AVweb Flash

  • The National Weather Service is now providing a new product, Graphical Forecasts for Aviation, which is intended to provide a complete picture of the weather that may impact flight in the continental U.S. The webpage, which is built with modern geospatial information tools, includes observational data, forecasts and warnings that can be viewed from 14 hours in the past to 15 hours in the future.
  • Beechcraft's King Air twin turboprop has long been popular, with more than 3,000 built since the 1960s, but that doesn't make it invulnerable to market forces -- and a weak international market has driven down deliveries in the first quarter of this year to just 12, compared to 26 in the same period last year, the company reported last week. CEO Scott Donnelly said he expects those numbers to improve by the end of the year, and end up about the same as last year, when the company sold 106 King Airs.
  • The whole idea of flying cars has come to symbolize the imagined future that never arrives, but Uber's Elevate Summit on Tuesday made clear that aviation's serious players are serious about this technology, and it's coming soon, and it's going to be game-changing. "This industry is going to be successful faster than anyone thinks … there is nothing like the passion that is unleashed on this," said Pat Romano, CEO of Chargepoint, a company that provides charging stations for electric cars -- which are now being adapted to power up electric aircraft.
  • Nine people were killed when a de Havilland DHC-3 Otter hit a mountain in Alaska in June 2015, and on Tuesday the NTSB said the pilot had a history of making bad decisions. "Lives depended on the pilot's decision making," said NTSB Acting Chairman Robert Sumwalt. "Pilot decisions are informed, for better or worse, by their company's culture. This company allowed competitive pressure to overwhelm the common-sense needs of passenger safety in its operations. That's the climate in which the accident pilot worked."
  • About 25 years ago I was hauling cargo in a beat-up C210 at dusk near PFN, FL, and overheard the following … ATC:  "Comair 1234, Nat'l Wx Service just advised us they have recently released a balloon in your area and they say it should be approx your altitude, and it's pretty large." … Pause of a few seconds … Comair:  "How large?!" … Pause of several more seconds … ATC: "He says about the size of a house." … Pause of a few seconds … Comair:  "Would that be my house or your house?"
  • New medical rules for pilots, known as BasicMed, take effect May 1, but starting today, pilots can start to prepare for the new requirements. Forms and checklists for both pilots and doctors are posted online at the FAA website. The FAA also has compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions, and said the Medical Self-Assessment course developed by AOPA (and available free online for anyone) can be used to fulfill its requirement to complete a medical education course every two years.
  • A new vehicle revealed on Monday by Kitty Hawk Corp., the aircraft company led by CEO Sebastian Thrun, takes off and lands on water and qualifies for sale as an Ultralight, the company said. "Your flying dreams will never be the same," says the company website. "The Kitty Hawk Flyer is a new, all-electric aircraft. It is safe, tested and legal to operate in the United States in uncongested areas under the Ultralight category of FAA regulations," says the company website.
  • About 25 years ago I was hauling cargo in a beat-up C210 at dusk near PFN, FL, and overheard the following … ATC:  "Comair 1234, Nat'l Wx Service just advised us they have recently released a balloon in your area and they say it should be approx your altitude, and it's pretty large." … Pause of a few seconds … Comair:  "How large?!" … Pause of several more seconds … ATC: "He says about the size of a house." … Pause of a few seconds … Comair:  "Would that be my house or your house?"
  • New medical rules for pilots, known as BasicMed, take effect May 1, but starting today, pilots can start to prepare for the new requirements. Forms and checklists for both pilots and doctors are posted online at the FAA website. The FAA also has compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions, and said the Medical Self-Assessment course developed by AOPA (and available free online for anyone) can be used to fulfill its requirement to complete a medical education course every two years.
  • A new vehicle revealed on Monday by Kitty Hawk Corp., the aircraft company led by CEO Sebastian Thrun, takes off and lands on water and qualifies for sale as an ultralight, the company said. "Your flying dreams will never be the same," says the company website. "The Kitty Hawk Flyer is a new, all-electric aircraft. It is safe, tested and legal to operate in the United States in uncongested areas under the Ultralight category of FAA regulations," says the company website.
