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If the idea of drones flying day and night through your neighborhood to deliver lattes and tacos is unsettling, a company in California offers a new option — their drone can fly part of the way, but then land and drive itself quietly up to your doorstep. The VTOL Air/Ground Robot recently completed a delivery test near the headquarters of Advanced Tactics, in Torrance. It can carry payloads up to 15 pounds, and can handle rough terrain as well as sidewalks, the company said.

“The combination of vertical takeoff and landing flight with off-road driving capabilities in a package delivery drone make the autonomous AT Panther VTOL air/ground robot unlike anything else previously seen,” says the company. For package delivery, the system will have both air and ground obstacle-avoidance capability, and will perform autonomously with a remote human operator acting as safety pilot/driver. The system then deploys the package autonomously, or an operator can talk to the customer through voice and video and hand off the package by remote control. The Panther then returns to the safe takeoff and landing area and heads back to base to receive the next package at up to 70 mph, says AT.

Quest Aircraft now has EASA certification for the Kodiak 100, the company announced last week at Aero Friedrichshafen. The single-engine turboprop, built in Sandpoint, Idaho, now is certified in more than 50 countries, the company said. “With its STOL capabilities, the Kodiak will allow European operators with large payloads to access many airstrips and locations that would previously have proven difficult,” said Rob Wells, CEO of Quest. “We anticipate that Europe will play an important role in the continued growth of our company, even more so now with the recent and very welcome regulation changes in regards to single-engine turboprop commercial operations.”

The 10-place Kodiak features all-aluminum construction, a Pratt & Whitney PT6 turbine engine and Garmin G1000 avionics. It can land and take off from unimproved surfaces, and floats can be added without structural upgrades. It can take off in under 1,000 feet at full gross takeoff weight of 7,255 pounds and climb at over 1,300 feet per minute. The airplane will be sold and supported throughout Europe by Quest Dealer Rheinland Air Service, headquartered at Mönchengladbach Airport, near Dusseldorf, Germany. The Kodiak sells for about $2.5 million.

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image: Belfast Telegraph

Eighty-two hot-air balloonists launched from England on Friday morning and flew 26 miles across the English Channel to land in France, in an attempt to set a new Guinness world record. The previous record was 49, set in 2011. Steve Mabbutt, one of the organizers of the effort, said, "Everybody is absolutely delighted," according to the UK Telegraph. "It's a large number of balloons on a beautiful day, it was incident-free and, to be honest, we couldn't have asked for more. It all went to clockwork. The pleasure it brings a lot of people is fantastic -- it's a very unusual thing to see."

The first balloons launched about 6 a.m. on Friday from Dover and landed safely in Calais about three hours later. Guinness officials said paperwork that should have been completed prior to the attempt was never received, but they will work with the organizers to try to verify and certify the record.

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Breitling’s DC-3, which first flew in 1940, is now engaged in a round-the-world tour, with a summertime trip across the U.S. in the flight plan. The airplane, which once flew for American Airlines and the U.S. Army, was bought by Breitling in 2008 and fully restored. At 77 years old, it’s the oldest airplane ever to undertake a round-the-world tour, according to Breitling. The airplane launched from Geneva last month, and is now flying across Asia. It will arrive in Anchorage in June, and spend the summer in the U.S., making multiple stops, including Phoenix, Oshkosh and New York. It then will depart from Boston in August to return to Europe by way of Greenland and Iceland.

The oldest surviving DC-3 is N133D, the sixth Douglas Sleeper Transport, built in 1936 for American Airlines, according to Wikipedia. The aircraft is undergoing restoration in Punta Gorda, Florida. The owners plan to restore it to Douglas Sleeper Transport standards and full airworthiness. The oldest DC-3 still flying is the original American Airlines Flagship Detroit, first delivered in March 1937. That airplane is owned and operated by the nonprofit Flagship Detroit Foundation, which flies it to airshows around the country.

I heard this on my scanner and almost fell out of my chair.

Jet Blue: ”Jet Blue 123 climbing to eight thousand".

No response

Jet Blue: ”Jet Blue 123 how do you hear?"

Bradley Approach: ”With my ears: turn left direct Norwich VOR".


 

Stephen Fogarty 

 

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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.

Click here to take the quiz.

AVweb’s General Aviation Accident Bulletin is taken from the pages of our sister publication, Aviation Safety magazine and is published twice a month. All the reports listed here are preliminary and include only initial factual findings about crashes. You can learn more about the final probable cause in the NTSB’s web site at www.ntsb.gov. Final reports appear about a year after the accident, although some take longer. Find out more about Aviation Safety at www.aviationsafetymagazine.com.

January 2, 2017, Payson, Ariz.

Cessna T210K Turbo Centurion

At about 0937 Mountain time, the airplane was destroyed when it collided with mountainous terrain. The private pilot and three passengers were fatally injured. Instrument conditions prevailed.

Radar data show the airplane reached its cruising altitude of approximately 8000 feet msl some 12 minutes after takeoff. The airplane subsequently descended about 1300 feet in one minute before entering a momentary climb, which was followed by a shallow descent. In the remaining two and a half minutes, the airplane maintained a 300 fpm descent rate, with some intermittent climbs. The final two radar targets show the airplane climbed about 425 feet in 12 seconds. The airplane maintained a straight track from its departure airport to the last radar target, which was within 0.1 nm of the 6670 feet msl accident site.

