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Although new aircraft sales are in the doldrums, some avionics shops are doing brisk business upgrading older airframes and that makes the Aircraft Electronics Assciation bullish on 2009. The AEA
opens its 52nd annual convention at Dallas's Gaylord Texan convention center today with a record number of new product introductions and strong participation by association members. AEA President
Paula Derks told AVweb on Wednesday that some member shops have seen only modest business decline since last fall, if they've seen any. "I can't say certain regions or certain shops are busier
than others. Thankfully, our segment of the industry, the repair stations and the manufacturers of avionics system, are not reporting a lot of layoffs," Derks said.
In some ways, strong OEM sales during the past five years may have prepared certain segments of the market to weather the current downturn. Expensive-to-develop systems such as Garmin's G1000 and
Avidyne's Entegra line were designed with new aircraft in mind but everyone expected they would eventually find their way into the aftermarket. And eventually is evidently here, as both Garmin and
Avidyne are selling aggressviely into the legacy fleet while newcomer Aspen Avionics is doing well with its popular EFIS retrofit. Lesser known players such as Sagem, Chelton and ISS are also angling
for a share of the retrofit market. Aspen CEO John Uczekaj told us Wednesday that sales for March showed a definite uptick and Aviydne's Tom Harper reported the same trend. Aspen has sold more than
1000 of its unique retrofit PFDs and expects to be shipping a companion MFD by about mid-year. Look for more reporting on the retrofit market later in the week.
Aero Friedrichshafen, which opens today and runs through Sunday, is continuing to grow, and attracting a wide range of exhibitors eager to expand in the European market. Overall, 625 exhibitors from
27 countries are setting up at the show, with German companies in the lead, followed by companies from the U.S. and the Czech Republic. AVweb is staffing the show and will have reports later in the
week. Many companies have expanded their space compared to the last show. The show is the biggest for gliders from around the world, and ultralights, LSAs, and helicopters are robustly represented. An
E-Flight Expo will showcase aircraft with electrical propulsion, new solar technologies and other innovative propulsion concepts. The show
also provides an opportunity for GA folk from various places to meet, and Dan Johnson, chairman of the Light Aircraft Manufacturing Association, said that could have some significant repercussions,
perhaps leading to a universal standard for light sport aircraft. "A Certification Specification for Light Sport Aircraft (CS-LSA) is working its way through the European Union and at Aero, some key
meetings are planned to help EASA personnel get with FAA people and ASTM committee members," Johnson wrote at his blog this week.
"Dull? Maybe ... But look at the prize: the potential for a worldwide standard for LSA."
Johnson said if a universal ASTM standard can be created, U.S. companies could work to enlarge their market in Europe at dramatically lower cost than for type-certificated airplanes, which must
gain approval country-by-country. "Can we expect LSA to give birth to a global aircraft certification standard?" asks Johnson. "Possibly, and my best analogy is jet or auto fuel. In every country on
Earth, these fuels meet non-governmental ASTM standards. If it works for major commodities like airline and auto fuel, many believe it can work for light-sport aircraft."
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Amid all the economic gloom, a bright spot is growing -- with the approach of spring, and the imminence of the season-opener shows at Aero Friedrichshafen and Sun 'n Fun, bargains for pilots are flowing into our inbox every day, and manufacturers are rolling
out new products. Socata announced on Wednesday that it will now offer
Garmin's synthetic vision technology in the TBM 850. LSA builder Tecnam has a new model, the P2008. Compared to earlier
models, the P2008 has a new wing, a bigger cabin and larger doors. (Click here for a recent
AVweb podcast about flying cross-country in a Tecnam LSA.) Other new deals we heard about this week include an amphibious float kit for the Storm Rally LSA, for $9,995, and a new price from Team Tango for its quick-build aircraft, with savings of about $5,000 on each model for the next 90 days. Add in the substantial
Glasair Sportsman discounts we told you about on Monday, and the new Super Sport Cub from CubCrafters, and it's like a breath
of fresh air.
And more good news: Airshows are expecting an attendance surge this summer. "Families are cutting costs, but they're still looking for quality entertainment," said John Cudahy, president of the
International Council of Air Shows. "That's why airshow attendance spikes in a bad economy. Ticket prices are low, but the entertainment value is high." Cudahy reported a 12- to 15-percent increase in
airshow attendance during 2008, which followed patterns witnessed during earlier recessions. Spring shows in Florida so far have reported robust crowds, and more than 10 million spectators are
expected at about 400 shows in the U.S. and Canada this year, according to the ICAS.
CubCrafters, of Yakima, Wash., this week introduced the Super Sport Cub LSA, a beefier version of their Sport Cub.
