HondaJet: FAA testing to be finished ‘very soon’

GREENSBORO — Honda Aircraft said this week that it expects certification from the Federal Aviation Administration “very soon,” clearing the way for the company to finally deliver the first of its innovative light jets built at Piedmont Triad International Airport.

“We are expecting FAA-type certification … very soon,” Michimasa Fujino, Honda Aircraft’s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement released this week at a Las Vegas air show.

Honda is already building aircraft at its 133-acre campus at PTI, where 1,500 people work.

It has spent nine years and at least $2 billion, according to some estimates, to develop the jet but has delayed delivery several times.

This new statement is the most optimistic yet.

Fujino said the company has concluded its function-and-reliability testing, which simulates typical, in-service flight operations. Those tests include takeoffs, landings and other key operations in hot, cold and humid conditions.

The HondaJet has flown to 54 airports in 31 states as part of testing, the company said in the news release.

Honda Aircraft also added that the jet has further demonstrated “readiness for entry into service” after a world tour earlier this year through Japan, Europe and South America where the aircraft flew more than 300 hours.

The $4.5 million jet, which seats four people, is unusual in the industry because its engines are mounted above the wings. The fuselage is unusual because it is made of light — but strong — composite material.

The company has said for several years that it already has “more than a hundred” orders for the jets, which can be built at a rate of roughly 80 a year on the company’s assembly line.

Honda’s headquarters at PTI includes a maintenance and repair operation and a pilot training center.

Engines for the HondaJet are made about 30 miles to the east in Burlington at sister company GE Honda Aero Engines. That company received FAA certification for its engines earlier this year.

Honda Aircraft chose PTI in 2006 as its headquarters after operating quietly for several years in a nondescript research building.

Earlier this year, Fujino said at an industry event in Brazil that “aviation certification is a very complex process, which is why it is so difficult to enter the market.”

24-year-old pilot opens aviation business, racks up ratings

By Chappell Russell

If you’ve ever been to Montgomery County Airport in Star, North Carolina you’ve probably run into young pilot and business owner Preston Allen. In fact, Allen has spent his entire life growing up at the airport, and as his dad, Mike Allen, will tell you, “flying is in his blood.”

At age 24, not only has Allen opened his own business, Star Aviation, LLC, with friend Bernie Blake, he also recently accomplished something that is unheard of in the world of aviation.

Recently, Allen acquired a total of five new temporary pilot certificates

Allen has constantly been trying to expand his flying knowledge as well as gain more pilot certificates to accomplish his dream of one day becoming a professional pilot. However, as you can imagine, the hobby of flying as well as becoming certified to fly is not cheap. Allen came up with his own personalized flight plan to put him on the professional pilot tract as well as save him a large sum of money.

Allen had done his research on the federal aviation regulations and found a window of opportunity to overlap his experience and flight time requirements for commercial, instrument and multi-engine ratings. He searched the Internet for months, finally finding flight instructor, Dan Gryder, in Atlanta. Gryder was quoted in Russ Niles in AVWeb, “When he first approached me about it I didn’t think it was possible.” Though after Allen’s persistence, Gryder stated, “It took him 60 days to convince me to do this in 30 days.” Together, Gryder and Allen designed a training path that would allow him to keep the cost down from the traditional $100,000 that it would typically cost to obtain these five certificates, but also have enough training and testing to get what he needed.

Already having over 1,200 hours of private pilot flying under his belt and the required written test taken care of, Allen began his instrument training with Gryder Sept. 2. Most of his instrument training was done in a single-engine airplane, and the instrument checkrides were done in a twin-engine airplane. When he wasn’t flying the real deal engine, Allen used a Redbird simulator. Over a month, Allen racked up 100 hours of flight time, which Allen’s dad will tell you, is a “whole lot of flight training.” “I flew day and night between those 60 days,” Allen stated.

Save Your Hearing!

Say again?

By Amy Laboda

Cockpit noise is far more than just a nuisance. 

I live and work at a small airport. That makes me an expert on noise. I’ve heard it all, from the thop-thop of helicopter blades beating against thick morning air to the supersonic roar of propeller blades on a Cessna pulling it skyward; from the hum of GE turbofans on takeoff to the gentle chirps of rubber on asphalt, followed by a deep roar as the pilot hits the thrust reversers.

And that’s just what I hear standing outside my office. External airport noise, real as it is, generally pales in comparison to the hearing-damaging decibels most of us encounter when our ears are unprotected in the cockpit of a small piston- or turbine-powered propeller airplane or helicopter. I’ve been subjecting myself to these kinds of noises, both on the ramp and in the air for neigh on 45 years, first as a passenger, then as a professional pilot and I can tell you, hearing loss in our profession is real. And the fatigue that comes from being subjected to such loud and constant sound all day or night long is real, too.

