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In an unveiling at ICON Aircraft's company
headquarters in Los Angelesin fact, directly across Jefferson Avenue from the defunct Hughes Airportthe A5 Light Sport amphibian was introduced to a crowd of 500-plus trendy Angelenos,
investors, powersport stars, and designers packed cheek-to-diesel. After a short speech from Eclipse Aviation CEO Vern Raburn, who's also on ICON's board of advisors, and introductions by ICON
Aircraft's founder Kirk Hawkins (to include powersports design impresario Troy Lee and former Red Bull director of sports marketing, Paul Crandall) and the company's chief of engineering, none other
than Matthew Gionta, ex of Scaled Composites, the drape was lifted on the A5.
The high-wing, two-seat amphibian wears a sleek strutless, all-carbon-fiber airfoil "custom made" for the aircraft hiding a clever, crowd-wowing feature: an electric fold mechanism. With the whir
of anticipation, the audience watched the A5's wings pull back at the leading-edge root, rotate nearly 90 degrees up and swing their tips back toward the T tail. "You can pack it up and haul it behind
the car like a speedboat," said Hawkins.
In many details, the A5 is unique. Twin landing lights in the nose evoke automotive headlights, a plane-as-car theme carried through to the interior. "You won't see an airliner's cockpit," said
Hawkins. Indeed, the instrument panel is more like a motorcycle's; the interior very car-like and supposedly roomy, with a claimed 46 inches between the sidewalls.
Perched atop the carbon-fiber cockpit and behind the front-hinged canopy with removable side windows is a 100-hp Rotax 912S pushing a three-blade propeller. Nominally a tri-gear airplane, when
waterborne the A5 is a hull floater, with small pods behind the cabin on each side for stability that also enclose the retracted main gear. A ballistic parachute is part of the design.
ICON is claiming a maximum speed of 120 mph, range of 300 nautical miles and a useful load of 430 pounds, which is also the legal minimum useful load for a two-seat, 100-hp LSA. The A5 will carry
20 gallons of autogas for the 912. Takeoff and landing distances are claimed to be 750 feet each.
Announced price is $139,000 with deliveries expected to begin in 2010. The design has not yet flown. At the introduction, guests were offered the chance to get on the sales list before the general
introduction of the aircraft on Thursday. All it took was $5000.
The local-area knowledge of Flight Service Station briefers is still not as good as it should be, says Andy Cebula, AOPA's executive
vice president for government affairs. But the system is working much better than it was last summer, when pilots frequently were having problems with lost flight plans and long hold times. Since
then, Lockheed has upgraded its systems and pilots have learned how to cope with their procedures. Increased oversight by
Congress has also had an impact, Cebula added, and weekly meetings with AOPA since February have helped as well.
Hear more on this topic from Cebula, as well as his views on fuel costs, ADS-B deployment, and the impact of national security measures on GA pilots, in Friday's upcoming AVweb podcast.
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The FAA's procedures for training new air traffic controllers are falling short, according to a report from the Transportation Department's Office of Inspector General issued late last week. On Wednesday afternoon, the topic got
a hearing before the House Subcommittee on Aviation. In its report, the OIG said the FAA's program for
training new hires on the job is "extremely decentralized" and the efficiency and quality of the training varies widely from one location to another. The same problems were found in 2004, the OIG
said, and FAA has made little progress in addressing them. At Wednesday's hearing, Pat Forrey, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, said a third party -- perhaps the National
Academy of Sciences -- should be brought in to help establish "scientifically based" staffing standards for every FAA ATC facility. He also said the FAA needs to back off on the work rules it imposed
when negotiations reached an impasse, and try to encourage veteran controllers to stay.
