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Although there have been reports of photos circulating of the Cessna turboprop single test aircraft, these are the first we've seen and we've corresponded with the Wichita engineer who took them
last summer with his cellphone. The aircraft does indeed appear to be the "turboprop Mustang" that has been widely rumored and not a re-engined Corvalis as some had suspected. Our
engineer/photographer, who also happened to work on the early design of the Columbia/Corvalis, notes there was no provision for a turboprop or pressurization in that design. The apparent use of a
modified Mustang fuselage (note the rear door) makes more sense given Cessna's stated goal for the program to be an intermediate step for owner-pilots graduating from the Corvalis to the Mustang. As we reported in Wednesday's AVwebBiz, Cessna is a long way from introducing the turboprop as a finished design and it will not
be on display at AOPA Summit next week.
Bob Stangarone, Cessna's VP of Corporate Communications, told AVweb this week the aircraft, N350CE, is an early stage of a program that may or may not result in a conforming aircraft. "What
we're flying is neither a prototype nor proof of concept aircraft. It's a technology demonstrator to help us determine how we could best fill the gap between the Corvalis and the Citation Mustang,"
Stangarone told AVweb. "Any new aircraft introduction would be some time away." Last week, thanks to Plane Fax, we published documents relating to the registration of the test aircraft that
indicate the engine is on the small side, putting out only 500 horsepower. All-up weight for a Mustang is 8730 lbs.
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Bonus depreciation is helping the world's largest general aviation manufacturer sell airplanes. Cessna Finance Corp. President Tom Low said there has been a noticeable increase in all facets of the
business since the government extended bonus depreciation last September. In a podcast interview, Low said those who qualify (must have taxable
income and be U.S. taxpayers) can take a sizeable chunk off their taxes with the provision and Cessna is helping customers to leverage the savings even farther if it's a Mustang they're looking
Low said the company introduced an offer at the National Business Aviation Association convention that involves Cessna making the first year's interest and principal payments. Coupled with bonus
depreciation, it amounts to a 25-percent discount on the price of the entry-level jet. While not everyone is in the market for a jet, Low said the tax break is affecting piston sales, too. Low said
the market has attracted interest from one of the country's biggest banks. Bank of America is active in airplane financing at rates and terms attractive to many qualified buyers, Low said.
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Worldwide air-freight traffic has already started to recover from a recent downturn, and the market is expected to triple in size by 2029, Boeing said in a forecast released this week. "Industrial requirements are driving the rebound, as air cargo is an essential tool for
industry and commerce to manage supply chains and bring goods to market," said Jerry Allyne, an analyst with Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "As airlines return to profitability, they will begin to
consider fleet renewal to improve long-term operating costs." Air cargo traffic rebounded strongly beginning in November 2009 and has continued to grow so far this year. As a result, world air cargo
traffic is expected to regain its 2007 peak by the end of this year, Boeing said.
"Economic activity -- world gross domestic product -- is the key driver of the air cargo market," said Allyne. "Following the recession and a year of recovery, world economic growth is forecast to
average 3.2 percent over the next two decades." In August 2009, industrial activity began to recover, particularly in Asia, and monthly air cargo traffic statistics turned positive in November 2009,
Boeing said. The first eight months of 2010 have seen an estimated 24 percent growth in traffic, compared to the same period in 2009. The number of airplanes in the freighter fleet is expected to
expand from 1,755 airplanes in 2009 to 2,967 airplanes in 2029. Boeing released the biennial forecast at the International Air Cargo Forum and Exhibition 2010 in Amsterdam on Tuesday.
Small drones could soon become ubiquitous for a variety of personal uses, from snapping photos for paparazzi to monitoring children for protective parents, according to a story in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal. One example is a "personal sentry" drone now under development for the
military at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The drone is only about a foot wide and weighs less than a pound. Four tiny propellers allow it to hover and maneuver quickly in every direction.
A parent could affix a sensor to a child, and the drone would follow everywhere the child goes, sending real-time video back to the parent's iPhone. The drone could also easily look into neighbor's
backyards and track errant spouses. "It would strike fear in the hearts of every celebrity having a birthday party," Gary Morgan, head of a celebrity-photo agency, told the Journal.
Current FAA rules provide few guidelines for the use of drones for personal and recreational use outside the National Airspace System, as long as they stay at altitudes less than 400 feet agl and
keep away from airports and air traffic. As long as the aircraft don't impact safety, there are few restrictions on their use within those parameters, the Journal said. Another sign that drones are on
the rise -- filmmaker Tony Scott, who reportedly is working on a sequel to Top Gun, has hinted that drones may play a major role in Top Gun 2. Scott told Hitfix he was planning to visit an installation in Nevada where
"computer geeks" fly drones in overseas combat operations. "This world fascinated me, because it's so different from what it was originally," Scott said.
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When a group of high school students in Talkeetna, Alaska, signed on to rebuild a wrecked airplane, the town, with a total population of 800, rallied to the project in a big way. Fifteen local
pilots volunteered to help out with the Build A Plane project, according to the Anchorage Daily
News. Local CFI Drew Haag offered a free introductory flight lesson to every participating student. The local chapter of the Ninety-Nines donated $500 to purchase a private pilot ground school
course for the local library. "It's an amazing buildup of people," said June Ruda, a counselor at the Susitna Valley Junior-Senior High School. The students are restoring a yellow 1949 Stinson 108-3
that was wrecked in a rough landing several years ago.
