President’s Update- Charath Ranganathan
Spring has sprung, the summer solstice is past, and we’re counting down the days to the vernal equinox in September. In the LA basin, and in much of the USA, the earth is scorched.
While this isn’t exactly an issue in Southern California, summer is a season when general aviation is at its peak – warmer weather brings clear skies, and which GA pilot can resist that, ambient temperatures notwithstanding?
But, enough about the world in general… Let’s take a look at our microcosm, i.e. AACIT.
Overall, AACIT’s present and future appear good. We have a fairly steady membership who are interested in training or casual flying, our aircraft – despite recent maintenance issues – tend to be airworthy and well-maintained, and our finances are in decent shape despite our rates being among the lowest in the region.
There are, however, a few headwinds that are worthy of my mention.
We have an aging fleet, which requires frequent, and sometimes significant, maintenance. Maintenance costs are high as most A&Ps choose to focus their attention on the more remunerative jets and turbines. Maintenance slots are also at a premium, and more often than not, your maintenance directors spend a significant amount of time building relationships with the A&Ps and negotiating slots.
Fleet utilization – from which we derive most of our funds for maintenance – is still down. Although not as bad as the immediate post-pandemic depression, we’ve still not bounced back to pre-pandemic levels. This, when coupled with increasing maintenance costs, is a source of some anxiety for your Board. We’re not at DEFCON 1 or even anything close to that, but it might become an issue in the future.
So, what can we do about this? It’s simple – fly more! 🙂
When I ask members about why they’re not doing flyouts or even flying more, I typically encounter the objection that the aircraft aren’t available. And yet, when I visit EMT during the weekends, I often find at least 2 aircraft parked with no outstanding ScheduleMaster reservation.
My point is that we would love for you to take advantage of every opportunity to utilize the aircraft more. Go up for a fun flight. Grab your favorite CFI and get some training. Or just go up and ponder the big questions in life from the air – it’s all a matter of perspective. (see what I did there?)
And, if you haven’t been checked out in the new avionics suite in N2824Y, you should do so. This is an aircraft that’s generally always available, fun to fly, and helps you build complex time. With the GTN750xi, you get an awesome GPS unit – with airway routing, voice activation, and an interface to Foreflight. Fun for the whole family? Maybe!
There are a few more avionics upgrades scheduled, mostly because Garmin just announced the end of support for the GNS430 and GNS530 units. We will start with the Pipers and gradually ($$ willing) make our way to the rest of the fleet.
As I look forward to the rest of the year, we’ve got the Fall Barbecue coming up and we would love to do an end-of-year event as well. The Board will be discussing whether to restart the annual Fabulous Fall Flying Fair this year and if we do so, it’ll be the highlight of the KEMT social season 🙂
To summarize: AACIT is strong, everyone needs to fly more, and we would like to be more social.
In closing, I would like to record my sincere appreciation to Patrick Alexander who has been instrumental in creating this quarterly newsletter as well as Barney Lum who instigated the idea at a Board meeting a couple of months ago. Thank you.
A huge thank you to my colleagues on the Board, especially the maintenance directors who keep this fleet flying despite all the hurdles that they face.
And, finally, thank you all for being a part of AACIT, for taking an interest in our Club, and for your support and encouragement.
Treasurer’s Report – Bob Clark, CFIAIM RHII
Just a reminder that it is up to each member to go on Schedule Master to determine what they own and to pay that. Zelle is the preferred method of payment. Snail mail may take up to 1.5 months for you to get credit, we only check the mailbox once or twice a month.
Currently we have 151 total members. 90 fixed, 16 retract, 8 Cirrus, 34 inactive. Yes, I know that doesn’t add up, the total amount includes instructors and some senior members. We currently have 8 CIT members and 47 Associate member. We also have a lot of members paying dues who do not fly, for some reason. I thank those for their money.
