AVweb AVFlash - Volume 20, Number 15b

October 16, 2013

First Flight For Aeromobil Flying Car

Aeromobil, a Slovakian company that has been working on a flying-car design since the 1990s, recently flew its aircraft for the first time. The company says it aims for the design to be a "real 'roadable aircraft'" that combines the performance of a sports car with the qualities of a light aircraft. The airplane that flew is the third-generation prototype, which the company said aims to be "stylish [and] comfortable for both the driver and the passenger." In its auto configuration, the Aeromobil fits into standard parking spaces, and can be fueled at any gas station. It runs with a 100 hp Rotax 912 engine and, in its airplane configuration, has a top speed of 124 mph and a range of 430 miles. It's constructed of a steel framework with a carbon-fiber coating.

The wings fold and unfold with the touch of a button from the cockpit, similar to the design of the more well-known Terrafugia Transition aircraft. The empty weight is under 1,000 pounds. Stefan Klein, co-founder of the company, has a background in aviation and design, with a resume that includes work at Audi, Volkswagen and BMW. His partner, co-founder Juraj Vaculik, has experience in media and advertising. The company is seeking additional investors, designers and partners to work on the project.


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Used G650 Flipped For $6.5 Million Over List Price

One of the first owners of a Gulfstream 650 has flipped the aircraft for 10 percent more than she paid for it. Fabiana Flosi, the wife of Formula One Racing CEO  Bernie Ecclestone, who paid $65.5 million for aircraft number 6023, sold it in September for $72 million. According to Bizjet Blogger, Ecclestone wasn't happy with the short-field performance of the G. Seems it couldn't depart fully loaded from airports near homes the Ecclestone family owns. It needs 5,858 feet at sea level at MTOW but it will go 7,000 nm at Mach .85 when the wheels tuck up. Apparently Saanen Airport near Gstaad, Switzerland was the deal breaker. It offers only 4593 feet and is at about 4,500 feet.

The aircraft was sold to Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, a Thai businessman and the owner of the UK’s Leicester City Football Club. Srivaddhanaprabha will likely use East Midlands Airport, which offers a generous 9,491 feet. By paying the premium to Flosi and Ecclestone, Srivaddhanaprabha gets to skip to the head of the line for an aircraft that has a four-year backlog. The early transaction doesn't appear to violate Gulfstream's policy on preventing speculators from buying up the early positions and marking up the aircraft for the impatient. Gulfstream has threatened to cancel warranties if those who have ordered the aircraft sell them before they are delivered. There are apparently three 650s on the market and Corporate Jet Investor says those with the galley in the front will command the best prices.

LSA Manufacturer To Be Sold At Auction

Opus Aircraft, based in Rockingham County, N.C., will be sold at auction on Nov. 15, the Iron Horse Auction Co. has announced. Opus, which launched at Shiloh Airport in 2004, produces the ARC Super 2 light sport aircraft, an all-aluminum design based on a British airplane first produced in the 1980s. The auctioneer said it will accept sealed bids for the entire company, which has assets including one airworthy airplane, a second airplane that is "98 percent complete," four partially completed airframes, all structural jigs, hundreds of thousands of spare parts, and "all drawings, plans, copyrights, patterns, accessories and equipment." The minimum bid is $199,000, and the company will be sold as long as that minimum is met.

Iron Horse said the assets have an estimated value of $8 million; however, a recent offer to sell the company for $2.9 million found no takers. The news release from the auction house was picked up by media in China, Canada and Europe, according to a Google news search. In 2004, the company founders, Frank Auman Jr. and Tony Dawson, said they planned to hire 10 to 20 workers and build up to 50 airplanes a year.

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EAA: FAA Young Eagles Fuel Exemption Too Complex

The FAA has partially granted an exemption that EAA sought to allow Young Eagles pilots to be reimbursed for fuel costs, but EAA says the requirements the FAA would impose are too onerous. "Meeting [the exemption's requirements] would literally be impossible for EAA," said Sean Elliot, EAA's vice president of advocacy and safety. To comply with the exemption would require a "total restructure" of the Young Eagles and Eagle Flights programs, he said. EAA would have to create an all-new chapter monitoring, data gathering, and approval system. "EAA regretfully will not exercise the privileges of exemption 10841, and does not intend to renew it," Elliot said.

