Arizona Aviation Journal
10Aug/140

New Prescott Business Represented Best in Arizona Aviation and Technology At World’s Biggest Air Show

X-Copter Sunset_med (1)editX-Copter, Prescott's newest aviation business and helicopter aviation's newest simulation company, exhibited and demonstrated its next generation helicopter flight simulator at the world's largest airshow in Oshkosh, Wi., during AirVenture 2014.  The airshow attracted record crowds of over 500,000 spectators and 10,000 aircraft between July 28 - August 3rd.

After thousands of flight testing hours, X-Copter pre-viewed its generation-one helicopter training device during HELI-EXPO 2014, the helicopter industry's largest trade show. There, X-Copter is sharing features and capabilities of their simulator while anticipating approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The X-Copter is a primary flight training device for helicopter student pilots, private owners, and organizations who use helicopters in their daily operations.  The simulators boast three massive 60" inch high definition screens outside the cockpit (outside view), two high definition touch screens in the cockpit, and highly customized cockpit controls.

"In addition to recent FAA approval, we are very excited about our new leasing and financing options for our customers. We will make it very easy for a flight school or individual to acquire an X-Copter," stated Brandon Frett, Dir. of Simulation.

Based at the Prescott Municipal Airport (KPRC), the company has already produced and delivered fourteen (14) production units with an additional 10 units on order and in production. "We are excited about our recent success and our presence at AirVenture 2014. There are both domestic and international opportunities and we look forward to what the future holds.  Most importantly, we look forward to growing our business and bringing hi-tech jobs to the region," remarks Frett.

X-Copter currently offers helicopter flight simulation models for the Robinson R22 and R44 helicopters. In development are the popular Robinson R66, Bell, and Schweizer models.

1Aug/140

Phoenix TRACON Says Weather Advisories Restored

Due to some quick action by a number of folks literally across the country, the Phoenix TRACON reports they now have their weather feed returned to service for Northern Arizona. Curt Faulk, Staff Manager said, “We really did believe that this was going to be a long-term situation as of yesterday afternoon. It's nice to know that we can all react quickly when we need to.”

1Aug/140

Phoenix Approach Control weather information and weather advisories limitation

As of 07/29/2014, pilots receiving air traffic control services from Phoenix Approach Control within the state of Arizona, in the areas of Prescott, Sedona and Flagstaff are cautioned that ATC radar-based weather information and weather advisories from ATC are not available because of equipment limitations.  According to Curt Faulk, Staff Manager of the FAA Phoenix TRACON, the duration of this unavailability is unknown.  Subsequent information will be provided when these services become available.

6Jul/140

Navajo Nation Airports System Master Plan Underway

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Window Rock Airport. Photo by Dennis Corsi

With the much anticipated kick-off meeting for the Navajo Nation Airports System Master Plan (ASMP) held in May at the Navajo D.O.T. Transportation Complex in Tse Bonito, New Mexico, work on the comprehensive study of several of the Navajo Nation’s airports, led by Armstrong Consultants, Inc., is underway.

In keeping with the strong traditions and culture of the Navajo Nation, a blessing ceremony was held before the kick-off meeting in the early morning led by Mr. Philmer Bluehouse. The meeting was attended by those directly involved in the project, including Navajo Nation government leaders and staff, federal and state agency representatives, members of the consultant team, and Chapter community members.

The Navajo Nation Airport System is comprised of six airports included in the Federal Aviation Administration’s National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS); likewise, ten non-NPIAS airports are also spread across the boundaries of the Navajo Nation which extends over three FAA regions (Western Pacific, Southwest, and Northwest Mountain) and three states (Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah). These airports provide vital services to the Navajo Nation and the National Airport System including air medical evacuation (medevac), business transportation, government transportation, search and rescue, tourism and economic development.

