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Image: EAA

General aviation advocacy groups have united in their efforts to oppose the privatization of the nation’s air traffic control system, and on Tuesday in Washington, the Senate Appropriations subcommittee took their side. The subcommittee approved a spending bill that would allot $16.7 billion to the FAA, and rejected the proposal to spin off ATC functions to a nonprofit corporation. A House subcommittee had voted to support privatization, which is also supported by the White House. The two bills will be debated in Congress, which is not expected to happen until September. During those debates, all options will be in play, until a final vote is taken and a unified bill is sent to the White House.

Both the House and Senate are scheduled to take a five-week recess starting next week, and will need to move quickly when they return to complete the bill before FAA funding runs out at the end of September. This week at EAA AirVenture, several general aviation leaders held a rally on the issues Monday morning. EAA President Jack Pelton, AOPA President Mark Baker, GAMA President Pete Bunce and NBAA President Ed Bolen addressed the crowd. Baker, Bunce, and Bolen planned to leave for Washington today to lobby. Volunteers in red “Modernize NOT Privatize” shirts are working the crowds at AirVenture, encouraging visitors to call their representatives in Washington right from the AirVenture grounds.

“The [Trump] administration is hell-bent on making [privatization] happen, and we have to be as equally unified to make sure that we all encourage our elected officials to vote ‘no,’” Pelton told the crowd.


A mobile system developed by Gryphon Sensors, a company based in New York, “sets a new standard in drone security,” according to a news release today from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office. The system, called “Mobile Skylight,” features an array of self-contained multispectral sensors that provide three-dimensional detection of low-flying, small UAS at a distance of 6 miles. The system is contained in a rugged off-road-capable van, providing a mobile command center capable of rapid deployment for a wide range of applications, such as stadium monitoring, special event and airport security, search and rescue operations and utility inspection. It’s the first unit of its kind in the nation, according to the governor’s office, which has invested $35 million in the project.

The low-power radar system was designed specifically for precision detection of low-flying small drones, says the company. Broadband, passive spectrum RF monitoring is used to confirm target types, and high-resolution optical tracking cameras provide clear imagery. The system also receives ADS-B data, and has built-in target tracking and classification that can quickly identify targets. It can track hundreds of targets simultaneously, and works in all weather systems and terrain, the company says.


At AirVenture 2017, Trig Avionics introduced a budget-based WAAS GPS receiver that meets the FAR 91.227 position source requirement for the FAA’s 2020 ADS-B mandate. Priced at $389, the TSO'd TN72 remote GPS receiver is compatible with Trig’s TT22 or TT31 TSO'd 1090ES transponders.

The TN72 GPS doesn’t have an STC, so it’s intended as a solution for LSA and experimental applications, although Trig said the solution can be used in certified aircraft as a means of obtaining reliable ADS-B In traffic while in non-ADS-B airspace (this will require an ADS-B In receiver, of course). The GPS also requires the $345 TA70 antenna. Including the TT22, a mandate-compliant system has a list price of $3029. The GPS will be available this coming September. 

Trig also introduced lower-cost VHF comm radios that don’t have 8.33 channel spacing, which are aimed at U.S. operators. The 760-channel TY96A (14-volt) and TY97A (28-volt) radios are 1.3 inches tall and have a 200-frequency database that can be customized via a USB port, an emergency button and a “say again” feature for instant playback of the last received transmissions. It also has a two-place intercom with stereo entertainment input. The TY97A/TY96A radios have a list price of $1895.  


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Simulator maker Redbird brought a production version of its Guided Independent Flight Training (GIFT) to Oshkosh. The system has been many years and several versions in the making, but is now for sale with 33 modules teaching basic flight, private-pilot maneuvers and emergencies. Each module describes and demonstrates the topic, guides the student through flight on the simulator and scores them at the end. Students can purchase the package for $249 and use it with a virtual Cessna 172 on most full-size Redbird simulators. 

Redbird also brought a custom simulator for a Thrush cropduster as part of a partnership with Thrush to train agricultural pilots. Todd Willinger, CEO of Redbird, says this is just one of several partnerships, including military interest. “I was concerned how this year would go,” said Willinger, “but the past six months were the best we’ve ever had.” Redbird is also hosting classes given by aeronautics educator Greg Roark, who has woven aerospace education throughout the entire Aspen school district curriculum.  

