Briefing: November 2014


In Transition: Turbine Mallard and SAM LSA
Two general-aviation aircraft designs, the Turbine Mallard and the all-metal tandem SAM LSA, are up for sale. Thierry Zibi said he enjoyed designing and building the SAM, but doesn’t want to run a production company. The SAM is certified in Canada as an Advanced Ultralight, and is compliant with the LSA rule in the USA. Frakes Aviation acquired classic Grumman Mallard’s type certificate some years ago, and upgraded the fleet with turbine engines. The TC is back on the market now, as the current owners are ready to retire. “We’re looking for someone to take on the entire project,” said Sam Jantzen, of Mallard Aircraft, who is working with Frakes. That would include not just the type certificate but the inventory of parts and several partially-built aircraft now owned by Frakes and based in Texas.

Two Puzzling Accidents May Be Hypoxia Linked
Two general aviation crashes apparently due to oxygen deprivation occurred within a week, focusing attention on the techniques and technology used by both pilots and controllers to deal with hypoxia. A Cirrus SR22 pilot was alone in the cockpit on a flight from Wisconsin to the Washington, D.C., area, in late August, when controllers lost contact and fighter jets were scrambled to investigate. The SR22 crashed into the ocean. A few days later, a brand-new TBM 900 enroute from New York to Florida, with two people on board, crashed into the Atlantic near Jamaica. The F-15 pilots reported seeing the pilot slumped over the controls before the plane’s windows frosted over.

Fast Track Stalls For Part 23 Changes
General aviation manufacturers have eagerly embraced a thorough rewrite of the FAA’s Part 23, which regulates the certification of aircraft, in hopes that the changes would enable them to provide “twice the safety at half the cost,” thanks to streamlined approval procedures. That promise stalled over the summer when an FAA official said the rewrite process would likely take another two years beyond the congressionally mandated deadline of December 2015. Officials at Flight Design and Pipistrel said they would move forward anyway with their new projects, and hope to work through EASA and the FAA to approve their technology without delays.

NTSB: GA Accidents Decreased Last Year
The total number of general-aviation accidents in 2013 was 1,222, a decrease of 249 from 2012, the NTSB said in September. The number of fatal accidents (221), fatalities (387), and the accident rate per 100,000 flight hours (5.85) all declined from the previous year. Last year’s statistics showed the GA accident rate as virtually flat. Accidents for commuter flights increased from four in 2012 to eight in 2013, with three fatal accidents. On-demand Part 135 operations, which include charter, air taxi, air tour, and air medical flights, showed increases in all categories.

FAA Selects Fuels For Testing
The ongoing search for a drop-in replacement for 100LL aviation fuel took another step forward in September, when the FAA said it had chosen four unleaded formulas to undergo testing — two formulas from Swift Fuels, one from Shell, and one from Total. The fuels will enter a yearlong Phase 1 test regime starting this fall at FAA’s William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey. “We’re committed to removing harmful lead from general aviation fuel,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This work will benefit the environment and provide a safe and available fuel for our general aviation community.” By the end of 2018 at least one new unleaded fuel should be approved that will be suitable for much of the general aviation piston aircraft fleet, the FAA said.

Goodyear’s new high-tech Zeppelin airship made its first official flight…Boeing won $9.4 million from DARPA to develop its ducted-fan Phantom Swift VTOL…A pilot was killed when his airplane crashed during the Reno Air Races, no one else was hurt…The NTSB cited crew errors in its final report on the UPS crash that killed two in August 2013…The FAA continues to swat down drones as users push for their acceptance…Breaking news in general aviation can be found at


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