AVwebBiz - Volume 10, Number 31

August 22, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Coming to America back to top 

Import Ban Frustrates Pipistrel

A European light aircraft manufacturer is claiming the FAA has suspended imports of its aircraft to the U.S. because it couldn't locate one of its factories with a Google Earth search. Michael Coates, who handles U.S. distribution for Slovenia-based Pipistrel Aircraft, said the company has since provided ample proof that the factory does exist but have been given no indication when the importation ban might be lifted. "The FAA has used Google Earth to validate certification data," Coates told AVweb. FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said she is looking into the matter but was unable to respond in time for our deadline. Coates said the Google searcher didn't plug the right data into his computer and the little pushpin landed on a traffic circle rather than an airport. The simple explanation is that the FAA staffer used the plant's mailing address, which is about 1,000 feet from the physical location of the factory in an Italian city near the border with Slovenia. "He just didn't zoom out enough," Coates said. However, it's more complicated than that. The action is related to an announcement by the FAA in July that it would be cracking down on possible importation abuses in the LSA industry.

Slovenia does not have a bilateral agreement with the U.S. on aircraft certification so it cannot export aircraft to the U.S. To get around that issue, Coates said Pipistrel set up a manufacturing facility in Italy, which does have a bilateral agreement. He said the plant is operated in accordance with Italian regulations and the entire aircraft is built at the Italian plant. "Everyone knows it's there," he said. The Italian operation had to move recently but Coates said the FAA has been supplied with all the lease agreements with Fly Synthesis, which is renting Pipistrel temporary space for the next two years. Coates said Pipistrel has offered to fly FAA officials to Italy at its own expense to show them the plant and it's also said they are welcome to pay an unannounced visit. "We have an open-door policy," he said. In the meantime, there are customers waiting for aircraft and Coates said he has a hard time contacting anyone at the FAA. When someone does answer the phone, he said, they will say only that the issue is under review and cannot give a timeframe for resolution of the issue. Coates said he's asked for help from EAA and the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association but has been disappointed by their response. He said Sen. Jim Inhofe is aware of the issue and is knocking on doors in Washington.

Embraer Wants 30 Percent Of Bizjet Market

Embraer, which only really got started in the business jet industry five years ago, says it wants up to 30 percent of the market and it's most of the way there. "We don't want to be greedy," Ernie Edwards, head of Embraer's executive jet business told Reuters in an interview at LABACE last week. "Twenty to 30 percent would be healthy market share." Edwards said. The Phenom series of light business jets has made significant inroads in that market segment but it's the higher-margin mid-sized realm that is next on the Brazilian company's agenda.

The first Legacy 450 is now under construction and Embraer is hoping for first flight of the Legacy 500 by the end of 2013 but it's taken a gamble with the two mid-sized aircraft, a gamble that might pay off in a serious challenge to Cessna's dominance of that market segment. Both are fly-by-wire designs, technology not previously available in the $15-$20 million price range. Like all manufacturers, Embraer is waiting for the world economic situation to sort itself out and Edwards said there are positive signs in the U.S., if not in Europe.

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912iS: Europe's Latest Certified Engine back to top 

EASA Certifies Rotax 912 iS

The Rotax 912 iS aircraft engine, which was introduced at Aero Friedrichshafen earlier this year, this week received a type certificate from EASA. The engine also was recently ASTM certified. "These are important milestones in the commercialization of new aircraft engines," said Gerd Ohrnberger, general manager of BRP-Powertrain. The company said it will now will focus on gaining FAA certification. The 912 iS engine delivers fuel efficiency 38 percent to 70 percent better than comparable engines, Rotax said.

The 912 iS features dual electronic fuel injection and electronic ignition, and can deliver 100 HP on either avgas or up to E10 mogas. The engine can run for 2,000 hours before overhaul. AVweb editorial director Paul Bertorelli was in Austria earlier this year to check out the new engine; click here for his video report.

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Latitude Goes Long back to top 

Cessna Boosts Latitude Range

When Cessna introduced the mid-sized Latitude at last year's NBAA convention in Las Vegas, much of the hallway discussion was about its relatively modest range of 2,000 nm. Cessna apparently heard that chatter and a few months after the convention boosted the range to 2,300 nm, matching that of the Embraer 450. At LABACE in Sao Paulo last week the company added another 200 nm to the Latitude's range, making it among the most long-legged in its segment.

