Schlagwort-Archive: Airplane

Britten-Norman Brings Aerospace Manufacutring Back to UK

UK aircraft manufacturer Britten-Norman reveals plans to increase production rates and to repatriate aircraft production to its historic home in Bembridge on the Isle of Wight. The move is a major change for the British SME which has been manufacturing its aircraft in Eastern Europe since the late 1960s.

Britten-Norman will invest in new jigs and tooling to create two additional production lines as well as modernising production and decarbonising the site with new sustainable energy initiatives.

The investment is in preparation for intensified interest in the Islander following the planned launch of an OEM, zero-emissions Islander aircraft in 2026 as well as wider interest that has resulted from the introduction of finance and leasing options for the resurgent sub-regional aircraft market.

In the coming months, the Company will be embarking on a recruitment campaign, further boosting job creation in the UK’s Solent Local Enterprise Partnership area. The focus will include aircraft fitters and technicians, production engineering, and supply chain roles. The expansion will also create new traineeship and apprenticeship opportunities on the Isle of Wight and in South Hampshire. In addition to the ramp-up in production, the company will be investing in its supply chain and spare parts stock holdings to support its existing operators.

Britten-Norman will retain its 34,000sq ft. stronghold at Solent Airport Daedalus, home of the final assembly line for the Islander. The site also provides OEM aircraft refurbishment, EASA Part 145 MRO services, international field servicing, and specialist avionics and mission systems integration. As a Garmin-approved dealer, the company offers services to the wider General Aviation community.

Distracted Pilot Loses Control Due To Incorrect Transponder Setting

Something as small as an incorrect transponder setting can lead to an accident if you allow yourself to become distracted. Here’s how this pilot nearly lost control on takeoff, and what you can do to avoid the same mistake.

A Chain Of Distractions
In a NASA ASRS report, a Cessna 182 Skylane pilot described the circumstances surrounding a momentary loss of control during takeoff with an incorrect transponder setting:

„After receiving my IFR clearance, I was interrupted by a passenger question while I was setting the transponder code. This caused the transponder to be set incorrectly. I failed to notice this error during the remainder of the preflight. During the takeoff roll, I looked down and saw the incorrect setting of the transponder and allowed myself to be distracted. I reached down to set the transponder. At that time the airplane veered right. Upon noticing the problem I corrected and completed the takeoff.

Two Things Went Wrong Here:
1) The pilot became distracted by a passenger question at a critical moment: while entering IFR clearance information.
2) The pilot attempted to change the transponder setting during a critical phase of flight: the takeoff roll.

What Could Have Been Done Differently
It’s easy to get distracted by passengers and their questions in any phase of flight – even on the ground. The best thing you can do is brief them about when and where it’s appropriate to ask questions. If you’re busy entering clearance information, let them know you’ll get back to their question as soon as you’re done.

Running the fine line between being perceived as rude or focused is tough. But if you explain to your passengers (before the flight) about good and bad times to talk, you’ll reduce the chance of distractions at critical phases of your flight.

When You Realize Something Is Wrong
A skill pilots develop over time is deciding what’s critical and what’s not. Changing the transponder during the takeoff roll isn’t critical to flight safety, so it’s unnecessary at that moment. Even with the passenger’s distraction, this situation could’ve been avoided had the pilot waited to reset the transponder during the climb. In most cases, ATC won’t radar identify you until you’re on with approach control or center, and that typically happens several minutes into the flight. And even if your transponder isn’t set correctly, ATC will let you know so you can correct it. It’s far more important to focus on flying the airplane when you’re at a high speed close to the ground (or on the ground). Unless something directly affects your safety or the flight characteristics of your plane, avoid becoming distracted by unnecessary „fixes“ during critical phases of flight. Source: ‚Boldmethod‚.

ICON Aircraft Receives Type Certification

ICON Aircraft announced, that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted Type Certification for the ICON A5 in the primary category, marking a significant milestone for the company and its visionary amphibious aircraft.

With this designation, ICON Aircraft is now one of only a few Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) manufacturers in the world to meet the certification standards of the FAA, meaning that ICON can now take advantage of reciprocal agreements between the FAA and aviation governing bodies outside of the U.S. – including those in Europe, Asia, Australia, and South America – to certify the A5 to operate in these regions.

The ICON A5 is a state-of-the-art amphibious aircraft, designed to empower adventure-seekers with a new level of freedom and versatility. Its innovative design allows it to take off and land on both water and traditional runways, providing pilots with unparalleled access to diverse landscapes and destinations.

With FAA Type Certification in hand, ICON Aircraft is poised to enter a new phase of growth and market presence. The company looks forward to delivering on the growing demand for the ICON A5 and continuing to set new standards in the general aviation industry. Source: ‚ICON Aircraft‚.

Corroded Elevator Control Tube

Analysis
The pilot was departing on a local flight in the experimental glider when the glider unexpectedly separated from the towline shortly after liftoff. The glider then entered a left turn and landed in a wings-level attitude. The tail boom was substantially damaged during the landing. The tow airplane and the towline were not damaged during the event.

Postaccident examination determined that the elevator control tube installed in the vertical stabilizer was corroded along the entire length of its inner surface, reducing its wall thickness. Water likely entered the control rod, either through a witness hole near the upper end of the control tube or as moisture carried in by humid air. There was no rain hole at the bottom end of the control tube, and, as a result, there was no way for liquid water to drain out of the control tube.

The wall thickness eventually thinned sufficiently to cause the tube to burst in the longitudinal direction near its upper end. After the control tube burst, the resulting hole on the side of the tube allowed for the easy ingress of water that made its way past the boot seal. The corrosion product and standing water at the base of the tube eventually reduced the tube wall thickness to a point where it could no longer withstand the typical operational loads and subsequently fractured in overstress near the clevis fitting during the accident flight. The overstress failure of the control tube prevented the pilot’s control of the elevator during the accident flight. The last condition inspection of the glider was completed 24 days before the accident. The corresponding logbook entry noted that the flight controls were inspected and the glider was airworthy. The longitudinal fracture near the upper end of the elevator control tube would have been readily visible with the rubber boot removed, and, as such, it is likely the mechanic did not remove the rubber boot to adequately inspect the elevator control tube during the last condition inspection.

Probable Cause and Findings
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident: The overstress fracture of the elevator control tube due to reduced wall thickness from water intrusion and subsequent corrosion. Contributing to the accident were the lack of a drain hole at the bottom of the elevator control tube, which allowed the tube to collect water, and the mechanic’s inadequate inspection of the elevator control system during the recent condition inspection.

Preventing Similar Accidents

Mechanics Manage Risk and Follow Procedures
Mistakes performed during aircraft maintenance and inspection procedures have led to in-flight emergencies and fatal accidents. System or component failures are the most common defining events for fatal general aviation accidents. Mechanics should learn about and adhere to sound risk management practices to prevent common errors; even well-meaning, motivated, experienced technicians can make mistakes. Fatigue can be a hazard even for mechanics, and it can be linked to forgetfulness, poor decision-making, reduced vigilance, and ultimately interfere with the mechanic’s ability to do the job safely.

Mechanics should carefully follow manufacturers‘ instructions to ensure the work is completed as specified. Also, up-to-date instructions and manuals should be used; other qualified mechanics are also a great resource. Mechanics need to pay close attention to the safety and security of the items that undergo maintenance, as well as the surrounding components that may have been disconnected or loosened during the maintenance. Inspecting maintenance work is a great way to ensure it is done correctly. Routine inspections should be thorough, and items needing immediate attention should be addressed rather than deferred. Source and entire report: ‚NTSB, National Transportation Safety Board‚.

World’s First Piloted Flight of Liquid Hydrogen Powered Electric Aircraft

Project HEAVEN, a European-government-supported consortium assembled to demonstrate the feasibility of using liquid, cryogenic hydrogen in aircraft, today announced it has successfully completed the world’s first piloted flight of an electric aircraft powered by liquid hydrogen. The consortium is led by H2FLY and includes the partners Air Liquide, Pipistrel Vertical Solutions, the German Aerospace Center (DLR), EKPO Fuel Cell Technologies, and Fundación Ayesa.

The day consisted of four flights powered by liquid hydrogen as part of the project’s flight test campaign, including one flight that lasted for over three hours. The flights were completed with H2FLY’s piloted HY4 demonstrator aircraft, fitted with a hydrogen-electric fuel cell propulsion system and cryogenically stored liquid hydrogen that powered the aircraft.

Results of the test flights indicate that using liquid hydrogen in place of gaseous hydrogen will double the maximum range of the HY4 aircraft from 750 km to 1,500 km, marking a critical step towards the delivery of emissions-free, medium- and long-haul commercial flights.

Besides project HEAVEN, the work has been funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK), the German Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMVD), and The University of Ulm. Compared with pressurized gaseous hydrogen storage (GH2), the use of liquified, cryogenic hydrogen (LH2) enables significantly lower tank weights and volume, therefore leading to increased aircraft range and useful payload. Source: ‚Pipistrel-Aircraft‚.

AOPA fights back on Washington state bill banning 100LL sales

AOPA testimony combined with input from Washington state aviation community stakeholders successfully removed language banning the sale of 100LL fuel at the state’s airports as well as burdensome environmental requirements for pilots and airports. The original bill, known as H.B.1554 and sponsored by state Rep. Beth Doglio (D-District 22), was introduced in January with the goal of reducing public health and environmental impacts from lead by prohibiting the sale and distribution of 100LL aviation fuel in phases beginning in 2026, with additional prohibitions in 2028, with a statewide ban effective in 2030.

