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The latest version of the Airbus Group’s E-Fan “Plus” twin-engine demonstrator aircraft is on display this week at EAA AirVenture, providing insight into how the company’s vision has evolved as they experiment with the new technology. The E-Fan on display is a hybrid version, with longer flight range and more endurance than the original all-electric model. The aircraft now incorporates a thermal engine from German manufacturer Solo, which runs on avgas. The hybrid completed initial test flights in France shortly before it was shipped here for the show.

The new engine can operate in three modes, Airbus says — on electric power only, drawing from lithium-ion batteries; with the thermal engine acting as a “range extender” charging the batteries in flight; or with the electric motors powered solely by the energy from the thermal engine. “With the range extender, the demonstrator aircraft’s flight time is expected to be approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes, compared to one hour for the E-Fan when it made the 2015 English Channel crossing,” said Denis Chapuis, of the Airbus Group’s Global Innovation Network. The E-Fan is on display all week at the Airbus exhibit, Tent 63-64. Experts from Airbus Group will give a talk about the technology tomorrow at Aviation Gateway Park, at 10 a.m.

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OpenAirplane, which comes as close to a nationwide aircraft rental service as we’ve seen, continues to expand and at AirVenture 2016 this week, it announced a new service called FlyOtto. According to OpenAirplane’s Rod Rakic, FlyOtto essentially makes a network of Part 135 on-demand charter operators accessible for anyone who wants a trip from A to B.

“It works just like OpenAirplane, but now it’s going to make every airport more valuable,” Rakic told AVweb. “We know that general aviation is a great way to get places that would otherwise be four to six hours in the car. We want to give everyone the same magic power that we have in general aviation as pilots at the push of a button,” Rakic said.

If it sounds like Uber for airplanes, it’s similar, but uses only operators legal to fly under Part 135, with all of that regulation’s limitations. The traveler logs onto the website (flyotto.com), gives a departure and destination, and the service returns with choices of aircraft ranging from piston singles to turboprops. Jets may be added later, Rakic said. He said FlyOtto can provide access to all public-use airports in the U.S. and also includes helicopters.

Meanwhile, OpenAirplane, which provides rental aircraft of all kinds across the U.S. based on a single standard checkout, continues to grow. It started in 2013 with six locations and now has 97 locations, with 350 aircraft available for rental. See OpenAirplane and FlyOtto in Hangar D at AirVenture 2016, booth 4154. You can hear a full interview with Rakic in this exclusive AirVenture podcast.

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At AirVenture 2016 at Oshkosh, Rotax announced it's moving closer to bringing its in-development 915iS Sport engine to market. The turbocharged 915iS is the next-generation Rotax engine that's capable of producing 135 HP at up to 15,000 feet and has a service ceiling of 23,000 feet. It weighs 185 pounds, including the turbocharger, and Rotax says it will have a 2000-hour TBO right out of the box.

Rotax said in its press conference at AirVenture this week that the 915iS has undergone 120 hours of flight testing since March 2016 and 7000 hours of bench testing. The first actual OEM installation is planned for September of this year to commence field testing. First customer flights are expected early in 2017, while SOP is planned for the second half of 2017. Rotax has not offered pricing or specific OEM applications. For more, see Rotax's website.

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While it's true that the Third Class medical exemption has been signed into law, the FAA still has six months to a year to publish the final rules. Could the agency devise rules to negate the law's effect? We hope not, but in this AirVenture podcast, we asked AOPA's legislative VP, Jim Coon, about just how much slack the FAA has in rule making.

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Cessna’s TTx four-seat single-engine airplane is now certified by EASA, the company announced this week at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh. “We are excited to offer the precision and speed of the TTx to the European market and beyond,” said Doug May, Cessna’s vice president for piston aircraft. The airplane also is now certified in Argentina and the Philippines, May said, for a total of more than 40 countries. The all-composite TTx is Cessna’s fastest single-engine airplane, with a top cruise speed of 235 knots.

The TTx, which evolved from the Corvalis (previously Columbia) line, features Garmin G2000 touchscreen avionics, sidestick controls and a McCauley three-blade constant-speed prop. TTx customers around the world use the aircraft for both personal and business flying, May said.

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Roller-coaster stories are not unusual in the world of general aviation, but Mooney’s history is extra-packed-full of ups and downs — and this week at Oshkosh, the company is celebrating its latest resurgence, declaring that “success building upon success” is their new mantra. Mooney has two new models on display this week at EAA AirVenture, the M20V Acclaim Ultra and the M20U Ovation Ultra. And back in Texas, the new all-composite M10T that first flew last December continues in flight-test mode. “It has been an incredible year – a pretty close to perfect one, in fact,” said Mooney COO Tom Bowen.

The two new Ultra models both include a pilot-side door — a first for Mooney — plus a composite cabin — also something new for the traditionally all-metal Mooneys — plus clean-sheet redesigns for the interiors, and upgrades to the panel. “We are on the cusp of certifying the best M20 models ever – the new Ultras – [and] we also have the next-generation M10 family well into flight test,” Bowen said. “It’s all a wonderful testament to the hard work of everyone involved, and most importantly, the amazing support of our customers.” Mooney’s airplanes will be open for inspection all week at EAA AirVenture.

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The Commemorative Air Force announced its newest educational outreach program this week at AirVenture 2016 in Oshkosh. The CAF Rise Above: WASP, about Women Airforce Service Pilots in World War II, arose from the Rise Above Red Tail Traveling Exhibit, which has brought the story of the Tuskegee Airmen to 200,000 visitors. The WASP film, to be produced following a fundraising campaign, will include historical footage, interviews with surviving WASP veterans and CAF aircraft. Funds will also cover the cost of portable, inflatable dome screens to show the film around the country and offer audiences an immersive experience watching the film.

