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LAMP Looks Ahead With Sensible Aviation Weather Elements at Over 1,500 Airports

Most pilots are dedicated aviation weather geeks because, at the least, their lives, and those of their passengers depend on the crew’s current knowledge of what Mother Nature is doing at Chicago Executive Airport, the flight’s destination, and everything between them. To the list of the weather information sources that pilots frequent, the National Weather Service has added LAMP, for Localized Aviation Model-Output-Statistics (MOS) Program.

In other words, LAMP focuses on more than 1,500 airports (including Chicago Executive) and provides forecast guidance on “sensible weather elements.” Sensible means they are “perceivable elements” of weather, such as temperature, dew point, wind speed, direction, and gusts, sky cover, ceiling, visibility, obstruction to vision, precipitation and type, lightning, and convective activity. And as the capture from the PWK page shows, pilots can select the sensible elements they want to see. They can also get the same info in text form, if they are so inclined.

What makes LAMP a worthwhile weather product addition to any pilot’s weather briefing resources is that it is totally automated. On the downside, it might not be as accurate as a forecast tweaked by a human meteorologist, but the LAMP graphic is updated hourly. This hourly update incorporates the latest surface conditions to create hourly forecasts that look up to 25 hours into the future. Regardless of who or what is predicting the weather, no source is 100 percent, so LAMP pairs nicely with human-involved weather products such as a Terminal Aerodrome Forecast (TAF).

At each airport’s LAMP page pilots can access fresh forecast info for the next 24 hours. The page delivers both “categorical and probabilistic forecast guidance” on the given elements, and using the selection click-boxes at the top of the page, pilots can extract the information they want. When selecting the ceiling and visibility category forecast, it includes a “conditional forecast” that takes precipitation into account. “This data attempts to account for some of the temporary fluctuations that occur in flight.”

To learn more about the LAMP, visit its homepage on the Meteorological Development Lab.

Avoid Convective Weather With New Aviation Weather Center Forecast

Knowing what Mother Nature has in store is critical for pilots planning a cross-county flight. Generally, this research starts with the big picture, with specific interest in areas of convective activity such as thunderstorms between Chicago Executive Airport and their destination. The Aviation Weather Center has made this big-picture easier to grasp with its TFM Convective Forecast (TCF).

The forecast is a collaborative effort that creates a high-confidence representation of convective activity for those making traffic flow decisions. But pilots should find looking at it beneficial because they can see how Mother Nature might affect their cross-country flights out of Chicago Exec.

Available for this year’s convective weather season, which runs from March 1 through October, the TCF is the result of the two-year Collaborated Aviation Weather Statement (CAWS) demonstration. (An auto-TCF begins in November 2017 and runs through March 2018.) Succinctly, the TCF is an agreed upon forecast, compiled from a variety of weather sources, for use by all traffic flow managers.

Collaborated between the National Weather Service and industry meteorologists and available online at www.aviationweather.gov/tcf, the TCF is issued every 2 hours, with 4, 6, and 8-hour forecast projections 24/7. All areas depicted on the graphics will be “high confidence,” meaning meteorologists are better than 50 percent sure of it. TCF graphically indicates convective coverage. Tops of the convective activity are given in 5,000-foot increments starting at 25,000 feet and extending above 40,000 for you high flyers.

TCF is the primary convective guidance traffic flow managers use to plan their efforts to safely and efficiently guide rivers of airplanes across the country. If you’re interested in more information about TCF or Traffic Flow Management, visit its online Learning Center.

Don’t Lead Other Aircraft Astray With Improper ADS-B & Transponder Tests

Apparently technicians conducting ground tests of transponders and ADS-B Out system have not been following all of the recommended procedures because the FAA has received a number of reports that the aircraft being tested has transmitted position information, including a simulated altitude.

What makes this situation a problem is that aircraft in flight received this test information, and when the test aircraft’s simulated ADS-B altitude was too close to that of another aircraft in flight, let’s just say that the pilots of the flying aircraft were more than a little bit concerned.

In one instance, said FAA Safety Alert for Operators 17002, which addressed this problem, the ADS-B Out test that transmitted a simulated altitude triggered a TCAS (traffic alert and collision avoidance system) resolution advisory (which way to go, such as climb, to avoid a midair collision) on a Boeing 737 on an approach.

Given Chicago Exec’s proximity to TCAS-equipped aircraft conducting terminal operations, it behooves everyone to invest a few minutes in reading the SAFO and ensuring that all test operations follow the proper procedures. And this applies to the operators of all aircraft equipped with ADS-B.

