AVweb Flash

  • The FAA’s latest Aerospace Forecast offers a mixed bag for GA for the next two decades, with modest growth in the turbine sector offsetting continued erosion in the piston fleet. The agency says the long-term outlook is “stable to optimistic” for GA and related industries.

  • Drone flights are restricted within 5 miles of an airport, unless the FAA gives advance permission, but now the FAA is beginning to approve flights within the airport boundaries for professional operators. Last week, the FAA said it will allow first responders to operate drones at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport — one of the busiest airports in the world. The airport’s police and fire department can fly drones, but they must remain lower than 50 feet above the ground and the operators must maintain contact with ATC at all times.

  • The operators of Santa Monica Airport shortened the sole runway in December, but the airport’s data for February shows that while jet operations were down 80 percent compared to the 2016-17 average, helicopter and turboprop operations both increased by about 40 percent. Piston operations remained about the same, with a slight 2 percent drop. Overall, the total takeoffs and landings were down just over 1 percent for the month, compared to the 2016-17 average.

  • An Alaska pilot was fined $25,000 last week and given probation and restitution after being charged with felony assault for striking a man in a boat while buzzing him in a De Havilland DHC-2 Beaver floatplane. The incident happened on the Mulchatna River near Dillingham in June 2014. The victim survived but suffered permanent brain damage.

  • Boeing has flown its latest version of the 737, the Max 7, for the first time, the company announced last week. The airplane flew for just over three hours, taking off from Renton, Washington, and landing at Boeing Field in Seattle. The flight crew tested the flight controls, systems and handling qualities. The airplane is the third one in the 737 Max family. It’s equipped with CFM International Leap-1B engines and Advanced Technology winglets.

  • The NTSB Monday called on the FAA to prohibit commercial flights of all kinds that secure passengers without quick-release mechanisms. The agency’s urgent safety recommendation followed the FAA’s announcement on Friday to prohibit so-called doors-off helicopter tour flights unless quick-release harnesses are available for passenger restraint.

  • Two Cirrus aircraft collided at Florida’s Palatka Airport last week and although both airplanes were substantially damaged, no one was injured. Initial reports indicate that neither aircraft deployed the CAPS parachute system and the collision appeared to have occurred close or over the runway on short final. A news photo showed that the aircraft came to rest near the runway, with one on top of the other. One of the accident airplanes was an SR-22, the second an SR-20. The accident occurred on March 16, around 11 a.m., according to authorities.

  • This weekend, a Qantas 787-9 will fly the first-ever nonstop airline route from Australia to Europe, traveling from Perth to London. The jet will carry 236 passengers on the trip, covering 7,775 NM in about 17 hours. “It’s great news for travelers because it will make it easier to get to London,” said Qantas CEO Alan Joyce. When Qantas first established a route to London, in 1947, it took four days and nine stops.

  • The Transportation Security Administration has withdrawn its proposal to establish a security program that would have affected private and corporate aircraft operators, the agency said on Friday. The agency had proposed the “Large Aircraft Security Program” in 2008, suggesting operators of GA aircraft that weigh more than 12,500 pounds should be required to implement security programs, vet their crews and check passengers against federal watch lists.

  • Although electric airplanes still inhabit a regulatory backwater, Slovenian-based Pipistrel Aircraft is boosting its production of battery-powered trainers and reports a 50-50 split between gasoline and electric aircraft. In this exclusive podcast, the company told AVweb this week that a new production line is building five to six Alpha Electro trainers per month.

  • The cargo door of an Antonov An-12, a Soviet-era cargo plane, loaded with nine metric tons of gold broke open as the aircraft took off from Yakutsk in East Siberia. The aircraft’s door apparently gave way and broke off due to the weight shifting in the cargo hold. Gold alloy bars were then strewn across the runway and on the airport property.

  • Aerospace has always been a boom-bust business, but following the economic downturn of 2008, the robust upswing has proven elusive, primarily because there are simply too many airplanes available for too few buyers. Says Citi aerospace analyst Jonathan Raviv, this sluggish recovery has earned a name: the lost decade. In this exclusive podcast, AVweb spoke with Raviv about his market findings.

  • A low-flying plane over an Ohio high school caused concern Thursday afternoon, according to Cincinnati news station WLWT. “After an exhaustive investigation, we determined there is no evidence of any threat or plan to attack any person or school,” Hamilton Police Chief Craig Bucheit said in a tweet. “HPD is working with Federal Aviation Administration officials to determine what, if any, violation of Federal Aviation Regulations occurred."

  • The NTSB issued a Safety Alert on Friday reminding general aviation pilots they should calculate weight and balance before every flight. Between 2008 and 2016, the board said, incorrect or neglected performance calculations were cited as a probable cause in 136 GA accident reports. In one-third of those accidents, people died. The effects of weather also should be considered, the NTSB says.

  • The FAA said Friday that it's restricting helicopter operators from offering so-called doors-off tours unless the passengers are equipped with quick-release harnesses. The announcement came five days after five people died when a tour helicopter autorotated into New York's East River and rolled over. Although the pilot escaped, five passengers apparently drowned because they couldn't release harnesses intended to keep them secure with open doors.

  • Florence “Shutsy” Reynolds of Connellsville, Penn., passed away Thursday, March 15, 2018, at home. She was 95. She took a Civilian Pilot Training Program at her local airport in Connellsville and completed it, receiving her pilot’s certificate at the end. According to the “Fly Girls the Series” blog, “Reynolds was required to sign a document promising that she would join the aviation military service in case of war. ‘That was a big joke at the airport that day … But I signed it. By damn I joined later on.’”

  • Deon Mitton sent us this beautiful shot of a Kodiak and a Beaver in formation taking a fun flight. This amazing photo happened at the 2017 Sun ‘n Fun Seaplane fly-in in Tavares, near Orlando FL. Deon described the scene:

    “Late afternoon - with both seaplanes at the lake, we decided it's time to go and play and get some aerial shots. Shown here, in this late afternoon shot, are Michael Marco, with his restored DeHavilland Beaver, and Mark Brown, chief demo pilot for Quest Aircraft, flying the Quest Aircraft Kodiak 100. I am in a Jones Brothers 185 on straight floats. We took off, played a bit over the lakes and rivers close to Tavares, Fla. It's always so great to fly with friends. It's what makes aviation so special, and the view of these two, beautiful aircraft in the air was very special.”

    Who is ready for Sun ‘n Fun?!

  • Two crew members were killed when an F/A-18F Super Hornet crashed into the sea off the coast of Key West on Wednesday afternoon, military officials have confirmed. The aircraft, which was based at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia, was on approach, about a mile from the runway at Boca Chica Field, at about 4:30 p.m., after completing a training mission. A local resident, Barbie Wilson, told Military.com she had stopped to watch the F/A-18 flying overhead. "Literally, the wings went vertical, and there was a fireball, and it just literally dropped out of the sky," Wilson said.

  • Zipping across the North Pole to connect city pairs in the eastern and western hemispheres happens multiple times a day. But now Norwegian Air Argentina has applied for traffic rights from Buenos Aires to Perth, Western Australia, a 7,839-mile jaunt that will take commercial airline travelers directly over the South Pole. The South American arm of the Oslo-based airline will then connect with Singapore after a Perth refueling stop.

  • As Western democracies ramp up their rhetoric against Russia, White House officials said Thursday that Russia has hacked or at least targeted U.S. infrastructure, including aviation systems. The Washington Post reported Thursday that these new hacking claims are the strongest condemnation yet of claimed Russian attempts to erode Western values and technical infrastructure.