EAA filed the petition in April 2012. The FAA's partial grant of the exemption would require EAA to maintain a record of all fuel disbursements, notify the local FSDO in advance of all flight operations, and provide a copy of the exemption to the FSDO 72 hours before each event. "Such requirements would end the ability for Young Eagles and Eagle Flights programs to operate in a decentralized and autonomous manner as is now done," EAA said.

Wounded Warriors Give To Able Flight

The Wounded Warrior Project has given $45,000 to Able Flight to expand the opportunities for injured service members to receive free flight training and scholarships to help with aviation careers, the groups announced this week. "This grant gives Able Flight the resources to offer five new scholarships for wounded veterans," said Charles Stites, executive director of Able Flight. "We look forward to making it possible for them to become pilots or train for a variety of careers in aviation." Veterans wounded in service since 9/11 can apply for a scholarship at the Able Flight Web site. Applications are now being accepted and reviewed, and the scholarships will be awarded on a rolling basis, the group said.

The Wounded Warrior Project's grant program, now in its second year, works with nonprofit organizations that provide injured service members with unique, specialized programs and services. The grant program has provided support to more than 70 organizations nationwide. Able Flight said more than 50,000 servicemen and women have been physically injured in recent military conflicts, another 320,000 have experienced a traumatic brain injury while on deployment, and as many as 400,000 additional service members suffer from combat-related stress, major depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

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Redbird $1 Avgas Available For SAFE Seminar

When the Society of Aviation and Flight Educators announced last month it would hold its first pilot-seminar weekend in Texas at the end of October, Redbird Skyport's $1 avgas was promoted as an extra incentive to attend -- but that was before Redbird decided to end the promotion early. But Redbird has announced the offer stands for those who fly in for the SAFE Pilot Proficiency Project, Oct. 26-27, in San Marcos. "The fact that Redbird is carrying through proves their dedication to aviation safety, and we appreciate it," said Doug Stewart, executive director of SAFE. The weekend features a roster of educational seminars, plus time in Redbird's advanced motion flight simulators. Early registration discounts are available until Oct. 23.

Seminars on the roster include "Angle of Attack Awareness" with Rich Stowell; "Tailwheel Tips and Tricks," with Stowell and Stewart; "iPad Best Practices for Flight Planning," with Kay Greenfield; and a "Single Pilot IFR" seminar with Stewart. Participants will be eligible for flight and knowledge credits in the FAA WINGS program. AVweb's Mary Grady spoke with Stewart last month about the new event; click here for the podcast.

49-Plane Record-Setting Formation Attempt

Forty-nine pilots (and planes) participated in a world-record-breaking attempt, flying a filled Vee formation in Van's RV aircraft at Arrowhead Stadium prior to an NFL football game Oct. 13. Officially, there were 49 airplanes flown by pilots from 19 different states as part of the KC Flight Formation Team. That may set a record recognized by Guinness for civilian aircraft flown together in formation. A thorough review of witness statements and video that may lead to an official record could take up to eight weeks. The performance was part of pre-game ceremonies for the Kansas City versus Oakland NFL football game. And the pilots used the flight to raise money for charity. Permission for the flight was denied before it was approved.  

Fundraising efforts began about a month prior to the flight because permission was denied until the team supplied training and safety information to officials. Within that time frame, the pilots were able to raise $25,000 in smaller donations from individuals with a final anonymous $5,000 donation arriving late to reach the team's goal. As a result, KC Flight will deliver the money to the University of Kansas Hospital's cancer center. KC Flight arranges annual fundraisers for breast cancer awareness. This year's effort included the flight as well as a silent auction and raffle that featured events with the Kansas City Chiefs cheerleaders, the team mascot and others. Lee's Summit Municipal Airport served as the team's training hub prior to the flight.

