Briefing: August 2021


Garmin Autoland Wins Collier

Garmin’s Autoland system won the 2020 Collier Trophy as the top technological achievement in aviation. It was up against some formidable competition, including the Bell V 280 Valor, Boeing Confident Travel Initiative, Reliable Robotics Remotely Operated Aircraft System (ROAS), SpaceX Falcon 9 and Dragon 2, U.S. Department of the Air Force Green Propellant Infusion Mission Team, and Yates Electrospace Corporation’s Silent Arrow. The system, which was certified in 2020 and is now available on several aircraft types, automatically detects pilot incapacitation and lands the airplane at the nearest suitable airport. Passengers can also activate the system with the press of a button. “Its ability to take over an airplane with a disabled pilot and land it safely will save many lives in the future. It’s a remarkable technical achievement and clearly merits the Collier Trophy,” said National Aeronautic Association Chairman Jim Albaugh.

Aerion Fails After Boeing Bails

Aerion Supersonic, which had been working on developing a supersonic business jet for 18 years, announced it was folding, saying there isn’t enough investor interest to fund the project. Although it attracted more than $11 billion in potential orders, the company said it couldn’t raise the $4 billion it said was necessary to get the project off the ground. It appears Boeing’s decision to drop its investment in Aerion played a role in the collapse. Aerion did not produce a proof of concept or prototype aircraft. All deposits are being returned. Meanwhile, United Airlines announced it would buy as many as 50 Boom Supersonic Overture airliners. The Mach 1.7 aircraft will carry up to 88 passengers with a range of 4250 nautical miles at 60,000 feet in a business class-style cabin.

Type Training In Warbirds Deemed Illegal

The FAA has determined that it’s illegal to pay for instruction in limited, experimental, and primary category aircraft——the “type” training commonly carried out in historic and rare aircraft captured by those categories can’t be done for money. “For years, the FAA has correctly stated that training in the specific make and model of aircraft to be routinely operated, with a well-qualified instructor, is the best training. These policies would unnecessarily limit that access and measure of safety,” said EAA Chairman Jack Pelton. The interpretation stems from a court ruling last April that upheld the decertification of a company in Florida that offered dual instruction in a P-40, classifying the student pilot as a paying passenger in violation of the compensation rules.

Icon Shareholders Fight Tech Transfer

A group of 35 shareholders in Icon Aircraft are suing to prevent what they claim is illegal technology transfer to China by the majority shareholder Pudong Science and Technology Investment Inc. (PDSTI). Among those investors is Icon founder Kirk Hawkins and former Boeing CEO Phil Condit. Condit issued a shareholder statement saying the board was violating its duty to act in the best interests of all the shareholders. “The investments by PDSTI…” he said, “…were part of a plan to gain technology and defraud minority shareholders.” The board of directors has not commented.

Airbus Testing Single Pilot Long-Haul System

Airbus and Cathay Pacific are working on certifying a single-pilot system for long-haul passenger flights. The planemaker says it hopes to certify its A350 for single-pilot operation at high altitude cruise by 2025. Project Connect marries cockpit automation with real-time monitoring of pilot performance and health. The system is designed to eliminate the need for a third relief pilot on long flights.


Boeing flew the 737 MAX 10 … Alaskan regional airline RAVN will buy up to 50 Airflow electrically powered STOL aircraft … GA owners are suing Ogden, Utah airport over lease-cancellations … A post-pandemic surge in airline pilot hiring is anticipated … A Navy FA-18A refuelled from drone … Boeing had to stop 787 deliveries for paperwork … See for breaking news in general aviation.


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