AVwebFlash - Volume 18, Number 29b

July 19, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Top Tech back to top 

More ADS-B Boxes From Dynon and FreeFlight

If buyers lacked choices in the ADS-B market a year ago, the reverse will likely be true at AirVenture next week. Two companies—FreeFlight Systems and Dynon—have just announced their own ADS-B entries and more may be on the horizon, competing with recent products from Garmin, Sportys and upgraded units from SkyRadar. The two new entries are both low-cost remote-mount units.

From Waco, Texas-based FreeFlight Systems comes the XPLORER ADS-B weather receiver. The remote unit is bargain-priced at $585 and is trickle-down technology from the company's RANGR family of full-up 978MHz UAT ADS-B systems, receiving FIS-B weather products in a compact chassis suitable for permanent mount in the aircraft with no cockpit wiring. The system uses a single, industry-standard interface connector to tie into the aircraft's electrical bus.

To boost receiver performance, the XPLORER has an externally mounted ADS-B antenna which will likely reduce the signal shadowing problem that's always a risk with in-cabin antennas. The seamless installation is further enhanced by wireless connection to an iPad running FreeFlight Systems' free app. More interfacing potential and a data stream that's compatible with other portable devices and apps are in the works.

The product is also forward looking and designed to be integrated with a certified ADS-B Out transmitter as required by the December, 2019 ADS-B equipage mandate. That means with the appropriate ADS-B-Out transmitter installed, the XPLORER system becomes a full-featured, ADS-B traffic receiver that adds traffic data to the interface.

Dynon, whose Skyview system has become a go-to for LSAs and experimentals, announced its own box for that popular hardware, the $995 SV-ADSB-470 UAT Band Traffic and Weather Receiver. Like FreeFlight's XPLORER, this is a remote-mount module that can provide both traffic and FIS-B weather for display on the Skyview screens. It's also powered from the ship's bus and has an externally mounted antenna.

Dynon already has ADS-B Out covered with its SV-XPNDR-261 Mode-S transponder module, another remote box that's controlled from the Skyview screens. With the Skyview displays, Dyon's Robert Hamilton says owners will get a complete traffic picture wherever ADS-B services are available, which is most of the continental U.S. If you're wondering what's driving this frenzy of ADS-B product intros, Hamilton says that his customers simply want weather data without having to pay for it. "In-flight weather on SkyView…is the number one feature asked for by our customers, who want fully integrated real-time data that is subscription-free."

For more, see DynonAvionics.com and for Free Flight Systems, FreeFlightSystems.com. Both companies will have more information at AirVenture.

ForeFlight Earns QICP Certification

ForeFlight, one of the pioneer mobile app developers for pilots has earned Qualified Internet Communication Provider (QICP) status from the FAA. According to ForeFlight the new status means that Part 121 and Part 135 operators can use ForeFlight as their official source for weather information.

The QICP process was established to allow companies to provide NOTAM and weather data to pilots over the Internet. The company said it worked hard to meet the stringent standards set by the FAA and the new designation puts it in the same company as some much larger firms. "We're thrilled to be on the list," the company said.

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Safety and Transparency back to top 

Drone Details Released By FOIA Suit

In response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the FAA has released details about 125 certificates of authorization granted to 18 entities that are using drone aircraft. EFF says the thousands of pages of documents include "extensive details" about the specific drone models in use, where they fly, how frequently they fly, and how long they stay in the air. "There are still many unanswered questions about the privacy implications of drones," said EFF. The group posted all the certificates on its website and asked the "Internet community" to help them review the documents and advocate for more transparency in regard to the use of drones for public surveillance.

The 18 entities in the files include police departments, colleges and universities, several federal agencies, a city in Kansas, and a marine resource department in Mississippi. EFF said it filed the suit after the FAA failed to respond to an FOIA request filed more than a year ago. "There are still many unanswered questions about the privacy implications of drones," the EFF said. About two months ago, the FAA responded to another suit by EFF by releasing lists of the entities, both public and private, that have sought authorization to fly drones in the national airspace system. The EFF website also provides links to a site where readers can submit an online public-records request to find out more about drones in their vicinity. Drones currently in use operate under very limited conditions; however, the FAA is working on a plan to integrate the aircraft into the National Airspace System by 2015.

