Briefing: January 2014

Reno Races Face Financial CrunchNOTAMS Industry Objects To New FAA Sleep-Apnea Policy


Another light-sport amphibian has entered the field, this one from Vickers, a New Zealand company. The Wave, an Icon look-alike with a Lycoming IO-360 engine, will sell for under $180,000, the company said, and will be available for sale at EAA AirVenture in 2014. Kit manufacturer Van’s Aircraft has a second batch of ready-to-fly RV-12s in production by partner Synergy Air, in Eugene, Ore. The first batch of 12 was announced a year ago and sold out the first day. The LSA version sells for $123,000, fully equipped, or $115,000 for the base model.

Organizers of the Reno Air Races, a popular and unique event since 1964, have run into financial difficulties. In an open letter posted online in November, Reno Air Racing Association President Mike Houghton said the group needed to raise a half-million dollars by December 15 to meet expenses, including “oppressive” insurance premiums. RARA already has made “agonizing” cuts in staff, Houghton said. The races have lost money for the last three years, since the crash of Jimmy Leeward’s P-51D, which killed 11 and injured 69 in September 2011. Houghton said the board of directors and the bylaws are being restructured.

A Boeing 747 Dreamlifter landed at a GA airport in Kansas by mistake…A mysterious new design, possibly an electric-powered “flying car” with VTOL capability, was revealed to be under development by Zee Aero in California’s Silicon Valley….Researchers at MIT said ridged surfaces may help prevent airframe icing…DoubleEnder, a two-seat twin optimized for Alaska flying, is in development and may be offered as a kit, according to developer Alec Wild…Russian officials said crew error caused a 737 to crash, killing all 50 on board…Bombardier’s Learjet 75 achieved FAA certification…The Perlan Project aims to raise $2 million on Kickstarter to build a glider that can fly to 90,000 feet…All 11 on board survived the fiery collision of two skydiving aircraft in Wisconsin…Find breaking news in general aviation at

Industry watchdogs were quick to react when the FAA unilaterally implemented a new policy to detect and treat obstructive sleep apnea in pilots. Federal Flight Surgeon Dr. Fred Tilton told Aviation Medical Examiners to automatically refer pilots with a body mass index of more than 40 to sleep specialists for assessment, and if apnea is detected, pilots will be grounded until they’re successfully treated. The new policy, which bypassed the usual rulemaking process, was prompted by NTSB safety recommendations, the FAA said. EAA and AOPA demanded immediate suspension of the policy pending review. “There has been no evidence of sleep apnea as a cause…of general aviation accidents,” said Sean Elliott, EAA’s vice president of advocacy and safety. AOPA president Mark Baker called the change “arbitrary and capricious.”


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