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The Aircraft Electronics Association opened its 55th annual trade show and exhibition in National Harbor, Maryland, just across the Anacostia River from Washington, D.C. with a mix of determination
and optimism. In this video intro to the show, AEA president Paul Derks told AVweband the opening session of the eventthat it's time for the industry to stop apologizing for imaginary sins
and to take back the market momentum it enjoyed before the economic downturn in 2008.
Although show attendance has suffered since then, there are clear indications that buyers are coming back into the market, a sentiment we heard echoed throughout the hall on Wednesday.
The 55th annual Aircraft Electronics Association convention opened in Nations Harbor, Maryland this week with good attendance and new product introductions. AEA President Paula Derks
gave AVweb an overview.
Avidyne and Aspen are collaborating to make the Aspen Evolution EFIS system compatible with Avidyne's DFC90 autopilot. Tom Harper explains the details in this video coverage of the
Aircraft Electronics Association meeting in Washington, D.C.
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As if to bookend Garmin's decision to release a major app for tablet computers, another company, Guardian Avionics, has developed a clever box that distributes GPS data into the cockpit through a
wireless Bluetooth link. Guardian is best known for its extensive line of sophisticated carbon monoxide detectors, but in this podcast,
company owner Ash Vij told us that now Guardian has combined CO detection and GPS bluetooth capability in a single box.
The $995 Aero454 receives position data from an in-panel Garmin GPS such as a GNS430 or G1000 and then relays this via Bluetooth to up to three iPads in the cockpit. It can also crunch and display
the in-panel GPS's active flightplan data and display that on various popular apps. Currently, the Aero454 is integrated with FlightGuide's navigation app but Vij says Guardian is working on
integration for Foreflight and WingX nav apps as well.
Guardian Avionics has introduced a Bluetooth transmitter that takes the output from a Garmin GPS and sends it to up to three iPads in the aircraft. AVweb's Paul Bertorelli spoke with
Guardian CEO Ash Vij about the product at AEA 2012.
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At Sun 'n Fun, Garmin announced a new product that not-so-subtly acknowledges that the burgeoning tablet computer market represents real competition for Garmin's core portable GPS market. Garmin's
new product, called Pilot, evolves the former Pilot MyCast product into a full featured navigator for tablets with the look and feel of Garmin's GTN series navigators and its some of its recent
portables, such as the GPSmap 796. We asked Garmin's Jim Alpiser at the Aircraft Electronics show in Washington, D.C. if this signals the beginning of the end for big ticket portable GPS. "We
recognized that the tablets on the market today are very attractive for a lot of reasons. It allows, number one, to get a giant display in the cockpit and get charts on there," Alpiser told us in this podcast recorded at the AEA show. "But Garmin portable GPSs are still the most feature rich devices that you can get your hands on and fly
behind. I can show you a dozen different things you can do on a Garmin GPS portable that you still cannot do on a tablet device," he added.
Alpiser says the tablets are obviously capable products and Garmin thinks many pilots are choosing to fly behind both tablets and portables. Even though buyers are responding to tablets in droves,
many still complain that they're too large for a small cockpit, while portables are optimized in both features and size for the cockpit. When we asked if Garmin has any major product introductions
planned in 2012, Alspiser wasn't specific, so we'll be keeping our eyes open at EAA AirVenture in July.
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Given all the excitement over tablet apps and big-screen EFIS, the lowly comm radio has become a lost ball in high grass. But Trig Avionics, a U.K.-based company, has introduced two new comm radios
that fit into a standard instrument hole with a remote box that can be mounted just about anywhere in the aircraft. At the AEA show in Washington, D.C., Trig's Andy Davis gave AVweb a briefing
on the new radios in this podcast.
The new radios are aimed at light sport aircraft or antiques or any other type of aircraft that has limited space behind the panel. "It's a very conventional VHF radio. It has a standard flip-flop
and a dual watch feature where you can listen to the standby at the same time as the active," Davis told us. The radios also have a built-in, two-place intercom, a 6-watt nominal transmitter output
and will run on 14 or 28 volts. List price is around $2000, according to Trig.
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Meanwhile, in the World of Rules & Regulations
Last month, the FAA said it plans to establish six test ranges to start integrating unmanned aircraft systems into
the National Airspace System, and last week, the agency said it will offer two webinars with more information about its plans and a question-and-answer session. The two identical webinars, which are
meant to provide more information for those who might want to comment on the proposal, are scheduled for Tuesday, April 10, from 10 a.m. to noon EDT, and Wednesday, April 11, from 2 to 4 p.m. EDT.