Equipped with a new 340-cubic-inch engine developed by CubCrafters and ECI, the airplane can take off in less than 100 feet even at gross weight, and climb out at over 2,100 fpm. The new CC340
four-cylinder engine is certified to ASTM standards and produces up to 180 hp for takeoff and climb while maintaining 80 hp continuous power up to 12,000 feet, with a fuel burn of about 5 to 6 gph.
"It's a very powerful engine and probably something that wasn't expected in the LSA industry," CubCrafters CEO Jim Richmond told AVweb on Wednesday. "But the beauty of operating an engine
that's more powerful than it needs to be, is that when you power back to cruise speed, the fuel flows are the same as with a smaller engine."
At 240 to 245 pounds dry weight, the CC340 is about 35 pounds lighter than a comparable Lycoming engine, Richmond said. The weight savings came from replacing the magnetos with electronic ignition,
along with a range of small changes. "A gram here and a gram there, and it all adds up," Richmond said. The airframe is essentially the same as for the Carbon Cub kit, made from carbon fiber and other
composites with aluminum ribs. The Super Sport Cub can be delivered with tundra tires, floats or skis. Click here to
check out the CubCrafter Web site for more info and a video, or check it out in person later this month at Sun 'n Fun. Base price is
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An FAA spokesman told ABC News the agency is "comfortable" with the way Red Bull operates its restored Grumman Albatross seaplane -- but former FAA safety inspector Bill McNease told reporters the airplane is "terribly unsafe, because the wing could fall off at any time." The ABC story also notes that the airplane operates under an "experimental airworthiness certificate" and flew above Super
Bowl activities in Tampa last month despite the fact that it is supposed to avoid densely populated areas. "Neither Red Bull nor any of its pilots or flight crews have or would operate an aircraft
that is known to be unsafe or in an unsafe manner," a Red Bull spokeswoman told ABC. Red Bull also said the airplane is operated in full compliance with FAA regulations, according to ABC.
The report includes dramatic video of a "similar seaplane" crashing into the ocean off Miami after its "aged wings had snapped off." The airplane in that video is a Grumman Turbo Mallard G-73T,
while Red Bull's seaplane is a Grumman HU-16E Albatross. The NTSB found the probable cause of the Mallard
accident, in which 20 people died, was the in-flight failure and separation of the right wing, which resulted from the operator's inadequate maintenance program and the FAA's inadequate
Devices that could emit an electromagnetic pulse capable of disabling the avionics on an airplane are fairly simple to build with off-the-shelf components and information from the Internet, according
to an article in this week's New
Scientist. Such a device, at least theoretically, could be smuggled aboard a commercial airliner or aimed from the ground at an aircraft landing or taking off, the magazine says. Speculation
persists that such weapons have already been used in the Persian Gulf and in Afghanistan, though no reports have been confirmed, according to the New Scientist.
Concern about the impact of EMPs on aircraft is nothing new, as the pulses are a known side effect of nuclear weapons. GE has been working on a $12 million military contract since 2006 with the goal to find a way to make aircraft immune
from electromagnetic threats. Results from the project are due in 2011. Meanwhile, the increasing use of composite materials in aircraft is making them more vulnerable, Yael Shahar, director of a
counter-terrorism institute in Israel, told the New Scientist. Composites provide poor shielding against electromagnetic radiation compared with metal. "What is needed is extensive shielding of
electronic components and the vast amount of cables running down the length of the aircraft," Shahar said. One solution may be to protect cables with a metal mesh that can absorb
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Textron, the parent company of Cessna, said on Tuesday that it will further lower 2009
manufacturing production rates at Cessna, and Cessna CEO Jack Pelton confirmed in an e-mail to workers that that means more job cuts. "I've never seen any situation as dynamic as this," Pelton wrote,
according to the Wichita Eagle. "Financing continues to be problematic for many customers," he said. "Their
economic health may have stabilized, but their decision to take delivery of the jet they ordered two years ago now hinges on increased profitability which is still some time away." In addition to the
staff reduction, details of which will be announced at the end of this month, the company will shut down for two weeks in July. Other staff may face short-term furloughs as production of some models
is suspended pending an upturn in demand.
Cessna has already laid off 4,600 workers. The next round of cuts will affect workers in all departments and all pay levels, the company said.
In its annual aviation forecast,
released on Tuesday, the FAA said it expects U.S. aircraft operations to decrease almost 6 percent this year compared to 2008 levels but then start to rebound in 2010. Operations overall will then
grow at about 1.5 percent per year through 2025, with general aviation growing slightly faster at 1.8 percent per year. The total GA fleet should continue to grow at the rate of about 1 percent per
year. "A vibrant, efficient and green aviation system will play a key role in our nation's economic recovery," said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. The report noted that GA operations at
combined FAA and contract towers were down 5.6 percent last year, the steepest decline since 2003. GA activity at consolidated traffic facilities (FAA TRACONs) fell 6.3 percent, while the number of GA
aircraft handled at FAA en route centers decreased 7.6 percent. The number of student pilots decreased 4 percent in 2008, the fourth consecutive year of decline in this category. "The industry is
trying to stimulate interest in flying, but the data suggest that more needs to be done," the report says. The FAA said that although this worldwide recession is one of the most severe downturns since
the end of World War II, new federal stimulus packages and monetary policies are expected to turn the economy around in the second half of this year.
