Last week, a group of Czech engineers flew a hybrid bicycle/multi-copter by remote control, but this week, another take on the flying-bicycle concept -- one that's already flown with live human pilots -- turned up in the news. This one is basically a lightweight powered-parachute with a bicycle attached as a means of traveling from your garage to your launch site. For a powered parachute, the launch site doesn't have to be much more than an open field. The folding bicycle tows a two-wheeled trailer that holds the fan. An optional tent creates an all-in-one door-to-campsite recreational vehicle. Its British creators have spent two years developing and test-flying a prototype, and now have launched a Kickstarter campaign with the hope of developing a production line.
Bell Helicopter introduced a new five-seat, entry-level helicopter at the Paris Air Show this week. The aircraft was developed to meet performance targets set by an advisory council of customers who will operate the aircraft for utility, training, private use, and law enforcement. "The SLS [short light single] class is both extremely competitive and price sensitive, so we collaborated with customers to incorporate their mission needs in a high-performance, high-value helicopter at a very competitive price," said John Garrison, Bell CEO. The helicopter will feature a high-visibility cabin with large cabin doors, a flat floor, and five forward-facing seats. It will cruise at 125 knots for up to about 360 nm and carry a useful load up to 1,500 pounds, the company said.
click for photosFlaris, a Polish company, introduced its prototype single-engine personal jet at the Paris Air Show this week. The all-composite airplane reportedly has begun taxi tests and first flight is expected soon. It weighs about 1,430 pounds and can carry five people. Top speed is over 375 knots, according to the company website, and the range is 1,350 nm. It can fly from grass strips as short as 820 feet. It glides well, the company says, and comes with a ballistic parachute that's packed in the nose. Also, the wings can be removed for easier storage. The cockpit features Garmin avionics. The engine is by Pratt & Whitney, but the company told a French news site they are still considering other options. Flaris said it plans to start production next year and has set a price of about $1.5 million.
Until this week, Yves Rossy was the only human to have flown the jet-pack that he designed, but now there's a second flyer, after two years of training. Vince Reffet on Monday became the second person to fly the Jetman wing, and Rossy's Facebook page promised that soon there will be news of a Jetman Team. Reffet, 28, is an experienced skydiver, BASE jumper, and instructor from France. Rossy is scheduled to make his first public flight in the U.S. at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh next month. Also, on Tuesday, Rossy posted a short video titled "Close Encounters," showing a jet-powered flyer in the air with at least two parachutists.
While EAA and Sun 'n Fun weren't happy about paying for their own controller staff for their airshow events, at least they had the resources to do it, which isn't true for many smaller events around the country. At Columbia Airport in Tuolumne County, Calif., the 47th annual Father's Day Fly-in never happened last weekend, due to the cost for the FAA to staff a temporary tower. "We don't have the money," airport supervisor Jim Thomas told the local Union Democrat news. An "airport appreciation day" was held instead, with airplane rides, a pancake breakfast, and a barbecue. In addition, many local airshows have been cancelled due to the unavailability of military aircraft, especially the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds.
Attendees of the Paris Air Show, which started Monday, will likely get a look at Airbus's new A350. Although no appearance has been formally announced, the betting is that Airbus will include a low and over or two at Le Bourget as part of its very early "test" flights for the new aircraft. As we reported last week the aircraft, which will compete with the Boeing 787 and Boeing 777 in the long-haul market, had its maiden flight last Friday and is minutes away at Toulouse. The Paris show is traditionally the stage for major order announcements by the big manufacturers and they didn't disappoint on opening day. Airbus continued to rack up sales of its re-engined A320 Neo while Boeing announced a few sales of 777s. But so far Embraer has the biggest order of the show.
Frank Thielert, founder of Thielert Aircraft Engines, which produced Centurion diesel engines for the aviation market, last week was jailed by a judge in a German bankruptcy court who reportedly considered him a "flight risk." According to the Google translation of a story in the Hamburg Abendblatt newspaper, the judge said Thielert faces several years in prison if convicted on charges that investors in his company were "systematically deceived." The Thielert AG company went public in 2005 and declared insolvency in 2008.