Let me quantify this for you. How loud is too loud? Permanent hearing damage can occur from sounds louder than 85 dB, and physical pain occurs at around 125 dB. You decibel_exposure_chartcan burst an eardrum at 140 dB—a level reached by a jet engine revving up on the ramp as its pilot throttles up to taxi out for takeoff. The graphic at right shows how much a human ear can stand before damage. OSHA requires workers exposed to noise levels higher than 85 dB to use hearing protection equipment.

OSHA is not being overprotective. I fly one of the noiser airplanes out there, an RV-10 with a two-blade propeller. Two-blade propellers are longer than three blade varieties, and have been documented as making more noise. I’ve also got fixed gear, and no sound insulation (we never even got around to putting in a headliner). Measured decibels on takeoff from inside the cabin are—yeah I’m not going to tell you. It’s bad.

Our solution to the noise problem is pretty modern and probably as lightweight as you can get: we opted for high quality active noise canceling headsets. To cancel the lower-frequency portions of the in-flight noise, noise-cancelling headphones incorporate a microphone that measures ambient sound, then generate a waveform that is the exact negative of the ambient sound, and finally, they mix it with any audio signal. Most noise-cancelling headsets in the consumer market generate the noise-cancelling waveform with analogue technology.

Digital processing is the next frontier, and the realm of the high-end headsets. The most sophisticated ANR headsets use digital sound mapping to customize their noise cancellation. Bose A20, Lightspeed Zulu PFX, Sennheiser S1, AKG—these headsets demand a premium, but put them on and fly with them in a noisy cockpit such as mine, and you’ll understand why.

aloftTo prevent higher-frequency noise from reaching the ear, most noise-cancelling headphones depend on soundproofing and an excellent fit around the ear. Higher-frequency sound has a shorter wavelength, and is tougher to cancel out. In-the-ear headsets such as Clarity Aloft can claim to efficiently dull the higher-frequency sounds of wind over the fuselage (its louder than you’d think), and generally can do so without the need for active noise cancellation. On long trips it is nice not to have an over-the-ear headset squeezing the stuffing out of my brain. That said, a lot of people don’t like the feel of earplug-type headsets in the ear canal. And if the fit isn’t perfect the noise seeps in. For a price some of these headsets can be fitted with custom shaped ear plugs, but that requires an audiologist to fit them, and a lab to make them.

There are some people who insist that headsets are not the only answer. They spend a lot of time and money insulating their light aircraft cockpits from sound. Today’s lighter weight materials can, if properly applied beneath the floor panels, side panels, bulkheads and headliner, soften external low and high frequency sounds to bring the level at cruise down below 80 dB, but not much lower.

I’m not a fan of the extra weight and complexity that such sound deadening material can add to an aircraft (complexity comes in if you have a certified aircraft: think field approvals and STCs here). I’d rather spend that money on lightweight, high-end digital ANR headsets to connect everyone in my cockpit. I put that money into a decent audio selector panel and intercom, with the ability to isolate the pilot from the conversation in the cabin, when necessary. While I’m isolated and able to communicate clearly with ATC, my companions can talk amongst themselves or even listen to music during the flight. Everyone is happy, and their hearing stays intact.


Help Wanted: North State comes to Havelock seeking aviation workers

By Drew C. Wilson, Havelock News

Jesse has a new job.

For 11 years, Jesse Marks was a Marine Corps aviation mechanic on the MV-22 Osprey. On Friday, he accepted a new civilian position working for North State Aviation working on Boeing 737s.

Marks, of Jacksonville, was one of 12 former and current students of the aviation program at the Institute for Aeronautical Technology at Craven Community College to line up to interview for jobs with North State Aviation, a growing aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul business that just expanded its operation to the Global TransPark in Kinston.

North State Aviation is looking to capitalize on the growing number of veterans who are retiring or leaving the military in eastern North Carolina. Craven Community College is aiming to make sure that qualified veterans get the right certification that enables them to get civilian aviation jobs in the area. Getting veterans jobs in the state is one of the goals of Gov. Pat McCrory’s Military Affairs Commission.

“I think it’s an awesome opportunity for these students,” said Kim Zaccardelli, coordinator for the Workforce Development and Military Programs at the college’s Havelock campus. “When North State Aviation contacted us and let us know they were coming to Kinston, we were very excited about this opportunity. Connecting students with jobs finishes our goal of getting them education and put to work in North Carolina.”