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NBAA 2013 Next Week

The National Business Aviation Association's annual convention and exhibition scheduled for the Las Vegas convention center, Oct. 22 through 24, is expected to attract 25,000 attendees and more than 1000 exhibitors. Attendees will have access to more than 100 education sessions about the most pressing concerns facing business aviation today, in this country and abroad. The association will recognize 14 member companies "for outstanding safe flying achievement" and highlight 282 companies that have compiled more than 11,000,000 safe hours flown, according to NBAA. The association will also focus on making the industry's voice heard in Washington.

"Business aviation has faced a host of policy challenges from Washington in recent years," says NBAA, demonstrating the need for active efforts within the industry to impress upon elected officials the "size and significance" of the sector. NBAA will operate this year's convention with designated kiosks for attendees that are set up to facilitate contact with members of Congress. The kiosks will serve as a "tool to make the unified voice of business aviation heard in Washington," according to NBAA. For more details, including the event's program schedule and exhibitor directory, visit NBAA.org.

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Red Bull Releases Baumgartner POV Video

Red Bull has released point-of-view video from Felix Baumgartner's record-setting freefall on the anniversary of the well-covered event. The three-perspective video, accompanied by altitude, speed and biometrics display, displays what Baumgartner saw and heard as he streaked from the edge of space to the New Mexico desert in a little more than nine minutes. At about 53 seconds he hits the maximum velocity of 848 mph (Mach 1.25) and as the atmosphere takes hold he settles into a controllable and apparently more comfortable state of affairs.

He pulls the chute about 4:30 into the video at a little more than 8,200 feet and prepares for what turns out to have been a pretty soft landing. "I feel like I have done four trips around the world and met many famous and powerful people," he told Metro.us. Among the highlights have been long conversations with James Cameron and Tom Cruise. "I have these people’s numbers on my phone and we talk. That is the network I have been able to develop in the past year; I hope we can collaborate on projects."


AVweb's China Coverage This Week

While pilots and aviation enthusiasts in the U.S. have annual conclaves like AirVenture and Sun ‘N Fun to sustain their passions, China’s emerging aviation industry has no equivalent.  But that may be changing with Thursday’s launch of the China International General Aviation Convention (CIGAC), sponsored by the district of Shaanxi in the central Chinese city of Xi’an.  Best known for its ancient terra cotta soldiers, Xi’an is becoming China’s aeronautical hub, with a major airport and a growing manufacturing district. The 2013 show is the third annual event at this location.

The roster of exhibitors is substantial, and reflects China’s ambition to become a significant player on the world aeronautical stage. Beechcraft and Cessna are listed, along with Chinese-owned Cirrus and recently acquired Mooney. Significantly, a major portion of CIGAC will be devoted to the Chinese Air Training Congress, and numerous Asian and Pacific flight academies will be in attendance. Aerobatic performers from Poland, Romania and Sweden are expected to fuel a curiosity for aviation among the general Chinese population. Full implementation of personal flight in China awaits lifting of airspace restrictions, easier flight planning, adequate fuel delivery and storage, more complete GPS route structures and satellite-based precision approaches to China's growing list of new airports.

The show comes amid an ongoing Chinese acquisitions boom, which is seeing brands and technologies in the U.S and in Europe now operating under a Chinese banner. The Chinese government-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) led the aviation wave with the acquisition of Cirrus in 2011, and more recently Continental Motors and the former Thielert Aircraft Engines, a German company that put aircraft diesels on the map.

AVweb will be reporting from the show grounds. Watch for updates in upcoming editions this week.

Video: AVweb's China Tour

This week, AVweb is attending the China International General Aviation Conference (CIGAC) and the annual Aviation Training Congress China (ATCC).  We'll have coverage all week of our visits to Beijing and Xi'an.


