AVweb AVFlash - Volume 20, Number 4c
July 30, 2013
Jetman Yves Rossy Flies Above AirVenture
In his first public flight in the U.S., "Jetman" Yves Rossy leapt from a helicopter about 6,500 feet above Oshkosh on Tuesday, and flew above the crowd for just under 10 minutes, navigating among the clouds, powered by his unique strap-on jet system. Jumbotrons scattered around the field helped show-goers to share Rossy's experience. Viewed from ground level, he was a tiny dark triangle, silhouetted beneath the gray clouds. Rossy circled the field several times, and executed an aerial somersault or two. While still about 3,000 feet above the ground, he activated his chute, and floated down to the surface.
After landing, Rossy joined the press corps for a half-hour question-and-answer session. He said his system costs about $100,000, so he doesn't expect jetman-flying to grow as a sport; however, he has already trained one other flyer and expects there may be more. He also said he is working on another system with more jet power. Also in the works are new parachute techniques that may enable him to fly much lower by next year, perhaps as low as 600 feet. "It's a great honor to do the first public flight here," he said. "That's the SuperBowl of aviation, the biggest airshow in the world. It's a very emotional moment. It was a great, great honor to be here." Rossy is expected to fly again on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday during the airshow, though no times have been announced. AVweb is scheduled for an exclusive interview with Rossy later in the week.
BD-5 Flies At AirVenture
Former F-14 and A-10 driver Justin Lewis worked to update the BD-5 and was invited this year to fly it over the grand stage of EAA's AirVenture Oshkosh airshow as the FLSMicroJet -- so that's exactly what he did. Lewis said he worked with BD Microtechnologies to help create the FLSMicroJet, a modernized BD-5. The jet weighs 416 pounds empty, has a glass panel, and delivers 265 lbs of thrust that drive it to speeds up to 320 mph. It has a wingspan of just 17 feet and, says Justin, "a CG range of about 2 inches."
Justin flies his airshow routine up to more than four G's and says the tiny jet is actually very easy to fly ... "with the exception of conditioning yourself for the very low-to-the-ground sight picture on landing." Lewis told AVweb he was inspired by seeing the jet as a young man and now hopes to pass on that gift to other young people that may see him at AirVenture or future airshows across the country.
Video: BD-5 "Smallest Jet" Flies At AirVenture
Justin Lewis, a former F-14 and A-10 driver, has updated his homebuilt BD-5 with the help of FLSMicrojet. He was invited to perform at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2013 and, with sponsorship from US Fleet Tracking, brought "the world's smallest jet" back to experimental aviation's biggest stage.
Flight Design To Open Chinese, U.S. Plants
Flight Design will open production facilities in the U.S. and China in the next couple of years as it broadens its product line and market reach. At a news conference at AirVenture 2013, CEO Matthias Betsch confirmed the company, which now produces aircraft in the Ukraine, will open a U.S. final assembly and component plant in Windham, Conn. It will also partner with a Taiwanese company to open facilities in China. The U.S. plant will build both the Light Sport CT line of two-place aircraft and the new C4 certified four-place model.
Tom Pegigny, the U.S. distributor for the aircraft, said the Light Sport aircraft have about 35 percent U.S. content, by value. The C-4, with its Continental engine, Garmin avionics and other gear, will be about 50 percent American by value. "It's just good business to incorporate the best products from all over the world," Pegigny said. The company also announced that the C4 will incorporate a "safety box" to enhance crashworthiness. The protective shell for the cockpit and cabin will include energy-absorbing structures and materials along with advanced restraint systems.
Sonex Accepts Deposits For Personal Jet
Sonex has announced it is accepting $10,000 deposits for its SubSonex Personal Jet, saying it expects deliveries of the $125,000 "ultra-quick build kits" (a price set for the first 10 depositors) to begin as early as mid-year, 2014, depending on demand. The SubSonex is a single-seat aircraft powered by the PBS TJ-100 turbojet, which produces 274 lbs of thrust and, according to Sonex, has exceeded expectations "with flawless performance and an outstanding service history." The company first flew the jet in August 2011 with test flights continuing through 2012. Performance figures show a range of 300 miles, a clean stall at 64 mph, a sea level cruise of more than 180 mph TAS and a 1900 fpm rate of climb. The jet has a useful load of 484 pounds and is capable of aerobatics at lower weights. Now, second-generation prototypes conformal with the final design are under construction. The company is also still working on an electric-powered design and its line of conventionally powered aircraft now have quick-build options.
