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EAA is worried ICON Aircraft's controversial and "onerous" buyer's agreement will affect one of its biggest fundraisers. ICON donated the first production A5 Light Sport amphib to EAA's Young Eagles program in a highly publicized event at the 2015 AirVenture in Oshkosh. EAA decided to auction the aircraft, which has a sticker price of about $250,000, at the Gathering of Eagles dinner at AirVenture in 2016. The auction is the main fundraiser for EAA's youth programs and the addition of the aircraft was billed as a major boost to the event. There is said to be a five-year backlog and it's been rumored that early positions for the plane have sold for much more than the retail price. But EAA Chairman Jack Pelton told AVweb in the video interview below the 40-page buyer's agreement is a complication EAA will have to address with potential bidders. "It adds a new complexity to our auction, which is frustrating," he said.

Pelton said that in promoting the auction, EAA will have to make it clear that the buyer's agreement, which has been widely criticized since it was first publicized by Aero-News Network at the end of March, is part of the package. As the former CEO of Cessna, Pelton seemed perplexed by the length and breadth of the agreement, which strives to limit ICON's liability, requires real-time monitoring of flight parameters and requires the agreement to be transferred to any future owners. He said he understood the goal to limit liability but said the agreement would limit ICON's market access.

SocialFlight, the website and app that helps pilots find aviation events and other interesting places to fly to, announced at Sun 'n Fun on Thursday that a new upgrade to the site, version 5.0, will offer even more free features to users. "We're adding more social features, making it easy for users to share pictures of their airplanes and their travels," said Jeff Simon, the company president. Another new feature is a map-based point-of-interest toolbar, which provides an easy graphical way to navigate to food, lodging, attractions and campsites near a user's destination.

"The industry-supported SocialFlight community reaches pilots through our apps, website, and partner sites in the media and aviation organizations," said Simon. "These new features are the direct result of collaboration within the vibrant SocialFlight aviation community." Version 5.0 will launch on May 1, Simon said. Users can access the database via mobile apps for both Apple and Android devices, as well as on the web.

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Daher officials unveiled their new TBM 930 at Sun 'n Fun this morning, giving visitors a chance to check out the new cockpit and the latest cabin features. The turboprop is not replacing the 900, but provides another option for buyers, adding the Garmin G3000 touchscreen avionics suite. Nicholas Chabbert, CEO of Socata North America, also highlighted the "e-copilot" features now available on both TBM models, which provide aural alerts to replace sound tones to signal the pilot, including "stall, use oxygen mask, overspeed, landing gear." Both airplanes also will come with angle-of-attack indicators, emergency descent mode, and under-speed protection. "We are starting to enter a world where automation is going to provide true safety, and save lives," said Chabbert. The company first announced the new model earlier in the week. Chabbert said they have about 35 orders already in hand.

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Alexander Zosel, managing director of e-Volo, took the Volocopter on its first manned, untethered free flight last Wednesday, launching from an open field in Southern Germany, the company announced today. Video shows the aircraft's stability and maneuverability, as Zosel flies it with a joystick. "The flight was totally awesome," Zosel said after landing. "The machine was absolutely reliable, there were no vibrations, it was tremendous … The Volocopter immediately converted every movement I made with the joystick." The company says it will now proceed with a full flight-test program.

The three-phase program will comprise, first, flights at a speed of 15 mph maximum at low altitude; second, flight maneuvers at a speed of 30 mph at medium altitude; and third, the team will aim to validate the system at higher altitudes and in the full speed range of the VC200 up to 62 mph.

Lancair debuted a new Lycoming iE2 piston version of their Evolution at Sun 'n Fun this week, and said the new airplane will cost less than their turbine version and also will burn about half the fuel. Both airplanes are sold as experimentals. The piston Evolution will cost about $875,000, while the turbine kit goes for $1.4 million. The iE2 features continuously optimizing multiport fuel injection systems, and the engine control unit continuously monitors and reports engine performance. Both versions are on display at the company booth all this week at Sun 'n Fun.

Lycoming says the iE2 will deliver 350 HP in the Lancair, with an intercooler six-cylinder arrangement and twin turbochargers. It also will reduce pilot workload, said Michal Kraft, general manager at Lycoming Engines. "Lycoming's iE2 is an optimum fit for the piston Lancair Evolution kit," he said. "The combination of Lycoming's iE2 engine technology with Lancair's Evolution airframe technology makes for a very exciting piston-powered aircraft. It's great to see this product moving out now more broadly in general aviation applications."

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The F-35 fighter made its Sun 'n Fun debut Thursday. Capt. Daniel Haley describes what it's like to fly the stealth fighter.

At Sun 'n Fun 2016, Guardian Avionics showed a line of new hardware that allows panel mounting of the entire iPad line, including the large-screen Pro models. Guardian's Ash Vig walked AVweb's video reporter through the product line.

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AVweb's search of news in aviation found announcements from Flight Resource, Aero Electric Aircraft, Kitfox Aircraft, and Hilton Software. Flight Resource will now offer MT Propellers' nickel leading edge option to all of the propellers approved for use on thousands of personal aircraft, providing superior protection from erosion and foreign object damage (FOD) for over 50,000 blades in operation around the world. Mark Van Tine, retiring Vice President, Digital Aviation for the Boeing Company and CEO of Jeppesen, has joined the Board of Directors of Aero Electric Aircraft Corp. AEAC is developing the high-tech, solar-electric "Sun Flyer" general aviation flight trainer. 

