The Medical Reform Bill, ADS-B Rebates and Hybrid-Electric Planes


Congress Passes Medical-Reform Bill

After a long struggle and many failed attempts by general-aviation advocacy groups, new federal legislation was passed this summer that mandates changes in the way private pilots are medically certified. “This moment has been a long time coming and resulted from an incredible amount of work over the past five years,” said EAA chairman Jack Pelton. “This win is for everyone who loves recreational flight.” Under the new legislation, pilots who held medicals in the last 10 years might not have to be recertified to fly many aircraft weighing under 6,000 pounds. Exceptions include those who develop new medical conditions requiring a special issuance, for which a one-time medical would be required. The changes won’t take effect until the FAA creates new regulations, which is expected to take about a year.

Doc Flies!

The B-29 “Doc” took to the air in July for the first time in 60 years, following thousands of hours of restoration work by scores of dedicated volunteers. The flight launched from McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, Kansas, the same city where the airplane was built in 1944. Piloted by Charlie Tillman and David Oliver of the Commemorative Air Force, Doc joined the CAF’s Fifi as the world’s second flying Superfortress. Doc’s Friends, a nonprofit group, has been working since 1991 to raise funds and organize volunteers to restore the airplane.

ADS-B Rebates Multiply

With a deadline of 2020 looming for the owners of more than 100,000 general-aviation aircraft to install ADS-B capabilities, the industry and regulators are creating incentives to encourage owners to upgrade sooner rather than later. The FAA offered a $500 rebate in June, and in July the Aircraft Electronics Association joined in, with rebates of $1,000 each to five aircraft owners to be selected from drawings during EAA AirVenture at Oshkosh. By offering the incentives, AEA President Paula Derks said, “AEA hopes to send a message to owners of general aviation aircraft that the time to act and upgrade is now.” Several avionics manufacturers also offered rebates and raffles during Oshkosh. “Aircraft owners who wait to equip will face scheduling pressure and likely higher installation costs as we get closer to the January 1, 2020, deadline,” Derks said.

Siemens Debuts Hybrid-Electric Motor

On July 4, Siemens completed the first public flight of its hybrid-electric motor installed in an Extra 330LE aerobatic airplane, from an airfield near Dinslaken, Germany. “The first flight of our propulsion system is a milestone on the road to electrification of aviation,” said Siegfried Russwurm, chief technology officer for Siemens. The company says the success of this design means “hybrid-electric aircraft with four or more seats will now be possible.” The motor also will be the starting point of the development, with Airbus, of a hybrid-electric 100-seat regional airliner by 2030, the company said. Aerobatic champion Walter Extra was the pilot.

Seattle’s Museum Of Flight Expands

A new pavilion that doubles the exhibit space at the nonprofit Museum of Flight in Seattle opened to the public in June. The nine-story, three-acre roofed outdoor gallery features a cafe and a children’s play area, plus 15 rare and unique commercial and military airplanes, including a 787 Dreamliner from Boeing’s test fleet, the only Concorde supersonic jet on the West Coast, the first 747 Jumbo Jet, a 1945 Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber, and the world’s only airworthy example of a 1934 Douglas DC-2. The Museum’s full collection comprises 175 aircraft and spacecraft.


Two test pilots died when a Bell 525 helicopter crashed in Texas…Terrafugia won FAA weight and stall-speed exemptions for its Transition LSA…Icon revised its controversial purchase agreement for the A5…Bombardier sold its amphibious water bombers to Viking Air…Tom Hanks is starring in a movie based on the “Miracle on the Hudson,” for release in September…Two pilots were rescued 24 hours after ditching off Hawaii…Breaking news in general aviation can be found at AVWeb.


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