AVwebBiz Complete Issue: Volume 10, Number 10

March 7, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Eastward Ho back to top 

Epic Sold To Russian Firm

Epic Aircraft, the Bend, Ore., manufacturer of speedy turboprop kit aircraft called the LT, has been sold to a Russian company. In a news release, Epic describes its new owner, Engineering LLC, as "Russia's premier maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) provider." The Russian company intends to certify the LT but will keep making the kits, too. CEO Doug King, who essentially led a group of builders with partly completed airplanes in the acquisition of the kit side of Epic when the original company went under three years ago, will stay in his position. "It's exciting to be a part of Epic Aircraft's next chapter. Working together with Engineering LLC, Epic will be able to extend our great commitment and dedication to the aircraft manufacturing industry including our customers, employees, vendors and all other stakeholders. This will be a truly significant move for the future of both companies," King said.

A certified version of the LT would be look-alike competition for Kestrel Aircraft's proposed offering. The LT was based on a design developed by Kestrel's English ancestor and is being taken to fruition by Cirrus co-founder Alan Klapmeier. Meanwhile, it appears that King and his fellow builders accomplished their goals in taking over the company. King says his airplane is finished and will be at Sun 'n Fun. The Epic story was one of the more unusual in the string of company failures that hit the industry, and AVweb's earlier coverage plotted the chronology.

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Aviation Safety back to top 

Crew Walks Away From Horrific Crash

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A helicopter slammed into the ground in a cloud of dust while filming for Top Gear Korea in Arizona last week, and the crash was caught on video (right) by a local fan. Both crew members on board, who were wearing harnesses and helmets, walked away from the crash. Steve Esparaza said he stopped filming once the aircraft hit the ground because he thought the crew had been killed. "I didn't want to roll on what I thought I was about to see," Esparaza told the local KSAZ news station. The helicopter, a Vietnam-era Army AH1 Cobra from the Army Aviation Heritage Foundation, was filming a speeding Corvette. The Cobras were built to be crash-worthy, which paid off for this crew.

After the crash, the pilot shut off the engine, and the two crew members climbed out of the wreckage. "The rigid air frame did a good job of protecting the occupants," local police chief Joe Brugman told KSAZ. The names of the crew were not released.

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Tomorrow's Aircraft Today back to top 

Provisional TC For Gulfstream G280

Gulfstream's newest super-midsize jet, the G280, has received its provisional type certificate from the FAA, the company said on Friday. The jet is virtually ready to go, the company said, but an update to the avionics software must be completed before the full TC is issued and deliveries can begin. The jet will feature a new PlaneView280 cockpit, based on Rockwell Collins ProLine Fusion avionics. The company said the G280 has a range of 3,600 nm, which is 200 more than the specifications outlined when the program was announced in 2008. It also can take off from runways of 4,750 feet, an improvement of 1,300 feet compared to the aircraft it replaces, the G200. First delivery is expected sometime this summer.

The provisional certificate allows a manufacturer to operate the aircraft for demo flights, crew training, and service testing, but deliveries to customers must wait for the final certification approval. The G280 is selling for about $24 million, but is expected to go up to $25 million next year. AVweb's editorial director Paul Bertorelli spoke with Gulfstream's Pres Henne about the G280 (at first designated the G250) when it was introduced at NBAA in 2008; click here for that podcast.

SmartDeck Integrated Cockpit Chosen for New Evektor Outback Turboprop

Montreal-based Esterline CMC Electronics has announced a new turboprop application for their acquired SmartDeck integrated glass cockpit. CMC's Greg Plantz told AVweb in an exclusive interview that Czech Republic aircraft maker Evektor has chosen the SmartDeck for the new-generation EV-55 Outback twin turboprop, bringing the once seemingly abandoned yet capable SmartDeck suite to a higher market level.

SmartDeck, which is a fully integrated and multi-screen suite that includes several major third-party systems, including a Cobham S-TEC digital autopilot and PS Engineering audio control system, made its introduction a few years ago from industry veteran L-3 Avionics. L-3 hoped the SmartDeck STC would grow further than the single STC that remains in place for Cirrus applications, but it just never gained momentum. Retrofits and OEM equipage for Cirrus models never panned out.

But CMC, which now owns the SmartDeck manufacturing rights, gives the system a new lease on life, reworking the user-friendly and highly integrated big-screen system for the turboprop market. There's a long list of improvements that focus on big-airplane human factors plus growth potential to meet evolving ADS-B requirements and the versatile mission profile of the EV-55 aircraft.

The SmartDeck sports three screens: pilot and co-pilot PFD plus an MFD and a CCU (center console unit). This configuration, says CMC, places unique focus on aircraft that are crew-operated. Interestingly, SmartDeck uses all concentric knobs, and absent is the expected touchscreen feature set. SmartDeck does include advanced synthetic vision, electronic charting, PT-6-specific ICAS and will support weather radar interfaces.

CMC says the SmartDeck is focused on Class III aircraft primarily through OEM channels, although select retrofit applications (which could include King Air, Pilatus PC-12 and other popular turboprop platforms) are a definite possibility.

The Evektor Outback is a high-wing, non-pressurized, and PT-6-powered multi-mission aircraft with a 4,021-pound max payload that excels in short-field and unpaved runway capabilities. It will be available in multiple configurations, including passenger transport, cargo transport, and a combined version with space for cargo and passengers -- plus a configuration designed for search, rescue and surveillance ops geared toward military applications. It's expected to have a starting price of around $2.1 million.

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NATA Prepares for a Change back to top 

Coyne To Depart NATA

Several of general aviation's big advocacy groups have seen change at the top in recent years as long-term leaders move on, and now the National Air Transportation Association is saying goodbye to James Coyne, who has been president since 1994. In a letter to NATA members posted on Monday, Coyne said he will continue to serve until January 1, while the board searches for its next leader. He said he and his wife, Holly, have decided it was time to "refuel, change our heading a bit, and perhaps even move to a different flight level." NATA works to represent the interests of small aviation businesses such as FBOs, flight schools, and charter operators.

Coyne served a year in the U.S. House of Representatives during the Reagan years, then worked in the Reagan White House for two years as a pro-business advocate. He then served in several other D.C.-based business advocacy groups before joining NATA. He and his wife are both pilots and fly often. Other GA groups that have recently lost long-time leaders were EAA, with the departure of Tom Poberezny last July after 49 years with the organization, and AOPA, where Craig Fuller took over for 18-year president Phil Boyer in 2009.

AVweb's editorial director Paul Bertorelli spoke with Coyne about GA security issues in February 2010; click here for that podcast.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: You Make the Call -- Tower Directive

On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli discusses a recent incident with a control tower issuing a directive that wasn't quite right. Or was it? You be the judge.

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.

Aviation Consumer Engine Cylinder Survey

Cylinders are the big-ticket item during an engine overhaul, and the market has changed substantially during the last five years. Our sister publication, Aviation Consumer, is surveying owner experiences on engine cylinders.

If you'd like to participate, click here to take the survey.

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

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

Video: Moving Map Apps for Android Tablets

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Who's Where? back to top 

Who's Where? You Tell Us

Get a promotion or a new job? Your colleagues want to know about it, and AVwebBiz can get the word out. Drop us a line about the staff appointment, with a nice recent photo, and we'll do our best to include it in our new section, "Who's Where." The items will be permanently archived on AVweb for future reference, too.

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Names Behind the News back to top 

Meet the AVwebBiz Team

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

The AVwebBiz team is:

Tom Bliss

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Scott Simmons

Kevin Lane-Cummings
Jeff Van West

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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