Following the proper procedures is the easiest way to avoid leading airborne aircraft astray with ghostly ADS-B position and altitude reports from aircraft being tested on the ground. There is little chance of this happening if the transponder and ADS-B system being tested has their transmission leads connected directly to the test equipment and not their respective antennas.

But depending on the aircraft, making this test-equipment connection is not always possible. In that case, the antennas must be shielded to prevent position and simulated altitude reports being transmitted to the air traffic control system and TCAS-equipped aircraft in the area.

To test the altitude reporting component of these systems, the test equipment is connected to the pitot-static system, which allows the technician to raise or lower the air pressure the system senses. This simulates the air pressure at different altitudes.

As a backup to following the proper transponder and ADS-B test procedures and effective antenna shielding, when required, technicians testing these systems should also notify the nearest air traffic control facility (that would be the Chicago Exec tower) about the impending tests.

Before they call, the should review the relevant guidance in the current Advisory Circular 29-151, “ Airworthiness Approval of TCAS II and Associated Mode S Transponders,” AC 43.6, “Altitude Reporting Equipment and Transponder System Maintenance and Inspection Practices,” and AC 20-165, “Airworthiness Approval of Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast Out Systems.”

Chicago Executive Airport’s EMAS System Earns Top Award

Chicago Executive Airport’s Safety System Earns Top Award

Some of you might recall an incident in January of last year when during an early morning arrival, a Falcon 20 cargo jet crew realized after touchdown on Runway 16 that they wouldn’t be able to halt their aircraft before the end of the runway. Landing to the south, Palatine Road runs east to west just off the airport’s property. Luckily for all involved, the airport had recently installed an Engineered Material Arresting System at both ends of the long runway. Landing to the south that morning, the Falcon ran into the EMAS system that safely stopped the airplane in just a few seconds with very little damage to the aircraft and zero injuries to anyone. That EMAS was installed because there was not enough flat surface available at either end of the runway to serve as the normal runway safety area demanded by the FAA.

That EMAS project, let by the airport’s engineering firm Crawford, Murphy & Tilly was recently honored with a Merit Award at ACEC Illinois’ annual Engineering Excellence Award banquet earlier this month.

The Chicago Executive Airport Runway Safety Area Improvement project demonstrated how engineering ingenuity can help an airport continue to thrive despite a tightly-constrained environment. Due to those space restrictions, CMT proposed, designed, and championed for both approval and funding for the EMAS that saved the day in January 2016. EMAS allowed the airport to improve the runway safety area without the need to use any additional real estate and without sacrificing the level of operations at the state’s third busiest airport.

CMT vice president Brian Welker said, “It’s certainly an honor for CMT, but I’m especially grateful that Chicago Executive Airport is being recognized for all the work they’ve done. They’ve been committed to improving their facility for many years now. PWK is an invaluable asset, both to the people and businesses who use the airport, and to the overall economy of the region.”

Nice job folks.

What Are Your Kids Doing This Summer?

If you have young people around your house, you probably know the number of summer jobs for kids continues to dwindle. The ones that do come along are often boring minimum wage positions too.

But what if your teenager was offered the chance to earn some money AND gather some valuable work experience … at well … an airport?

Here’s that big opportunity …Click here for details

 

Are You a Pilot or Even Just Interested?

The new year has brought us face to face with a number of great local events for pilots or folks thinking about learning to fly  … and even people who just find the idea of leaving the ground a fascinating idea. I forgot one other possibility … you’re the spouse or significant other of some poor soul addicted to things that fly.

The 99’s VFR/IFR Safety Seminar, Aviation Expo and Companion Flyers Course

First up is the 20th IFR/VFR Safety Seminar and Aviation Expo organized by the Chicago Chapter of the 99’s, the international organization of licensed women pilots. It happens Saturday January 28th at the Holiday Inn, 860 West Irving Park Road in Itasca. On-site registration begins at 8 am and sessions run until 3:30 pm. The event is broken down into interesting and practical talks aimed at both instrument rated pilots and those who are still dashing around in clear airspace beneath the clouds and away from poor weather. Best of all though, there’s a flying companion course for those people interested in learning more about what’s really happening in flight when they normally just sit patiently watching from the right seat. A dozen and a half different vendors will also be on hand who are all too happy to explain where their company fits into the aviation world.

Pre-registration is not needed and of course, the entire event is free of charge … although, I bet the local 99’s chapter folks would be grateful for any donation you might want to make on the 28th to help them fund great programs like this.