The bill, if passed, also threatened to put heavy environmental-related regulatory burdens and fines on Washington state airports in addition to prohibiting the sale and distribution of leaded fuel and would have served as a dangerous precedent for other states. In a letter to the House Environment and Energy Committee dated January 29, AOPA Northwest Mountain Regional Manager Brad Schuster shared AOPA’s concern that the bill’s premature phasing out of leaded avgas before a suitable alternative is available will do nothing to speed up achieving a lead-free aviation fleet and will cause immediate and severe economic impacts on the communities that rely on the airports affected by the bill. In addition, Schuster testified at a public hearing that although the aviation community shares the goal of removing lead from avgas in a safe and smart transition, the bill has the potential to introduce safety risks on pilots whose aircraft require leaded avgas. Following AOPA’s first testimony, language prohibiting sales of 100LL was removed; however, the imposition of environmental-related regulations and fines on airports remained.

In the subsequent hearing on February 20, Schuster again testified, along with the Washington State Aviation Alliance, the Washington Airport Management Association, and other stakeholders, before the Washington House Transportation Committee seeking to remove the remaining new compliance measures and penalties. After this hearing, Rep. Tom Dent (R-District 13) led a delegation of Washington state aviation community stakeholders to seek further improvements to the bill and the removal of financial penalties for noncompliance. This combined team effort ultimately resulted in the removal of leaded fuel prohibitions, steep compliance-related fines for airports, Washington Department of Ecology oversight, and related mandates targeting airports. Still remaining in the bill are clauses requiring the Washington Department of Transportation Aviation Division oversight of a lead-related education and outreach campaign targeting airport operators and pilots of piston-engine aircraft. AOPA continues to oppose the passage of this bill because it imposes requirements on the aviation system in Washington that we feel will be unnecessary as soon as an unleaded 100-octane replacement is widely available.

AOPA continues to support the removal of lead from aviation gasoline, by no later than 2030, but the transition must be done smartly and safely. Moreover, AOPA continues to oppose states and municipalities that ban the sale of 100LL citing safety issues with engine failure attributed to improper fueling, which has occurred at Reid-Hillview of Santa Clara County Airport in California. Please contact the AOPA Pilot Information Center if you become aware of a local or state bill that seeks to impose restrictions on the sale of 100LL fuel. Source: ‚AOPA‚. Photo: ‚Chris Rose‚.

I will never fly over a lenticular cloud again

An encounter with a lenticular cloud literally shook this pilot out of complacency.

We were on our way back from Natfly, the annual fly-in for recreational aircraft held each year on the Easter long weekend at Narromine, NSW. We attended for the full 3 days in my Rutan Long EZ which got a lot of attention as it is a unique design. This aircraft was created by Burt Rutan who designed Virgin’s spaceship. We departed late, about 2 hours before the last light, for the one-hour trip to Wedderburn, a club strip about 60 km southwest of Sydney. The forecast was for a strong easterly stream with a heavy cloud over the ranges and possible lee-side rotor and mountain wave.

On the basis that the hills would be socked in, I informed the pax our alternate would be Bathurst and he needed to prepare to overnight there if we couldn’t get through. He wasn’t happy about that option. On departure, we entered a steady 20-knot headwind that increased as we made our way east. Passing Bathurst and with 30 knots on the nose, we climbed higher to get above the increasingly rough ride from the turbulent air coming off the mountains ahead. While going through 7,500 feet and 55 miles from Sydney, we requested to climb into controlled airspace to stay above the rotor. The headwind was now 40 knots and we could see lenticular clouds forming ahead over the ranges. I didn’t like the situation as the cloud below was solid and the lenticular clouds ahead looked to be at about 10,000 feet.

I informed the pax we would be diverting to Bathurst for the night. The pax was also an experienced pilot and said we could ‘just climb over the lenni’ as we knew it was clear over our destination – and he had a date for dinner and didn’t want to miss that. After some discussion, I reluctantly agreed and we proceeded to get further clearance to 11,000 feet to clear the lenticular cloud. At least the rotor had ceased and we were in smooth air with no feeling of movement apparent – all the hallmarks of a mountain wave. At 11,000 feet we levelled off, well above the clouds, but still with 40 knots on the nose. Over the top, we saw the lenticular cloud rise up like a wave and within 30 seconds, it had washed over us and we went IFR. I immediately went onto the instruments but, as a VFR pilot, I had quite a workload. We had been in the lift going up at 1,000 feet per minute and when we levelled off, the rising air and the lenticular cloud just kept on rising until had enveloped us.

Then, without warning, the engine began to splutter so I pulled on the carby heat. The pax said, ‘Look at the wings’ and when I did, I could see ice forming on the leading edge! Then he yelled, ‘Look at the speed’ – the ASI was almost at the red line so we were diving. I resisted the temptation to pull back on the stick. I saw we were in a hard left turn so I banked right until we were level (but still steep nose down) and then eased back on the stick. We came out of the dive and started a steep climb and by the time I pushed the stick forward again, we had gone over the top of the parabola and were heading down again in a nose dive. We did this a few times before I was able to figure it out and get back to level flight. It was touch and go as we transitioned from positive 3G to negative G, again and again. The feeling was like a roller coaster at Luna Park. The ATC controller asked why I was descending without a clearance and when I told him we were IMC, he said, ‘Get your wings level’.

I confirmed that was what I intended and he vectored me towards clear air to the southeast. By this time the engine had stopped and the ice was getting thicker on the wings. The plane felt really heavy. After about 5 minutes, we were out of the cloud and thankfully, also on the windward side of the mountain. In that short space of time, we had descended to 3,000 feet after losing 8,000 feet of altitude. The mountain, only 5 miles behind us, rose up to 3,585 feet. After another 2 minutes and 1,000 feet loss, we were able to restart the engine and continued onto Wedderburn for a normal arrival.

What an experience! I was shocked at how the cloud enveloped us so quickly. Later, an instructor said he had experienced climbing cloud over the mountains that was ascending in front of him at over 2,000 feet per minute. He was also trying to get across in the strong wind but he couldn’t climb faster than the cloud so he turned away.

Lessons learnt:
Evidently, my mistake was I levelled off – but the cloud didn’t. I should have done a 180 when I saw it approaching. I still believe I didn’t have enough warning to turn around, so the lesson for me is, I will never fly over a lenticular cloud again. Source: ‚flightsafetyaustralia‚. Image: ‚generalaviationnews‚.

Spatial Disorientation

On April 15, 2021, at about 1948 mountain standard time, a Cessna 140A, N2506N, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Williams, Arizona. The commercial pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

During a night cross-country flight in visual meteorological conditions, the pilot made a precautionary landing due to a failure of the airplane’s engine tachometer. The audio from an airframe-mounted camera captured the pilot’s post-flight inspection comment that the tachometer cable housing appeared to be intact and subsequent departure on the accident flight. Shortly after takeoff, the pilot deviated left of the runway heading before entering a right turn, away from an on-course heading toward the destination airport. The departure airport was located in a sparsely populated valley with rising terrain on all sides. The airport’s chart supplement indicated that a 479-foot hill existed about 1.4 nautical miles north of the departure end of the runway.

Sound spectrum analysis of the video revealed that the engine RPM decreased slightly, and the video showed an increase in the airplane’s bank angle. There was no indication on the camera of any distress or malfunction. The increased bank angle of the airplane, along with the airplane’s descent and impact with terrain, was consistent with an incipient loss of control.

Examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of additional mechanical failure or malfunction that would have precluded normal operation. A review of the pilot’s logbook indicated 10.1 hours of night experience and that his most recent night flight before the accident flight was over 90 days before the accident. The lack of cultural lighting in the vicinity of the airport would have provided few visual cues to help the pilot maintain attitude orientation. In addition, the pilot’s decision to fly the airplane without a functioning tachometer may have served as an operational distraction after takeoff. Given the lack of mechanical anomalies, the departure into impoverished lighting conditions, the pilot’s lack of recent night flight experience, and the descending turn into terrain, the circumstances of the accident are consistent with a loss of control shortly after takeoff as a result of the pilot’s spatial disorientation.

  • Probable Cause: The pilot’s loss of control due to spatial disorientation in visual meteorological conditions shortly after takeoff at night.
  • Preventing Similar Accidents:
    Reduced Visual References Require Vigilance
  • About two-thirds of general aviation accidents that occur in reduced visibility weather conditions are fatal. The accidents can involve pilot spatial disorientation or controlled flight into terrain. Even in visual weather conditions, flights at night over areas with limited ground lighting (which provides few visual ground references) can be challenging.

Preflight weather briefings are critical to safe flight. In-flight, weather information can also help pilots make decisions, as can in-cockpit weather equipment that can supplement official information. In-cockpit equipment requires an understanding of its features and limitations.

We often see pilots who decide to turn back after they have already encountered weather; that is too late. Pilots shouldn’t allow a situation to become dangerous before deciding to act. Additionally, air traffic controllers are there to help; be honest with them about your situation and ask for help.

Even when flying at night, visual weather conditions can also be challenging. Remote areas with limited ground lighting provide limited visual reference cues for pilots, which can be disorienting or render rising terrain visually imperceptible. Topographic references can help pilots become more familiar with the terrain. The use of instruments, if pilots are proficient, can also help pilots navigate these challenging areas.

See NTSB Safety Alert SA_020 for additional resources. The NTSB presents this information to prevent the recurrence of similar accidents. Note that this should not be considered guidance from the regulator, nor does this supersede existing FAA Regulations. Source: ‚Aviation Accidents / NTSB‚.

Largest plane yet tested with a hydrogen-powered engine

A plane with an experimental hydrogen-electric engine on its left wing successfully completed a test flight this week. It is the largest such craft to be powered with the help of a hydrogen engine yet. The UK and US-based company ZeroAvia conducted a 10-minute test flight using an engine that converts hydrogen fuel into electricity to power one of the plane’s two propellers. ZeroAvia aims to enable commercial flights powered only by hydrogen fuel cells by 2025. “When people see that we can do a zero-emission flight with a clean fuel that we can create in so many places, wherever there’s electricity and water, that changes people’s minds about things,” says Jacob Leachman at Washington State University.

