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Some owners of drones who registered their aircraft with the FAA will be eligible for a refund of their $5 registration fee and deletion of their data, says the agency. Starting just before Christmas 2015, the FAA started requiring operators of unmanned aerial systems weighing more than 0.55 pounds (one quarter of a kilogram) to register the device and pay a $5 application fee. The registry was intended to encourage operators to get appropriate training on the safe and legal use of unmanned aircraft and to assist the FAA in locating operators following a UAV crash. In May, a federal district judge held that the registration rule exceeded the FAA’s authority by violating 336(a) of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act, which says the FAA “may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft.”

Refunds and de-registration will only be available to those drone pilots willing to jump through some hoops. The process will require operators to certify that the drone (legally, a model aircraft) is only being used for recreational purposes, in accordance with legal requirements, and in accordance with community-based safety guidelines.

The form to apply for the $5 refund and delisting of owner data is available here from the FAA.

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The NTSB has concluded the evidence-gathering phase of its investigation into the incident involving an American Airlines Boeing 767-300, whose right engine caught on fire during its takeoff roll from Chicago O'Hare on Oct. 28 of last year. The crew of the twin-engine wide-body, headed to Miami, aborted the takeoff and came to a stop on the runway. One person was seriously injured in the evacuation and 19 received minor injuries, but all 161 passengers and 9 crew members survived. The right wing of the plane was destroyed by fire. Failures of turbine engines resulting in fire are not wholly uncommon. This incident was remarkable because the fire did not stay contained within the engine nacelle and could have resulted in the loss of all aboard had the crew been unable to effect a speedy evacuation.

Materials collected by the NTSB in furtherance of the investigation are available for viewing by the public on the NTSB’s website, including the cockpit voice recorder transcript, crew interviews and evacuation video. Although NTSB final accident reports, sometimes colloquially referred to as probable-cause reports, are not admissible in air accident litigation, the factual material collected by the NTSB can be used in court and by private citizens making an independent conclusion of an accident’s cause.

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Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, a Chinese conglomerate that owns the Volvo and Lotus automobile brands, has agreed to buy the Terrafugia flying-car company, according to a report in the South China Morning Post. The XConomy Boston website also reported on the sale, saying they have “independently been tracking rumors about the acquisition.” Terrafugia CEO Carl Dietrich declined to comment on the stories for AVweb on Wednesday, but said the company would issue a news release soon. The Post said the sale has been in the works since last year. No terms of the deal were disclosed. Terrafugia, based in the Boston area and founded by graduates from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has been working on flying-car designs since 2006.

Last year, Terrafugia got the OK from the FAA to certify its Transition roadable airplane as an LSA, with exemptions to allow for higher-than-usual stall speed and weight. The Transition flew at EAA AirVenture in 2013. Since then, the company has been working to develop the design, and also has been working on a concept for a four-seat hybrid-electric flying car capable of vertical takeoff and landing, the TF-X.

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Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan survived a landing in the Marshall Islands on July 2, 1937, only to be imprisoned by the Japanese, says a new History Channel documentary. According to investigators interviewed by the History Channel, former FBI Executive Assistant Director Shawn Henry and former U.S. Treasury Agent Les Kinney, a newly uncovered photo shows Earhart sitting on the edge of a dock, surrounded by Japanese, with Noonan a few feet away. In the background of the National Archives photo, a Japanese military ship, Koshu Maru, is towing a barge with an object appropriately sized to be the fuselage of the missing Lockheed Electra. The formerly classified photo is credited to a U.S. spy operating in the Japanese-held archipelago following the Japanese invasion of China.

The “Marshall Islands” theory is not a new one, and is partly corroborated by the accounts of witnesses who claim to have either seen a plane crash in the Marshall Islands or the execution of Earhart and Noonan on the Island of Saipan. The two-hour special, “Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence,” airs Sunday, July 9 at 9 p.m.

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Click here to view the results of past polls.

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AVweb Insider <="229243">

Today’s blog was going to be a PSA to set straight the horrible thrashing general aviation took at the hands of yet another misguided network news feature.

But, damn it, foiled again. The piece in question ran Sunday night on NBC’s Dateline and chronicled the story of McKenzie Morgan, a plucky 17-year-old student pilot who took a wrong turn and crash landed in the Wyoming mountains, miles from her intended route on her long cross country. You can see it here.

The story is billed as an “investigation,” but it’s really a dramatized rendering that keeps the viewer on the edge of the seat wondering if this kid is gonna survive. Spoiler alert: She does and even gets back in the saddle to earn her private. You’ll have to sit through 20 minutes of overwrought voice-over and interviewing by the ever-unctuous Keith Morrison to figure that out, but once you do, the rest of the story falls together engagingly, if not artfully. It has some terrific aerial footage of mountains and even some nice air-to-air. (Wish they knew about prop filters, however.)

The PSA part I had planned was to take Ms. Morgan’s flight instructor, Bobbi Powers, to task for sending her student into the wild without any survival gear. I intended to use that as a platform for one of my periodic spleen ventings about people not carrying even minimal survival equipment in airplanes. Then I read the accident docket. Stand down, big boy.

Although it wasn’t apparent from the script, probably to heighten the sense of imminent danger, the airplane was equipped. Morgan had water, charts, a GPS, some food and a vest with survival gear Powers had loaned her. It doesn’t matter what or wasn’t in the gear, what matters is the consciousness of recognizing the sort of risk flying over such remote country represents and habitually equipping to deal with it. In my experience, people in the remote parts of the west and northern tier have this consciousness practically ingrained. But humanity is not homogenously perfect (or rational) and gadgets like cellphones and GPS tend to knock the sharp edges off the risk of being in extremis in remote areas. Crash your airplane in the middle of the New Jersey Pine Barrens and that lesson might be learned too late.

So, now comes my periodic reminder to carry some minimal survival gear in your airplane, no matter where you fly it. There are inexpensive commercial survival packages available or you can assemble your own. We’ve published survival equipment articles, like this one on life rafts. The AOPA Air Safety Institute has some materials as well. This stuff is worth more than just passing consideration.

Given audiences' hunger for titillation, the producers exaggerated the remoteness of Ms. Morgan’s plight. By sheer good luck, she was spotted by two hunters on horseback and one of them led her to a trailhead, thence to a clinic for a checkup. She made it home late the same night from a crash that occurred in mid-afternoon. And if you’re a flight instructor who enjoys vicarious angst, I challenge you not to feel it when Powers describes her helplessness and worry when her student becomes overdue. I think most of us have suffered that to some degree. Although I can’t recommend it, there’s nothing to equal it as a character builder.

Electronics International 'Aviation Alert! Short video on how EI saved this pilot's life

Ken Dravis was inspired to pursue both music and aviation careers by superstar John Denver. Among his early compositions was a catchy tune called Go Around. Dravis is a NetJets captain who continues to record music and front a John Denver tribute band called Eagle River.

Picture of the Week <="229236">
Picture of the Week

It hardly seems possible that it's only been a little more than a century since the fastest mode of transport pulled a caboose but Mike Buettgenbach captured the juxtaposition perfectly. Breakfast was good, too. Nice shot, Mike!

Lightspeed || Meet Zulu 3 A new and better choice in headsets

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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