Sebring Expo Surmounts Weather Challenges
In January, the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo hosted its 12th annual event in Sebring, Florida, and ran into some weather problems (It was windy and cold, at least by Florida standards.) and after some talk about changing the dates for next year, the organizers announced the 2018 show will run just a little later than usual, January 25 to 28. Despite those weather issues, the show has continued to grow. This year’s event attracted the most outdoor exhibits ever. Highlights this year included the debut of a flying prototype of the Commuter Craft Innovator, a new canard design, along with the usual broad selection of all the latest models in light sport aircraft.
Mooney Introduces A New Acclaim
Mooney unveiled the M20V Acclaim Ultra, a significant redesign of the company’s best-selling Acclaim, at its Texas headquarters in February. The M20V has an all-composite fuselage and a new second door on the pilot’s side. Both the passenger and pilot doors are four inches wider than earlier models, which Mooney says will make it easier for rear-seat passengers to get in and out. The electrical system and the interior both got makeovers, saving eight pounds of wiring and adding ergonomic leather seats. The new model is set to debut at Sun ‘n Fun, and will sell in the $700,000 range.
GAMA Reports Sales Decline For 2015
General aviation sales declined 4.6 percent worldwide in 2015 compared to the year before, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association reported in February. Piston airplane shipments were down for the first time since 2010, with a 6.5 percent drop. Piston helicopter deliveries grew 8.6 percent, but turbine helicopters were down 8.9 percent. Pete Bunce, GAMA president, said factors affecting the numbers include “plummeting energy sector revenue, economic uncertainty, and currency fluctuations in key GA markets.” He noted that pending legislation is expected to help boost GA manufacturing. “With both the U.S. and Europe looking to revise the rules governing their leading safety authorities, we are at a unique moment that brings with it opportunities and challenges,” Bunce said.
New Seaplane Debuts At Singapore Airshow
The Singapore Airshow, held in February, featured the debut of the 400S Seaplane, by Viking, a Canadian company that has been building Twin Otters for several years. While the twin was previously available with optional floats, the 400S is optimized for water-based operations, with corrosion-resistant packages for the airframe, powerplant and fuel system, plus additional draining and sealing, and corrosion-resistant materials throughout the aircraft. The airplane carries up to 19 passengers and sells for $6 million.
Musk Hints At “Electric Jet”
Entrepreneur Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, said in February he was “close” to starting work on a “vertical-takeoff-and-landing electric jet” as a practical alternative to conventional aircraft. During a Q&A with students at Texas A&M, Musk was asked what his “next great idea” might be and he brought up the design, which he had mentioned publicly in an interview last year, when he said he had been thinking about how such an aircraft might work. “Well, I have been thinking about the vertical takeoff and landing electric jet a bit more,” he told the Texas students. “I think I have something that might be close. I’m quite tempted to do something about it… Seeing physical hardware moving and doing useful things, that’s what convinces people.”
Dornier and Diamond are teaming to produce a composite Seastar twin-turboprop seaplane…Scheduled airline service between the U.S. and Cuba is set to resume this summer…Bombardier introduced a new 90-seat variant of its Q400 aircraft…Iridium said its new satellites will boost Wi-Fi access for GA…NASA announced new research programs in supersonic commercial flight and fuel efficiency…Jeffrey Pino, the former president of Sikorsky Aircraft, and a passenger died when his P-51D crashed in Arizona…Cape Air blamed a pilot shortage for route cuts.
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