The demonstration at Cotswold Airport in Gloucestershire, UK, also marked the first flight for the 19-seat Dornier 228 aircraft that had been converted into a test aircraft. It is a significantly larger aircraft than the six-seat Piper Malibu that ZeroAvia has been using for testing the hydrogen-electric engine since 2020. If all goes well with subsequent tests, ZeroAvia aims to submit the hydrogen-electric engine for regulatory certification in 2023. That could also pave the way for a larger engine suitable for 90-seat aircraft. “There have been tests of hydrogen fuel cell-based aircraft at a smaller scale, and anytime we get to demonstrate larger power levels in bigger aircraft, we learn,” says Kiruba Haran at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

The aviation start-up already has investment from American Airlines along with an agreement for the possibility of ordering up to 100 hydrogen-electric engines in the future. Airbus, one of the two largest aircraft manufacturers in the world, also previously announced plans to use hydrogen fuel in developing the first zero-emission commercial aircraft by 2035. But Airbus has acknowledged that most commercial airliners would still use gas turbine engines until at least 2050. Moving commercial aviation toward truly zero-emission flights would require much more than just exchanging traditional jet fuel for hydrogen fuel. The production of hydrogen fuel also requires electricity that may still come from a power grid running on fossil fuels – although researchers are looking into ways of producing hydrogen more cleanly in high-enough quantities for powering fleets of aircraft. “When you really look at trying to go to sustainable hydrogen-based aviation, you have to figure out how you’re going to get the hydrogen at scale,” says John Hansman at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “And we’re talking a lot of hydrogen.” Source: ‚New Scientist‚.

France: Surfing the Wave

By Garrett Fisher

On most days, when the forecast calls for 50-knot winds (57 mph, 92 km/h) in the mountains, I pass on the idea of flying. It is the logical choice, as the aircraft cruises at about 80 knots, which means one wouldn’t go very fast. There is also the matter of rotors and waves, as the winds get bent initially upward, then equally downward, with rotating tubes of air in between. A small aircraft cannot overpower these realities on engine power alone.

That is not to say that all wind is untenable. Conventional wisdom states a maximum of 20 knots, though that finds no reference in the law or in official regulations. 30 to 35 knots is a reasonable maximum if the conditions allow, though as mentioned before, anything more risks sitting still, “cruising” at 80 knots airspeed into the face of raging winds, going nowhere fast.

I will never really understand why, on some days, I look out the window, get a feeling, check the weather, and find the idea of 50 knots, not a problem. On the day in question, it was closer to 35 knots over the western Alps, with higher speeds toward Mont Blanc, owing to an interaction with the famous Mistral wind. Winds also at 10,000 feet were of much lower speed, so I could pop up into the current, surf a bit, and come back. A quick calculation of GPS speed into the wind and briefly with it behind me at 16,000 feet confirmed that it was indeed 50 knots at altitude.

The interesting factoid that materializes on this flight is that it was the first in the Super Cub to Mont Blanc. I owned the aircraft for a year before I bothered to take it to the summit, though I did take the PA-11 there multiple times in the intervening period. Sure, the fact that the Super Cub spent a fair amount of time outside of the Alps is part of the equation, though wouldn’t the presence of more heat, power, speed, and climb rate instill the necessary motivation to take the easier aircraft? I took the Super Cub to Morocco and Norway before I took it a short distance to Mont Blanc.

Anyhow, it was an interesting ride clearing the turbulence layer at 13,000 feet. Once I reached about 14,000, it was up like an elevator in the ascending wave, staying on the north side of the summit. Had I slinked over to the Italian side, well, things would not have gone well. Winds are smooth on the windward side and are what I call “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride” on the other, where if one gets caught in it, he must take the “royal flush.” Once sucked over the ridge, expect severe turbulence, the loss of 3,000 feet or more, and a vain attempt to get back. It likely won’t work due to downdrafts….so one merely flies to Turin, Italy instead. Best not to toy with it… which I did not.

I would have gladly ridden the wave as high as it would go, though warnings about Class C airspace from my iPad and airliners overhead meant that ATC would not have allowed it there. That is for another day.

What You Need to Know About Pre-Buy Inspections

Do have a pre-buy inspection. It could save you thousands of dollars over time. People passionate about airplanes find it easy to fall in love quickly with a particular airplane. What’s more, if we don’t act quickly and say „yes“ to the buyer, then the one-and-only airplane for us will be sold to someone else. Slow down and be smart. First, have a pre-buy inspection.

Even if the airplane belongs to your best friend, and even if the airplane you want to buy is one that you have flown before, you need to know more about the total health of the airplane. A pre-buy inspection will reveal issues such as corrosion that would not readily be visible. That’s why the best advice I can give any airplane buyer is to have a licensed A&P perform an independent, non-biased inspection of the airplane. 

And now for a “don’t.” Don’t choose the existing mechanic or shop of your potential new airplane. Use another shop that has no ties to the airplane. Sure, it’s convenient to have the local shop at the airport where the airplane is based perform the inspection. It’s probably cheaper, too. However, the shop working on the airplane may be too quick to praise its work and tell you the airplane is in great shape. Even if you have to pay to have the airplane flown to another local airport, it’s a good investment. You want a mechanic who has no attachment to the airplane to give a thorough inspection using a fresh set of eyes. 

Here are a few “dos” for selecting the right mechanic or shop. Use the shop you intend to have maintained the aircraft once it’s yours unless that shop is the one that’s been doing the service. Choose a shop that specializes in the type of aircraft you’re purchasing and frequently works on an airplane like the one you’re thinking about buying. For help selecting a shop, check out the online owner’s forums. These forums have a wealth of information for potential owners of a particular type, including which shops are the best. 

Don’t rush the process. Slow down and take your time. Make sure you give yourself enough time for the pre-buy inspection and that you are not rushed as the proposed closing date approaches. Typically a pre-buy inspection takes one or two days—but we know how that works. Build in some extra time, so you don’t feel pressure.

Do use your best judgment when analyzing the results of the pre-buy inspection. Realize that there’s no such thing as a perfect airplane; you must know what you are willing to accept and what you won’t. Unlike buying a house when the buyer can often pressure the seller into paying for repairs as a condition of the sale, that’s typically not the case with airplanes unless it’s an airworthiness issue. Be reasonable with the seller and remember that perfect doesn’t exist. Have the mechanic spell out the differences between airworthiness directive (AD) items and non-AD items. Have the mechanic explain the items with high importance and urgency to fix and those that may be “nice to fix.”

As a side note, if you purchase an airplane with minimal use by its current owner, do expect that the pre-buy inspection may uncover many items that will take time and money to fix. Give yourself enough time to remedy these items. Also, aircraft that have sat for some time may often have squawks not immediately apparent or uncovered during the pre-buy.

And, finally, be willing to walk away from an airplane. That’s the toughest piece of advice to give. There may come a tipping point in your mind when the work necessary to bring the airplane legally to standard and personally to your standards becomes too high. Remember that at any given time, there are thousands of airplanes for sale. Just like the adage, “Marry in haste, repent in leisure,” you can buy an airplane in haste and repent in leisure as mounting mechanical bills makes flying inaccessible.

Great rates. Great terms. Helpful and responsive reps. Three good reasons to turn to AOPA Aviation Finance when buying an airplane. If you need a dependable financing source with people on your side, call 800.62.PLANE (75263) or click here to request a quote. Have a specific aviation finance question you would like to see in future articles? Submit it here, which may be highlighted in an upcoming content piece. Source: ‚Adam Meredith on the Website of AOPA USA‚.

Crossing Europe in a Super Cub

Source: ‚Garrett Fisher / AOPA‚.

Two planned trips fused into one when a long streak of unusually favourable weather appeared in the forecast, resulting in over 24 hours in the air, flying a Piper Super Cub from the bottom of Spain to Norway. The marathon of the flight was driven in the first instance by a plan to spend a little over two months in Norway, flying around glaciers in the summer. The Super Cub was in southern Andalusia, Spain, not far from Africa, after spending a few weeks during the spring holidays wandering around the coast. I had planned to fly the aircraft to Switzerland and then deal with getting it to Norway a month or so afterwards.

I have this image of Scandinavia, particularly the west coast of Norway, where the airplane ultimately would be headed. It was a visual of nonstop lashing rain, low clouds, intense winds, and generally vile weather, with sun three or four times a year. It is not that unfounded of a notion, as Bergen, Norway, is one of Europe’s rainiest cities, receiving almost double the precipitation of Portland, Oregon.

A heat wave was brewing in Spain, so I decided it was time to leave. What was curious was the weather forecast. It showed pleasant weather (naturally) in Spain, with VFR in France the next day. For days three and four, a strong high-pressure zone was forecast to form over Denmark, resulting in sunny skies from Belgium through the Netherlands, northern Germany, Sweden, and southern Norway. To get VFR stretching from 36 degrees to 59 degrees north latitude in Europe for four consecutive days is not something I deem common, so I was inspired to go direct to Norway.

A few fortuitous events made the trip appear to make more sense. The sellers of the Super Cub, from whom I bought it six months prior in Norway, are happy to lend hangar space while the airplane sat for a month. A mechanic I knew would be in Halmstad, Sweden, while I was passing through. It was one of my planned overnight stops, and I needed to discuss some modifications and plan the renewal of the airworthiness certificate, which must be done alongside an annual inspection. With a dose of tossing caution to the wind, I decided to make a run for it. It would be four days in the air and my longest European cross-country.

After departing Trebujena, Spain, over Seville’s control zone, the flight ventured into something visually like the American West. It is a semi-arid region with dry summers, like California. The resulting terrain looks something like one would find in southwest Montana, albeit with lower undulating mountains, many scrub pine forests, and intermittent farming. This goes on for three hours until approaching Madrid, for the first fuel stop at Casarrubios del Monte. It is worth noting that the lower airport density in Europe causes some element of anxiety. There are more airports in southwest Montana than in this stretch of Europe, though Spain is more densely populated. None of the reasonable alternates had fuel, so it required 75 per cent of my fuel capacity to get to the first refuelling point.

