Briefing: August 2013

FAA Ready To Test New GA FuelsOperation Migration Seeks Crowd Funding For New AircraftAOPA Objects To Armed Searches Of GA AircraftEclipse Jet gets the OK For Longer LifeNOTAMS


For years, the general-aviation community has worried over how to replace 100LL. Finally, in June the FAA announced that it wants to see proposals for new fuels and will start a process to test them. The traditional leaded fuel is under attack from the Environmental Protection Agency and others worried about the toxins released into the atmosphere when it combusts. Plus, the sources for the fuel are considered uncertain, especially as the demand falls year by year. The FAA asked fuel producers to submit data for evaluation by July 1, 2014, and by September, 2014, the agency will select up to 10 candidates for testing. The second phase of testing will take up to five years. The FAA says it may not be “technically feasible” to find a true drop-in replacement for 100LL that will work fleet-wide. GA advocates, however, welcomed the start of a process that promises to keep the search moving forward.

Operation Migration has been using ultralight aircraft to help train wild birds to migrate for almost two decades, but now the nonprofit group faces a challenge — the FAA says since the highly trained pilots are salaried employees, they must have at least private pilot certificates and the aircraft must be SLSA compliant. The group is using the crowdsourcing site Indiegogo to appeal to the public for support, with a goal of raising $84,700 by July 26 to help buy three new aircraft. Although some sites require that the entire goal be realized before any funds are paid, Indiegogo will contribute to Operation Migration all the funds collected by the deadline. By June 25, the donations were more than a third of the way to the goal.

A rash of reports about armed police and federal agents searching general aviation aircraft and detaining pilots for no clear reason has AOPA asking questions. “At least 12 of our members have been stopped and had their plane searched by [Customs and Border Protection agents] for absolutely no reason at all,” said AOPA spokesman Steve Hedges. “We’ve asked CBP for documents related to the searches, filing a Freedom of Information Act to get it, but so far they have been unresponsive.” The agents have searched aircraft, sometimes with dogs, and have demanded to see flight logs and other documents, although AOPA says they have no authority to do so.

When the Eclipse very-light-jet was certified by the FAA in 2005, the airframe was life-limited to 10,000 hours/10,000 cycles/10 years. In June the FAA extended that to 20,000 hours/20,000 cycles, with an unlimited calendar life. “An actual Eclipse jet was subject to the movements, loads, and fatigue that would normally be experienced over more than 60,000 flight operations,” said Cary Winter, vice president of manufacturing. “This testing also validated the strength and superiority of our patented friction-stir-welding process.” That process welds the airframe together without the need to drill holes and install thousands of rivets. Because rivet holes create opportunities for stress cracks to form, their elimination and the strength of the friction-stir-welded joints create an airframe three times stronger than a traditional riveted airframe, according to Eclipse. The longer life limit applies to both the legacy jets that are now flying and the new jets now in production by Eclipse Aerospace.

EAA submitted, under protest, to an FAA demand to pay nearly $450,000 for the expenses of air traffic controllers at AirVenture … “Planes,” an animated film with airplane characters, by Disney, opens nationwide August 6 … Surf Air launched in California with a pay-by-the-month, fly-all-you-want, charter service … Solar Impulse, the unique solar-powered airplane from Switzerland, flew across the U.S. from San Francisco to New York … Van’s Aircraft delivered its first factory-built RV-12 … The underwater wreckage of a rare Dornier DO-17 was recovered in the U.K. … A new documentary film about TWA Flight 800 alleges the true cause of the crash was covered up … Icon said it has raised $60 million, and will use the funds to complete production preparations, demonstrate regulatory compliance, and ramp up full-scale aircraft production … Breaking news in general aviation can be found at


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