A trip around the patch at a controlled airport in New Zealand will soon carry a $1 NZD charge under a user fee schedule announced by the Airways Corporation of New Zealand, the "state-owned enterprise" that runs the country's airspace system. By 2015, however, that same touch-and-go will cost $3.55 NZD as will transiting controlled airspace around airports and something called a "vicinity landing" that is not defined in the Airways announcement of the fees. Fees for airliners will increase an overall 15.7 percent over the next three years.
Cirrus Aircraft has sent an investigative team to Addison, Texas, to look into a report that a repacked Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS) failed to deploy when a pilot pulled the handle late last week. "We did have an incident in Texas at the end of last week that involved a repacked CAPS parachute," Cirrus spokesman Todd Simmons said in an email to AVweb. "While we understand that an anomaly may have occurred related to extraction of the chute, it is premature to draw any specific conclusions at this point much beyond that." AVweb contacted the owner's home Sunday evening but was told he was out for the evening.
Avidyne Corporation announced the STC certification of the DFC90 plug-and-play retrofit autopilot system for Beechcraft Bonanza applications. The STC, which covers 25 models of the Bonanza, allows the DFC90 to replace existing S-TEC autopilots when interfaced with the Aspen Evolution Pro Primary Flight Display (EFD1000Pro). Avidyne previously certified the drop-in DFC90 with the Aspen PFD in Cessna 182 Skylane series aircraft and with the Entegra PFD in the Cirrus SR20 and SR22. It's also certified in the Piper PA-46 Matrix and Mirage.
A documentary based on the insights of individuals who became sole survivors of commercial aviation disasters appears set for release in August. According to the movie's creators, the film includes commentary from at least three survivors who have never spoken publicly about the events that changed their lives. Among them is one pilot, Jim Polehinke, who acted as copilot of Comair Flight 5191, which crashed at Lexington on August 27, 2006, killing all 49 others aboard. The NTSB found the probable cause of the accident included multiple failures of the flight crew. Click through for the trailer.
The South Dakota School of Mines and Technology said earlier this month that students there had created and flown a small remote control aircraft made of concrete, but their level of success may be open to interpretation. The aircraft had a wingspan of 40 inches and weighed 18 pounds. A news release from the school notes "viral" coverage of the event. It also states that the "flight was quick and wobbly with the landing equally erratic, but it was enough for the record books." After viewing video of the flight, it may not be clear that the vehicle's return to earth can be categorized as a "landing." The concrete plane isn't the first of its kind.
Earlier this month, a Robinson R22 helicopter flying a photo flight successfully auto-rotated onto a downtown Honolulu street and, now, the owner of the company that inspected the helicopter says he will pay to have it replaced. In an interview with HawaiiNewsNow.com, Brant Swigart said the pilot was "in no way" at fault for the May 9 event, and the operator "had no culpability in this." He said he did not personally work on the helicopter prior to the accident flight, but he "was responsible for checking it." Swigart said he believes a mixture cable snapped and a backup switch failed. "I didn't physically inspect that assembly," he said, "and if I had I would have caught it." The helicopter wasn't the only vehicle damaged in the accident and Swigart says he's stepping up for another affected party, an Iraq war veteran.
A retired Air Force Lt. Colonel and a former NASA space shuttle commander have been hired to fly space tourists in Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo, the company has announced. Michael "Sooch" Masucci has 30 years of civilian and military operational and test flying, according to the company, has served as a U-2 pilot with the Air Force and has flown 70 different types, including gliders. Frederick "CJ" Sturckow has 26 years of military flight experience, flew as commander of two Space Shuttle missions and has logged 1,200 hours in space. The men are currently training to operate commercial suborbital space flights, carrying passengers for $200,000 per ticket.
The Sam light sport aircraft, which first flew in March, was on display at Sun 'n Fun in Lakeland, Florida.
Eclipse Aerospace is touring the country with a Total Eclipse jet, using it as a demo for the soon-to-be-delivered Eclipse 550. In this AVweb video, Paul Bertorelli offers a quick product overview.
There might be a big solar flare that could affect GPS later this week. If it happens while you're flying and knocks out your wonder boxes, what will you do?Plus: Last week, we asked AVweb readers what role they believe EAA should play in the aviation community; click through to see the breakthrough of answers.
The sun this week unleashed a series of X-flares, classified among the most intense solar activity, that each became the most energetic of the year until the next one; none were directed toward earth but that may change next week with possible effects for aviation. The Space Weather Prediction Center is watching the activity for potential disruption of space-based communication systems and ground-based electronics. Aviation activities most susceptible to the flares include aircraft communication. If affected, scientists say we would see it first with aircraft flying near the poles. The increase in solar storm activity was predicted years ago and AVweb sat with a specialist to talk about its affects on GA.