I visited Casarrubios in 2018 when crossing the PA–­11 Cub Special from the Pyrenees to the Portuguese coast. It is a friendly, nontowered airport with aerobatics, fuel, and good general aviation resources. After some hassle with a nonfunctional fuel pump, I was off again for my next destination: Biarritz, France.

Madrid’s control zone is not very flexible, so I had to largely go around it, heading southeast, then due east, then eventually to the northeast half an hour later, once free of airliner traffic. Temperatures at this point were in the mid-90 degrees Fahrenheit. I was closer to the ground owing to the cake overhead, though I saw some thundershowers developing in the mountains to the northeast of Madrid. Uncomfortably hot, I aimed for some precipitation, rinsing the airplane off and dropping cabin temperatures. By this point, I had climbed to 4,500 feet due to terrain while still within 1,000 feet AGL, as temps had calmed down.

Semi-arid terrain gave way to thick pine forests, which were giving off small clouds of pollen, a phenomenon I had experienced when I lived in the Pyrenees. I could smell it in the cooler and fresh air. Agriculture featured canola fields in full bloom, a display of bright yellow that I would see in great abundance along the German coast approaching Denmark two days later.

There was a concern about precipitation, as what appeared to be orographic thunderstorms started to show more alignment with a small front coming through. The showers I sought to cool me off became unavoidable as I found myself flying in the rain, wedging around them to stay VFR northeast of Soria, Spain, before crossing the ridge into the Ebro Valley.

Further south of this point, the Monegros Desert begins. I experienced a similar event in June 2018, flying east from Madrid to the Pyrenees. I went from broken clouds, humidity, and cold to summer temperatures, sunshine, and a desert within 20 minutes. While it wasn’t quite a desert, once I left the terrain between Soria and Pamplona, the sun came out, and things were clear.

I stayed at 5,000 feet as the 30-minute crossing of the lower plains featured the hills of Basque Country on the other side. There was no point descending, only to climb back up again, particularly as I was on another long leg, which would use most of my fuel. As I approached the hills north of Pamplona, the vegetation turned lusciously green. Over the first ridge, in the direction of the Bay of Biscay, it looked like East Tennessee: rolling steep Appalachian-style hills with rich, green deciduous forests.

Within 20 minutes, I was handed off to Biarritz Tower and made my approach toward the Atlantic Coast near the border. From there, the circuit calls for following the coastline for five minutes, then a one-minute final into the airport. I had landed here two months earlier on the way down to Spain. At the time, the fees were agreeable, though apparently, things changed from winter to summer, so I was handed an almost $50 landing fee invoice. While I was fine with paying it, I took issue with the fact that the FBO claims that there is no bathroom, requiring pilots to walk half a kilometre, leave the airport, clear „security,“ and walk back. Pressing the matter, I asked if the customers that come in on private jets to this FBO have to walk the same distance. The „VIP“ package includes the use of a toilet. „How much if I do not want the VIP package to urinate in the bathroom?“ „Fifty-four euros“ ($65 at the time). No amount of French I spoke, or huffing indignation, changed their minds, so I got my exercise to use the bathroom elsewhere.

Though it was approaching dinnertime, I decided to go 75 miles north, along the coast to La Teste-de-Buch, France, as Biarritz had instrument conditions the previous morning, whereas points north did not. The following morning, my supposition was correct. Biarritz had IFR, whereas it was hazy and overcast over northern Bordeaux. While I would have liked to follow the coast, it would have lengthened an already very long trip. Even still, I could not fathom drawing a line from Bordeaux to Denmark, as it would have been 1,000 miles of repetitive scenery: fields, forests, towns, and some modest hills. Call me a curmudgeon if you must, though I grew up in upstate New York, which looks somewhat similar, absent French châteaux and whatnot. I plotted a course direct northeast of Calais, France, on the English Channel.

The slog through France was uneventful. It was almost three hours to Blois for fuel due to a headwind, passing over the Loire River before landing. I landed on the grass strip, a first for this aircraft, where the Baby Bushwheel felt right at home. Another struggle with a broken fuel pump, then shy of another three hours to Calais, with a flight over the Seine and Giverny, where impressionist painter Claude Monet lived. While it sounds like a fairy tale, I prefer the coast and mountains over farmland.

Calais was an amusing experience. I had read a web of pilot reviews raving about excellent English advertised in the official Aeronautical Information Publication and somehow confused myself. Controllers speak English during the week, but the frequencies revert to French on the weekend, and also with air-to-air uncontrolled communications. French flight following handed me off to the frequency, noting it was „French only.“ I could have diverted elsewhere, though it would have been quite stressful reading AIPs and reviews to see if other airports had fuel, so I decided to dive in with my limited French. Once in the air, confirming that fuel exists at an airport and is open is rather tricky in Europe, which is very different from markings right on the sectional map, or concisely noted in the AF/D in the United States.

The first problem with Calais was figuring out which field was in use. It is a field with lots of parachute activity, so flying overhead to find out is unsafe. I asked in French about the frequency and got no reply. Since I had been facing a northeast headwind all day, I decided to land to the east and announced as such in what was ultimately poor French. The result was a quartering tailwind landing, but so be it. There was plenty of room. After taxiing off the runway, I saw three airplanes lined up to take off to the west, whose pilots all opted not to speak at all (not even in French). I later snarled to a French pilot about French rudeness, and he pointed out: „They were being quite considerate in French terms by waiting for you. Normally they would have just taken off anyway.“

The day’s last flight was along the French, Belgian, and Dutch coasts to Texel, Netherlands. I had been invited by a fellow Super Cub pilot, who is also an aerial photographer. He kindly offered lodging and to hangar the airplane for the night. It was an open question if I could make it before closing, though I was able to with an extension from the information service folks, who stayed a bit later than normal. The flight was pretty along the coasts, and exceptionally so once I got to the Dutch islands northeast of Amsterdam, which reminded me of the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Dinner with the Dutch pilot was illuminating. He told me a story about photographing as a passenger in a Cessna when they were impacted into the North Sea in the fog, in controlled flight but unable to discern the water visibly. The story reads as though out of a movie: gaining consciousness seconds before submerging underwater, the seat belt not wanting to release, his life jacket getting stuck to the sinking airplane, and finally getting free. He is only alive because he was wearing the life jacket, and he had a 406-Mhz personal locator beacon around his neck before the crash. I purchased both after talking to him and began wearing them if I went anywhere near the water.

The next day was an air-to-air photography session with our respective Super Cubs, lunch after landing on the island of Ameland, Netherlands, and a leg from Ameland to Lolland-Falster, Denmark. I cruised at 2,000 feet over the German barrier islands owing to a protected area. However, I overflew what seemed like an airport on each island (where being below 2,000 feet is acceptable for takeoff and landing). That beckons a return someday to land at each one.

I crossed the top of Germany in Schleswig-Holstein, where approaching the Baltic Sea coast, I was greeted with a sea of yellow canola flowers. It was a 12-mile crossing over water, thinking about the life jacket I was not yet wearing, and then fuel at Lolland-Falster. At this point, I was tracing, in the other direction, the path I had taken out of Norway the prior autumn. There was one last two-hour leg west of Copenhagen, over the Øresund Strait, into Sweden, and along the coast, before landing at the odd closing time of 7:35 p.m.

I booked a hotel for two nights in Halmstad. By midday the next day, the fact that the mechanic was 600 miles to the north left me pondering the philosophical question of what I was doing there. He was not reliable. The weather was perfect, daylight hours long, and it was only 1 p.m. I checked out of the hotel, filed a flight plan (with waypoints every 30 minutes and more than one hour before, a lesson I learned on a previous trip, and took off for Norway).

While it was less than three hours and featured sun instead of half of it being VFR on top like last time, I found myself rather tired. It was the last three hours of a 24.4-hour adventure from the bottom of Europe to Scandinavia. I could enjoy the coast with less fear of death than when I was going the other way. This time, I understood the airplane better and had fantastic weather with beautiful scenery.

I crossed into Norway, then over the Oslofjord, which I could see this time. Last time, it was nothing but solid overcast below. Before landing at TORP Sandefjord Airport for customs, I had to hold over the stunningly beautiful coastline. That featured some waiting and then a phone call to the customs office, who said I could be on my way. I find it ironic as I was examined thoroughly on the outbound leg, where I confessed to buying the airplane and exporting cheese.

The hop to Skien was only 20 minutes. I tucked the airplane into the exact spot where I had bought it six and a half months ago. It would sit for 45 days before I would return to Norway to begin the glacier attack. While I had a sense of accomplishment due to the length of the flight, I also knew that more intense flying lay ahead than behind.

The flight covered eight countries and went from 36 to 59 degrees north latitude, the same as going from Monterey, California, to Skagway, Alaska.

Propellers are making a comeback in the pursuit of greener air travel

The propeller — a relic from the dawn of powered flight more than a century ago — is making a comeback as an emblem of aviation’s greener future. Rotors are proliferating on futuristic air taxis and plane prototypes powered by hydrogen and electricity. The old-school feature is also central to a radical new engine that could one day replace the turbofans on today’s jetliners as climate change pushes the industry to innovate its way out of fossil-fuel dependence. That design, developed by General Electric Co. and France’s Safran SA, could burn 20% to 30% less fuel with similar or less noise than their latest offering for single-aisle jets, executives say. They’re angling to put the engine, with its giant whirling propellers, on workhorse planes by the mid-2030s.

The invention push makes for some dizzyingly expensive and consequential wagers for some of the sector’s most prominent companies. Boeing Co., Airbus SE and engine makers such as Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc need to plough billions of dollars into producing more environmentally friendly planes that will fly well past the 2040s. But it’s not clear yet which technologies will provide the best path forward, or when airlines will be ready to embrace them. The financial toll of a misstep could linger for decades — or even wipe out a company — while engineering hurdles and regulatory scrutiny loom as potential roadblocks. “I wouldn’t want to be a president of Boeing or Airbus,” said Steve Udvar-Hazy, the pioneer of aircraft leasing who’s been one of both companies’ biggest buyers for decades. The challenges they face in trying to make the right call about what will replace today’s technology “are probably the most difficult they’ve faced in my career,” he told a conference on Sept. 7.

