Monthly Archives: January 2019

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Flying’s 2019 Editors’ Choice Awards


In flying these four remarkable airplanes, we came away impressed by various attributes of each. They are unique; to say they serve vastly different audiences and markets is an understatement.

There is also an innovative avionics product that made the list, surprising perhaps only because avionics is the hottest area of the industry right now and so we might have expected more cockpit products to take home trophies. Alas, we cap our Editors’ Choice winners at five awards, and this year the airplanes ruled.

Each of these five winners now vie as nominees for our overall prize, the 2019 Flying Innovation Award, which we’ll crown at Oshkosh this summer.

Garmin’s TXi line of touchscreen flight displays brings flexibility to the cockpit by allowing aircraft owners to make upgrades, mixing and matching a variety of screen sizes that can transform older steam-gauge-equipped airplanes with panels that truly look as though they belong in this century.

We chose Garmin’s TXi 500 and TXi 600 systems for this year’s Editors’ Choice Award for several reasons. For starters, the touchscreen interface works great. These products also represent a leap forward from the G500 and G600 retrofit cockpits Garmin introduced a few years ago. The TXi touchscreens incorporate fast dual-core processors and provide extra features we like a lot, such as optional animated Nexrad weather graphics and integrated engine information.

The TXi line is offered with an exceptionally bright 10.6-inch touch display, a 7-inch portrait display or a 7-inch landscape display, or any combination of the three. For engine indication, an integrated EIS strip on a split screen can be integrated with the 10.6-inch PFD, or buyers can choose to add a dedicated 7-inch horizontal or vertical engine display.

The TXi 500 system is certified for Class 1 and 2 Part 23 airplanes weighing less than 6,000 pounds, while TXi 600 is for larger piston and turbine airplanes. Both are compatible with Garmin’s GTN navigators and retrofit autopilots, and offer an optional built-in backup battery, the ability to save pilot profiles, HSI map on the PFD, standard synthetic vision, VNAV with vertical profile guidance, and the ability to send your flight-plan data from an iPhone or iPad using Garmin Connext wireless gateway technology.

A business jet that incorporates a huge rear cargo door and is approved to land on dirt strips? It’s practically a shoe-in for an Editors’ Choice Award, but then they don’t call the Pilatus PC-24 the “Super Versatile Jet” for nothing. When Pilatus considered a successor to the highly successful PC-12 single-engine turboprop, a twin turboprop was briefly considered. Instead, the Swiss company settled on the idea of a twinjet, but one quite unlike anything the market had seen before. The PC-24 combines the operational flexibility of a turboprop with many of the performance attributes of a light jet in a cabin that belongs firmly in the midsize category.

With room for 10, plus plenty of gear in a 90-square-foot baggage compartment, this is a jet that was tailor-made for buyers moving up from the PC-12. Single-pilot capability means it will fast become a favorite of the owner-flown crowd where Pilatus has made its name, as well as with corporate flight departments and air-taxi operators. But to truly appreciate the PC-24, you have to fly it. Once you do, you’ll be hooked.

Gulfstream has long held a reputation as one of the world’s finest purveyors of business jets, and the G500 is certain to cement its spot at the top of that list for a long time to come.

This airplane, to put it plainly, is a technological and engineering marvel. The cockpit features cutting-edge fly-by-wire technology that commands the autopilot, autothrottle and auto-braking system for unprecedented levels of control. At the flight crew’s fingertips are 10 touchscreens arrayed throughout the flight deck. The space is a welcoming blend of fine leather and brushed nickel reminiscent of a luxury car.

The cabin is whisper-quiet, with the ability to hear conversations among any of the up to 19 passenger seats. Performance of the G500 is exceptional. It boasts a max cruise speed a few knots below the speed of sound, a max altitude of FL 510 and range of 5,200 nm.

Remarkably, cabin altitude at FL 510 is just 4,850 feet, making for a decidedly relaxing environment for passengers to work, play or rest. Summed up, the G500 is the ultimate private jet.

Vashon Aircraft surprised everybody last spring by introducing the Ranger R7 LSA as a fully type-approved model that was ready for handover to buyers. Just as startling was the company associated with the venture, avionics maker Dynon, which has made quite a name for itself in the Experimental market. With its tried-and-true Continental O-200 engine, beefy landing gear and base price of less than $100,000, the Ranger is an airplane that fulfills the promises made when the light-sport aircraft rules emerged well over a decade ago. Even the base model comes with a full Dynon panel (no surprise there), two-axis autopilot and full ADS-B rule compliance. It’s a perfect Cessna 150 replacement for a busy flight school, or a fun two-seater for a sport pilot to take on adventures of a lifetime.

