AVweb AVFlash - Volume 20, Number 4a
July 28, 2013
Redbird Launches a Diesel Skyhawk Conversion Project
With the ink barely dry on Continental’s agreement to buy Thielert Aircraft Engines, the company already has one customer commitment from an unlikely quarter: Redbird Simulations. On Sunday at AirVenture, Redbird announced a new initiative to convert Cessna Skyhawks to diesel power using Continental’s 135-hp Centurion 2.0. The project is called Redhawk and will be pitched to the training market as an alternative to conventional avgas fueled trainers. In addition to the diesel conversion, the Redhawk will also have a modern glass panel from Aspen, Garmin navigators and fresh paint and upholstery. In other words, it’s an essentially new aircraft.
Price? No promises yet, but in this AVweb video, Redbird’s Roger Sharp said the target price is under $200,000. Redhawk number 1 appeared at AirVenture on Sunday afternoon flown into Wittman field by EAA Chairman Jack Pelton, who’s no stranger to diesel projects himself. Pelton was CEO of Cessna in 2007 when the company announced its first diesel initiative, a Skyhawk also powered by a Centurion diesel, the 155-hp variant. But that project was cancelled when Thielert ran into financial troubles and declared bankruptcy in 2008, where it remained until Continental bought the company just last week.
Pelton told AVweb that Cessna’s research indicated that the diesel’s overall operating costs would be about 15 percent less than the equivalent gasoline engine. And while that’s not quite a game changer, Pelton called the efficiency game significant and one likely to have substantial market impact, especially in parts of the world where avgas or any aviation fuel other than Jet A is unavailable.
And that’s exactly what Redbird is counting on with the Redhawk. It will soon retire its gasoline-powered Skyhawks in favor of at least four diesel Redhawks and hopes to publish detailed operational cost data by October, when the company holds its annual industry training conference in San Marcos, Texas.
Although its core business is simulation training, Sharp said the company wouldn’t have ventured into aircraft remanufacture if another company was filling the need. But, he said, that’s not the case. If the economics of the Redhawk are proven, Sharp said, Redbird will tool up for serial production and will spend the next few months developing efficient manufacturing techniques. Redbird believes there's a sufficient pool of suitable 172s to supply the project for the foreseeable future.
Redbird's New Redhawk Diesel 172
What can you do to bring the venerable C-172 to an even wider audience at a more affordable price? If you're Redbird (the simulator folks), you consider putting a new Continental turbodiesel into it and completely retrofit the panel to create a Redhawk -- which may be coming soon to a flight school near you.
Pelton: The Challenges Facing AirVenture 2013
EAA faced challenges as it headed into AirVenture Oshkosh 2013 that included new cost burdens and performance cancellations, but EAA Chairman, Jack Pelton, believes the association has overcome. Pelton told us that although military team performances were cut as part of the federal sequester, overall, there would be more performers at AirVenture this year. For pilots, AirVenture 2013 will also offer the most vendors ever, 821 in total, Pelton said. The show picked up a bill of nearly $450,000 to assure FAA air traffic control services (also the result of sequestration), but food prices are down on the field. Pelton says this year will see added focus on experimental, general aviation and vintage aircraft.
Pelton says that the field has better roadways, more food options at lower prices, and better facilities (restrooms). Disney's movie, Planes, will also debut on Friday at AirVenture and there will be nightly musical performances (weather permitting). "This year we're hoping to get back to a very strong sport aviation culture," Pelton said, with highlights in diesel and iPad app development.
Jack Pelton AirVenture Preview 2013
EAA's AirVenture Oshkosh aviation trade and air show faced challenges this year, but Jack Pelton remains optimistic and lists his reasons.
Epic Aircraft Debuts Mockup Of Production Model
Epic Aircraft, which has delivered about 50 of its turboprop LT kit airplanes, now is progressing toward a certified version, and this week at EAA AirVenture, the company has a fresh new mockup of the certified aircraft on display. The cockpit features the Garmin G1000 avionics suite, and the cabin has a spacious feel with lots of legroom and big oval windows. "We got that wow factor into the cockpit, so it looks like a Ferrari," Epic spokesman Mike Schrader told AVweb at the show on Sunday. "Right now we're making strides [in the certification process]." The aircraft will be certified for up to 34,000 feet.
The company is making steady progress toward certification, Schrader said. The schedule might slip a little, into early 2015, he added, noting that "the certification process is not for the faint of heart." But the company expects to hold the price at the $2.75 million that was announced at Sun 'n Fun.
Epic Debuts Production Mock-Up
At EAA AirVenture, Epic Aircraft is showing their new mock-up of the certified version of the LT turboprop. Spokesman Mike Schrader spoke with AVweb's Mary Grady about the progress being made and some of the differences between the two versions.
