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Briefing January 2016 Issue

Accidents, Drones, NASA Aircraft and More

NTSB Targets Loss-of-Control Accidents

The NTSB says general aviation’s loss-of-control accident rate is too high, and held a day-long “Humans and Hardware” forum on the issue in October, in Washington, D.C. “Every GA pilot gets training in loss-of-control events, such as aerodynamic stalls,” said NTSB member Earl Weener. “Yet about 40 percent of GA fatal accidents involve loss of control. We want to know what can be done to better address this stubbornly recurrent safety challenge.” The forum explored human performance and medical issues, potential training improvements, and technological enhancements that can reduce accidents. For videos of the panels search YouTube for “NTSB Humans and Hardware.”

Google Expects Drone Deliveries Next Year

As the FAA worked last year to develop new rules governing the use of small drones in the National Airspace System, a Google executive said the company plans to launch commercial drone home deliveries in 2017. David Vos, who leads Project Wing for Google’s parent, Alphabet, said the company is in discussions with the FAA to set up an air traffic control system for drones that would use cellular and Internet technology to separate drone traffic from other aircraft, at altitudes below 500 feet. Vos said Google would like to see Class G airspace carved out for drones, which would allow unmanned flight above populated areas. The drones would use ADS-B to avoid helicopters and other aircraft in that airspace.

A Banner Year For NBAA

NBAA called its 2015 convention, held in November in Las Vegas, “enormously successful” on a business and community level. CEO Ed Bolen said 1100 exhibitors filled both halls at the Las Vegas Convention Center, and the static display area at Henderson Executive Airport was full. Cessna displayed its Citation Longitude super-midsize business jet for the first time, and announced a new jet, the Hemisphere. GE unveiled a new turboprop engine, which Cessna will use on its forthcoming single-engine turboprop design. Diamond brought its DA62 twin to the U.S. for the first time, and Honda said its twin-engine jet was close to certification.

NASA Team Pursues X-Plane Project

A group of NASA engineers and private-sector partners working in California is creating an X-Plane demonstrator, based on a Tecnam 2006T, that they hope will prove the efficiency of using an array of small electric-powered propellers for general aviation aircraft. “There hasn’t been a manned NASA X-plane for about 30 years,” Mark Moore, the leader of the research team, told AVweb. “This is going to be the first manned aircraft powered by distributed generation, so it’s going to be very meaningful.” Moore said he believes the three-year, $15-million project will prove the distributed-electric propulsion system can achieve up to five times greater efficiency than conventional systems. Flight testing with the Tecnam is scheduled for September or October in 2017.

B-29 Doc Funded For Takeoff

The nonprofit group working to get the B-29 “Doc” back in the air exceeded their Kickstarter goal, raising $159,151 from 1,007 backers, and said they now have the funds they need to complete the flight-test program. “Words cannot express the excitement and gratitude felt by our team right now,” Doc’s Friends wrote on their Facebook page. Doc, which was one of a squadron of World War II-era airplanes named after Snow White’s seven dwarfs, was rescued from the Mojave Desert in 1987. Only one other B-29, Fifi, is still flying.

NOTAMS

Jet Pack Aviation, of Australia, introduced its lightweight jetpack with a flyby of the Statue of Liberty...The popular IMC Club, now at about 130 chapters, has merged with EAA...A NASA review blamed faulty design and manufacturing of engine parts as the likely causes of an Orbital Sciences rocket explosion in 2014...Lockheed Martin’s F-16V Viper jet flew for the first time, in October...In Dubai, “Jetman” Yves Rossy and Vince Reffet flew in formation with an Emirates A380, after deploying from a helicopter... Breaking news in general aviation can be found at www.avweb.com.

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