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Diamond Aircraft launched three new diesel-powered singles at Aero Friedrichshafen but it won’t be supplying the engines itself. Flight International reported the Austrian company will produce the four-place DA50-IV, five-place DA50-V and seven-place DA50-VII with 230-, 260- and 360-horsepower Safran/SMA diesels. The -VII will also be available with a 375-horsepower Lycoming gas engine or a Ukranian Ivchenko Progress/Motor Sich AI-450S turboprop. The -V version flew in March and is on display at Aero.

Diamond owner Christian Dries told Flight International the -V will be certified by 2018. The new models come four months after Dries sold a 60 percent stake in Diamond Canada to Wanfeng Aviation. That deal transferred the type certificates to its DA40 singles and DA62 twin diesel to the Chinese-controlled company in London, Ontario.

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Diamond Aircraft unveiled a design for a composite four-seat light-single piston helicopter at Aero Friedrichshafen on Thursday, Flight International has reported. The Dart 280 easy-to-fly trainer would be the first in a family of rotorcraft, which will include a hybrid-electric tilt rotor. “Diamond has been in the GA market for 30 years and it’s time to try something new," CEO Christian Dries said, according to FI. “Why not?” The helicopter is projected to have a 280-SHP four-stroke engine burning jet fuel, retractable landing gear and a shrouded, electric tail rotor.

First flight is expected around October next year, with certification about a year after that.

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The Planes of Fame Air Museum, in Chino, California, plans to celebrate its 60th anniversary with its 25th annual airshow on May 6 and 7, but now a judge is scheduled to decide on April 20 if the show will be shut down. According to local news reports, a group of commercial tenants at Chino Airport asked the court for the closure, citing financial losses and hindrances to doing business. The show disrupts access and use of the airport for up to nine days, the complainants say, and creates traffic jams that keep customers away. The Museum has posted a petition on its website, seeking signatures of support to keep the show. “For the local community, the annual Air Show provides an economic stimulus to local businesses and entrepreneurs both on and nearby the airport,” says the Museum statement.

The show also is the main fundraising effort for the nonprofit museum, according to the Planes of Fame website. “Revenue from the annual Air Show helps us to carry on our mission to preserve aviation history, inspire an interest in aviation, education of the public, and honor aviation pioneers and veterans,” says the website. “Thousands of letters of support, phone calls, comments and offers of help have been received thus far and have only strengthened our resolve.” The museum first opened in Claremont, California, in 1957, with a collection of 10 airplanes, and moved to Chino in 1973. Planes of Fame now exhibits more than 150 aircraft.

A week after unveiling plans to build a new factory on its Mobile, Alabama, site, Continental revealed that it's finished up cert work on its six-cylinder 300-HP diesel and that EASA certification is expected shortly.

Continental CEO Rhett Ross made the announcement at the Aero show in Friedrichshafen, Germany, which opened on Wednesday. Continental says the engine will likely find OEM application rather than conversion, as the small four-cylinder CD-155s have. Ross also told reporters in Friedrichshafen that the CD-155 has been approved by both EASA and the FAA for use with Garmin’s new G1000 NXi, but it’s unclear when diesel equipped Skyhawks will be available from Cessna.

The U.S. Navy grounded its fleet of T-45 trainer jets on Wednesday, after instructor pilots refused to fly, complaining that the oxygen systems were not working properly and had caused lightheadedness and blackouts. “We take the concerns of our air crew seriously and have directed a two-day safety pause for the T-45 community to allow time for naval aviation leadership to engage with the pilots, hear their concerns and discuss the risk mitigations, as well as the efforts that are ongoing to correct this issue,” said Cmdr. Jeanette Groeneveld, a Navy spokeswoman, according to The Washington Post.

