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As expected, EAA and Dynon Avionics announced Wednesday morning at Sun 'n Fun that working with the FAA, they've developed an AML-STC that will allow Dynon's D10 EFIS to be installed in certified aircraft. Initially, the STC covers Cessna 150s and 172s and the Piper PA-28/38 series, but in making the announcement, EAA Chairman Jack Pelton said the association plans to expand both the available aircraft models and the range of non-TSO'd avionics covered under the STC.

This development promises significant cost relief at the lower end of the avionics market, possibly allowing owners to install avionics suites they never would have considered using certified equipment. Dynon is a leader in avionics for experimentals and light sport aircraft, but not to be left out, Garmin says it too is interested in the program. Garmin has recently introduced a series of new products intended for the experimental market and Dynon also had major product intros recently.

"This is just the first; there will others," Pelton said in a press conference Wednesday. He said the STC process EAA used had good support from the FAA and provides a technology map for both additional equipment from Dynon and from other manufacturers. "Our objective," Pelton said, "is that we're trying to keep people in aviation by offering low-cost options for equipment." He said the STC development represents "a major internal milestone for the FAA" and occurred now because the agency finally realized that general aviation isn't growing and that the EAB segment was, in part, because onerous regulation has inflated equipment prices and reduced value. 

Dynon President Robert Hamilton said that marketing into the certified world "is right in our mission statement" and he saw no reason the program can't be expanded to include more of Dynon's sophisticated avionics for experimentals.

The next step, Pelton said, is to increase the number of part numbers on the AML-STC list and that could eventually include autopilots and EFIS systems. As it did with autofuel STCs, EAA will sell the STCs at a modest cost.

Check out our video coverage here.

For more information, contact EAA at EAA.org.

At Sun 'n Fun, EAA announced its partnership with Dynon Avionics to STC experimental avionics for certified airplanes, including Cessna 172s and Piper PA-28s.

Five people were killed Monday when a touring helicopter crashed in a forest in Tennessee. The Bell 206 crashed about 3:30 p.m. in the woods north of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and sparked a fire. Several firefighting crews responded and the fire was contained about 8:45 p.m. according to WBIR in Knoxville. The aircraft was operated by Smoky Mountain Helicopters and was on its second touring flight that day, NBC reported.

NTSB investigators at the crash site said Tuesday the helicopter, conducting what was to be a 12-minute sightseeing tour of the area, likely hit a structure atop a ridge, but the post-crash fire will make it difficult to examine the wreckage, NBC reported. Killed were the pilot and four passengers who were all in the same party -- a mother and her adult son and daughter and the daughter's boyfriend, according to media reports.

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Daher announced today it will add a new turboprop version to its line, the TBM 930, which differs from the 900 mainly in its avionics system and an upgraded interior. The 930 will have a Garmin G3000 avionics suite, with touchscreen controls and three wide-format displays. The new interior features redesigned seating and headrests, new choices for wood or carbon finishes, and polished metal accents. Didier Kayat, CEO of the Daher group parent company, said more than 50 new aircraft in the TBM 900 and TBM 930 versions are expected to be delivered in 2016. "The availability of these two aircraft underscores Daher's sustained ambition in business aviation," he said, "and is a message to our customers that we continue to invest to expand and further improve our TBM family." The airplane sells for about $4.1 million.

Daher also said it is adding an "e-copilot" function for both the TBM 900 and TBM 930, incorporating an angle of attack calculator that provides angle of attack information on the primary flight display. The system also adds electronic stabilization and protection systems and under-speed protection, which are connected to the AOA computer. These systems assist the pilot in maintaining the aircraft in a stable flight condition, the company says. The system also adds an emergency descent mode in the autopilot, which places the aircraft in automatic descent to a safe altitude of 15,000 feet in the event of cabin depressurization and lack of pilot response. New voice alerts provide notification on stall, overspeed, landing-gear status and oxygen-mask use, replacing aural sounds as warning identification.