GAO: Some Flight Students Enter U.S. Illegally

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) Wednesday announced that at least a few foreign students entered the country illegally, were not vetted by the TSA, and were approved for flight training by the Alien Flight Student Program (AFSP). In its report, the GAO concluded that "weaknesses exist" in the specific strategies intended to diminish the potential terrorist threat from general aviation aircraft. The GAO noted that the AFSP "is not designed" to determine how a flight student entered the country and that more than 25,000 foreign nationals applied for FAA airman certificates (completed training) from 2006 to September 2011. Of those, GAO says a known number may not have been vetted by the TSA, and at least six flight students approved for training by AFSP have been arrested by immigration authorities.

In March 2010, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigation led to the arrest of six foreign nationals, including one who held a commercial pilot certificate and five others approved for training through the AFSP. All were arrested for entering the country illegally. The TSA and ICE have since worked together to vet names against immigration databases, but the GAO says the agencies have not established timeframes, identified desired outcomes, or assigned people responsible for the program. The GAO recommends that the TSA find out "how often and why" foreign nationals are not vetted and create a plan "for assessing the results of efforts to identify" flight students who entered the country illegally. Speaking on behalf of light aircraft manufacturers, GAMA Vice President of Operations Jens Hennig said the organization believes restructuring efforts "will provide a more effective vetting of foreign nationals seeking flight training while increasing the efficiency of the program." GAMA "looks forward" to being a part of the discussions with the TSA that create a new plan.

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Recognizing Service Among Pilots back to top 

Volunteers Honored For Aviation Contributions

Several individuals and groups were honored recently by the annual Public Benefit Flying Awards, which are bestowed by the National Aeronautic Association and the Air Care Alliance. This year, the award for Outstanding Achievement in Public Benefit Flying was given to Bob Showalter of Showalter Flying Services, an FBO in Orlando, Fla., "for committed support of public benefit flying organizations in times of national and international crisis," including his efforts to support relief work following the Haitian earthquake and Hurricane Irene. Lightspeed Aviation Foundation was honored as a Champion of Public Benefit Flying, in recognition of the company's work creating a support system to help groups involved in public benefit flying.

The individuals who were honored include Susan Lapis, of SouthWings, for her work to protect the ecosystems of the Southeast; Del Reiff, of Wings of Hope, for flying over 3,900 hours to help the needy in Africa and South America; Debi Boies, of Pilots N Paws, for creating a national organization that helps find homes for rescue animals; and Larry Scheffler, of Miracle Flights For Kids, for helping to improve the quality of life for sick children across America and beyond. The awards will be presented in a ceremony in Washington, D.C., in September. "These recipients … serve as examples of all those others who work to fly patients for care, serve in times of emergencies, provide educational flights for youth, support environmental causes, help our veterans, and provide help in many other ways to those in need," said Rol Murrow, chairman of the Air Care Alliance.

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Visit the Aircraft Spruce booths at AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin in Hangar A (booths 1023-1029) and Hangar D (booths 4113-4114) on July 23-29, 2012 from 9:00am to 5:00pm. Take advantage of some of your favorite products on sale, complimentary UPS ground shipping on most orders, and Aircraft Spruce's helpful staff to answer questions. Educational seminars on your favorite products will be held Monday to Thursday in the Forum Pavilion. Don't forget to pick up a copy of the new 2012‑2013 Aircraft Spruce Catalog! Call 1 (877) 4‑SPRUCE or visit AircraftSpruce.com.
Birds and Lights back to top 

Report: Lights Help Prevent Bird Strikes

Aircraft lights make it easier for birds to see and avoid aircraft, possibly helping to reduce the risk of bird strikes, according to a report recently published in the Journal of Applied Ecology. Scientists from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Indiana State University and Purdue University tested the response of Canada geese to three remote-controlled aircraft -- one with lights off, one with lights on, and one painted to resemble a bird of prey. They found geese responded more quickly to avoid the aircraft with its lights on. The research "could set the aviation industry on the right track to developing lighting systems that will reduce the rate of bird strikes," the report said.

