Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The State of General Aviation in Malaysia

Following a series of accidents and incidents this year, Malaysian DCA has implemented a nationwide audit of flying clubs. I suppose this is a move in the right direction to ensure that clubs are training future pilots properly and safely. The latest accident happened just a week ago which involved HM Aerospace's Diamond DA40 aircraft resulting in 1 fatality. 2 Academy students were practising instrument flying when upon take-off they are suspected of experiencing engine trouble and crash landed. The safety pilot died of severe injuries. It goes to show that incidents can happen not only in flying clubs but in schools as well (in Malaysia, there is a distinction between the two).

However, more needs to be done to ensure a vibrant and thriving GA community. Malaysia has zero tax on aviation goods, but that has proven to be virtually ineffective in promoting the growth of GA. What is needed is a sound procedural framework of regulations that leave little room for manipulation and confusion. Players in the industry need to know what can be done and how to go about doing it. A case in point is the shortage of instructors. The academies are not keen to conduct instructor rating courses because they are short of manpower. But that is precisely why all the academies should be churning out more instructors so that they will have a bigger pool of talent to tap into for future needs.

All of us that participate in our chosen aviation hobby or career in Malaysia should play our part and be part of a club or organisation that is actively doing its part to keep GA alive and kicking. Join in the next Fly-In or volunteer your time to fly children and newbies (akin to EAA's Young Eagle Program). You will be doing your part to keep Malaysia's aviation legacy going.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Gift of Flight

In the last 2 weeks, we flew more that 70 Temasek Polytechnic students as part of an Air Experience exercise for them. These students are in the Diploma of Aviation Management and Services course and are the future of the aviation industry. Kudos to TP's AMS Course Facilitators to provide this experience for their students. It still amazes Darren, Denis and myself when we come across individuals that are pursuing courses in Aviation that have not ever got up close and personal with light aircraft before!
We got feedback from the great bunch of students that they enjoyed their short orientation flights in our little Jabiru J160 and would very much like to do it again if given an opportunity. Well, they can always join a flying club and get their licences!
Links to the AMS course are as follows: is their own blog. Check out some of their individual blogs (left hand menu) to see what they think of us!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Cross Country to Kuala Lumpur

On Monday the 21st April, Denis and I flew 'Eve' from our home base in Nusajaya to Subang (WMSA) Airport. The purpose of the trip was twofold. First, it was for us to clock some cross country time. Secondly, we were going to orientate DCA's new Head of Licencing, Capt Said, on our club and its operations in Johor, as well as the aircrafts we operate.
We planned to be in Subang by 12pm and so were going to depart at 10am. However, thanks to some car trouble, at 10am we were at Sin Ming area sorting out Denis' aging Porsche. We also had planned to track to WMSA via VFR Route 1, a coastal route from Port Dickson to Port Klang. But, some words of caution from Capt Siva made us reevaluate that decision and we had to do a last minute revision to our flight plan at UEM's office prior to takeoff. The coastal route takes us 5 miles out to sea flying at 1000ft. Not good.
It was a good flight except for some ridiculous requests from Malacca ATC. But, I'm not going to turn this into a rant. Exactly 2 hours later, we touched down uneventfully in WMSA, got picked up by our friend, Mani, and taken to lunch where we met up with Capt Siva and Capt Said. Capt Said liked the J160 and was most impressed with its handling ability, this coming from a MIG-29 pilot! Apparently, he really yanked and banked it.
The next day, we flew back to NJ via another way - Seremban, Kuala Pilah, Segamat, Yong Peng, Benut, NJ. The leg from KP to Yong Peng was absolutely sublime. We cruised at 3500ft, it was calm and we were pretty much hands off the entire route. With only occasional contacts with Keluang ATC, we were happy to take in the scenery and enjoy the freedom of flight. Both of us had silly grins on our faces and kept saying "This is the life!"
We were rudely brought back to reality after Yong Peng when Johor ATC ordered us to descend to 1500ft. At that altitude, we were bumped around with turbulence. "Welcome back to Johor", we were both thinking. The trip back took 2hr 5min, plus we held on the ground for 18min in WMSA due to helicopter and inbound traffic. This is why we are so thankful to be operating out of NJ where we don't have challenges like that.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

One Giant Leap for Sports Flying in Malaysia

Fun flying in Malaysia has taken another giant leap forward. Flughaven's challenge with 'Eve' has finally been resolved. Mind you, it took us 2 months of feet shuffling and head scratching but the power of three great minds (in our humblest of opinions) has prevailed. Okay, so we had a little outside help from our Jabiru knowledgeable friends. Okay, so they did most of the work. Well, somebody has to sweep the hangar, hold tools and buy food and drinks right? I must say, I did those tasks rather well.