Daher says it has sold 110 of the TBM 900 turboprops since it was introduced two years ago. The 930 was unveiled this week at a press event in France, but there is no 930 model on display at Daher's Sun 'n Fun exhibit.

The new 915iS Rotax engine that was introduced at EAA AirVenture last year flew for the first time, in Austria, last month, and now has flown more than 50 hours, Rotax's Marc Becker said at Sun 'n Fun today. The engine also has run more than 3,000 hours on the test bench, and is on track to enter service next year. It will be delivered to manufacturers later this year, who should complete the installation process of the hardware and software by year's end, Becker said. The turbo-boosted engine is expected to be available from at least 40 airplane manufacturers. It delivers more power at a lighter weight, compared to earlier models.

Rotax says the target market for the 915iS is high-performance two- and four-seat aircraft, small helicopters and larger gyrocopters. The 135-hp engine offers the best power-to-weight ratio in its class, Rotax says, plus a full takeoff power up to 15,000 feet, and a service ceiling of 23,000 feet. The engine is here at Sun 'n Fun and will be run for a live demo every day at the Rotax booth at 1 p.m., Becker said. AVweb's editorial director Paul Bertorelli took a look at the engine last summer when it was introduced; click here for the video report.

Rotax's new 915iS engine, introduced at EAA AirVenture last year, is moving along in development, with first deliveries to pilots expected next year. Marc Becker of Rotax gave an update to AVweb this week at Sun 'n Fun.

AeroJones, the new facility in Taiwan that is producing Flight Design airplanes, has shipped its first order to the U.S., to Airtime Aviation in Tulsa, Oklahoma. "We are extremely pleased to get the first shipment from fully approved and certified producer, Taiwan-based AeroJones," Flight Design USA President Tom Peghiny said at Sun 'n Fun today. "We have not been able to get enough airplanes to meet demand for nearly two years. With this first delivery of two aircraft to Airtime Aviation, we are going to get things really rolling again in the USA." Matthias Betsch, CEO of Flight Design in Germany, said today his company (which is separate and independent from Flight Design USA) is working to solve its financial problems and he hopes to have a plan in place by this summer.

Betsch said his company is now in receivership, which is a kind of "voluntary insolvency" that is "similar to but not exactly like" Chapter 11. The situation arose when an engineering customer failed to come through with expected payments. Betsch said he is working to either find new investors or to sell off assets, to rebalance the books and get the production line back up and running. The company remains completely capable of producing airplanes and is committed to the C4 project, he said. He said he will have a more detailed update later this year at EAA AirVenture.

Peghiny said he recently visited the AeroJones facility in Taiwan, and "the aircraft are Flight Design aircraft in all respects." The materials, molds, processes and manuals are identical to those used to produce the existing worldwide fleet of CT series aircraft. "The conformity paperwork is approved by the Flight Design engineers and the final FAA 8130-15 Statement of Compliance is signed by Flight Design engineers," he said. Chi-Tai Hsieh, the vice-executive-president for aviation at AeroJones, is visiting Sun 'n Fun this week. "We are very proud to see our aircraft come to the biggest aviation market in the world," he said at today's news conference. He is looking forward "to meet with and learn from the U.S. dealers and customers," and will be available at the Flight Design USA and AeroJones booth, located at MD-017B.

Peghiny also announced today that Flight Design USA has created its own solution for ADS-B Out installations, and is offering the system to U.S. owners of its aircraft. "We've had many requests for a recommended system from owners of our CTSW and earlier CTLS airplanes," he said. John Hurst, the company's CT avionics expert, designed a complete package from FreeFlight Systems that includes a WAAS GPS, an ADS-B antenna, an external GPS antenna, plus a wiring harness, circuit breaker and antenna cable. The package sells for $2,600 plus installation.

