Briefing December 2017


NBAA Expo Focuses On ATC Proposal

The business-aviation world gathered in Las Vegas in October for their annual convention, and topping this year’s agenda was the fight against efforts in Washington to turn over the FAA’s 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.

Santa Monica Shortens Runway

The single runway at Santa Monica Airport has long been a focus of controversy, with neighbors saying the jet traffic there is dangerous and noisy, while aviation advocates argue the historic airport benefits the community. The city got the go-ahead from authorities in October to shorten the runway from 5000 feet to 3500 feet. The destruction was stopped by a restraining order, but then resumed a week later after a court decreed “the legal complaints raised lack merit,” according to the city’s airport director, Stelios Markrides. The city plans to shut down the airport completely in December 2028.

Kestrel Stalls In Wisconsin and Maine

Kestrel, the company started by Cirrus co-founder Alan Klapmeier to build a single-engine turboprop, has failed to meet obligations in Wisconsin and Maine, according to local news reports. The state of Wisconsin said Kestrel has failed “to show measurable progress toward obtaining financing” to repay an overdue $4 million state loan, the Duluth News Tribune reported in October. Kestrel also has been evicted from a hangar in Maine after failing to pay on its lease for more than a year, according to the Portland Press Herald. Klapmeier told Wisconsin Public Radio he’s trying to stay in business, preserve jobs, and pay the state back. “We’ve tried to live up to our end of the deal,” he said. Klapmeier said his company is still exploring options for where to build the Kestrel.

NTSB Faults Balloon Pilot In Fatal Crash

A commercial balloon pilot’s “pattern of poor decision making” led to his balloon striking power lines and then crashing in Texas in July 2016, killing all 16 on board, the NTSB concluded in its final report, issued in October. It was the deadliest balloon crash in U.S. history. Alfred “Skip” Nichols, 49, the owner of Heart of Texas Balloons and the pilot on the day of the accident, had Valium, oxycodone and Benadryl in his system. The board said if the FAA required commercial balloon operators to carry an aviation medical certificate, officials would have had a chance to identify Nichols’ long history of drug- and alcohol-related traffic offenses. Nichols was being treated by a psychiatrist and had been prescribed 13 medications.

Boeing Creates $2 Million “GoFly” Prize

Boeing is offering $2 million in prize money to encourage innovators to create a “safe and easy-to-use personal flying device,” the company announced in September. The two-year GoFly competition is open to teams from around the world. The flying device should be easy to use by anyone, anywhere, Boeing said. It must be safe, ultra-compact, quiet, urban-compatible, capable of carrying a person 20 miles without refueling or recharging and must have vertical, or near-vertical, takeoff and landing capability. Boeing said it hopes the project will leverage recent advances in propulsion, energy, lightweight materials, and control and stability systems “to make the dream of personal flight a reality.”


Udacity now offers a “flying car” degree…Volocopter completed urban-taxi autonomous flight tests in Dubai…AOPA announced 2018 fly-ins in Montana, New Mexico, Illinois, and Alabama…Richard Branson said Virgin Galactic space-tourist flights will start next year…Breaking news in general aviation can be found at AVweb.


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