AVwebBiz Complete Issue: Volume 10, Number 15

April 18, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! We Get Under the Panthera's Skin back to top 
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Pipistrel Unveils Panthera

One of the major product announcements at Aero 2012 in Friedrichshafen is a fast efficient four-place design from Slovenia. Pipistrel unveiled its Panthera and aims to take a slice of the high-speed cruiser market from Cirrus with an aircraft it says will cruise at 200 knots on 10 gallons an hour of unleaded gas for 1,000 nm with all the seats filled. The fully-equipped aircraft will sell for less than $500,000, well below the list price for a decked out SR22. "Panthera will shake the World of General Aviation, setting the benchmark for efficiency, cabin comfort and safety for others to follow," said Pipistrel CEO Ivo Boscarol. This is Pipistrel's first foray into the Part 91 world with a fully certified aircraft and there were some unique challenges in that process.

Slovenia doesn't have a bilateral certification agreement with the U.S. so the Panthera will be built about 20 miles from the company's main plant in Ajdrovscina across the border in Italy, which does have an agreement with the FAA. The first models of the Panthera will fly with a Lycoming IO390 fuel-injected engine but the ultimate goal is to offer them with hybrid and pure electric powerplants. "Hybrid and electric aircraft are the future of aviation with Panthera being the best airframe to demonstrate the potential of this technology," Boscarol said.

Video: Pipistrel Panthera Revealed

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

Have you ever wondered how a new aircraft is born? At the Pipistrel factory, Tine Tomazic gave AVweb an exclusive look at the prototyping process for their much-anticipated new Panthera.

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New Offerings from Diamond back to top 

Diamond's DA52 A Centerpiece

Even before Aero opened on Wednesday, Diamond's new DA52 twin was drawing a lot of attention. During a pre-show press tour, Diamond's chief test pilot Ingmar Mayerbuch said on the flight into Friedsrichshafen from Diamond's Wiener Nuestadt, Austria factory, the airplane burned only 60 liters of Jet A to fly about 260 miles. (For the metrically challenged, that's about 16.6 MPG and notable economy for any airplane, much less a twin.) The DA52 is powered by two 180-horsepower variants of the Austro AE300 diesel engines that Diamond's sister company, Austro AG, developed specifically for the airplane.

According to Mayerbuch, it benefits greatly from the significant work Diamond did on reducing cooling and aerodynamic drag on the DA42, which resulted in another new model, the DA42 V1. (See AVweb's exclusive flight video here.) The V1 is on display at Aero, too, but most early show goers were gawking at the large cabin of the DA52. It's about the size of an Aztec and Diamond is mulling over seating options of up to seven people. Two configurations are on display here, a wide rear bench seat and a baggage compartment seat, both of which would seat five. Look for an AVweb video on the airplane later in the week.

Video: Diamond's New V1 Twin

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

At Aero 2012 in Friedrichschafen, Diamond is showing off two new twins, including the DA52 Austro-powered V1. With major work on drag reduction, improved engine performance, and lower weight, the V1 definitely has better performance over its predecessor, the DA42 NG.

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More to See and Do at Aero 2012 in Friedrichshafen back to top 

Aero Opens With Big U.S. Component

As the 20th European Aero show opens on Wednesday, organizers were expecting a strong event thanks to rebounding economies and a number of new products and events. Aero Project Director Roland Bosch told AVweb on Tuesday that more than 500 exhibitors have registered for the show. Although that's down a little from last year, he said one reason is that 2012 marks the first year that Aero has been conducted as an annual event rather than a biennial event, which it had been in the past. Some manufacturers stick to a two-year schedule and thus aren't represented. What is represented, however, is more North American companies than ever, according to Luann Alesio, Aero's U.S. marketing representative.

As company's like Cirrus, Lycoming and Continental expand their international footprint, more are considering Aero a must-do show. Indeed, Cirrus skipped Sun 'n Fun last month, but says it plans a major announcement in Friedrichshafen. Still, Aero remains a predominantly German show, with some 240 of the exhibitors displaying here being from Germany. The U.S. is a distant second, with the Czech Republic right behind. Aero runs through the weekend. Bosch told us although it's not specifically a fly-in, some 700 aircraft do fly into the airport, which is adjacent to Aero's spacious grounds and 12 large display areas.

Video: Aero 2012 Opens in Friedrichshafen

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

As Aero Friedrichschafen begins its 20th year, it's becoming an increasingly important international trade show, and AVweb is there on the ground. Here's a video report on opening day of the show.

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Rest and Risk back to top 

Crew Rest Issues Cited In Pilot-Induced Turbulence

A sleepy Air Canada first officer who was waking up from an approved cockpit nap initially mistook the planet Venus for a C-17 and is being cited for a wild ride that hurt 14 passengers and two flight attendants on a flight from Toronto to Zurich in January of 2011. Canada's Transportation Safety Board issued a report Monday that suggests pilot fatigue was behind the FO's decision to throw a Boeing 767-300 into a dive and send unbelted passengers and flight attendants to the ceiling. Seconds later, the flight's startled captain yanked back on the yoke and ensured an uncomfortable return trip for the affected people in the back. Most suffered bumps, bruises and lacerations from their unscheduled contact with aircraft fixtures. Everyone on the back side of the bulletproof door thought turbulence was to blame and some weren't happy to learn a year later that the turbulence was pilot-induced. "No one came on for an announcement and said, 'This is what happened, but everything's OK, or there might be some more turbulence up ahead,'" passenger Ashlyn O'Mara told CBC News.

