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Alternatives for Thielert Engine Owners (and
Thielert Aircraft Engines has resumed full production of its
diesel engines, the company said on Wednesday. Just the day before, Diamond Aircraft had updated customers on its plans for getting by in a post-Thielert world, by certifying its airplanes to fly with Lycoming engines and
accelerating the development of its own Austro diesel, already in the works. Now Thielert says it can produce up to 80 engines per month, almost as many as before the insolvency problems began. "We
very much regret that losses were incurred because of the company's insolvency," said Bruno M. Kubler, the company's insolvency administrator. "I am pleased that we can now supply Thielert customers
with engines and spare parts once again." There is no relief in sight, however, from the high parts prices Thielert posted a month ago. The company is offering a guarantee against defective materials
and labor, but so far they have not offered to cover the expense to owners of required inspections of gearboxes. Kubler said a company audit will be completed this week, and then he will select
"suitable investors" from more than 50 prospective buyers.
"An investor who is capable of securing the existence of the company on a long-term basis at the Lichtenstein and Altenburg locations and continues to develop the company's leading position on the
market for diesel piston engines should get the nod," said Kubler. He added that he expects insolvency proceedings to start at the end of this month. The company's business operations will continue
even during those proceedings, he said.
Diamond Aircraft announced Tuesday that it's accelerating plans to certify its hot-selling DA42 Twin Star with Lycoming engines to replace the troubled Thielert Centurion diesels. And just to give
itself and customers more options, Diamond has also asked the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to give it approval to provide technical support and parts for Thielert engines, which presumably
would be the European equivalent of the parts manufacturing authority common in the U.S.
In a bulletin to more than 800 owners of DA40 and DA42 aircraft, Diamond said it will "aggressively pursue" at its London, Ontario, plant certification of the DA42 for 180-HP Lycoming IO-360
engines for both new aircraft and retrofit of airframes currently equipped with Thielert diesels. Diamond has a head start on that project because even as it was developing the twin in Austria, it was
also flying the airframe with Lycoming engines. The project was shelved when the diesel variant gained traction in the world market in the face of dwindling avgas availability.
Diamond says the certification project envisions the twin being capable of having Thielert, Lycoming or the new Austro diesels being developed by a Diamond sister company in Austria. No schedule was
offered on the Lycoming project, but Diamond said it expects to announce a Thielert support/parts program within the next few weeks.
Meanwhile, Diamond also said the insolvent TAE continues to provide support and parts, albeit slowly and at high prices. Diamond advised its customers to get confirmation on parts orders and shipping
schedules before paying TAE.
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Sales of general aviation piston airplanes have been slumping this year in the U.S., but some manufacturers are finding that global demand is taking up the slack, and then some.
Air Tractor, of Olney, Texas, is having one of its best years ever, according to company
president Leland Snow. The company's utilitarian aircraft are used mainly for agriculture and firefighting. "A combination of economic factors are producing a favorable climate for aircraft sales
[globally]," Snow said this week. "High commodity prices and the worldwide boom in agriculture, plus a weak U.S. dollar have made aircraft more affordable for overseas customers." The company expects
to produce 94 airplanes this year and 120 in 2009, at an average price of $700,000. Liberty Aerospace, of Melbourne, Fla., also said this week it is seeing a hefty increase in orders from overseas customers for its fuel-efficient XL-2 two-seat airplane.
"Given the escalating cost of fuel, many flight schools are reviewing their choices for primary training aircraft," said R.W. Burnley, Liberty spokesman. "If we think avgas is expensive here in the
U.S., those schools in faraway places are experiencing costs that are sometimes three times ours." Liberty is working to fulfill an order from China for 600 aircraft. In a volatile world, airplanes
that can operate economically have an edge. "These are busy times at Air Tractor," says Snow. "With the world's demand for food only increasing, we don't see that things here will slow down anytime
Economic uncertainty and high gas prices are hurting sales of general aviation aircraft -- as shown by a 28-percent drop in piston aircraft sales in the first quarter of this year -- and on Monday, Mooney Airplane Company said it is responding to that reality by slowing down production and
laying off 80 staffers. "These decisions will not have an adverse effect on the quality or safety of our products, nor will they delay scheduled aircraft deliveries," Mooney CEO Dennis Ferguson said
in a statement. "They were made to create corporate resiliency in the present economic conditions. Our plans include positioning Mooney as a strong contender in the international market." The weak
dollar has created a strong market for U.S. goods overseas. "We are strengthening our business in Europe, South America and Australia, where Mooney's high performance, efficiency and pricing are
especially appealing," Ferguson said. "Our focus is to ensure the long-term viability of the company through prudent management and expansion of our market reach."
