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  • Over 15,000 pilots now have medical certification to fly through the FAA’s new BasicMed rule, which went into effect on May 1 of this year. The FAA estimates that at the end of 2016 there were roughly 162,000 active private pilots. Data isn’t yet available to assess the breakdown between pilots who have received BasicMed certification because they believed themselves unable to receive 3rd Class Medical certification and pilots who sought BasicMed certification out of convenience, but the program is undeniably popular, winning over a significant portion of the pilot population in only three months.

  • The City of Santa Monica has approved a contract for shortening of the runway at SMO from 4,973 feet to 3,500 feet. After years of attempts to close the airport entirely, the City of Santa Monica entered into an agreement with the FAA that would permit the city to shorten the runway immediately and to close the airport in 2028.

  • After initial trials with the Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine, the Sierra Nevada/Embraer A-29 Super Tucano, the Textron Scorpion jet, and the L-3/Air Tractor AT-802L Longsword at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson told reporters that combat trials were a likely next step in the OA-X light attack demonstration program. Wilson did caveat that combat trials were predicated on combat commanders approving the aircraft for use in an operational setting, but that’s probably a low bar for the AT-6 and A-29, both of which the Air Force has deemed “tier one” competitors for having met all the Air Force’s initial specifications.

  • The FAA Wednesday evening proposed an emergency airworthiness directive requiring owners of Lycoming engines to inspect and potentially replace off-spec connecting rod small-end bushings in Lycoming engines overhauled during the 2015 to 2016 time period. The AD codifies the procedures found in Lycoming's mandatory service bulletin SB 632 released last month.

  • Pilots flying on the days leading up to the coming solar eclipse on Aug. 21 have surely planned already to cope with extra traffic near the path of totality, but they also need to be aware of a nationwide balloon launch that will take place along that path. Teams of students will release about 100 high-altitude scientific balloons from about 30 locations along the eclipse path, from Oregon to South Carolina. Each balloon will carry a satellite modem for tracking the balloon’s location, FAA spokesperson Elizabeth Isham Cory told AVweb on Thursday.

  • The NTSB on Tuesday released its final report on the Icon A5 crash on May 8 that took the lives of two Icon employees, pilot Jon Karkow and passenger Cagri Sever. The investigators found the probable cause of the accident was “the pilot's failure to maintain clearance from terrain while maneuvering at a low altitude.” Contributing to the accident was the pilot's mistaken entry into a canyon surrounded by steep rising terrain while at a low altitude, for reasons that could not be determined. The investigators didn’t find any mechanical problem or failure with the aircraft that contributed to the accident.

  • The Williams International FJ44-4A-QPM engine, which has been chosen by Pilatus to power its new PC-24 jet, is now type-certified by both the FAA and EASA, Williams announced on Monday. Production deliveries have already begun. Williams says the new engine features an anti-ice and noise-suppressing inlet, an integral pre-cooler to condition engine bleed air and reduce drag losses, and a patented passive-thrust-vectoring exhaust nozzle technology.

  • Personnel at military bases can shoot down private or commercial drones that are deemed a threat, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said at a press briefing on Monday, according to The Military Times. The bases “retain the right of self-defense when it comes to UAVs or drones operating over [them],” Davis said. "The increase of commercial and private drones in the United States has raised our concerns with regards to the safety and security of our installations, aviation safety and the safety of people.”

  • Restrictions imposed in an effort to reduce noise at East Hampton’s busy general aviation airport must be lifted, a federal court ruled on Monday. “We are gratified that the judicial system upheld our position that the restrictions at East Hampton violated federal law,” said NBAA President Ed Bolen. “For aircraft operations to be successful, it is essential to have a uniform and consistent set of rules.” The problems began a few years ago when helicopter trips to the area, a popular beach destination for New Yorkers, began to increase.

  • The Lake Renegade that crashed during takeoff from the AirVenture 2017 seaplane base in rough water had its flaps up, according to the NTSB’s preliminary report. The 84-year old pilot and one of his passengers was killed in the accident.

  • As the FAA’s technical testing of unleaded avgas replacements grinds on, owners and manufacturers are still wondering what the approved fuels will look like and whether they will be true drop-ins. At a briefing last month at AirVenture, three members of the FAA Piston Aviation Fuel Initiative offered an overview that warned that the clean drop-in fuel isn’t necessarily in sight yet. AVweb was provided with copies of the briefing slides.

  • My wife, the captain, and I were flying to AirVenture 2017 in our C-152 in July.  We were on an IFR flight plan out of Gainesville, GA (KGVL) and cruising at 5000 feet.  We were talking to Atlanta Center … Centre: Cessna 1234, cleared to FL230… We just looked at each other and laughed.  Fairly quickly, we received this… Center: Cessna 1234, disregard, I'll bet you got a kick out of that one.

  • A report by the Swiss financial services company, UBS says pilotless aircraft may take to the skies carrying cargo and passengers by 2025. The report estimates airlines would save $35 billion per year from decreased labor costs, reduced training expenses, and improved fuel economy. One big hedge on the arrival date for unmanned transport aircraft: the 2025 estimate provided by UBS is for technical feasibility only.

  • Aircraft equipped with ADS-B Out capabilities will no longer be required to specifically apply for approval to operate in Reduced Vertical Separation Minima (RVSM) airspace, according to a newly proposed FAA regulation. Under existing regulations, to fly an aircraft between FL290 and FL410, the aircraft must be RVSM certified, either by the manufacturer or by subsequent application.

  • President Donald Trump has approved the sale of 12 Embraer Super Tucano light attack aircraft to Nigeria. Although the aircraft was designed in Brazil, the aircraft is being assembled in Jacksonville, FL and the weapons and sensor systems integrated by Colorado-based Sierra Nevada Corp.

  • The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) has ordered Air Transat to explain why passengers were driven to call 911 for help as they sat in packed aircraft for up to six hours on a hot afternoon and evening in Ottawa.

  • The Marine Corps has abandoned hope of finding alive three Marines missing after their MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft went down off the northeast coast of Australia on Saturday.

  • New flight recorder data says Air Canada flight 759 (ACA759), an Airbus A320, descended as low as 59 feet above ground level and the 55-foot tall 787 on taxiway C before beginning to climb out on its go-around—coming potentially as close as 4 feet from a collision. At four minutes to midnight on July 7, ACA759, which had been cleared to land on Runway 28R at San Francisco International, instead lined up on taxiway C, on which three aircraft were holding for takeoff. After prompting by the one of the pilots of United flight 1 (UA1), the first in line for takeoff on taxiway C, who was well positioned to see that ACA759 was not headed towards a runway, the tower controller instructed ACA759 to go-around.

  • Sale of avionics for business and general aviation airplanes were up 2.7% in the first 6 months of 2017 over the same period last year according to the Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA), but not because people are buying more airplanes. “Forward-fit” sales—those avionics systems intended for new aircraft—were down a remarkable 17.3%. The loss of forward-fit sales was overcome for GA avionics makers by strong sales for the retrofit market, up 26.3% to $644 million in the first half of the year.

  • As expected, Robert Sumwalt has been confirmed as the 14th chair of the National Transportation Safety Board and he brings a wealth of aviation experience to the job. Sumwalt was a pilot for Piedmont Airlines and US Airways for 24 years and his appointment is being met with enthusiasm from aviation groups.

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