EAA AirVenture — A “Magical” Week
It was a good year for EAA AirVenture, despite some weather challenges midweek, with commercial exhibits up 10 percent over last year, and a slight uptick in visitors. Canada’s Snowbirds made an appearance, and Harrison Ford piloted the two-millionth Young Eagle flight. Cessna unveiled a mockup of their new turboprop and announced it will be named “Denali.” Mooney brought their two new Ultra models, Rans debuted a new all-metal design in their kit line-up, and ForeFlight rolled out their latest update, version 8. EAA’s Jack Pelton dubbed it “a magical week,” with lots of enthusiasm among vendors and visitors, and plenty of new products and technologies on display.
FAA Finalizes ECI Cylinder AD
The FAA issued its final rule in August on a controversial airworthiness directive requiring the replacement of aftermarket ECi cylinders in 6200 Continental aircraft engines. The AD requires owners to scrap thousands of the cylinders sold between September 2002 and June 2009. The FAA estimates the work will cost $11,520 per engine, a total of about $88.5 million. When it was proposed in 2013, the AD caused a storm of protest from owners, engine shops, and manufacturers. AOPA said it will work with the FAA to explore alternate means of compliance. The rule took effect on September 15.
Solar Team, Solo Balloonist Complete Record-Setting Flights
It took 13 years from start to finish, but in July the SolarImpulse team succeeded in its quest to fly a solar-powered aircraft around the world. After years of development and testing, the flight launched from Dubai in March 2015, and two pilots, Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard, took turns flying. The longest leg, from Japan to Hawaii, took nearly five days and set a new record for solo nonstop flying time. Also in July, intrepid Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov broke Steve Fossett’s record for a solo round-the-world flight by balloon. Konyukhov overflew his launch site in Australia after 11 days and 11 hours aloft.
First Flight For Airlander
It may not be the world’s sleekest or most beautiful aircraft, but the Airlander 10 is unique, and in July it left its hangar and flew for the first time. The huge hybrid lighter-than-air vehicle, about 300 feet long, is designed to remain aloft for days at a time, providing unique capabilities for passenger and cargo transport, surveillance, and search and rescue. The airship, built by Hybrid Air Vehicles, launched from Cardington Airfield in Bedfordshire, England, and flew for about 15 minutes. Two test pilots flew in a five-mile area around the airport, reaching an altitude of 500 feet and a speed of 35 knots. “All test objectives were met,” the company said. About 60 percent of the ship’s lift comes from helium, and the other 40 percent is provided by the aerodynamic shape and thrust from the engines.
AOPA Nall Report Shows GA Safety Improvements
The number of general aviation accidents decreased in 2015 compared to the year before, continuing a recent trend, according to the 25th Joseph T. Nall Report by AOPA’s Air Safety Institute. Non-commercial fixed-wing aircraft accidents in 2015 totaled 912, versus 944 in 2014 and 958 in 2013. Fatal accidents were 187 in 2015 and 189 in 2014. One factor in the improving record is new technology, such as angle-of-attack indicators, said George Perry, senior vice president of ASI. “If we can come up with cost-effective, safety-enhancing technologies, pilots will buy and equip,” Perry said. The Institute also launched a new annual Joseph T. Nall Safety Award, and named Cirrus as the first winner, citing an accident rate less than half the industry average.
A hot-air balloon crash killed 16 in Texas…A one-of-a-kind Bugatti replica crashed, killing pilot and designer Scotty Wilson…Mooney named a new CEO, Vivek Saxena…Airbus unveiled an “urban taxi” VTOL project…Tecnam’s P2012 Traveler twin flew for the first time…Virgin Galactic is now test-flying SpaceShipTwo…FAA tweaked its rules so 16-year-olds can solo on their birthday…The U.S. Air Force says it has 700 pilot slots to fill…Breaking news in general aviation can be found at AVWeb.