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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.

Earlier this month, Tecnam rolled out the P2012 Traveler mini-airliner it designed for Cape Air and showgoers at Aero in Friedrichshafen got their first look at the new model this week.

The new twin has 11 seats and is designed to replace the aging Cessna 406s that have been the mainstay of Cape Air’s fleet for decades. Cape Air flies in New England from Massachusetts to the Cape and Islands, as well as in Puerto Rico and Micronesia. The P2012, designed by the late Tecnam pater familias Luigi Pascale, was announced in 2011.

The aircraft is powered by a pair of Lycoming TEO-540-C1A piston engines and is the first major OEM to adopt Lycoming's electronic engine. It is designed to comply with both the U.S. FAR Part 23 and Europe’s CS-23 airworthiness standards, and is a joint project between Tecnam and Cape Air.

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Boeing has created a new “innovation cell” called HorizonX that will seek out and encourage new emerging and “potentially transformative” technologies and business models in aviation, the company said this week. Among its first investments is three-year-old Zunum Aero, based in Kirkland, Washington, which is pursuing the development of electric-powered aircraft. “We are passionate about high-speed connectivity to every community and neighborhood, so you can live where you like, get anywhere fast, and leave behind a healthy planet,” says the Zunum website. JetBlue Technology Ventures is partnering with Boeing to support Zunum’s work.

"The Boeing HorizonX team will build on Boeing's advanced technology and depth of aerospace expertise in design, development and manufacturing while bringing in outside perspectives and leveraging the speed and agility of a wide range of companies and research organizations," said Greg Smith, Boeing CFO. "As part of our company strategy to accelerate growth and productivity, we intend to be flexible and move quickly to identify technologies, business models and market opportunities that hold the promise of creating and delivering more value for our customers and other stakeholders.”

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DARPA, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, announced this week they have completed sub-scale testing of their hybrid electric VTOL design and will move ahead with developing a full-scale aircraft. “The VTOL demonstrator was designed specifically to test the aerodynamic design of the aircraft, validate flight dynamics, and develop the flight and mission-systems controls for application to the full-scale vehicle,” said Ashish Bagai, DARPA program manager. “The aircraft exhibited exceptional flight characteristics, with no loss in altitude even as it transitioned from vertical to horizontal flight. It also demonstrated aerodynamic effectiveness of the distributed propulsive system.”

The subscale aircraft flight design and mission control architectures will, for the most part, be carried over into the full-scale VTOL aircraft, DARPA said, but with a few changes. The full-scale aircraft will incorporate a triple-redundant flight control system instead of a single system. Also, a hybrid turboshaft engine will drive electric generators to power the fan units, instead of the batteries used in the demonstrator. Also, the full-scale aircraft fan units will be synchronized to the generators and turn at a constant RPM, but incorporate variable pitch, whereas the demonstrator’s fans are speed controlled.

The XV-24A will weigh 12,000 pounds, compared to 322 pounds for the demonstrator, and will aim to verify specific performance objectives, DARPA said: flight speeds in excess of 300 knots, full hover and vertical flight capabilities and—relative to helicopters—a 25 percent improvement in hovering efficiency and 50 percent reduction in system drag losses during cruise. “These are ambitious performance parameters,” Bagai said, “which we believe will push current technologies to the max and enable a new generation of vertical flight operational capabilities.”

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Able Flight, a nonprofit providing sport pilot training to people with significant disabilities, is at Sun 'n Fun 2017 educating light sport aircraft makers about the demand for planes adapted for use by persons with disabilities. A basic adaptive airplane requires little more than a hand control for rudders and brakes. Many light sport aircraft already use handbrakes, which eases the conversion. Charles Stites, founder and executive director of Able Flight, says, “People are in the market for airplanes. They want to be able to continue flying after they get their license with Able Flight.”

Justin Falls, a 2016 graduate of Able Flight and a light sport pilot, is shopping for an airplane. Justin suffered a spinal cord injury resulting in loss of control in both legs and partial paralysis of his arms, but he told AVweb he doesn’t just want to be able to fly. He wants to be able to travel with a friend, so he’s in a market for a high-wing airplane with a side-by-side seating configuration. The side-by-side seating creates storage space for a wheelchair, and the high-wing design makes it easier for him to get into or out of the plane without assistance. Since completing his checkride, Falls says, “I don’t feel paralyzed. The wheelchair is on the ground and I’m in the air.”

Listen to our interview with Charles and Justin below.

When your imagination grasps the challenges of flight, the sky becomes a 3-D canvas across which dreams come true. OK, that cheesy metaphor is a bit too Disneyesque, but it should inspire you to ace this quiz.

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I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating: Despite its reputation for stifling regulation, there’s more airframe and powerplant innovation coming out of Europe than from the U.S. If you’re interested in new airplanes, look east, not in your backyard. It’s not unreasonable to say Chinese money is funding at least some of this.

Consider this report from our remote coverage of Aero: “Diamond will produce the four-place DA50-IV and the seven-place DA50-VII with 230-, 260- and 360-horsepower Safran/SMA diesels.” There’s more developmental news in that little nugget than from the last three or four Sun ‘n Fun shows combined.

Let’s break down where Diamond is going with this. The DA50 emerged as a proof of concept in 2006 and Diamond CEO Christian Dries said it would be certified in 2010 or 2011. It was a five-seater and could accommodate a range of engines. Never happened. I think Diamond’s capital and interest got sucked into the dark hole of the now idled D-Jet project.

But the large cabin idea morphed into what is now Diamond’s premium diesel twin, the DA62, which despite a price tag north of $1 million, is selling well. The announcement at Aero revisits the single-engine idea with a host of engines that thus far, haven’t even been the bride’s maid, much less the bride. To me, that’s the most interesting part of the news.