"There are far too many trainees, more than the FAA can safely and effectively handle," NATCA spokesman Doug Church told AVweb on Wednesday. "These human beings are being put into extremely
perilous, demoralizing and exhausting conditions, often well before they are prepared to handle it, because the FAA has no other choice due to the staffing crisis." The OIG report said that if the FAA
plans to hire and train 17,000 new controllers by 2017, the agency must do a better job of training new hires, be careful not to exceed the training capacity of individual facilities, and must
encourage veteran controllers to transfer to the more challenging sites. Hank Krakowski, head of the FAA Air Traffic Organization, testified that traffic is down overall in the national airspace, from airlines to GA traffic, which is helping
to "de-stress" the system.
A recent flight test showed that an unmanned, autonomous F/A-18 jet aircraft may be able to land safely even after losing almost 60
percent of a wing, Rockwell Collins said this week. Athena Technologies, a division of the company, conducted the test
this spring flying a scale-model airplane. The control systems automatically adapted to the loss of control surface, the company said, and then landed safely, using internal Inertial Navigation
System/Global Positioning System reference only. Rockwell Collins says the capability could be applicable to all commercial, business and general aviation aircraft for full flight automation and
backup, as well as for military aircraft in combat. "This powerful capability can save the military the expense of lost UAVs," said David Vos, senior director of Control Technologies at Rockwell
Collins. "But more importantly, the solution can save lives."
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) sponsored the flight demonstrations, which were conducted at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland. Click here to view videos of the flights.
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DayJet, which operates an on-demand charter fleet of Eclipse VLJs, said on Tuesday that it has signed an agreement to work with the FAA and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to deploy NextGen technologies throughout the state of Florida over the next five years. The project will serve as a
proving ground for the technology, to develop procedures and wring out any problems, and it will help smooth the way for nationwide deployment over the next 15 years. The FAA's Hank Krakowski, the head of the Air Traffic Organization, said at AOPA's fly-in last weekend that as a pilot himself, he
will keep the needs of GA pilots in mind as the NextGen system evolves. NextGen will create more access to airspace, more options for pilots, and increased efficiency, he said: "That's the promise of
the new technologies."
AOPA President Phil Boyer said at the fly-in that his staff will keep a close watch on the evolution of NextGen to ensure that GA pilots benefit from the changes, and are not saddled with too many
costs for new equipment. DayJet President and CEO Ed Iacobucci said on Tuesday, "We are proud to leverage our technology and expertise to help the nation enter the new age of digital
Starting with aviation charts to be released in August, the FAA will print contact information that will make it easier for pilots to decide
whether it is OK to fly through a Military Operating Area (MOA) or if it's better to go around. With more pilots trying to improve their route efficiency to save on fuel, the change is a timely one --
if long overdue. "For more than a decade, AOPA has been advocating that the military and FAA work together to chart these frequencies," said Pete Lehmann, AOPA manager of air traffic services. "This
is a move in the right direction to allow all pilots to access real-time data regarding the status of special-use airspace." The new FAA charts will provide contact frequencies for an FAA center
controller, military air traffic controller, or range control officer for each MOA and restricted area, AOPA
said, so pilots can check to see if the airspace is active, and if it is, at what altitudes.
"Often, when MOAs are active, the military is using a higher floor than what is printed on the chart," said AOPA. "In these cases, pilots can find out the floor and decide whether they can safely
fly under it." The change will hopefully prevent encounters like the one between two GA pilots and an Air Force F-16
earlier this year, which was discussed extensively in AVweb's blog and examined in-depth in Aviation Safety
magazine in May.
The Lancair Evolution, a four-seat, pressurized turboprop kit
aircraft that flies at 335 knots behind a Pratt & Whitney PT6, will make its first appearance at EAA AirVenture next month, the company said this week. The airplane first debuted in April at Sun 'n
Fun, but at Oshkosh it will fly daily exhibition flights, and the company also will offer demo flights to prospective buyers and the media. The company says the airplane has undergone independent
evaluations that found its flight characteristics meet FAA Part 23 standards. Production of kits has started and the first delivery is scheduled for July. The Evolution fast-build kit sells for
$250,000, with the completed airplane costing up to $1 million. Click here for an
exclusive AVweb video tour of the Evolution, inside and out, from the Sun 'n Fun debut.