All 197 of the single-engine jets will be grounded as engineering experts meet with pilots this week at training sites in Kingsville, Texas; Meridian, Mississippi; and Pensacola, Florida, Groeneveld said. The grounding could be extended depending on what investigators find. A Navy officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Post that complaints about problems in the T-45 have been getting worse recently. He characterized the decision of flight instructors to not fly as “not so much a strike,” but instead “instructors invoking their responsibility to not fly when there is significant enough risk to the aircraft and personnel.”

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In many conversations with instrument instructors, I’ve noted a common concern about the way many pilots conclude practice precision approaches (ILS or GPS LPV) under the “hood”: They do a great job of keeping the needles near the center as decision altitude nears; airspeed, descent rate and heading all would be appropriate. But when the hood came off at DA and the pilot spotted the runway, it was Katie bar the door. What happened next can be summarized as a whirlwind of activity in the left seat as the power was yanked back, flap deflection increased and a dive for the runway threshold commenced. It was as if there were some sort of prize for landing short.

None of this made sense to the CFIs. The airplane had been nicely established on the localizer and glideslope and—just because the pilot thought he or she could see the runway—it was suddenly time to make all sorts of speed and configuration changes, despite not yet reaching the approach lights, with plenty of runway ahead.

Dive For the Runway?

This “diving-for-the-runway” practice is a concern because, being human, pilots who practice doing things one way will do them that way in the future, even when it’s not appropriate. If there any ice, fog or low, scattered clouds is present on a for-real precision approach for real, the habit of making significant configuration changes before getting to the runway threshold on an ILS or LPV could be the last bad habit a pilot practices.

The NTSB’s files include many reports of crashes after a precision approach, and many examples of pilots who had been flying an ILS in poor weather, broke out, spotted the runway or the approach lights ahead and crashed short of the runway or touched down on a parallel taxiway. In interviews with pilots who survived, some said they were convinced they had a good view of the runway after shifting from instrument references to visual references, even in seriously restricted visibility, very low ceilings and/or scattered clouds below the airplane. The pilots then proceeded to disregard the very instruments providing excellent guidance to the runway, and made a power and/or configuration change prior to reaching it.

In considering the last portion of a precision approach—one that we can fly down to 200 feet and a half-mile visibility, an ILS or LPV—let’s think about what’s going on and why we’re flying such an approach in the first place. Unless we are just practicing, we’re doing it because there is some question of getting to the runway safely, usually because of foul weather. Unfortunately, we have spent hours and hours doing practice ILS approaches on good weather days, so when we looked up, we saw a nice, clean, dry runway, shimmering in the sunlight. It may be the last flight of the day, and we want to make the first turnoff. We’ve seen that sight picture hundreds of times before. When we see a runway we know what to do: Slow to 1.3 VSO in the landing configuration and land just past the threshold. It’s ingrained. We completely disregard the aiming point markers on the runway and abandon the equipment that’s gotten us to this point. We land just past the numbers, congratulating ourselves on a well-flown ILS. The only problem is that when you most need the experience of landing out of an ILS/LPV in scuzzy weather, you won’t have it. And because we practice diving for the runway again and again, odds are we’ll do it that way when the weather is down around our shoelaces.

The View

When we shoot an ILS or LPV for real, that first view of the runway presents a much different picture than we have seen in our carefree, VFR practice days. Rain is hammering against the windshield, or ice has reduced vision to a small hole above the defroster. We pick out the approach lights. There is no horizon. The last thing we need to do is change what we’ve been doing to get here successfully. But, what is our habit pattern? Dive for the end of the runway. We are going to make radical changes to that airplane before we’re even over the approach lights, while we have lousy visibility and visual references. Even if we have shot many actual weather ILS approaches, our total time in that type of visual environment is measured in seconds or a few minutes. The transition to visual references is easy to do when the weather is good, but can be horribly difficult when visibility is down to a few thousand feet.

What happens next? There isn’t enough visibility for us to control the airplane as we head for the runway and we hit the ground. Or, we fly into those scattered clouds that formed due to the rain cooling the air near at 150 feet agl while we don’t have the airplane collected and we have to try to transition back to the gauges and make a go around. Can we do it?

