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  • Cal Fire, California’s forest management and fire protection authority, is battling the worst wildfire outbreak in California’s history with the biggest air tanker in the world. When only the biggest tanker will do, Cal Fire calls out Air Tanker 944, the Spirit of John Muir. The converted Boeing 747-400, operated by Global SuperTanker Services, is capable of dropping 19,200 gallons of water, fire retardant, or fire suppressant solution per flight.

  • Spirit Airlines Captain Brian Halye was addicted to speedballs (a mixture of cocaine and heroin) for several years before his death, according to a report by the Dayton Daily News. Hayle’s mother told the Daily News that her son had been using hard drugs for 2-3 years before the overdose. Halye and his wife were found dead by their four children in March of this year. Spirit Airlines was previously reprimanded by the FAA on at least two occasions for non-compliance with drug testing obligations.

  • Icon has delivered the first of its Model Year 18 aircraft, the company said on Thursday. The new version incorporates “numerous functional and manufacturability improvements,” the company said. The changes include improved nose gear, which makes the A5 easier to steer and taxi; instruments with better legibility, illumination, and reliability; and reduced complexity, weight and airflow of the oil cooler. “This aircraft marks the start of a new production phase of the A5 as we resume volume production and ramp up rates to deliver customer aircraft on a larger scale,” said CEO Kirk Hawkins.

  • The state of Wisconsin plans to take legal action against Kestrel for the company’s failure “to show measurable progress toward obtaining financing” to repay a state loan that’s 11 months overdue, the Duluth News Tribune reported this week. Wisconsin gave the company, headed by Alan Klapmeier, $4 million in state loans and millions more in tax incentives in 2012. The money was meant to help build a plant in Superior, Wisconsin, to work on the single-engine turboprop and help create more than 600 jobs.

  • Aviation leaders presented a united front Tuesday in their resolve to kill a bill that would turn air traffic control services over to a nonprofit corporation.

  • The outgoing administrator of the FAA had some gentle advice for NBAA delegates and the aviation leaders at the annual convention in Las Vegas Tuesday on the hot topic at play. Michael Huerta urged an overflow crowd at Tuesday’s general session not to be close-minded about changing the way air traffic control is funded and run and said there should be “meaningful discussion” about the issue.

  • The NTSB issued a Safety Alert on Wednesday aimed at pilots who wear helmets while flying that have a cord attached to the aircraft’s internal communication system. Those cords may not easily detach in the case of an emergency, the safety board has found. The board cited two accidents, both involving helicopters, when the pilot’s egress following an accident was impeded by the connecting cord. In one accident, the pilot survived, but in another crash, both the pilot and passenger died.

  • Scaled Composites rolled out and flew its most recent project on Wednesday, the company has announced. The company built two identical single-engine jets to demonstrate for an unnamed customer Scaled’s “advanced, low-cost manufacturing techniques” for the production of research aircraft for industry and government. The Model 401 experimental aircraft are each equipped with a single Pratt & Whitney JTD-15D-5D engine, with 3,045 pounds of thrust, the company said, and they are capable of flying Mach 0.6 with a service ceiling of 30,000 feet.

  • The remotely piloted Ikhana drone could be flying unescorted in the National Airspace System as early as fall 2018, NASA said last week. Testing in the NAS is planned to take place from NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California. During the test, Ikhana would fly alone in the NAS for the first time, without a manned aircraft nearby. Meanwhile, a panel of industry and law enforcement officials have failed to reach agreement on how drones should be tracked and managed by federal authorities.

  • With sales of new business aircraft relatively flat, the used market has been enjoying a burst of activity for almost two years and may improve further as the economy gains steam. “We’re seeing a lot of pent-up demand as a result of the slow growth of general aviation for the last seven to eight years,” says Matt Huff, VP of Ogara Jets, an Atlanta-based brokerage. Other brokers have said sales have yet to recover to pre-2008 levels and the outlook isn’t expect to change much until beyond 2020.

  • Just two years ago, GE's Business and General Aviation unit announced a new, clean-sheet turboprop and the company said at NBAA-BACE Monday that it will soon run a conforming prototype. The engine is called the ATP for advanced turboprop and although it's not based on the H-series engines GE bought from the Czech Republic-based Walter Engines in 2008, the engine is being developed and manufactured in the company's Prague facility.

  • Airbus will be ready to fly its full-scale electric VTOL technology demonstrator by the end of next year, the company said last week. The project, which is being built by the company’s helicopter division, is designed to carry up to four passengers from crowded city centers to nearby destinations such as airports or train stations. The team recently completed testing of the propulsion system, including the ducted propellers, electric 100-kilowatt Siemens motors and all electrical systems.

  • A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order preventing the shortening of the runway at Santa Monica Airport the day before the work was to begin.

  • The fall at Juneau Airport, where I’m a controller, generally sees pretty gross days, rain and lots of wind.  One day we had six miles of visibility and winds of more than 25 knots and gusts more than 30.  I was working a Coast Guard helicopter out and it occurred to me that I never really see those guys when the weather was nice.  I figured I'd ask … Tower: CG 6043 frequency change approved, you guys have time for a question? … CG pilot: Frequency change approved and go ahead … Tower:  You guys ever fly in nice weather? … CG pilot: No

  • Dassault is working on a clean sheet business aircraft design but part of the news is that the development process will be virtually paperless.

  • Pilatus is finishing up certification work on its PC-24, which it calls the "Super Versatile" jet and claims it will deliver the first customer aircraft before the end of the year. At an NBAA-BACE press conference in Las Vegas on Monday, Pilatus CEO Markus Bucher said EASA is completing its final reviews on the aircraft and that the three test articles--once of which is on display in the hall here in Las Vegas--have accumulated more than 2000 flight hours.

  • Having proven the idea of subscription-based on-demand charter, Wheels Up continues to expand the Textron King Air fleet on which the service is based, according to CEO Kenny Dichter. At NBAA-BACE on Monday, Dichter said the company has 78 King Air 350i aircraft, most of which have been purchased new. The fleet also has Citation XLS bizjets for customers who prefer them. Business is so good that Wheels Up recently secured $117 million in venture capital funding and plans to purchase more 350s in 2018.

  • Cessna is bringing the first production conforming prototype of its “super mid-sized” Citation Longitude business jet to NBAA this week to prep the market for final certification by the FAA expected late this year or early 2018. Honeywell announced last week that its HTF7000L turbofan has been certified by the FAA for use on the Longitude, a major step in the certification process. Garmin is also showing off its contributions to the 12-passenger twin-jet at NBAA, announcing the Garmin Head-up Display (GHD 2100).

  • With eight aircraft already in final assembly, Bombardier showed off a cabin mock-up and test article for its new long-range business jet, the Global 7000, at the NBAA-BACE in Las Vegas on Monday. The test article is the fourth aircraft in the test fleet and is dubbed "The Architect" for its intended purpose of proving interior systems. The 7000 is unique for having four individual living spaces, including a kitchen and full-sized crew suite. "There's basically no aircraft like this on the market today," said Michel Quellette, Bombardier's senior VP for the Global 7000 and 8000 program.

  • An American Airlines Boeing 777 was damaged Monday evening at Hong Kong Airport when either luggage or cargo being loaded on the aircraft caught fire.

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