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A Tip of the Hat to Tom Poberezny

What  with the government shutdown and politicians snarling at each other across a partisan divide that makes the Grand Canyon look like a sidewalk crack, there’s much to cheer about lately. So I was happy the other day to get a press release touting something simple that we can probably all agree on. I can’t really call it an organization so much as an organized effort with the sole declared purpose of putting Tom Poberezny back on the radar or at least affording him the respect he has earned. And for that, I’m cheering just for the hell of cheering.

Poberezny dropped off the edge of the earth in the middle of AirVenture 2011 and essentially hasn’t been heard from much since. At the time, I thought his treatment at the hands of either the EAA board or then president Rod Hightower—maybe both—was shabby at best. Whatever differences may have emerged that summer—and I’ve been told they were considerable—letting a guy of

Poberezny’s stature and achievement go loose in the middle of the very iconic airshow he helped create is simply not the way to do business. It was then and is still beneath an organization as important as EAA.

But that’s history and the next page of it is a groundswell movement that centers on a web site named simply HonorPoberezny.com.

The site details Poberezny’s achievements and contributions, both in aviation and to EAA. And let’s not forget his Dad, Paul, who died in August at the age of 91. He left a lasting aviation legacy that will long outlive him.

According to the press release sent to me by David Gustafson, Tom and family will appear at AirVenture again in 2014 and I’d say his return is overdue. You can click into the website and electronically sign a roster of support recognizing the younger Poberezny’s contribution. Isn’t that least all of us could do to offer a simple thanks? Here’s a guy who more than deserves at least that.

Join the conversation.  Read others' comments and add your own.

Podcast: OpenAirplane Grows, Adds Options (corrected)

Renting an airplane away from home has always been a hassle, but OpenAirplane aims to make that process "as easy as renting a car."  The company has made progress since its launch earlier this year.  Co-founder Rod Rakic gave an update to AVweb's Mary Grady at AOPA Summit in Fort Worth, Texas on Saturday.

Note: This story originally appeared with the wrong podcast file, but that error has been corrected.  Thanks to the readers who noticed and reported the error.

Video: Dynon's New D2 Pocket Panel

At AOPA Summit in Fort Worth, Texas, Dynon Avionics introduced a new product called the D2 Pocket Panel.  It follows the company's popular D1 EFIS, but the new product, rather than being limited to a built-in display, communicates wirelessly with tablet apps.


Video: Garmin's D2 Does-It-All Pilot Watch

At AOPA Summit, Garmin International is showing off something new: a sophisticated pilot watch that features GPS navigation, built-in altimetry with alerting, multiple timers, and even wireless camera control.  The new gadget sells for $449 is expected to be available in November.


Video: Cirrus SF50 Progress Report

At AOPA Summit, Cirrus CEO Pat Waddick gave AVweb a progress report on the company's SF50 single-engine personal jet.  The aircraft is on fast track development for delivery in 2015.


Video: AOPA Summit App Wrap

At every show, we see ever more functionality and high-level features in tablet apps. At AOPA Summit this year in Fort Worth, we’ve uncovered some useful new features in three apps we examined: ForeFlight, WingX Pro and Jeppesen’s FliteDeck app. In today’s video tour of these products, you can get a look how the new features work from Tyson Weihs of ForFlight, Hilton Goldstein of WingX Pro and Weston Greene from Jeppesen.


Video: AOPA Summit Mystery Headset Challenge

At AOPA Summit, you can try all of the major ANR headsets in a single booth and fill out a survey form to quantify exactly what you think of each one.  If you buy any of the headsets from any manufacturer, Giant of Quiet will give you a $25 coupon toward the purchase.  We'll play the game here and refrain from identifying which company is sponsoring the mystery headset challenge.


Video: AC Air Technology Wireless Aircraft Tug

One way of attracting a crowd at shows like AOPA Summit is to have a clever gadget, and Anthony Chan definitely has one in his wirelessly controlled aircraft tug.  Chan was putting the tug through its paces on the exhibit floor in Fort Worth this week and drawing plenty of interest.  Unlike most tugs, which use rubber-tired wheels for traction, the AC Air Technology tug has a miniature tank tread system driven by a pair of powerful electric motors powered by a lithium-ion battery capable of multiple tows.