Futuristic Concept
The futuristic concept from GE and Safran’s partnership, CFM International, features scimitar-like blades that spin exposed outside the turbine. It eliminates the casing that is seen on turbofan engines that currently power most commercial aircraft. That so-called open-fan design means engineers can install much bigger blades, which improves fuel efficiency by accelerating more air through the fan section for thrust instead of through the fuel-burning centre. And unlike piston-driven propeller planes of yore, those huge blades are driven by a high-tech turbine made with advanced materials that CFM says can run on biofuels or hydrogen. While they unveiled the concept last year, executives of the partnership offered new details in interviews about how they’ve worked to overcome key technical hurdles that bedevilled earlier open-fan designs.

Using supercomputers housed in research labs at the US Department of Energy, GE Aerospace’s Vice President of Engineering Mohamed Ali says company engineers have unlocked how to resolve trade-offs between cruise speed, fuel efficiency and noise. The government machines allowed GE to model turbulence and airflow around the engine on an almost molecular level, revealing how to precisely sculpt blades to make them quieter, he said. Initial flight tests are planned for mid-decade before CFM and Airbus rig the engine to an A380 superjumbo jet for additional demonstration flights prior to 2030. If those trials are successful, analysts say CFM’s open-fan design will be a serious contender to power the aircraft that will eventually replace Boeing’s 737 Max and Airbus A320neo jetliners — the duopoly’s most important cash cows. “Up until now, each new engine family has been evolutionary,” said analyst Robert Spingarn of Melius Research. “These are revolutionary.” As Ali sees it, climate change leaves little choice but to pursue such dramatic reinvention. “Can we really afford to leave that fuel-burn advantage on the table?” he said.

Engineering Advances
Of course, propeller planes have never completely vanished from the market, even after the modern jet ushered in faster travel decades ago. Such aircraft have been a mainstay of short, regional hops, though never coming close to matching the sales and speed of the turbofan-powered jets that routinely fly hundreds of people across continents and oceans. But the massive, exposed propellers like those in CFM’s open-fan concept would be something of a different species — a throwback, in some ways, to the 1980s. Back then, GE and rival engine maker Pratt & Whitney each developed and flight-tested similar engines as a solution for airlines looking to blunt sky-high fuel costs with a jump in efficiency. Boeing even marketed a plane powered by twin open-fan engines. But the concepts never made it to production, as technical challenges abounded and oil prices plunged.

Now, though, the harsh reality of climate change is likely to make for a more enduring impetus for invention than fickle energy prices did last century. Engineering barriers, too, are falling. GE’s 1980s model had two sets of exposed blades that spun in opposite directions, making it heavy, and complex and raising reliability concerns. That is one of the problems GE’s Ali says has now been solved. The second set of blades was needed to reach the necessary cruise speed for commercial airliners. But using supercomputers and wind-tunnel tests, Ali says GE discovered that a single set of blades with stationary vanes behind them can yield the same result. Meanwhile, propellers figure prominently in other efforts to make air transport greener. Pratt & Whitney and Collins Aerospace plan to flight-test 2024 a hybrid-electric propulsion system on a regional, propeller-driven aircraft. Funding is also gushing into startups developing new propulsion systems. Sustainable aviation garnered 23% of the $2.2 billion invested in futuristic air technologies during the first half of 2022, up from just 2% of funding a year earlier, according to McKinsey data. Battery-powered eVTOLs, which aim to whisk travellers over traffic-clogged streets, raked in the most funding.

Challenges to Adoption
While the auto industry decisively pivots to electric vehicles, Boeing and Airbus are taking more cautious steps to decarbonize, like replacing petroleum-derived kerosene with biofuels that can be burned by today’s jet engines. Hydrogen-powered airliners likely won’t be ready for decades, and in the meantime, going all-in on designs that rely on open-fan engines is risky — not least because conventional turbofans also have room for powerful improvements. “The modern turbofan is one of the most efficient power generators that people have ever created,” said Brian Yutko, vice president and chief engineer for sustainability and future mobility at Boeing. “If you take the duct away,” he said, referring to a jet engine’s protective covering, “you don’t absolve yourselves of integration challenges — you have different ones.”

That helps explain why Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney are sticking to a more conventional engine approach. Rolls-Royce, after assessing and ground-testing open-fan technology, is moving ahead with what’s known as a geared turbofan with a model called Ultrafan that targets burning 25% less fuel. Pratt spent $10 billion to develop a geared turbofan that entered service in 2015 and offers a 15% improvement in efficiency versus its predecessors. Geoff Hunt, Pratt’s senior vice president for engineering, said the engine could boost fuel efficiency by another 20% via technology upgrades over time — a similar gain to what CFM expects its propeller design could offer.

Such advances in turbofans could present a serious challenge to the widespread adoption of open-fan formats. Airlines might be loath to switch to an unproven new engine when a familiar option — one that fits neatly into the established design of existing planes – is offering comparable improvement. There are other obstacles, too, such as the likelihood that regulators would pay new aircraft special attention. The GE and Pratt concepts of the 1980s bellowed so loudly, they raised doubts they could comply with noise limits. Safety issues, namely how to prevent a blade failure from sending debris slicing through a plane’s frame, would also be scrutinized by authorities — and customers, too. Airbus, for example, was sceptical of open-fan designs pitched by CFM about 15 years ago as it considered engines for what became the A320neo, people familiar with the matter said. The planemaker would’ve needed to completely rework the A320 to make the engine fit, one of the people said, and the blades would’ve been positioned high and on the rear of the aircraft, presenting challenges to winning regulatory certification due to the risk of a blade breaking off or a tail scrape. And that’s all before considering how passengers might react. “Looking out and seeing Cuisinart blades under the wing with double rows, dozens of blades — yeah, that’s disconcerting,” said aviation consultant Richard Aboulafia.

New Jets
Developing a new airplane can cost $15 billion — or far more if a groundbreaking technology goes awry. The potential of the CFM open-fan engine is likely to factor into planemakers’ high-stakes plans. Boeing and Airbus are already plotting their strategies for the next decade when they’ll need to replace their most profitable jets, which have designs that date to the 1960s and 1980s. The US manufacturer is expected to make the first move. Badly lagging Airbus in the crucial narrowbody market, Boeing is likely working on an all-new jet to counter its rival’s A321neo, and Spingarn of Melius Research expects it to also unveil a 737 Max replacement by the late decade. Airbus’s dominance, meanwhile, gives it more breathing room to devise upgrades to its A220 and A320 families of aircraft. Still, as the company girds for the future, it’s making big bets on unproven technology, such as pledging to bring a hydrogen plane into service by 2035. Many in the industry are sceptical that it can meet that timeline. The open-fan engine should be in the running for both Boeing and Airbus — provided CFM can deliver its engine by 2035, and resolve the issues that caused the planemakers to reject propellers in the past. The conventional jet engine has “gone as far as it can be given the level of challenge that our industry has taken on,” said Francois Bastin, Safran’s vice president of commercial engines. “Now there is something bigger than all of us, which is the environmental challenge.” Source: ‚American Journal of Transportation‘. Images: ‚MT-Propeller‚.

Van’s Unveils RV-15 High-Wing Prototype

The cat’s out of the bag — and here’s what our team has been working on lately. Introducing the RV-15 Engineering Test Prototype aircraft. This airplane was built to evaluate and test the design, and what we’ve been learning from this engineering „tool“ test airplane will result in refinements and changes that will appear in the final „kit“ aircraft design. You’ll have a chance to learn more about the prototype airplane during our forums on Tuesday morning at AirVenture in Oshkosh, coming up in just a couple of weeks! Source: ‚Van’s on ‚Youtube‚.

Crossing the country solo, but not alone

“I need someone to fly my Super Cub from Frederick to Bozeman. Will you do it?” AOPA Air Safety Institute Senior Vice President Richard McSpadden’s question seemed too good to be true. You’re asking me to fly your pristine and beautiful airplane almost all the way across the country? Sign me up. On a calm June morning a few months later, McSpadden handed me the keys to N517WC and a tote of snacks his wife, Judy, had thoughtfully packed, wished me well, and I departed Frederick to the west. My plan was to fly to Wisconsin on day one if the weather cooperated and say hello to some of my favourite aviators at Middleton Municipal Airport (C29), then fly on to Mitchell, South Dakota, to join the annual Ladies Love Taildraggers fly-out. From there I’d fly to Rapid City, South Dakota, with the group, then alone to Bozeman, Montana. The more than 1,500-nautical-mile trip would take 20-plus hours at an ambitiously planned 100 mph.

On my way
The air was smooth and cool over the bemisted Blue Ridge Mountains, and I watched morning fog laze through the valleys and burn off as I approached the rolling hills of eastern Ohio. I crossed tortilla-flat farmland into Indiana and made my first fuel stop. I’d expected headwinds but was gifted a tailwind. Jeff Russell, genuine Piper Super Cub pilot extraordinaire and one of the kindest people I’ve ever met, had offered to let me keep 7WC in his hangar at Middleton. I let him know I’d be earlier than expected, and he texted me his hangar number and told me I was welcome to anything in his fridge.

After fuel stop number two, I modified my route to fly east of Chicago instead of skirting the Class Bravo to the west as planned. I’d always wanted to do the skyline flight, and with the help of that tailwind, I had daylight to burn. A CFI friend in Chicago gave me the lowdown on altitudes, and I reviewed Editor Kollin Stagnito’s account of flying the Chicago skyline (“City with a View,” March 2021 AOPA Pilot) and set off.

Folks typically fly the route from north to south. You can do it without talking to anyone, but since it was new to me and against the known flow of traffic (and a good idea), I opted to call up Chicago for flight following. I’d fly a little higher than the southbound traffic, and farther offshore. It was just gorgeous. The visibility, which had been hazy over most of Indiana, cleared up. Lake Michigan turned Caribbean-colored blues, and the skyscrapers bloomed out from the parkland greens along the lakeshore.