The laid-off workers will get a severance package and career-transition support, Ferguson said. The production rate will slow from eight aircraft per month to five, for the rest of this year.
Mooney Airplane Co., based in Kerrville, Texas, has delivered more than 11,000 aircraft worldwide since 1946.
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Brad Jones and Sean O'Donnell, winners of Able Flight Scholarships that helped them earn their sport pilot certificates, will take off
in Atlanta next month and barnstorm their way to an opening-day arrival ceremony at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh. Both pilots use wheelchairs due to spinal-cord injuries suffered in accidents. They'll
fly a matched set of specially adapted Sky Arrow 600 LSAs. Along the way, they'll meet with disabled veterans and others to talk about their flying experiences. "Our goal is to bring these special
pilots and airplanes to as many people as possible as they travel to Oshkosh," said Charles Stites, of Able Flight. "It is one thing to read about a person with a disability becoming a pilot, and it's
quite another to hear from them in person how they have overcome traditional barriers and successfully faced the challenges of learning to fly." To help fund the tour and its general scholarship fund,
Able Flight is seeking donations. Go to their Web site for more info or to donate online.
Able Flight's mission is to offer people with disabilities a unique way to challenge themselves through flight training, and by doing so, to gain greater self-confidence and self-reliance.
This century's air-taxi model has had its ups and downs -- a few new companies are thriving, while others have already come and gone, or
never got started. But now another new player is ready to take its chances -- YourJet, based in Louisville, Ky., announced this week that it
expects to start booking flights this summer. The company will offer per-seat, on-demand service to airports within 700 miles of Louisville aboard a Diamond DA42 Twin Star, with Diamond D-Jets
expected to join the line next year. The company has said it hopes to offer competitive prices flying the single-engine D-Jet with a single pilot, saving on fuel and labor costs. YourJet founder Todd
House is a pilot and anesthesiologist who lives in Louisville. "YourJet returns valuable time to travelers who have been bound by airlines' hub-and-spoke systems throughout the country," he said this
week. "This is a cost-effective, safe, and highly convenient mode of air travel ... and we lead you right to the plane with no luggage hassles or security checks."
Todd House is also an organizer of the Thielert Engine Owners Group, which is working to deal with the fallout of the financial problems at
Thielert, which provides Diamond's diesel engines. An update from Diamond, dated Monday and posted at the group's site, says that the company is "aggressively pursuing" certification of Lycoming engines for its DA42 twin-engine aircraft and at the same time, "aggressively
pursuing" certification of its own Austro diesel engines for both the DA42 and the single-engine DA40.
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An engineer at the University of Florida has unveiled a design for a "flying saucer" that can take off vertically, hover, and fly,
and it has no wings or propeller -- it doesn't have any moving parts at all. "This is a very novel concept, and if it's successful, it will be revolutionary," said Subrata Roy, the ship's inventor, who applied for a patent on it last week. "If successful, we will have an aircraft, a saucer
and a helicopter all in one embodiment." The saucer is propelled by a force called magnetohydrodynamics, which is created when a current or a magnetic field is passed through a fluid. By interacting
with the atmosphere, the force is able to create lift and momentum and provides stability against wind gusts. The ship's surface is partially hollow and continuously curved, like an electromagnetic
flying bundt pan. Unfortunately, it seems the technique is likely to work better in space, where pesky things like gravity and drag are minimized.
Roy, however, is hopeful that his creation can prove useful here on Earth. He calls it a "wingless electromagnetic air vehicle," or WEAV, and plans to build a six-inch-wide prototype powered by
Aero Expo at Prague had a solid showing earlier this year, and was host to an important European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) meeting. The agency announced its proposal for simpler and lighter
regulations regarding airworthiness.
What this means practically is that it will supposedly be easier to certify aircraft and parts. There were also indications that the European Leisure Pilot's License is slowly navigating its way
through the rule making process. The proposals can be found on the EASA Web site under "Better Concept for General Aviation."
