AVweb Flash

  • Southwest Airlines has reportedly flown 500 people stranded at Houston Hobby Airport to safety at Dallas Love Field. Flooding from Hurricane Harvey forced the FAA to shut down Houston Hobby Airport over the weekend, along with roads in and out of the airport, leaving hundreds stranded inside.

  • After 60 years, Pilatus will cease production of the PC-6 Porter in 2019. While rare in the United States, around 600 copies of the tailwheel turboprop have been produced and are flying cargo, passengers, and skydivers out of extremely small and rough strips around the world. Although Pilatus continues to sell about 10 PC-6s per year, the company has decided to focus their energies on the PC-24, a twin-jet due to hit the market late this year.

  • The CEO of Qantas has challenged Airbus and Boeing to build an airliner that could fly nonstop from Sydney to London with a full payload, by 2022. “This is a last frontier in global aviation,” said Alan Joyce, in an address to investors on Friday. “The antidote to the tyranny of distance. And a revolution for air travel in Australia.” A direct flight would last about 20 hours, about four hours less travel time for a journey to London than today’s flights, which require a fuel stop in Asia or the Middle East.

  • NASA is now evaluating five proposed designs for an X-plane that will test new technologies that could help airliners to fly more quietly, burn less fuel and release fewer emissions than aircraft flying today. The concepts aim to address NASA’s goals for 2035, such as a 60 to 80 percent reduction in fuel consumption, greater than 80 percent reduction in emissions and reducing noise by more than 50 percent. “As of now, the plan is to begin implementation of the first subsonic X-Plane project around 2020, leading to a first flight in 2026,” said Fay Collier, NASA’s associate director for flight strategy.

  • While the aviation industry in the U.S. is fighting hard to oppose proposals to privatize the air traffic system, Nav Canada, the private not-for-profit company that runs Canada’s ATC, said recently it will refund $60 million in fees to its customers this year. “Higher than expected traffic growth this year has put us in a position to be able to refund [these fees] to our customers,” said CEO Neil Wilson, in a news release on August 11. Fees are also going down, effective September 1, with a 3.5 per cent average reduction to base rates and a 0.4 per cent one-time rate reduction.

  • The International Society of Transport Aircraft Trading Foundation is giving $10,000 to Women in Aviation International (WAI) to expand distribution of Aviation for Girls magazine and produce an updated brochure on aviation careers. "With this ISTAT Foundation grant, we address two important issues facing aviation: attracting young people to the aviation community and giving them concrete information on the multitude of aviation careers open to them,” says WAI President Dr. Peggy Chabrian.

  • As Hurricane Harvey approaches the Texas coast, the Air Force and Navy are moving aircraft out of harm’s way as the FAA hunkers down. In a press release Friday, the FAA reminded airspace users that while FAA control towers in hurricane prone areas are designed to sustain hurricane force winds, above certain wind levels, tower controllers will have to evacuate to lower levels of tower buildings, and certain radar equipment is switched off.

  • An engine upgrade for the King Air 350 by Blackhawk Modifications, based in Waco, Texas, is now certified by the FAA, the company announced this week. The upgrade package includes two factory-new Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-67A engines, plus two new five-blade composite propeller assemblies and spinners from MT Propellers. Training, support, and a warranty also are included. The modified aircraft gains 40 knots for a maximum cruise speed of 340 knots at 28,000 feet, the company said.

  • The Airbus team A^3, or A-cubed, based in Silicon Valley, plans to start flight tests of a prototype of its full-scale VTOL air-taxi, Vahana, in November, according to a report this week by KUOW. The flight tests will be conducted from the Eastern Oregon Regional Airport, in Pendleton, where the company recently occupied a new 9,600-square-foot hangar. It was also announced this week that the aircraft will maneuver autonomously using a technology called Peregrine.

  • A seaplane business in Sausalito, California, in operation since 1945, has been growing since new owners took over in 2012, and that’s starting to cause some problems with the neighbors, who have requested a hearing with the County Planning Commission, set for next Monday, August 28. Seaplane Magazine has taken up the cause on the operator’s side, and has asked readers to send letters of support for the operation to local officials.

  • The AOPA Air Safety Institute released its annual Joseph T. Nall Report on Wednesday, detailing the accident rate for GA aircraft, providing an analysis, and outlining plans to seek improvements. Richard McSpadden, executive director of the ASI, said the new report, which analyzes data from 2014, shows a decline in the overall number of accidents for non-commercial fixed-wing aircraft, even as flight activity increased. There were 952 accidents in 2014, nine fewer than the year before.

  • A Global 7000, a Bombardier large-cabin business jet currently undergoing test flights, lost an engine last week while flying at 41,000 feet, according to a report in the Wichita Eagle this week. A report from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (PDF) said the jet “experienced an inflight flameout of the right engine following high vibration and high Inter Turbine Temperature (ITT) readings.” The crew declared an emergency and landed safely at Wichita.