Briefing: April 2015


Proposed Drone Rules Unveiled

The FAA published its proposed rules for integrating unmanned aerial systems into the national airspace in February and drew a mixed reaction. The rules, which will apply to drones weighing up to 55 pounds used for commercial purposes, were less restrictive than many expected, but still would not allow some key technologies. For example, Amazon’s proposed delivery drones, which would operate autonomously or by remote control, are not allowed under the proposal—the FAA said drones can only be flown within sight of the operator. However, many uses, such as search-and-rescue, crop monitoring, and aerial photography, would be possible under the proposal, which is open for public comments until mid-April.

Sporty’s Now Selling Refurbished Skyhawks

Sporty’s drew attention last year with $99-per-hour flying lessons in its fleet of refurbished Cessna Skyhawks, and now the company is offering the Skyhawks for sale, at a price of $132,900. The idea, according to company spokesman Charlie Masters, is to satisfy “industry-wide demand for a basic, affordable airplane for the training and rental market.” The 172Lite comes with a fresh engine overhaul, new interior trim and upholstery, fresh paint, and a basic panel. The appeal, according to Sporty’s, is a new-looking trainer that can accommodate “two real-sized adults” for about one-third the price of a new Skyhawk.

GAMA Reports Mixed Year For Aircraft Sales

Sales of jets and piston airplanes rose in 2014, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association reported in February, but sales of turboprops and helicopters declined. Piston sales were up by 9.6 percent over the year before, and business jet sales rose 6.5 percent. On the downside, turboprop shipments fell by 6.5 percent and the rotorcraft sector was down 31 percent for piston rotorcraft and 22 percent for turbines. Turboprops have generally been on the increase in recent years, with a 10 percent increase in last year’s report. Helicopter deliveries also showed positive growth in 2013.

NTSB, AOPA Disagree With FAA Cylinder AD

The long saga of FAA’s airworthiness directive regarding ECi cylinders, first proposed in 2013, moved forward in February as the NTSB and AOPA posted their comments on the FAA’s latest revision. The revised AD, released in January, could affect about 5,000 aircraft in the general aviation fleet, at a total cost of more than $28 million. NTSB and AOPA both said the revised proposal still goes too far, and by requiring cylinder inspections before TBO, it may do more harm than good. The comment period is now closed and the next move is up to the FAA.

Martin Jetpack Raises $27 million In IPO

It might look like something out of a cartoon, but the Martin Jetpack is no joke—as evidenced by investors’ willingness to buy up shares when the stock debuted in February. The flying platform, which the New Zealand-based company says can carry one or two people for up to 30 minutes, sells for $200,000, and is being marketed mainly to first responders. An unmanned version, called a Skyhook, is also in development. The Jetpack features a composite structure pilot module and a ballistic parachute system that the company says can safely recover the aircraft from as low as a few meters above the ground.


The Leesburg, VA airport will test a remote-control tower this summer…New Mexico’s Spaceport held its first GA fly-in and promises more soon…Accident investigators in the Bahamas blamed the pilots for a Learjet crash last year that killed all nine on board…Two balloonists crossed the Pacific in January, setting records for distance and duration…Dassault flew the Falcon 8X for the first time…IMC Club opened its first Australian chapter…Quest Aircraft has been acquired by a Japanese firm…Cirrus is expanding its facilities in Duluth to accommodate jet production…EAA is offering college students incentives to volunteer at AirVenture…Breaking news in general aviation can be found at


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here