Briefing: November 2015


Diamond Tests Auto-landing Feature

An autonomous landing system that Diamond Aircraft officials call an “electronic parachute” has been successfully tested in Austria, the company announced in September. Tested in a DA42 twin, the system uses fly-by-wire technology and has been in development for about three years. The aircraft, with two test pilots on board, flew the approach and landing to an uncontrolled field without any input from pilots in the cockpit or on the ground. The airplane touched down gently right on the centerline. CEO Christian Dries said the technology may be available as an option within a few years. An auto-takeoff feature also is in the works.

First Engine Start For Restored B-29 “Doc”

The World War II-era B-29 Superfortress known as “Doc”–named for one of Snow White’s seven dwarfs–ran all four engines in September at its home base in Wichita, a step closer to first flight for the restoration project, which started in the 1980s. Volunteers had hoped to have the B-29 flying by last summer, so it could join the only other flying Superfortress, Fifi, at EAA AirVenture. Now the nonprofit group that owns the airplane is hoping Doc will make it to Oshkosh next year.

NTSB Final Report on Bedford Crash

The Gulfstream G-IV flight crew should have used the checklist and checked the flight controls before taking off from Hanscom Field, in Bedford, Massachusetts, in May 2014, the NTSB said in its final report on the fiery crash that killed all seven on board. The NTSB also said Gulfstream should modify the gust-lock system on the G-IV, to be sure that crews can’t accelerate to take-off speed with the gust lock engaged. The board issued a Safety Alert to pilots, reminding them of “the critical need” to always follow checklists and perform flight-control checks before every takeoff. “Procedural compliance saves lives,” said board vice-chairman Bella Dinh-Zarr. “It may seem mundane but it saves lives.”

Perlan 2 Glider Launches

The first test flight of the Perlan 2 glider was made from Redmond Municipal Airport in Oregon, completing another step in the project team’s goal to set a new altitude record. Pilots Jim Payne and Morgan Sandercock flew the glider to 5000 feet above the field during the first of what will be a series of tests before attempting to reach 90,000 feet from Argentina next year. Perlan 2 is a two-seat pressurized sailplane with an 85-foot wingspan. The glider is equipped with oxygen equipment, emergency parachutes, cameras, and instruments for gathering flight and atmospheric data. The project began in 1992, and set an altitude record for gliders of 50,722 feet in 2006. Last year, the project joined Airbus Group. After reaching 90,000 feet, the team plans to design a new wing and push on to 100,000 feet.

Embraer’s Legacy 450 Certified

Embraer received FAA certification for its all-new Legacy 450 business jet in late August. The all-new mid-light design features fly-by-wire technology and sidestick controls. The jet has a top speed of Mach 0.83 and a range of up to 2575 nm, and seats up to nine in the cabin. “The digital controls [in the cockpit] produce a smoother flight, improve performance, and reduce pilot workload,” said Marco Tulio Pellegrini, CEO of Embraer Executive Jets. The jet is powered by two Honeywell HTF 7500E turbofan engines, and the cockpit is equipped with Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion avionics, featuring four 15-inch LCD displays and a synthetic-vision system. A heads-up display and enhanced vision are optional. The jet sells for about $17 million.


Cirrus unveiled a Garmin touchscreen panel for its Vision Jet…A Boeing 777 readying for takeoff from Las Vegas was heavily damaged by an engine fire; nobody was hurt…The Society of Aviation and Flight Educators named Bill Moyle as its new executive director…A pilots’ club based in North Carolina bought a gas balloon for long-distance flying…Bell opened a new assembly plant in Louisiana for its 505 Jet Ranger X…A fire at Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome in New York destroyed the gift shop but spared the antique airplanes…See breaking news in general aviation at


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