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A digital flight-condition indicator called Airball won the top award this week in EAA’s new Founder’s Innovation Prize contest. Airball’s creator, Ihab Awad of San Jose, California, goes home from AirVenture with $25,000 after pitching his concept to a panel of celebrity judges, EAA announced. The Innovation Prize, which EAA says will be an annual competition to promote safety in experimental and GA flying, began by inviting participants to present their ideas for reducing loss-of-control accidents. Awad’s invention uses air data fed from sensors to a moving “blue ball” on a primary flight display, where the pilot can gauge conditions such as yaw and angle of attack during all phases of flight.

“Many years ago cars came without seat belts, and nobody gave that a second thought,” Awad told the judges during the final round before an AirVenture audience. “I would like a world where the proper accurate measurement and intuitive visualization of air data in the cockpit is as taken for granted as we take seat belts today.” He was among five finalists chosen to appear in Oshkosh after EAA received 140 submissions for the contest, which was inspired by the aerospace industry’s X Prize.

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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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Big data is a big thing for airlines, which monitor flights in real time to track maintenance and anomalies. Now the same capability is available for light aircraft, albeit on a reduced scale, in the form of the Canairy Cockpit Monitor sold by Airbly Inc. The company’s Chris VanHorn was showing the gadget at AirVenture 2016.

It’s basically a freestanding device completely independent of the aircraft that tracks position, aircraft utilization and environmental conditions and periodically uploads this data to Airbly’s server via satellite. Airbly then processes the data into an organized logbook format useful for clubs, flight schools and group owners to keep track of aircraft activities. The Canairy can also monitor and alert on carbon monoxide levels in the cabin.

“The device is fully automatic. The pilot doesn’t have to interact with it at any point,” VanHorn told AVweb in this exclusive AVweb podcast from AirVenture. “It turns itself on when it detects the engine is running and turns itself off when the engine is off,” added. The Canairy is priced at $345, plus $25 a month for up to 220 hours of usage annually. It can be configured to report every 6 or 12 minutes. Find out more at Airbly's website. 

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After purchasing every model in the CubCrafters line, TacAero now offers a certified five-day transition course to prepare CubCrafters' customers for the challenges of flying a high-performance tailwheel airplane. Aviation Consumer editor Larry Anglisano spoke with CubCrafters' John Whitish and TacAero's Jeremy Young about the program.

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The FAA administrator comes to EAA AirVenture just about every summer, and as a rule the main thrust of the current officeholder’s speech is pretty predictable — whoever is in the job will talk about how great GA is and how much they support it, but how hard and slow it is to change any of the rules and regs that frustrate pilots and aircraft owners. This year, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta had the lucky opportunity to tout actual progress the agency has recently made toward giving GA something they dearly want — third-class medical reform — and even more. “We’re committed to making general aviation safer and more efficient and we’re making a lot of progress,” Administrator Michael Huerta told the Oshkosh crowd today. “Collaboration between the FAA and industry is allowing the GA community to benefit from upgraded technology, lower costs, and higher levels of safety.”

By working together, Huerta said, the FAA and industry are transforming general aviation in a number of ways: Besides the new third-class-medical rule, a proposed new Part 23 that aims to streamline aircraft certification is making progress, new airman certification standards have been put in place, and the approval process to install certain safety gear in GA aircraft has been simplified. Huerta cited the importance of collaboration between government and industry. “The passion that drives pilots to fly here, year after year, is the same passion that fuels so much of the work we do every day at the FAA,” he said.

“The United States has the largest and most diverse GA community in the world,” Huerta added, “with more than 220,000 aircraft – including amateur-built aircraft, rotorcraft, balloons and highly sophisticated turbojets. The FAA and GA community are working together to put the right technologies, regulations, and education initiatives in place to improve safety.” The full text of Huerta's talk is posted on the FAA website.

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Having been around for two decades, the four-place Bearhawk EAB is prized for its large payload and STOL capability, and at AirVenture 2016, the company is unveiling the new Bearhawk Bravo. The B gets a Riblett 30-413.5 airfoil that delivers better speed, similar stall speeds and greater stall stability over the NACA 4412 used in the original model. The speed increase, according to Bearhawk, is 5 to 8 MPH faster than the original design.

Bearhawk says additional changes in the Bravo include use of aluminum fuselage formers, window sills and door sills in place of steel formers and sills offering weight savings and corrosion resistance. The stock struts are made of heavy-wall round tubing rather than streamlined tubing, offering more resistance to sideload failure while on the runway, Bearhawk says. The Riblett wing has a one-foot greater wingspan and an additional five square feet of wing area. See the Bearhawk Bravo at AirVenture 2016 in booth 630 in the North Aircraft Display.