January 2, 2017, Scottsdale, Ariz

Raytheon Hawker 800XP

The airplane sustained substantial damage when its nose landing gear collapsed at about 1643 Mountain time, during a landing roll. The two airline transport pilots were not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

During the approach, the nose landing gear light remained red, indicating it was not down and locked. The crew referred to the emergency checklist and used the hand pump to lower the landing gear manually, but the red light still indicated the gear was unsafe. The control tower subsequently reported it appeared that it appeared the nosegear was down and straight. The crew performed a normal landing. As the airplane slowed to about 35-40 knots, the nose gear collapsed.

January 4, 2017, Brookfield, Wis.

Bede BD-4 Experimental

At about 1208 Central time, the airplane sustained substantial damage when it veered off the left side of the runway during takeoff and impacted a parked vehicle. The pilot was fatally injured. One passenger received serious injuries; one passenger was uninjured. Visual conditions prevailed.

A witness observed the airplane lift off and drift downwind (left) of Runway 21. Examination revealed skid marks on the runway and in the grass leading to the accident site. The skid marks began on the runway 953 feet from the parked vehicle and indicated the airplane become airborne twice before impacting the parked vehicle. An 1145 weather observation four nm southwest included wind from 280 degrees at 20 knots, gusting to 28 knots.

January 4, 2017, Nacogdoches, Texas

Mooney M20K 231

The airplane was force-landed at about 1545 Central time and was substantially damaged. The private pilot sustained minor injuries. Visual conditions prevailed.

The airplane had recently undergone an annual inspection; the accident flight was the first since its completion. While in the pattern to land, the pilot switched fuel tanks and the engine stopped producing power. The pilot performed a forced landing; however, the airplane sustained substantial damage to its wings during the landing.

January 4, 2017, Napa, Calif.

Cozy MK IV R Experimental

At about 1430 Pacific time, the airplane experienced a total loss of engine power during an attempted go-around. The solo commercial pilot subsequently landed on the remaining runway but the airplane rolled off the end and came rest in a marsh. There were no injuries. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the left wing. Visual conditions prevailed.

The pilot was performing touch-and-go landings. During an approach, he noted the airplane would have landed further down the runway than desired and he initiated a go-around. As he advanced the throttle, the engine responded normally, but then rolled back to idle. The airplane was powered by a Mazda automotive rotary engine, which was modified by the owner.

January 5, 2017, Gurdon, Ark.

Columbia LC41-550FG Columbia 400

The airplane was destroyed when it impacted terrain. The private pilot and pilot-rated passenger were fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed; an IFR clearance was in effect.

The airplane was cruising VFR at 17,500 feet msl when the pilot requested an IFR clearance to climb to FL250. At about 1232, the airplane leveled at FL250. Shortly afterward, the pilot requested to descend back to 17,500 feet and reported he was experiencing equipment issues. At about 1235, ATC cleared the flight to descend and maintain 17,000 feet. A minute later, the pilot declared an emergency. When ATC inquired about the nature of the emergency, the pilot’s response was garbled and not recognizable. Radar showed the airplane in a rapid descent; ATC tried to contact the airplane without success. Radar contact was lost at about 3100 feet msl. No distress calls were heard by ATC or other aircraft. Evidence at the accident site indicates the airplane impacted the ground at high speed, almost 90-degrees nose-down. The majority of the airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a post-impact fire.

January 5, 2017, Atlanta, Ga.

AMD CH 2000 Alarus

At about 1700 Eastern time, the airplane was substantially damaged when it collided with trees during initial climb after takeoff. The solo private pilot was seriously injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

The pilot subsequently reported the airplane experienced a loss of engine power and climb performance after takeoff. The left wing and nose dropped, but no stall warning horn sounded. The pilot leveled the wings and configured the airplane for landing before colliding with trees. Examination revealed the flaps in the full-extended position and the airplane operating handbook open to a page describing short-field takeoffs and landings.

January 6, 2017, Jackson, Calif.

Cessna 421C Golden Eagle

The turboprop-converted airplane sustained substantial damage at about 1720 Pacific time following collapse of the right main landing gear during the landing roll. The solo airline transport pilot was not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

The flare and initial touchdown were normal. However, something did not feel right to the pilot. He attempted to lightly apply the brakes, and the airplane began to yaw from one side to the other. He released the brakes and attempted to slow the airplane with reverse thrust but the airplane exited the paved runway surface and came to a stop in grass and dirt about 20 feet off the right side of the runway. Examination revealed the right main landing gear torque link had separated at the hinge attach point.

This article originally appeared in the April 2017 issue of Aviation Safety magazine.

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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.

Scottsdale, Arizona-based TKM avionics has been working on a direct slide-in replacement radio for the venerable King KX155 and KX165 navcomms. It brought the radio to Sun 'n Fun 2017 in Lakeland, Florida, where TKM's Vic Casebolt gave a demo to Aviation Consumer editor Larry Anglisano.

With the FAA relaxing certification requirements for avionics in certified light aircraft, Trio Avionics is closing in on approval for its three-axis autopilot, following a parallel path to another company, TruTrak. Both are well known in the experimental segment for capable autopilots. 

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Picture of the Week
Picture of the Week

For those of you who sweltered through the first few days of Sun 'n Fun with us, here's some very cool relief. Daniel Huttunen can get to some of the coolest places on the planet in south central Alaska and his copyrighted photo shows the 49th state at its best.

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