Briefing: May 2017
Aviation Budget Battle Heats Up
President Donald Trump’s first budget proposal, released in March, aims to privatize air traffic control. General-aviation advocacy groups were quick to rally against the effort, although AOPA said it was open to discussion as long as user fees were off the table. The airline industry has been lobbying since Trump’s election for the formation of a nonprofit corporation to run the national airspace system, with a board of directors dominated by airline representatives. Proponents say the change would create a more stable funding mechanism for ATC than today’s budget-driven method, but GA opponents say the change would amount to handing the nation’s airspace over to the airlines. Also in the budget crosshairs are the FAA’s contract-tower program and subsidies for essential air service.
New Product Updates Debut At AEA
The Aircraft Electronics Association held its 60th annual convention and trade show in March, in New Orleans, showcasing the latest innovations in avionics. L-3 debuted a major revision of its Lynx ADS-capable transponders with a host of new features, including traffic alerting, Stormscope display capability, and terrain display. Avidyne announced its long-awaited software revision (R10.2), which adds synthetic vision and in-cockpit wireless capability to its IFD500-series navigators. NavWorx showed off two revised (but not new) ADS-B products, including the $1499 ADS600-B and the $2020 ADS600-B, which includes an onboard WAAS GPS source.
John King Wins Spat Over FAA Medical
King Schools co-owner John King fought with the FAA for more than two years after they took away his medical certificate following a seizure, but soon after King went public in the aviation media about his battle, in February, the medical was restored. “The FAA’s inflexibility on this is not only bad for the individual they’re being inflexible toward,” King told AVweb in an interview in February. “It’s also bad for the aviation community and it’s bad for the FAA themselves. This has cost them a lot of goodwill with pilots.” With the restored medical, King said he will be able to share pilot duties with his wife, Martha, in their Falcon 10 rather than continue to hire a second pilot.
Women Encouraged To Explore Aviation Careers
A number of events celebrating the impact of women on aviation were held in March, including International Women’s Day, Women of Aviation Worldwide (WOAW) Week, and Women in Aviation International’s (WAI) annual conference. The conference drew some 4500 attendees to Lake Buena Vista, Florida. WAI continued its work matching women with opportunities to advance their aviation careers, awarding 112 scholarships worth more than $600,000. WOAW activities included flight demos, factory and school open-houses, and museum programs, in an effort to inspire women around the world to get involved in aviation. International Women’s Day asked women to be bold and demand a more inclusive, gender-equal working world.
Continental Invests in New Plant
Continental Motors will build a new plant in Mobile, Alabama, the company announced in March. The 225,000-square-foot facility will house both corporate offices and manufacturing space, replacing 11 buildings now in use across 44 acres. “The current operation, being spread throughout multiple buildings, drives many challenges and inefficiencies,” said Michael Skolnik, executive vice president for Continental. The $70 million project will be funded by AVIC, the Aviation Industry Corporation of China, which acquired Continental in 2010.
Luigi Pascale, the founder, president, and chief designer at Tecnam Aircraft, died at age 93...Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov said he is working to build the biggest-ever hot-air balloon and fly it to a record-setting 82,000 feet...XTI Aircraft Company and Bye Aerospace now are working together to develop a hybrid-electric prototype of the TriFan ducted-fan VTOL...Airshow pilot Sean Tucker received AOPA’s Bob Hoover Trophy...Breaking news in general aviation can be found at www.avweb.com.