“After the Red Tail Squadron’s tremendous impact, we identified the WASP as another group of aviators who had to rise above the circumstance of their perceived role in society in order to contribute to the war effort,” CAF President Stephan C. Brown said. “Our members at 60 CAF unit locations are eager to tell this history and bring the inspirational message of the WASP to today’s young people.” Heather Penney, a former F-16 pilot for the Air National Guard, is the national WASP program chair for the project.

AVweb’s Elaine Kauh talked to Heather Penney about the film and outreach program. Listen to the podcast here.

Heard anything funny, unusual, or downright shocking on the radio lately? If you've been flying any length of time, you're sure to have eavesdropped on a few memorable exchanges. The ones that gave you a chuckle may do the same for your fellow AVweb readers. Share your radio funny with us, and, if we use it in a future "Short Final," we'll send you a sharp-looking AVweb hat to sport around your local airport. No joke.

Click here to submit your original, true, and previously unpublished story.

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Maybe it was just the madhouse of arrivals Sunday afternoon when we landed, or maybe it’s that I skipped working the show last year, but this show feels busy—in a good way. Here’s an interesting observation: Jim Alpiser of Garmin told me how he usually gets to the show at 7:30 a.m. and expects a short wait in traffic. It took him 30 minutes to get into the show Monday. That’s before most of the public comes to the show and there was nothing unusual about the traffic flow. EAA has that dialed down to a science.

I had a similar experience an hour later. Who are all these people? It would be interesting to know if there was an uptick in vendors, or the staff they brought. Or is it an upswing in visitors? Alpiser said the Garmin booth was packed all day. GA camping in the North 40 had wrapped around the approach end of Runway 9, which is indicative of healthy fly-ins. We're told Fond du Lac is similarly packed. I’ll say from the swivel-head, tight-knuckle seat I had on the FISKE arrival there were plenty of people heading in — all at the same time. The image is the ADS-B display on ForeFlight. 

Pilot Proficiency Center

It warms my heart to see the EAA Pilot Proficiency Center hopping with pilots as I did the times I poked my head in. If you’re at the show and have a pilot certificate in your pocket, you owe yourself the favor of hitting the PPC. Where else can you get free instruction from experienced CFIs on 30 different scenarios ranging from canyon flying to IFR—with live ATC no less? You can see the full list here.

Real proficiency training is still a gaping hole in the light GA world and there needs to be more of it in a way that’s accessible to all pilots. I was recently talking with Paul Ratte of USAIG about a program for corporate flight departments that pays in full for the pilots to attend additional scenario-based training beyond their six-month aircraft work. The insurance company does it because saving even one claim per year in cabin-class turbine aircraft would pay for the entire program. What can we do in GA?

At its heart, this is a cultural thing, which means changing mindsets is key. (I wouldn’t object to tying training to airplane insurance premiums, but I’d call it paying a surcharge for not training rather than a discount to train.) However, there’s a simple accessibility problem as well. Cirrus has the right idea with integrated, online training that includes a follow-up flight syllabus. Pilot Workshops also has their IFR Mastery program of you-are-there scenarios that work the mental juices each month. (Full disclosure: I help develop the Mastery scenarios.)

This isn’t enough, though. We need programs like the PPC that pilots can do at home. That means pilots need access to presentations, simulators and instructors in real time. Those simulators need realistic avionics that accurately represent equipment we use in our cockpits and systems for the instructors to analyze their client’s performance.

Some of this exists today; some is still wanting. However, I have yet to see a serious program targeting GA pilots in general for ongoing proficiency using scenarios and simulation. This would be a monthly, “proficiency in pieces” as my friend Frank Robinson calls it. Each month a digestible chunk is handled on a Saturday morning. Over the course of a year, all the key points get addressed. It’s like a phase inspection program replacing an aircraft annual for those who are familiar. It would involve both automated and live—if remotely located—instruction. Any takers?

There’s one more component that’s critical: It needs to be fun. People build habits around things that reinforce the behavior. The carrot of some cash savings only goes so far. The yoke of “it’s good for you” never works in the long run. But make it fun, generate some competition, reward involvement with enjoyment and recognition, and now you’ve got a chance of building a habit. And a safety habit is really what we mean when we talk about building a safety culture.

In the meantime, come have some fun at the PPC if you’re in Central Wisconsin this week. We'll have a video on the PPC tomorrow.

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At AirVenture 2016, EAA has improved the popular Pilot Proficiency Center where you can attend forums, fly simulator problems and generally knock the rust off your flying skills. AVweb's Jeff Van West prepared this video report.

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Innova Aerospace is taking 50-year-old King Airs and bringing them into the 21st century with new GE engines and a three-screen touchpad avionics suite. Innova's David Meske spoke with AVweb's Russ Niles at AirVenture 2016.

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At 94, Major Fredric Arnold (ret.), sole surviving member of his WWII P-38 class-of-42J group, is sculpting a monumental bronze sculpture in memory of the more than 88,000 WWII U.S. airmen killed in action.

Does Your Headset Bend the Rules? || See the AKG AV100 at AirVenture Booths B-2095-2098
Picture of the Week
AirVenture 2016 Photo Gallery

The AVweb staff is prowling the AirVenture 2016 grounds with cameras in hand. Here's the first haul.

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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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