The success of big annual air shows like Sun n Fun depends at least partly on the weather, and this years Lakeland, Florida, event lucked out with plenty of sunshine after a wet opening day. Sun n Fun president Lites Leenhouts said this years show had higher attendance, more revenue, and increased vendor satisfaction compared to years past. The Thunderbirds, a fan favorite, had to cancel just days before the show after a pilot died during a practice flight. The career fair continues to grow, with interest from both job hunters and companies in search of new hires. Bose introduced a new in-ear pilot headset, Garmin brought upgraded weather and traffic receivers, and the air show welcomed viewers worldwide via a new Internet live stream.
Changes Follow Fatal Helicopter AccidentBoth the FAA and NTSB called for change after five people died in a helicopter accident in New York in March. They were flying in a Eurocopter AS350 with the doors off, a popular option for sightseeing flights, and were wearing special harnesses that were difficult to release. The helicopter lost power, and the pilot made an emergency landing on the East River. The aircraft then rolled over and sank. Only the pilot, who was wearing a different kind of harness, was able to escape. The FAA prohibited doors-off flights unless passengers have quick-release harnesses. The NTSB called on the FAA to prohibit commercial flights of all kinds that secure passengers without quick-release mechanisms.
For the 14th year, the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo welcomed visitors to Sebring, Florida, in January, providing respite from the cold for northerners and a chance for prospective buyers to take a demo flight in a Light Sport Aircraft. The show hosted about 100 exhibitors, more than last year, and organizers told AVweb ticket sales also were up. About 60 forums were held, and more than 1,000 youngsters took part in the shows youth education programs. The date for next years event is January 23 to 26.
The Mayo Clinic is now offering a free online BasicMed course for pilots. The course takes about 90 minutes to complete and is followed by an online test. Pilots must submit evidence of having passed a physical exam prior to beginning the course. Once the course is completed, pilots can print a certificate to keep in their logbooks. Certification information is then transmitted to the FAA. The clinic is the second organization, after AOPA, to offer an online BasicMed course. Pilots who choose to fly under the BasicMed rules must take an online course every two years.
Textron Reveals New TwinTextron plans to build an all-new, clean-sheet-design, large-utility twin turboprop, and start deliveries by 2020, the company said in November. The new airplane was developed with launch customer FedEx Express in mind, offering almost twice the interior space of the Caravan 208 plus a large cargo door to support container operations. The Cessna SkyCourier 408 will improve fuel efficiency, reliability and operating costs over the current fleet, according to FedEx Express. It will be powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-65SC turbines, with a cruise speed of up to 200 knots and a 900-NM range. The cockpit will be equipped with Garmin G1000 avionics. The company has signed on for 50 of the $5.5 million turboprops, with options for up to 50 more.
The FAA and NTSB both issued safety alerts in November that warn pilots to use proper procedures when operating on runways. The NTSB cites several accidents when pilots chose an intersection takeoff, and then lost power. In each case, if the pilot had used the entire runway, there would have been room for a safe landing.
NBAA Expo Focuses On ATC ProposalThe business-aviation world gathered in Las Vegas in October for their annual convention, and topping this years agenda was the fight against efforts in Washington to turn over the FAAs air traffic control services to a private nonprofit corporation. Opponents argue the system would favor the airlines at the expense of business flyers and private pilots. Also at the show, Bombardier brought the new Global 7000 large-cabin corporate jet for the first time, and Cessna displayed the first production-conforming prototype of its super-mid-sized Citation Longitude. Dassault officials said they have a clean-sheet design in the works for a new business jet, but no details yet. Pilatus said it will start deliveries of its PC-24 twinjet this year.
One Aviation flew its Eclipse jet with a new wing, in August. The testing is the first step in developing a new version of the jet, EA700. The EA700 will be a larger version of the original 500/550 jet, with a bigger wing, bigger engines, and a fuselage extended 14 inches. The more powerful EA700 will be able to climb direct to 43,000 feet and extend its range to 1500 NM. It will also boost performance for high and hot airports. The flight test lasted about 80 minutes and all parameters were met, the company said. The aircraft felt very solid, a testament to the engineering and build teams, said test pilot Jerry Chambers.
Flight Design, based in Germany, has long held a top spot in deliveries of light sport airplanes in the U.S., but it has been in receivership in Germany since February 2016. The company announced in July it now has new owners, Lift Air, from Eisenach, Germany. I am glad that we are able to maintain the know-how of one of the worlds market leaders in the light aircraft sector and to secure it with a well-funded investor, said Knut Rebholz, insolvency administrator. The company will now be called Flight Design General Aviation GmbH. Tom Peghiny, president of Flight Design USA, told AVweb hes thrilled with the news.
Icon started to deliver airplanes to customers in June, and let them take them home and fly them wherever they want, the company said in its annual newsletter. The first deliveries went to owners in Seattle, Montana and California. To support these A5s, Icon said it trained authorized maintainers at their home airports. We are continuing to grow the third-party partner network to service upcoming deliveries that arent near factory service centers, currently in Vacaville and Tampa, Icon said. The company also said it has trained more than 125 pilots at its two Icon Flight Centers, and added that it hopes to deliver 15 more aircraft by the end of this year and ramp up to 200 deliveries in 2018.
The Paris Air Show opened in June with the usual displays of military hardware and the latest passenger jets, but new and emerging technologies also attracted a lot of attention. Volocopter, a German company that has been developing a two-seat electric VTOL, announced it will work with the government of Dubai to test fly semi-autonomous air taxis by the end of this year. Boom unveiled the final design for a subscale prototype of its supersonic airliner, and said it will fly next year, with three GE engines. Airbus said its working on a new helicopter with a box-wing design that will cruise at 215 knots while maximizing efficiency. The Racer demonstrator will fly in 2020, Airbus said.
The FAAs BasicMed rule took effect on May 1, creating a new option for pilots who want to fly without an FAA medical certificate. Under the BasicMed rule, pilots can fly under certain circumstances without a medical certificate, but they must pass an online course about aviation medical issues, complete a medical exam and checklist, and meet certain other criteria. The FAAs Advisory Circular (AC 68-1) on Alternative Medical Qualifications describes in detail how pilots can comply with the new policy.