AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 17, Number 5b

February 3, 2011

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Sikorsky Inks Deal with Eclipse back to top 
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Eclipse And Sikorsky Join Forces

Sikorsky Aircraft has completed a minority equity investment agreement with Eclipse Aerospace that was first announced at NBAA 2010 in October. The deal provides Eclipse with "some extra investment dollars to work with," Eclipse CEO Mason Holland told AVweb on Wednesday, but he said the two companies agreed not to release details of the amount. But even more important, Holland said, the deal gives his young company access to Sikorsky's established supply chain, parts-distribution system and engineering talent. The deal will have "immediate impact" on current Eclipse owners, Holland said, in enhancing the "strength and support of a global network," but it also means an "accelerated time frame" for getting the E500 back into production quickly "as soon as the market demand is there."

Mark Cherry, a spokesman for Sikorsky, said the management team at Eclipse "shares with Sikorsky a passion for quality products and a customer-first commitment." He added, "We are pleased to make this equity investment and look forward to providing global support to Eclipse as it works to re-start production of its twin-engine very light jet." Eclipse Aerospace, based in Albuquerque, N.M., provides engineering, service and support for the fleet of roughly 260 Eclipse jets that were built by the original company. The company also sells low-time, refurbished, fully equipped Eclipse jets with a "tip to tail" one-year factory warranty. Sikorsky Aircraft, based in Stratford, Conn., manufactures the Black Hawk helicopter and other aircraft. Sikorsky is a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp., which is also the parent company of Pratt & Whitney Canada, the manufacturer of the jet engines used by Eclipse.

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More Aircraft, Fewer Pilots in the Skies back to top 

Unmanned Airship To Launch This Year

Northrop Grumman said this week it will launch a remotely piloted airship designed for military use sometime this summer. The airship will be more than 300 feet long and 70 feet tall, and capable of staying aloft for more than three weeks at a time. The Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) is designed for use by the Army as a surveillance and reconnaissance platform. Alan Metzger, the leader of Northrop Grumman's airship team, said the ship will be ready for hull inflation in the spring and first flight by mid-to-late summer. Test flights should be complete by the end of the year, and in 2012 the LEMV will participate in an Army Joint Military Utility Assessment in an operational environment. "As you can imagine, it's a very aggressive schedule to deliver from concept-to-combat in [an 18-month] period," Metzger said.

The LEMV system will provide "plug-and-play" payload capability for military missions, Metzger said. "The system rapidly accommodates next-generation sensors as emerging field requirements dictate, and will provide increased operational utility to battlefield commanders," he said. "The LEMV system provides a high level of fuel efficiency ... it utilizes approximately 3,500 gallons of fuel for the air vehicle to remain aloft for a 21-day period of service, that's approximately $11,000 at commercial prices." Northrop Grumman's industry team includes Hybrid Air Vehicles, Ltd., of the United Kingdom, Warwick Mills, ILC Dover, AAI Corporation, and SAIC. Northrop Grumman will lead the flight and ground control operations for the unmanned vehicle to safely take off and land in worldwide operations. The Army has reportedly invested $517 million in the project, which will produce three airships.

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A New Way to Build Your Own Amphibian back to top 

"Two Weeks To Taxi" Adds Amphib

Glasair has added an amphibious version of the Sportsman 2+2 to its "Two Weeks to Taxi" program, which provides builders with two weeks of support at the Arlington, Wash., factory. The company is offering an introductory price of $199,000. The Sportsman is "a go-anywhere, do-anything airplane, and it's fun to fly," says company president Mikael Via. Two kids can ride in back, or the seats can be quickly removed and provide a roomy space for camping gear, golf clubs or fishing equipment. The amphibious version provides more options for backcountry excursions. The amphib has a useful load of 950 pounds, a cruise speed of 110 knots, and a 600-mile range.

Glasair's two-week builder-assist program provides a step-by-step building program. Customers get access to the company's tools and expertise to accelerate build time significantly, "without violating the spirit or intent of the 51-percent rule," according to Glasair. Owners can choose from a variety of instruments, avionics, engines and propellers. Kitplanes editor Marc Cook built his Sportsman in the program; click here for a 2009 video report on the airplane by AVweb editorial director Paul Bertorelli.

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News Briefs back to top 

Arnold Palmer Hangs Up His Wings

At age 81, Arnold Palmer, a pilot since 1956, has logged nearly 20,000 flight hours and Monday took his last flight as pilot in command, before voluntarily hanging up his wings. Palmer has owned 10 aircraft, from an Aero Commander 500 to the Cessna Citation X he piloted for his final flight. Speaking with Golf Digest, Palmer said he would continue flying, just not in the cockpit. "Flying has been one of the great things in my life," Palmer said. "It's taken me to the far corners of the world. I met thousands of people I otherwise wouldn't have met. And I even got to play a little golf along the way." In October, 2010, Palmer was chosen by the FAA in the company of six others, including Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan, to receive a Wright Brothers Master Pilot Certificate. The certificate recognizes 50 or more consecutive years of safe flight operations and is not Palmer's only distinct achievement in aviation.