Lancair, based in Redmond, Ore., has delivered over 2,000 kits since it was founded in 1984. The company produces the Lancair Legacy FG, Legacy RG, Lancair ES, Lancair ES-P, Lancair IV and Lancair
When the gigantic WhiteKnightTwo spaceship-hauling airplane rolls out of the hangar in Mojave on July 28 -- the opening day of EAA
AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis. -- the event will have "real-time ties... back to Oshkosh," EAA President Tom Poberezny promised this week. "We've been in regular communications with our friends at Virgin Galactic and its partner organization, Scaled Composites, to coordinate." The next day, July
29, designer Burt Rutan will arrive at AirVenture along with Virgin Group owner Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic President Will Whitehorn, where they will host a forum and interact with
visitors. While WhiteKnightTwo would seem the perfect vehicle for them to arrive in, Whitehorn told Space.com the ship won't start flight tests before September. No public glimpse of SpaceShipTwo is expected before early 2009, he said.
EAA promised to announce more details regarding the Virgin Galactic story at AirVenture as they are finalized. Click here for a video of one of last year's Virgin Galactic events from Oshkosh.
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The surprise appearance of one of two production Sino Swearingen SJ30 aircraft at the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition last month prompted plenty of speculation on the future of
the speedy bizjet, and the plans to resume production were confirmed earlier this week. Sino Swearingen announced on Monday that it now has a deal with Dubai-based Emirates Investment and Development
PSC to buy 80 percent of the company and get the plane back in production.
The SJ30 development program lasted almost a decade and was funded by the Taiwanese government to the tune of $700 million. Political changes in Taiwan prompted the country to stop the money flow,
just as the San Antonio-based company was gearing up for production. Taiwan retains the remaining 20-percent share. The company says it has about 300 orders for the aircraft, which cruises as high as
49,000 feet at 486 knots and will maintain sea-level cabin pressure at 41,000 feet.
A Sudan Airways Airbus A310 ran off the runway and burst into flames after landing at Khartoum International Airport in Sudan on
Tuesday night. At least 29 people died and 171 escaped, with 14 still unaccounted for, according to The Associated Press. On Wednesday, investigators were on the scene but it was unclear what had caused the crash. Some reports cited thunderstorms, gusty winds and a sandstorm in
the area at the time of the landing. One official said the airplane had landed safely when "technical problems" caused an engine to explode. Another report said the jet ran off the runway and hit some
navigation-light structures with its right wing, sparking the fire. Experts from Airbus and France's aviation-safety agency will assist in the investigation. Click here for a Reuters video of the inferno.
The flight originated in Damascus, Syria, and made a stopover in Amman, Jordan, before flying to Khartoum.
Two FAA whistleblowers allege that safety issues in airline inspections continue.
The FAA says it is investigating...
A sightseer riding in a C182 skydiving plane fell 10,000 feet to
his death, an apparent suicide, in Schenectady, N.Y., over the weekend.
Precise/Cirrus Fixed Oxygen Is Now Available as an SR22 Retrofit
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Apple's iPhone will soon have GPS capabilities, and Garmin's poised to counter with their own NuviPhone. Which device will win the hearts and minds of users the phone with GPS or the GPS
device that can make calls? AVweb's Paul Bertorelli has some ideas of his own, and he shares them in the latest installment of AVweb Insider.
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Last week, we passed the buck and asked AVweb readers a question that was put to us by one of you, AVweb reader Steve Allen: Which is the bigger threat to general
aviation user fees or fuel prices?
Given the current state of our Fuel Finder, where 100LL prices have risen 84¢ since the beginning of the year, we weren't surprised by your answers. Rising fuel prices
took the early lead over user fees and finished with a 60-40 majority in our informal poll. It seems you have your answer, Steve although we doubt it's helping you sleep any easier at
For the complete breakdown of reader responses, click here. (You may be asked to register and answer if you haven't already participated in this poll.)
THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***
With avgas prices rising and technology moving forward, we're starting to hear a lot of doom-and-gloom predictions for the future of 100 low-lead. This week, we want to know your
opinion on the matter.
Our best stories start with you. If you've heard something 200,000 pilots might want to know about, tell us. Submit news tips
via email to email@example.com. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.
Join NAA and Help Shape the Next Century of Flight
It's a great time to join the National Aeronautic Association (NAA), the nation's oldest aviation organization. At $39 a year, NAA membership is a terrific value for any aviation
enthusiast! Members receive the Smithsonian's Air & Space magazine, plus access to aviation records and much more. To become an NAA member,
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The crash on takeoff of a 509th Air Wing, Air Force B-2 Spirit bomber, February 23 operating at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, was caused by water in the aircraft's sensors, according
to an Air Combat report issued Thursday. Specifically, moisture in three port transducer units "distorted data introduced by a B-2 Spirit's air data system" which led to flawed information entering
the bomber's flight control computers. The aircraft was reacting to inaccurate airspeed and a "perceived" negative angle of attack. This resulted in an "uncommanded 30 degree nose-high pitch-up on
takeoff," according to the Air Force.
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AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Vee Neal Aviation at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport (KLBE) in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.
AVweb reader Josh Allen put their FBO on our radar, writing that he "always look[s] forward to being to fly to Vee Neal":
Their attitude toward planes should be followed by all FBOs. Together, being friendly and fast and having the cheapest services around, they are an all-around wonderful FBO. I find myself with tons of
time to kill because they are so quick with their service! Can't wait to come back!
AVweb is actively seeking
out the best FBOs in the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here next Monday!
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Each week, we go through dozens (and sometimes hundreds) of reader-submitted photos and pick the very best to share with you on Thursday mornings. The top photos are featured
on AVweb's home page, and one photo that stands above the others is awarded an AVweb baseball cap as our "Picture of the Week." Want to see your
photo on AVweb.com? Click here to submit it to our weekly contest.
*** THIS WEEK'S WINNERS ***
As the temperatures continue to rise at "POTW" headquarters, so does the quality of our submissions. That's good news for you, too (assuming you enjoy a good break from work to ogle
airplanes as much as we do). If you've got some photos to share, please contribute to the fun! We look forward to seeing your images.
This week's top photo comes from Donald Reid of Bumpass, Virginia, who shot this amazing photo for Ward in North Carolina last month. Gary tells
the shot was taken using nothing more than a Canon with 200mm zoom and extender.
Chris Zavatson of Woodland, California writes, "This is a photo of a Seneca departing Woodland-Watts Airport ... (KO41). I happened to have my
camera available and thought I would give this a shot." We think it turned out pretty nice, Chris!
Timothy O'Connor of Batavia, Ohio tells us "this new top secret air show act where a Stearman biplane walks a tightrope was observed last week at
Red Stewart Airfield in Ohio." Mmm-hmm I'm sure we'll see it for ourselves at AirVenture, Tim!
More Pics to See
Cruise on over to AVweb's home page, and you'll find more than a dozen bonus pics that we couldn't fit into this week's "POTW" story.
A quick note for submitters: If you've got several photos that you feel are "POTW" material, your best bet is to submit them one-a-week! That gives your photos a greater chance of
seeing print on AVweb, and it makes the selection process a little easier on us, too. ;)
A Reminder About Copyrights:
Please take a moment to consider the source of your image before submitting to our "Picture of the Week" contest. If you did not take the photo yourself, ask yourself if you are indeed authorized to
release publication rights to AVweb. If you're uncertain, consult the POTW Rules or or send us an e-mail.
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AVwebFlash is a weekly summary of the latest news, articles, products, features, and events featured on AVweb, the internet's aviation magazine and news service.
The AVwebFlash team is:
Publisher Timothy Cole
Editorial Director, Aviation Publications Paul Bertorelli
Editor-in-Chief Russ Niles
Contributing Editors Mary Grady Glenn Pew
Features Editor Kevin Lane-Cummings
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