Popular flight debriefing tool CloudAhoy has been testing pilot opinions of its new CFI advisor, which analyzes a complete flight including scores for different segments. CloudAhoy CEO and founder Chuck Shavit was concerned pilots wouldn’t want a grade stamped on their performance but that was unfounded. “The overwhelming reaction has been positive,” says Shavit. CloudAhoy users upload their flight to their account and it’s automatically analyzed for scoreable segments, such as maneuvers, approaches or landings. Data such as actual airspeed or engine data can be gotten directly from systems like a G1000 or interpolated by the software. The CFI advisor works in addition to the CloudAhoy tools showing the flight in 3D and data graphs. CloudAhoy has a 35-day free trial and is $65/year. NAFI and SAFE members (often CFIs) get it for $44.



BREAKTHROUGH! - Cubcrafters

At AirVenture 2017, Massachusetts-based Approach Aviation announced FAA approval and production shipment of its FlexAlert multifunction panel annunciator.

The LED display, compatible with both land and seaplanes, gives pilot warnings for engine, oil pressure, fuel pressure, low fuel, pitot heat, low voltage, over voltage, alternator failure, doors, starter engaged, vacuum failure and autopilot glideslope capture, as well as landing gear status.

Compared to competing individual or customized annunciators, Approach Aviation claims the FlexAlert multifunction annunciator can save over $1000 and 50 percent of installation time. The LED display is also significantly brighter and more reliable than a traditional incandescent lamp.

The FlexAlert multifunction annunciator measures 3.0 by 1.3 inches, making it compatible for easy retrofit in almost any panel. It is certified for Part 23 aircraft as a minor alteration, but only when used for supplemental purposes and not primary. It is configurable out of the box for both retractable and fixed-gear aircraft, and the kit includes flush panel mounting bracket options.

“The Aviation Safety Reporting System receives an average of 60 gear-up landing reports per year and one of the factors responsible for these incidents is the lack of clear visual annunciation in the pilot’s field of view,” said Approach Aviation President Jeff Simon. “The FlexAlert multifunction annunciator consolidates gear status, as well as many other critical alerts, directly in front of the pilot and with the clarity one should expect of modern avionics. It’s a great addition when upgrading ADS-B or as a standalone flight-safety enhancement.”

FlexAlert multifunction annunciators are currently being sold at the special introductory price of $699. Shipments will begin Aug. 1, 2017, and can be purchased directly from Approach Aviation at, or from select avionics retailers.

FREE ADS-B IN & OUT with the purchase of an IFD550 - Premium GPS Navigator with Syn Vis & ARS

Moving the Cafe Foundation’s annual symposium to Oshkosh was a success, executive director Yolanka Wulff told AVweb this week, and the event will return to the same venue next year. The symposium was previously held in California, but Cafe tried the move, reasoning that since most of their attendees also go to AirVenture, an Oshkosh site would make it easier for them to do both in one trip. The event was held at the University of Wisconsin Alumni Conference Center, just 10 minutes from the EAA grounds, on Saturday and Sunday. This year, EAA’s Innovation Committee attended the event, and Wulff said they plan to continue discussions to find ways Cafe and EAA can work together to benefit both groups. The meeting, with about 20 speakers, focused on “urban air mobility.”

“It was a good lens to focus the conference,” Wulff said. “We talked about emissions, noise, public acceptance, safety, fuel efficiency, autonomy, airspace management and urban planning, all the things we’ve been talking about for a long time.” Speakers at the symposium reported on emerging technologies and markets in electric propulsion and the challenges the industry is facing. For the first time, the meeting had an investor panel, with two speakers from investment firms that focus on aerospace. Wulff also said Cafe is looking into expanding its role into testing and evaluating and reporting on the new technologies. “We’ll be looking at that over the next year, how that would work and how it would be useful,” Wulff said.

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People keep asking me what the big thing is at this year’s AirVenture and I keep not having an answer. From a news coverage point of view, it has been a very busy year for us, but I feel like we’re just doing a lot of wheel spinning without gaining much traction.