Currently, most efforts to control bird strikes focus on removing birds from the airport environment, according to the report. However, many encounters between airplanes and birds -- including the most famous, US Airways Flight 1549, which ditched in the Hudson River after bird strikes killed both engines -- occur far beyond the airport perimeter. The researchers hope to expand their study to other species besides Canada geese, so they can design aircraft lighting that will be seen by a wide range of birds. "This is only the first step," said Bradley Blackwell, of the USDA National Wildlife Research Center. "As well as lighting, we also want to understand how to manipulate aircraft paint schemes so that birds find them easier to detect." The full report is available online.

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We Ask, You Answer back to top 

Next Week At AirVenture -- Lots Of Everything

EAA AirVenture opens in Oshkosh next Monday, and as usual, the show will overflow with airplanes and events. The afternoon airshows feature all the top aerobatic performers, and this year they'll be joined by a new act appearing at Oshkosh for the first time -- Team RV, which calls itself "the world's largest formation aerobatic team." The 12-ship team will fly in honor of the 40th anniversary of the popular Van's homebuilt design. The 12 airplanes create "a constant whirl of activity in the aerobatic box," says the group, featuring "exciting rejoins, extended trail chases, graceful aerobatics, and the team's signature large-formation photo passes." But while visitors will have thousands of airplanes to look at, one that will be missing is the Terrafugia Transition prototype, which the company says is too busy with flight testing to come to the show.

"Due to our aggressive drive and flight test schedule, we will not be bringing the Transition prototype to AirVenture," Terrafugia COO Anna Mracek Dietrich said this week.  "Our executive team will be staffing our booth at AirVenture this year while our engineering team continues testing activities with the prototype. Getting the Transition into production is our top priority; we hope all our friends at Oshkosh will understand." The booth will feature photos and videos from the recent flight tests, she said. Visitors will have other new airplanes to check out, including a few in the light sport aircraft segment. One of the newest may be an as-yet unnamed new STOL design from Just Aircraft, according to bydanjohnson.com. The slow-flight design allows for "the shortest imaginable takeoffs and landings," says Johnson.

Question of the Week: AirVenture Priorities

There is so much to see at AirVenture! Do you have a preference (or even ritual) about where you go first?

Where do you begin at Oshkosh?
(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.)

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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 

ICON Looking For Weight Exemption For A5

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ICON Aircraft has asked the FAA for an exemption from the upper weight limit for amphibious light sport aircraft to incorporate what it says are important safety features in its A5 aircraft. The company says it needs an additional 250 pounds above the current weight limit of 1430 pounds to accommodate the extra wing and tail surface area, and attendant structural components, to make the aircraft spin resistant. That's roughly the equivalent of the weight of a Cessna 152. ICON announced earlier this year that it had created a truly spin resistant design in the A5 and is trying to convince the FAA that the safety improvement is worth the extra weight for inclusion in the LSA category. "The potential safety benefits of a Spin-Resistant Airframe (SRA) for the S-LSA category are extraordinary," ICON says in its submission to the FAA. "SRA can dramatically reduce loss-of-control fatalities related to inadvertent stall/spin entries. Stall/spin entries account for an alarming 41 percent of all pilot-related fatalities." At last January's Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Fla., EAA President Rod Hightower announced the FAA was considering allowing weight exemptions for LSAs for safety-related equipment.

In its submission to the FAA, ICON said making its aircraft safer by making it spin resistant essentially requires more carbon fiber than the current rules will permit and still allow it to carry more than the pilot and a bologna sandwich. To be spin resistant, the aircraft needs bigger wings and that has a cascading effect on other structures. "The increased wing area then in turn requires increased tail size for stability along with the corresponding increase in internal structure, as well as proportional accommodation factor weight – at a minimum," the submission says. "Further, the increased wing, tail, and specific spin-resistance elements also result in an increase in aerodynamic drag which requires increased engine size and additional fuel to compensate. The net result is that a Spin-Resistant Airframe requires increased vehicle weight over a similar S-LSA airplane that does not achieve spin resistance." ICON also says weight-adding features like a finished passenger area without exposed cables and structural elements will increase safety. The submission was first published by the FAA in the Federal Register in May (we missed it) and the comment period for that submission has closed. However, Independent Aircraft Inc., which makes a composite LSA amphib called the SeaDragon that meets current weight requirements, applied for and received an extension to the comment period (PDF) to address what it said were important issues related to ICON's request. Comments are being accepted until July 27.