Each webinar will include a discussion of the proposed changes and a question-and-answer period. Online pre-registration is
required to attend.
The FAA said it intends to choose the six test sites from proposals submitted by government agencies, private institutions, and other organizations. The sites will be used to help develop
certification standards and traffic requirements for unmanned flight operations by government and private operators. By 2015, the FAA hopes to have drones fully integrated into the national airspace.
The changes are spurred by language in the FAA reauthorization bill. Comments on the proposal will be accepted until May 8. The FAA's
proposal, the request for comments, plus information on where to send them is available
Anyone with an opinion about the recent exemption request from EAA and AOPA that would enable more pilots to skip their third-class medical renewals now has a chance to comment on the official
federal docket. The two advocacy groups are encouraging pilots to post their support for the change, and posted a guide (PDF) to help with the process. "Comments should be substantive, significant, specific, or supported," the guide says. The exemption would give pilots who fly recreationally the
option to participate in a recurrent online education program and self-assess their fitness to fly, instead of renewing their third-class medical.
If the FAA agrees to allow an exemption to the rules, pilots would be able to fly thousands of qualifying GA aircraft with just a driver's license, a pilot certificate, and a certificate of
completion (within the last 24 months) from the online course. The course would be free to anyone, not just EAA or AOPA members, through AOPA's Air Safety Institute. Other details can be found in the
groups' 41-page proposal (PDF). Last month, AVweb's Mary Grady spoke with Kristine Hartzell,
AOPA's manager of regulatory affairs, for more details about plan, the strategy behind it, and what happens next. Click here to listen to the
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German motorglider manufacturer Stemme has demonstrated an automatic flight control system that is under development for airborne sensor versions of its aircraft. The LAPAZ system will eventually
be able to take control of a flight from takeoff to landing and on March 22 it put a STEMME S15 right on the centerline of the runway at Neuhardenburg, near Berlin. The "pilot assistance system," as
Stemme refers to it, is designed for flights with a pilot on board. An enhanced version will be installed in unmanned aerial vehicle versions of the aircraft. The system also has a "gust alleviation
system" to minimize the effect of rough air during sensor missions. The March 22 flight tested the flexibility of the LAPAZ system as well as its precision.
After a conventional takeoff with project head and test pilot Lothar Dalldorff at the controls, LAPAZ took over and first took the aircraft on a low pass down the centerline. As it was getting set
up for landing, the wind changed and the system had to be reconfigured for a landing from the opposite end of the runway. The system, monitored by Dalldorff, established the aircraft on a five-degree
glide and flared at the right moment for a soft landing on the main gear and automatically deployed the air brakes. The system has been tested repeatedly since the first landing, said STEMME
It has already set three world records and now the solar and battery powered aircraft Solar Impulse will attempt a two-day flight covering 1,500 miles flying out of Switzerland for Morocco. That
flight is scheduled for May or June. The aircraft will stop in Spain so the crew can switch pilots and won't use a single drop of fuel during the flight. Solar Impulse has already set endurance and
altitude records during an earlier 26-plus hour flight and another record earned in 2010 for manned flight powered only by sunlight. The Solar Impulse team is stepping up toward significantly higher
The aircraft has a 208-foot span that carries more than 3,500 pounds. Solar cells on the wings collect power for four electric motors that drive the aircraft to roughly 43 miles per hour. Excess
energy is stored in batteries for use at night. Ultimately, the builders of Solar Impulse aim to prove the system's potential by flying it around the world. They have tentatively set 2014 for that
trip. This Switzerland-to-Morocco trip "will serve as a dress rehearsal" for that flight. It allows the team to gather real-world experience operating with international airports and integrating into
traffic patterns. Morocco was chosen as a destination in part because the country plans to build five solar complexes generating a total 2000 megawatts of power by the year 2020, according to the
Solar Impulse team.
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A new 3D film currently scheduled for a handful of IMAX theaters offers unique visual perspectives of the Reno Air Races, good engine
noise and a bit of aviation history. The film loosely follows Steve Hinton, Jr.'s 2009 bid to succeed his father's record as the youngest pilot to win the Unlimited Gold championship at the races
in the modified P-51, Strega. Filming was done at 2009 and 2010 Reno race events and was completed in June 2011 with specially staged air-to-air shots. The final product leaves out mention of the
September 2011 crash that killed pilot Jimmy Leeward and 10 spectators, injured 74 others, and destroyed the modified P-51 Galloping Ghost.