Lots of business activity this month. Billing itself as "Europe's first air taxi service," the new Cessna Citation Mustang operator Blink last week
made its first paid flight from Farnborough Airport in the U.K. The start-up has ordered 45 of the twin-engine, six-seater, entry-level jets and will work with TAG Aviation at Farnborough.
Co-founder and managing director Peter Leiman said, "Blink is setting the benchmark for the air taxi industry and we are confident that we will radically change the way European executives travel."
His partner Cameron Ogden added, "With Blink, we offer European travelers a compelling proposition: affordable, personalized air travel that enables people to take control of their own time."
Further up the road, London Executive Aviation (LEA) has added to its Mustang fleet. It has now taken delivery of its second and third of the type and
is set to add two more this month. The aircraft are based at Luton, Stansted, Biggin Hill and Farnborough. "We couldn't have foreseen the state of the economy when we ordered the Mustangs five years
ago, but in fact this is the perfect time to introduce these aircraft," said LEA managing director George Galanopoulos.
Mentor Scheme For Flybe
According to Flight Training News, Flybe -- Europe's largest regional airline -- has started a "mentored" pilot training scheme with PTC
Ireland, which places student pilots on courses tailored specifically for future Flybe pilots. While the scheme does not provide student pilots with any financial help, it does offer them a direct
tie-in with an airline once they have completed training. The security of a job at the end of training makes these mentoring schemes extremely popular and competition is fierce for a place on them.
The airline gets to pre-select students before they start training and can monitor their training progress from day one.
German helicopter manufacturer Youngcopter debuted a prototype of its Neo kit helicopter at the ILA show in Berlin last month. Creator Björn
Jung explained, "This is the prototype and we're showing it here to judge the market reaction." Jung said that he hoped that the helicopter would make its maiden flight this summer. The projected
cruise speed is 100 knots over 300 nautical miles. It will run on mogas. Jung said, "If flight testing goes well, then perhaps we will start kit production next summer and then start delivering the
first kits at the end of 2009. There is an excitement around helicopters and I am surprised by the amount of interest we have received before we even got to ILA."
Industry Stalwarts Roll Out The Big Guns As Airshow Season Gets Into Its Stride
I know, I know, some of you don't like me talking about airshows. However, they are a key way in which the industry gets to get together, shares information and even gets things done. They are also a
great way to introduce flying to the general public and bring in young people to the community as they see their first aircraft up close and personal. So I'm going to point out the biggest and best,
what's coming up and the significant ones that have just been.
Perhaps the most important one of these is ICARUS 2008, which took place in Greece last weekend. AOPA Hellas hosted the event
at Tatoi Airfield near Athens, during the 24th IAOPA World Assembly 2008. Southern Europe is one of the fastest-growing aviation markets because of excellent weather conditions, the recent EU
enlargement, and dynamically growing economies.
Europe's largest event this year, the Farnborough International Airshow takes place July 14-20. According to its
organizers, it is the biggest, "most internationally attended aerospace event in the world." It is actually a monster, with increasing numbers of GA aircraft on site. Not so much of the lighter stuff,
but certainly enough bizjets and turboprops on display to warrant a mention. And if you like watching state-of-the-art fighter jets and trainers in superb displays, then it's the show for you.
The same weekend, there is a German show that bases itself on EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh. Tannkosh
2008 takes place at Tannheim and there are fly-in instructions. Unlike Farnborough, you can actually fly in and camp under the wing if you choose.
Meanwhile the original EAA AirVenture has announced a strategic relationship with one of Europe's oldest bi-annual shows, Aero
Friedrichshafen, as reported here on AVweb earlier this month. Friedrichshafen has reached a
critical mass and wants to expand its horizons further. Not only is it switching from an every other year format, it is forging close ties with the EAA. "We're convinced that this will lead to more
aviation enthusiasm and additional value for our common customers on both sides of the pond," said Thomas Grunewald, Frierichshafen's project manager.
One of the longest-established shows in the U.K. calendar, the Biggin Hill Day, was a great success. The prize for best individual
display was awarded to the French Air Force Mirage 2000 and the best team trophy to the Spitfire and Mustang flown by Paul Bonhomme and Nigel Lamb. Both were excellent displays, but my personal
favorites were Guy Westlake and his magnificent glider aerobatics and a Bleriot, which impressed me once again when I think of the pioneers who flew in bygone years.
For more aviation news and information from Europe, read the rest of Liz Moscrop's columns.