These airports currently offer varying levels of facilities and services and are in varying physical conditions. In order to provide safe and efficient airport facilities and services, and to identify and prioritize the capital, operational, and maintenance investments, the Navajo Nation has sanctioned the development of a Navajo Airports System Master Plan.

Dennis Corsi, C.M., President, Armstrong Consultants, Inc.

Dennis Corsi, C.M., President, Armstrong Consultants, Inc. Photo by Jenny Watts

The primary purpose of this study is to identify and prioritize the improvements needed to enhance safety at the airports and improve upon operating conditions. “This project is special,” stated Dennis Corsi, C.M., President of Armstrong Consultants, Inc. “We [the project team] have a real opportunity to help develop great airports that will benefit the people of the Navajo Nation. We are grateful to be a part of this exciting project,” Mr. Corsi also stated.

Three Arizona airports, Chinle, Tuba City, and Window Rock, and two New Mexico airports, Crownpoint and Shiprock, will be studied and analyzed as part of the project. The major stages in the process to develop the plan include an inventory and an assessment of needs of the study airports, followed by the recommended development, capital improvement, financial feasibility, and airport layout plans, and a grant program guidebook.

An extensive Public Outreach Program will provide the Navajo Nation and the local Chapters an opportunity to participate in the planning process. The Public Outreach Program will encourage information sharing and collaboration among the Navajo Nation, airport users and tenants, resource agencies, elected and appointed public officials, community members, and the general public. Several Planning Advisory Committee (PAC) and Chapter House workshops are planned over the coming months.

Arlando Teller

Arlando Teller, Program Manager, Navajo D.O.T. Photo by Jenny Watts

The ASMP will help enable the Navajo Nation to secure funding for much needed improvements at the Navajo Nation airports. The Navajo Division of Transportation has been one of the driving forces behind the project since its inception. Arlando Teller, Program Manager for the Navajo D.O.T., expressed his enthusiasm about the start of the project when he stated, “Navajo D.O.T. is thrilled to have been instrumental in moving this project forward. The end result will be a working document that will offer guidance to the Nation’s airport capital improvement program.”

2Jul/140

Sky Harbor Offers Timely Tips for July 4th Holiday Travel

July is a busy travel time at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, and passenger traffic for the July Fourth Holiday is expected to peak before the holiday on July 2nd and 3rd and after on July 6. America’s Friendliest Airport® has several travel tips to make your trip easier and more enjoyable.Glamour nightmedia (1)

Save Money with Convenient Parking - Prepaid Discount Parking gives travelers the opportunity to park in the terminal garage at a reduced price. Travelers can avoid the summer sun by booking and prepaying for their parking using an easy online reservation system. Discounted parking is available in the Terminal 2, Terminal 3, or Terminal 4 garages. Those using Prepaid Discount Parking should take a ticket when entering the garage, then present the ticket and the prepaid parking confirmation (printed or on a smartphone) to the cashier upon exit. To reserve parking, visit skyharbor.com/prepaidparking.

Check your bags before arriving at the terminal – Early Bag Check is a handy service that gives travelers flying American, Southwest or US Airways the opportunity to check their bags before they arrive at Terminal 4 and avoid the ticket counter lines. The service is available at East Economy Parking, the 44th Street PHX Sky Train Station® and at the Rental Car Center. Early Bag Check is free, though airline bag fees still apply. For additional information, including hours of operation at each location, visit skyharbor.com/earlybagcheck

Additional important travel tips:

  • Arrive at the Airport two hours before your flight departs, especially if you are parking in economy areas or checking bags.
  • Looking for a handy pick-up and drop-off spot? Save time by dropping off and picking up your party at the 44th Street PHX Sky Train® Station rather than at Terminal 4. The station offers Early Bag Check and kiosks to print your boarding passes. It also offers a quick, five-minute ride to Terminal 4 on the PHX Sky Train ®. Wait for your party free of charge at the Cell Phone Waiting Lot or use a four-hour parking meter to ride the train in to meet your party. To access the 44th Street PHX Sky Train Station from the 202 Red Mountain Freeway, exit at 44th Street and head south. The PHX Sky Train Station is on the southwest corner of 44th Street and Washington.
  • Look through your purse or carry-on bag before you come to the Airport. A forgotten weapon can cause you delays, hassles, and even fines. Make your travel experience hassle-free: double check your bag BEFORE you come to the airport. Visit tsa.gov for information about what can be placed in your carry-on. And, remember, fireworks are prohibited.
  • For updated information on parking lot and garage availability, visit skyharbor.com/FindASpot or call our 24-hour parking hotline at 602-273-4545.
  • Visit skyharbor.com on your smartphone or tablet to access our award-winning mobile website. Check your flight status and find out which shops and restaurants are near your gate. Arrive early and grab a bite to eat at one of our new restaurants. Enjoy traveler favorites like Matt’s Big Breakfast, Four Peaks Brewery, Blanco Tacos and more.
29Jun/140

FAA Breaks Ground for New Tucson Air Traffic Control Tower

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today joined local officials in breaking ground for a new, $26 million air traffic control tower at Tucson International Airport.

At about 250 feet tall, the new tower will be more than double the height of the current tower, which is 55 years old. It will provide air traffic controllers with better airfield views and make it easier for them to determine the positions of aircraft on the ground and in the skies around the airport.

“This project is a great example of the FAA’s commitment to continually reinvesting in our nation’s transportation infrastructure,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Improving our facilities and making them as environmentally friendly as possible helps maintain a cutting-edge transportation system and makes the most efficient use of taxpayer dollars.”

13May/140

Aviation Explorer Post Holds Annual Fundraiser

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Photo by Stephen Sloan

By Claire Stern

In their quest to become young aviators, Aviation Explorer Post 352 is playing a large role in educating others about aviation history. For the second year in a row, the Commemorative Air Force Airbase in Mesa, Arizona hosted the Annual Aviation Explorer Post 352 Fundraiser Dinner. The Post depends on the dinner each year to raise much-needed funds and this year they had no shortage of supporters. The CAF was filled with more than 200 people all lending their support to the Post. Through dinner, a 50/50 raffle and extensive silent auction, the Post raised $10,000 – more than ever and enough to cover the Post’s flight insurance, hangar rental and also help with costs to overhaul their plane’s engine.

John Magoffin was the guest speaker at this year’s dinner. He knows a lot about aviation history having earned a page in the history books himself. Magoffin bought and completely rebuilt a Lockheed Vega DL-1B – the same type of plane used by Amelia Earhart to fly solo and nonstop across the Atlantic Ocean in 1932. On December 17, 2013 - 110 years after the Wright Brothers’ flight in Kitty Hawk – Magoffin took to the skies over Marana, Arizona in the maiden flight of his Vega - the only sole surviving example of the ten Vegas built with metal fuselages. Incredibly, it is the only flying Vega in the world today. Aviation Explorer Hunter Nedin’s documentary of the flight was featured at the dinner. He captured the maiden flight through video captured by cameras attached all over the Vega. The impressive and poignant video can be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NuyaxL39eCw

For Magoffin, speaking at the dinner was a way for him to help educate a new generation of aviators about an important part of aviation history, “The entire set-up of the aviation system traces back to lessons learned the hard way.” Magoffin heard about the Vega in Alaska in 1977, “when I got the opportunity to buy it I didn’t want it to slip through my grasp.” He said the rebuilding of the Vega followed what he calls the Rule of Two and Four: “It cost too much and it took forever.”

Listening in the audience was 89-year-old Ken Rabbit. He recalled homesteading in Alaska more than half a century ago and remarked that Magoffin had a “great experience putting that plane together.” Also in attendance was Matt Campbell of CSW Contractors Inc. CSW has been a supporter of Aviation Explorers for more than four years. While CSW’s work specializes in aviation projects, Matt also has his son in mind thinking that Aviation Explorers may be in the future for seven-year-old Kyle, “If kids have an interest in aviation, this is a good opportunity.” Other major donors were the CAF which donated the use of the hanger as well as Corporate Contributing Member Banicki Construction.

