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Icon has delivered the first of its Model Year 18 aircraft, the company said on Thursday. The new version incorporates “numerous functional and manufacturability improvements,” the company said. The changes include improved nosegear, which makes the A5 easier to steer and taxi; instruments with better legibility, illumination and reliability; and reduced complexity, weight and airflow of the oil cooler. “This aircraft marks the start of a new production phase of the A5 as we resume volume production and ramp up rates to deliver customer aircraft on a larger scale,” said CEO Kirk Hawkins.

Other changes for the MY18 include stiffer rudder pedals with better grip and improved adjustment and locking mechanism, landing-gear actuators with better performance at low temperatures, improved canopy design with no airspeed limit for windows-out operation, and improved access panels in the wings and fuselage for easier serviceability. The first 100 airplanes in MY18 will also feature the Founders Edition livery, which includes a unique paint scheme, numbered badging and graphics, and a personalized plaque. The Founders Edition aircraft was created specifically for “owners whose passion and advocacy for the Icon mission helps lead the way in bringing aviation to many more people,” the company said. The first MY18 delivery, a Founders Edition A5, went to Roy Halladay, a former professional baseball player, who took possession of the aircraft at the company’s site in Vacaville, California, this week.

The state of Wisconsin plans to take legal action against Kestrel for the company’s failure “to show measurable progress toward obtaining financing” to repay a state loan that’s 11 months overdue, the Duluth News Tribune reported this week. Wisconsin gave the company, headed by Alan Klapmeier, $4 million in state loans and millions more in tax incentives in 2012. The money was meant to help build a plant in Superior, Wisconsin, to work on the single-engine turboprop and help create more than 600 jobs. The plant hasn’t been built and no workers have been hired. Kestrel is now part of One Aviation, formed in 2015 with Eclipse Aerospace, based in Albuquerque. The Kestrel project has gone quiet, while One Aviation has been promoting a new version of the Eclipse jet, the EA700. Klapmeier did not respond to inquiries from the News Tribune or from AVweb.

Kestrel repaid $865,490 of the $4 million but hasn't made a payment since November 2016, according to the News Tribune. Kestrel also has been evicted from a hangar in Maine after failing to pay on its lease for more than a year, the Portland Press Herald reported last week. The 64,000-square-foot hangar had been leased for 20 years at $15,000 per month. Kestrel employed about a dozen workers at the site. Steve Levesque, executive director of the agency that operates the hangar, told the Press Herald they gave Kestrel time to find the financing to keep the operation going. “They were a tenant and it didn’t work out with us,” Levesque said. “It is like anything else, if you are not current on your rent, you have to move on.” The agency has filed a lawsuit to recover those payments, according to the Falmouth Forecaster. Klapmeier did not respond to the Press Herald’s or Forecaster’s requests for comment.

Klapmeier did speak to Wisconsin Public Radio on Tuesday. Klapmeier said he’s trying to stay in business, preserve jobs, make the project work and pay the state back. "We’ve tried to live up to our end of the deal," he said. Klapmeier said the company missed an August deadline on the Wisconsin loan because other entities involved in financial agreements his company has been working on "didn’t meet their end of the deal." Klapmeier told WPR his company also met with airport officials in Brunswick this summer. “We believe in the product. We believe in the industry. We believe in the people," he said. Klapmeier said his company is still exploring options on where to build the Kestrel.

Cessna TTx || The Difference Is Clear

The NTSB issued a Safety Alert (PDF) on Wednesday aimed at pilots who wear helmets while flying that have a cord attached to the aircraft’s internal communication system. Those cords may not easily detach in the case of an emergency, the safety board has found. The board cited two accidents, both involving helicopters, when the pilot’s egress following an accident was impeded by the connecting cord. In one accident, the pilot lost control of the MD-369E while filling a water bucket at night over a lake. The helicopter hit the water and inverted, and started to sink. The pilot escaped the cockpit but found his helmet was still plugged into its port. He removed the helmet and swam to shore, with only minor injuries. A second accident ended less successfully.

In the second accident cited by the NTSB, an Airbus Helicopters MBB BO105 hit the water while flying at low altitude over a bay in snow and darkening conditions in Canada. The helicopter sank, and the pilot and passenger were able to escape from the helicopter, but the pilot died from hypothermia, and the passenger drowned. A post-accident examination of the pilot’s flight helmet revealed that the end fitting of the helmet cord was fractured where it attached to the communication port. Metal remnants showed that the cord was being pulled sideways toward the pilot’s door (as opposed to downward for release) when the fracture occurred; a post-accident test of a similar fitting required a 70-pound pull before the cord failed.

