AVweb Flash

  • Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have proposed a possible fix to relieve the increasing noise complaints from neighbors of Boston’s busy Logan Airport — if airplanes on departure just slowed down by about 30 knots, it would significantly reduce the noise at the surface. Logan is one of many airports nationwide where the concentration of flight paths, due to changes in navigation and ATC, have increased the number of noise complaints from neighborhoods impacted by the routes.

  • Lockheed Martin has released concept images of a refueling drone it’s working on for a U.S. Navy competition. The MQ-25 “Stingray” design is under development at the company’s Skunk Works, and will compete with entries from Boeing and General Atomics. The Navy wants the drone to be capable of carrying 14,000 pounds of fuel to refuel combat jets, with a range of 500 nm, and it must be able to operate from an aircraft carrier. The contract is due to be awarded in September.

  • Given the flight dynamics, it’s little wonder that helicopter autopilots have been ground upon which engineers fear to tread. But at the Aircraft Electronics Association convention, two companies unveiled rotorcraft autoflight systems, including a start-up called HeliTrak and Garmin International.

  • JETTECH announced at AEA that it will release its STC for a Garmin G700 TXi touchscreen display modification and upgrade for the Citation 500, 550, S550 and 560 aircraft fleet soon.

  • A small avionics company called uAvionix ignited a why-didn’t-I-think-of-that moment last summer when it revealed an ADS-B Out unit packaged in a navigation light dubbed SkyBeacon. At AEA 2018 in Las Vegas this week, it followed up with a new product housed in a taillight that will fit many aircraft.

  • Women in Aviation International wrapped up their 29th annual conference last week, in Reno, Nevada, with more than 3,200 in attendance during the three-day event. Highlights included the distribution of more than $695,000 in scholarships to 142 WAI members, providing funds for both academic studies and flight training. Other aviation events were held to honor Women’s History Month, including the 8th annual Women of Aviation Worldwide Week, which provided a first flight in a small aircraft to more than 12,000 girls around the world.

  • As the AEA Convention opens this week in Las Vegas, Aspen Avionics is rolling out temporarily reduced prices for its flagship Evolution 1000 Pro PFD retrofit EFIS systems. Until the end of April, the Evolution Pro 1000 PFD price will be reduced to $8995 from $10,995, a reduction of 18 percent. The Evolution Pro Plus PFD, which includes Aspen's angle-of-attack system and synthetic vision software, will be cut to $10,495 from $13,995 or a 25 percent discount.

  • BendixKing says it’s back in the digital autopilot market with the KFC AeroCruze 230, a clean-sheet product designed to match the form factor of the popular KFC 150, 200 and 250 systems. The new AP features a touchscreen interface and uses existing servo brackets and wiring to cut installation time and cost.

  • Autothrottles are usually limited to airliners and high-end business jets, but at the AEA Convention in Las Vegas this week, Innovative Solutions and Support announced a retrofit product designed to put smart power levers in the hands of turboprop pilots. The company says it’s the only aftermarket autothrottle system for turboprops such as Pratt & Whitney’s ubiquitous PT6 series.

  • Gig Harbor, Washington-based HeliTrak is offering an autopilot for the R44 that has features for speed envelope protection, full-time low-G detection and warning and the ability to recover the aircraft from unusual attitudes.

  • In a preliminary report released on Monday, the NTSB summarized its investigation so far into the helicopter accident in New York that killed five passengers on a sightseeing flight on March 11. The board says the pilot told them he provided a safety briefing before the flight, and told the passengers where to find the cutting tool on their harnesses, and how to use it. No analysis is included in the preliminary report. The full text is posted online.

  • At the AEA show in Las Vegas, Aspen Avionics unveiled a new, under-$5000 dual electronic flight instrument that combines an attitude indicator and a DG/CDI into a single display. The non-TSO’d E5 includes Aspen’s trademark backup battery and onboard GPS system, an air data computer and integrated ADAHRS. Aspen says the new instrument can be upgraded to a version that integrates with TruTrak’s emerging Vizion autopilot for an all-in price of under $10,000.

  • While traveling into Valdez, Alaska for the annual fly-in and STOL competition, a couple of planes were trying to hurry in before the airspace closed for aerobatic practice. A couple minutes after tower gave “best forward speed” instructions to a Lake amphibian (not known for great forward speed), the following exchange was heard:

  • The “America by Air” gallery of the National Air & Space Museum, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., will be “transformed” thanks to $28 million in gifts from nine airlines, museum officials have announced. The gallery is scheduled to close later this year, and the newly renovated gallery will open in approximately 2021. The visitor experience will be improved through a refreshed layout with new design and graphics, new interactive exhibits and better accessibility throughout, the museum said.

  • The Aviation Electronics Association Convention powers up Monday, March 26 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The annual event offers a way for manufacturers, distributors, technicians and business leaders to connect and learn about regulatory issues impacting their business, according to the association.

  • Airshow pilot Andrew Hill, 53, whose 1955 Hawker Hunter crashed in August 2015, killing 11 men, has been charged with “manslaughter by gross negligence” in a British court. He will appear before a judge on April 19. The 11 who died were either in vehicles on the road or standing on the roadside, outside the airfield. Twelve others, plus Hill, were injured. Hill had attempted to perform a loop during his airshow display, but failed to complete it, and crashed. He also will be charged with endangering an aircraft.

  • The FAA on Thursday published an emergency order that prohibits the use of supplemental passenger-restraint systems in doors-off flight operations that can’t be released quickly in an emergency. “This order formalizes the FAA’s prior communications on these operations,” the agency said. The FAA had already told operators last week to stop the “doors-off” tours. The new order prohibits doors-off flight operations from carrying passengers, unless the passengers are at all times properly secured using FAA-approved restraints.

  • As drone technology continues to evolve, fuel cells appear to be becoming more practical as power sources. Although still expensive and slower to respond to load changes, fuel cells have power-to-weight ratios currently two to five times higher than standard lithium ion batteries. And in the past couple of months, several projects have surfaced that point to significant advancements in the technology and its applications.

  • In this week's news glance, Swift Fuels gains market traction with its 94UL fuel, Larry Riddle moves to Sandel Avionics, yet another IOS aviation app emerges and Sully Sullenberger will be a guest speaker in Denver.

  • Struggling with worsening pilot retention in a hot civil hiring market, the Navy is offering its aviators substantial bonuses to stay in the service. For the second year in a row, the Navy has boosted its incentive pay up to $175,000 for pilots who sign on for a five-year term.

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