No Need to Register Non-Commercial Drones

April Glaser, writing for recode:

The court ruled that the FAA’s drone registration rules, which have been in place since 2015, were in violation of a law passed by Congress in 2012. That law, the FAA Modernization and Reform Act, prohibited the FAA from passing any rules on the operation of model aircraft — in other words, rules that restrict how non-commercial hobbyist drone operators fly.

So, at this point, it appears non-commercial drones no longer need to be registered. I’ve said it before: I have no problem with the technology drones bring to the table. I do have concerns about the random people operating them, and their knowledge of airspace, regulations, etc.

It sounds like the registration process wasn’t too difficult to begin with, and even the drone community agreed with the requirements. This seems like something that will get worked out.

Rumor: Apple to Discontinue iPad Mini

Possible bad news for many pilots as the iPad Mini seems to be on its last legs.

According to a report from 9to5Mac:

BGR cites ‘a source close to Apple’ in reporting that the iPad mini will not be updated again and will instead by phased out over time due to decreasing sales possibly caused by lighter and thinner iPads and modern iPhones with larger displays.

The iPad Mini makes for a great size in small general aviation cockpits, especially when mounted to the yoke. I’m currently flying with an iPad Mini 4 in that configuration, and it performs flawlessly.

It appears Apple will be focusing more on their larger tablet sizes, which is somewhat sad. I’m sure they’ll be great performance-wise, but the Mini was the perfect size. We’ll have to wait and see.

NWS Releases Graphical Forecasts for Aviation

Yesterday, the National Weather Service released its latest product for aviation, the “Graphic Forecasts for Aviation.” Previously, the tool was only experimental, but it has now been upgraded to “operational status.”

The tool is a great way to visual current and future weather conditions. In this screenshot, I’m looking ahead a few hours to see the forecast for ceilings in my state:

Listen, there are a ton of great ways to get aviation weather. Apps like ForeFlight and WingX offer plenty of options, but I always end up back the NWS for real analysis.

It’s worth noting that flight service specialists won’t begin using the tool until at July, according to AOPA.

More to come from me on this, including a video tutorial on using the tool, but for now, check it out for yourself. It’s pretty simple to use.

Garmin Announces New Garmin Pilot Release

Lots of updates in this release for Garmin Pilot, the company’s entry into the electronic flight bag (EFB) space. I used to be a Garmin Pilot user on Android, but since moving to iOS, I haven’t kept up quite as much. It always worked fine.

Garmin increases device limits on Garmin Pilot subscriptions.

Additionally, Dave (Twitter friend) pointed out that Garmin seems to have increased the amount of devices allowed per account from two to three, allowing for two primary devices and one backup device.

According to Garmin’s blog post, new iOS features include:

  • Easily access winds aloft data from the radial menu for easy viewing at a glance.
  • Configurable radar color tables allow pilots to customize the color intensity of the radar returns based on preference.
  • Pilots can access and utilize the scratch pad in split-screen mode.

Garmin also beefed up their Android offering, including:

  • FastFind, which incorporates predictive logic to suggest airports and waypoints using current GPS location so entering flight plan information is faster and easier.
  • European Visual Reporting Points (VRPs), which can be overlaid on the moving map and be incorporated into a flight plan for easy navigation throughout Europe.

Are any readers out there Garmin Pilot users? If so, what do you like best? These seem like good updates.

Read all about the updates on Garmin’s blog post.

ForeFlight 9 Released

Yesterday, ForeFlight released version 9 of their popular EFB app. Lots of new stuff is packed into this release, but here are my favorites:

  1. Integrated Checklists – My airplane is simple, but I always use a checklist. ForeFlight 9 introduces a checklist feature that allows users to build out custom checklists for their aircraft. Watch this blog for a more in-depth review/how-to on this feature, or check out ForeFlight’s intro.
  2. Glide Advisor – I’m not sure anyone expected a feature like this, but it’s very nice. The Glide Advisor depicts your glide options in the event of an engine failure. It’s based on GPS data, terrain information and even winds aloft, with the right equipment.

Additional feature enhancements include logbook tweaks, Microsoft Office document support and an advanced feature allowing users to create customer overlays on maps.

For full release details, check out ForeFlight’s official release page.

Check Out This Small, Affordable ADS-B Receiver

If you haven’t checked out my post on building your own Stratux ADS-B receiver, you should do that. But if you’re like many people, the DIY route isn’t really the best option for whatever reason (time, comfort level, etc.). Here’s a new ADS-B option that’s worth a look.

It’s the pingBuddy 2 ADS-B receiver, and it should start shipping this month (March 2017). It’s the size of a USB stick and works much like any other simple receiver, giving pilots weather and traffic information.

In their own words:

Simply power pingBuddy 2, join the wireless network, launch your EFB software and enjoy subscription-free traffic and weather.

The receiver looks like it will work with most any electronic flight bag app, including the usual suspects such as ForeFlight, FlyQ and WingX. There’s actually a long list of supported apps, so I suspect whatever you’ve chosen will be just fine.

My Apple fascination aside, technology that works across a wide variety of apps is a good thing for the industry. And, it looks like this will be affordable, too.

EAA Releases Launches New Podcast

EAA has launched a new podcast for aviators titled “The Green Dot.” The title is a reference to the dots used at KOSH during the annual AirVenture event every July/August.

From the launch announcement:

The Green Dot features EAA news, general aviation topics, history, personal experiences from the hosts and a variety of guests, and anything fun, interesting, or cool in and around the world of flight.

With the explosion of podcast popularity in general, it can be hard to find content that’s well-produced and easy to listen to.

According to EAA’s description, this seems like it’ll be a good balance of stories and information. I’m hoping for more storytelling from an aviation podcast, so maybe this will deliver.

I’ll be listening to the entire podcast later today, but a quick sampling showed the quality is spot-on with this one.

Proposed Bill Would Ban 100LL Fuel in Oregon

Here’s an interesting development in the great state of Oregon. A new bill would ban the use of 100LL fuel in that state.

From the article on General Aviation News:

Oregon Senate Bill 115 and House Bill 2109 exist to “Prohibit selling, dispensing or using aviation fuel that contains lead or lead compounds after Jan. 1, 2022.”

Now, let’s be clear: It’s time to find an alternative to our current fuel situation. But this seems like a bill without much thought about the impact to the aviation industry in Oregon. And what about pilots who choose to fly in to their state?

The Importance of Vintage Aircraft

History is fascinating by itself, but make it aviation history and you have my full attention. It seems that most of society agrees, as it is often the case where a vintage car/plane/boat gathers all the attention at a particular event. We seem to be a people that yearns for the latest and greatest of everything, but (thankfully) generally takes time to honor a piece of history.

Continue reading

The DoubleEnder

I’ve watched a lot of aviation YouTube videos. Who hasn’t? The Backcountry Pilot channel is one you should bookmark, anyway, but this video featuring the “DoubleEnder” aircraft kept my attention until the end. Fantastic videography.

Zane Jacobson, writing for BackcountryPilot.com, shares details about the aircraft:

It is unlike anything the aviation world has seen, with its twin Rotax 914 push-pull engine configuration, its unobscured view over the pilot’s feet from the bubble canopy, its active STOL wing design using slats on the leading edge and enormous double-slotted flaps, and its super-beefy landing gear with 35″ bushwheels.

Definitely check out the video and the linked article.