AVwebBiz Complete Issue: Volume 10, Number 13

April 4, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! The Next Generation of Diamond back to top 

Diamond Flies Its New DA52

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.

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From the Pavement to the Sky back to top 

PAL-V Roadable Gyrocopter Flies In Europe

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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 project."

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.

First Flight For Terrafugia Prototype

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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Changing Times at Colgan back to top 

Colgan Parent Airline Files Chapter 11

Pinnacle Airlines Corp., the parent company of Colgan Air, announced over the weekend that it has filed for relief under Chapter 11. "Our current business model is not sustainable," said CEO Sean Menke. "Increasing operating expenses, liquidity constraints, business integration delays and difficulties associated with combining our operations have hindered our ability to maximize our growth potential." As part of the reorganization plan, Colgan Air will stop operating its Saab 340 and Bombardier Q400 fleet by the end of the year.

To return to profitability, the company said it plans to restructure key operating agreements with Delta Air Lines, wind down its operations with United Airlines, and cease its Essential Air Service flying with US Airways. "Our objective is to emerge from this process as a stronger, more focused company, with a revised business model, a substantially improved cost structure and operating agreements that will position us for profitable growth in the future," Menke said.

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Aviation Safety Reports back to top 

UTair Pulls ATR72-200s From Service After Crash

Russian airline UTair has pulled its ATR 72-200s from service after a weekend crash that killed 31 people and injured 12. The airline said the move was an attempt to reassure passengers. The aircraft will be replaced with ATR 72-500s, newer versions of the same aircraft. Despite the grounding, the airline insists there was nothing technically wrong with the crash plane. The crash is one of a series of serious airliner crashes in Russia of late, which goes against the worldwide trend to greater safety in air travel. Russia's poorer-than-average record has been blamed on antiquated aircraft but the plane involved is a relatively modern French twin turboprop with a good safety record.

A spate of crashes, including one that killed most of the members of a popular elite hockey team in September, has prompted Russian authorities to call for a wholesale revamp of the equipment its airlines fly. But UTair is an exception to the Russian stereotype and flies mostly modern American, Canadian and European designs. In addition to the ATRs it has 737s, four 757s and CRJs in its fleet. It does have 21 Tu-154s and some other Russian legacy aircraft (including 43 An-2 radial engine singles) in service but is also a launch customer for Sukhoi's new Superjet 100, with 24 on order.

Airplane Crashes Through Store Roof, Five Hurt

An experimental aircraft crashed through the roof of a Publix grocery store in DeLand, Fla., about 7:20 p.m. on Monday, critically injuring both men in the airplane and sending three people in the store to the hospital. The airplane was an amphibious Seawind 3000, built in 2000, according to the FAA database. The crash sent a ball of fire through the store, according to local news reports, and the aircraft was completely destroyed. Three people in the store were hurt; one was hospitalized for burns on his legs, and the other two were treated and released. The aircraft had just taken off from the nearby DeLand Municipal Airport.

"It was horrific," witness Randy Felix told The Daytona Beach News-Journal. "When I turned around, I saw the ceiling caving in. Once the tiles were down, there was just pure fire and then the fire was propelled towards the doors almost to the cash registers." Felix said he saw a young man running toward him with his legs burned. A witness from outside the store told ABC News the airplane seemed to attempt a turn back to the airport shortly after takeoff, then "it dropped straight out of the sky." DeLand is about 40 miles north of Orlando, in central Florida.

Passenger Lands Safely After Pilot Stricken Aloft

Helen Collins, age 80, was able to make a safe landing in a twin-engine Cessna 414 Monday evening in Wisconsin after her husband, John, 81, lost consciousness while flying. According to local news reports, Helen Collins called in an emergency at about 5 p.m., near Sturgeon Bay. She is not a pilot but had some training over 30 years ago, when she had soloed. An instructor flew to her side to help coach her through the landing, and they flew several practice runs over the runway, according to ABC News. At about 6 p.m., Collins made a rough landing -- after a couple of bounces, the airplane ended up in a ditch and the gear collapsed -- but she was able to escape with only minor injuries. John Collins was taken to a hospital and declared dead.

John Collins was CEO of a small manufacturing company in Sturgeon Bay. He had been flying since the 1980s and frequently volunteered his services for Angel Flight, according to ABC.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Sun 'n Fun at the Crossroads

All the vendors we spoke to at Sun 'n Fun had a good show, even if the traffic in the booths may have been down a bit. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli argues that none of us should make much of the numbers from year to year, given that the show is in a mature market in an industry that's on the downswing. More to the point, we think the show's management and its board are finding — and will find more — ways to improve Sun 'n Fun.

Read more and join the conversation.

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Who's Where back to top 

Farmer Joins London Oxford Airport

Tony Farmer

Tony Farmer is the new Head of Sales and Route Development at London Oxford Airport. He was formerly at Saudi Airlines.

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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All the News from Lakeland back to top 

Sun 'n Fun 2012: News Coverage Round-Up

AVweb attended the 38th annual Sun 'n Fun Fly-In in Lakeland, Florida from March 27 to April 1, 2012 — and brought back an assortment of news and interviews. Click here for a handy index to all our coverage from the show, including podcasts, videos, and blogs.

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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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