Briefing: July 2017


BasicMed Now In Effect

The FAA’s BasicMed rule took effect on May 1, creating a new option for pilots who want to fly without an FAA medical certificate. Under the BasicMed rule, pilots can fly under certain circumstances without a medical certificate, but they must pass an online course about aviation medical issues, complete a medical exam and checklist, and meet certain other criteria. The FAA’s Advisory Circular (AC 68-1) on “Alternative Medical Qualifications” describes in detail how pilots can comply with the new policy.

Two Icon Staffers Killed In A5 Crash

Jon Karkow, lead engineer at Icon, and new employee Cagri Sever died on May 8 when the Icon A5 they were flying crashed on the shore of Lake Berreyssa, near Icon headquarters in California. In its preliminary report, the NTSB said a witness, who was aboard a boat on the lake, told investigators he saw the A5 flying about 30 to 50 feet above the water, at what seemed to be a low speed. The witness said the airplane passed by his position and entered a nearby cove. The area where the crash occurred is known as Little Portuguese Canyon, and the terrain is steep and narrow, according to Icon. “We’re unsure why the plane flew into such a narrow canyon that had no outlet,” said Shane Sullivan, Icon’s director of flight. Icon said a flight data recorder was recovered from the accident aircraft, and NTSB investigators reviewed it together with Icon engineers.

Cessna’s Mustang Out To Pasture

Cessna has delivered more than 470 copies of the light twin-jet Mustang since its introduction in 2006, but in May, the last one rolled off the production line. “The Mustang proved to be an incredible success for our company and our customers, and we’re thrilled to celebrate the ingenuity and pride that went into creating the world’s most popular entry-level light jet,” said Rob Scholl, senior vice president of sales for Cessna. The company’s own M2 jet, introduced in 2013, has cut into Mustang sales, Cessna said. Like the Mustang, the M2 is certified for single-pilot operations and can handle short runways, but it’s faster and roomier than the Mustang.

Uber Elevate Summit Explores Aviation’s Future

In February, Uber hired away longtime NASA engineer Mark Moore to head their effort to develop airborne urban transit, and in April, Moore hosted the first Uber Elevate conference, a three-day event that brought together aviation experts and others to explore the options for creating flying taxis. Teams in Dallas and Dubai committed to have a demo project up and running by 2020. John Langford, CEO of Aurora Flight Sciences, told AVweb in an interview from the conference that Uber’s goals are “doable.” By setting a near-term challenge and encouraging investment, Langford said, the 2020 deadline can help, and once people see a system up and running, they’ll want to travel that way, spurring more investment.

Drones Rule At AUVSI Conference

The AUVSI Xponential conference, held in Dallas in May by the Association of Un-manned Vehicle Systems International, showcased the latest developments in drone technology. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said at the conference the aviation industry will find many applications for drones, including inspecting jet aircraft, as Airbus already is doing. “We believe the future will be defined by intelligence and machine learning,” Krzanich said. “The vehicle itself is less important.” FAA Administrator Michael Huerta also gave a talk, noting that the FAA is mandated to regulate drone operations, and more rules are in the works. However, in May, a federal court said drones are essentially “model aircraft” and a law passed in 2012 prevents the FAA from requiring users to register.


The restored B-29 “Doc” made its airshow debut, in Louisiana…China’s long-awaited C919 single-aisle airliner flew for the first time…The SolarStratos electric aircraft, designed to reach 75,000 feet, made its first flight…Vivek Saxena stepped down as CEO of Mooney…Cirrus earned an FAA production certificate for its Vision jet…Breaking news in general aviation can be found at


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