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If you own a BendixKing KX155 or KX165-series navcomm radio, there is a good chance it has been across an avionics repair bench for a gas discharge display replacement. That's an easy fix, but the obsolescence of the component will make future repairs more complex and expensive. BendixKing has a solution with a new LCD display—a modification that promises longer service life—but at a substantial cost, compared to the older gas discharge display. It also prompted BendixKing to create a factory refurbishment program (through a service bulletin) for the front end of KX155(A) and KX165(A) radios, which will carry a one-year warranty. The $1750 factory refurbishment includes a replacement bezel, lenses, knobs and of course the LCD display.

The ultimate repair cost will depend on the condition of the rest of the radio and whether or not other repairs are required, but the price of the new LCD display is sharply higher than the gas discharge display it replaced, which had a list price of $507. The cost of the kit to convert to the LCD display in the field is $1333, (which also includes a small PC board and discrete components). This doesn't include shop labor, which could take a couple of hours to accomplish the initial conversion.



Aspen is venturing into the experimental market with a micro GPS receiver that’s a suitable position source for ADS-B installations. At AirVenture 2016, the company announced the new NexNav Mico-I GPS. The device is part of the product line Aspen acquired when it bought Accord Technology last year.

The unit, which is a WAAS-capable blind box, measure 4.3 by 3.1 by 1.1 inches and will operate on 8 to 36 volts requiring just one watt of power. It has a D-type 9-pin connector and RS-232 and NMEA 0183 data formats. List price is $800 and the Micro-i is available through Aspen dealers. It's ideal for use in experimental aircraft equipped with ADS-B Out transmitters that don't have their own position source.


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I’ve always viewed competition in aviation as a relative thing. In new aircraft costing upward of $400,000, price breaks of a few percentage points don’t really amount to much and matter more to the big-box flight schools who now seem to be the main buyers of piston singles than to individual owners. In any case, the competitive leg up on those sales often comes from after-the-sale sweeteners like factory support or training programs.

For individual owners, the competitive environment is better for things likes accessories, especially headsets, where the market is closer to being over-served. For the past decade, avionics haven’t been impressively competitive because Garmin essentially owned the market. It had or was willing to develop a product for every niche and it also had the marketing apparatus to make these products pay off the investment of creating them.

Although I never thought I’d see it, that’s now changing. Avidyne has awoken with a range of products that are selling well, Aspen came on the scene with its Evolution EFDs aimed at the aftermarket and there are more ADS-B choices than one person—at least me—can possibly keep track of. But here again, Garmin is dominating thanks to product choices and marketing. The big avionics story at AirVenture was Garmin’s announcement that its G5 EFIS, heretofore developed for the experimental market, will now be approved by AML-STC for more than 500 certified aircraft models.

My reaction is twofold: That didn’t take long and what took them so long? Let me explain. In April, EAA’s Jack Pelton strode up to the podium at Sun ‘n Fun and stunned us by announcing it had partnered with Dynon to develop an STC for a limited number of models to install the D10 EFIS in certified airplanes. You coulda heard a pin drop in that tent. My colleague Larry Anglisano and I both bet that Garmin would respond with their own program and roll it out by AirVenture. Sure ‘nuff.

Now, is the race on between EAA and Garmin to extend this kind of favorable trickle-down product development to other products, of which Garmin has quite a catalog? We can only hope. Although this won’t reset the cost of flying to 1975 levels, or even 1995, it’s a positive development that does help owners in the bottom tier who want to upgrade their basic certified airplanes but can’t afford it because the manufacturers have lost sight of affordability. This trend, if it has legs, promises to at least level the cost curve, if not bend it downward. Well played, Mr. Pelton.

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Before you can fly an F-35, you're going to spend time in the T50a simulator. At AirVenture 2016, Jeff and Baxter Van West got a crack at the sim and shot this AVweb video detailing it.

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Once the rain blew through--the first time, at least--the weather at Oshkosh turned pleasant for mid-week at AirVenture 2016.

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At AirVenture 2016, OpenAirplane revealed a new sister service called FlyOtto. It makes on-demand charter services from A to B available to any public-use airport in the U.S. via tablet, smartphone or computer. AVweb interviewed OpenAirplane's Rod Rakic at the show.

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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.

Visit to participate in our current poll.

Click here to view the results of past polls.

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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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