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  • As the huge Stratolaunch aircraft prepares for its first flight at Mojave, company founder Paul Allen is thinking about using it not just to deliver satellites to space, but perhaps also to carry an all-new space shuttle. “I would love to see us have a full reusable system and have weekly, if not more often, airport-style, repeatable operations going,” Allen told The Washington Post, in an exclusive interview last summer. The shuttle, which would be called Black Ice, would be similar in size to NASA’s shuttle, according to the Post.

  • Aircraft engines are normally designated by obscure numbers only an engineer could love but as a clear expression of market intent, GE is giving its new turboprop engine a name: the GE Catalyst Advanced Turoprop engine. (Heretofore, it was simply the ATP engine.)

  • It’s March already, so for many pilots that means it’s time to make plans to go to Lakeland, Florida, for Sun ’n Fun. This year’s event is set for April 10 to 15, with a full slate of airshows, workshops, forums, events and shopping opportunities designed to attract pilots. A new event this year is a 5K run on the field at 7 a.m. on Saturday, concurrent with the hot-air balloon launch. The Commemorative Air Force will bring its “Tora! Tora! Tora!” spectacle to Sun ’n Fun for the first time, on Saturday and Sunday, offering a pyrotechnic re-creation of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

  • The FAA is expanding a program that will provide “near real-time” processing of requests for access to controlled airspace from drone operators, the agency said on Tuesday. A prototype system that was deployed last November has performed successfully, the FAA said, and the agency will now conduct a nationwide beta test, beginning April 30, that will deploy the system incrementally at nearly 300 air traffic facilities, serving about 500 airports. The final deployment will begin Sept. 13.

  • The U.S. Air Force is losing its pilots to lucrative airline jobs, according to a report in this week’s Air Force Times, and that’s likely to continue if the military pilots don’t get more flight time and upgraded airplanes. “We are seeing an Air Force that is back on its heels,” John Venable, a former F-16 pilot, told the Times. “They’re all on the back side of the power curve.” Part of the problem is that the “mission-capable” status of aircraft is deteriorating, with fewer than half of the F-22 Raptor fleet ready to fly.

  • AOPA is accepting applications for three scholarship programs that will help fund flight training. Two of the scholarships help student pilots earn their private pilot certificate, and the third program helps current pilots who are working toward an advanced certificate or rating. The deadline is May 2 for all of the programs. Twenty scholarships of $5,000 each will help high school students, ages 15 to 18, to pay for an initial pilot certificate. Sport, private or recreational certificates all are eligible.

  • Nine advocacy groups representing general aviation interests wrote to members of Congress this week urging support for the FAA’s contract tower program. About $172 million in funding is needed for the 254 towers now in the program, plus several new towers that are expected to be added in the next fiscal year, according to the letter. These towers now handle about 28 percent of all ATC tower operations, and because they cost less to operate than FAA towers, they save taxpayers about $200 million every year, the advocates said.

  • Pal-V unveiled the production model for its “flying car,” the Pal-V Liberty, at the Geneva Motor Show in Switzerland on Tuesday. “The production model is the moment of truth,” said CEO Robert Dingemanse in a news release. “All certifications required for commercialization will be granted on the basis of this production model.” He said the company expects to receive full certification next year and begin deliveries shortly afterward.

  • Eviation, based in Israel, has announced they will work with Kokam, a South Korean company, to supply batteries for their all-electric aircraft design, called Alice. Kokam also supplied the custom batteries used by Solar Impulse 2 in their record-setting global flight. The Alice commuter airplane is designed to carry nine passengers up to 650 miles at 240 knots, according to the company. Eviation showed a mock-up of it last month at the Singapore Air Show.

  • A couple of relevant PIREPs from the East Coast noreaster on March 2 … AVL UUA /OV AVL170002/TM 1720/FL001/TP CRJ9/WV +15-20KTS/RM LIKE A BULL RIDE … IAD UUA /OV KIAD/TM 1238/FL040/TP CRJ2/TB MOD-SEV/RM VERY BUMPY ON DESCENT. PRETTY MUCH EVERY ONE ON THE PLANE THREW UP. PILOTS WERE ON THE VERGE OF THROWING UP. AWC-WEB

  • Six months after announcing the move, the FAA’s reorganization of its flight standards (AFS) and certification services (AIR) became official as of March 5.

  • An international game of cat and mouse has the Canadian government pitted against a wealthy South African family at the center of a political corruption scandal and the disappearance of their luxury business jet.

  • Rep. Sam Graves's office says they first heard that he was being considered to head the FAA in news reports last week.

  • The 29th annual conference of Women in Aviation International is coming up March 22 to 24, at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nevada. The event includes hiring briefings all three days, when companies in search of new employees will spend 45 minutes to outline their application procedures and discuss positions available and their requirements. Each session also will include a question and answer period.

  • Loss of control continues to be the leading cause of general aviation fatalities, and the NTSB is working to change that. On April 24, the board will host a meeting of experts to discuss the problem and explore solutions. The program, set for April 24 in Washington, D.C., will comprise three roundtable sessions on pilot training, cockpit technology and the next steps needed to address the challenges identified. The event is open to the public and also will be webcast live online, from 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m.

  • As Women of Aviation Week begins this week, the country with the highest ratio of female airline pilots may come as a surprise to some. India has the most female pilots per capita as a little more than 12 percent of Indian airline pilots are women.

  • Authorities in Canada and Florida are investigating after a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) helicopter’s emergency life raft fell through the roof of a house in Miami.

  • Garmin's new GDL50 is the company's latest portable ADS-B receiver and a follow-up to its recently released GDL51 and GDL52.

  • Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., has announced he is no longer pursuing the separation of air traffic control from the FAA.

  • Vashon Aircraft, a new company based near Seattle, Washington, said this week it’s ready to offer to the market its new S-LSA, the Ranger R7, which will sell for $99,500. Led by CEO John Torode, who is also the founder and CEO of the Dynon avionics company, the staff has been developing the aircraft for the last five years, company spokesperson Amy Bellesheim told AVweb on Wednesday. She said there are two copies now flying, which they plan to keep as demonstrators, and four airplanes on the assembly line that will be ready for sale in April.

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