Sonex launched its development of electric power for its line of aircraft in 2007 (AVweb video, here), with the e-Flight Initiative. Sonex's Mark Schaible told us that progress there was steady with regard to a motor and motor controller, but the company sees battery technology as the still limiting factor. "We're working on it," Schaible said, "we're looking for a safe reliable long term solution," and the company is not yet satisfied with available options. Meanwhile, the conventionally powered Sonex line of kit aircraft, which include single and two-seat options, is reaching a builder completion rate of more than 40 per year, said Schaible. Complete kits (engine included) range from an estimated $25,000 to more than $45,000 in price. The company hopes its new quick-build kit options, which generally add $10,000 to a Sonex kit, will add to positive trends.
New EAA Innovations Hangar Showcases Technology
EAA on Monday morning opened this year's AirVenture event with the introduction of a new Innovations Pavilion right at the center of the show, just off Phillips 66 Plaza. "We've been working on this for a long time, and we're glad to get it launched," EAA chairman Jack Pelton told AVweb. "We were expecting a big presence from NASA and other government entities that had to pull out, but we've filled it up with other technologies. We're going to continue to expand and develop this." Companies like Lockheed Martin and Boeing have a large presence in the hangar, but smaller startups with new ideas also have space. "We held a competition and gave away 15 free spaces to entrepreneurs," said Elissa Lines, of EAA. "Our goal is to empower that innovative spirit and showcase new ideas." Several new airplane designs, new engines, alternative fuels, and emerging products such as a Go-Pro camera mount and a "smart glasses" head-up display are on exhibit this week.
The pavilion also provides space for a series of talks about new technology in aviation. Speakers on the schedule include Tine Tomazic, of Pipistrel; Carl Dietrich, of Terrafugia; Alan Klapmeier, of Kestrel; "jetman" Yves Rossy; aircraft designers Greg Cole and Jeremy Monnett; and many more, talking on topics from alternative fuels for GA to new aircraft design to business and entrepreneurship. The speaker schedule is posted online at the AirVenture web site.
Honda Flies Conforming HondaJets, Thanks EAA
The president and CEO of Honda Aircraft Company (HAC) stood before two FAA conforming HondaJets displayed for the first time at AirVenture, Monday morning, and thanked EAA for its support, before the jets flew in formation for the airshow crowd later in the afternoon. HAC President Michimasa Fujino, who years ago sketched the jet on the back of a calendar and may be the single most important driving force behind the project, told a crowd gathered at AirVenture's Phillips 66 Plaza that he was inspired by the support of the AirVenture community. "I want to thank you, today, from the bottom of my heart," he said, "I am very honored to share this moment with you."
Fujino identified one of the two jets behind him (N420NC, in blue trim) as the fifth conforming prototype that was a "final configuration" aircraft involved in "the final leg of certification flight testing." The other jet (N420HM, in red trim) is used for mechanical systems flight testing and can transmit to engineers on the ground 4,000 channels of data, in real time. HAC hopes to deliver its first customer jet in 2014 and is currently pricing the jets near $4.3 million. The company has not announced firm numbers but says its order books are full for at least two years. The company said in June that it expects sales to top 80 jets annually within a few years and that Honda's aviation business is expected to become profitable by 2020. Speaking for EAA, Chairman Jack Pelton recognized the HondaJet as a source of inspiration for future generations of aviation pioneers and enthusiasts. Pelton said Fujino was one of the true motivational innovators in aviation engineering today and that EAA was honored to play a role in the company's public development.
Glasair Mentors Students, Pursues Diesel Option
Glasair Aviation LLC was acquired in 2012 by Chinese company Zhuhai Hanxing General Aviation Co. Ltd. (ZHGAC) of China and announced Monday at AirVenture two recent projects: one involving Build-A-Plane, another that would develop a diesel option for the company's Sportsman aircraft. The diesel project is meant to stimulate the company's worldwide market and Glasair said Monday it is working with long-time AirVenture vendor DeltaHawk on the task. DeltaHawk has had a moving target for certification since at least 2006 and in 2011 acquired $720,000 in low-interest loans from the state of Wisconsin. Monday at AirVenture, DeltaHawk's Dennis Webb said that a test aircraft was approximately six to eight weeks from flying. Complications may arise. Meanwhile, Glasair's involvement with Build-A-Plane has already seen success.