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Aviation Explorer Post 352

This year marks a big change for Post 352, after more than 18 years, founder Harold Bliss is stepping down as Post Advisor. He and his wife Marcia – who has been the Post’s Secretary and Treasurer – have decided to spend more time traveling. They are turning the controls over to Bennett Sloan (previously the Associate Advisor) who will serve as Post Advisor and Paul Thompson who is the Associate Advisor. Both men have sons who are active Explorers. Paul’s son Austin was one of four Aviation Explorers from the Post that soloed in the last year and Bennett’s son Stephen is now an Acting Adult Advisor. Stephen says Aviation Explorers taught him a lot about responsibility and taking initiative - especially when it came to earning his private pilot’s license, “It is a self-paced program and I realized that if I didn’t do it soon I wasn’t going to do it.” Stephen earned his license in May 2013.

Bennett is looking forward to the year ahead and has some additional goals for the Post. First and foremost, attracting more students - particularly younger students (the minimum age is 14) and girls. He’d also like to “bolster” the maintenance side of the Post. Although the organization has plenty of flight and ground school instructors, he says they could use “two or three additional qualified and available A&P’s. If something happens to the plane, we can’t immediately drop everything to run out to the hangar and fix it – we all have full time jobs!”

Along with learning the intricacies of flight and aviation mechanics, the Explorers also go on numerous field trips each year and help field marshal at air shows. In the year ahead, the Post is planning a trip to Las Vegas for the Red Bull Air Races and five more Explorers are on track to get their private pilot’s licenses.

For more information about Aviation Explorer Post 352, for details about volunteer opportunities, or to make a donation to the 501(c)(3) organization, call Bennett Sloan at 602-316-0588 or email bennett.sloan@gmail.com.

13May/140

Arizona Airports Holds Annual Conference in Yuma

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Barney Helmick, left and Joran Feld.

The 2014 Annual  Arizona Airports Association (AzAA) “Dutch Bertholf” Spring Conference was held in Yuma, AZ, April 27-30 at the Yuma Hilton Garden Inn and Pivot Point Conference Center. The Yuma Airport Authority hosted the event that saw more than 130 in attendance.

"The Spring Conference is always a great conference as it truly balances technical learning, networking and fun," said Jordan Feld, AzAA's outgoing president and Tucson Airport Authority employee, "but I honestly feel this year’s conference was one of the best conferences I’ve ever attended."  Feld said that Conference Chairperson Gladys Wiggins and her team did an outstanding job ensuring the program and events were top-notch. "I can’t recall feeling so immediately and meaningfully connected to the local community as was the case in Yuma."

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Gladys Brown-Wiggins, left and Senator Lynne Pancrazi.

At the conference, Barney Helmick, Airport Director of the Flagstaff Pulliam Airport, was elected as AzAA's new president. Topics presented at the conference included FAA and ADOT Updates, a session on Unique Partnerships in Aviation, Aviation Industry Updates & Trends, Facility Management and Putting Social Media to Work. A tour was also held of Yuma Int’l Airport.

Feld, who will assume the role of Immediate Past President, said the highlight of his presidency this past year was watching the Spring Conference unfold. "Words cannot describe the pride and humility I felt watching our volunteers, sponsors, venue staff, and others team-up and achieve success."  With great sadness, Feld said they are saying goodbye to their long-standing Administrative Director this year.  Michael Covalt retired after seven years at the post. "His retirement meant much of the Board’s work this year focused on finding a suitable replacement," said Feld. "I believe the Board’s efforts have ensured our family will be able to move forward and continue to grow."