IMC Club Returns

The IMC Club returns to Chicago Executive Airport (PWK) beginning February 22 beginning at 6: 30 pm at the Ramada Plaza Hotel 1090 S. Milwaukee Ave (east side of the airport) in Wheeling. While the first meeting takes place at the Ramada, Club meeting locations will alternate between the hotel and Signature Flight Support. The IMC Club, now run by the EAA to promote the idea that instrument rated pilots are only at their best when they remain proficient. Each month, the IMC Club will meet to bring together instrument pilots and flight instructors for frank discussions to improve their understanding of how best to operate in the national airspace system though the myriad of IFR procedures that keep air traffic flowing smoothly, as well as how both new and old cockpit technologies support these efforts. The real benefit of the IMC Club sessions are those discussions that nearly everyone in the room seems to participate in. Pilots talk about some of the good and the bad IFR flights or issues they’ve personally experienced.

Starting next month, the Chicago Executive Pilots Association (CEPA) will begin serving as host organization for the IMC Club at PWK. More information about CEPA and the IMC Club is available from their website where you can also sign up for their monthly newsletter. Or of course, you could just bring yourself over to the Ramada where they should have the rest of the sessions figured out by Feb. 22.

The IMC Club is the brainchild of Radek Wyrzykowski, a master certified flight instructor-instrument and multiengine instructor who will be on hand for the Feb. 22nd meeting. He’ll be joined that night by air traffic control personnel from the Chicago TRACON to discuss proposed changes to MDW Charlie airspace, the ORD modernization program, local IFR and VFR routings and other interesting topics. In case you’re after a look-see at the IMC Club before next month’s local kickoff meeting, visit their online forum where you’ll be able to sample a bit of the chatter about people who fly in the clouds … or want to. For those of you who can’t live without Facebook, you’ll find the IMC Club has a page there too.

More information about the IMC Club as well as local CEPA events, they’re all listed in each month’s CEPA newsletter, so click and read. January 2017 CEPA Newsletter

If you find these events interesting, don’t keep them a secret … pass around our link. And don’t forget to visit chiexec.com and signup for our newsfeed to stay in touch with other events..

Some Christmas Advice to New Drone Operators

A Little Advice to New Drone Operators

Dear Drone Owner:

Welcome to the aviation industry. You’re not alone. The Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Transportation (IG) believes that when 2016 comes to an end in a few weeks, between 2 and 2.5 million new drones will have been sold in the United States. Adding in the million or so already flying, the result could well make for some pretty crowded airspace.

One area where we really don’t need any drones though, thank you very much, is in the airspace around airports like Chicago Executive, home to dozens of large business airplanes, as well as a variety of smaller personal aircraft. But that also means you need to avoid O’Hare and DuPage and Waukegan and even Schaumburg Airports. A collision between even a small drone and an airplane could lead to a disaster. We’re honestly not trying to scare folks, but we need to be realistic if we’re all going to start mixing up in the same airspace.

uasThe DOT worries about the same thing, because as the number of active drones increases, so too have the number of incidents involving these new aircraft appearing where they either aren’t expected or aren’t allowed. The DOT said earlier this month for instance, that in the past year, slightly more than two thirds of the of the reports of drones posing a potential risk to indicated they were flying above the 400-foot ceiling allowed by Part 107. Fully 29 percent were in-fact observed flying at altitudes above 3,000 feet AGL.

That’s not good for anyone, airports, aircraft pilots and passengers or drone operators. While we’re all having fun enjoying this new category of flying machine and will continue to do so in ways that probably haven’t even been thought of just yet, we thought it might be just the right time of the year to remind drone operators of a few safety issues to keep in mind once they take delivery of that new DJI Phantom or a UDI.

Building a Drone Community

First understand that everyone in the FAA, the aviation industry, as well as the drone manufacturing, training and operators groups want to see drones become a huge success now and in the future. There are simply too many important jobs ahead that are just right for drones because they can be operated more safely than an airplane or a helicopter, like when they’re inspecting pipelines or windmills. Drones can be programmed to depart base for an inspection routine in weather no pilot would fly in. The drone doesn’t think twice. Once the operator hits the engage button, the drone departs and returns only when the mission’s accomplished.

All we folks on the ground at airports and many of the surrounding communities care about is that the operator has given some thought to how the drone will make the trip back and forth from home. We hope you’ll remember than flying anywhere close to an airport – any airport – is a really bad idea. The closer a drone passes to an operating airport in fact, the greater the risk since aircraft are closer to the ground as they arrive and depart.

