Briefing—July 2024


Roswell Wins Air Races

Roswell, New Mexico, was chosen to host the National Championship Air Races starting in 2025. The races will be held at the Roswell Air Center, once at the center of UFO conspiracy theories. The airport is mainly known for its vast boneyard of hundreds of airliners and other aircraft, which included Elvis Presley’s Lockheed Jetstar until 2017. The Jetstar is now being turned into an RV. The Reno (now Roswell?) Air Racing Association (RARA) said one of the reasons Roswell was chosen over Casper, Wyoming and Pueblo, Colorado was because of the variety of attractions in the area.

Congress Allows Airport Closure

A rare congressional order paved the way for Banning, California, to close its municipal airport. The measure, included in the recently-passed 2024 FAA Reauthorization Bill, absolves the city of its FAA obligations to maintain the facility but there are some conditions. It must repay the grant money that hasn’t been fully amortized and repay the agency for 20 acres of land bought with FAA money in 1983. AOPA and the FAA both opposed the move citing the airport’s strategic location in the San Gorgonio Pass and its frequent use by firefighting aircraft. The city has been trying to close the airport for eight years saying it’s a financial millstone for the community. “We will be working with the current tenants of hangars to ensure that there is a relocation assistance plan, most likely at one of the 14 nearby airports,” Mayor Alberto Sanchez said.

Airbus Unveils High Speed Hybrid Copter

Airbus Helicopters has introduced a high-speed hybrid helicopter that promises a 216-knot cruise speed. The Racer has two lateral pusher propellers to provide forward thrust in addition to the main rotor that gives it VTOL capability. It uses Safran’s hybrid-electric Eco-Mode power system that enables one of the Racer’s two Aneto-1X engines to go to standby in cruise, offering a 30 percent fuel saving over a conventional helicopter at a higher cruise speed. It also has a metal and composite structure and asymmetric rear fuselage cross-section to optimize hover performance without sacrificing forward and cruise flight capability.

Court Action Looms Over Unleaded Avgas

The Center for Environmental Health is apparently planning court action to kickstart the State of California’s transition to unleaded avgas. CEH has a Consent Agreement signed by dozens of FBOs and fuel suppliers pledging to stock the first “commercially available” fuel to come along that has less lead in it than 100LL and CEH says that’s General Aviation Modifications Inc.’s G100UL. “G100UL has been approved by FAA and is now in production.”  CEH’s lawyer Mark Todzo said. “It is therefore commercially available as that term is defined in CEH’s Consent Judgment.” The National Air Transportation Association, which represents most of the affected fuel companies, has challenged that definition. “The Court will ultimately decide whose interpretation of ‘commercially available’ is correct,” Todzo said.

Three More Antidepressants Available To Pilots

The FAA added three antidepressants to the list of “conditionally approved” drugs for pilots. Now on the list are duloxetine (Cymbalta), venlafaxine (Effexor), and desvenlafaxine (Pristiq). A special issuance is required for active pilots to maintain their medicals. The drugs are serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors and are prescribed for depression and anxiety. They increase the activity of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. The change is part of the FAA’s effort to modernize its approach to mental health with pilots and air traffic controllers. The Air Force has embarked on a similar path for its flight crew.


European Business Aviation Association launches sustainability drive … Congress earmarks $240 million for aviation diversity push … The Air Force is considering allowing facial hair … Lead levels slightly elevated in kids next to airport … More Boeing employees are reporting safety concerns … Minnesota allowing flying cars on roads … Warbird legend Brig. Gen. Bud Anderson dies at 102 … Jennifer Homendy confirmed as NTSB Chair for second term … Find breaking news in general aviation at


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