"As we talked with more customers, getting to 2,500 nautical miles was imperative," said Bob Gibbs, Cessna's VP of sales for South America. The Latitude is a direct challenge to Embraer's entry into that category of bizjet and much of the attention was devoted to cabin features that include a six-foot ceiling and 77-inch width, which Cessna says is the widest it has ever built. There is also a stand-up lav with sink and closet.

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Inside Last Year's Reno Crash back to top 

NTSB Releases Reno Documents

The NTSB on Tuesday posted online more than 900 pages of documents plus photographs related to its investigation of a fatal crash at last year's National Championship Air Races in Reno. Among the documents is a careful examination of a video shot by a spectator at the event, which concludes that the Galloping Ghost, flown by Jimmy Leeward, reached a maximum acceleration of 17.3 Gs after a roll upset, in which the airplane reached a roll angle of 93 degrees, left wing down. The documents also examine several photos that show the departure of a trim tab from the airplane's elevator. Leeward and 10 people on the ground were killed when the racer crashed. The safety board said it will release its final report, with a determination of probable cause, by the end of this month.

The docket contains summaries of interviews by NTSB investigators, maintenance records, a meteorology report, a report on "survival factors" and more. "The information … is factual in nature and does not provide any analysis," the NTSB said. In April, the NTSB released a half dozen safety recommendations, so organizers could consider implementing them for this year's races, which are scheduled for Sept. 12 to 16. The Reno Air Racing Association, which organizes the races, said changes have been made to the race course in an effort to better protect spectators. The insurance premium for this year's event increased by $1.7 million, according to the association's website.

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News Briefs back to top 

Mainstream Press Shines On GA

Both The New York Times and Forbes this week published unusually upbeat stories about general aviation. Fractional-ownership and charter jet operators have seen a rise in business over the last year or so, according to the Times story, by Joe Sharkey. XOJet, a charter operator, for example, reported a 55 percent increase in flight hours in the first half of this year, compared to the same period last year. And in Forbes this week, writer Mark Patiky shows readers how efficient it can be to fly yourself in a small aircraft, describing his flight in a Mooney as the best way to get from Providence, R.I., to Teterboro, N.J. "It's amazing to realize how powerful a business tool even a small airplane can be," says Patiky.

The Times story, while upbeat, acknowledges that the corporate jet market still has a long way to go to recover to the flying hours and sales numbers that were seen before the economic downturn. For example, the fractional-share market is now up to about 350,000 hours of flying per year, but before the recession, the industry sold about 450,000 hours per year. In Forbes, Patiky says while saving time and money is a great incentive, there are other reasons to fly GA. "You can make travel a pleasure again," he writes. "Actually make it fun. How do you put a price tag on that?"

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Who's Where back to top 

Krueger Leaves Van's

Ken Krueger

Ken Krueger, the chief engineer who guided Van's Aircraft in the design of many of its most popular models over the last 16 years, has taken an engineering post at Sierra Kilo.

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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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Runway Chicken Revisited

One way of preventing the sort of opposite-direction loss of separation that occurred at Reagan National in late July is to just shut the airport down for a while. That's essentially the gist of a new order from the FAA. On the AVweb Insider blog, you can hear how it works out with live audio from Los Angeles tower.

Read more and join the conversation.

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

Video: PlaneDriven's Roadable Airplane

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

The problem with flying cars is that it's a lot harder to make a car fly than it is to make an airplane drive. That's the thinking behind Trey Johnson's roadable Glasair Sportsman, which we filmed at Oshkosh. He flew it in and drove it around town a couple of times. We're not sure what kind of demand there is for this sort of thing, but it's fun to watch it come together.

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

AVweb Insider Blog: What Is It with Flying Cars?

Maybe we should blame Popular Mechanics for all those magazine covers featuring — artist's conception only — a flying car in every garage. The idea has never worked, and it's probably never going to work, yet it persists and draws more interest than a lot of practical designs that just aren't as sexy. Or, as Paul Bertorelli surmises on the AVweb Insider blog, maybe they just don't have that edge-of-sanity dingbat factor. Just because people won't buy crazy doesn't mean they don't want to watch people try to pull it off.

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.

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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

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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