FAA Grants Permits for Agriculture, Real Estate Drones


The Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday issued permits to use drones to monitor crops and photograph properties for sale, marking the first time permission has been granted to companies involved in agriculture and real estate.

The exemptions to the current ban on commercial drone flights were granted to Advanced Aviation Solutions in Star, Idaho, for "crop scouting," and to Douglas Trudeau of Tierra Antigua Realty in Tucson, Arizona.

Advanced Aviation Solutions plans to use its 1.5-pound, fixed-wing eBee drone to make photographic measurements of farm fields, determine the health of crops and look for pests. The aim is to save farmers time walking through fields. The drone also can carry sensors that pick up information invisible to the naked eye, which can help determine which fields need watering.

Trudeau's exemption authorizes him to fly a Phantom 2 Vision+ quadcopter to "enhance academic community awareness and augment real estate listing videos," the FAA said.

Full Story - Aviation Pros

'No Date' For UAS Rules


The FAA is now saying it doesn't know when proposed rules governing the commercial use of small unmanned aerial systems will be ready for publication. Congress has set a deadline for the agency to map out the integration of UAS lighter than 55 pounds by next September and it was widely speculated that something would be ready for public discussion by the end of 2014. FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Cory said there is now apparently no firm deadline.

Leaked copies of the working draft of the rules sparked widespread criticism a month ago, particularly the proposed requirement that commercial UAS operators have pilot certificates for manned aircraft. Meanwhile, the agency continues to hand out exemptions for UAS use.

The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District is the latest to get an exemption and will use two UAS to look for standing water in remote areas that serve as breeding grounds for mosquitoes. The district's executive director, Michael Doyle, told The Associated Press that the aircraft will fly between Key Largo and Sugarloaf Key and stay at least five miles away from airports.

AVweb

Lufthansa Signs IT Outsourcing Deal With IBM


Lufthansa has awarded IBM an outsourcing contract worth EUR€1 billion (USD$1.25 billion) that will see the US company take over the airline's information technology infrastructure services division and staff.

The move is part of plans by Lufthansa to restructure and cut costs as it seeks to compete with fast-growing rivals in Europe and the Gulf.

Under the seven-year deal, IBM said it will make the airline's IT processes more efficient, such as moving it more towards cloud computing, saving Lufthansa around EUR€70 million a year. Around 1,400 Lufthansa Systems employees will transfer to IBM as part of the deal, which was first outlined in October.

The deal is subject to approval by antitrust authorities and the Lufthansa supervisory board.

Reuters

FAA To Revamp Dispatcher Certification


The job of aircraft dispatcher may not get much attention, but dispatchers are essential to flight departments around the country, and the FAA has decided it needs to be more vigilant about how they are trained. There are 44 FAA-approved dispatcher certification courses in operation, the FAA said last week, but the FAA has no consistent policy for approval and oversight of these courses.

This lack of policy "has led to a wide range of inconsistencies with respect to individual course approvals," the FAA said. A draft revision to the Aircraft Dispatcher Certification rules has been posted online, and the FAA is accepting comments on it through December 22.

Full Story - AvWeb

FAA Orders 737 & 777 Cockpit Displays Replaced


The US Federal Aviation Administration is requiring airlines to replace cockpit displays on more than 1,300 Boeing aircraft to avoid interference from Wi-Fi and cellular devices.

Airlines will need to replace certain cockpit display units made by Honeywell International used on Boeing's 737 and 777 jets within five years, according to an FAA document.

The FAA said the display units were susceptible to interference from Wi-Fi frequencies. Independent tests conducted by the agency and Boeing both showed blanking on the screens when Wi-Fi devices were used near them.

The displays are also susceptible to transmissions from mobile phones, weather radar and mobile satellite communications, the FAA said.

Full Story - Air Wise

United Offers F/As USD$100,000 Voluntary Buyout


United Airlines and union officials said that eligible flight attendants will be paid up to USD$100,000 to leave the company through a voluntary buyout, in a deal that aims to end furloughs at the over-staffed airline.

The agreement comes six years after United, which employs more than 23,000 F/As, retired a number of its planes, leaving the company 2,000-plus flight attendants above capacity.

While 1,450 were still on unpaid leave for the company this month, United said that it now is recalling all of its attendants so they may apply for the separation payment or return to work.

Full Story - Air Wise

NTSB Report Cites Increasing Pilot Drug Use


The NTSB released a report on pilot drug use that, based on post-crash toxicology tests on pilots killed in aircraft accidents from 1990 through 2012, concluded drug use of all types, particularly over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, is up among pilots and that the risk of pilot impairment is on the rise.

However, the study did not evaluate whether there actually was any pilot impairment in any of the accidents in which evidence of even a small amount of a drug was found. The NTSB noted that the use of OTC and illicit drugs is increasing among the U.S. population as a whole. The report noted that, "the most common potentially impairing drug pilots had used was diphenhydramine, a sedating antihistamine and an active ingredient in many OTC allergy formulations, cold medicines, and sleep aids.

Although evidence of illicit drug use was found only in a small number of cases, the percentage of pilots testing positive for marijuana use increased during the study period, mostly in the last 10 years.

Full Story - AVweb

Lawsuits Challenge FAA Drone, Model Aircraft Rules


Model aircraft hobbyists, research universities and commercial drone interests filed lawsuits Friday challenging a government directive that they say imposes tough new limits on the use of model aircraft and broadens the agency's ban on commercial drone flights.

The three lawsuits asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to review the validity of the directive, which the Federal Aviation Administration issued in June. The agency said the directive is an attempt to clarify what is a model aircraft and the limitations on their operation.

The FAA has been working on regulations that would permit commercial drone flights in U.S. skies for more than 10 years, but the agency is still at least months and possibly years away from issuing final rules to permit flights by small drones. Regulations for flights by larger drones are even farther away.

Full Story - AP/Aviation Pros

Boeing Will Build Its Biggest 787s in South Carolina


Boeing will build the biggest version of its 787 Dreamliner family exclusively in South Carolina at a nonunion plant it built five years ago. It's part of an effort to lower labor costs, but the company said organized labor had nothing to do with its decision.

The 787-10 will become the first Boeing-designed commercial plane not to have an assembly home in the Seattle area, where Boeing has built airplanes since the first B & W seaplane took flight in 1916.

Boeing said Wednesday that the placement of the 787-10 at its North Charleston, S.C., site had nothing to do with the role of organized labor and was dictated by the 10 extra feet in the 787-10?s midbody fuselage. That makes it "too long to be transported efficiently" from the plant aboard the modified 747 Dreamlifter Boeing uses to fly 787 sections from suppliers and smaller 787s from the East Coast plant to Washington State.

Full Story - Bloomberg Businessweek

Amazon Petitions FAA to Permit Drone Testing


On July 9, 2014, Amazon Prime Air petitioned the FAAfor an exemption to allow private research and development flight testing of small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) outdoors on its private property near Seattle, Washington. In its petition, Amazon states that the operating rules it will follow will be no different than those followed by thousands of model aircraft hobbyists currently daily: maximum weights will not exceed 55 pounds, all test flights will be within visual line of sight of the operator and/or one or more observers, at less than 400 feet AGL, in Class G airspace and sufficient distance away from any airport, heliport, seaplane base, spaceport or other location with aviation activities and any densely populated areas and government or military installations.

Full Story - AvWeb

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