For an air carrier, getting below the glideslope (a “fly-up” indication) is a violation of the FARs. Those folks are required to stay on or above the glideslope all the way down to the flare. That’s part of the reason those fixed distance markers are on ILS runways; if you shoot the ILS or LPV correctly, they are approximately where you will flare.

The diagram to the right highlights FAA-standard runway markings, with several takeaways. One is that the touchdown zone begins 500 feet past the threshold, not on the numbers, and the aiming point is another 500, for 1000 feet of runway behind you. No, neither the touchdown zone or aiming point are not right at the threshold. Since there are no FAA-approved ILS or LPV approaches with 200/-mile minimums to runways less than 4200 feet long. Plus, and I’ve checked, there are no prizes for landing short after an ILS.

Wait For It

Have you looked at your charts lately? They show a threshold crossing height, that is, how high you will be over the end of the runway if you are on the glideslope. It’s ordinarily about 51 feet. In a Cessna 172 or Piper Warrior, were you to be slowed to 1.3 VSO at the threshold, 51 feet up, and then land per the book, you’d stop about 2000 feet beyond the threshold. That leaves at least 2200 feet unused on the shortest of ILS runways (and it’s one of the reasons 50-foot obstacles are so popular in airplane performance charts).

As a result, when you break out, why not at least wait, keeping everything as it is, until well over the approach lights—or even until crossing the threshold—before reducing power and tossing out the flaps? Waiting, being a little patient, before slowing or reconfiguring the airplane, eliminates the nasty risk of crashing short of the runway. I’ve heard pilots express worry that they will run off the far end of the runway if they delayed decelerating to landing speed until over the threshold. According to the accident reports, that risk is substantially less than crashing short of the runway—and it’s a lot less damaging to hit the far fence at 20 knots than the ground at 70 or 80.

In general aviation piston pounders, even in the highest performance twins, getting down and stopped on an ILS runway from a 50-foot threshold crossing height is simply not a problem. After all, the jets do it daily and they’re going a lot faster than we bugsmashers, and they don’t touch down until at or after those aiming marks on the runway 1000 feet beyond the threshold. The greater risk we face is crashing short of the runway or losing control in ice, so I respectfully suggest that we need to amend our habit patterns and learn to wait a bit, to leave things as they are after breaking out of the clouds and keep flying that ILS until we cross the runway threshold; to not get excited on those nice practice days and dive under the glideslope when we spot the runway.

It works in lousy weather because we have created a habit pattern in good weather. We break out, observe and wait, because nothing is broken, so nothing needs to be done right away. We just fly visually at the power setting and speed that has been working just fine, while cross checking the needles.

Maybe we should put a great big placard on the panel that simply says, “WAIT.” We have plenty of time after we spot the runway to decide when and where we are going to slow the airplane for landing. And, no, we won’t run off the end. We’ll turn off about midfield and can pat ourselves on the back for flying an ILS for real and not doing anything dumb in the process.

Rick Durden holds an ATP and is a CFII. He is author of The Thinking Pilot’s Flight Manual or, How to Survive Flying Little Airplanes and Have a Ball Doing It, Vols. 1 & 2.

This article originally appeared in the April 2015 issue of Aviation Safety magazine.

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I’m sure there must be a thin permeable membrane between creativity and sheer lunacy and a product I saw at Sun 'n Fun creeps right on the fence without quite crossing it. It’s called the BOM and it’s being offered by Levil Aviation, heretofore known for its line of clever ADS-B products. You can see a full video on the project here.

Think of it this way: Remember those wind driven-generators a lot of Cubs and Champs used to have to either charge a starting battery or run a radio? The BOM is sort of the same idea, except—inside the little torpedo-shaped housing that hangs under the wing is an ADAHRS, a pitot-static system, ADS-B, GPS and an angle of attack indicator. The whole of it fits into a housing about the size of a 7-ounce beer bottle and is driven by an onboard battery kept topped off by the little wind-driven brushless alternator.

