Completion specialist Lufthansa Technik has delivered the first of 4 Bombardier Global 5000s to the German Defense Ministry's Special Mission Wing. The aircraft will be used for VIP transport and medevac flights. Separately, the US Air Force has allocated the Global Express XRS the military designation E11A. The Air Force owns 1 Global Express XRS, which will be used as an overhead communications relay platform in southwest Asia.
British airship maker Hybrid Air Vehicles of Cardington, England, has signed its first civilian customer. Discovery Air Innovations (DAI) will use a relatively small version of the lifting-body lighter-than-air craft capable of lifting up to 50 tons and traveling at up to 100 kts. The company intends to use the semirigid aircraft for cargo services to remote regions of northern Canada. First aircraft deliveries are scheduled for 2014. DAI may buy up to 50 of the vehicles, depending on how operations develop. The company already flies 130 more conventional aircraft, making it one of the largest fleet operators in Canada.
Bombardier Aerospace has chosen its Toronto ON manufacturing site for final assembly of its new Global 7000 and 8000. Since 1928, more than 8000 aircraft have been produced at the facility. It currently manufactures wings for the Learjet 40 and 45 and assembles the Global 5000 and 6000 business jets as well as the DHC8-Q400 turboprop.
Piaggio Aero's P180 Avanti II turboprop has received type and production certification from the Russian aviation authority, the Interstate Aviation Committee. The Avanti II was certified by FAA and EASA in 2005.
Deer Jet, China's largest business jet operator, has received an ARGUS platinum rating. Of 2000 operators that have submitted to the voluntary audit, only 87 have received a platinum ranking. Most of these are in the US. Deer Jet is the first fleet operator in China to obtain platinum rating. It currently operates 39 aircraft, more than 1/3 of the nation's business fleet.
User fees are back, to the dismay of GA organizations. Amid more widely reported proposals, President Barack Obama's plan to ease both the federal deficit and unemployment, announced on Sep 19, resurrected the idea of levying a charge of $100 per flight on general aviation. It was condemned immediately in a joint statement from NBAA, NATA, GAMA, HAI, AEA, AOPA, EAA, the Intl Council of Air Shows and the Natl Assn of State Aviation Officials. The associations expressed their unified opposition to the proposed tax in a letter to the President. Citing experience with user fees in other countries, they concluded, "Per-gallon fuel charges work. Per-flight taxes destroy."
China's first GA fly-in has been postponed indefinitely following an accident involving a helicopter operated by the Beijing Police. The event, scheduled for Sep 22–24, had been expected to host about 20 privately owned helicopters from around the country. However, the accident raised safety concerns from the authorities and public. Four of the 5 people on board the AW139 were killed when their helicopter crashed on its way back to base after an SAR training mission.
AliphaJet of San Francisco CA says it has developed a new way to make jet biofuel at significantly better prices than previous techniques. Unlike other methods, AliphaJet's catalytic deoxygenation process does not require hydrogen, so processing plants can be less complex. They can also be located closer to the source of raw materials, reducing shipping costs. The process can convert algae, camelina, soy and animal fat into what the company says is 100% drop-in renewable jet biofuel. According to CEO Jack Oswald, the company's approach "is radically different and [it] unlocks a new industry that can meet the US Navy's goal of replacing 50% of its liquid fuels with renewables by 2020."
The recent FAA Reauthorization Bill contained a little-noticed provision that would allow drone aircraft to share civilian airspace. The plan will designate between 4 and 10 "bubbles" around the country, according to Steve Pennington, exec dir of the Defense Policy Board on Federal Aviation. The goal is to demonstrate that unmanned aircraft can share airspace safely with commercial traffic. Lacking "sense and avoid" technology, the drones will use ground-based radar and ATC to avoid collisions until an autonomous system can be developed. The test areas have yet to be chosen, but at least some of them are likely to be located near existing Dept of Defense test sites such as RDR (Grand Forks AFB, Grand Forks ND).
Aspen Avionics has received technical standard order (TSO) approval of its Evolution Synthetic Vision (ESV) software upgrade for the Evolution FDS. ESV replaces the traditional blue-over-brown background of the attitude indicator with a real-time, computer-generated 3D view of terrain, obstacles and (optionally) traffic. The upgrade is available through authorized dealers for $2995 for single display. For a limited time, purchase of the system includes ESV on up to 2 additional displays.
Avidyne has unveiled a new feature for its recently announced IFD540 GPS/nav/com/FMS system. Multi-Touch allows pilots to scroll and zoom the map range setting by gesturing with 2 or more fingers on the capacitive touchscreen. The $16,995 IFD540 has 10-Watt VHF transmit power and is expected to be available in 2H2012.
Garmin rolled out its newest portable GPS navigator/plate reader at September's AOPA Summit. The Aera 796 packs 3D synthetic vision, low and high-altitude charts, and approach plates into a $2499 hand-held package. A 7-in touchscreen allows panning and zooming.
ExecuJet HLA (Lanseria, Johannesburg, South Africa) has been named an authorized service center (ASC) for Hawker Beechcraft King Air products. ExecuJet has been an ASC for the Hawker product line since 2010 at HLA and other locations.
MRO specialist Vector Aerospace has opened a new engine service Center in Grapevine TX. The facility will support Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A and PW100-series engines, JT15Ds and Rolls-Royce 250s.
Eagle Creek Aviation Services has delivered the first of 2 Grand Renaissance Twin Commanders to the Colombian Army. The Grand Renaissance upgrade strips the aircraft to the bare aluminum and overhauls or replaces all systems and virtually all components. The Colombian aircraft have also received an extensive avionics panel upgrade. They will serve as military executive transports and medevac aircraft. The 2nd refurbished Twin Commander is due to be delivered by the end of 2011.
Hawker Beechcraft has extended the core inspection interval for the Premier I/IA aircraft from 200 hrs to 600. A and B inspections are required every 1200 hrs. Engine inspections and some lubrication items remain on the 200-hr schedule. New Hawker 200 aircraft will also use the extended inspection schedule.