Briefing: March 2019


180-Minute ETOPS On A220

The Airbus A220 became the smallest airliner to be approved for 180-minute extended diversion time operations (EDTO), formerly ETOPS, and that could open up lucrative transoceanic routes outside of the normal hubs. The former Bombardier CSeries program, which was acquired by Airbus in July of 2018, targets the 100-150-seat niche and the approval by Transport Canada widens the scope of operations for the highly regarded fly-by-wire airliner. The aircraft was also approved for steep approaches of up to six degrees last summer and with EDTO approval, direct flights from London City Centre Airport to the east coast of North America would be allowed. The approval will also allow the aircraft to be used between Hawaii and the western U.S.

Relaxed Drone Rules Proposed

The FAA is proposing relaxing rules governing the operation of drones weighing less than 55 pounds over people and at night and it’s tailoring the rules based on the unmanned aircraft’s ability to injure people. Tiny drones weighing less than 0.55 pounds will be able to fly over people without restriction because they’re considered essentially harmless. Manufacturers of larger, faster drones will have to prove that they can’t cause significant injury if they hit someone if operators want to use them over people. More dangerous drones, those capable of hurting people but not killing them, couldn’t be used over open air assemblies of people and couldn’t hover over them but they could be used in restricted areas as long as those inside are aware of the drones. For night operations, drones will be required to have an anti-collision light visible for three statute miles.

Envelope Protection On Textron Pistons

Textron is adding flight envelope protection as standard equipment on its higher-end piston products and offering satellite connectivity as an option. The company announced in January that all Skylanes, Turbo Stationair HDs, Bonanzas and Barons will be equipped with Garmin’s G1000 NXi and GFC 700 autopilot with Enhanced Automatic Flight Control System that includes electronic stability and protection with auto-level, underspeed protection and coupled go-around. The panel will also be available as an option on Skyhawks. Barons will also get Garmin’s GWX 75 Doppler radar as standard equipment. The Iridium GSR 56 satellite receiver will be available as an option on all piston aircraft.

Fly-By-Wire For GA

The FAA and Flight Level Engineering are wrapping up research into making general aviation aircraft easier to fly through digital fly-by-wire control systems. As part of the EZ-FLY initiative, Flight Level Engineering rigged a Navion with digitally-controlled servos on all the flight control surfaces. Fly-by-wire is nothing new in military and commercial aircraft but it hasn’t reached GA because of the design and certification complexities. The main focus of the EZ-FLY project was to assess the impact on new GA pilots. The idea is that the technology will make aircraft easier to fly and therefore make flying more attractive. That will boost aircraft sales and bring down the cost of general aviation.

Lion Air CVR Recovered

The cockpit voice recorder from a Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX that crashed off Indonesia last October was dug from under 26 feet of mud on the bottom of the Java Sea in early January. The CVR, if it survived the severe impact forces of the crash, is expected to yield vital information about what the pilots were dealing with as they fought an aircraft that was seemingly hell bent on diving into the ocean. An automated anti-stall system is the focus of the investigation but the way its behavior manifested in the cockpit will be a crucial element. All 189 people on the aircraft died when the plane slammed into the ocean at high speed on October 29.


Chicago pilot Ron Carlson is offering a $20,000 reward for finding the wreck of his TBM Avenger…SpaceX is laying off 10 percent of its 6000 employees in the face of more competition…The Brazilian government approved Boeing’s purchase of Embraer’s airliner business…Find breaking news in general aviation


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