Kitplane maker Lancair bills the Mako as a four-place alternative to the Cirrus SR22 that sells for a fraction of the price. When you dig down into the specs, it’s hard to quibble with that assertion. The Mako offers a BRS full-airframe parachute, icing protection, air conditioning and a Garmin cockpit with all the latest technology, such as synthetic vision, integrated three-axis autopilot, active traffic, ADS-B In and Out and FlightStream wireless flight-plan transfer technology, all for about half the price of a new Cirrus. The Mako is a kit, so you have to build it or pay Lancair to help you do that job. Even with most of the cost of building the kit included, the turbo Mako has a base price of $385,000. That’s a deal for an airplane that can cruise at 225 knots, fly 1,100 nm and take off from 2,000-foot runways. For buyers who can get past the fact that it’s a kit, the Mako is an airplane that delivers a lot for the money (including its automatically retracted nosewheel), which is why we picked it as an Editor’s Choice Award winner.

Source: Flying

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Industry Leaders Promote Alternative Jet Fuels


Presentations, workshops and demonstration flights bring light to the benefits of green fuels.

As southern California was getting pummeled by heavy winter rains last week, leaders of business aviation alphabet groups, including GAMA, NBAA, NATA and IBAC, gathered at the Van Nuys Airport to promote the adoption of sustainable alternative jet fuels (SAJF). Presentations, workshops and demonstration flights during the Business Jets Fuel Green: A Step Toward Sustainability event brought a deeper understanding of the benefits of these fuels.

“This first-ever event focused on business aviation use of SAJF demonstrates the industry’s strong interest in reducing its environmental impacts, particularly its carbon emissions,” said Kurt Edwards, director general of International Business Aviation Council (IBAC). “SAJF represents a critical measure to help meet the sector’s global commitment to halve carbon emissions by 2050 relative to 2005 levels.”

At the event, Avfuel delivered its first truckload of sustainable jet fuel to a business aviation airport after partnering with biofuels company Gevo last summer. “In our production process, not only do we produce renewable jet fuel, we also can produce large quantities of protein for the food chain and even sequester carbon in the soil,” said Gevo’s CEO, Patrick Gruber. “In fact, for every barrel of bio jet fuel produced by Gevo, we could produce approximately 420 pounds of protein and sequester up to 60 pounds of carbon back into the soil.” Gevo plans to expand its Luverne, Minnesota-factory to increase its production capability to 10 million gallons per year.

Also represented at the event was World Fuel Services, which has produced sustainable fuels since 2016 in partnership with Paramount, California-based World Energy. “World Energy’s SAJF has been independently certified to reduce GHG emissions in excess of 60 percent relative to petroleum Jet-A,” said Bryan Sherbacow, COO of World Energy. “Importantly, turbine criteria pollutants are significantly lowered in a flight’s life-cycle, primarily upon takeoff and landing, providing local solutions to airport communities such as Van Nuys.”

To prove that the new fuels are safe, the event included demonstration flights with business jets from Embraer, Gulfstream and Bombardier. The aim of these flight was also to show business aviation’s commitment to reducing aircraft carbon emissions and to prove that SAJF don’t impact aircraft performance, but rather benefit the airport and surrounding communities by reducing particulate matter.

“Our industry is uniquely poised to make a huge, positive difference in the fight against climate change – not by changing how much we fly, but by changing how we fuel,” said Bombardier Business Aircraft’s president David Coleal, who is also the chair of GAMA’s Environmental Committee. “SAJF will enable a future of clean, efficient propulsion in business aviation: their advantages are real and current – we can benefit from the regular use of SAJF not just in our lifetime, but immediately, starting today.”

Source: Flying


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Why Air France Really Stopped Flying the Concorde


Flight 4590 was the first and last SST accident.

The creation and nearly 30-year operational life of the French/Anglo Concorde, the world’s first operational supersonic airliner, is a rich history of cross-border cooperation and innovation at a time long before the personal computer revolution or the first cell phone. In fact, the origins of the first supersonic transport (SST) date back to before the election of President John F. Kennedy in 1960.

However, the end of the Concorde is indelibly etched into the memory of millions of people as a single photo of Air France flight 4590, its left delta wing ablaze, attempting to liftoff at a perilously steep angle of attack from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) on July 25, 2000. Staggering no more than a few hundred feet above the ground, flight 4590 crashed 90 seconds after it began its takeoff roll on runway 26 Right. This was the first and only fatal Concorde accident.

The Concorde ran over a piece of metal on the runway left behind by a McDonnell-Douglas DC-10 that had departed earlier from the runway 26 Right. That metal sliced though a tire on the SST sending a piece of hi-speed rubber into the wing that sliced open a fuel tank, spewing fuel that quickly ignited. At least this is the story as most of us heard it.

