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If the aircraft diesel engine market lacks for anything other than buyers, it’s probably a high-horsepower engine suitable for high-performance single and twins. At AirVenture, Wisconsin-based Engineered Power System hopes to address that with its V-8 diesel that is just now beginning certification trials.

EPS is returning to AirVenture after a break and was showing the latest iteration of its powerplant. “We have reached several thousand hours of test cell testing. We have actually completed a very important test through one of the Air Force contracts we have,” said Michael Fuchs, EPS co-founder. He said the so-called Graflight engine has run in a vacuum test chamber from sea level to up to 30,000 feet for 90 minutes.

“We have been able to double-check the quality of our software and the engine combustion quality,” he said. “We are expecting to fly the engine toward the fall. We are working on integration into an SR 22 and the GA8. These are candidates that are easier to obtain because we don’t have to do structural rework,” Fuchs said.

EPS has just started certification testing and durability testing of the engine will commence after AirVenture later in 2017. Fuchs said the engine’s horsepower is scaled up to 450 HP on the high end and the weight is expected to be within about 50 pounds of comparable gasoline engines.

“We see inquiries from people who would use our engine in a commercial way. Not the average flier who flies maybe 40 hours a year. There, it probably wouldn’t make sense to convert over or buy an extra aircraft,” Fuchs added. At the higher fuel prices of a few years ago, EPS claims its engine would save the operator the cost of the engine over 2000 hours of flight.

The NTSB's final report on the fatal crash of an Icon A5 in a northern California lake in May is expected in the next few weeks and the speedy investigation was aided by information provided by the aircraft’s onboard flight data recorder. Icon CEO Kirk Hawkins said in an interview at AirVenture 2017 the cause of the crash has been determined by that data but he declined to disclose it until the NTSB makes its announcement. He did, however, suggest the report will clear the aircraft itself. “The aircraft is spin resistant but it’s not crash-proof,” he said. The company’s chief engineer, Jon Karkow, and a newly hired senior engineer, Cagri Sever, were on a demonstration flight with Karkow at the controls when the aircraft entered a narrow canyon and crashed on the shore of Lake Berryessa. Both were killed.

Hawkins said the flight data recorder gives a stream of data points, ranging from aircraft configuration to position and altitude, for all stages of the flight, and defended its mandatory equipage in the aircraft as a key investigative tool for accident investigators. “The facts of what actually happened are readily available,” he said. “We’re not going to use it to spy on you.”

Flight Design, which has been in receivership in Germany since February 2016, is now under new ownership, the company announced on Wednesday. Lift Air, from Eisenach, Germany, has taken over all assets and operation of the company. “I am glad that we are able to maintain the know-how of one of the world’s market leaders in the light aircraft sector and to secure it with a well-funded investor,” said Knut Rebholz, the insolvency administrator for the company, in a news release. The two parties have agreed to keep the purchase price confidential. The company will now be called Flight Design General Aviation GmbH. Tom Peghiny, president of Flight Design USA, told AVweb he’s “thrilled” with the news. His company has been kept in supply by AeroJones, a Taiwan company that has been producing the design, but Peghiny said he’s already been working with the new owners and will now be getting the light sport airplanes directly from Germany for the U.S. market.

Lift Air is a part of Lift Holding, which also owns the Rotorvox gyrocopter manufacturer. The two aviation projects will be combined in a new, modern facility at the Kindel Airport, near Eisenach, in central Germany. “We are delighted to be able to take over all of Flight Design’s assets and are confident we will soon be back as a world leader in the development and construction of light aircraft,” said Sven Lindig, managing director of Lift Holding. The new company will work to improve the company’s customer support, the new owners said, and will use modern marketing and communication concepts to optimize the customer experience. "Flight Design has some very unique products and experience in the production of all carbon-composite, very efficient light aircraft and is still present on the entire world market,” said Lars Joerges, the new managing director of the company. “We want to invest in development of those products.” Peghiny said Flight Design USA is not at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh this week, but he looks forward to returning to the show next year.

Starr - 'Click to read about Basic Med'

With a full line of aerodiesel engines in its product portfolio, Continental Motors says it’s seeing more uptake of Jet A-burning engines in the training market, including some nibbles in the North American market. At an AirVenture press conference on Tuesday, Continental’s Rhett Ross said that the company’s new CD-300 six-cylinder diesel is now fully certified and production ready.

In this podcast recorded at AirVenture, Ross said the increase is mostly in training fleets. “There’s a lot of demand for efficiency. Although we’re not the most economical on initial buy, when you look at total life cycle, even in a single unit, we provide much better benefits because of lower maintenance requirements and fuel burn,” Ross said. Earlier in the week, Cessna debuted its diesel-powered JTA at AirVenture for the first time and said it’s seeing orders from flight schools for the aircraft.

Ross also reported that the retrofit market is seeing a modest uptick, again in the training segment. “Beginning this year, we’ve seen about a doubling of our pace of retrofit,” Ross said. Although the market has lacked for a high-output diesel, Continental says it now has ready for production the CD-300, a V-6 diesel loosely based on a Mercedes platform. The engine is flying in an optionally piloted Stemme aircraft. It’s capable of 300 HP max and 272 HP continuous.