Every once in a while, when I have nothing to do I go through the membership and remove people who have not made a payment in years, but still accumulate charges for dues. These are usually people who have moved and forgot to tell us. So please quit the club when you move. If I see that you owe a lot of money and haven’t been making payments, we will suspend your scheduling privileges and cancel all your schedules.
Another reminder about going inactive. This category allows regular members to remain a member when they go home on summer vacation or the like. If you switch to inactive you must remain inactive for at least 3 months. If you elect to return to flying, you must tell us to make you a regular or student member before you can fly. You must remain active for at least 3 months. None of this coming back for 1 month, fly, and going inactive again. That’s unfair to those normally paying dues. Note that if you go inactive for more than 4 months its cheaper to quit and pay the initiation fees when you rejoin. The only advantage to being inactive is that you can rejoin and fly quickly. It is not meant for long term inactiveness. But again I thank those who send in money and don’t cost us anything.
So where do your dues go? Dues are used to pay for the fixed costs such as insurance, tie downs, database updates, and property taxes. The insurance and taxes have gone up a lot in the past few years. Values of used planes skyrocketed during covid, and with that, our taxes went up (1% per year). Insurance has gone up a lot due to having to increase the hull value of the aircraft.
Insurance 2018 – $22,915
2023 – $47,115
Taxes 2018 – $3,022
2023 – $4,093
The dues are still covering the fixed charges, so we don’t have to raise dues – yet.
The flight charges pay for aircraft operating costs, such as fuel, maintenance, lease, engine costs, etc.
Fuel accounts for over half of the operating costs. Currently the rates are based at $7.50/gallon. Which is close to reality. If you fly somewhere and get fuel, we will reimburse at that rate (plus $1.00). If you get really expensive fuel we won’t pay for the excess, you should have gone somewhere cheaper.
In addition, we will not reimburse for landing fees, ramp fees, security fees, overnight fees, etc. That up to you. Should have picked a cheaper airport.
Maintenance costs are another big chunk of the operating costs. The costs vary a lot depending on when the plane gets an engine. Here are the costs from 2018 through 2022 for each surviving plane.
N19760 – $137,097
N54678 – $127,403
N5997V – $110,120
N2824Y – $48,199
Of course, the hours a plane flies makes a difference. Over the same timeframe:
N19760 – 2,692 hrs or $50.92/hr
N54678 – 2,409 hrs or $52.88/hr
N5997V – 1,277 hrs or $86.21/hr
N2824Y – 478 hrs or $100.85/hr
Hopefully you can see why the rates are set at the current values. Hmm, looking that those numbers maybe we should raise rates again (just kidding). (For now).
The engine manufacturers recommend that the engine be replaced or overhauled every 2,000 or so hours (TBO). Several of the planes are well over that 2,000 hr recommendation. The engines are checked each 100 hr and can go well over the TBO recommendation if they are operating well. Most of our planes can go well over TBO since they fly so much, which Is really good for an engine. Overhauling the engine or purchasing a “new” one is current in the $40,000-$50,000 range, including labor and all the other parts needed.
We are currently upgrading some of the avionics in club owned planes. This is expensive and will continue over several years. Garmin is no long supporting the 430 and 530 in the club planes, they are over 20 years old now.
We have a good buffer of money to cover upcoming engine overhauls, some avionics upgrades, and some left over for emergencies. But we do not have enough money to buy another aircraft.
You probably know that several of the planes are owned by members and leased to the club. They receive a check for the hours the plane flies each month. The owners pay for maintenance, and the club pays for insurance and tie down. We are always looking for another lease-back plane if it fits with the needs of the club. Contact the Board if you’re interested.
And finally, aircraft usage. Aircraft usage is really down. From mid 2013 until covid hit we were hitting between 200 and 350 hours per month. With less members than today. Since covid we are lucky to hit 150 hrs, last month was 135. FYI this worst covid month was April 2020 when we had a total of 14 hrs flown.
So keep paying and keep flying.