The small town's main industry is catering to tourists visiting nearby Denali National Park, and aviation plays a major role. The Build A Plane project inspired K2 Aviation, a local bush-flying
service, to create two full-time paid internships for participating students. Talkeetna Aero Services gave one student a paid, full-time summer job and also offered all the students and their parents
free flights to view Mt. McKinley. Talkeetna Air Taxi established a $2,500 scholarship for students who pursue post-secondary education or training. They also created a full-time paid position for
next summer for a Build A Plane student. "I'm very proud of what our little town has done to support these kids," said Rebecca Fisher, a Talkeetna resident and Alaska Airlines pilot who volunteered to
head the project. "Aviation is a big part of who we are here in Alaska and I think people see this Build A Plane project as an opportunity to give back to the community." Build A Plane, a nonprofit group based in California, solicits aircraft donations then distributes those airplanes to high schools and youth groups
across the country.
This year's Reel Stuff Film Festival of Aviation launches this weekend at the National Aviation Hall of Fame in Dayton, Ohio. Each of
the five films screened on Friday and Saturday will be introduced by an actor, producer or other key contributor to the production, and each film will be followed by a question-and-answer session.
Friday's opening-night reception is hosted by Cliff Robertson, followed by the film "Flyabout," introduced by director Monika Petrillo. The film chronicles the adventures of a young pilot who aims to
complete a circumnavigation of Australia by air. Saturday's schedule features four films as well as a reception and a silent auction fundraiser to help support the Hall of Fame Learning Center.
Saturday's movies are "The Wright Brothers at Fort Myer," a film by Paul Glenshaw, who also directed the "Barnstorming" documentary. (AVweb spoke with Glenshaw about his work at EAA
AirVenture last summer; click here for that podcast.) Producer Heather Taylor will introduce "Breaking Through the Clouds," a documentary about the
first women's international air derby, held in 1929. Director Adam White will show a "sneak peak" of his upcoming PBS series "The Restorers," which features stories about the restoration of warbirds
and vintage aircraft. The festival closes out with the classic "Flight of the Intruder," introduced by Clay Lacy, who worked as an aerial cinematographer on the 1991 film. Tickets for all festival
events are available online.
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The FAA needs to a better job of issuing certifications and approvals, the Government Accountability Office concluded in a recent report. A lack of efficiency and consistency in how the FAA
interprets its own rules adversely affects the aviation industry, causing delays and higher costs, the analysts found. To improve its performance, the GAO says, FAA should develop a process to track
how long it takes to act on requests for certification or approval and the causes of each delay, then use that data to assess the extent of delays and figure out how to better allocate resources to
reduce wait times. Also, the GAO says, the FAA should use that data to create a system of measurable performance goals and track performance toward those goals.
The report examines how the FAA issues approvals for new aircraft, parts and equipment suppliers, as well as pilots and operators who use the national airspace system. Ten of the 13 industry group
and company officials interviewed by GAO for its study said their organization had experienced variation in FAA certification and approval decisions that had adverse affects on their efforts. A
summary of the report as well as a PDF of the full analysis (40 pages) is available online.
Russia has restructured its airspace in a move that's bound to foster more GA activity in the country. Gone is the requirement to submit a detailed flight plan at least 24 hours in advance. Flight
notification can now be done an hour in advance online. The changes were announced in April and went into effect Monday. According to TASS the new rules and airspace designations "are designed to meet the standards and recommended practices
of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO)." Perhaps the biggest change is the creation of uncontrolled airspace.
The country has divided airspace into A, C and G zones. Class A airspace is 8,100 meters (26,575 feet) and higher and all flights are IFR and under ATC control. Class C is controlled airspace for
both IFR and VFR flights up to 8,100 meters and Class G is uncontrolled but the one-hour notification is required and is open to all aircraft, including light planes and helicopters. Its ceiling
varies from 300 meters to 4,500 meters. The Russian version of flight services will supply NOTAMs and weather. The government is also pledging to reduce the amount of closed and restricted airspace,
but the airspace over Moscow is expected to remain restricted.
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Could be, but it seems to AVweb's Paul Bertorelli that the first step to keep their airplanes from being blown up is to have a peek inside packages coming from Yemen, the world capital of
terrorist bomb-making. On the day explosives were recovered last week, the two companies shipped a total of thirteen packages out the country. Hard to imagine the clerks were too busy to wonder why
a printer was being shipped from Yemen to the U.S. when you could buy a new one for less than the shipping cost. Of such stuff is knuckleheaded airline security made.
On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli devolves to the philosophical in describing nearly swapping paint with a Cherokee on Sunday. Soiling your underwear will do that to you. But it
does bring to mind something we've all experienced: Looking without seeing and seeing without comprehending.
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Is Your A&P Keeping Secrets?
Learn to recognize maintenance issues and take action before they turn into something big. The Light Plane Maintenance Toolbox shows you how.
With Foreflight or WingX loaded, the iPad aces the plate reader function, hands down. But how about for all-purpose cockpit navigation? Looks to us like the 696's robust GPS wins
that round. But there could be an interesting and less expensive compromise, as this video reveals.
Peter Drucker Says, "The Best Way to Predict the Future Is to Create It"
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AVweb's latest "FBO of the Week" is Hangar 10 at Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport (KMKC) in Kansas City, Missouri.
AVweb reader Ken Denning put Hangar 10 on our radar, praising their "brand-new, state-of-the-art green facility with excellent customer service." Kudos to the staff, and check back
with us next week for another top FBO.
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