Once north of the city, I turned direct to Middleton. After a long day on an unfamiliar route, with only new airports and unfamiliar faces, I had a feeling of coming home once I had Morey Field insight. I’d visited in summer 2019 before heading up to OSH, missed out on summer 2020 after the cancellation of AirVenture, and was thrilled to be back at C29. I landed in the grass (as a Super Cub should), taxied in, and turned the corner to Russell’s row, only to find the door already open and Russell waiting for me. Russell and another C29 local, Gary, helped me push the airplane in. Turns out he’d been tracking my N number and knew right when I’d arrive. While washing off a day of bugs, I told Russell about my planned route, and he gave me words of flying wisdom. “You can’t fly direct in a Super Cub,” Russell told me. “That’s not what they’re made for. Fly high enough to be respectful and safe, but low enough to see the folks waving up at you. And have fun!”

Flight of six
Since I’d made such a good time on day one, I was able to stay in Middleton for a few extra nights before I needed to be in Mitchell for the fly-out. On one evening, the weather was far too perfect to stay earthbound. With a few texts, we assembled a small fleet—Jim Stevenson and his Cessna 170B, Ross Wilke and his Husky A1–B, Joe McDonough with his Mackey Backcountry Super Cub Rev 3, Joel Wyttenbach and his Cessna 172, and Russell and his Super Cub. We visited a few beginner side-country strips—two charted and one that was not. The charted strips weren’t particularly challenging, but it was all new to me, and I was grateful for the careful coaching from the group. The uncharted strip was Mike Kindschi’s, and that landing was a real full-circle moment; it’s where my love for the area started back when the Air Safety Institute’s Kurt Sensenbrenner and I visited Wisconsin in July 2019 to film Beyond Proficient: STOL Goal. Running out of daylight, we departed Kindschi’s strip as the sun set, the nearby Wisconsin River a glassy mirror of the flame-bright sky. So this, I thought, is what it feels like to own an airplane.

Into the West
The morning I intended to depart, I woke to unforecast rain. Headwinds of more than 35 knots, wind shear, and haze are not ideal conditions. There would be no flying that day. One sunrise later was a marginal, yet good enough, improvement in the weather, and a significant improvement in the company. With a new departure day on Saturday, Wilke had offered to escort me to my fuel stop, Blue Earth Municipal Airport (SBU). With a long day ahead and thankful for summer light, we were wheels up by 6 a.m. We let the river guide us to the mighty Mississippi River and passed over the farm fields of Iowa. Near Waukon, Iowa, Wilke said, “Oh hey I’ve actually been here.” I looked down to see a figure in a bright red shirt in a lush garden waving emphatically up at us. I waved my wings and couldn’t stop smiling—I had wondered if I’d actually see anyone waving at me, but Russell was right.

Ladies Love Taildraggers
I crossed into the South Dakota plains alone. The wind wasn’t finished with me yet, battled headwinds and midday turbulence to the fly-in at Mitchell. I taxied to Wright Brothers Aviation where an impressive array of taildraggers was already on the line—a Cessna 170, a Cessna 195, and a Decathlon to name a few—all securely tied down to contend with the South Dakota wind. All the airplanes were worth drooling over and most had a pair of stilettos in front of them, the Ladies Love Taildraggers (LLT) calling card. The folks at the FBO whisked 7WC away and I had just a few minutes inside to make introductions and proudly confirm that yes, I had flown that beautiful Super Cub in before we loaded up into two vans on our way to explore Mitchell. It had already been a long day of six-plus hours of bumpy, hot, gusty flying and I felt a little behind the curve while I lined up for a van. It seemed I was the only one who had come solo. I eyed the groups of old friends choosing seats together and was grateful when a pilot about my age came up and introduced herself. Laura Doornbos of Bloomington, Illinois, had flown in with her father, Keith, in the gorgeous 170 I’d admired earlier. She made sure I had a seat in the van with her and her dad, and we set off, chatting about our journeys so far.

We were taken to an archaeological site, and then to the one-of-a-kind icon of South Dakota—the World’s Only Corn Palace. That evening over dinner, and in between getting-to-know-you conversations and hangar flying stories, we discussed tomorrow’s forecast—winds gusting well into the forties almost all day. Even if you’ve never flown a taildragger before, you probably know that the wind is typically a greater factor in a go/no-go decision than with nosewheels. Judy Birchler, the organizer of the event and founder of LLT, stressed that there was no pressure to push our limits and reminded us that we were each our own pilot in command. When the sun rose, the wind was already howling. We shuttled over to the airport and began the long, somewhat frustrating process of waiting out the weather. Not only was the wind hellacious at Mitchell, it was also severe at our destination, Rapid City. I was unwilling to launch until the wind was better in both spots. As the day progressed and the winds lessened slightly, some felt comfortable to depart. But Keith made a good point: “It isn’t an emergency, is it? I’m perfectly happy to stay in Mitchell another night if we have to.” There was no need to push it. At long last, the weather improved, and we finally launched to the west. The three-hour leg felt easy compared to other days, and I made it to Rapid City as the last rays of light slipped behind the Black Hills.

Exploring
The Ladies Love Taildraggers squad spent the following morning driving the winding roads of Badlands National Park. Lunch was a feast of fry bread and ended with souvenir shopping before a stop at Wall Drug on our way back to Rapid City. Wall Drug—which I had somehow managed to live my whole life without hearing about—is a historic wonderland of kitsch, much more than just a roadside drug store (though it does still have a small pharmacy). That night in town, a group of us went to the old fire station for dinner. The others planned for the next day’s trip to Spearfish, and I said my goodbyes—tomorrow, I’d fly on to Bozeman solo, or as far as I could make it. Keith and Laura offered to help push the airplane out of its sloped, grassy parking spot. They made my morning a whole lot easier. Since I’d miss out on the drive the ladies would take the following day to Mount Rushmore, I decided to fly by on my way to my fuel stop, Sheridan, Wyoming. Helicopter pilots chattered to each other on the charted frequency. I could tell by their quick back and forth that they did this all day every day. I gave a basic position report, adding that if my altitude interfered with tours to let me know. One of the tour pilots let me know my altitude was just fine and thanked me for calling—most transient traffic, he said, didn’t call. As I departed toward Spearfish and Sturgis, waypoints on my way around the Black Hills, I marvelled at the terrain. These western hills would’ve been eastern mountains. Spearfish looked like an aviator’s haven, with multiple grass runways tucked away in the hills. Sturgis was surprisingly tiny and I wondered where all those motorcycles park every summer.

Last legs
On my way to Sheridan, the true Rocky West began. From miles out, I could see the towering, snowcapped Bighorn Mountains. I landed and checked the weather. The forecast had changed, and the radar now showed a thin but growing line of convection directly between me and Bozeman. I was only two hours away from my destination, but the risk wasn’t worth it. Thankfully, the weather the following morning was just as perfect as forecast. The familiarity of the route, plus the comfort and affection I’d grown for the airplane over the many hours of our trip, made that final leg even sweeter. These were my old stomping grounds, and where I’d earned my instrument, commercial, multi, and CFI certificates. I said hello to my old friend the Bighorn Canyon and climbed abeam the deep green Pryor Mountains. I kept climbing to give myself some more security near the mountains and headed directly toward Livingston and the Bozeman Pass. Mountain passes can present a bit of an X factor. On a calm day similar to this one during training, my instructor and I had approached the pass only to be met with a textbook downdraft. With full power at VY and still descending, we turned around and headed back toward Billings. Remembering that, I approached the pass, hypervigilant of any changes in the wind and ready to turn around if needed. Before I knew it, Bozeman tower cleared me to land, I touched down in the grass and taxied in for a post-trip oil change. Minutes after shutdown, I handed the keys over to McSpadden, and my little companion was whisked away into the hangar at its new summer home. My job was done.

Time to spare
The next day, feeling grateful after 24.7 hours and a couple of thousand photos, I flew home to Los Angeles via the airlines. I learned so much from this trip. I do, I confirmed, want to own my own airplane one day. I want adventures like this to be part of my normal life. I learned for myself something I’d already suspected and been told—flying with friends is better than flying alone. Last, I was reminded on every leg just how fortunate we are to live in a place where a trip like this is possible. From one coast through the heartland, across the Mississippi, to the mountains, this country is extraordinarily diverse. So, what are you waiting for? Take the long and winding road. Go fly. Source: ‚Alicia Herron on the AOPA website‚.

Passenger with ‘no idea how to fly’ lands plane

A passenger with no flying experience radioed an urgent plea for help when the pilot of a small plane suddenly fell ill off Florida’s Atlantic coast and was able to land the plane safely with the help of air traffic controllers. “I’ve got a serious situation here,” the man said on Tuesday afternoon, Florida-time, according to audio on LiveATC.net, a website that broadcasts and archives air traffic controller communications. “My pilot has gone incoherent. I have no idea how to fly the airplane.”

An air traffic controller in Fort Pierce responded, asking if he knew the position of the single-engine Cessna 280. “I have no idea. I can see the coast of Florida in front of me and I have no idea,” the passenger said. According to Flight Aware, the plane had taken off earlier on Tuesday from Marsh Harbour International Airport in the Bahamas. As the plane flew over Florida, the controller, speaking very calmly, told the passenger to “maintain wings level and try to follow the coast, either north or southbound”. Twin controls enable a Cessna 280 to be steered from the passenger seat. Minutes passed before controllers were able to locate the plane, which by then was heading north over Boca Raton. Then the man’s voice seemed to fade, so the controller in Fort Pierce asked for the passenger’s phone number to enable controllers at Palm Beach International Airport to communicate with him more clearly. Air traffic controller Robert Morgan, a 20-year veteran, took over at that point, talking the passenger down to a safe landing. “Kudos to the new pilot,” one controller told him after the plane smoothly wheeled down the tarmac. Morgan told television station WPBF that he felt like he was in the right place at the right time. “I knew the plane was flying like any other plane. I just had to keep him calm, point him to the runway and just tell him how to reduce the power so he could descend to land. It felt really good to help someone,” Morgan said. Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Rick Breitenfeldt confirmed that the pilot and passenger were the only two people aboard. The agency is investigating, he said in an email. Source: ‚Sidney Morning Herald‚. Picture: ‚Palm Beach Airport‚.