When we left our intrepid round-the-world pilots two weeks ago, they were about to launch for a flight up the Nile. First stop was Abu Simbel, two ancient, massive rock temples on the western bank
of Lake Nasser, southwest of Aswan. A nearby airfield made it a convenient stop, and the visit was specatacular, despite the steamy heat. Another short flight brought the group to Luxor. Three days
were allotted to explore the temples, sail on the Nile, and visit museums.
Next stop was the unique, futuristic city of Dubai, home to the world's tallest building, the world's only seven-star hotel, and an indoor ski resort. Then a short flight to Muscat, Oman. The group
found the city an unexpected pleasure -- clean, modern, and beautiful -- but also began to feel very far from home, in a foreign culture where women are not allowed equal rights.
So far, the group has been traveling for over 30 days, they've visited 13 countries, slept in 16 hotels, and made it halfway around the world. The weather has been fine, and no mechanical problems
have slowed them down. Now they are embarking on some of the most challenging flying of the journey, in less developed countries, facing more challenging weather conditions.
Thierry Pouille, the trip leader, has posted some video slideshows from the trip on YouTube, which feature some neat shots from GA
aircraft flying into places where few of us ever go.
Forget User Fees and High Gas Prices...if GA gets done in, it will be because of the utter stupidity of stuff we voluntarily put up with. And we seem to experience more of it every year. Read this
week's AVweb Insider blog by Paul Bertorelli, who's off on a tear about small airport security.
Last week, we asked AVweb readers to once again gaze into their crystal balls and cast predictions on the longevity of 100LL. Answers formed a very neat Bell curve, with the
largest segment of respondents (33%) saying at least another ten years, but not beyond that. At the further ends of the spectrum, 11% think the end is near for the venerable fuel, and
21% said 100LL will always be available.
For a complete (real-time) 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 ***
Many of you will be shopping for new cockpit instrumentation at AirVenture, and that brings to mind a question put to us by reader Brett Friermood a while back. Brett's not so
fond of the glass panel cockpits but has the impression he's in a minority. This week, let's see where Brett's preference ranks in relation to other AVweb readers.
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.
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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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A couple of weeks ago, AVweb reader Mitch Hargrave found himself in the vicinity of Oklahoma City, checking the local weather reports:
I checked the weekend weather, and the chance for thundershowers was quite low for the OKC area. But, wouldn't you know it, three hours after arriving I could see storms brewing out to the west. As
the evening wore on, they intensified and were moving toward Will Rogers, where our beloved N33V was sitting out on the ramp. Feeling not a little uneasy, I called AAR. I was told not to worry
33V was [already] in the big hangar! That, my friends, is service. Needless to say, I slept soundly that night.
AVweb is actively seeking
out the best FBOs in the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here next Monday!
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,
or call (703) 416-4888 and press 4.
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 ***
With the kids out of school and summer storms buffeting "POTW" HQ, we're finally getting used to it being summer. In between the golf, the short pants, and the ever-growing
anticipation for our trip to Oshkosh, we can still find time to rifle through each week's bevy of reader-submitted photos and pick out our favorites so keep
'em coming, O.K.?
Brook Heyel of Apex, North Carolina steals our breath (and the top spot in this week's feature) with an understated but beautifully composed shot
snapped "during the Kitty Hawk 99s' Airmarking in Elizabethtown."
... and oh-so-close to being this week's top photo!
This shot from Gavin Conroy of Blenheim, Marlborough (New Zealand) is currently the desktop wallpaper on our photo-editing computer. "One shot
I am very happy to have taken," writes Gavin, who "always keep[s] a camera in my car."
Donald Reid of Bumpass, Virginia has been on our minds a lot lately mainly because he always responds to our pleas for more photos with some
really keen images that we don't always get a chance to share. Here, it seems the ever-prolific Mr. Reid was aiming for one shot when a different opportunity cropped up: "He had just waved to
Carol Pilon, the wing-walker (in the background) and then saw something special that caused this magical moment."
We were beginning to wonder what happened to all the great black-and-white "back in the day" photos we used to find in our inbox!
Thankfully, a handful of readers like Bill Ritchie of Mt. Prospect, Illinois have started sending us aerial pics of highly-recognizable airports
when they were a bit less (shall we say) massive. Bill served up this photo (discovered at Bensenville Public Library)of the C54 runway built by Douglas in 1943 that eventually became O'Hare
Airport in the '50s.
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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