Continuing to expand its PMA line of parts, Continental also announced it’s selling roller taps and cams for Lycoming engines. Ross said the company isn’t selling roller tappet crankcases yet, but may consider these.

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Image: EAA

EAA does a lot all year round to encourage women and girls to participate in the world of aviation, but at AirVenture those efforts ramp up. Wednesday was WomenVenture day at the show, and this year’s event drew nearly 1,000 women to gather for a group photo on Boeing Plaza. Elissa Lines, EAA’s former VP of donor relations, said the original goal for the event was to give female pilots a place to gather at a largely male-dominated convention. It’s all about “women helping women overcome the challenges, the fear, the uncertainties, and achieve their dreams,” she said. “The percentage of women pilots among all pilots has been a difficult number to push forward. The rewards are tremendous, the opportunities are terrific and the impact on one’s life is just amazing. We want to pass it on!” Participants also met for a networking breakfast and lunch.

The show also offers the Women Soar You Soar event for high-school girls, since 2005, and this year it expanded from two days to a full four days. “Whether they like aviation as a hobby or want to pursue it as a career, there are opportunities and activities for everyone,” said Tara Parkhurst, EAA’s museum educator and coordinator of the event. Activities include hands-on workshops, tours of the EAA Seaplane Base and AirVenture grounds, and a low ropes course. “It’s a great education and an experience for them, and that’s what we want,” said Debby Rihn-Harvey, an aerobatic pilot and Southwest Airlines captain who’s worked with the event since 2006. This year, participants went flying in a Ford Tri-Motor, and were matched with mentors from a wide range of career tracks, including airline pilots, air traffic controllers and engineers.

Image: Standard-Examiner

All four people on board were killed Wednesday afternoon when a Beech A36 Bonanza crashed on a busy highway in Utah. Nobody on the ground was hurt, but the airplane narrowly missed several cars, according to local news reports. Two married couples from Utah were on board, and had taken off from Ogden-Hinckley Airport, about a half-mile from the I-15 freeway. The airplane had climbed to only about 300 feet when the engine made a “super loud sound,” witness Randy Paulson told KUTV. The Bonanza then dropped rapidly toward the interstate, hit the ground and burst into flame. “It was a big black solid red ball of fire," Paulson said. "There's no way you could've survived it."

A truck driver who witnessed the crash told The Associated Press it appeared that the pilot was trying to land on the interstate. The two couples were leaving for a vacation, according to the AP. The Utah Department of Public Safety identified them as Layne Clarke, 48, the pilot; his wife, Diana Clarke, 42; Perry Huffaker, 45; and his wife, Sarah Huffaker, 42. The FAA is investigating.

NBAA will hold its annual business aviation convention and exhibition in Las Vegas, Oct. 10-12, the group announced this week. The event will feature 1,100 exhibits, 100 aircraft on static display and plentiful opportunities for education and networking. Keynote speakers will be U.S. astronauts and identical twin brothers, Mark and Scott Kelly. They’ll headline the event’s second-day opening general session. "We are honored to welcome Mark and Scott Kelly to NBAA-BACE," said NBAA President Ed Bolen. "Their stories are truly remarkable aspects of America's aviation and aerospace history.” The brothers served as U.S. Navy aviators before joining NASA in 1996. NBAA said they expect 27,000 visitors to attend the show.

NBAA said it will enhance its education sessions this year with new technologies that encourage more interaction between the presenters and the audience. “The NBAA events mobile app allows for the presenters to ask questions of the audience, to gauge the level of knowledge the audience already has,” said Mike Nichols, NBAA vice president of professional development. “They can modify their presentation real-time based on the attendee learning needs.” For example, NBAA said, if a speaker is giving a presentation on operations to Cuba, and they find out 80 percent of those in the audience already have flown to Cuba, the speaker can tailor the presentation to focus on advanced issues rather than the basics. The app can also be used for Q&A. NBAA also is sponsoring a greater number of roundtable discussions, Nichols 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.

Can wi-fi make you a smarter pilot?

AVweb's Geoff Rapoport speaks with Fred Hadlich of Stratos Aircraft about their Stratos 714 proof of concept. Following years of incremental progress and cabin mock-ups, Stratos arrived at Oshkosh 2017 with a real airplane. After first flight in November 2016, the proof of concept aircraft is still early in envelope expansion testing. At 70 flight hours, company test pilots have taken the Stratos 714 to 330 knots true airspeed, 250 knots indicated and 18,000 feet. Kevin Jordan, chief sales officer, says the production airplane will carry four 200-pound passengers, with bags, for a 1,500 nautical mile trip at 400 knots true and FL410.

At AirVenture 2017, a B-52 has been on static display all week. In this video, Major Keith Vandagriff gave AVweb a detailed cockpit and aircraft tour.

Lynx EAA AirVenture show special

At AirVenture 2017, AVweb spoke with Mark Linsley about new functionality recently enabled on the Lynx transponder and some special show pricing.

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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 

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