Flight Director’s Corner – Kevin Baines
Are You Current?
With the recent spate of AACIT aircraft being off-line for several months, a significant number of AACIT pilots have become ineligible to fly their favorite AACIT aircraft due to failing to meet the recency of experience requirements. This column reviews these requirements and addresses how to quickly get current again.
To fly a Club aircraft as Pilot in Command (PIC), you must be qualified and current per both FAA and AACIT regulations and have a current medical certificate. For the FAA, you must be FAA- licensed appropriately and be current by having at least had a Flight Review within the previous 24 calendar months. Additional currency items are required to fly in Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC) and at night.
AACIT has additional qualification and currency requirements beyond those of the FAA that enables the Club to attain insurance at a reasonable cost and provides additional safety. These are all described in Section IV.B of the Club’s Rules and Procedures. First, to be qualified to fly PIC in any club aircraft, the pilot must have had a club checkout in that plane conducted by a Club-approved instructor. Second, the pilot must be Club-current, by, first, having had an Annual Proficiency Check (APC) within the previous 12 calendar months conducted in the most sophisticated aircraft the pilot has been checked out in and intends to fly. For this, the Cirrus > PA28R > C182 > PA28 /C172. The APC can be substituted by successfully passing an FAA checkride for a new FAA rating, or, for VFR pilots, an FAA Flight Review conducted in that most-sophisticated aircraft by a Club-approved instructor. For IFR pilots, to count as the APC, the FAA Flight Review needs to include three instrument approaches comprised of at least one precision and one non-precision approach.
In addition, the PIC must meet the recent flight experience requirements for that aircraft pertaining to both hours of recent flight experience as a PIC (3 hours) and takeoffs and landings (3 if solo, 6 if carrying passengers) in the previous 90 days. These are summarized in Table 1 in Section IV.B of the Club’s Rules and Procedures. For the C172s and Archer, these hours can be accumulated in any aircraft. For the complex and high performance aircraft – Arrow, C182, and Cirrus – the 3 hours must be accumulated in that make/model of plane. The landings and takeoffs must be accumulated in a similar or more complex aircraft of the same make. For the C172 any tricycle-gear Cessna, including the C182, counts. For the Archer, any PA28 including the Arrow is applicable. The C182, Arrow, and Cirrus require the 3 takeoffs and landings in their respective aircraft types. To fly with passengers, as mentioned earlier 6 takeoffs and landings are required. For the Arrow, C182, or Cirrus, the remaining 3 additional takeoffs and landings beyond which is sufficient for solo flight can be conducted in any of these three complex/high-performance aircraft.
If you don’t meet these 90-day requirements for the 3 hours logged or the three takeoffs and landings needed for solo PIC flight, you need to conduct a recurrency flight with a Club CFI prior to flying that aircraft as PIC. The flight will be relatively short (i.e. likely less than an hour of flight time – depending on how rusty you are…) and focus on takeoffs and landings with perhaps some turns and stalls depending on the need for refamiliarization.
There are additional requirements for flying Club aircraft at night, here defined as the period between sunset and sunrise. As always, you must meet the FAA night requirements. In addition, if you have not logged three “dark night” takeoffs and landings in the previous 6 calendar months, you must satisfactorily complete a night proficiency check with a Club-approved CFI prior to flying the aircraft as PIC. Here, “dark night” is defined as the time between one hour after sunset to one hour before sunrise.
It is important to adhere to these currency requirements. In the case of an accident, our insurance may be voided if the PIC is not current per both the FAA and AACIT currency requirements. So, please, be sure to be Club current when flying Club Aircraft as PIC.
In the next newsletter I will discuss a cause of an easily preventable type of accident that has resulted in the destruction of five aircraft and the loss of three very experienced pilots with over 4,000 hours of flight time, all involving planes and pilots related to AACIT (although, perhaps in some cases a little distantly)….Stay tuned!