Back in the '70s, a Southern gentleman friend was an airline pilot who owned a C-182 that he called "Juan" as in "Juan Eighty-Two." His N-number ended in 4Q, and if he either wanted a laugh or didn't like an ATC instruction, he acknowledged with, "Roger. Four Q." Pronounced in that Southern-gentlemanly style that sounded more like, "Roger. Fork you."Bless his heart, he always gave me a $20 bill any time he came in the shop. And now you know why we now need a full N-number readback!Tom Ciuravia e-mail
>>> AVWEB FUEL FINDERCURRENT PRICE FOR 100LL: $6.02 (no change from last week)CURRENT PRICE FOR JET A: $5.41 (no change from last week)Fuel prices provided weekly by AirNav, based on prices from the past 2 weeks. Changes are relative to last week's prices. /TEXT_ONLY-->AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Atlantic Aviation at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (KAUS) in Austin, Texas.AVweb reader Diane Myers let us know about their outstanding service:We always park at Atlantic in Austin. Large airport means more expensive fuel, but their service is outstanding. Two years ago, we needed maintenance on Sunday after Thanksgiving. They called out a mechanic. He was out of town but called his co-worker to drive out to the airport to fix our problem. Great service!Keep those nominations coming. For complete contest rules, click here.AVweb is actively seeking out the best FBOs in the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here next Monday!
It turns out there's money in Russia, and people want to fly sophisticated airplanes into places where the runways suck or don't exist. Diamond has risen to the challenge with its DA40 Tundra edition. Paul Bertorelli recently had a flight demo in the airplane and prepared this video report.
There's a new way to rent an airplane at six airports across the U.S. and the founders of OpenAirplane hope it will modernize and rationalize the way people rent aircraft. The online service puts renters and aircraft owners together with an eBay twist. "Both pilots and operators contribute to a reputation system, creating first of its kind transparency for the community," said OpenAirplane spokesman Rod Rakic. OpenAirplane launched today with affiliates in New York, L.A., Chicago, San Jose, Kissimmee and Detroit and almost 6,000 pilots have registered even though the service has been in a beta mode until today. Rentals can be arranged through almost any kind of Web device, it's open to anyone with an FAA pilot certificate from Sport Pilot to ATP, and it's free for pilots and the aircraft providers to join.
A Silicon Valley company is tackling head-on one of the most-cited impediments to flight training (the time it takes) with an innovative flight training program. Visionary Airlines will teach its customers to fly while they're on their way to destinations they select for business or pleasure trips. They'll get real-world training while getting to their destinations more quickly and efficiently. The concept is the brainchild of Michael Flint, a former business jet and Air Force pilot, who believes private aviation is the answer to many transportation issues. Flint has launched an Indiegogo campaign to launch Flight Training Adventures, which will be limited to regional flights around the San Francisco Bay area at first.
An ambitious campaign to save a unique part of aviation history is on in Michigan but just like the events that created the Willow Run bomber manufacturing plant, the volunteers trying to preserve it face a daunting challenge. The Ford-owned plant, which churned out B-24 Liberators at the astonishing rate of one an hour during the Second World War, was bought by GM in the 1950s and used to build transmissions until 2009. The trust created to manage GM's assets when it went bankrupt a has been trying to sell the defunct facility but the massive five million-square-foot building has to come down before anyone will buy it, they say. The Michigan Aerospace Foundation wants to preserve 175,000 square feet of the structure to house the new home of the Yankee Aircraft Museum but it needs to raise almost $5 million in six weeks to do it.
Operation Migration says it's found a way to satisfy the FAA and whooping cranes to continue leading young birds on a migration from Wisconsin to Florida each fall. Two years ago, when a former pilot complained to the FAA about the nature of the flying in the operation (he claimed improperly licensed pilots were flying for hire in non-compliant aircraft), the FAA gave Operation Migration two years to meet new standards for the flying portion of the unique initiative. The FAA said the pilots, who are salaried employees, must have at least private pilot certificates and the aircraft have to meet at least SLSA standards. That's a considerable compromise from the normal standard that requires professional pilots to have commercial tickets and fly fully certified aircraft when they're on the clock. "Even though we're the regulators, we believe what they do is a good thing and we want to help them achieve their mission," FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Cory told The Associated Press. Washington State trike manufacturer North Wing Operation Migration says it's found a way to satisfy the FAA and whooping cranes to continue leading young birds on a migration from Wisconsin to Florida each fall. Two years ago, when a former pilot complained to the FAA about the nature of the flying in the operation (he claimed improperly licensed pilots were flying for hire in non-compliant aircraft), the FAA gave Operation Migration two years to meet new standards for the flying portion of the unique initiative. The FAA said the pilots, who are salaried employees, must have at least private pilot certificates and the aircraft have to meet at least SLSA standards. That's a considerable compromise from the normal standard that requires professional pilots to have commercial tickets and fly fully certified aircraft when they're on the clock. "Even though we're the regulators, we believe what they do is a good thing and we want to help them achieve their mission," FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Cory told the Associated Press. Washington State trike manufacturer North Wing has taken on the task of providing an aircraft that meets the requirements of the birds and the FAA. Operation Migration has turned to crowdsourcing to raise the $84,700 needed for three new SLSA-compliant trikes.