Court OKs $50 Million For Hawker

Hawker Beechcraft announced on Tuesday that a U.S. Bankruptcy Court has given them the go-ahead to enter into exclusive negotiations with Superior Aviation Beijing Co. for up to 45 days to hammer out a deal and keep the company afloat. The action means that Superior can start to make payments to Hawker to sustain the jet business, with $25 million expected by the end of this week, and another $25 million within 30 days. The money "provides us with funding to preserve jobs as we simultaneously negotiate a potential transaction with Superior," said Hawker CEO Steve Miller. "At this time," he said, "pursuing the potential transaction with Superior is in the best interests of the company and its various stakeholders, including our creditors, our employees, our suppliers and our customers."

If the negotiations with Superior fail to pan out, Hawker Beechcraft will likely phase out its jet line and offer a "more focused portfolio of aircraft," according to Tuesday's news release. This process "likely would have commenced already but for Superior's compelling proposal to the company," the news release says. The deal will not include the Hawker Beechcraft Defense Co., which produces the T-6 trainer and is developing the AT-6 light attack aircraft. Superior said last week it intends to make Hawker its "flagship investment." Even if Superior and Hawker come to an agreement, the deal is still subject to various approvals by the bankruptcy court and government agencies before it can be completed, and other potential buyers will have an opportunity to outbid Superior.

AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

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Delivered every Wednesday morning, AVwebBiz focuses on the companies, the products and the industry leaders that make headlines in the business aviation industry, making it a must-read.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Lithium-Ion for Airplanes? Not Just Yet, Thanks

The lithium-ion battery industry is banking on an explosion of demand for electric cars and that airplanes will be along for the ride. What's not to like about batteries that are twice as powerful for half the weight? Fires and explosions come to mind. On the AVweb Insider blog, our resident Chicken Little, Paul Bertorelli, says he'll wait a while before embracing Li-ion.

Read more and join the conversation.

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

Survey: Have You Had Your Aircraft Interior Refurbished?

Have you had your aircraft interior redone in the past five years? If so, our sister publication, Aviation Consumer, wants to hear about it. Please take a moment to answer this completely confidential survey and help your fellow aircraft owners find the best shop to replace their 1970s Royalite-and-velour with something less embarrassing.

Click here to take the survey.

The results will appear in a future issue of Aviation Consumer. For subscription information, click here.

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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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Flightlevel Norwood (KOWD, Norwood, MA)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Flightlevel at Norwood Memorial Airport (KOWD) in Norwood, Massachusetts.

AVweb reader Edwin L. Nass recommended the FBO:

The gentleman on duty was extremely helpful and efficient in getting us parked and checked in. It was apparent that he appreciated our business and was there to do a great job. We give him an A+ in customer service. Upon arriving for departure, everything was ready to go. This is a great place for Boston-bound travelers who do not want to land at Logan. (AVIS is right there as well.)

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!

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

Video: Flying the Cessna TTX

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

What started life as a Columbia and then became a Corvalis is now the Cessna Corvalis TTX. While it hosts many small improvements, the big change is the touchscreen-controlled G2000 avionics suite. Aviation Consumer's Jeff Van West took the pixels and the plane up for a spin.

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If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

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Reader-Submitted Photos back to top 

Picture of the Week: AVweb's Flying Photography Showcase

Our latest winning photo comes from Brett J. Grooms of Goose Creek, SC. Click here for the rest of this week's submissions.
Peter Drucker Says,
"The Best Way to Predict the Future Is to Create It"

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Names Behind the News back to top 

Meet the AVwebFlash Team

AVwebFlash is a twice-weekly summary of the latest news, articles, products, features, and events featured on AVweb, the world's premier independent aviation news resource.

The AVwebFlash team is:

Tom Bliss

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Russ Niles

Scott Simmons

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Kevin Lane-Cummings
Jeff Van West

Ad Coordinator
Karen Lund

Have a product or service to advertise on AVweb? Your advertising can reach over 225,000 loyal AVwebFlash, AVwebBiz, and AVweb home page readers every week. Over 80% of our readers are active pilots and aircraft owners. That's why our advertisers grow with us, year after year. For ad rates and scheduling, click here or contact Tom Bliss, via e-mail or via telephone [(480) 525-7481].

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