HUGELY IMPORTANT! ... RECENT NEWS! ... In an extraordinary and very helpful December 2011 FAA clarification letter, the FAA Small Aircraft Directorate explains that installation is a "minor alteration" on the vast majority of light general aviation aircraft.
December 17, 2011. When a federal agency gets it right and responds promptly, we all need to pause, to recognize, and to applaud.
I would like to nominate Peter Rouse and David Sizoo of FAA-SAD (the Small Aircraft Directorate) for a special award with accompanying national publicity from AOPA Air Safety Institute. And from the B2OSH group. And from the American Bonanza Society. I am totally serious. I have no idea what to call it, but “FAA HERO OF 2011” comes to mind.
These are two men of courage and integrity with foresight and clarity of vision:
Peter Rouse is a FAA Aerospace Engineer
Policy and Regulation Branch, ACE-111
Small Airplane Directorate - Federal Aviation Administration.
Pete flies a Baron and has long been a participant in the B2OSH mass arrival at Oshkosh. He's a wonderful quiet guy so he never mentioned what he does for a living. To those of us who fly Beechcraft...we have a star among us!
David Sizoo is a FAA Flight Test Pilot
Aircraft Certification Service, ACE-112
Small Airplane Directorate - Federal Aviation Administration.
Dave came off the F35 Joint Strike Fighter Flight Test program and now flies off new certifications for the FAA-SAD.
I flew these two men in my Alpha System AoA-equipped King Air 90 in the autumn of 2011 and they saw with their own eyes how reliable and repeatable the Alpha System AoA sensor/display is. We discussed the non-intrusive installation with no new holes cut in the pressure vessel of the King Air. They heard that I have no financial interest in any AoA product or company.
A week or so later, they installed an AoA Enhanced Legacy system in a Kansas City FBO rental aircraft that the FAA-SAD staffers use for recurrent training.
On Friday Dec 16 they delivered to Mark Korin at Alpha Systems AoA everything they told me they’d try to do ... and more! Mark sent me their FAA-SAD letter of clarification, which is posted here.
Their letter will save a lot of lives; it has been reviewed at the senior FAA-SAD level AND at the FSDO management level. This FAA-SAD clarification should eliminate almost all field objections to installing a simple non-intrusive AoA system on almost all small aircraft.
Let us not overlook Earl Lawrence, who signed this letter. Earl came from EAA to head the FAA's Small Aircraft Directorate; he is widely respected as the man who led the Light Sport Aircraft effort.
Background: A year or so ago, at Tom Rosen's and my request, starting with Bill Hatfield in the summer 2010, in contact with the Chicago ACO (who said: "this simple supplementary device doesn't need an STC ..."), the FAA Small Aircraft Directorate just issued an extraordinary letter. Basically, they ratified everything that we have been saying, specifically including the fact that, in MOST light aircraft, the Alpha System AoA that Butt, Sasser, Friedman, Stovall, Thompson, Niemi, Paysse, etc. fly with ... may quite properly be installed as a simple minor alteration.
They basically say "there are very real safety benefits from such devices; go for it,". I have never seen such a letter from the FAA, but the seatbelt refits may have been similarly handled. While the letter happened to be mailed to AlphaSystems, their intent w/r/t similar non-intrusive systems is very clear. Hugely important news, this represents the very best of the FAA: truly great open-minded engineers using logic and courage.
The Feds have ten major initiatives. The first two are
Stop the stall/spins in the landing pattern, and
Stop the departure stall/spins.
Alpha sensors/displays can help with both. Even great aviators with good airmanship skills can benefit. Unless pushed to acrobatic test flight limits of pitch AND roll AND yaw, the Alpha devices do not lie. But they MUST be used along with the primary reference: Indicated Airspeed, and ... Airspeed must remain as the primary reference, because that is how the aircraft was certificated. It's "Crosscheck" ... "Crosscheck".
I will not be at all surprised to read, within a year, that all new certifications will require Alpha sensors. That certification requirement will come from the FAA-SAD. From the same agency that helped us. I hope that happens. It will cost next to nothing to include Alpha sensors as an airplane is being assembled.
ADDED: June 2015--in the , the FAA is making a big push to get AoA indicators installed in General Aviation aircraft.
Remember, we don’t get ANY better performance out of an AoA-equipped aircraft; an AoA will simply TELL US MORE, and VERY PRECISELY, about how much stall margin we have.
Tom Rosen and I are simply in awe of the response we got. Far more than we were hoping for, FAA-SAD fully ratified our efforts over the last year and a half. They did it in only six months, and the clarification letter was fully vetted by senior FAA-SAD and the FSDO leadership. How about that?
Tom Rosen and I have four pals who are surely looking down from Heaven at these men today. I am quite certain that they are very pleased.
Our research was initiated and funded by friends of four skilled aviators.
It is placed in the public domain
IN HONOR OF
David Ingalls Brown and Robert H. Baldwin
TWA Captain Ray Rotge and TWA Captain Mack Johnston
A special thanks to Bruce Landsberg at the AOPA Air Safety Institute: Finally! ... I am truly honored to know this man. His writings and teachings have been a voice in the wilderness for far too long. Two decades, at least, by my memory. On Alpha sensors, Bruce’s has occasionally been a lonely voice, but he has been right all along. Oh, so right he has been!
To our AoA Flight Test pilots, who proved that this one system really works: Al Aitken (Al flight-tested the USMC Hornets at NAS PXT and wrote/flew our AoA test flight plan), Will Moore, Jack Stovall, Earle Thompson, Mary Jane and Bob Butt, Joe Sasser:...Tom Rosen and I are humbly grateful for your time and effort. Thank you every one.
To our early installing A&Ps: Richard Kiser, Kyle London, Steve Bradley at Classic Aviation in KSHD. You dug through the existing, somewhat unclear, guidance and you figured out that installing a simple non-intrusive AoA was perfectly OK. Bravo!
Sometimes, the planets just get themselves aligned. Today is such a day. Let us, truly, give praise.
Recently-published magazine articles, Spring & Summer 2011
Click here to begin a review of "Thoughts from those who know