Flight Shame in Great Barrington

Thirty years ago I was living on the Red Sea coast on the Egypt-Sudan border in an area where there were no roads. Nomadic tribesmen went down to the sea to fish and sometimes found the shore covered with plastic that drifted in on the waves. Plastic bags filled with air and skittered away over the landscape making circles in the desert wind. I think of those plastic bags when I see the small planes coming over the wooded ridges around the old farmhouse where I live in rural New York state. Since the pandemic began, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of people going up in small planes. These are coming from an airfield in Great Barrington, Mass., where the newspapers reports town hall meetings packed with local residents shouting at the owners of the Barrington airfield about the squalid atmosphere of noise pollution and intrusion — the general degradation of conditions of life they impose on the people below.

Small planes fly low above the ground. They are the only vehicles in the United States that still use leaded gasoline. Studies from the Harvard Medical School and elsewhere link air traffic noise to the onset of heart disease and stroke. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the airfield has come up with a noise mitigation strategy: Tell the pilots to fly across the border into New York state. The damage done to daily life by an airfield of this kind stands in sharp contrast to the trivial nature of who the pilots are and what they are doing. A glance at FlightAware shows that in Barrington these people, who teach or have taken up aviation as a hobby, fly around in circles pouring noise and toxic emissions on the landscape and the people who live there. The Massachusetts pilots use local New York state farms for practice, circling the fields with the farmhouse as the target in the middle. The supervisor of the Town of Austerlitz sums up the situation: “This is obviously deliberate harassment, but the pilots tell me they can do whatever they want.”

Small planes are unmonitored. They do not need to use tracking devices. They can “request invisibility.” The pilots of small planes are not supposed to fly below 500 feet, but as their transponders are easily turned off, the FAA cannot track their altitude. If an amateur pilot plays at flying “below the radar” low above the ground, who can stop them? At least Jetskis are confined to shorelines and motorcycles by roadways. They cannot circle houses revving their engines. But small planes buzz houses for fun. Last summer careening small planes killed a woman on a riding mower and hit a woman in a kayak. In recent years an 87-year-old man crashed not far from here in Ghent, a 17-year-old girl crashed in Millbrook, and an amateur pilot flew into a house in Lagrangeville, setting it on fire and killing the residents inside.

It is time for the FAA to draft new regulations that prioritize the health and safety of people on the ground. The FAA needs to insist that recreational planes fly at an altitude high enough to muffle the engine noise, that they are tracked and monitored, and that they are not used in a manner that endangers public welfare, whether by dangerous proximity to people and houses, or noise pollution that poses a threat to health and well-being. Currently, the FAA seems to restrict its focus solely to the pilots and their machines. There needs to be broader attention paid to the effect that small planes have on the environment, and on the people who live in it. Small planes are not harmless. And experience has taught those who live near private airfields that we cannot rely on the manners, skill, or sense of responsibility of the pilots. Scaling back commercial aviation has long been a primary topic in the discussion of mitigating climate change. The Flight Shame movement already considers flights under 200 miles unnecessary and environmentally indefensible. Last year, France moved to ban short-haul domestic flights.

Small planes need to be part of this discussion. They have a particularly disproportionate effect as polluters of the environment, and while they are an amusement and convenience to pilots passing through—or over—that comes the expense of people who have given their lives to the place they live in. The romance of Lindbergh’s solo flight gave way in a mere few decades to Lindbergh’s recognition that aviation would become a blight on the world. Though other aspects of his career remain problematic, he spent the last years of his life fighting for conservation. The answer to climate change does not lie in pursuing escapist fantasies in the air, but in taking responsibility for where you are, for the ground under your feet. Source: ‚Susan Brind Morrow in The Nation‚.

After crash-landing arrested in Morocco

A Spanish citizen was arrested by the Moroccan Royal Gendarmerie on Tuesday, November 30th. The man was arrested on the outskirts of Tangier after trying to land his plane in an emergency and crashing. Not only did the man manage to crash his plane into a lorry during the emergency landing, but it was also full of drugs.

Judicial sources confirmed to Efe, that the crash-landing took place in the village of El Aouama, around 30 kilometres southeast of Tangier. The man had attempted to perform an emergency landing on a road but crashed into a lorry. At the moment there are no details regarding whether the pilot or the lorry driver were injured.

Official sources have not said what type of drugs were aboard the drug-laden plane. There have been previous incidents of light aircraft carrying drugs crashing in northern Morocco. The aircrafts had been loaded with hashish. Light aircraft or even microlights are often used to transport drugs from Europe. The Moroccan government have repeatedly criticised illegal entries into Moroccan airspace. Source: ‚EuroWeeklyNews.com‚ and ‚fr.le360.ma‚.

Tecnam P2010 Tdi Achieves FAA Certification

Tecnam announced that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has awarded a full Type Certificate to the P2010 TDI with the number A00066CE for Part 23 of the FAA Regulations. The P2010 airframe, with its wide, composite, fuselage design and the all-metal wing and stabilator, has proven to be the perfect platform to match the Diesel engine performance and capabilities. The consolidated comfort, 3rd door back seat accessibility, safety and reliability of the “P Twenty-Ten” are now accompanied by the added efficiency granted by the use of Diesel/JetA1 fuel. This proven power plant technology attributes to the extremely low operating costs provided by the dual FADEC-controlled Continental engine.

The Continental Diesel 170 hp Turbocharged Engine joins the P2010 power plant options of the 180 hp Avgas/Mogas and 215 hp Avgas engine. This latest engine pairing brings the aviation market unbeatable fuel efficiency and performance: the Turbo Diesel/JetA1 power plant offers an outstanding cruise-fuel burn that ranges from 4.5 USG/hr (17 litres/hr) at 55% power, to 7 USG/hr (27 litres/hr) at 75% power. This provides consistent performance up to 8,000ft and allows operations up to 18,000ft, allowing the P2010 to “soar higher” (for which an optional oxygen system is available). The standard P2010 fuel tanks ensure an unrivalled range in excess of 1,000 NM and endurance of up to 12 hours, all monitored through the state-of-the-art standard Garmin G1000Nxi avionics package. TECNAM and Continental are working on the latest improvement of Sustainable Aviation Fuel, for a real commitment for a greener future with SAF.

“The addition of the Continental Diesel Engine is more proof that Tecnam is dedicated to the General Aviation Marketplace by providing safe, efficient, innovative aircraft for today’s pilots,” says Tecnam’s Director of Sales, David Copeland. The TECNAM Engineering Team paid particular attention to maintaining the P2010 series design characteristics that provide: cabin comfort, low noise and minimal vibration. The GFC-700 autopilot with ESP Electronic Stability and Protection, which ensures smooth and precise autopilot operations in now included in the Standard Package, while some of the many options available include Premium Italian Leather interiors with electric seat and additional safety that can be provided by the Garmin GTS-800 TAS system.

The P2010 TDI is a culmination of all the very latest technologies, where Tecnam’s ability to manage both metal and composite components has shaped a unique solution in terms of efficiency, load-carrying structure and unique Italian style. The fuselage and vertical fin, entirely made of pre-peg carbon fibres, provide the best use of space, while wings, horizontal tail and rudder, as well as all the load-carrying structures, are built with 70 plus years of experience of light alloy structures.

Flight safety is self-evident in the latest certification requirements, followed by the electrically operated, adjustable-height seats with 26G-capable crashworthiness. The flying experience is the ultimate with the Garmin® G1000® NXi glass cockpit and GFCTM 700 autopilot, entirely integrated and tuned around the Continental® CD-170 engine. Continental’s JetA1/Diesel-powered 170 HP engine offers ease of flying with its single-lever control, full FADEC, electronic engine monitoring and redundant safety features. The CD-170 is the newest design and also the highest-horsepower engine in the CD-100 series, well-proven with more than 7,500 engines delivered and over 8.5 million service flight hours. Tecnam’s Managing Director, Giovanni Pascale says: “The FAA certification of the P2010 Tdi marks a significant milestone for the Tecnam US Market, the availability of Jet A1 in every airport makes our four-seater the ideal machine for cross-country mission and efficient flight training.”

Hybrid-Electric Pipistrel Panthera starts Test Campaign

In mid-October 2021 the “MAHEPA Panthera”, integrated with the novel, SAF-capable, hybrid-electric powertrain developed during the project, took off from Cerklje airport, in Slovenia, successfully demonstrating the possibility of local zero-emission flights by performing all-electric take-offs. Expectations set by prior ground tests were only confirmed by the powerful, yet quiet performance of the MAHEPA Panthera, which has all the characteristics to become a flying test-bed for future developments in hybrid aviation. With the achievement of this essential milestone, the MAHEPA project is, with its numerous novel technologies developments and exemplary results, again contributing to a cleaner, quieter and more sustainable aviation, making the Europe Green Deal’s goals one step closer to reality. MAHEPA consortium, composed of Pipistrel Vertical Solutions, Compact Dynamics, DLR, H2Fly, Politecnico di Milano, TU Delft, University of Maribor and the University of Ulm is a pioneer project in the development of hybrid-electric technologies which will serve the next generation of greener aircraft. Source: ‚Pipistrel‚.