Arnold Palmer set a speed record in 1976 when he flew a Lear 36 east from Denver around the world in 57 hours, 25 minutes and 42 seconds. The flight stopped in Boston, Paris, Tehran, Sri Lanka, Jakarta, Manila, Wake Island and Honolulu, and the time still stands. Palmer didn't dally, but did take time to ride an elephant in Sri Lanka and accepted a gift from Manila's then-president Ferdinand Marcos. Palmer learned to fly in his hometown of Latrobe, Pa. His last flight was from Palm Springs to Orlando.

Charles H. Kaman Dies At 91

Charles Kaman is credited with introducing the first turbine-powered helicopter in 1951, and the first remote-controlled helicopter in 1957; he died Monday at age 91, leaving a much longer list for his lifetime of achievements. To build helicopters, Kaman founded a corporation that shared his name. Its H-43 Husky earned the distinction during the Korean conflict and Vietnam war of flying more rescue missions than all other aircraft combined, according to the Air Mobility Command museum. The company's SH-2 Seasprite amassed roughly 1.5 million hours in service with the Navy. Kaman's work earned him the National Aeronautical Society's Wright Brothers Award Trophy and the U.S Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service Medal. He has been inducted into the National Museum of Naval Aviation's Hall of Honor, among other distinctions. Kaman's work wasn't limited to aviation.

With his wife, Roberta, Kaman founded the Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation in the 1960s, which places guide dogs with the disabled. Kaman's guitars have been used by John Lennon, Glen Campbell and Jimmy Page. Kaman's later work included the K-Max helicopter. Dubbed the aerial truck, the helicopter is capable of lifting and transporting three tons. Kaman was remembered this week by publications ranging from The Wall Street Journal to Premier Guitar.

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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 

Chinese Fighter, Or "Top Gun" Clip?

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A news video produced by CCTV, China's state broadcaster, purports to show a missile shot by a Chinese J-10 destroying another jet during an air force drill, but in fact the clip appears to be from the movie "Top Gun," according to The Wall Street Journal. The Journal's side-by-side comparison of the clips shows them to be virtually identical. A Web user named Liu Yi first posted the questionable clips, which were later compiled by the WSJ. The video has been taken down by the Chinese news site, but CCTV has not commented on the incident, according to the Toronto Star.

In the video clip, a CCTV reporter describes the air force training drill as three jets launch missiles, then shows a jet exploding in midair. The side-by-side comparison compares the explosion to the clip from "Top Gun," showing identical chunks of debris flying from both jets. Ironically, Beijing authorities recently have been putting pressure on news organizations to dismiss journalists suspected of falsifying reports, according to the WSJ.

Top Of The Bizjet Market Healthy

In case there was any doubt that the upper end of the bizjet market is healthy, Airbus announced Tuesday that it delivered 15 corporate aircraft last year and took orders for eight more. Granted, 13 of the 15 delivered were low-end A318s and A320s, but a couple of widebody A330 and A340 aircraft also went out the door. The total value was more than $1.5 billion. "Like our airliner business, the market for our corporate jets is worldwide and growing, as more and more customers recognise the greater capability, benefits and value that we offer, when compared with traditional business jets," said COO John Leahy. Bombardier recently inked a deal for eight of its largest corporate airplanes and Boeing reported healthy numbers in that league, too. Embraer and Gulfstream are also riding a surge in high-end business. The uptick at the top of the market also figures in the business of suppliers that cater to it and True North Avionics is just one example.

TrueNorth sells cabin communications and entertainment systems for big business jets and has apparently missed the recession. The company said it set sales records for its SimPhone OpenCabin system and signed contracts with a long list of blue-chip providers of ultra-luxury, long-range transportation. TrueNorth says its success is a harbinger of good things to come in the bizjet sector.

AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

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We Ask, You Answer back to top 

Question of the Week: Will Eclipse Fulfill the VLJ Dream?

Eclipse Aerospace and Sikorsky have a deal that may mean a return to production of the EA 500. Will it be the next big thing in aviation like it was supposed to be?

Will Eclipse fulfill the VLJ dream?
(click to answer)

Last Week's Question: Results

Want to see the current breakdown of responses? Take a moment to answer the question yourself, and then you can view real-time results.

What's On Your Mind?

Have an idea for a new "Question of the Week"?
Send your suggestions to .

NOTE: This address is only for suggested "QOTW" questions, and not for "QOTW" answers or comments. (Use this form to send "QOTW" comments to our AVmail Editor.)