China's AVIC Heavy Machinery has produced what it claims to be the world's largest titanium aircraft part critical to an aircraft's structure printed from a 3D printer -- and with massive cost savings. The part, displayed at the 16th China International High-tech Expo, fits a J-20 or J-31 stealth fighter. According to the company, the titanium alloy structural part costs $212,000 to produce through 3D laser direct manufacturing, versus $1.3 million through traditional methods. China's C919 passenger jet, which is expected to enter service in 2016, will incorporate a five meter-long titanium printed wing spar. The company also made bold claims about the potential benefits of printed parts in U.S. military aircraft.
An Arizona-based company announced Thursday that it is now offering pilots emergency upset training in a two-seat version of the famed A-4 Skyhawk attack fighter. Aviation Performance Solutions (APS) says its new program is designed to offer first-hand experience in real high-performance aerobatic-capable jet trainers. Their upset training course includes high-altitude stalls, high-mach conditions and "all-attitude upset prevention and recovery scenarios." According to the company, the course is designed for direct transfer of upset knowledge and skills to high performance operations flown at high altitude and it is serious about the training. Some pilots may question the applicability of transferable skills from an A-4 -- a former U.S. Navy Blue Angels selected design -- to their current aircraft. And APS offers an answer to that.
Thursday, EAA finalized a one-time agreement with the FAA that will assure air traffic control services for the 2013 EAA AirVenture Oshkosh fly-in at a cost to EAA of nearly $450,000, but according to EAA Chairman Jack Pelton, "This isn't over." Pelton has described the FAA's position as "holding AirVenture and GA hostage this year." The FAA, acting under budgetary constraints created by the sequester, this year must cut more than $600 million from its budget, this fiscal year. It determined in May that the cost of supplying a full complement of 87 air traffic controllers and supervisors at AirVenture will be $447,000 and that cost is EAA's to fill. Under the deal signed by EAA, the FAA will accept partial payment prior to the event with the remainder to be paid after the show. In a statement released Thursday by EAA, the organization said, "EAA maintains that this equates to the imposition of GA user fees without Congressional approval." The organization is seeking a policy reversal from the FAA.
Last month, nearly 8,000-hour ATP certificated pilot Dale Hemman posted to YouTube multiple views of his 2012 engine-out controlled crash in a Bonanza at Fairbanks, Alaska and, Wednesday, the NTSB released its probable cause report, but questions remain. On the morning of July 26, 2012, Hemman was leading a flight of 12 aircraft on an aerial tour for a group called "Let's Fly Alaska." He was flying with one other occupant. Neither was significantly injured in the crash. His aircraft, a 1975 Beechcraft F33A Bonanza modified by D'Shannon Products with a 300-hp Continental IO-550, carried four video cameras -- all externally mounted. Each camera recorded a different angle of the events that transpired approximately 41 seconds after the plane began its takeoff roll. They show that while climbing at 400 feet AGL on departure with the gear up, the aircraft lost power. Hemman was faced with several options that included trees and an open field that sat just across a channel of water. It was, possibly, at the optimistic end of the aircraft's glide range. After an initial roll away from it, Hemman chose the field. It was roughly 90 degrees off his right wing.
If you have any opinions about the FAA's proposed revisions to the knowledge tests for private pilot and instrument rating, the FAA wants to hear them, but don't delay -- the comment period closes July 8. This is the second go-round after an initial comment period closed on May 24, just a few days after the FAA Safety Team sent out a notice about the planned revisions. The FAA says it got about 130 comments during that first period, and will be starting to review them now. To read the revised standards or to file comments, go to the federal docket and enter the code FAA-2013-0316. Documents with details about the proposed revisions can be found here. More information is posted in the Federal Register notice.
Air shows will look a little different this year without the U.S. military presence, but they're working hard to get you to come. What air shows are you planning to attend?Plus: Last week, we asked AVweb readers about their summer flying plans; click through to view the breakdown of their answers.