  • Uber has attracted dozens of speakers from the aviation industry, government and technology sectors to a large summit on "urban air transportation" in Dallas this week. The Uber Elevate Summit kicks off Tuesday and features speeches and panel discussions on the promise and problems of having fleets of electric VTOL aircraft buzzing around major cities.
  • Lilium Aviation, of Munich, says it has flown a prototype of its all-electric VTOL tilt-engine aircraft that the company says will fly 160 knots in horizontal thrust configuration with a range of 180 miles. A video provided by the company of the first flight shows the aircraft, with what looks like a spacious automotive-style cabin, autonomously taking off vertically, turning tightly and transitioning to aerodynamic flight before landing vertically.
  • Lilium Aviation, of Munich, says it has flown a prototype of its all-electric VTOL tilt-engine aircraft that the company says will fly 160 knots in horizontal thrust configuration with a range of 180 miles. A video provided by the company of the first flight shows the aircraft, with what looks like a spacious automotive-style cabin, autonomously taking off vertically, turning tightly and transitioning to aerodynamic flight before landing vertically.
  • Uber has attracted dozens of speakers from the aviation industry, government and technology sectors to a large summit on "urban air transportation" in Dallas this week. The Uber Elevate Summit kicks off Tuesday and features speeches and panel discussions on the promise and problems of having fleets of electric VTOL aircraft buzzing around major cities.
  • Wright Electric, a San Los Obispo-based startup, aims to make every short commercial flight electric within 20 years by building what co-founder Jeff Engler calls their "electric 737." Wright's vision is a 150-seat, short-haul aircraft capable of serving routes under 300 miles. Engler told attendees at the Sustainable Aviation Symposium that Wright was inspired to reject energy density arguments by looking at data on the length of commercial flights around the world.
  • Subsidized by local funds from Fresno County, a fleet of four Pipistrel Alpha Electro trainers will be made available for primary training in California's Central Valley late this year, program organizers hope. Fresno County will be installing chargers for the aircraft at four local airports: Mendota, Reedley, Fresno Chandler and a fourth airport to be determined.
  • The Sustainable Aviation Symposium (SAS) opened Friday morning in Redwood City, California, for two days of seminars and discussions about the future of efficient flight. The event has drawn the attention of A-list attendees, including representatives from NASA, FAA, Scaled Composites, The Spaceship Company, Icon Aircraft, Epic Aircraft, General Atomics and Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Dr. Brien Seely, chair of SAS, celebrating the event's success, told AVweb, "finally, the industry is awakening" to the market opportunities available in sustainable aviation.
  • While electric aircraft have gained press notice, they've lagged in market penetration, partly because buyers don't fully understand the potential for electric aircraft. "I think it all comes down to people's expectations. The most straightforward form of an electric airplane is one powered by batteries and batteries will always be a factor on the airplane, which is hindering endurance and performance, " says Tine Tomažic, a developmental engineer for the Slovenian Pipistrel Aircraft. Pipistrel is a leading developer of light, efficient aircraft and has two electric models in its line. Tomažic presented at the Sustainable Aviation Symposium this week in Redwood City, California, and we spoke with him for this recorded podcast.
  • While electric aircraft have gained press notice, they've lagged in market penetration, partly because buyers don't fully understand the potential for electric aircraft. "I think it all comes down to people's expectations. The most straightforward form of an electric airplane is one powered by batteries and batteries will always be a factor on the airplane, which is hindering endurance and performance, " says Tine Tomažic, a developmental engineer for the Slovenian Pipistrel Aircraft. Pipistrel is a leading developer of light, efficient aircraft and has two electric models in its line. Tomažic presented at the Sustainable Aviation Symposium this week in Redwood City, California, and we spoke with him for this recorded podcast.
  • Subsidized by local funds from Fresno County, a fleet of four Pipistrel Alpha Electro trainers will be made available for primary training in California's Central Valley late this year, program organizers hope. Fresno County will be installing chargers for the aircraft at four local airports: Mendota, Reedley, Fresno Chandler and a fourth airport to be determined.

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