While the government is still wrestling with privacy issues, we hope you, the newest members of the drone community, something that also makes you a charter member of the aviation industry, will also think about the rules that ask you not to fly over groups of people, even if it looks cool. A half dozen people were arrested and lost their drones last month when they flew them over the millions of folks gathered in Chicago for the Cubs Worlds Series Party. Many of those operators never gave safety of flight much thought at all, probably only the incredible footage they’ve grab during the flight.

But drone operators must consider safety each and every time they fly … their own safety, as well as the safety of those around them, whether those other people are across the street or across town. Some reasons for considering the safety of others are obvious, but there’s another that few new drone owners will be thinking about.

All the industry needs is one significant accident somewhere along the way, just one, in which some thoughtless person decides to try something they shouldn’t, like flying to close to a group of people at a concert or too near an airplane heading in for a landing. One accident could ruin this budding industry, not just for some apathetic pilot, but for everyone else as well.

With that in mind, here are few items to consider should you find a drone under the tree this year, or if you’ve already brought one home. For information too, a drone is also known by a variety of names depending upon who the audience is, so get used to seeing the UAS, UAV and RPV acronyms. They all mean drone.

  1. Spend a few minutes and read “Getting Started,” on the FAA website.
  1. Check out this summary of Part 107, the FAA rule that explains drone operations.
  1. If your aircraft weights more than roughly eight ounces, you must register it with the FAA. That’s easy enough to do right here.
  1. You must be at least 16 years of age in order to register and fly a drone.
  1. Be aware that if you intend to use your drone commercially, you’ll need to earn the FAA’s new small-unmanned aircraft system certificate. Here’s what you’ll need to know.uas-certificate
  1. Never fly your drone near an airport, or over crowds of people you don’t know.
  2. Never fly your drone higher than 400 feet above the ground and remember you must always keep your drone in sight at all times.
  1. Finally, don’t forget to stop by our drone resource page from time to time for updates to drone operations. You can always subscribe too and we’ll send you info as it becomes current.

As we say in the flying business, fly safe always … and don’t forget to have fun.

 

Mr. Abbott Goes to Tokyo

Mr. Abbott Goes to Tokyo

jamie-tokyo

Jamie Abbott speaks to EMAS seminar audience in Tokyo last month

Late in September, Chicago Executive Airport Executive Director, Jamie Abbott, was invited to speak about EMAS, the engineered material arresting system installed on both ends of the airport longest runway 16/34. EMAS is designed to snag an airplane that normally might have run off the end of the runway, possibly spilling on to nearby highways. The airport’s EMAS was just installed last fall.

The seminar was organized to share information between an airport operator like PWK and a potential Zodiac Aerospace customer. Zodiac, the original designer of the EMAS, covered all travel expenses for Mr. Abbott’s trip. While this kind of invite normally wouldn’t raise anyone’s interest, this one did, because Zodiac’s customer was in Tokyo. In fact, the customer team was actually comprised of the Japan Civil Aeronautics Bureau, the Regional Civil Aeronautics Bureau, Narita International Airport and Japan Ministry of Defense. In all, about 50 people were in attendance. The team from Japan was trying to decide whether or not to install EMAS at Tokyo’s Narita International airport.

EMAS Falcon

Falcon 20 resting in the EMAS bed at the south end of the airport last January

EMAS is constructed of light concrete bricks that crumble beneath the weight of an aircraft, quickly slowing the machine to a halt, usually with minimal damage to the airplane. EMAS bricks safely stopped a Boeing 747 and an MD-11 aircraft when they overran runways at New York’s JFK airport some years ago. With the paint on Executive airport’s new EMAS barely dry last January, the system was put to the test about 4 a.m. when a Falcon 20 cargo jet struck the barrier at the south end of the airport after it was unable to stop while attempting to land on runway 16. The aircraft was barely scratched and there were no injuries to either of the two pilots.

With the training for airport and local firefighting crews still fresh, emergency crews responded quickly with each element of the incident response working just as expected. The aircraft was pulled out of the barrier later that day to be made ready to fly again.

The EMAS system, while still serviceable, did require repairs in order to bring it back to 100 percent strength. That meant ordering replacement blocks and scheduling crews to handle the repairs. Of course Executive airport had no experience with the process of repairing the EMAS, which meant quite a bit of interaction with insurance companies, the FAA and EMAS creator Zodiac Aerospace. These interactions were precisely what the people in Japan wanted to hear more about.

Mr. Abbott said the FAA spoke first about why U.S. airports have runway safety areas (RSA) and how valuable a product like EMAS can be to airports that don’t have the real estate for a standard RSA, like Executive. “Then they turned it over to me to explain how and why we chose the product,” Abbott explained.

