FAA Launches Incursion Campaign »

The FAA is starting an aggressive campaign aimed at curbing runway incursions in general but GA deviations in particular. At Sun 'n Fun 2010, Wes Timmons, the FAA's director of runway safety , unveiled a new campaign called "If You've Crossed The Line, You've Crossed The Line." As the name implies, the campaign is aimed at reminding pilots to pay attention to controllers' instructions and only enter the protected runway space with permission. Timmons told AVweb that 75 to 80 percent of incursions are caused by GA aircraft and that needs to improve. More

Sporty's Expands Electronic Offerings »

Sporty's is keeping up with the electronic age, now offering a mobile version of its pilot-training video series that will run on smartphones, an iPhone E6B app featuring 23 aviation functions, and its first downloadable e-book. The mobile video series will play either on a 3G/4G network or via wifi, said Sporty's vice president John Zimmerman at Sun 'n Fun on Thursday. It costs an extra $49.95 for buyers of the online training series. The E6B app will be available in a couple of weeks for $4.99, and the first e-book, Richard Collins' updated classic Air Crashes , will cost $9.99. "This is just the first of many e-books to come," Zimmerman said. He also offered a video sneak peak of a new product that will be introduced at Oshkosh: a hand-held unit that can probably do myriad things, but the video showed it operating as a back-up ILS after the avionics went down during a flight. More

Groundbreaking For New Aviation High School »

Officials from Sun 'n Fun and the Polk County (Fla.) School Board broke ground Thursday for a $7.5 million facility that will provide a new home for the Central Florida Aerospace Academy , an aviation-oriented high school/career academy already located on the Sun 'n Fun campus. The 58,000-square-foot facility will house up to 500 high school students. Current facilities for the school have a maximum capacity of 175. "Sun 'n Fun is ecstatic to have such significant and inspirational support for an educational facility of this magnitude that underscores our organization's core values and is in lock step with our educational focus and mission," said Sun 'n Fun Board Chairman Bill Eickhoff. The project is funded by a grant from the Aviation Education Foundation, a Naples-based not-for-profit organization founded by James C. Ray. More

Build A Plane Demand Still Strong »

"The down economy has been good for Build A Plane ," founder Lyn Freeman said at Sun 'n Fun on Thursday. "We've had a lot of donations." The organization is now accepting airworthy aircraft as well as projects. And the demand continues to run ever higher, according to executive director Katrina Bradshaw. "We've started 200 projects since 2003," she said. "But we still have 325 groups waiting for an aircraft." Freeman said the projects have a huge impact on the kids who take part. "We had a group of kids in Hooper Bay, Alaska, who started a project in 2007, and now we're raising money so they can fly the airplane they built into AirVenture this summer," Freeman said. "Out of the 11 kids who started the airplane, three have now earned their A&Ps, and two more are taking flying lessons." More

New Amphib: A Dream With Wings »

Every aviation event needs a few new dreamers who are putting it on the line to make the airplane of their imagination a reality, and at Sun 'n Fun on Wednesday, those dreamers were John Meekins, president of Privateer Industries , and his director of marketing, Frank Leventhal. The two turned up in the press tent with a model of their six-place, carbon-fiber, ducted-fan-powered airplane, and said they have a full-size prototype in the works back home in Seattle, Wash. They hope to fly it by the end of the year, they said. "This is a fully self-funded project so far," said Meekins, but he added that he's had some interest from investors. More

SMA Jet-A Piston: "Ready For Market" »

SMA's jet-A-burning general aviation piston engine has been around for more than seven years now, and its time has come, according to company president Luc Pelon. "We are ready, the market is ready, and the aviation industry is ready," Pelon said Wednesday at Sun 'n Fun. Earlier versions of the SMA engine have been flown in Maules and C182s. ( Click here for a report from AVweb's Paul Bertorelli, who went flying in an SMA-powered 182 in January.) Pelon said the operating costs of the engine are 40 percent less than for a similar avgas engine. "It burns 9 gallons per hour on a Cessna 182," he said. "There are no magnetos, no spark plugs, and it is air cooled." More

Avidyne Integrates Safety Enhancements »

Avidyne will have an updated version of its Entegra Release 9 integrated flight deck avionics system in coming months and the new version, called Release 9.1, has some innovative features designed to aid in en route situational awareness. At a news conference at Sun 'n Fun 2010, the company unveiled a feature called FMS Preview that allows the pilot to see a split screen graphical display as they scroll through the departures, airways, approaches and other decision point items. There's also an FMS Centered feature that centers the display on each of the waypoints in the flight plan. The pilot can scroll through the waypoints to get a picture of the en route weather. The combination of the two features enhances the pilot's ability to plan and safely execute the flight says Avidyne COO Patrick Herguth. "Not only can pilots be sure they are choosing the correct procedure, they can also see the procedure relative to datalink weather on the map to ensure they are choosing the best route or best approach for the current weather conditions," he said. More

LSA Manufacturers Looking For An Upturn »

"Calls and e-mails and interest are all picking up," said Dan Johnson, chairman of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association at Sun 'n Fun on Wednesday, "but sales are still very slow so far in 2010." Like the rest of the industry, the LSA manufacturers saw a sales slump in 2009, though with a drop of 42 percent it was less severe than the downturn for regular piston airplanes. But although there is no big surge in sales yet, the LSA Mall here at Sun 'n Fun is full, with 18 airplanes on display. Interest in the aircraft continues to be high around the world. At the recent Aero general aviation show in Europe, LSA manufacturers from the continent banded together to form their own industry group, LAMA-EU. They will address issues of concern to European aviators, and also work with other international groups toward the creation of one LSA standard for the global market, Johnson said. More

Jeff Skiles, Flight 1549 First Officer, Visits Sun 'n Fun »

Jeff Skiles, best known as the guy in the right seat when US Airways Flight 1549 ditched in the Hudson last year, is spending a few days this week at Sun 'n Fun in Lakeland, Fla., to share his story with thousands of aviation enthusiasts. Skiles flew for 24 years with the airline, and that day last year was his first time in the front seat of an Airbus A320. "I had just finished school," he told a news conference on Wednesday, "and there was no training for a dual engine failure at low altitude." The only checklist available presumed that the crew had 20,000 feet or so to try restarts. That might change after the NTSB finishes its report and issues safety recommendations, Skiles said. That final report from the safety board should be released within a few weeks. More

Aspen Expands Product Line, Features »

The rest of the aviation industry may still be struggling to recover from last year's slump, but Aspen Avionics had a banner year in 2009. "We grew by 38 percent last year," said CEO John Uczekaj at Sun 'n Fun on Wednesday morning. "And we expect to keep that up, with 50 percent or so growth in 2010." He credits new products as well as "organic" growth for the continued expansion. Uczekaj and his staff went on to announce multiple new upgrades, new products, new packaging, and some rebate deals. Among the new features, early next year the company will ship synthetic vision as a software upgrade for its Evolution 1000 PFD, for $2,995. The product is on display at the Aspen Avionics booth here at Sun 'n Fun. More