John Hutchinson, a retired Concorde pilot in the UK tells a much more detailed version of the Concorde accident on the Podcasting on a Plane podcast. Hutchinson, a Concorde captain at British Airways from 1977 to 1992, spent an enormous amount of time analyzing the 4590 accident from the perspective of his 15-years of left-seat experience. His story explains the Air France 4590 accident was a Swiss cheese calamity that again proves most aircraft accidents result from not a single cause, but from a perfect storm of errors that eventually overwhelm a pilot or crew.

Just a few of the issues Hutchinson uncovered include a problem with the left main landing gear long before takeoff, a crewmember who was not technically qualified to be sitting in the Concorde’s right seat, a captain who overloaded the aircraft with fuel and bags, a center of gravity that exceeded the rear limits, a runway at CDG that was under repair and a captain who pulled the airplane off the ground before it ever reached flying speed. Although the aircraft became airborne for a short few seconds, there were two additional near disasters lurking, Hutchinson said, before the airplane eventually stuck a hotel west of CDG killing 113 people.

The podcast is a fascinating update of the final flight of Air France 4590 that runs about 37-minutes. Listen here.

Source: Flying

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The French leading independent MRO provider, Sabena technics, has been granted by the French Civil Aviation Authority (DGAC) the Boeing 787 rating approval.


Sabena technics, which airframe services (Base & Line maintenance) are already being performed on a large range of aircraft, is entering a new phase of development and is extending the scope of its activities to overhauls and modification for Boeing 787 -8/9/10 aircraft.

With this approval, the company is now able to deliver its quality, customized and cost effective solutions to Boeing 787 operators in its dedicated maintenance facilities based in Bordeaux (France).

“The maintenance operations will be carried out by our highly-skilled experts especially trained to support the Boeing aircraft with a high level of performance and reliability. From aircraft checks to cabin refurbishment, we will be able to cover all its customer’s requirement with an unmatched flexibility”.

said Fabian Ballet, Head of civil aviation and international defense sales.

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Rolls-Royce Is Building the World’s Fastest Electric Airplane


If all goes according to plan, top speed is projected to be more than 300 mph.

Rolls-Royce is leading a research project known as Accelerating the Electrification of Flight (ACCEL) to explore the use of a high-power electrical system in a demonstrator aircraft. The goal is to build and fly the world’s fastest electric-powered airplane.

Partly funded by the UK government, Rolls-Royce is working with YASA, a manufacturer of high-power, lightweight electric motors and controllers used in automotive, aerospace and industrial applications. Drawing on its expertise in aviation design and safety, the project aims to flight test the system “to gain a detailed understanding of the potential for electric flight.”

As part of the initiative, Rolls-Royce is building a high-performance electric airplane unlike anything the world has yet seen. It’s scheduled to take to the skies over Great Britain next year, reaching a projected speed of 300mph – “and quite likely more,” Rolls-Royce says – making it the fastest all-electric plane in history.

“This plane will be powered by a state-of-the-art electrical system and the most powerful battery ever built for flight. In the year ahead, we’re going to demonstrate its abilities in demanding test environments before going for gold in 2020 from a landing strip on the Welsh coastline,” says Matheu Parr, ACCEL Project Manager for Rolls-Royce.

Rolls-Royce will be supported by Electroflight Ltd, specialists in high-performance electric powertrains including energy storage systems.

Source: Flying 

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ADS-B Rule Eliminates RVSM Approval Process


Aircraft operators no longer need specific RVSM authorization beginning on January 22.

Aircraft equipped with ADS-B Out avionics that meet altitude keeping requirements will no longer need to obtain reduced vertical separation minimum (RVSM) authorizations thanks to a new FAA rule.

Operators of ADS-B Out-equipped aircraft can begin RVSM operations without a separate authorization when the new rule goes into effect on January 22. The RVSM application process will be eliminated entirely after Jan. 1, 2020, when all aircraft operating in RVSM and other controlled airspace must be ADS-B equipped.

Civil aviation authorities first began introducing new RVSM rules in 1997, reducing the required vertical separation between aircraft flying between FL 290 and 410 from a minimum of 2,000 feet to 1,000 feet. The FAA implemented its current RVSM policy in domestic U.S. airspace in 2005. It then updated the policy again in 2014 to consider operator experience and knowledge in determining the extent of the evaluation required to obtain authorization. In 2016, the agency further modified the application process by eliminating the need for applicants to establish an approved RVSM maintenance program.

Eliminating the RVSM aircraft authorization process will save aircraft operators time and money, the FAA says.

Source: Flying