There’s no switch or control of any kind. The device has a vibration sensor that senses when the engine starts up and fires the unit up. It transmits all of its data wirelessly to the cockpit where it plays on the inevitable tablet app. Traffic, weather, attitude, GPS, AoA—everything in a single wing-mounted $1500 package.

Who thinks up this stuff? In Levil’s case, it’s company principal Rubin Leon. The BOM is intended as a backup unit for both experimental and certified airplanes. It would attach via an inspection plate bracket so on the certified side, I’m not sure if it needs any approvals at all since there’s no wiring or plumbing. It’s entirely self-contained, having its own pitot inlet and static port.

Whether this gadget is practical or not pales against the notion of how utterly creative it is. Given the attention it generated at Sun 'n Fun, I suspect it will find buyers who just think it’s cool as hell for its cleverness. While I certainly don’t need such a thing in the Cub, I’d consider slapping it on the wing and fooling around with it. Some buyers might like it for real backup, if it turns out not to have significant limitations. One might be freezing or water incursion, although it looks well sealed. Leon told me he’s tested it out to 200 knots and the turbine will be sized for various speeds.

What makes the BOM the essence of innovation, in my view, is that it shows how various technologies—miniature GPS boards, ADS-B chips, inexpensive accelerometers driven by the mass cellphone market and tiny little brushless alternators built for some application or another—can be leveraged together into an unpredictable whole. You can’t help but look at the thing and smile.

Airborne Internet

When I fly on airliners, I usually don’t buy the broadband access because I’m cheap, it often doesn’t work very well and I don’t mind dropping off the grid for a while, thanks. During my conversation with Dan Schwinn for this podcast, I realized that this is shortly to change, especially for light aircraft.

Here we are well into 2017 and in this country, we’re still backward about internet access in the sense that as stitched into the economy and culture as the need for access is, it’s often spotty and something that’s sold rather than provided in the interest of the public and commercial good. The bandwidth at the hotel we’re staying at in Lakeland is so crappy that I have to drive down to Starbucks to load a video. This is all too common in my travels.

When I was interviewing Schwinn, I realized I look at this in two ways. In an airplane, I don’t care that much about emailing or browsing the web, but I do like the idea of an airplane that’s constantly tied into a data network sending and receiving data in the background. We already get weather this way, although even SiriusXM may be relatively crude compared to what’s coming. I’m thinking of engine trend data, maintenance information and even air traffic data constantly flowing back and forth; constant access. If Malaysia’s MH370 had such a thing, we would not wonder where the airplane came to earth.

Schwinn described something he called the virtual copilot and that idea resonates. From the comfort of the FBO office, an instructor could monitor and advise a couple of students on cross-country flights. Or a business could help troubleshoot an aircraft problem airborne or at some remote location.

I realize some people fly to escape the dark hole of internet distraction but that’s going to be increasingly difficult. Even my cellphone tracks me when I’m puttering around in the Cub. Then there’s the privacy issue. Last week’s poll revealed that 40 percent of our readers think the FAA’s allowing public access to N-numbers through ADS-B is a privacy concern; 33 percent think it isn’t. I’m in the latter group. If I’m going somewhere I’m not supposed to be or that I that don’t want someone to know about, I’ll ride my motorcycle. Of course, the damn thing has a CANbus and a GPS, so who the hell knows how it’s snitching on me. The only escape is to live a clean life, I guess.

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At Sun 'n Fun 2017, Levil Aviation introduced two innovative avionics products, one called the BOM and a second, an ADS-B Out system built entirely into the antenna that's installed on the belly of the aircraft. The BOM is a clever self-contained AHRS, pitot system, GPS and angle of attack system contained in a wing-mounted pod and driven by a small wind turbine on the back of the unit.

Piper's share of the training market has slipped in recent years but the current management has targeted it as a growth area. AVweb spoke with COO Jim Funk at Sun 'n Fun about a long list of orders for a full range of training platforms from schools all over the world.

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