Stemme AG and S-Plane Automation Ltd said this week they plan to integrate S-Plane subsystems into the Ecarys ES15 Stemme motor glider to create an optionally piloted vehicle, combining the capabilities of a manned aircraft with those of a UAV. The Ecarys ES15 is a certified aircraft with a payload capacity of 770 pounds and range of 1,350 NM.
Sales of piston-powered, fixed-wing aircraft were flat for the third year in a row, says the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) year-end report issued Wednesdayó1,142 piston airplanes delivered in total, down slightly from 1,265 in 2015. Since 2009, sales of piston airplanes have hovered around 1,000 units per year, down from a modern-era peak of 2,755 in 2006. Billings for piston aircraft were slightly up in 2016, reflecting a move to more expensive, higher-end aircraft like the Cirrus SR22T. Those sales statistics mirror data provided by the FAA on the number of active, certificated fixed-wing U.S. pilots: 422,352 at the end of 2016, down 2.5% from 2015 levels.
A $35 million lawsuit filed against Vanís Aircraft, characterized by Vanís as an attack on the kitplane industry as a whole, was settled by the parties late last year. In a press release issued Wednesday, Vanís said the case was dismissed, which is accurate, though it omitted the reason for the dismissal. Vanís Aircraft told AVweb they were unable to comment on the matter. The lead plaintiff was a passenger in a Vanís RV-10 kitplane who was severely injured when that aircraft crashed after departure from Toledo State Airport, Oregon in 2014. The plaintiffís four-year-old daughter was also killed in the crash.