Through Build-A-Plane, eight high school students were selected as a result of their performance in a competition involving some 30 high schools. After selection, they participated in Glasair's Two Weeks To Taxi (TWTT) program, and completed two Glasair Sportsman aircraft, mentored by Glasair's standard TWTT support. Financial support for the experience was arranged by GAMA and its membership. After completion, each student had a chance to fly in one of the two aircraft that they built. Six of the eight students who participated were present at AirVenture and, when asked, most stated they intended to pursue careers in aviation or sought a pilot certificate. For more information on Build-A-Plane, visit Build-A-Plane online.
Video: Super Sealane
The Cessna 182 is a great cross-country plane. Add some power and put it on amphib floats, and you have a wonderful adventure platform. We take a look at the Seaplanes West Super Sealane.
Bendix/King Intros New Transponder And AoA Indicator
Before AirVenture 2013, Bendix/King hinted that it would have new products to show, and early Monday morning, it delivered. The company announced a new angle-of-attack indicator called the KLR10 and a new, attractively priced Mode-S transponder with extended squitter to meet the 2020 ADS-B Out requirement. The company also added a surprise addition to the long-awaited KSN770, the KSN650, a navigator-only version of the multi-purpose box Bendix/King has had in the works for several years. Bendix/King’s Roger Jollis said development work on the KSN770 is complete and it’s expected to be available later this year. Although angle-of-attack indicators seem to be popping up about once a month in one form or another, the KLR10 was a bit of a surprise, since Bendix/King has been rumored to be working on low-cost panel-mount products.
The KLR10, which Bendix/King calls a lift-reserve indicator, uses visual cues augmented by aural annunciations to warn the pilot of impending stall angle of attack. It has a small, two-inch-high indicator mounted in the pilot’s field of vision and the sensing end of the device fits into an inspection hole in the underside of the aircraft wing; thus no drilling or major fabrication is required to install it. At a price of $1,600, the KLR10 will be sold initially into the experimental market, with approvals for certified aircraft coming later. “Not only can the KLR 10 tell you when you’re dangerously slow, when you need to do high-performance operations—short-field takeoffs or short-field landings—this will tell you how close you are to the actual maximum lift of the airplane,” said Jollis.
In keeping with its commitment to deliver lower-cost avionics, Bendix/King also announced the KT74, a Mode S transponder with extended squitter that meets the 2020 mandate for ADS-B Out. The real eye-opener is the price. The KT74 will sell for $2,999, competing with Garmin’s $4,300 equivalent, the GTX330, also with extended squitter. Jollis said the KT74 is the first certified product Bendix/King will introduce this year and it's designed in the industrial style that we’re told other products in the line will also have. The KT74 is a slide-in replacement for other Bendix/King transponders, including the KT76 and, since it requires WAAS-capable GPS to function with ADS-B Out, the transponder is compatible with the new KSN770 and the Garmin GNS WAAS line of navigators.
Also new to the B/K lineup is the KSN765, which Jollis called a “baby brother” to the KSN770. The 770 is a full-featured mapcomm with high-resolution VGA display and a unique hybrid interface that allows for both touchscreen and knob/scroll operation. The KSN765 has the same feature set, but it lacks the navcomm and is thus ideal as a second fiddle in panels that don’t need the additional radio or conventional navigation capability. The 770 will retail for $13,995, but Bendix/King is offering a $1,000 show discount and is taking orders for September deliveries. The 765 will sell for $12,995 and early buyers can get a $500 discount by ordering at the show. Options on the 770 include a radar interface card and a 16-watt VHF transmitter. Jollis conceded that the 770 has long been long delayed but said it’s now “ready to roll” and that Bendix/King submitted the 770 to the FAA for TSO and expects to deliver initial units in September.
Overload Study Tracks Pilots Eyes
Australian researchers have created a study that aims to answer questions regarding pilots' reliance on automated systems and information overload in emergencies, and seek to inform better delivery of information to pilots in the cockpit. The study, funded by Australia's Defence Science Institute, will be carried out by University of Melbourne and Swinburne University of Technology. Researchers will seek to develop better understanding of performance challenges and human factors as they relate to pilots' interaction with equipment and avionics. Part of the study will track the eye movements of pilots as they work flight simulators to better understand cognitive saturation, situational awareness and the ability of flight instruments to deliver information.