Air Canada allows flight crew members to nap in the cockpit with the approval of the other pilot. The TSB says the FO woke up after 75 minutes of slumber (40 minutes is the norm) when the aircraft's TCAS noted a C-17 dead ahead and 1,000 feet below. The FO initially thought Venus was the approaching military aircraft but the captain told him the cargo plane was below them. The pilots flying on both aircraft flashed their landing lights as they approached one another and the TSB says the FO saw the other aircraft and, "interpreted its position as being above and descending towards them." The altitude excursion was 400 feet. What happened next caused what passengers called "chaos" in the cabin and led to an expedited landing in Zurich with medical units rolling. The TSB noted that many of the unbelted passengers were sleeping across unsold seats. The injured flight attendants were in the galley and the lav. The TSB did not issue any recommendations but the report does cite studies of the effect of overnight trans-Atlantic flight on people from North America who are used to sleeping at night and working during the day. "Night flights from North America to Europe have an inherent risk of fatigue for North American–based pilots. Most of these pilots fly a small number of night–time legs per month and revert to sleeping at night when not working," the report said. "The circadian system of pilots who fly only a small number of night–time legs will not adapt to working at night and these pilots are likely to display performance decrements during the night–time legs in spite of any countermeasures."

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The Kind of Weather That Comes to You back to top 

Wichita Tornadoes Damage Boeing, Aviation Museum

Tornadoes that swept through Wichita, Kans., over the weekend damaged buildings belonging to Boeing and subcontractor Spirit AeroSystems, and several aircraft at the Kansas Aviation Museum were torn from their tiedowns. Spirit builds fuselages for Boeing 737s, and the production line could be slowed while the company recovers, according to the Wichita Eagle. "It will be a couple days before we have a good, solid plan," Spirit CEO Jeff Turner told the Eagle on Monday. Several hundred workers were in the building on Saturday night when the storms hit, but all were safe. At the museum, one airplane was wrecked -- a Vietnam-era Cessna O2-B Super Skymaster -- and three others were damaged.

"We dodged a bullet," museum director Lon Smith told the Wichita Eagle. Despite the damage to aircraft on the ramp, the museum building was practically untouched. "We had one broken pane of glass on the building," Smith said. At Spirit, about 80 percent of the damaged areas should be back in operation soon, but the other 20 percent will be "more problematic," spokesperson Debbie Gann told the Eagle. Several buildings at another Boeing site, also in Wichita, sustained some damage, but no shutdowns were expected. A Hawker Beechcraft manufacturing facility also was slightly damaged, but work was not affected. The Kansas Air National Guard, at the McConnell Air Force Base, also sustained some damage. No serious injuries were reported at any of the sites. Maximum winds in the area were 165 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

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Crunching the Numbers back to top 

Report: Cirrus Ready To Move Ahead With Jet

Cirrus Aircraft has secured most of the financing it needs to move forward with development of its single-engine personal jet, with production expected to start in Duluth, Minn., in 2015, the Minnesota Star-Tribune reported on Tuesday. Cirrus CEO Dale Klapmeier declined to tell the Star-Tribune just how much cash had been secured from new owners CAIGA (China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Co.), but said it will cover most of the projected development cost, which has previously been estimated at $150 million. "It has been a struggle to keep this program moving forward," Klapmeier told the Star-Tribune. "It has been a struggle just to survive." Cirrus had said last week that it would reveal a major announcement at the Aero Friedrichshafen show in Germany on Wednesday.

In its teaser announcement last week, Cirrus said it would reveal an "historic next step in personal aviation." Klapmeier said at AOPA Summit last September that the Chinese owners of CAIGA were reviewing the jet project, and meanwhile the company was moving forward with design work. The jet is expected to sell for about $2 million.

Hawker Releases 2011 Sales Data

When the General Aviation Manufacturers Association published its annual summary of sales data in February, it came with an unusual omission -- Hawker Beechcraft was not ready to release its fourth-quarter numbers. On Tuesday, GAMA published an update (PDF) with the Hawker data included, but it resulted in minimal change to the overall report. In February, the available numbers showed a 3.5 percent drop in total shipments compared to 2010. Now, with the added data from Hawker, the 3.5 percent drop remains unchanged. Hawker said it delivered 198 aircraft during the year. In 2010, Hawker delivered 214 aircraft. Adding Hawker's numbers did, however, affect the total billings trend for the year.

Without Hawker's numbers, GAMA reported in February that billings overall were up 0.4 percent in 2011. Adding in Hawker's report, with billings of $1.4 billion, the total billings for the industry now are down by 0.4 percent. Hawker also reported delivery of 93 military aircraft in 2011, but those numbers are not included in GAMA's totals. The company has been struggling for some time with cash-flow issues, and has publicly discussed selling off assets or re-organizing under Chapter 11 as possible options. Demand overall for new airplanes continues to be suppressed by extensive inventories of used aircraft, GAMA spokeswoman Caroline Daniels said in February. Used inventories showed some decline in 2011, she said, but used prices also continued to fall, by an average of 14 percent. Financing is still difficult to secure. "Easier credit would help to release some of the pent-up demand [for new aircraft]," she said.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: A Dozen Spitfires in Factory Crates? A Dream Find

The weekend's news brought a report that a British farmer named David Cundall has discovered a squadron of Mark XIV Supermarine Spitfires buried in their factory crates as surplus at the end of World War II. If the story has legs, it will be the historical aircraft find of the century. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli asks the question on everyone's mind: "Whattya figure those things will be worth?"

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: Is the Flying Car Our Moonshot?

Should a practical flying car be the next moonshot? After all, cars that fly have held perennial fascination for both pilots and drivers for decades. Mary Grady examines the idea on the AVweb Insider blog.

Read more and join the conversation.

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The Top Reporter on Our Crack Staff ... Is You! 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

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