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Sun ’n Fun’s event last week “was the highest-attended show we’ve ever had,” spokesperson Jackie Jenkins told AVweb on Tuesday. “There are still figures coming in, so I don’t have specific figures for you yet,” she added. The 25th Aero show, in Friedrichshafen, Germany, also was a success, the organizers said. “The show set two new records: 34,200 trade visitors from Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and around the world set a new attendance record at the industry expo,” said spokesman Wolfgang Köhle. “707 exhibitors was also a new record for the show, surpassing the previous high of 606 set in 2016.” Both shows have big plans for next year.

“Next year, Sun ’n Fun welcomes the USAF Thunderbirds,” said Jenkins. “The dates for next year’s show will be April 10 to 15.” The next Aero will take place April 18 to 21, 2018. This year’s dates, with both shows running the same week, made it hard for exhibitors, media and others who like to visit both shows, but apparently the conflict didn’t hurt overall attendance. Next year will present new challenges, with just three days between the two events.

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When the crew of a full United flight from Chicago to Louisville, Kentucky, couldn’t find any volunteers to give up their seats to accommodate the last-minute travel needs of company employees on Sunday, four random passengers were taken off the airplane by three uniformed officers — and one man was dragged down the aisle on his back, with his glasses knocked askew, blood on his face and a horrified expression. The incidents were recorded by other passengers on their cellphones, creating a PR nightmare for the airline. “Oh my god!” one passenger says, as the man is dragged past her seat. “Look what you did to him!”

The incident began when an airline supervisor walked onto the plane and brusquely announced: “We have United employees that need to fly to Louisville tonight. … This flight’s not leaving until four people get off,” according to The Washington Post. “That rubbed some people the wrong way,” said passenger Tyler Bridges. When no volunteers were forthcoming, despite incentives offered, the officers began to tell people to leave. The first two, a young couple, complied. But the next man said he wouldn’t go because he was a doctor and had patients to see in the morning. He was dragged down the aisle. United officials refused to answer any questions about the incident, according to the Post. United CEO Oscar Munoz did release a brief statement on Monday, saying in part, "I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers. Our team is moving with a sense of urgency to work with the authorities and conduct our own detailed review of what happened.” Here's one of the passenger videos.

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Military officials plan to meet with airline executives next month to find ways to prevent the exodus of too many military-trained pilots to civilian jobs — and one option may be to impose a “stop-loss” order that would force pilots to stay, Air Force Gen. Carlton Everhart, chief of the Air Mobility Command, told a Roll Call reporter. Everhart said he and other U.S. Air Force generals will join representatives of the other armed services in a meeting with U.S. airline executives May 18 at Andrews Air Force Base, in Maryland, to discuss the issue.

Other aviation specialties, including maintenance workers and air traffic controllers, also are seeing an increase in military workers leaving for civilian jobs. The reasons they leave are not always for more money, according to Roll Call. In surveys about their career-path choices, pilots list money as less important than factors such as an imbalance between work and family life and too much time spent on administrative tasks. Pilots also say they don’t fly enough. “If you look at the projections I’ve seen, I think this is going to be a problem for a while,” Gen. Everhart told Roll Call. “Ten, 15, 20 years from now.”

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GE Aviation has created a new modified version of its H series turboprop engine especially for aerobatic airplanes, the company said last week at Aero Friedrichshafen, in Germany, and is working with EASA to certify it by next year. Diamond Aircraft is among the manufacturers interested in the engine, for its Dart 450, GE’s Nick Hurm told AVweb this week. The H series features a single-lever Electronic Engine and Propeller Control system that provides automatic limiting functions, reducing pilot workload. The aerobatic version also will feature an inverted oil system and other modifications for enhancing aerobatics. Certification is expected next year, Hurm said.

The standard GE H Series engine received its type certification from EASA last December, followed by its FAA type certificate in March. The H Series has already been selected for four aircraft applications, the company said. The engine is suited for light aircraft in the 550 to 850 SHP range, Hurm said. AVweb’s editorial director Paul Bertorelli took a look at the H Series at NBAA 2015; click here for his video report.