Kitfox Aircraft LLC, a 32-year leader in both the kit plane world and affordable S-LSA aircraft, has revised their website. Those evaluating either the Series 7 Kitfox Super Sport kit or the ready-to-fly Kitfox Light Sport version of the Series 7 can now look at the entire assembly manual and actually flip through the pages, learning more about both the kit and ready-to-fly versions of the Series 7. Hilton Software LLC, a leader in advanced mobile aviation technology and a United States Department of Defense contractor, announced its new patent-pending "WingX Non-Linear Warping Technology." This new technology enables its flagship product WingX Pro7 to geo-reference Departure Procedures and Standard Terminal Arrival Procedures.

If you're not heading to Florida for Sun n' Fun, SocialFlight has some day-trip options on the calendar for this weekend. The International Women's Air & Space Museum will host its annual Free Family Event Saturday in Cleveland, Ohio. This year's theme is Record Breakers, honoring women including Sunita Williams, who holds the record for total number of space walking hours and Jerrie Mock, who was the first woman to fly solo around the world, in 29 days. The event is free and open to the public. Also Saturday in Ames, Iowa, the Flying Cyclones will host a pancake breakfast at Hap's Air Service Maintenance Hangar. PICs eat free, and all are invited to enjoy airplane rides and airplane/glider displays.

The Yankee Air Museum will host the Detroit Aviation and Airline Collectibles Show Saturday at Historic Willow Run Airport in in Ypsilanti, Michigan, featuring vintage aircraft displays, DC-3 rides, and a full array of vintage aviation items, models, cards and posters. Fly in to Benton Airport in Redding, California, on Saturday for a seminar on weather with author and speaker Terry Lankford, hosted by EAA Chapter 157. For more on this weekend's events, visit SocialFlight.

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.

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.

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.

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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I think if you explained to someone outside of aviation that, by the time we're all done, it will have taken 10 years to develop a new, unleaded, high-octane aviation gasoline, they'd believe you to be making it all up. And that doesn't count 30 years of half-serious research on the topic hardly worthy of the label "research."

I am occasionally asked by worried owners if I really think there will be an unleaded alternative or if the EPA will relent on lead or that the unthinkable will occur: No fuel will emerge. No, the EPA is not going to relent and yes, there will be a fuel. Getting the final approvals and getting it to market won't be pretty, however.

At Sun 'n Fun this week, Swift's Chris D'Acosta briefed us on the company's progress toward its alternative fuel and tomorrow, we'll have a report from GAMI on its G-100, which is percolating along outside the FAA's formal Piston Alternative Fuels Initiative process, a cumbersome cert project that seems, in my estimation, to have overcomplicated and extended the time necessary to vet and field a fuel. For instance, the initial phase of FAA qualification yielded two fuels, one from Swift and one from Shell. These will still need nearly another three years of testing before receiving fleetwide approval. Just for comparison, back the clock up from when Apollo 11 landed on the moon and three years gets you to the first docked spacecraft, a modest achievement indeed. Some people in the industry say, well, this is complicated. I guess. I prefer to think it's the sum of ambiguous government regulation and lack of industry-wide commitment. Welcome to the GA Village of the Zombies.

Still, in our own bumbling, half-serious way, we'll get to a new fuel. I was discussing this at Sun 'n Fun with my friend Paul Millner, who recently retired from the Big Oil refining business. Both of us noted that several of the big players, including Chevron, Phillips and Exxon, seemed to think avgas wasn't a good enough business to bother offering their own products for the FAA's approval process. And probably isn't a great business. Millner figures there's $150 million in total margin in the avgas trade and, as it has been for the past 40 years, the business declines nearly every year. Not exactly a Wharton School case study for the next big thing.

That means we can be certain of one thing: The new fuel will be refined under some kind of license arrangement. Shell and Swift survived the PAFI Phase I trials, but either Shell nor Swift has leaded avgas refining capacity in the U.S. In Shell's (and Swift's) case, the new fuel may be refinable in a larger number of refineries that can't now handle lead and/or by small chemical refiners who might be able to reconfigure to make a few million bucks building unleaded fuel not constrained by the need to handle lead. If the majors stay in, they'll probably have to refine under license and getting there will likely involve some legal scuffling on patent claims and claimed prior art. That's just how Big Oil operates, having as it does armies of highly paid lawyers and tossing out legal briefs as just another thing in the hydrocarbon stream. And although my bet is that Phillips stays in, Exxon, Chevron and BP might not necessarily. For such a piddling amount of declining margin, they may decide the liability just isn't worth it. Can't blame them, either. The end of the age of oil as a primary fuel is not upon us, but you can see it from here. The age of oil as a chemical cornocupia may never end.

In the U.S., there are about 140 refineries, only about a half-dozen of which can handle lead and produce 100LL. Remove lead from the equation and many more might have the capability to produce high-octane unleaded aviation fuel, which bodes well for distribution. Maybe. If they can make a few bucks at it, they will. If not, they'll refine something else. But I'm pretty certain at least someone will push the button on that $150 million in margin. If not, can I interest you in a nice diesel?

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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.

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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.

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Each week, we poll the savviest aviators on the World Wide Web (that's you) on a topic of interest to the flying community.

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Click here to view the results of past polls.

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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.

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