In 2018, we watched as aviation came face to face with new technology on several important fronts. Of course, anyone who’s been around flying for very long knows that almost nothing changes fast in aviation, so the coming together of light-speed tech advances and fully developed, if not perfected, aviation systems has got to lead to big crashing sounds, and it has. The world of drone implementation is a huge mess. The old-school FAA is coming face to face with cries for modernization, and the agency is predictably unhappy with changing its game. Fuel continues to be an issue. We have yet to develop a way to get unleaded avgas to pilots, and ADS-B is a looming disaster, with January 1, 2020, the day the mandate goes into effect, will be less a celebration and more a day of reckoning.
The year was not without its triumphs. Cirrus Aircraft took home the Collier Trophy for its SF50 Vision Jet. There are new and exciting planes coming up, including some promising electric models and some autonomous ones as well. The annual High Sierra Fly-In was a game changer, EAA AirVenture was one for the ages, and, most importantly, flying continues to be a blast.
With the caveat that there will be some omissions, we proudly present Plane & Pilot’s top 10 aviation news stories of 2018.
1. ATC Giveaway Stymied
For much of 2017 and 2018, general aviation groups lobbied hard against the airlines to overcome the efforts of one U.S. representative, Bill Shuster, R-Pa., the head of the House Transportation Committee, who had made it his life’s mission apparently to engineer the handover of the nation’s air traffic control system to a private group to be run by a private board controlled by airline interests. The new structure would have instituted much higher costs for general aviation flights and limited arrival slots for GA at many of the nation’s airports served by the airlines, among other possible hits.
The effort by Shuster used every trick in the book, even very publicly withdrawing the amendment with one day to go before the vote on the bill that had previously included the ATC giveaway language, only to reinsert it at the 11th hour in a sneak attack, which ultimately failed as well.
With Shuster heading for retirement, one might be tempted to think the battle is over, but the airline lobby isn’t going anywhere. Keep supporting your alphabet groups, which fought valiantly against the giveaway.