Briefing: December 2014

Gulfstream Unveils Two New Business JetsNBAA News RoundupLockheed Pursues Fusion Power For AirplanesCommercial Drone Era Launches In EuropeNew FAA Policy Will Save Lives, Says EAANOTAMS


In October, Gulfstream announced it will add two new wide-cabin business jets to its line: the Gulfstream G500 and G600. The first G500 is already built, and taxied to the unveiling event in Savannah, Georgia. The company also revealed a 70-foot-long mockup of the G600, which it displayed a week later at the NBAA convention. Both jets carry up to 19 passengers in extra-wide cabins, and both can fly up to Mach 0.925, the same top speed as Gulfstream’s G650 and G650ER. The cockpits feature active control sidesticks and touchscreen avionics. The G500 will start deliveries in 2018, with the G600 to follow a year later, the company said.

The annual NBAA Business Aviation Expo, held in Orlando, Florida, in October, had plenty of news besides Gulfstream’s surprise announcement. The Citation Latitude, Cessna’s newest midsize business jet, made its public debut, with one of the flight-test fleet on display. Beechcraft announced upgrades to the latest King Air model.Embraer debuted its mid-sized Legacy 450, and Piaggio Aero, builder of the Avanti P180 twin turboprop, announced a name change to Piaggio Aerospace. The company said it will fly a prototype of its Hammerhead unmanned aerial system by the end of the year.

Lockheed Martin is developing a compact fusion reactor that the company said could be used in aircraft as soon as 2024. “Our compact fusion concept combines several alternative magnetic confinement approaches, taking the best parts of each, and offers a 90-percent size reduction over previous concepts,” said Tom McGuire, compact fusion lead for the Skunk Works’ Revolutionary Technology Programs, in October. “The smaller size will allow us to design, build and test the CFR [compact fusion reactor] in less than a year.” The first prototype should fit on the back of a truck and power an airplane like the C-5 cargo carrier for up to a year, the company said, providing virtually “unlimited range [and] unlimited endurance.”

While potential drone business operators in the U.S. wait impatiently for the FAA to devise a set of rules that will allow them to fly, cargo airline DHL has launched the first commercial drone deliveries in Europe. The pilot project enables DHL to deliver pharmaceuticals on-demand from the mainland to a small island about 7.5 miles off the coast of Germany. The drone will take off and land from designated sites, and on the island it will be met by a DHL courier who then will deliver the package to the recipient. The UAS will travel over a specified route at about 165 feet AGL, reaching speeds up to 40 knots.

Building your own airplane, even from a kit, is not an easy task, and until recently, builders then were required to fly the airplane solo for the first phase of testing before they could carry a passenger. Those first eight hours of flying proved to have a high rate of fatal accidents. The FAA said in September it will now allow home builders to carry a second qualified pilot on board for the initial flight tests. “This is the first time that builders can get the best of both worlds: going airborne on the plane’s first flights and having an experienced test pilot on board to add an additional layer of safety,” said Tom Charpentier, EAA government advocacy specialist. “The [program] has significant potential to reduce the number of Phase I accidents for our community.”

The Airbus A320 Neo made its first flight…An arson fire at an ATC facility disrupted air traffic around Chicago for several days…The pilot of a Cessna 172 and his 14-year-old passenger died after a mid-air collision in New York state during a Young Eagles flight…EASA has certified the Airbus A350-900…The Martin JetPack company offered shares to the public…The NTSB blamed pilot error for a fatal crash when a Beechcraft Premier jet hit a utility pole after a failed landing attempt…Breaking news in general aviation can be found at


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