To avoid these hazards, the safety board recommends that pilots cover the issue of helmet cords in a safety briefing for passengers. Also, the board found that the cord connecting the flight helmet to the communication system might not release readily from the port if the direction of egress is contrary to the direction needed to easily release the cord. Pilots can use a compatible intermediate cord, which connects to the communication port on one end and the cord on the other end, to facilitate a clean separation during egress. Ensure that communication cords are secured from potential snagging or entanglement with components such as flight controls, the NTSB says.

BREAKTHROUGH! - Cubcrafters

Horizon Pilots sent a letter over the weekend to the board of directors of the Alaska Air Group, and members of the media, challenging the company’s version of how the pilot shortage came to pass. Horizon Airlines is a regional feeder owned by the Alaska Air Group, and all its flights are marketed and sold by Alaska Airlines. Horizon has been among the regional carriers most visibly affected by a shortage of pilots, cancelling 700 flights per month after giving up some routes to be flown by SkyWest. In a feature by the Seattle Times last month, Horizon CEO Dave Campbell portrays the pilot hiring problems confronted by the company as emblematic of the challenges facing the regional airline industry broadly. The company’s pilot union disagrees and sees the problem as a result of poor management. “The Delta invasion, the Virgin acquisition – and also the pilot shortage – prove conclusively that Alaska Air Group is strategically adrift and unable to accurately size up the future, much less act on those same conclusions,” they say.

The pilots take special objection to the pay cut demanded by the company in 2016 to compete with other regional carriers for work from Alaska Airlines, which they say hit Horizon’s ability to recruit and retain especially hard. “In return for our concessions, Horizon and Alaska Air Group guaranteed to us, by signed agreement, that Horizon would become the exclusive operator for 30+ new regional jets. By late 2016, with the ink on the contract barely dry, Horizon became unable to adequately staff and operate the airline,” say the pilots. SkyWest was contracted by Alaska Airlines to fly the new Embraer 175s.

CEO Campbell, for his part, told the Seattle Times and employees that “the buck stops with me,” promising to solve the problem by keeping pay for Horizon pilots at the top of the industry. Campbell told the Seattle Times that Horizon has 33 E175s on order with options for 30 more. He wants to hire enough pilots to keep all 63 jets flying.

Starr - 'Click to read about Basic Med'

NASA photo

The remotely piloted Ikhana drone could be flying unescorted in the National Airspace System as early as fall 2018, NASA said last week. Testing in the NAS is planned to take place from NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California. During the test, Ikhana would fly alone in the NAS for the first time, without a manned aircraft nearby. “Integration of UAS into the NAS for routine flight operations is a complicated endeavor,” said NASA engineer Sam Kim. The flight will require “new technologies, exhaustive research through modeling and simulations, and comprehensive flight testing,” said Kim. Eventually, NASA says, their goal is to make it routine for manned and unmanned aircraft to share the same airspace.

Most current operations of unmanned aerial systems in the NAS require that a piloted chase aircraft serve as the UAS’s “eyes” to see and avoid other aircraft. During the 2018 flight demonstration, Ikhana will employ its own detect-and-avoid systems integrated on board the aircraft and in the ground-control station to maintain safe separation with other aircraft and avoid collisions, NASA said. NASA’s “UAS in the NAS” project team has worked with the drone community since 2011 to address the technical barriers that preclude routine drone operations in the national airspace. Meanwhile, a panel of industry and law enforcement officials have failed to reach agreement on how drones should be tracked and managed by federal authorities, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.

The FAA advisory committee couldn’t reach consensus on key issues, and most members of the committee declined to sign the group’s final report, which was submitted to the FAA last week. Members of the panel represented hobbyists, police and commercial drone users, Bloomberg said. Each advocated for their own special interests and failed to reach consensus. “The FAA will review the advisory committee’s report and its findings carefully,” the agency told Bloomberg in an email.

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One of the benefits I have found of being in the aviation writing business is that I get the chance to fly a fair number of other people's planes. Whether I am doing it to write a flight review on the type, test or check out new avionics, or am simply offered the chance to go flying, I enter a lot of strange N-numbers in my log. Sometimes, the airplane is a type I'm familiar with. Sometimes it is completely new to me. Regardless of which category the craft falls into, there are many things to consider when flying a borrowed airplane.