“I also spoke about how we paid for the EMAS and details about the construction process, as well as how to inspect the system and maintain it.” In all, about 50 people attended the Tokyo event that was presented to the audience mainly through a Japanese translator.

md-11-at-jfk

MD-11 rests in JFK EMAS bed

When asked why it was important enough to bring our Executive Director to Japan, Abbott said, “I think because our use of the EMAS barrier by that Falcon was such a textbook case. Everything worked just the way it was intended.” Abbott said there seemed to be tremendous benefits for the Japanese in the airport operator-to-airport operator kind of format used during the event.

Runway Construction Season Ends

It’s Been a Long, Hot Construction Summer

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The principal construction for the Runway 16/34 Rehabilitation Project has been completed and all runways and taxiways are open again.

While the trucks have all pretty much disappeared, there are still a few items not quite back to normal that everyone needs to know about.

Outstanding

The FAA requires a flight check before they’ll allow the runway 16 ILS to be recommssioned. The tentative date is early October, but we’ll post a precise date for your planning purposes as soon as we can.  The Land and Hold Short Lights on runway 16 will remain out of service briefly until they are recalibrated. All PAPIs are back in operation as well.

The Illinois Department of Transportation’s Aeronautics Division is also trying to schedule their post-construction inspection of the new runway. We don’t anticipate any issues, but there is always the chance the the IDOT folks might see something that requires a bit of corrective action. 

The Facts, Just the Facts

Because he amount of materials needed for a project of this size is always greater than anyone imagines, we wanted to share with you a few runway construction facts.

Seven different contractors teamed up to create the new runway surface. The initial work began when 20,000 tons asphalt milled and hauled off. The new surface added back some 21,500 tons of new asphalt. They used 150,000 sq. ft. of temporary marking paint, but only 130,000 sq. ft. of permanent paint. 

Construction efforts created 75,500 sq. yds. of new grooving and added 50 new runway lights. The lights demanded the installation of 20,000 sq. ft. of new cable. Finally, crews graded down three acres of shoulder area.

The Low Down on Drones That Every Operator Needs to Know

Phantom 3Part 107 Drone Rule is Here

In case you missed the news, the FAA last week made Part 107, governing the commercial use of drones, the law of the land. Part 107, containing the operational and safety rules for drones, is expected to make it easier to organize and certify the pilots who operate them. From this point forward, commercial drone operators must possess a special-issue remote pilot operator certificate to fly an unmanned aerial system (UAS) weighing less than 55 pounds. UAS is the FAA’s term, for what the rest of us have been calling drones.

Hobbyist operators – people who will not be paid for flying – are not required to be licensed, although they are still expected to understand the operational guidelines that apply to that segment, such as a prohibition against any flights within 5 miles of an airport, no flights above 400 feet AGL and no flying over crowds of people such as at public events. The agency organized hobbyist guidelines for distribution here, Fly for Fun.

For commercial operators, Part 107 eliminates the need to file a time-consuming waiver application before each and every flight operation. One major exception to that rule is also flight within 5 miles of an airport. Even for commercially licensed drone pilots, this kind of flying is prohibited, until the operator receives a waiver from the FAA specifically approving the work.

Becoming a Remote Pilot Operator

There are two paths to licensing, one if the operator has never held a pilot certificate and another for airmen that already possess an active pilot certificate. Newcomers, who are at least 16 years of age, should expect some studying in order to pass an FAA Knowledge Exam administered at a local testing center at a cost of about $150. Following that test, a TSA background check is required before the certificate’s issued.

Current pilots proceed along a different path, being required to complete the FAA’s Part 107 UAS online training course and an identity check before they’ll see a temporary airmen certificate. Licensed pilots may be a bit surprised to learn their new certificate will not be tacked on their current one and will also carry a new number specific to the “Remote Pilot” certificate.

A Little Help From Your Friends

Despite the issuance of Part 107, many drone operators and potential operators are bound to have questions about what they can and should do to operate within federal guidelines and remain safely separated from manned aircraft.IMG_1189 2

On September 12, Chicago Executive airport is pleased to help in that quest for knowledge by working with Vortex UAS and Atlantic Aviation to present an hour-long session on the basics of operating a drone both commercially and as a hobbyist.

The session begins at 7 PM at Atlantic Aviation’s hangar, 1011 S. Wolf Rd and is offered free of charge to anyone interested in drones. In order to be sure there’s room for everyone, pre-registration is required.

More information on the Sept. 12 event is available via e-mail at rmark@chiexec.com or by calling the airport’s communications coordinator, Rob Mark at 847-537-2580, ext. 117.