Aus Cessna (Denali) wird Beechcraft

Cessna wollte mit der neuen Turboprop Denali eigentlich durchstarten. Dann verzögerte sich die Entwicklung und die Zulassung rückte in weite Ferne. Nun bekommt die Einmotorige einen anderen Hersteller. Konkurrenz belebt das Geschäft. Das dachten sich wohl die Verantwortlichen beim amerikanischen Flugzeugbauer Cessna, als sie auf den Siegeszug der schweizerischen Turboprop Pilatus PC-12 aufmerksam wurden. Die Eidgenossen verkauften von der Maschine bis heute mehr als 1800 Exemplare. Dieser Erfolg weckt deshalb wohl auch jenseits des Atlantiks Begehrlichkeiten. Das Rezept der Eidgenossen: Platz entweder für bis zu zehn Passagiere, Fracht oder eine Kombination aus beidem, eine Druckkabine sowie günstige Betriebskosten durch lediglich eine Propellerturbine machen die PC-12 für viele Einsatzzwecke attraktiv. Dazu ihre Fähigkeit, neben Asphalt auch auf Gras-, Schotter- oder Sandpisten starten und landen zu können. Das ließ sie in der Klasse druckbelüfteter Turbinen-Singles bisher konkurrenzlos sein.

Vor vier Jahren schmiedeten die Chefs von Cessna daher ambitionierte Pläne. Eine neue einmotorige Turboprop mit Namen Denali sollte rasch neue Käuferschichten erschließen. Der 530 km/h schnelle Tiefdecker mit Druckkabine würde für unbefestigte Pisten und den Transport von maximal zehn Passagieren geeignet sein. Und rein zufällig sieht die Maschine nahezu identisch aus wie eine PC-12. Im Sommer 2021 ist nun aber Ernüchterung angesagt: Der Erstflug der Denali fand nach etlichen Verzögerungen immer noch nicht statt, eine Zulassung ist in weiter Ferne. Unterdessen verkauft sich das Schweizer Konkurrenzprodukt weiter wie geschnitten Brot.

Mitte Juli hat die Denali plötzlich und für viele überraschend nun sogar einen neuen Hersteller bekommen. Statt Cessna wird künftig Beechcraft als Erbauer der Maschine fungieren. Dieses Badge-Engineering genannte Verfahren, in der Autobranche lange gängige Praxis, ist in der Aviatik sonst unüblich. Zwar hat etwa Airbus aus der Bombardier CS-300 nach der Übernahme des kanadischen Unternehmens einen Airbus A220 gemacht oder Cessna aus der Columbia 400 nach dem Kauf des einstigen Rivalen eine Cessna Corvalis, aber es bleibt die Ausnahme.

Die Denali soll vom guten Ruf profitieren
Da Cessna und Beechcraft zwei Traditionsfirmen sind, zudem beide zum Textron-Konzern gehören, ist das Marketing-Manöver aber womöglich sinnvoll. Denn Cessna ist berühmt für seine Kolbenmotor-Klassiker der Typen 172 oder 182, zudem für seine zweistrahligen Businessjets der Citation-Reihe. Beechcraft hingegen gilt als „Mercedes“ unter den General-Aviation-Flugzeugen. Kolbenmotor-Klassiker des Herstellers wie die Bonanza werden bereits seit 1947 mehr als unglaubliche 73 Jahre ununterbrochen gebaut, ein Jahrhundertentwurf. Berühmt ist Beechcraft aber vor allem für seine Zweimotorigen mit Propellerturbine. Die Flugzeuge der King-Air-Familie sind legendär und werden ebenfalls schon seit 1963 ohne Pause durchgängig in Wichita im US-Bundesstaat Kansas produziert. Die Denali soll also künftig vom guten Ruf der zweimotorigen Turboprop-Flugzeuge von Beechcraft profitieren und dem potentiellen Käufer so womöglich auch ein höherwertiges Image suggerieren.

Wie aber kann sich der Herausforderer überhaupt mit der neuen Maschine profilieren? Zuerst Cessna und nun Beechcraft setzen ihre Hoffnungen auf eine nagelneue Propellerturbine vom Typ Catalyst des Herstellers General Electric. Sie soll weniger Kerosin schlucken als die Pratt-&-Whitney-PT-6-Turbine in der PC-12. Die ist allerdings ob ihrer Zuverlässigkeit berühmt. Konkurrent General Electric will mit seinem neuen 1200-PS-Triebwerk auch mit geringeren Wartungskosten gegenüber der Schweizer Maschine punkten.

Der Erstflug ist nach Verzögerungen für dieses Jahr geplant
Das klappte bislang allerdings gar nicht. Das neue Catalyst-Triebwerk bereitete Probleme und konnte nicht geliefert werden. Statt also wie geplant bis Jahresende 2018 zum Erstflug abzuheben, hoffen die Verantwortlichen bei Beechcraft nun, dass die Maschine noch dieses Jahr zum ersten Mal in die Luft geht. Frühestens 2023 wäre dann die Luftfahrtzulassung erst durch die amerikanische FAA und danach die europäische EASA zu erwarten. Dabei hatte Cessna eigentlich genügend Zeit, die Konkurrenz zu studieren. Denn bereits vor 30 Jahren hob erstmals eine PC-12 in der Schweiz ab.

Ob Beechcraft auch das revolutionäre Sicherheitssystem „Autoland“ in der Denali anbieten wird, ist noch unbekannt. Dieses optionale System landet das Flugzeug nach Knopfdruck etwa eines Mitfliegers mittels Hightech-Autopilot vollautomatisch auf dem nächsten geeigneten Flugplatz, falls beispielsweise der Pilot ausfällt. Damit hätte die Denali ein Alleinstellungsmerkmal gegenüber der Schweizer Konkurrentin. Auch die beiden deutlich kleineren Turboprops Piper M600 SLS und Daher TBM 940 haben dieses neueste Sicherheitsfeature seit Ende 2020 an Bord, ebenso der einstrahlige Businessjet Cirrus Vision. Autoland funktioniert allerdings nur bei Flugzeugen, die mit einer Cockpit-Avionik vom Typ Garmin 3000 ausgerüstet sind. Die Beechcraft Denali hat diese ebenfalls an Bord. Quelle: ‚Jürgen Schelling in der FAZ‚.

Significant progress in Miniliner designs

Pipistrel is proud to announce that conceptual design studies that had been conducted are indicating significant market potential on the premise of identified technological and infrastructural feasibility. Our Miniliner concept will deliver a leading solution for future small regional aircraft that will enable clean, fast, and cost-effective transportation. The Miniliner is a new kind of zero-emission airplane in the 20-seat size class, capable of operating quietly from runways shorter than 1 km, including grass airstrips at small aerodromes. These aeroplanes have therefore the potential to disrupt aerial mobility, connecting currently unserved populations at 200 to 1,000 km range, but also catering for microfeeder services from small airports to large hubs. Having started considering larger zero-emission aircraft already as a part of the MAHEPA project several years ago, Pipistrel is now actively performing conceptual design studies in-house, as well as partnering with universities under the also EU-funded UNIFIER19 project.

While several powertrain solutions are being evaluated, advanced hydrogen-based propulsion systems answer the non-negotiable requirements of zero-emission, quiet and safe operations. Current aircraft in this segment rely on 40-year-old designs, powered by fuel-burning, noisy and maintenance-intensive turboprop engines. Pipistrel’s Miniliners allow for a Direct Operating Cost (DOC) reduction of 30 to 40% on a per-seat metric relative to today’s solutions, even with the introduction of new zero-emission propulsion, real-time emissions monitoring and advanced flight control automation technologies. The latter will, at the same time, facilitate single-pilot operations.

Pipistrel aims for an EIS (Entry into Service) of 2028-2030, as the proposed concepts are geared towards not requiring large infrastructural investments. To overcome current challenges on the regulatory, operational, and technological domains, Pipistrel is engaging with Europe’s Clean Aviation, SESAR, and EASA, as well as setting up multiple industry partnering initiatives. We are excited to be surrounded by like-minded organisations which will achieve regulatory adaptations to next-generation single-pilot cockpits and commuter operations from unpaved runways. Microfeeder flights will leverage advanced air traffic control systems to safely integrate the miniliners into the busy airspaces around large airports. With airports becoming zero-emission multimodal nodes, as directed by EC Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy, hydrogen powered zero-emission miniliners are every day closer to reality and will Springboard the developments to bring Clean Aviation closer to communities. Quelle: ‚Pipistrel‚.

Mooney Aircraft am Ende – Entlassungen

Zwei Wochen vor Thanksgiving hat das in Kerrville, Texas, ansässige Unternehmen Mooney Aircraft Berichten zufolge seinen Betrieb eingestellt und sein gesamtes Personal entlassen, berichtet die Kerrville Daily Times. Das Voicemail-System von Mooney meldet: „Zu diesem Zeitpunkt wurden alle Mooney-Mitarbeiter entlassen und wir können deshalb Ihren Anruf nicht entgegennehmen.“ Wir konnten keinen der Mitarbeiter oder das Management von Mooney erreichen und wir verstehen. Für jene, welche die Verkaufszahlen von Mooney in der ersten Jahreshälfte dieses Jahres verfolgen, ist der Stillstand keine große Überraschung. Laut GAMA-Verkaufsprotokollen verkaufte Mooney in den ersten beiden Quartalen jeweils zwei Acclaim Ultras, nachdem sie 2018 14 Flugzeuge im Wert von 10,7 Millionen US-Dollar verkauft hatte. Verglichen damit verkaufte Cirrus in der ersten Jahreshälfte 2019 203 Flugzeuge, während Mooney’s Produktion hinter Extra, Pipistrel und Quest’s zurückblieb. Bei AirVenture 2018 sagte Mooney, dass es beabsichtigt, in diesem Jahr 20 Flugzeuge zu bauen, dass die Verkaufszahlen 2019 aber auf 40 ansteigen und ab 2020 50 Flugzeuge pro Jahr produziert würden. Die Arbeiter von Mooney wurden 2017 beurlaubt, vier Jahre, nachdem sie die Produktion unter dem neuen Besitzer Soaring America Aircraft wieder aufgenommen hatten. Mooney hatte zuvor fast fünf Jahre lang keine neuen Flugzeuge mehr produziert. Die letzten Acclaim Ultras, welche die Hallen in Kerrville verliessen, wurden mit jeweils fast 850.000 Dollar bewertet.