In my old job conducting space shuttle flights, our goal was safety and mission success—in that order. That's the way I approach any flight—especially one in an unfamiliar aircraft. My first priority is that the airplane and I come back together and intact. I am also cognizant of the fact that someone cares a great deal about the airplane (as I do about my own), and that while fun is important, safety is always paramount.

The mission might be, as I mentioned, a flight evaluation, a photo hop, avionics testing, a checkout in type, or training for some specific piloting task. It might also be that I am simply borrowing the airplane to go on a trip, or the owner wants me to fly it and tell him how it compares to others of the type. Whenever we consent to take the controls, we have to think about our qualifications, the condition of the airplane, the known flight characteristics, and what we can realistically do with the airplane on the intended flight.

Insurance

Insurance is one of those logistical considerations that is too important to ignore. For some, we simply agree that we are responsible for the craft. For others, we formally submit paperwork and get coverage. This is mostly decided by the owner, and it is more common for a private owner to want to add the casual pilot to their insurance than it is for a corporate concern asking for a flight review. Even when it is simply the case of a friend throwing me the keys to "take it around the patch," it is always a good idea to ask the insurance question—just to be polite and make sure there is no misunderstanding. In some cases, the owner may not have thought about it, and bringing it up is a responsible thing to do. Of course, sometimes the response is, "Well Paul, I have your plane here on the ground, and I'll enjoy flying it while you get mine repaired…"

Companies for which we fly airplanes are less likely to worry about the insurance issue. They are either confident in their self-insurance, or know that it can be tough to get coverage for a new pilot in an Experimental aircraft. In this case, they accept the financial risk in order to have the airplane reviewed or simply tested by another pilot. Insurance is one way to mitigate risk, and some simply choose to accept the financial risk if they believe the chances of an untoward event are small. We all hope that is the case, especially the pilot that is about to put their little pink body in the seat.

The important thing is that whether you are borrowing a friend's airplane, flying a demo aircraft from a factory, or testing an airplane for a corporation, make sure that you discuss the financial obligations in advance.

When we fly a new airplane for a magazine review, the best situation is when it is a two (or more) seat aircraft, and we can take along a factory pilot or the owner. In fact, in that case, it is more correct to say that they are taking us along. There is little worry about flight safety, so long as we brief beforehand on who is pilot in command, and who will do what in the case of an emergency. Demo and test flights such as these are sometimes the most fun—so long as the demo pilot is experienced, we can trust them to get the airplane up and back, and we can concentrate on evaluating and flying, knowing that we have a safety net if something odd were to occur. It is easier to take notes, capture photos, and dedicate 100% of our attention to what we are doing, rather than having a few brain cells worrying about survival all the time.

Two-seat airplanes can provide a more challenging time when the owner is asking us to help them get used to the machine, do transition training, or help them learn their avionics. In this case, it is usually not a factory-trained demo pilot with whom we are flying, but rather a novice owner that may not be very experienced in type, and toward whom we will have to dedicate some of our attention. In short, now we not only have to worry about flying the airplane, but also about giving the other pilot attention. The new Additional Pilot Program allows an experienced pilot to go along with one less experienced during Phase 1 training (under specific guidelines). This program formalizes the process and gives some good guidelines for this type of activity.

Single-Seat Aircraft

Single-seat airplanes are, of course, another matter. In these, you don't have to divide your attention—but you have to be confident that you can fly the airplane and bring it back safely, alone and unassisted. For pilots who have always checked out in a new airplane with a CFI or safety pilot, that first time crawling into a machine with only one seat can be very intimidating. Good fundamental piloting skills are important here. So long as the airplane type has flown before and the previous pilots have not ended up screaming or muttering to themselves as they hug the earth post-landing, you can be reasonably certain that it will "fly like an airplane," and you can bring it back safely to the earth. Fundamental skills include staying above stall speed, keeping it within the flight envelope, and knowing how to land with the type of gear (tricycle or taildragger) that the type presents. Good fundamentals apply to any machine, and the mark of a pilot who is ready for this type of flying is that they don't just learn airplanes by rote (memorizing speeds at points in the pattern, relying on specific altitude cues for checklist steps, etc.), but rather look outside (as well as at the airspeed), feel the aircraft, and find where it fits within their experience continuum.