TThe movie begins with computer-generated footage involving wartime P-51s in action. It introduces historic footage (in 2D), briefly covers aviation's roots as relevant to air racing, and evolves
into an introduction to what we know as the modern Reno Air Race event, including select airshow performances. For those, some of the air-to-air filming offers airshow enthusiasts a new visual
perspective on aerobatic flight routines, including flights by the Snowbirds, Kent Pietsch and the late Greg Poe. The film avoids deep technical details and sometimes layers music over engine noise
but also captures in-cockpit speed and sound while giving a glimpse behind the scenes at the races. The current show schedule is here.
The instant an aircraft levitates, it's operating within some form of regulated airspace. So, while the FAA continues to seek funding for its Airspace Museum in Washington, D.C., test your grasp
of this elusive administrative ether.
Diamond reported Tuesday that its new DA52 twin completed its first flight, with Diamond CEO Christian Dries and test pilot Ingmar Meyerbuch at the controls. The DA52 is essentially the cabin of
the DA50 SuperStar, which was proposed a few years ago, paired with new wings and two 180-HP Austro AE300 engines. The engines are manufactured in a new facility adjacent to Diamond's factory in
Weiner Neudstadt, Austria. According to Diamond, the aircraft took off at a gross weight of 3,900 pounds and climbed to 12,000 feet in nine minutes, for an average two-engine climb rate of about 1300
FPM. On the initial flight, the aircraft achieved a true airspeed of 190 knots with no abnormalities, Diamond said.
The DA52's large cabin will accommodate up to five people -- or six, if some passengers are small or are children. The cabin is wide, with staggered seating in the rear portion. AVweb saw
the aircraft being assembled during our visit to the Diamond factory in March. Dries promised then that the airplane would fly on April 3 and appears to be as good as his word. "This is the best
prototype aircraft I have ever made a maiden flight with," he said this week, "and the performance exceeded all my expectations. I'm very proud of my team, headed by managing director Manfred Zipper,
who realized this program in less than six months." The DA52 will be shown at the Aero show in Friedrichshafen, Germany, later this month. AVweb will post full coverage of the show.
PAL-V, a personal air and land vehicle, has been in development in the Netherlands for several years, and recently achieved its first flight, the company said on Monday. A folding pusher prop
provides power and the auto-rotating rotor provides lift. On the road, the vehicle accelerates like a sports car and handles like a motorcycle, according to the company. Several flights were conducted
over the last two weeks, the company said. Robert Dingemanse, CEO and co-founder of PAL-V, said he is now inviting investors to help support development of the aircraft. "We know there is a lot of
interest for the PAL-V," he said. "Prior to announcing these test flights, we were already approached on a daily basis by potential customers and dealers wanting to be part of this exciting
The vehicle complies with existing regulations for air and road traffic in all major markets, the company said, and in the U.S., operators will require a sport pilot certificate to fly it. It takes
off and lands at low speed, is easy to control, and won't stall, according to the news release. The maximum flight range is about 300 miles, and on the ground, it can drive for 750 miles. It runs on
gasoline and versions will be available that use biodiesel, the company said. Maximum speed is 110 mph on the land or in the air. The video was posted on YouTube on April 1, which raised the question
whether it's a fake; however, the company has been known to be working on the project for several years.
Terrafugia's production prototype of its Transition street-legal airplane took flight for the first time just over a week ago, the company announced on Monday. The first flight took place in
Plattsburgh, N.Y., on Friday, March 23, the company said. The flight lasted for eight minutes, staying in the airport vicinity, and reached an altitude of 1,400 feet above ground level. The flight
"demonstrated the controllability and safe operational characteristics of the aircraft," the company said. An earlier version of the airplane flew in 2009, providing data that helped in the design of the current prototype. The current version is scheduled
to complete the flight testing required to qualify as a light sport aircraft, with first deliveries expected within a year. Click here for video from the flight -- and the drive to the airport. (MP4 file)
The brief first flight demonstrated the controllability and safe operational characteristics of the aircraft, the company said. Terrafugia CEO Carl Dietrich said the flight showed that
his team can accomplish "what had been called an impossible dream." Six phases of flight testing are planned, with two test articles. The design will be capable of driving on roads and highways,
parking in a single-car garage, and flying with unleaded auto gas. AVweb spoke with Dietrich about the program at AOPA Summit in September; click here for the video.
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