AVweb Flash

  • August is traditionally vacation month for many U.S. families, so in case you find yourself with some extra time or maybe a rainy day at the beach, you can be prepared by downloading a broad selection of aviation-themed e-books for free, courtesy of NASA. The books include historical accounts of the development of unique aircraft like the U-2 spy plane and the F-16XL fighter jet; a comprehensive history of NASA research planes; the X-31 experimental aircraft; or the F-18, which was flown to test “aeroelastic” wings.

  • Doc, the beautifully restored B-29 based in Wichita, made a lot of new friends last month with a full week of appearances and flights at EAA AirVenture — so Doc’s Friends, the nonprofit group that supports the project, is making the most of that, with the launch this week of a new Kickstarter campaign to raise money for the airplane’s permanent hangar, which will also serve as an exhibition and education space. The team has about 30 days to raise $100,000.

  • Piston airplane sales are up for the second quarter of 2017, compared to the previous year, ending a three-year slide, according to General Aviation Manufacturers Association data. In the first half of the year, airframers delivered 468 piston airplanes—265 in the second quarter alone—up 5.6% from the first half of 2016 during which 443 piston airplanes were delivered to customers.

  • Members of Congress are back in their home districts this month, leaving Washington quiet and empty, but that doesn’t mean the efforts of general aviation lobbyists who oppose ATC privatization are on hold. “The GA community can’t let its guard down,” said Mark Baker, president of AOPA. Baker and other GA leaders said the August recess provides an opportunity for pilots to contact their representatives while they’re at home and let them know how they feel about efforts to privatize the air traffic control system.

  • I landed at KCMA, Camarillo, CA, on a windy day and checked in with ground … Ground: “18 Sierra Romeo, taxi to the ramp via Foxtrot, caution, tumbleweed all quadrants, not my control.” … He wasn't kidding either; huge tumbleweed balls were passing over the taxiways and runway heading downwind like a scene from an old Western movie … Stephen Silverman

  • Sean Tucker, who announced his retirement from competitive solo aerobatics earlier this year, let slip a few additional details about his plans for a formation aerobatic team during an interview with AOPA during AirVenture 2017. The acclaimed aerobatic champ said he’ll start with a five-ship aerobatic team that he hopes to grow to seven airplanes.

  • Could the future of personal aviation be a DeLorean? Paul DeLorean, nephew of the "Back to the Future" stainless steel car creator in the 1980s, is proposing a dual ducted-fan VTOL aircraft to compete with a host of variations on the same theme and with similar boasts about performance and environmental friendliness.

  • All flying units of the U.S. Marines will take a 24-hour operational pause over the next 10 days "to focus on the fundamentals of safe flight operations, standardization, and combat readiness.” Because the days off will be scattered among all the units over that time period, the Marines say there will be no operational impact.

  • The State of Connecticut has stepped into the simmering controversy over who was actually the first to take a controlled, powered flight by honoring a native son who some believe beat the Wright brothers by two years. Gustave Whitehead will be honored by state officials in Bridgeport Aug. 14 on the 116th anniversary of what some believe was a half-mile flight at 50 feet in nearby Fairfield.

  • British authorities are proposing to regulate the sale of laser pointers to curb attacks on aircraft. The U.K. Department for Business, Energy and Industrial has issued a “call for evidence” into possibly licensing the sale of small lasers.

  • Authorities late Saturday evening reported that two people were dead after a helicopter crashed just a few miles from the violent demonstrations occurring in Charlottesville, Virginia. Initial reports said the the helo was operated by the Virginia State Police and that it was being flown in conjunction with demonstrations and Charlottesville. However, that information has yet to be confirmed.

  • Over 15,000 pilots now have medical certification to fly through the FAA’s new BasicMed rule, which went into effect on May 1 of this year. The FAA estimates that at the end of 2016 there were roughly 162,000 active private pilots. Data isn’t yet available to assess the breakdown between pilots who have received BasicMed certification because they believed themselves unable to receive 3rd Class Medical certification and pilots who sought BasicMed certification out of convenience, but the program is undeniably popular, winning over a significant portion of the pilot population in only three months.

  • The City of Santa Monica has approved a contract for shortening of the runway at SMO from 4,973 feet to 3,500 feet. After years of attempts to close the airport entirely, the City of Santa Monica entered into an agreement with the FAA that would permit the city to shorten the runway immediately and to close the airport in 2028.

  • After initial trials with the Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine, the Sierra Nevada/Embraer A-29 Super Tucano, the Textron Scorpion jet, and the L-3/Air Tractor AT-802L Longsword at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson told reporters that combat trials were a likely next step in the OA-X light attack demonstration program. Wilson did caveat that combat trials were predicated on combat commanders approving the aircraft for use in an operational setting, but that’s probably a low bar for the AT-6 and A-29, both of which the Air Force has deemed “tier one” competitors for having met all the Air Force’s initial specifications.

  • The FAA Wednesday evening proposed an emergency airworthiness directive requiring owners of Lycoming engines to inspect and potentially replace off-spec connecting rod small-end bushings in Lycoming engines overhauled during the 2015 to 2016 time period. The AD codifies the procedures found in Lycoming's mandatory service bulletin SB 632 released last month.

  • Pilots flying on the days leading up to the coming solar eclipse on Aug. 21 have surely planned already to cope with extra traffic near the path of totality, but they also need to be aware of a nationwide balloon launch that will take place along that path. Teams of students will release about 100 high-altitude scientific balloons from about 30 locations along the eclipse path, from Oregon to South Carolina. Each balloon will carry a satellite modem for tracking the balloon’s location, FAA spokesperson Elizabeth Isham Cory told AVweb on Thursday.

  • The NTSB on Tuesday released its final report on the Icon A5 crash on May 8 that took the lives of two Icon employees, pilot Jon Karkow and passenger Cagri Sever. The investigators found the probable cause of the accident was “the pilot's failure to maintain clearance from terrain while maneuvering at a low altitude.” Contributing to the accident was the pilot's mistaken entry into a canyon surrounded by steep rising terrain while at a low altitude, for reasons that could not be determined. The investigators didn’t find any mechanical problem or failure with the aircraft that contributed to the accident.

  • The Williams International FJ44-4A-QPM engine, which has been chosen by Pilatus to power its new PC-24 jet, is now type-certified by both the FAA and EASA, Williams announced on Monday. Production deliveries have already begun. Williams says the new engine features an anti-ice and noise-suppressing inlet, an integral pre-cooler to condition engine bleed air and reduce drag losses, and a patented passive-thrust-vectoring exhaust nozzle technology.

  • Personnel at military bases can shoot down private or commercial drones that are deemed a threat, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said at a press briefing on Monday, according to The Military Times. The bases “retain the right of self-defense when it comes to UAVs or drones operating over [them],” Davis said. "The increase of commercial and private drones in the United States has raised our concerns with regards to the safety and security of our installations, aviation safety and the safety of people.”

  • Restrictions imposed in an effort to reduce noise at East Hampton’s busy general aviation airport must be lifted, a federal court ruled on Monday. “We are gratified that the judicial system upheld our position that the restrictions at East Hampton violated federal law,” said NBAA President Ed Bolen. “For aircraft operations to be successful, it is essential to have a uniform and consistent set of rules.” The problems began a few years ago when helicopter trips to the area, a popular beach destination for New Yorkers, began to increase.

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