This past year the association also launched the new AzAA website. Kevin Shirer, Woolpert Project Director and AzAA Webmaster, led the effort from beginning to end through countless hours of highly technical effort.  "Kevin’s commitment and passion for AzAA, like that of so many of our members, will always be in my memories as I now join the ranks of AzAA’s Past Presidents," said Feld. "Looking forward, President Helmick is a natural leader and I have no doubt that he will lead AzAA with the enthusiasm and strategic-thought he has demonstrated throughout his career."

9Apr/140

Embry-Riddle Prescott Teams with Wichita State on Airline Quality Rating Release

VirginAmericaInFlight1-1editU.S. airline performance in 2013 was the highest since 1991, according to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Wichita State University researchers who presented the 24th annual Airline Quality Rating (AQR) today (Monday, April 7) during a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Of the 15 carriers rated for performance in both 2012 and 2013, eight airlines improved, six airlines declined and one is new to the rankings.

The Airline Quality Rating (AQR) is a joint research project funded as part of faculty research activities at Wichita State University, Wichita, Kansas and this year for the first time, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott, Ariz., Campus.

The industry improved in two of the four elements of the AQR: involuntary denied boardings and customer complaints. However, performance declined in on-time performance and baggage handling in 2013.

The airline industry has performed well in recent years, according to the researchers. In addition to 2013 being the best year ever, Dean Headley, associate professor of marketing at the W. Frank Barton School of Business at Wichita State University, says the strong performance by Delta shows that a large, merged airline is able to compete with the best performing smaller airline.

“Bigger hasn’t always been better, but in Delta’s case we are seeing a large airline perform at levels usually only seen by smaller low-fare carriers.”

The AQR score reflects commendable efforts by the airline industry to serve customers in a capacity-limited air travel system.

“When you look at the past 14 years, you find that the airline industry performs most efficiently when the system isn’t stressed by high passenger volume and high number of airplanes in the air,” said Headley. “With continued capacity limits and consolidation, one would hope that a less congested system would perform better.

“The challenge is whether airline performance quality improvements at this level can be maintained as more people choose to fly. Or does the infrastructure and air traffic control technology limit what the airlines can actually do?”

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Dr. Brent Bowen

Dr. Brent Bowen, Dean of College of Aviation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Prescott, Ariz., Campus, said, “While airline operational performance is at an all-time record high, this does not translate to customers being happy. “Because airlines are solving operational issues and advancing in AQR elements, it is time to begin a new focus on serving travelers and expanding customer service.

“These results show that airlines that intend to do better, are doing better and improving. Those losing focus have declined. “With all this good news, the flying public should be informed of and alarmed about the very real pilot shortage caused by congressional mandate and the looming personnel crisis in Air Traffic Control because of arbitrarily changing hiring rules that eliminate the most qualified applicants,” said Bowen, who took the position at Embry-Riddle last year.

8Apr/140

Arizona Aviators Honored in Hall of Fame

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Ed Beauvais

Three Arizona aviators were inducted into the Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame on April 5, 2014 at the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson. The three honorees were Barbara McConnell Barrett, Edward Raymond Beauvais and Charles Eugene Mann.

Established by a joint proclamation of the Governor of Arizona, the Pima County Board of Supervisors and the City of Tucson in 1985, the Hall of Fame is a permanent shrine to Arizonans who have played a role in or made a significant contribution to aviation and aerospace history.

Beauvais, the founder and CEO of America West Airlines said he was honored by the fact that the development of America West Airlines is recognized as a key event in the history of Arizona's economy by a brand new company that saw what no one else did. "Its development since 1983 has truly put Arizona on the map for the world to understand that the aviation hub in Phoenix brought a whole new way to connect America's West to the World," said Beauvais.

The Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame is located in the Dorothy Finley Space Gallery and offers museum visitors a unique opportunity to acquaint themselves with noteworthy Arizona aviators.

An Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame awards dinner is held bi-annually during the spring of even-numbered years. Nominations are due by June 30th in odd-numbered years.