Ronald Thomas Jr., from Newport, worked on the MH-60 helicopters in the Navy, but like Marks, found that despite his knowledge of military aviation, he still needed Federal Aviation Administration certification to get a job working on civilian aircraft.

“I was a helicopter guy,” Thomas said. “I really needed to be brought up to date on propeller systems and how those different engines apply to systems for fixed wing aircraft.”

Both men used the FAA’s 8610-2 process to get their airframes and power plant certification cards. An 8610 is an authorization from the FAA to continue toward an airframes and power plant license.

CCC offers a test prep course to prepare students for FAA test.

“With the airframe and power plant test prep, we fill in any of the gaps that they have not received from the military,” said Greg Purvis, director of aviation programs at the college.

Marks said he appreciated the college’s program.

“The college is awesome,” he said. “The program they have gets you ready for everything. Testing really wasn’t a problem. The way I was taught was that ‘This is what you need to know.’

“There is so much information that they pass that by the time you leave this course, you know so much more. Even though I had 10 years of work with military aircraft, there’s still so much more that I learned from the just the course alone.”

Marks eventually became a test prep instructor at New River before he was hired by North State Aviation.

Thomas said his course work cost him $3,200, which he said was less than other schools. Students spend eight hours per week for four months in class, with much of the working being self-paced.

“For the Navy guys getting out, especially E5 and below, getting this license was going to be a task, because for civilian aviation, you can’t do civilian aviation without this license so your experience in the military doesn’t mean anything,” Thomas said. “That’s what you find out when you get out. For me, it’s the ability to work in the field that I did in the Navy, what I trained for and what I signed up for out of high school.”

Zachary Pittman, a civilian from New Bern, started at the college in 2013 and earned an associate’s degree in aviation systems technology. He is working on his bachelor’s degree in aviation management and recently received his FAA license. He just applied with North State Aviation.

“Getting my A and P license and my education through here, it’s almost like you’re on a roster for employment and they can see you and they can find you and reveal all your talents and education and what you’re capable of before even meeting you, so you can get your employment very quickly,” said Pittman, who is currently employed at Fleet Readiness Center East at Cherry Point working on CH-53E helicopters.

Charles A. Creech, president of North State Aviation, said the company went from eight employees in 2011 to about 400, some of whom have come from the Craven program.

“We’ve had a relationship with Craven now for about two years,” he said. “We’re really excited about having the opportunity in Kinston when the facility presented itself there. We think it’s going to blossom.”

He said the company expects to hire about 110 more people in the Kinston facility, which includes a 20,000 square-foot hangar with another 20,000 square feet for storage and parts.

“I think the talent here, we have been very fortunate, the A and P school, the opportunities around here for work on airplanes, to get into aviation and know aviation,” Creech said. “All those things are very important to us. It’s easy to get somebody right out of school with a degree, but if they don’t understand the language, it’s hard to communicate. These people understand the language and they know what we’re going to be looking for in terms of the expertise and in terms of their work ethic. North Carolina has some strong work ethic, and that’s what we are going to be looking for.”

Spirit AeroSystems seeks qualified workers from Triad training program

Wichita-based Spirit AeroSystems Inc., which builds the fuselage for Airbus A350 products at its plant in Kinston, is partnering with Guilford Technical Community College’s National Aviation Consortium program to recruit 30 assembly technicians.

It is the first time that GTCC’s NAC program will work to provide trained workers for a company outside the Triad. The goal of the program is to provide unemployed or underemployed workers with technical and soft skills for aviation companies such as HAECO Americas and Honda Aircraft Co.

Thus far, 169 trainees have graduated from the NAC program, said Wendy Walker-Fox, project coordinator of GTCC’s National Aviation Consortium (NAC) grant. And of that number, 155 have landed positions with Honda Aircraft Co., which now employs more than 1,500 workers at the Piedmont Triad International Airport.

She said Spirit reached out to GTCC about the need to fill positions at its Kinston plant. Spirit AeroSystems is a leading aerostructures supplier to both Airbus and Boeing that builds structures such as the fuselage and propulsion and underwing products.
“They knew that we were running an NAC program, so they reached out to us to find out if we had graduates that were interested in relocating to fill those positions,” Walker-Fox said.
The scheduled interview day for the Spirit AeroSystems positions is Nov. 17 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at GTCC’s Aviation Center III building, 1053 Old Stage Coach Trail in Greensboro.
GTCC launched its NAC program in September 2013 with a goal to train 501 students by March 31, 2016. To date, GTCC has trained 473 students, Walker-Fox said.

The grant is part of a $14.9 million National Aviation Consortium project funded by the U.S. Department of Labor to prepare 2,505 students for aviation jobs over three years.