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Electric-powered aircraft will gather for a fly-in at the Grenchen airport in Switzerland, Sept. 9-10, the first event of its kind in Europe. The organizers of the SmartFlyer Challenge say they expect a range of aircraft to attend, including the Hamilton aEro Twister single-seat aerobatic composite airplane, an Antares electric self-launching glider by Lange Aviation, the Siemens E-Fusion two-seater, a Pipistrel Alpha Electro and Ruppert Composite's new Archaeopteryx W/N-3 single-seat motor glider. The aircraft will be on static display and also perform flight demonstrations.

Also expected to attend is the Evolaris, an electric version of the MSW Votec 221 aerobatic airplane, which has quick-dismountable wings and easy-to-change batteries. The airplane is still a work in progress and has not yet flown. The Evo-220 is a single-seat aerobatic aircraft aiming for a range of 15 minutes in aerobatics plus five minutes of reserve. The Smartflyer, a four-place electric demonstrator under development in Switzerland, is also expected to participate. The prototype has not yet flown. More aircraft are expected to join the lineup by September.

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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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United Airlines’ Ninja-level lesson in how not to do PR went understandably viral on Monday after gate agents thought it a good idea to have the cops drag an apparently recalcitrant passenger off one of their airplanes. It reminded me that I’ve seen this movie. I was in this movie.

It occurred in Chicago around about 2005. I was homeward bound from attending a skydiving competition and for some reason, the flight was overloaded. Or so the gate agent said, at least as I recall it. O’Hare had gotten hammered by weather that morning and the system hadn’t recovered. People were pissed. Gate agents were on short fuses and it was just altogether unpleasant. On the PA, an agent first politely asked for volunteers to deplane and I distinctly remember her saying it was a weight and balance issue, which I thought odd.

Nobody moved. Several more offers were made until she hissed, “This airplane isn’t leaving the gate until four people get off.” The tension in the cabin went off-scale high and I turned to my seatmate and said, “I’m getting off before the riot starts.” On the way out, I collared one of the agents to get me the promised hotel and fare voucher post haste. She did, too. I’m pretty sure it was United. In the terminal, it was utter chaos. It was packed with people, many of whom were screaming at each other and the agents. There is nowhere I need to be so badly to put up with that. Ever. After a restful night in the hotel—sans baggage—I flew home the next morning with an empty seat next to me.

Sunday’s incident looked to me like a replay of my experience, but with no one willing to blink. There’s probably plenty of stink to go around, not the least of which is that the passenger had a role in the outcome. Still, anyone who flies has to remember that for all the gauzy promises in the airline copy, airlines generally care more about their rules than customers. And boy, do they have rules. United’s Contract of Carriage devotes 1205 words and 19 enumerated reasons for tossing passengers off airplanes.

You can be offloaded for wearing leggings (UAL did that last week), for going barefoot, for being drunk, even for farting (item 16). As specified originally in the Warsaw Convention and now the Montreal Convention, airline liability is limited. Perhaps a lawyer more familiar with the Uniform Commercial Code than I am could comment, but I think the airlines enjoy unusually company-centric protection compared to other businesses who contract for services.

So basically, Sunday’s incident was a contract dispute. It had nothing to do with safety, protecting passengers from undue risk or the greater good of anything but the airline’s own narrow interests. They wanted those seats for a crew needed elsewhere. The Contract of Carriage says they can do that. Where it appears to have run off the rails is when the gate personnel decided muscle was necessary and the cop(s) decided force was justified. For a contract dispute. No one apparently had the wisdom or restraint to say, “Wait, this isn’t worth it. Let’s find another way.”

This would be the customer-centric way of handling it, not to mention avoiding the PR turd United has now awarded itself. But, as noted, airlines are contractually protected against being too customer friendly. Your fare doesn’t guarantee you much in the way of customer rights.

I’m wondering if it isn’t time to reconsider that carriage contract and how airlines use it in defense of the annoying, if not abusive, practice of routinely overbooking flights and then jamming up passengers as a result. Overbooking usually works because there are enough people like me who will take the offer and a later flight. But sometimes, you’ll run into a planeload of people who just won’t. Call me crazy, but I think you need a better plan than having the cops drag them off the airplane. And I suspect we don't see more incidents like this because some airlines have such a plan.


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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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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