Top iPad Developers' Roundtable At OSH
Wednesday, July 31, at AirVenture Oshkosh, a free forum hosted by MyGoFlight will include executives from ForeFlight, Hilton Software, Bendix King, Jeppesen, Garmin and MyGoFlight in a roundtable discussion moderated by Aviation Consumer editor Larry Anglisano. During the main forum, Anglisano will pose the same question to each panelist, who will be allowed time to answer or defer. Attendees will later have an opportunity to pose their own questions to the panelists. The forum hopes to provide attendees with insight into some of today's most popular iPad apps for pilots while providing important feedback and public interaction for developers.
The moderated session is scheduled to run for almost one hour at Pavilion 06, beginning at 1:00 pm on Wednesday, July 31. It is expected to cover topics like app functions and capabilities today and in the future; app design, development and stability; app proficiency and training; as well as tablet technology and cockpit readiness. The moderated session will be followed by a 15-minute period during which audience members will be asked to deliver their own questions to panelists. Some format changes may occur prior to the event. Attendance is free.
Terrafugia Ready For First Public Flights
Terrafugia has brought its most recent version of the Transition roadable aircraft to EAA AirVenture this week for its first flights before an airshow crowd. The first demo is expected on Monday afternoon, with a second flight Wednesday at 8 p.m., before the night airshow. The airplane will be driven from the Terrafugia booth out to the runway, take off and fly; then after landing, the pilot will fold the wings and drive back to the exhibit, Terrafugia CEO Carl Dietrich told AVweb on Sunday. This is the second prototype, and the design will be tweaked for a third version, now in the works, Dietrich said. That aircraft will be powered by the fuel-injected Rotax 912 IS with an updated engine management system and better fuel economy.
Dietrich said the company is "still learning" from this airplane and he expects the third-generation prototype will evolve into the final conforming aircraft for production. One major change in the works for that version will be to make the tail booms and all the outside components of the aircraft replaceable, so if they are damaged the aircraft can be more easily repaired. "That will keep insurance costs in check," Dietrich said. The aircraft will be on display all week in the Terrafugia exhibit south of Hangar C.
Terrafugia Ready to Launch
Terrafugia, the company that has been working on a flying car prototype, will fly their Transition roadable aircraft at EAA AirVenture this week for its first public demonstrations. CEO Carl Dietrich spoke with AVweb's Mary Grady about the ongoing development of the program.
Jeppesen Introduces Mobile FD For U.S.
Jeppesen has introduced the Mobile FliteDeck VFR for U.S. GA pilots to use on iPads. Until now only the IFR version was available but the VFR option has been available in Europe for a year. It offers numerous charting, navigation and flight-planning options with charts and data covering the whole continental U.S. Jeppesen said in a news release that the U.S. release builds on the experience gained from the European introduction and the information is organized to reflect the workflow requirements of the VFR cockpit. “Taking a strong user-centric design approach allowed us to understand the workflow requirements of VFR pilots and we are providing VFR subscription data at an affordable cost to make Mobile FliteDeck VFR widely accessible for the private pilot community,” said Tim Huegel, director, Jeppesen Aviation Portfolio Management.
Jeppesen says it involved 500 GA pilots in the testing for the system, which offers some work-saving features. For instance, it features airport diagram charts in one view so toggling back and forth is not necessary. The VFR package is available for an annual data subscription of $49 and there are previews and tutorials available here. The app is available at the iTunes App Store.
Input Sought For New CFI Standards
The FAA has released a draft revision of the airman certification standards for flight instructors, and the public has until August 23 to submit comments online. The revision is part of an overhaul of several airman certification standards, including private pilot and the instrument rating, in an effort to promote more efficient and effective training. The FAA and a number of industry partners have been working together on the revisions, and they will host a forum about the draft standards at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh on Wednesday, July 31, from 4 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. in the Forum Pavilion 08. The project is slated to be completed in September.
The FAA also said it has received more than 300 comments on its proposed revisions for private pilots and the instrument rating. Those comments were used to further refine the standards, the FAA said, and revised versions of those documents also have been posted for review at the public docket. More information is available in the Federal Register and at AOPA's website.
FAA Acts On 787 Honeywell ELTs
The FAA Friday issued an airworthiness directive (AD) as a final rule for Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners requiring removal or inspection of Honeywell's heretofore unimpeachable fixed emergency locator transmitter (ELT), in part "to prevent a fire in the aft crown of the airplane." The FAA action is the result of a fire that involved the Honeywell ELT on an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing Model 787-8 aircraft as it sat on the ground at Heathrow this July. The agency has determined that the ELT may have initiated the event. Since 2005, Honeywell's ELT products have not experienced a single other reported issue, but their use on other aircraft will now also be investigated.