I think part of that has to do with how many events EAA has stuffed into the show. In yesterday’s blog, I mentioned the many anniversary events and the unusual number of intriguing aircraft displays and activities in Boeing Square. One B-29 is an eye catcher, two is a show stopper.

The press conference schedule has been busy but other than avionics, nothing of significance has emerged. Continental promised “multiple major product announcements,” but my fellow journalists were grumbling as only journalists can that incremental reports on engine certs and new roller tappets aren’t exactly major. Hear the podcast here and decide for yourself. The least significant part of that presser—roller tappets from Continental—may actually be the most impactful. More on that later. As we mentioned in our preview video, I was hoping for a rollout of the electronic ignition I know Continental has been working on. Well, maybe next year.

On the other hand, I don’t know why we continue to torture ourselves with the notion that something revolutionary is going to appear at AirVenture, thus launching general aviation into a new golden age. The aviation age we’re in now is one of reduced expectations and incrementalism but it is at least propelled along by some really cool autopilots.

Southwest Pilots Hate Privatization

As I’ve mentioned in the blog recently, Southwest Airlines is leading the charge among the major carriers in supporting ATC privatization. Delta, once an opponent, has now caved and is in the pro-privatization camp. For the life of me, I can’t see what they think they’re going to get out of this deal.

A Southwest pilot stopped me in one of the vendor buildings Tuesday and said because many of them are involved in general aviation, they oppose the privatization bill. His estimate was about 80 percent of SW pilots would retain the current ATC structure. I suspect the percentage is the same among the other major airlines and these guys fly in the system every day.

The Eternal Cub

When I was shooting today’s video on the CubCrafter’s Xcub, Jim Richmond mentioned to me that the company can’t build the things fast enough. He figured the sustainable market is probably around 100 airplanes a year. In the year or so since the airplane launched, they’ve delivered about 30.

CubCrafters has the capacity at its Yakima, Washington, factory, but it’s not readily available. They’ll need to ramp up the facility and, more challenging, find the workers with the necessary skills. With Boeing in the same state if not necessarily nearby, the pickings shouldn’t be too slim but that skill won’t come cheap, I suspect.

The Cub idea is just about a century old—the J-3 is celebrating its 80th anniversary at AirVenture—and it continues to endure. When I reviewed the XCub a year ago, I concluded that it’s not really in the Cub mold. I could make predictable observations about airplane DNA and the durability of tradition, but in the end, I think the XCub sells because it’s just an exceptionally well-executed airplane that happens to be a taildragger. It handles beautifully and has great performance and a modern, nicely appointed interior. And the fact is, CubCrafters can probably find 100 people a year willing to spend north of $300,000 for just such an airplane.


As TruTrak and Trio race to earn STC approvals for their experimental autopilots, Garmin announced two new retrofit autopilots of its own nearly one week before the start of AirVenture 2017 at Oshkosh. The GFC500 is an entry-level, budget-based system that works with the G5 electronic flight display and the G600 is a higher-end system for high-performance piston singles, twins and turboprops. Aviation Consumer Magazine Editor Larry Anglisano flew with both systems at Garmin's flight ops headquarters in Kansas and prepared this video report.



At AirVenture 2017, BendixKing showed up with three major products including an updated version of the previously announced KI300 EFIS, the new AeroCruze retrofit autopilot that's designed to replace legacy King autopilots, plus an Iridium-based satellite texting/SOS device. Aviation Consumer Magazine Editor Larry Anglisano took a look at the products with BendixKing's Jeff Kauffman and prepared this video report.

DC One-X from David Clark - lightest full-featured ANR headset

Many years ago we were on the ramp at Augusta Bush Field tuned in to ground frequency about to call for our clearance and heard this.

Cessna XYZ:  Ground, Cessna XYZ requests taxi.

Ground:  Cessna XYZ, do you have Charlie?

Cessna XYZ:  Uh, no. I'm solo today.

Ground:  No, no, Cessna XYZ, do you have ATIS information Charlie?

Cessna XYZ:  Uh, Ground, I'm just a country boy. I don't know about that big city stuff.

 After that, Ground just chuckled, gave him the information and cleared him on his way. 


John Tensfeldt 


As a bill proposing privatization goes through the legislative process, AVweb sought the opinions of industry veterans attending AirVenture 2017 on why it's a bad idea and what the alternatives might be.

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