The U.S. Navy this week announced it has -- for the first time -- successfully launched the X-47B combat-capable aerial vehicle from an aircraft carrier and, separately, set a new record for flight endurance with a fuel cell-powered UAV with the Ion Tiger. The X-47B's testing Tuesday saw it launch from the deck of the USS George H.W. Bush during flight operations in the Atlantic Ocean off the Virginia coast. The launch was followed by several low approaches and a flight mission to the naval base at Patuxent River, Md., that also demonstrated a ship-based to land-based transfer of control. Also this week the Navy reported that its Ion Tiger unmanned vehicle set a record for endurance, flying 48 hours and one minute on liquid hydrogen fuel.
A new law that will require first officers in regional jets to hold at least an ATP certificate is not yet official, but it's already affecting aviation careers, Kent Lovelace, chair of the aviation department at the University of North Dakota, told AVweb this week. The law will take effect this August, whether or not the FAA has completed its proposed rulemaking process, Lovelace said. The regionals already have started to reject applicants who aren't likely to log the minimum 1,500 hours total time by this summer, and the change also has caused some students to choose a different career track. The regionals' applicant pool has shrunk "to where some carriers, the usable applications they have on file are virtually nil," says Lovelace.
In a study of amateur-built aircraft completed last year, the NTSB cited a need for transition training to help new owners safely fly their airplanes, and this week Sonex said it has developed a training program for its fleet. Sonex said the FAA has authorized the company to provide flight training for pilots who are building, buying, or considering a Sonex design. "Preparing to fly your Sonex with the proper training and type-specific flight time is just as important as building the aircraft properly," said Sonex CEO Jeremy Monnett. The training is offered by Sonex staff CFIs at the company base in Oshkosh, Wis.
It's not an easy road from first solo to an airline left seat, and new rules now in the works are making that journey even bumpier. Kent Lovelace, chair of the aviation department at the University of North Dakota, talks with AVweb's Mary Grady about the impact of new rules that raise the bar for that first job, how airlines and students are adapting, and some new programs that aim to address some of these issues.
Two pilots sat in the cockpit of 16-seat BAE Jetstream 31 and did nothing as it flew for 500 miles from England to Scotland in civil airspace, controlled by an operator on the ground, according to news reports this week. The flight reportedly took place sometime last month. The on-board pilots handled the takeoff and landing, according to the BBC. The test was done by Astraea, a research group funded by the government and commercial companies, in cooperation with the National Air Traffic Services. In an online video, Astraea official Lambert Dopping-Hepenstal says the company has been working with authorities to develop a process for certifying and operating an unmanned Jetstream in the civil airspace.
With the busy summer flying season upon us, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta on Tuesday met with leaders from EAA, AOPA, GAMA, NBAA and others in the general aviation community to discuss actions to enhance safety and reduce accidents. The GA fatal accident rate has remained flat over the past five years, Huerta noted. "We cannot become complacent about safety," he said. "Together, we must improve the safety culture to drive the GA fatal accident rate lower." The group agreed to set short-terms goals to raise awareness on the importance of basic airmanship and to promote a positive safety culture. Huerta also asked the aviation community to commit to several longer-term goals.
Flyers' Rights, an advocacy group for airline passengers, said on Tuesday the FAA should restrict 787 flights to within two hours of an airport "until the safety of its lithium-ion batteries is proven." The restriction wouldn't affect flights over the continental U.S. or most flights to Europe, but trans-Pacific and transpolar routes would be off limits. "Our proposed actions are both urgent and necessary," said Paul Hudson, president of the organization. "Adequate testing of the batteries haven't been done and the fire investigation is not finished." United Airlines, the only U.S. carrier flying 787s, plans to resume domestic flights with the airplane next Monday, and will start flying the Denver-Tokyo route on June 10.
NASA is providing a half-million-dollar prize for Phase 1 of a Centennial Challenge that aims to develop technology to help unmanned aircraft operate safely in the national airspace system, the agency has announced. The first phase of the UAS Airspace Operations Challenge will focus on safe airspace operations and robustness to system failures, NASA said. Competitors will need to demonstrate skills including separation from other aircraft using ADS-B, and respond to failures such as unreliable GPS or lost links. The first competition event is expected in May 2014. Phase 2 of the competition will focus on how to detect UAS that are not cooperating with the system.
I was flying just northeast of Dallas on Monday, April 22. This was the first day of sequester-induced cutbacks of controllers.Fort Worth Center:"King Air 12345, cleared direct FINGR for the FINGR3 arrival."King Air 12345:"Cleared direct FINGR."Fort Worth Center:"They told us not to give any shortcuts today, but I don't see any way to do it except to give you the finger."I was laughing too hard to hear the King Air's reply.Steve Beckerditevia e-mail