The results of the study are expected to benefit both military and civilian pilots. According to researchers, the results are expected to apply to human factors and may help develop better methods of pilot training. "It's an issue in a range of situations where pilots have to deal with lots of information, process and respond to it," George Collins, deputy vice-chancellor of research and development at Swinburne, told theAustralian.com. The manner in which information is provided to pilots plays an important role in that, he said, and that will be a key component of the research.
AirVenture 2013 Photo Gallery #2
Boeing Asks Airlines To Check ELTs
Investigators are reportedly checking into the possibility that a short-circuit in the wiring of a Honeywell International ELT led to a fire aboard an Ethiopian Airlines 787 on the ground at Heathrow this July, and Boeing is asking airlines to initiate inspections of all aircraft models carrying that product. According to sources close to the investigation, wires crushed under a cover of Honeywell's ELT may have led to a short-circuit that triggered the fire on the Ethiopian Airlines jet, Bloomberg reported Tuesday. Boeing hopes inspections will gather data useful in identifying and rectifying a flaw if one is identified. Aside from the 787, Boeing 717, 737, 747-400, 767 and 777 aircraft may be affected.
Boeing says its goal is to gather information that could support rulemaking efforts if a common fault or suspect condition is identified. There may be some evidence already. Last week ANA, the largest operator of 787 Dreamliners, began checks on all its aircraft with Honeywell beacons. Not all Dreamliners carry the Honeywell beacons, but some other models do. So far, at least two carriers have reported finding pinched or dented wires in Honeywell beacons. The U.K.'s Air Accidents Investigation Branch previously recommended that aircraft carrying the Honeywell beacons be inspected and EASA last week issued similar instructions. The FAA has ordered inspections or removal of the ELTs on 787 aircraft.
AirVenture 2013 Product Minute Videos
There's so much to see and touch at AirVenture that your eyes may tire of looking and your button-pushing finger can get a little stiff. That doesn't deter the AVweb team, however, as they poked, prodded, and otherwise product-tested their way through some of this year's most interesting products in a series of "Product Minute" videos.
Earth to FAA: Skip AirVenture This Year
Almost every year during AirVenture, the FAA administrator makes the obligatory slog to Wittman Field in N1, does a dog and pony and flies back to the Washington puzzle palace. In years past, this has been a bit of a love fest. In 2010, I was amused—or was it shocked?—when then-EAA president Tom Poberezny protected then-FAA administrator Randy Babbitt from penetrating questions about FAA foot dragging on the 100LL replacement non-effort.
The FAA shouldn’t expect the same treatment this year, nor does whoever bothers to fly out to AirVenture from Independence Avenue this week for the traditional show up deserve more than a chilly acknowledgement. EAA Chairman Jack Pelton, one of the straighter shooters in general aviation, hasn’t attempted to disguise his ire with the FAA for its decision to charge the association $450,000 for air traffic services for AirVenture.
In pursuing what is clearly a purely political decision, the FAA is quite plainly shaking down the very people they are supposed to be serving and supporting. As Pelton has pointed out, the agency has the line-item budget support to cover events like AirVenture but, for political reasons, it has chosen to beat up the industry with sequestration as the excuse. Moreover, it is using its regulatory authority in an abusive way by preventing organizations like EAA from using less expensive private-sector ATC services which is ultimately the way events like AirVenture may have to go. It’s really government oversight at its worst.
We’re not sure who’s going to show up to represent the FAA, but it will likely be a few senior executives who will try to make nice and explain that the AirVenture fiasco wasn’t of their doing, but was a cabinet-level decision. While this may be true, FAA execs are the public face of an agency that now appears to be actively engaging in economically undermining general aviation at every turn. Considering the rules of polite society, we shouldn’t hurl rotten tomatoes or insults at the FAA executive corps, but they are the active enablers of policies that harm general aviation. Nor should we take it out on the pink shirts in the Oshkosh tower, even though they also represent another touchpoint with the public.
So to avoid the specter of a terminal case of painful hypocrisy, wouldn’t it be better for everyone if the FAA contingent just stayed home this year? They’ve clearly shown no interest in helping so they might as well drop the façade and save the travel money. Unless, of course, they show up at Wittman Field with an industrial-strength fence mending kit and a refund check in the amount of $450,000.