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  • 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.

  • Pilots from across the west coast flocked to Central Oregon Monday to watch the first solar eclipse to cross the continental United States since 1979. At Albany Municipal Airport, the approximately 50 aircraft normally based there were joined by roughly 65 more from single-seat homebuilts to big piston twins. The local FBO, Infinite Air Center, was perhaps over-prepared.

  • The aviation event that was the eclipse of Aug. 21 appears to have gone off with barely a hitch and so far our inexhaustive search for mayhem has found but one relatively minor incident possibly related to eclipse flights.

  • Lisa Aeronautics has started flying the second-generation prototype of its sleek Akoya, a multi-surface, would-be LSA. The Akoya is designed to take off and land on runways, water or snow. The most visible change to the new airplane, PS1—for Pre-Series 1, replacing the Pre-Series 0 aircraft—is in the seafoils, which are two canard-like wings extending downward near the cockpit for water stability.

  • If you have comments, questions or suggestions regarding the FAA’s recent Emergency Airworthiness Directive now in effect for hundreds of Lycoming engines, the FAA is ready to hear from you. The AD, which was published on Aug. 10 and officially took effect Aug. 15, went straight to Final Rule, meaning there was no prior public discussion. But aircraft owners and other interested parties still are welcome to weigh in. “We specifically invite comments on the overall regulatory, economic, environmental, and energy aspects of this final rule,” the FAA says.

  • My daughter and I flew back from AirVenture on the last day of the show.  While flying over eastern Iowa and monitoring 122.80 we heard the following conversation that we assumed was between a couple of crop dusters … Pilot 1: "Hey XXX did you make it to Oshkosh this year?” … Pilot 2: "Yeah, we got over there on Tuesday.  The weather was perfect!” … Pilot 1: "Yeah, I was talking to YYY and he said he “had so much fun there that if he died and went to heaven it would be a lateral move!"

  • The pilot of a homebuilt Wheeler Express was killed when the engine reportedly “sputtered” in the traffic pattern, and the aircraft subsequently crashed in rugged terrain about a mile from Madras airport. The San Carlos, California based aircraft was travelling to Madras, Oregon for Monday’s solar eclipse. News reports originally stated that two people had been killed in the crash based on parking reservations made at the airport, but family members confirmed that the pilot was the sole person on board.

  • Aug. 21 will likely go down in history as one of the most interesting for pilots, the FAA and airports across a middle swath of the country that will include the path of totality for a solar eclipse. The level of activity expected at airports along the path is pretty well documented but what is not know is how many aircraft are going to launch in the near darkness to experience the phenomenon from an airborne perch.

  • Any pilot, mechanic or owner who ever cursed their local Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) will have a reason to celebrate this weekend when the FAA officially disbands the regionally structured Flight Standards Service (FSS). Starting on Monday, the FSS will be based around four functional areas--Air Carrier Safety Assurance, General Aviation Safety Assurance, Safety Standard, and Foundational Business.

  • The FAA has made operational changes at San Francisco International Airport in response to last month’s aborted landing by an Air Canada A320, the Bay Area News Group reported on Tuesday. The FAA no longer allows visual approaches for aircraft approaching SFO at night with an adjacent parallel runway closed, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor told the News Group. “When these conditions prevail, our controllers issue pilots Instrument Landing System approaches or satellite-based approaches, which help pilots line up for the correct runway,” Gregor said.

  • If you’re planning to fly toward the path of totality to view Monday’s coming solar eclipse, you won’t be alone. The FAA says several airports located in the path said they are expecting “a significant increase” in traffic before and during the eclipse. Many of these airports are non-towered and have limited capacity to accommodate an increase in traffic, the FAA says. The FAA offers some tips to fly safe in the path of the eclipse.

  • AOPA will back off on using Canada as a flawed example of privatized air traffic control after its Canadian counterpart protested AOPA's "lack of understanding of the situation in Canada."

  • The San Jose Mercury News, one of the first news outlets to report on the story of the Air Canada near-miss in San Francisco last month, said in an editorial this week that the FAA has “hindered the investigation” of the event by “dragging their feet in the aftermath.” As a result, “key evidence from the cockpit voice recorder was erased and the pilots were never tested for drugs or alcohol,” wrote the newspaper’s editorial board.

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