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Paradise City, the area of the Sun 'n Fun campus devoted to all kinds of light aircraft — from LSAs to ultralights — has added new features and events for this year's show. The Show Center Pavilion, operated by the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association, has expanded its space and its programming, hosting a series of "Great Debates" on compelling aviation topics. Yesterday and today, expert panels discussed the state of aviation engines and the future of light aviation; on Thursday the topic is avionics, and the series winds up on Friday with a discussion of popular apps for flight planning and navigation. All forums, which start at 1 p.m., are free, and there is plenty of seating in the shade. LAMA also is hosting nightly receptions at the Pavilion, from 5 to 7 p.m., free and open to all. "Beverages and snacks will be provided, and the view of flying on the Paradise City runway is wonderful," says LAMA President Dan Johnson.

The receptions will be hosted on Thursday by Hansen Air Group, with a pizza party; on Friday by Swift Fuels; and on Saturday the Flying Musicians Association will provide an acoustic jam session. "LAMA is genuinely pleased to offer so many interesting activities, all free of charge, to attendees of Sun 'n Fun," Johnson said. He added that in the 12 years since the LSA segment was created, more than 130 new aircraft models have entered the market. "We believe nothing similar has ever occurred in aviation," he said, "and we want this sector to thrive." A variety of LSA aircraft are on display all week at the LSA Mall, just outside the Pavilion.

Sporty's has teamed up with Mike Busch's Savvy Aircraft Maintenance to offer what they call an aviation version of AAA. The Breakdown Assistance Program will give round-the-clock help for pilots who get stuck on a trip with a broken airplane. "Traveling by GA airplane can be one of the most exciting and valuable benefits of your pilot certificate. But an unexpected mechanical can quickly ruin a trip – especially if you're far from home and it's late at night or over the weekend," says Sporty's Vice President John Zimmerman. Busch said general aviation is the only transportation sector that doesn't have a breakdown assistance program and the partnership with Sporty's will fill a void.

When something goes wrong, pilots can phone a toll-free number and will reach an on-duty mechanic who will help troubleshoot and determine if the aircraft is safe to fly. If the plane isn't airworthy, the pilot will be referred to reputable shops and mechanics in the immediate area. Busch's company will then oversee the repair process and ensure the repairs are correct and the charges are fair. The cost for a single-engine aircraft is $149 a year and a twin is $199.

At Sun 'n Fun 2016, David Clark introduced a new mid-priced headset, the One-X. Here's a video review of the new product with Clark's Mark Gardell.

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While symbolism alone might win in the presidential-campaign circus, pilots who understand what's behind aeronautical iconography will impress hangar neighbors and have no trouble acing this quiz.

Click here to take the quiz.

Daily news comes fast and furious in the aviation world, but some stories deserve a second chance to reach your eyeballs. Below are stories you may have missed recently.

The rules that determine how airplanes are certified are changing. Tom Peghiny, president of Flight Design USA, talks with AVweb's Mary Grady about the impact.

At Sun 'n Fun 2016, Garmin introduced a new portable GPS called the area 660. Here's AVweb's first look at the new product, which will be on display at the show.

At Sun 'n Fun 2016, Just Aircraft is showing off its new Titan-powered SuperSTOL XL. Harrison Smith took AVweb's Paul Bertorelli for a half-day demo flight in the new airplane, and here's AVweb's video report.

At Sun 'n Fun 2016, ForeFlight is introducing some new features for its popular iOS application. Here's a review of what's new.

The Commemorative Air Force is at Sun 'n Fun with one of airplanes it's been flying the longest. The B-17 Texas Raiders is a must for warbird buffs who want to experience the sights, sounds, and smells of a true-to-life war machine.

At Sun 'n Fun 2016, Dynon continued to push into the world of non-certified avionics with its Skyview SE, a less expensive version of its popular Skyview EFIS system. For Kitplanes magazine, Paul Bertorelli prepared this video report.

