AVweb Flash

  • The NTSB this week released a preliminary report on the fatal Learjet crash in Teterboro two weeks ago, in which two pilots were killed. While approaching the airport, the crew started to turn toward the assigned runway later than usual, the safety board said. The airplane didn't start to turn until it was less than 1 NM from the approach end of Runway 6, but aircraft typically start the turn at the final approach fix, which is about 3.8 NM from the runway.
  • Heard at JFK one summer day after a very long ground roll and subsequent lift-off by a British Airways 747…Tower: "Speedbird XXX noise violation." … Speedbird XXX:"Send it to the ()(*&^% Queen." Real story.
  • A high-tech airship is under construction in a Silicon Valley hangar, according to a recent report in the Guardian, and it will likely be more than 650 feet from nose to tail. "It's going to be massive on a grand scale," one source told the paper, though that would still be smaller than classic airships of the early 1900s. The Hindenburg, for example, stretched more than 800 feet long.
  • A member of the U.S. Navy's skydiving team, the Leap Frogs, died on Sunday afternoon after his parachute malfunctioned during a Fleet Week airshow in Jersey City, N.J., the Navy has confirmed. The skydiver, whose name has not been released, landed in the Hudson River and was immediately retrieved by U.S. Coast Guard members who were standing by in vessels in support of the event. He was taken to a hospital and declared dead.
  • Regional airlines say the FAA is vastly understating the cost of a proposed AD that will require them to replace 10,482 passenger seats in various small airliners. The FAA said the AD will only cost the airlines a total of $900,000 because it is only tallying the labor cost of removing the Slim and Slimplus seats from their fleets ($85 each) and not including the cost of replacing them with new seats.
  • Russia's newest airliner took its first flight Sunday with little fanfare but a reportedly substantial order book. The Irkut MC-21-300 will compete directly with the Boeing 737 MAX, Airbus A320 Neo and Bombardier CSeries for the increasingly crowded single-aisle airliner market.
  • John Travolta is hanging up his four-barred Qantas uniform and donating his personal Boeing 707 to an Australian museum.
  • Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly says he "might" ban laptops in the passenger cabins of all international flights to and from the U.S. In an interview Sunday he said airliners with lots of Americans aboard are a prime target for terrorists and the ban wouldn't be a response to a specific threat, but a general attitude within the security establishment
  • The Air Force has reversed its plan to retire the A-10 and now says all 283 Warthogs have a productive future. The 2018 budget plan sent to Congress this week says the iconic close support aircraft will be in the fleet "for the foreseeable future," according to AP.
  • Boeing's Phantom Works will partner with the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to design, build and test a technology demonstration vehicle for the Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program, DARPA announced this week. Boeing will develop an autonomous, reusable, hypersonic spaceplane, called Phantom Express, capable of deploying small satellites of up to 3,000 pounds into low Earth orbit. Boeing and DARPA will jointly invest in the development.
  • As the drone industry gears up to produce technology to knock down their own products, they may find a big customer in the U.S. government. The Trump administration is circulating draft legislation that would give the government sweeping powers to track and destroy drones over the U.S., according to The New York Times.
  • London City Airport, a general aviation field popular with business travelers, will become the first airport in the U.K. to install a digital control tower, the airport has announced. The tower will be equipped with 16 high-definition cameras that will transmit data to a control center in Swanwick, Hampshire, about 100 miles away, where air traffic controllers will do their job off-site.
  • Putting even more pressure on GoPro, Garmin announced the new VIRB 360 fully spherical action camera to its lineup--the latest to its growing line of camera models.
  • An online retailer in China, JD.com, announced this week it plans to develop heavy-duty drones that can deliver one ton or more of cargo. The drones could also be used to ferry goods out of the rural areas, such as fruits and vegetables headed for urban markets, according to the company. JD chairman Richard Liu said he plans to build 150 drone delivery sites in China's rural districts within the next three years, according to The Wall Street Journal.
  • Budget details released by the White House on Tuesday show an apparent commitment by the Trump administration to privatize the air traffic control system, according to NBAA. "The president's budget takes the public's elected representatives out of the equation and leaves it to a private board to ensure the public's interest is being well served," said NBAA President Ed Bolen in a news release late on Tuesday. "We are troubled and concerned by this proposal and will review it closely as the legislative process moves forward."
  • The newly in-production K-Max helicopter, built by Kaman Aerosystems, flew for the first time on May 12, the company announced last week. The aircraft performed "flawlessly," said test pilot Bill Hart. "I look forward to successfully completing our production flight-test schedule over the coming weeks." The single-seat K-Max features a counter-rotating rotor system and is designed to be rugged and low-maintenance. It's optimized for external-load operations and vertical-reference flight.
  • Airbus Corporate Jets is now offering a corporate-jet version of its A330neo widebody airliner, the company announced at the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition, being held this week in Geneva. The ACJ330neo can carry up to 25 passengers in a customized cabin, with room for conference/dining areas, a private office, bedrooms, bathrooms and guest seating. The company also announced the launch of Airbus Corporate Helicopters, a high-end, custom brand for the VIP private and business aviation market.
  • A recent federal court decision that the FAA has no authority to require drone users to register is not sitting well with many aviators. Helicopter Association International issued a statement this week saying it "strongly disagrees" with the ruling, adding that helicopter pilots "are deeply concerned about our ability to fly safely in airspace where pilots could encounter any unmanned aircraft, be it commercial or otherwise." The National Agricultural Aviation Association also issued a statement.
  • Heard recently one morning on JFK tower frequency … JetBlue: Tower, is our speed compatible with the aircraft ahead of us? … Tower:  As long as you don't go to warp factor 6, you should be fine ... Marty Twersky
  • The European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE) opens May 22 in Geneva and as usual, companies are making announcements in advance of the formal opening. Nextant has announced that it's dipping a toe in the large cabin market with an avionics upgrade for Challenger 604 bizjets.

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