Briefing: April 2018


Spring Arrives Early With LSA Expo

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 show’s youth education programs. The date for next year’s event is January 23 to 26.

First Flights For Vahana And Ehang

Two new VTOL designs in development have announced first flights. Airbus flew its A3 Vahana autonomous electric VTOL aircraft, completing two short test flights in Oregon in late January and early February. The full-scale aircraft is the test article for what Airbus hopes will become fleets of pilotless tiltrotors that will carry passengers and cargo. The company has said it hopes to have a working prototype by 2020. Meanwhile, Ehang announced the first manned flights of its autonomous VTOL drone. The Chinese company said they had flown “40 or so” passengers, and released videos showing multiple flights with passengers in both one-seat and two-seat versions of the aircraft.

Airworthiness Directives Affect Piper Fleet, Cessna Twins

The FAA issued an Airworthiness Directive effective February 7 affecting nearly 19,000 Piper PA-28 airplanes, but compliance is fairly simple and cheap. The AD requires aircraft owners, before further flight, to verify the fuel-tank selector placards are located at the proper positions. If not, the placards must be replaced. If the error goes unchecked, it could result in fuel-management errors, leading to fuel starvation and loss of power in flight, the FAA says. Another AD published in February affects an estimated 2147 Cessna twin-engine airplanes. The airplanes must be inspected for cracks in the spar caps, and if cracks are found, the spar must be replaced. Replacement could cost an estimated $73,000. The AD is effective February 28.

Piper Lands Its Biggest Trainer Order Ever

A flight school in China, Fanmei Aviation Technologies, ordered 152 airplanes from Piper Aircraft in February, the largest single trainer order ever for the company. “This is a wonderful opportunity for both organizations as we work collectively to help address the global pilot shortage,” said Piper CEO Simon Caldecott. A Boeing analysis from 2017 predicts the Asia-Pacific region will need 253,000 new pilots by 2036, about 40 percent of the global demand. The seven-year, $74 million order includes 100 Archer TX single-engine trainers, 50 Seminole twins, one Seneca twin and one Piper M350, a pressurized piston single. The announcement was made at the Singapore Air Show in February.

“Undetectable” Defect Blamed For Engine Failure

An internal defect caused the uncontained engine failure that led to a fire during the takeoff roll of a Boeing 767 at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport in October 2016, the NTSB said in its probable-cause hearing in January. The subsurface defect led to cracking in a turbine disk. The cracks were undetectable using current inspection methods, the investigators found. “Even though there have been significant advances in the safety performance of passenger airplanes over the last few decades, this accident shows there are still improvements that can be made,” said NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt. The flight crew stopped the airplane on the runway. One passenger was hurt during the evacuation.


Gulfstream Aerospace delivered its last G450 business jet…All 71 people aboard a Saratov Airlines An-148 regional jet died Feb. 11 when the aircraft crashed soon after takeoff in Russia…Embry-Riddle offers a free online course in aircraft maintenance…Boeing rolled out its latest version of the 737, the Max 7…Peter Maurer retired as CEO of Diamond Canada but took a new role in “global strategy”…The C-47 that led the Allied invasion into France on D-Day in 1944 flew for the first time in 10 years on January 31…Breaking news in general aviation can be found at


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