Avidyne showed up at Sun n' Fun 2016 with a handful of new products and enhancements to its IFD-series navigators. This included synthetic vision, the IFD550 navigator, and an iPad app that wirelessly connects the IFD products for redundant display. In this video, Aviation Consumer magazine editor Larry Anglisano takes a look at the products with Avidyne's Tom Harper.

Retirement means different things to different people, and to Jeanne and Dave Allen it means rebuilding vintage biplanes and keeping the spirit of barnstorming alive. They showed us their beautiful Waco at Sun 'n Fun.

Our best stories start with you. If you've heard something the flying world might want to know about, tell us. Submit news tips via e-mail here. (Or send them direct to Newstips at AVweb.com.)

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As I mentioned in yesterday's blog, the biggest story here at Sun 'n Fun this week was one we didn't even expect: EAA's announcement that it has partnered with Dynon Avionics to bring less expensive, non-certified avionics to the cockpits of certified aircraft. The first AML-STC list is modest: Cessna 172s and Piper's PA-28 and -38 series airplanes. I don't want to overstate the importance of this development because this is a modest first step, but it's a step that represents a meaningful realignment in general aviation economics.

As mentioned in yesterday's story and accompanying video, EAA Chairman Jack Pelton said there will be more to come—more avionics packages and more approved airplanes. That likely means EFIS, comm radios and ADS-B systems. Dynon's Robert Hamilton said as much in this interview. Frankly, we don't see much good news in general aviation that really is good news and not just us pixel-addled wretches putting top spin on a train wreck. But this really is a bona fide positive step that supports, if not growth, than a removal of a barrier that will encourage some owners to stay in the game. And by the way, if you were wondering if the Part 23 rewrite we've been reporting on will ever have any teeth, this development is the leading edge of that revision's effect.

This market shift operates at two levels. One is that if this project advances as Pelton says it will, more owners will be able to afford more sophisticated and capable avionics. That has implications for safety, for sure, but the larger order effect is economic. Owners will notice when an avionics upgrade they were dreaming about is suddenly half or a third the price they thought it might be. There may be casualties. If something like the Dynon D10 costs less than half the price of an Aspen or Garmin G500 install, sales of those products might naturally erode. On the other hand, a cost Delta this great might very well expand the market at the lower tiers, enticing upgrades that might never have happened at the higher prices. Egalitarianism has never been a free ride, if such a thing can even be conceived of in the rarified world of general aviation.

The second level is a potentially new directionality in how advocacy groups can operate. Traditionally, the alphabets have undertaken lobbying and promotional efforts whose efficacy is sometimes difficult to see, much less measure. EAA's STC project may be different indeed. It wasn't lost on me that Pelton pointedly observed during the press conference that EAA and Dynon did the heavy lifting on this project with the FAA and in as many words, he told the other avionics manufacturers they'll have to do the same for themselves if they want to participate in a new, lower-cost business model. He said EAA is not about to give away the special sauce.

This represents an organization taking direct, narrowly focused action in a realm normally reserved for private industry. I'm sure there's going to be some grumbling in the boardrooms about that. But if that's what it takes to coax green shoots out of this wretched GA market we're suffering through, I'm all for it. You can call it a lot of things, but I call it leadership. Kudos, EAA.

See the AV100 at Sun 'n Fun

Continental's six-cylinder engines are among the smoothest and most economical aircraft engines in the industry.  Now Vitiatoe Aviation is offering improvements for the Cessna 206/207 series engines that include crossflow induction for even smoother and more economical operation.  Here's an AVweb profile of the company.

Lightspeed's 'Get a Charge Out of Spring' Sale - Now Until May 8, 2016

EAA Young Eagles pilots fly up to 70,000 boys and girls every year, but until this year there has been no training or formal policy on keeping the events safe for all involved. EAA's Rick Larsen spoke with AVweb's Russ Niles about the new policy and the controversy it's caused with some volunteers.

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