Gulfstream test pilots have flown the G650 flight test aircraft for the first time using only an electrically powered FBW backup flight control actuation system. The flight, which took place on Dec 21, 2010, involved aircraft s/n 6001. Test Pilots Jake Howard and Gary Freeman, and Flight Test Engineers Bill Osborne and Nathaniel Rutland evaluated the FBW system in electric backup actuation mode for 2 hrs 20 min of the flight, performing 5 landings with the backup system engaged. According to Gulfstream, the system performed flawlessly, with no difference in handling qualities between the electrically and hydraulically powered modes.

Gulfstream has purchased a building off Lummus Drive in Savannah GA to house its growing research and development program. The 253,000 sq ft facility is adjacent to the company's R&D campus in Savannah's Crossroads Business Park. The acquisition—part of an expansion plan Gulfstream announced last November—includes building new facilities at the northwest quadrant of SAV, renovating several existing facilities on the main campus and expanding R&D office and lab facilities.

Avionics

FAA has issued an STC to Banyan Avionics for the Thrane & Thrane Aviator 200 wireless LAN system for the Citation 500, 550, S550, 552, 560 and 560XL. Banyan Dir of Avionics Brian Wilson notes that this is the first STC for the SwiftBroadBand 200 class of service in the US. Aviator 200 en­ables pilots and passengers to use Wi-Fi enabled PDAs. Banyan is installing the system for a limited time at an introductory price of $75,000.

Rockwell Collins has acquired Computing Technologies for Aviation (CTA), a provider of flight operations management solutions for corporate flight departments and other aviation customers. The acquisition adds to the broad capabilities of Rockwell Collins' new Ascend flight information solutions.

According to Rockwell Collins Pres & CEO Clay Jones, acquiring CTA "advances our strategy to become the single source for end-to-end flight information management."

Jeppesen has integrated fatigue risk management (FRM) functionality with its crew management system (CRM) suite. The FRM solution takes into consideration crewmembers' predicted levels of fatigue when generating and maintaining crew schedules.

Predictions of crew alertness and fatigue risk are based on the Boeing Alertness Model (BAM), developed jointly by Boeing and Jeppesen. The modular design of the solution also allows airline operators to make use of alternative alertness models if desired. Jeppesen recently released a related Apple iPhone mobile application, called CrewAlert, which gives the user an insight into how sleep science applies to crew schedules.

CrewAlert is intended for use by schedulers, crewmembers, government regulators and scientists to determine predicted levels of alertness. It also allows data, collected in actual operations, to be fed back into an airline's FRM system for correlation with other pilot data and further FRM model refinement.

Air Safety

An NTSB study concludes that GA aircraft equipped with airbags provide additional protection to occupants in accidents involving survivable forward impacts.
Airbags were first approved for use in the pilot and copilot seats of GA aircraft in 2003. While they are not mandatory, more than 30 private aircraft manufacturers offer airbags as standard or optional equipment.

Since 1970 NTSB has urged FAA to require all GA aircraft be equipped with combination lap/shoulder seatbelts. To date, FAA has not followed that recommendation.

The study, which examined 88 accidents involving airbag-equipped airplanes that occurred between 2006 and 2009, found no instances where the airbag caused harm in properly restrained occupants. In addition, the study found 10 survivable accidents in which the crash forces were severe enough to cause injury and/or to deploy the airbag.

NTSB's study found that correctly installed shoulder harness/lap belt combinations provide significantly greater protection in GA accidents than that offered by a lap belt alone. The risk of fatal or serious injury was 50% higher when an occupant was restrained only by a lap belt.

FAA says that in 2010 nationwide reports of lasers pointed at airplanes almost doubled from the previous year to more than 2800—the highest number of laser events recorded since FAA began keeping track in 2005. Laser event reports have increased steadily from nearly 300 in 2005. FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt says, "FAA is actively warning people not to point high-powered lasers at aircraft because they can damage a pilot's eyes or cause temporary blindness.

We continue to ask pilots to immediately report laser events to air traffic controllers so we can contact local law enforcement officials."

Regulations/airspace

Czech charter operator Grossmann Jet Service has added an 8-passenger Citation CJ2+ to the Central European business aviation market. Grossmann Jet Service CEO Dagmar Grossmann praises the landing and takeoff capability of the CJ2+ as well as its range, and says, "We are very optimistic about the potential of the CJ2+ for our company, as its performance and price make it extremely competitive on the charter flights market." Grossmann Jet Service also operates an Embraer Legacy 600 and a Hawker 900XP out of PRG (Ruzyne, Prague, Czech Republic).

FAA has granted 2 renewable certificates of authorization (COAs) to fly unmanned aircraft at EQA (El Dorado KS) for the next 12 months. The COAs. The City of El Dorado applied for the COAs—which allow unmanned aerial systems (UAS) operations in specific airspace—after signing an agreement with Flint Hills Solutions, a UAS company.
Drones that will be operated initially at EQA include Flint Hills' fixed-wing FH700 and the FH520 helicopter. Both are fully autonomous UASs weighing less than 55 lbs.

Gulfstream recently received approval from Transport Canada for the G450 and G350 to operate at their maximum cruise altitude of FL450. Transport Canada normally restricts flight to FL410 or below, unless special conditions have been met to ensure against rapid cabin depressurization. Gulfstream's automatic emergency descent mode (AEDM) was key to obtaining this higher operational altitude. AEDM mitigates the risk of occupant injury due to rapid depressurization by automatically lowering the aircraft to the appropriate altitude. Should the pilots become incapacitated due to depressurization, the AEDM automatically turns the aircraft 90° and lowers it to 15,000 ft altitude and 250 KTAS—a maneuver that allows the flightcrew to regain consciousness and resume control of the aircraft.


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