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Citation M2

Cessna this week started deliveries of both the all-new Citation M2 light jet and the Citation Sovereign+, an upgrade to a design in service since 2004. The M2, in the works since 2011, offers a six-passenger cabin and aims to provide a step up for Mustang owners and turboprop pilots. "The Citation M2 is a versatile aircraft that fits many markets and missions, attracting owner-operators looking for an advanced, innovative aircraft of this size, capability, and value," said Brad Thress, Cessna senior vice president of business jets. The single-pilot-certified jet can cruise up to 400 knots and fly up to 1,300 nm nonstop.

Sovereign+

The Sovereign+ adds Garmin G5000 avionics, auto-throttles, winglets, and new Pratt & Whitney Canada PW306D engines. It can fly up to 3,000 nm nonstop at speeds up to 458 knots. Cessna has sold 349 Sovereigns around the world, and announced plans for the new Sovereign+ at NBAA in October 2012. The first production aircraft rolled off the assembly line in Wichita in early March, followed by first flight in April.

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Honda Aircraft Company announced that it had received Type Inspection Authorization (TIA) for the HondaJet and that its customer service facility had achieved FAA Part 145 certification as a repair station. TIA means that the FAA has evaluated technical data from the manufacturer and finds that it appears the aircraft will meet the regulations for certification. It authorizes conformity and airworthiness inspections and flight tests by FAA personnel to confirm it meets certification requirements. It is widely considered to be a major milestone in the certification process. With this step, Honda anticipates the much-delayed HondaJet will complete type certification in the first quarter of 2015, with deliveries to start upon certification.

Advertised by Honda Aircraft as the “ultimate” balance of innovation and inspiration, current projections for performance of the HondaJet include a max cruise speed of 420 knots at 30,000 feet, NBAA IFR range of 1180 NM and a maximum operating altitude of FL430.The Honda Aircraft customer service facility is located on Piedmont Triad International Airport, North Carolina. According to its website, the aircraft service and repair capabilities under the Part 145 certificate will initially include component-level repairs, but will expand during 2014 to heavy maintenance and major repair services to complement the HondaJet dealer network.

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The headquarters of the International Association of Machinists has overruled local leaders in Seattle and ordered a vote on Boeing's latest contract offer to guarantee production of its new 777X in Washington. The vote will be held Jan. 3.  As we reported last week, the Puget Sound leadership rejected Boeing's Dec. 12 offer without a membership vote and Boeing resumed shopping around for locations to build the aircraft. Boeing said Saturday that if the union membership votes in favor of the contract, it will stop looking around and honor the terms of the deal. Local union leaders are strongly recommending members reject the deal.

"Because of the massive take-aways, the union is adamantly recommending members reject this offer," the local leaders said in a message on their website, adding that the vote was ordered "over objections of 751's elected officials." Pension contributions have been the major issue upsetting the union. In a Nov. 13 vote on a previous offer, the union membership rejected the deal by a two-to-one margin but Boeing's immediate and well-publicized search for alternative locations may have caused some second thoughts. Some workers staged a march to press for a vote last week but few showed up.

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The FAA and NORAD both are doing their part to keep an eye on Santa's Christmas deliveries this week. NORAD's site features games, movies, music, and of course, on Christmas Eve, live tracking of Santa's route around the globe. The FAA is promoting NextGen at its Christmas site, saying the system "helps Santa deliver presents more efficiently." The website features puzzles and stories for kids and a copy of Santa's approved flight plan. The FAA explains to kids how three satellites -- labeled Rudolph 1, 2, and 3 -- help to keep Santa's sleigh on track.

Norad has been tracking Santa every year since 1955. All of that effort has led to this conclusion, according to the website, in response to those who doubt their mission: "Mountains of historical data and more than 50 years of NORAD tracking information leads us to believe that Santa Claus is alive and well in the hearts of people throughout the world."

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In 1976, famed aviation businessman and movie pilot Clay Lacy was asked to fly one of the strangest stunt acts in aviation: The Human Fly. In this exclusive AVweb video, he explains how the project came into being.

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Picture of the Week

Brian Breighner of Cumberland, MD joins us this week in wishing all AVweb readers the happiest of holidays. Click through for more reader-submitted photos.

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The photo on this page has been kicking around my inbox for more than a year, having been sent to me by someone asking if it depicted a real event. Given that we live in a world where Photoshop is a verb, it’s a perfectly logical question.

As you’ll see from today’s video, the photo is quite real and depicts Clay Lacy’s fanciful flight of The Human Fly on the roof of a DC-8 in 1976. I vaguely recall the actual event, but if it got much publicity at the time, the memory of it seems to have been lost to the years, so I decided to phone Lacy for the background. As with everything in Lacy’s career, the backstory is interesting, the result of just the right alignment of having an airplane available, an airshow to promote, an ever-willing stuntman and a sponsor to pay for it all.

Although the video doesn’t explain it, the Human Fly’s benefactor was a pair a brothers in Montreal who owned a prosperous Pepperoni factory but were a tad bored with the sausage business. So they raised $200,000 and formed a promotional company of which the Human Fly was only the opening act. The DC-8 version of the Fly was Rick Rojatt, but the brothers apparently envisioned garbing others in the Fly’s disco-style red suit, it being 1976 after all, for all sorts of stunts. They planned a rocket flight across the English Channel and a swan dive from the CN tower in Toronto.

Lacy got the easy part. He happened to have a DC-8 available, thanks to an Alan Paulson deal to remarket a handful of retired JAL aircraft. Lacy knew enough people in the Washington side of the FAA to grease the approval wheels and in a few weeks time, he had the world’s only DC-8 with an external seat. Actually a perch, I suppose.

Would today’s FAA go for such a thing? Hard to imagine. In 1976, all the feds could think of to slow down the Human Fly project was to require a maintenance program, which Lacy was able to pull together relatively easily. But at least in those days, someone in the FAA would actually at least tell you what was required. Today, good luck.

The Human Fly act was but a page in a chapter of Lacy’s stunning and long career in aviation. He’s very much the last of a breed whose experience bridges the world of piston and jet aircraft. His book, Lucky Me, has him photographed with everyone who’s anyone in aviation, from World War II aces to moon walkers. Lacy did stints as a military pilot, a test pilot, air racer and airline pilot and he’s yet active today in the industry from his headquarters at Van Nuys Airport.

Although most of us probably can’t list Lacy’s considerable achievements, we probably see them every day. When the Learjet first appeared in the mid-1960s, Lacy saw not just a fast, appealing business jet, but a camera platform that could shoot anything that flew. Thus was born Astrovision, the sophisticated camera system used to shoot movies and high-end commercials of airliners sailing into the sunrise. You can see early Astrovision at work in the Human Fly video.

Computer-generated imagery has put a dent in that business, but real footage is sometimes still cheaper than CGI. “That’s especially true if you want the ground in the shot,” Lacy told me. “It costs hundreds of thousands to do that with CGI, but for an airline commercial, they can rent the 747 and me for less than $100,000.”

Which brings us full circle. Today, the Human Fly could be a CGI project, but what a thrill to know it wasn’t.

Join the conversation.  Read others' comments and add your own.

David Clark DC PRO-X

In an emerging aircraft refurbishment market, Smithville, Ohio-based Aircraft Sales Inc. stands out with a comprehensive and highly customized rebuild process.  In this AVweb video, Aviation Consumer's Larry Anglisano presents an inside look at the company's Pristine Airplane refurbishment process.