First Flights For Nextant, Diamond
Diamond Aircraft’s single-engine turboprop prototype completed its maiden flight in January, in Austria. The DA50-JP7 seats seven and is powered by a fuel-efficient Ukrainian-built 465 hp AI-450S engine. Diamond plans to also offer a Tundra version of the aircraft, featuring beefed-up wheels and landing gear. Certification is expected in the second half of 2016. Also in January, Nextant Aerospace announced the first test flight of its remanufactured G90XT design. The project, which launched about a year ago, matches a refurbished King Air C90A with the new GE H75 engine, a Garmin G1000 cockpit, electronic engine controls, dual-zone air conditioning, and many more upgrades. Certification and first delivery are expected in the second quarter of this year.
The FAA has withdrawn a rule that would have allowed greater use of simulators for instrument training because two people thought it was a bad idea. The agency issued the final rule in December, allowing up to 20 hours (doubling the previous maximum of ten) on an approved training device toward an instrument rating. The FAA issued the rule as a “direct to final rule” with no preliminary request for public comment. Under the rules about rules, if anyone complains about such a rule after the fact, it has to be rescinded. In this case, two people who commented after the rule was posted opposed it, so the agency has to start over and re-post the rule before it can be approved and enacted.
Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology signed an agreement with Aero Electric Aircraft Corp. in January to buy 20 electric-powered two-seat trainer aircraft. The college has reserved the first delivery positions for the Sun Flyer airplane, which is still in development. The electric airplanes, said Peter Harris, CEO of Spartan, “will make flight training more modern, accessible and economical than ever before.” George Bye, CEO of AEAC, says the Sun Flyer will be cheaper to operate than conventional trainer aircraft. AEAC is now working on initial R&D flight-tests with a single-seat prototype at Centennial Airport in Denver, while the first two-seat prototype Sun Flyer is being assembled, the company said.
Terrafugia petitioned the FAA in January, asking for an exemption from the light sport aircraft standard to allow extra weight and a higher stall speed for its Transition roadable aircraft. The request drew support from industry groups, including EAA, AOPA, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, and the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association. Terrafugia says the Transition will weigh 1,800 pounds and have a stall speed of 54 knots; the LSA rules set the maximums at 1,320 pounds and 45 knots. The changes would enable Terrafugia to build a safer airplane, the company said.
The NTSB released its annual Most Wanted List for safety improvements in January, and for general aviation the number-one issue was loss of control. “This list is grounded in the accident investigations by which NTSB learns safety lessons,” said NTSB acting chairman Christopher Hart. Loss of control has been cited as a factor in up to 40 percent of fatal GA accidents. The FAA and the industry already have worked to address the problem with training programs and by encouraging the use of angle-of-attack indicators in the cockpit.
Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China Ltd. has completed type certification for the country’s first regional jet, the ARJ21-700…Charlie Victor Romeo, an independent film based on re-enactments of airline crashes with dialogue from cockpit voice recorder transcripts, is now streaming online…Foreflight has recently added synthetic vision to its popular iPad-based flight-planning software…Two men died in January when an Aero Adventure amphibious LSA crashed during the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Florida…Breaking news in general aviation can be found at www.avweb.com.