AVwebBiz - Volume 10, Number 11

March 14, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Redefining "Fly the Airplane" back to top 

Diamond's Dries: Fly By Wire As "Electronic Parachute"

Diamond Aircraft says it's very close to flying a fly-by-wire version of its Austro-diesel-powered DA42 twin and the company's CEO Christian Dries told AVweb that he sees this technology as an "electronic parachute." On a visit to Diamond's headquarters at Wiener Neustadt, south of Vienna, AVweb was shown a test project under way in the company's Multi-Platform division that included a conventional stick but electric servos to operate control surfaces. This technology, says Dries, will be incorporated into the autopilot and he believes it will eventually evolve to include both flight envelope protection and full autoland capability for the DA42. Dries told us he sees this technology as the trend of the future and that it's inevitable. In a clear dig at the Cirrus BRS system, Dries calls the technology "an electronic parachute" because once refined, it would be continuously available to bail the pilot out of any unusual flight attitude or emergency and would work passively, which the BRS parachute does not.

Diamond is working on two new models which will be announced at the European Aero show in Friedrichshafen in April, and while those models won't be equipped with fly-by-wire, Dries believes the system will be fielded "much sooner than you think." As for certification hurdles, which would likely be considerable, Dries said the fact that this technology has been certified by the likes of Airbus proves that it can be done. Diamond also has a considerable technical advantage in that FBW could be developed and certified in Diamond's "pilot optional" DA42s, which are finding a lively market in competing against UAVs in the burgeoning surveillance, survey and intelligence-gathering segments. In fact, Dries said, Diamond's principle business has veered away from general aviation so much that two thirds of its revenue comes from its multi-platform technology, which is sold to government and military agencies looking for affordable, quick-to-deploy surveillance solutions. On a tour of the company's Airborne Sensing division, director Markus Fischer told us some 90 DA42-based sensing systems are already in the market, some of which cost as much as $15 million fully equipped. Although that sounds expensive, Fischer says, the manned twins require less ground infrastructure to operate and can be deployed to target sites quickly. Look for an AVweb video on this topic in the coming weeks.

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And the Winner Is ... back to top 

Collier Trophy Goes To 787

The Boeing 787 was chosen for the 2011 Robert J. Collier Trophy, which honors the "greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America," the National Aeronautic Association announced on Tuesday. The jet was one of four finalists for the award, along with the Lockheed C-5M Super Galaxy, the Gamera human-powered helicopter, and Pipistrel's Taurus G4 electric-powered airplane. "We were very pleased with this year's slate of nominations -- all of them were impressive, inspirational, and innovative, and certainly represent the future of aviation and aerospace," said Walter Boyne, NAA chairman. "We congratulate Boeing on their great accomplishment with the 787." The mid-size, long-range, fuel-efficient 787 Dreamliner was certified last year.

"The men and women of Boeing, working with our partners around the world, poured their hearts into designing, building and delivering the 787 Dreamliner," said Jim Albaugh, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "It was a long and sometimes difficult journey. We're deeply honored to receive this award." Sixty customers have ordered 868 Dreamliners, Boeing said.

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Meanwhile, in Wichita back to top 

Hawker Slows Production On Composite Jets

Some workers on the Premier 1A and Hawker 4000 assembly lines will be furloughed for four to six weeks due to delays in the composite-material supply line, Hawker Beechcraft said this week. Production of the jets will be slowed down, according to the Wichita Eagle. The company didn't release information about how many workers will be affected. The composite-materials supplier, Cytec Engineered Materials, is working at full capacity and is trying to ramp up production to alleviate the delays, Yeow Ng, an advanced materials expert at Wichita State University, told the Eagle. Spokesmen at Cessna and Bombardier said they are not experiencing any similar delays.

Ng added that once a supplier has been chosen, and the FAA has approved all the production details, it's difficult to switch to another supplier in the event of shortages. Cytec is working to expand its facilities and hire new workers, he said.

WTO Notes Wichita Incentives

The common practice of municipal governments in the U.S. providing incentives for aircraft companies has apparently been ruled illegal by the World Trade Organization. On Monday the WTO determined that both Boeing and Airbus received billions in illegal subsidies to develop and produce commercial aircraft. The WTO noted that NASA and the U.S. military had directly subsidized Boeing, something Airbus has been alleging for years. But also included in the list of subsidies were the incentives provided by the city of Wichita.