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As expected, Cirrus has announced that the Perspective avionics suite developed by Garmin will be standard panel in the SF50 Vision (we're not sure when it changed from SJ50) jet. Cirrus launched
the proof-of-concept Vision with L-3's Smart Deck system but there were reports late last year that the two had parted ways. Since it's introduction a year ago as a top-of-the-line option, Perspective
has been praised by the Cirrus community and it has spread to other models, so from a conformity standpoint it makes sense the jet would be equipped with it, too. "This is great news for present and
future Vision jet and SR22 Perspective owners because the SR22 and Turbo with Perspective and known ice protection is the natural training and transition aircraft in preparation for flying the
Vision," said Cirrus CEO Brent Wouters. A Perspective panel will be installed in the proof-of-concept, which is still undergoing tests.
Wouters said V1, as it's known, flies about five times a week and now has 140 hours. He said test pilots have completed power-on and power-off stalls, established the full CG range, assessed the
icing system (this is Duluth, after all) evaluated wing root vortex generators. The company is moving out of the huge former Northwest maintenance hangar and taking the jet program back to the main
plant across the field.
Teledyne Continental said on Wednesday that it has just completed a round of flight and test-cell trials that suggest that 94UL may be an adequate replacement for 100LL, whose existence is
threatened by continued availability of tetraethyl lead. TCM says it will push for approval of 94UL as the leading replacement for 100LL. 94UL is essentially 100LL without the TEL additive. It meets
vapor pressure and other avgas specs, but without the lead, it doesn't match 100LL's octane, which is typical about 103 straight from the refinery.
But is 94 sufficient octane to avoid detonation on a hard, hot climb on a summer day? Teledyne said in a press conference that it hasn't expanded its testing into all corners of the flight envelope
but four flight tests in a normally aspirated A36 Bonanza have revealed no cooling or detonation issues thus far. The company also said it doesn't think Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC)
will be required to make the engines run properly on 94UL.TCM has not, however, conducted a standard FAA climb-cooling test, which is the regime in which detonation usually occurs. Further, said
Continental, it's not opposed to autofuel as a replacement for 100LL provided that certain standards are in place to assure consistent specs with regard to octane, vapor pressure and especially
oxygenate additives such as ethanol. Although pure ethanol has been approved for limited use in modified aircraft engine in Brazil, it's considered a bad actor for aircraft use because it's strongly
hydrophilic, lacks the energy content of avgas and causes corrosion in aluminum parts and degradation of soft seals and gaskets. High-octane autofuel does, however, meet basic octane requirements for
normally aspirated engines. Owners who use it are finding it increasingly difficult to find autogas without ethanol blended in.
What about Continental's large-displacement turbocharged engines, such as the TSIO-520 and -550 series? Will 94UL work for them? TCM says stay tuned; it hasn't done the flight testing to confirm
that. Others who have, however, have had difficulty passing the climb cooling barrier without encountering at least light detonation. TCM began its alternate fuel testing about a year ago and it plans
to push for ASTM approval of 94UL as the transparent replacement for 100LL. That application will be submitted in a few weeks and could be approved as early as next fall. However, that's just the
beginning of 94UL's journey to becoming a certified fuel, if it ever does. It will still require FAA certification and approval and at least a paperwork shuffle so that owners can legally use it in
some airplanes. TCM's testing took place in an IO-550-B powered Bonanza, but it has done test-cell work with the 200-series engines, the O-470 and O-520 series.
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It would be hard to imagine a worse time to be launching a new airliner but Bombardier is forging ahead with its new CSeries
single-aisle airplanes and winning new orders that might otherwise have gone to Boeing or Airbus. The company announced a $1.44 billion deal with Lease Corporation International (LCI) on Monday for
three of the 110-seat models and 17 of the 130-seat variants and options for 20 more. Earlier this month, Lufthansa committed to 30 CSeries aircraft, with options for 30. LCI represents 20 airlines in
Europe and Asia and did not say where the aircraft might end up, but LCI spokesman Tasos Michael told the Montreal Gazette the CSeries offers a combination of technological advancement (launch customer for Pratt and Whitney Canada's geared turbofan engine) and a sweet spot in the
market for cabin size. "There are good deals from everybody at the moment. We went with Bombardier," he told the Gazette.