The smallest version of the DA50 series, the IV, will use the SR305-230E. This engine has a stunning history of, shall I say, non-acceptance. Its appearance in the market in 1999—yes, 18 years ago—predated the arrival of the Thielert diesels which, to date, remain the most successful Jet A piston engines.

SMA continued to improve the engine and it continued to not find traction in the OEM market. An STC conversion for the Cessna 182 found some buyers, but the company never really promoted it much. Maule offered it in the M9, but that project stalled and more recently, Cessna announced in 2012 that it would offer the SR305 in the Cessna 182 JT-A. But that project stalled, too and now has no definite timeline.

Before it bought the assets of Thielert, Continental purchased a technology transfer agreement with SMA to produce a certified variant of the SR305 of its own. That was in 2010. Seven years later, still no marketable engine, although Continental’s Rhett Ross told us last week during a visit to Mobile that announcements are imminent. Will Diamond have any better luck? Maybe. It’s got more diesel experience—including manufacturing its homegrown Austro engines—than anyone else. I wouldn’t bet against Diamond.

The DA50-IV is intended for the training market and presumably would be a competitor with the Cirrus SR20. Not one to mince words, Dries said at Aero that Diamond has lost sales to Cirrus because its cabins aren't large enough because Americans are, well, too fat. Diamond also mentioned a 360-HP version of the DA50 and I take that to be the flat six-cylinder diesel SMA showed off at Aero in 2013. At the time, SMA said it was just getting into test cell work. By the way, while the -IV has fixed gear, the more powerful variants will be retractables. Haven't seen a new certified piston retrac for quite some time.

As for the Lycoming offering, Diamond CEO Christian Dries said it would be a 375-HP engine. If that potentiates, it will be the most powerful single-engine piston on the market today. I assume this engine will be some variant of the IE2 project Lycoming has been simmering since at least 2010. (No one has ever accused this industry of rushing things to market.) Recall that this is a fully electronic engine, with single-lever control and dual FADEC. Lycoming used the Lancair piston Evolution as the test bed for this engine and as we reported, Tecam picked it for the emerging P2012 Traveler mini airliner. It’s good to see it finally finding OEM interest.

Diamond also announced a turbine version of the DA50, using the Ukrainian Ivchenko-Progress AI-450S. This is a free-turbine design similar to the Pratt & Whitney PT6. So Diamond is going the direction of Piper and Daher in offering a high-performance turboprop single. But it’s not to be a cabin-class airplane, so I have no idea of the market appeal.

As for the piston versions, the market niche is twofold. One is the Cirrus-type buyer who wants performance, but a larger cabin, which the DA50 has. The second is the buyer of a Piper Saratoga or a Beechcraft/Textron G36. In other words, the six-place market. This is not a major segment. In 2016, Textron sold 25 G36s and Piper ended the Saratoga in 2009, although it did move 26 Mirage/Matrix airframes. That’s not quite the same class of airplane, but they are singles.

Could new powerplants and the option of a seventh seat stimulate the market? At least a little? I wouldn’t bet against it. I have a history of being wrong about Christian Dries’ sometimes wacky ideas. When the DA42 appeared at the Berlin Airshow in 2002, I thought the idea of pairing obscure diesel engines with a new airframe was nuts. When I reviewed the airplane, I questioned whether the engines were ready. It turned out they were not, but it got sorted out. The airplane has been and continues to be a good seller for Diamond.

Obviously, these will be expensive airplanes. I’m guessing around the million dollar or a little more mark. I’m further guessing that at this price point, they’ll find buyers in the multiple dozens just as other Diamond products have. If the company makes money at that volume and the untried engines deliver acceptable service, thus is a business plan born. I’m not going to whine about the price because doing so is a pointless playing of a record that broke 20 years ago.

But I will whine about one thing. Who dreamed up those hideous gold paint schemes Diamond showed in its Aero stand? My colleague from the U.K.’s Flyer sent me this photo and it isn’t easy on the eyes.

Cessna sent a new 206 Turbo Stationair HD to Sun 'n Fun 2017 in Lakeland, Florida, and AVweb crawled all over it to report on the updates. From the cockpit, the plane feels like a really nice Cessna 182 with the new Garmin G1000 NXi flight deck, but up front there's a turbocharged Lycoming producing 310 HP. That 310 HP is how the big piston Cessna gets its maximum useful load of 1,623 pounds--if you're willing to remove all the seats save one.

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Able Flight, a non-profit providing sport pilot training to people with significant disabilities, is at Sun N’ Fun 2017 educating light sport aircraft makers about the demand for planes adapted for use by persons with disabilities. A basic adaptive airplane requires little more than a hand control for rudders and brakes. Many light sport aircraft already use handbrakes, which eases the conversion. Charles Stites, founder and Exective Director of Able Flight, says, “People are in the market for airplanes. They want to be able to continue flying after they get their license with Able Flight.”

Justin Falls, a 2016 graduate of Able Flight and light sport pilot, is shopping for an airplane. Justin suffered a spinal cord injury resulting in loss of control in both legs and partial paralysis of his arms, but he told Avweb he doesn’t just want to be able to fly. He wants to be able to travel with a friend, so he’s in a market for a high-wing airplane with a side-by-side seating configuration. The side-by-side seating creates storage space for a wheelchair, and the high wing design makes it easier for him to get into or out of the plane without assistance. Since completing his checkride, Falls says, “I don’t feel paralyzed. The wheelchair is on the ground and I’m in the air.”

Picture of the Week
Aero In Photos

Dr. Brent Blue, aviation medical examiner and friend of AVweb is attending the Aero Friedrichschafen show in Germany and sent along his photo impressions of the big show. Among the highlights was Diamond's introduction of a new line of big singles and announcement of a helicopter project

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