facilities in Melbourne, Florida, as a middle-market company. Father Braddock retired in 2014. Older brother John ascended to president and CEO.
Joe’s responsibilities as executive vice president include sales, marketing, and business development. While Southeast Aerospace’s impressive growth testifies to his success in these areas, his start wasn’t exactly auspicious. The young man would attend major exhibitions like Heli-Expo and NBAA, without always being properly equipped. “I was nervous. I didn’t know anyone, and nobody knew who I was. I’m not even sure if I had business cards back then,” he says with a trace of bemusement.
Yet, even without an abundance of confidence—or cards—Braddock dug deep and persisted. “I forced myself to go up to people and ask them questions about their families, etc. It was nothing too personal, but I wanted to get people talking so that we could continue the conversation. I just threw myself into the fire. I don’t see a lot of people today who want to do that, because they don’t want to take risks. Something ‘bad’ might happen. So what? If someone’s a jerk, they’re going to be a jerk anyway. If someone’s nice, then they’re going to be nice.” [Read More...]
RPMN: What is your current position?
I am a utility pilot and safety officer for the Tennessee Valley Authority. We fly MD530F, EC120, EC145, and Bell 407 aircraft in support of serving the people of the Tennessee Valley and its 16,000-plus miles of powerlines.
RPMN: Tell me about your first flight.
My first flight in a helicopter was an introduction flight in an R22 at a flight school, Higher Ground Helicopters in my home state of Ohio. It was only a half-hour flight, but I was hooked.
RPMN: How did you get your start in helicopters?
Originally I was going to go through the U.S. Army flight school at Ft. Rucker, but I had a bad skydiving accident shortly after my Warrant Officer Candidate School graduation. The injuries I received disqualified me from being an Army pilot, but they did not keep me from following my dream. After seven years of Army service, I used my GI Bill and started the professional pilot course at Higher Ground Helicopters.
RPMN: When and how did you choose to fly helicopters? Or did they choose you?
I think it was a little bit of both. Growing up, my church pastor always spoke of his time as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam, which sparked my interest. Also, my father was a volunteer fireman and I saw MedFlight of Ohio land at the local fire department for an LZ safety briefing. Being able to land vertically in a baseball field seemed much more interesting than landing on a runway. Those experiences were always in the front of my mind when it came time to choose a career. [Read More...]
meet a rotorcraft pro
A 15 September 2016 article in The New York Times titled “‘Miracle on the Hudson’ Safety Advice Not Carried Out,” had these sobering words:
In the seven years since an airline pilot saved 155 lives by ditching his crippled airliner in the Hudson River, there's been enough time to write a book and make a movie, but apparently not enough to carry out most of the safety recommendations stemming from the accident. Of the 35 recommendations made by the National Transportation Safety Board in response to the incident involving US Airways Flight 1549, only six have been heeded.”
The airline pilot referred to is, of course, Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who recently sounded a similar refrain on his Facebook page:
“I’m very disappointed so many of the important safety recommendations made by the National Transportation Safety Board after Flight 1549 have not yet been mandated by the FAA. Unless the FAA mandates safety improvements, airlines historically will not adopt them. We owe it to everyone who flies to act on what is learned from accidents, often at great cost in lives lost, instead of just filing it away to gather dust while we await the next accident.” [Read More...]
My Two Cents
The subject of solo requirements for the addition of a helicopter rating to an existing commercial pilot certificate, when the applicant does not hold a helicopter rating at any level, is a question not easily answered. To get the correct answer, you must look at more than just the experience requirements as stated in 14 CFR Part 61.129(c). Additionally, the method in which a pilot would log the pilot in command (PIC) flight time is confusing. In this article, we’ll attempt to provide some clarity on these subjects.
An applicant for an added helicopter rating to an existing commercial pilot certificate will all too often arrive at their checkride and not have adequate experience to be eligible for the practical test. In these cases, the applicant may have spent thousands of dollars only to discover that they cannot use those hours toward the rating for which they are applying. This can be a devastating—and often career altering—revelation. [Read More...]