The CSeries was first proposed almost a decade ago and shelved a few years ago before being formally resurrected at last year's Farnborough Air Show. The tipping point seemed to be the geared
turbofan, which may improve efficiency by as much as 15 percent, a major consideration for any airliner but especially poignant on the short- and medium-haul routes that its chief competitors, the
Boeing 737 and Airbus A319 and A320, serve. "If it does everything it says on the box, it will be great for airlines," Michael said. Analysts say LCI's order is speculative and could be deferred if
its own customers don't bite. "Yes, our order is speculative," Michael told the Gazette. "But I don't think the risks are very weighty. There are not many narrow-body aircraft in the market, and the
potential is huge." Teal Group VP Richard Aboulafia told the Gazette Michael might be right. "[Bombardier] may well have tapped into an underserved market," he said.
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Last week, we asked AVweb readers which sectors of the aviation economy could benefit the most from stimulus money.
We got some interesting responses, but the largest segment of participants thought the money could be put to the best use at local airports. (38% of you chose this answer.)
Coming in second (and accounting for 28% of votes) were big-picture items like NextGen.
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 ***
AVweb staff are currently making the rounds at Aero Friedrichshafen and the AEA show in Dallas. It's official: Show season is upon us, and we want to know how often you'll be making the rounds this year.
Our best stories start with you. If you've heard something 200,000 pilots might want to know about, tell us. Submit news tips
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Don't get him wrong: AVweb Editorial Director Paul Bertorelli is keenly interested in Teledyne-Continental's efforts to migrate from 100LL to "94UL" (essentially 100LL minus the lead)
but he can't help doing a double-take when discussing the research. In the latest edition of our AVweb Insider blog, he explains: "For nearly three decades we've been writing stories about
the difficult struggle to find an octane enhancer as good as lead, and now here comes TCM to say, well, never mind. It reminds me of that classic headline about World War I: 'Archduke Found Alive; War
After 18 months without an official leader, the FAA will need Randy Babbitt to get to work immediately if he's confirmed as FAA administrator. In the latest installment of our AVweb Insider
blog, editor-in-chief Russ Niles speculates on which he'll lean and runs down the best- and worst-case scenarios.
AERO Friedrichshafen The Best Place for Your Business AERO Friedrichshafen is the premier European trade show for the General Aviation industry. Starting in 2009, AERO will take place annually. Situated in Central Europe, within the
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modern fairgrounds in Europe. If you want to do business in Europe, you have to be there!
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If any segment of the aviation industry can be said to be weathering the economic storm in good stead, it's electronics and that's evident from the pre-show buzz at this year's
Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA) convention in Dallas, Texas.
When Bendix/King rolled out its AV8OR portable GPS last summer, the $749 retail price about $675 discounted caught GPS buyers by surprise. So did the AV8OR's feature
set, which includes a touchscreen interface and automotive navigation as built-in standard capability. In this video, AVweb's editors took the AV8OR out for a spin to wring out its major
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AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Tri-City Aviation at KTRI in Kingsport, Tennessee.
AVweb reader Jonathan Butkovic recommended the FBO:
I was in Bristol for the NASCAR race, and Tri-City Aviation was the FBO on the field, so I parked there. They were helpful, friendly and very cost-friendly. ... I loved it and certainly will be
back next time I go to the races!
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 ***
We realize that AEA is happening in Dallas, Texas right now, but did Texan readers, knowing that we'd be prowling the show, want to give us a Lone Star welcome by flooding our
submissions box with "Picture of the Week" entries? It may be (and probably is) nothing more than sheer coincidence. Either way, we're happy to have a Texas-sized batch of submissions to sift
through this week ... .
Our third entry comes from Alex McDonald of Newtown, New South Wales the, uh ... Texas of Australia? (O.K., so we got some photos that
weren't from Texas this week.) Alex snapped this beauty departing the runway after a performance at the Australia International Air Show in Avalon.
Speaking of afternoon air shows, Mark Silvestri of Upton, Massachusetts took this photo at Tyndall Air Force Base, where "my good friend's
four-and-a-half-year-old son was one of the few who waited long enough to watch the Blue Angels fly. Here is the slot pilot, Blue Angel #4, waving back to his new buddy Alex."
Quick, someone call our resident A&P! We can always count on Fullerton, California's Greg Soaper to drop a photo
in our submission box from time to time that simply must be stared at for long, excruciating moments (regardless of how tight those news deadlines are). This week, Greg runs down the squawk list for
Found oil drip under aft port landing gear bay. Please check fitting KM93049827-AB-09832DMS on manifold GMS2938749-4MDS-39874F. Also, wire
DMQ8439485-2BWS-20938 needs a few more cable ties. One more, NAV cup holder broken. Thanks.
And that, folks, is as good a place as any to sign off for this week. Don't forget to check AVweb's home page for more photos (Texan and
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.
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
Webmaster Scott Simmons
Contributors Jeff van West
Click here to send a letter to the
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