Sports aviation and the Experimental category of aircraft was designed for the owner to educate himself, with assistance from experts, on exactly how each component of his aircraft works. How many GA pilots/owners/operators have assisted in putting in circlips to secure gudgeon pins? Or installed new piston rings in pistons? Or seen the inside of their oil sumps? We have done all these things with our Jabiru J160. Last night, the three of us stayed at the hangar until midnight to complete the ground run of our Jabiru 2200 engine after new piston rings were installed and the cylinders honed. Even though it was a very long day for us, we felt energised and even more confident about what the engine is capable of, as well as our abilities to maintain a safe and fun aircraft to fly. In the words of Mark Evans from "A Plane Is Born", we are well chuffed with what we have done so far.

So it is with great enthusiasm and expectation for the future that we will soldier on to bring the good news to the masses that sports flying/LSA/experimental can be enjoyed affordably and safely in Malaysia and South East Asia. For if a Stockbroker, Racing Driver, and ex-military man can do it, SO CAN YOU!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Flughaven's Unsung Heroine

There's a saying that behind every successful man is a woman. Well, in Flughaven's case, it is certainly true. Not many people know, but Flughaven and our sports flying venture was started by myself and my wife, Yvonne, who provided much needed advice on finances, projects to undertake etc. We certainly would not be where we are today if not for her expert business acumen.

I suppose moving forward from here, with the addition of baby Isabel to our 'team', we are now focusing on what would appeal to the younger generation and the young at heart. We are wholly supportive of the EAA Young Eagles program and are contributing to bring a new generation of Singaporeans and Malaysians to the realm of sport aviation and flying for fun. Many people are still under the misconception that aviation is for the rich. We are proving that flying for fun can be done affordably with the LSA category of aircraft, especially running Jabiru engines on Mogas. To this day, we are adamant Jabiru aircraft and engines are the way to move sports aviation and GA (General Aviation) back to a viable and profitable industry in South East Asia. But that is a rant for another time.

Back to singing praises about my wife. Thank you dear for your contribution to Flughaven and we will endeavor to bring our company to the level of the premier sports aviation company in this region, and create legions of aviators in Malaysia, Singapore and the rest of Asia.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Fractional Ownership

While 'Eve' is waiting for her engine to be fixed, there has been nothing much for Denis, Darren and I to do except talk about how we could improve our operations to provide a better experience for our friends that fly with us. I guess the #1 priority is to get a 2nd aircraft in our stable. Which aircraft? Well, that depends on who is forking out the money to buy it. If it is going to be the 3 of us Directors, then it will be another J160. If it is someone else footing the bill then anything will do. Of course, we can always give some recommendations.

Another interesting option is to get a few friends to share, maybe 4 to an aircraft, and therefore they will have a way to fly on an affordable basis. Flughaven could have a lease back arrangement with the owners to operate the aircraft when they are not flying it. This way, it will defray the cost of their own flying.

Here are a few aircraft that we would love to fly:
1. RV-9 with Jabiru 3300 engine (
2. Zodiac XL (
3. Arion Lightning (
4. RV-7
5. RV-8

Believe it or not, all these aircraft can be flown with a Malaysian RPPL or PPL(A) Restricted licence. Sports flying is the way of the future.

Aircraft updates

Well, it is inevitable, I suppose. Sooner or later, an aircraft will face some challenges. Our Jabiru J160 has experienced its first teething issues. It looks like No.3 cylinder's piston ring fractured, creating more blow by and the increased crankcase pressure pushed out the engine oil through the breather as well as the rocker chamber vents causing No.1 and No.4 cylinders to overheat and seizing their rings in the grooves. Sigh.

We're in the midst of sorting out this challenge so in the meanwhile, 'Eve' (the name of our J160) has been grounded for 2 months now. It has been a highly frustrating time for Denis, Darren and myself. However, that which does not kill us makes us stronger. We're confident that our experience with our aircraft and engine will help us to serve our customers in the region better. There's no substitute for experience.

In the middle of all this, my first child was born! Isabel arrived on 6th March 2008, weighing in at 2.91kg.  I still think its more impressive to state babies weights in pounds. So, most of Flughaven's operations have been delegated to Darren, while I spend time playing with my daughter. hehe Needless to say, he's not too impressed. But he's doing a great job and we're glad to have him onboard.

So, till we've sorted out our engine issues, there's not much to do but sit around and hangar fly.