According to the FAA's AD, the agency believes an unsafe condition may exist or develop in other products of the same type and design. "Discrepancies within the ELT, if not corrected, could cause a fire" in the airplane, the FAA wrote. The AD requires removal or inspection of the ELT and its associated wiring and components and taking unspecified corrective action if necessary. The AD is limited to in-service aircraft flying with ELT part number 1152682-2, and future aircraft will be addressed prior to shipment. Because Honeywell's ELTs are installed on multiple models of aircraft, the FAA says it will continue its investigation and may consider further rulemaking. For the 787-8, the AD goes into effect immediately and is also accepting comments. Find the AD online in PDF form here.
FAA Certifies First Drones For Commercial Use
The FAA said on Friday it has issued its first restricted category type certificates to two unmanned aircraft systems. The approval is "a milestone that will lead to the first approved commercial UAS operations later this summer," the FAA said. The two systems are small -- Insitu’s Scan Eagle X200 weighs about 44 pounds and AeroVironment’s hand-launched Puma weighs just 13 pounds. Each is about 4.5 feet long, with wingspans of 10 and 9 feet, respectively. "The major advantage of having type-certificated UAS models available is that they can be used commercially," the FAA said. The type certificates will permit the use of the aircraft for aerial surveillance.
The FAA said an energy company plans to fly the ScanEagle off the Alaska coast in international waters starting in August. The UAS will be launched from a ship and conduct surveys of ocean ice floes and migrating whales in Arctic oil exploration areas. The Puma is expected to support emergency response crews for oil-spill monitoring and wildlife surveillance over the Beaufort Sea. "Issuing the type certificates is an important step toward the FAA’s goal of integrating UAS into the nation’s airspace," the FAA said. Until now, obtaining an experimental airworthiness certificate—which specifically excludes commercial operations—was the only way the private sector could operate UASs in the nation’s airspace.
NTSB: Southwest 737 Nosegear Hit First
The NTSB Thursday said it had evidence that the nosegear of a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 with 150 aboard touched down prior to the mains and collapsed as the jet landed at LaGuardia, July 22. Video "and other sources," the agency said, are consistent with the nosegear making contact prior to the main landing gear. Both the aircraft's voice and flight data recorder have been recovered in good condition, providing two hours of clear audio and information about 1,000 aircraft parameters over 27 hours of operation.
According to the NTSB, the flaps were moved from 30 to 40 degrees almost one minute prior to touchdown. At 32 feet over the runway, the aircraft was flying at 134 knots with a nose-up pitch of roughly two degrees. Four seconds later, at touchdown, the speed was 133 knots, but the nose had swung to three degrees nose-down. The aircraft's nosegear collapsed on landing and the aircraft came to a stop within 19 seconds. All 150 aboard evacuated, with eight people (three passengers and five crew) accepting treated at local hospitals for injuries related to the landing.
Whilst flying back from Belfast to Blackpool in the U.K. several years ago, I heard a GA pilot behind me cleared for take-off by the tower.
The tower then reminded him of the local noise regulations.
The pilot replied that he understood and added helpfully that he would only be using one engine in this instance.
AirVenture 2013: Maybe the Market Is Stirring
When we gear up for AVweb’s coverage of AirVenture every year, we never know quite what to expect—a dead show that’s a news desert or a manic Monday where there’s so much news and so many new products that we can’t hope to keep up with it all.
As of Sunday night, it’s looking more like the latter than the former. The number of pre-show press releases companies send us, combined with scheduled press conferences on Monday—20 at last count and there may be more—is a reliable indication of how strong the show will be. When I ran into EAA’s Jack Pelton at the Redbird Redhawk intro on Saturday, he said there are a record number of vendors registered for AirVenture this year. All good stuff, but you won’t yet catch me using the r-word to describe any of it just yet. (I don’t want to jinx anything.)
One thing I have noticed is how busy the Sunday before the show can be, even ahead of the show being formally set up much less actually open. I saw a lot of show-goers walking around with bags of stuff, just the way they do by the middle of the week. Some tents and booths, I noticed, were set up but buttoned up, since they aren’t really required to be open. They may be missing the boat. Continental’s big new display was open for business and Mike Gifford told me they had already written a half-dozen orders. Well, if you’re here, you might as well sell something.
If you’re inbound to AirVenture today or sometime this week, you can probably bring a light sweater and not your parka. It was in the low 50s here last night and no one I talked to could recall it ever being this cold here in July. The forecast calls for mid-70s to 80s for the rest of the week and that’s a good thing. I’m from Florida and this weather definitely doesn’t suit my clothes.
If you see us in our AVweb green shirts this week, stop and say hello.