It's become customary for municipal and state officials to attend plant announcement ceremonies to detail the taxpayer-funded incentives provided to entice or keep the plant. The most common form of incentive is the relief of taxes in exchange for minimum employment guarantees but it's also common for bargain-rate land deals and even building leases to be part of such deals. Initial reports on the ruling didn't detail specifically what Wichita did to attract the attention of the WTO but it does raise the specter of other companies being drawn into similar disputes. For example, several Wichita-area politicians have been vocal about the alleged subsidization of Embraer by the Brazilian government and the WTO ruling might give Embraer or other foreign companies ammunition they need to launch retaliatory claims against Wichita-based companies. There is some irony in that Boeing recently announced it's pulling all its operations from Wichita and moving them back to Washington State.

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Europe, Emissions, and Economic Realities back to top 

Aviation Firms Protest EU Carbon Tax

European aviation officials say the threat of economic reprisals from countries opposed to the European Union's application of a carbon tax to foreign airlines is growing. As we reported last week, Li Jiaxiang, China's director of the Civil Aviation Administration, told Bloomberg the choice of airplanes was up to the airlines, but Airbus claims that's not quite true and that $12 billion in orders has been "suspended."

On Monday, Airbus CEO Tom Enders, along with executives with other manufacturers and airlines, wrote EU representatives saying the loss of business for his company would result in 2,000 job losses. "The aim must be to find a compromise solution and to have these punitive trade measures stopped before it is too late," Reuters reported. "We have always believed that only a global solution would be adequate to resolve the problem of global aviation emissions." Reuters also said Enders wrote a separate letter saying the reprisals my spread to others among the 27 countries opposed to the Emissions Trading Scheme. "It seems that these threats are now becoming very real and are being translated into concrete action, which is starting to have serious consequences on the European aviation business," he wrote. The EU is so far unmoved by the protest. Member countries voted unanimously to keep the tax last week.

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All Eyes East as India's Big Show Gets Underway back to top 

Hyderabad Show This Week

Against a backdrop of struggling airlines and a controversial regulatory environment, India's major commercial and business aviation show opens in Hyderabad March 14. The theme of this year's India Aviation 2012 is "India: the Emerging Aviation Hub," and while the airline side has certainly seen meteoric growth in the last decade, the battle for passengers among the budget carriers that flooded the market in that time has stretched the patience of the government and the credibility of the industry. However, assuming the finances and regulations get sorted out, the country is still considered a growth area for aerospace companies that are looking outside their traditional markets to keep their production lines busy.

Among the first-time attendees at the show is the Boeing 787, which is making its debut in the country. Russia's IRKUT is also making its first appearance. Airbus, Bombardier, Dassault, Embrear, Gulfstream, Hawker Beechcraft, Piaggio Aero, UAC-Sukhoi and a host of others will fill 60,000 square feet of exhibit space and put about 25 aircraft on the ramp. Several helicopter companies are also involved. This is also the centenary of Indian aviation and the post office will issue a commemorative stamp as part of the show.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Diamond's Commercial/Military Turn

Although the sales of Diamond's innovative twin took a nosedive in 2008, it enjoyed good timing on one thing: As the UAV market bloomed, it discovered that the DA42 could be equipped with sensors and cameras and flown both more cheaply and flexibly than either a UAV or a helo with sensors. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli discusses the details.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: Pipistrel's Hyper-Efficient Airplanes

Can you fly fast and not burn very much gas? Pipistrel founder Ivo Boscarol thinks so, and the company has proven it with its Virus SW LSA. On AVweb's tour of Slovenia, Paul Bertorelli flew the airplane and now offers his impressions on the AVweb Insider blog.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: Why Rotax Built an Eco-Engine

Stepping into the Rotax factory has a time warp quality to it with regard to thinking about fuel efficiency and carbon emission — which is to say the company is looking forward, not backward. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli explains why BRP/Rotax thinks it doesn't have the pleasure of denial when it comes to carbon emissions.

Read more and join the conversation.

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

Video: Rotax's New 912iS

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

This week, Rotax rolled out its new 912iS light aircraft engine at its Gunskirchen, Austria factory. AVweb was there, and here's a full video report on the new engine, which features dual electronic fuel injection, dual ignition, and power options. The engine will be ready for volume shipments as early as May of 2012.

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

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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

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