Aero Showcases New Aviation Technologies
Europe’s major general aviation show, Aero Friedrichshafen, opened in April with a focus on new technology. Pipistrel displayed its Hypstair hybrid drive project, combining a Rotax 914 engine with a Siemens electric motor. Eclipse and Honda were there with their now-certified-in-Europe light jets. Plus the usual assortment of sport planes, turboprops, flying boats, aerobatic planes, gyrocopters, light jets, and more, made a lively and interesting show. Full coverage of Aero Friedrichshafen can be found at AVWeb.
Buyers Push Back On Icon Sales Contract
Prospective Icon A5 owners have been waiting years for their amphibious LSA, but this spring, many buyers balked at the 40-page contract they were asked to sign. The contract included many stipulations never before seen in the light aircraft market, including a life limit on the airplane of 30 years or 6000 hours, and a requirement for Icon to be involved in any resale of the airplane. After a few weeks of defending the contract against persistent questions from buyers and the aviation media, Icon Aircraft CEO Kirk Hawkins said the company would consider revising the agreement and “doing what is ultimately right for our owners, the industry and the company.”
GA Advocates Applaud Senate FAA Bill
In April, the Senate passed a new FAA funding bill that satisfied many general-aviation advocates, but the bill must still be reconciled with the House bill, which would shift control of ATC to a not-for-profit corporation, with scant support in GA groups. The Senate version doesn’t address privatization, but it does include the Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2, which would simplify medical certification for many recreational pilots. “Getting these reforms is vital to the entire general aviation community,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. The bill also supports Part 23 certification reform. A compromise bill from the House and Senate must be sent to President Obama by July 15.
Future Flight: Volocopter, Airlander, Virgin-Boom SST
It takes years of sweat and tears to produce a new aircraft design, but creative visionaries continue to develop innovative ideas, and sometimes they actually fly. One unusual aircraft, the Volocopter, an electric-powered multicopter VTOL, achieved its first manned free flight in April in Germany, with CEO Alexander Zosel as pilot. “The flight was totally awesome,” Zosel said. Also, the unique Airlander lighter-than-air transport vehicle, 302 feet long, is now fully assembled, Hybrid Air Vehicles, based in the U.K., announced in March, and flight tests will start soon. The ship was shown off to visitors, fully inflated and hovering inside the hangar. And in Colorado, a supersonic passenger jet is under development as a partnership between startup firm Boom and The Spaceship Company. Boom wants to build a 40-seat jet that can fly round-trip from New York to London in 3.4 hours, for $5,000 per passenger.
Sun ‘n Fun Delivers
Sun ‘n Fun, in Lakeland, Florida, benefitted this year from a week of near-perfect weather in early April, and the show offered some of everything for everyone, from Red Bull air racers and the night airshow to plenty of forums and workshops. Piper debuted their M600 turboprop, with a new wing and Garmin G3000 touchscreens. Daher showed a new turboprop model, the TBM 930, an upgraded 900 with new avionics and interior. EAA’s Jack Pelton announced a major new initiative with the FAA to make it easier to install non-certified avionics in certified aircraft. And Flight Design USA said they are now starting to fill U.S. orders, which have been backlogged due to production problems in Germany, with aircraft built at a new factory in Taiwan.
Schoolteacher Ross McCurdy launched a cross-country flight in a 182 burning biofuel, to promote eco-friendly aviation…EAA said a Martin water bomber will visit AirVenture for the first time…The FAA expanded simulator time limits for flight schools…Solar Impulse launched from Hawaii to continue its global flight…Swift Fuel said its 100-octane unleaded fuel will have a comparable cost to current avgas…Breaking news in general aviation can be found at AVWeb.