As The Prop Turns! – Barney Lum
- Include Destination and/or estimate of flight time. This helps Maintenance Directors anticipate scheduling maintenance
(eg 50hr, 100hr), reducing the chance of members getting “bumped.”
- Use the Standby or Notification feature to become primary or first to know, respectively, of an aircraft’s availability. As a corollary – there’s no need to send an email out if you cancel your schedule.
- Reporting Squawks – be descriptive in Title. What/When/Where etc.
- Open hangar doors completely before pulling/pushing plane.
- Trash only in receptacles – no garbage or liquids.
- Cold beverages available in hangar B11 fridge – help yourself. Replenish as needed from nearby stock.
- Push seats back in under the desk before leaving.
- Ensure tiedowns are removed and coiled at anchor points.
- Wheel chocks removed and clear or stowed.
- Hangar doors COMPLETELY OPEN prior to pulling plane out.
Post-Flight … be considerate to the next pilot
- Hangar doors COMPLETELY OPEN prior to pushing back in.
- Align aircraft in parking spot within tiedown points.
- Secure the plane properly – remove slack from tiedown.
- Prevent straps getting caught in door – fasten or stow all seat and
- lap belts.
- Remove and dispose of trash and other debris. Please – No liquids
- or garbage in trash receptacles.
- Clean the windshield.
Green Box – Key Attached to Aircraft Control Locks
- Oil and Funnels
- Windshield Cleaning Supplies (Pink PlexWax)
- PFDs – Personal Floatation Devices (inflatable vests) * Remember to reserve in Schedule Master
- Headset Pool * Remember to reserve in Schedule Master
Blue Box – Same key as Green Box
- Tiedown Straps (for camping and other airports that might note have tiedowns)
- Tools (screwdrivers, pliers, wrenches)
- Lost & Found
Membership Updates – Srinivas Bondada
Current membership status:
Please welcome our new members joined in April, May and June 2023
Sebastian Igriti – Associate Member
Tyler Ring – Regular Member
Cristian Cruz – Associate member
Stan Levy – Rejoined
Daniel Stieglitz – Regular Member
Tianxiao – Student member
During the same period we lost 2 members
Hanger Corner – N2824Y News – Wade Kafkaloff
Garmin announced that they will begin phasing out their GNS 530/430 device support in 2024. The AACIT Board has decided to begin upgrading our fleet’s GNS devices to Garmin’s latest offerings: GTN 750xi/650xi devices.
The club’s Arrow was the first to receive the upgrade with its GNS 530 being replaced by the GTN 750xi. In order to make the GTN 750xi fit in the panel without any panel modifications, the upgrade also required replacing the existing Garmin GMA 340 Audio Panel with a GMA 35C remote audio panel. The remote audio panel will be controlled through the GTN 750xi. This upgrade also included Flight Stream 510 which is a Bluetooth enabled device supporting the wireless transfer of flight plans between the GTN 750xi and your mobile devices running Foreflight, Garmin Pilot etc.
Some of the major new features of the GTN 750xi:
- Large color touch screen
- Airway routing
- Route ‘rubber banding’
- Holding pattern creations
- Telligence™ voice command system
- Integrates with the existing STEC Autopilot and the Aspen 1000 Primary Flight Display
The upgrade was performed by ARA Aviation which is located on the field at EMT.
Newsletter Editor – Patrick Alexander
This is the inaugural issue of the AACIT Newsletter. After much waiting, the board has finally agreed to begin publishing a quarterly newsletter to update members on the club’s ongoing activities.
Our objective is to include club members in regular activities. All of the board members are volunteers who provide their time and efforts to ensure that our club remains a safe flying community and continues to grow. We want to see an involved and active membership in our club, and we want everyone to fly safely and enjoy themselves, whether they are professional pilots or just learning to fly.
We urge members to email us their viewpoints and opinions so that we can publish them in our upcoming newsletters.
Happy Landings and Blue skies!