De-Icing in the Real World: Aviation Consumer Wants to Hear from TKS Users

Aviation Consumer is researching an article on TKS performance in the real world and could really use your help. If you fly an aircraft equipped with a TKS system, please take just a few moments to complete this online survey.

Information about how you use the system and how it performs will be kept anonymous, but the general findings will be reported in a future issue of Aviation Consumer.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: LSAs Just Cost Too Much

That's the prevailing wisdom, anyway. In his latest post to the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli explains how years of research for Aviation Consumer have convinced him the little airplanes are priced just about right. He's clearing out space on his hard drive for your disagreements.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: A Mixed Message on Met Towers

The FAA is suggesting that if the folks who are putting up met towers wouldn't mind, it would be nice if they would paint them so aviators have a better chance of seeing them. On the AVweb Insider, Mary Grady wonders why the FAA doesn't just, you know, issue some kind of mandate if the towers are a safety issue.

Read more and join the conversation.

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The Top Reporter on Our Crack Staff ... Is You! back to top 

AVweb's Newstips Address ...

Our best stories start with you. If you've heard something 255,000 pilots might want to know about, tell us. Submit news tips via email to newstips@avweb.com. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.

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AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learn back to top 

Video: Flight Recorders Reviewed by 'Aviation Consumer'

Original, Exclusive Videos from AVweb | Reader-Submitted & Viral Videos

Ever wish you could replay a flight and analyze what really happened? Aviation Consumer's Jeff Van West reviewed three different cockpit recording systems that target three significantly different needs. Here's the video recap.

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Video: Own an Airplane, Make Money, Save Taxes

Original, Exclusive Videos from AVweb | Reader-Submitted & Viral Videos

If it seems like David Sussman has achieved airplane ownership Nirvana, he would probably agree. AVweb spoke with him at U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring about enjoying financial benefits from a light sport aircraft.

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Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: TacAir (KAMA, Amarillo, TX)

Nominate an FBO | Rules | Tips | Questions | Winning FBOs

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to TacAir at Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport (KAMA) in Amarillo, Texas.

AVweb reader Kenneth Oden tells us what happened when a short fuel stop turned into a potentially disastrous layover:

Our passengers were flying back from a Christmas holiday with a new two-month-old baby boy and didn't want to subject him to an 18-hour drive to Grandma's house. Our stop turned into an overnight stay when weather at the destination went far below our jet's minimums. The good folks at TacAir found us a nice hotel in town and arranged for transportation. The following morning, our cold, soaked Eclipse would not accept the local GPU and did not have enough battery power to start on its own. The linemen at TacAir towed us across the field to another hangar with a different GPU. Long story short: we would still be stuck if it weren't for Mike Ryan's team. Our hats are off to this professional team that worked on our problem for over an hour when there were several other flights leaving at the same time.

Keep those nominations coming. For complete contest rules, click here.

AVweb is actively seeking out the best FBOs in the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here next Monday!

Reader-Submitted Photos back to top 

Picture of the Week: Something New for the New Year

Beginning this week, we're making some changes to our regular "Picture of the Week" feature — and we think you'll like them.

For starters, the slideshow on AVweb's home page is retiring. Over the last four years, the slideshow has brought you over 2,500 bonus pics that wouldn't fit into our five-pics-a-week story format — but, going forward, we'll be cramming all of those bonus pics into the reformatted "POTW" column each week. That means the next 2,500 bonus pics won't disappear beneath the waves of time but will remain archived on AVweb.com, available via our site search just like everything else in our massive 15-year-old collection of news and feature stories.

We'll also be sharing more of the comments from our submitters — including the camera specs and airplane details that sometimes got left out in our old "POTW" presentation. What you won't get is as much editorial yapping; ye olde "POTW" editor will be keeping his trap shut and spending more time picking out great photos to share with you in each week's gallery.

Of course, all of this hinges on the one element we hope doesn't change: You, the AVweb reader. Your sharp eye and two minutes of free time are the powerful engines that drive "Picture of the Week," so please keep submitting photos, and we'll keep sharing 'em with the rest of the world.

Picture of the Week: AVweb's Flying Photography Showcase

This week's winning photo comes from Robert Bayal of Katikati, RD (New Zealand). Click here for the rest of this week's submissions.
Names Behind the News back to top 

Meet the AVwebFlash Team

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:

Timothy Cole

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Features Editor
Kevin Lane-Cummings

Scott Simmons

Jeff van West
Mariano Rosales

Click here to send a letter to the editor. (Please let us know if your letter is not intended for publication.)

Comments or questions about the news should be sent here.

Have a product or service to advertise on AVweb? A question on marketing? Send it to AVweb's sales team.

If you're having trouble reading this newsletter in its HTML-rich format (or if you'd prefer a lighter, simpler format for your PDA or handheld device), there's also a text-only version of AVwebFlash. For complete instructions on making the switch, click here.

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