With single-seat airplanes, you simply can't afford to wonder if you are going to make it back—you have to know that you will, and that while you might bounce it, there will never be any doubt about the safe and successful outcome of the mission. Having made this transition into numerous single-seat airplanes myself, and seeing others never take that step, I suggest doing initial solo flights in benign airplanes that have straightforward characteristics similar to other types that the pilot has flown, regardless of the number of seats. They might think that taking a machine aloft with a qualified pilot who promises never to touch the controls might be a good idea—but the psychological environment is different. You know that they aren't going to let you take them to their death, so it really isn't being alone.

The single-seat airplanes many of us are familiar with are usually small, close-coupled, nimble, and can be intimidating with their speed—and reputation. Others might be large (a single-seat fighter or replica) with actual intimidating speed and flight characteristics. In truth, size shouldn't matter—flight characteristics should. Stall speed is the first big indicator of the challenge the pilot faces. The faster it stalls, the faster the approach, and the quicker you'll have to be on the controls on landing.

Bigger, with more engine torque? Better be prepared for a boot full of rudder on the takeoff roll. Many pilots, used to docile aircraft, are scared of quick and nimble—until they find out that it is more a question of how stable the airplane is than how quickly it maneuvers. Instability is a problem, but quickness in itself is just a delight.

Unusual Flight Characteristics

Unique design aspects of an airplane can affect how it handles, and how it lands. It is good to find out in advance if it pitches up or pitches down with flap deployment. Those big Tundra tires on a wild new bush plane—how do they react if you land hard? Is the CG forward or aft in the configuration you're going to fly? This will greatly affect stability and control. And if it is too far one way or another, you might run out of control on landing—or be pushing on the stick to prevent an over-flare. If this is a new airplane with few hours, and the owner is asking you to test or evaluate it, you need to be on your toes and be honest with yourself: How much experience do you really have in oddly configured aircraft? Practicing flying out of trim (in an airplane you are familiar with) is a good way to prepare for the unexpected in a test airplane.

Aside from being able to actually fly and land the airplane, there are far more trivial things that can potentially get you into trouble when hopping in another person's airplane for a quick spin around the patch—and most of them would surprise you. Especially in the homebuilt world, no two aircraft are exactly alike, and the small differences can provide big surprises. Our biggest problems, in fact, arise when flying an aircraft similar to what we fly all the time. "Hey Paul, you've got over 2000 hours in the RV-8; could you take mine up and tell me how it compares to others?" Well sure—that should be simple. But gee, this fellow has the tall-man option, which pushes the seat back a couple of inches, and since I can just barely reach the fuel selector in my own airplane with the harnesses tight, now I can't reach it at all. The question is—did I discover that on the ground, or in the air?

This illustrates the importance of knowing exactly what is critical to flight and having a mental—or better yet, a written—checklist of items that you always check before flying a new airplane. These things, if missed, could cause major distractions or endanger flight directly. When I sit in a new type, I move all the controls to full travel, including engine controls, both primary (throttle, mixture, prop) and secondary (fuel selectors, ignition switches, carb heat, etc.). I put on the harness and make sure that I have good reach to everything critical—and move my head around to find potential blind spots. Don't forget to try the brakes. Some rudder pedals are awkward, and as we age, our flexibility decreases. Have you got full motion everywhere?

Canopy and Door Latches

Canopy and door latches are some of the greatest "gotchas" in the homebuilt world. They can be finicky, they can be marginal—and sometimes, we have to line up three different things in order to get them to work. I have learned through hard experience to have the owner/designer/builder go through the latching sequence and pitfalls with me before we ever get to "how do I start the engine?" I have seen two-piece doors that can really cook your noodle—and some latches that simply didn't work, or wouldn't work if the airplane flexed a little. While it is true that in most certified aircraft, an open door in flight is almost always survivable, in many homebuilts, the loss of a door or canopy can result in tail damage—and loss of control, no matter how cool you remain in the cockpit.

Homebuilts have other issues, often related to electrical systems. I flew one airplane that had a five-by-five matrix of toggle switches that controlled all of the electrical items in the airplane, including multiple buses and the electronic ignition. While they were labeled, it was in some esoteric language that made sense only to the builder, and the current owner basically set things up "by rote," making sure that the switches were on and off in the same pattern for every flight. I declined to fly that one solo, by the way. And then there are fuel systems. Creative fuel systems might have their place if you're building an airplane with enough tankage to fly around the world, but multiple tanks, valves, and fuel pumps to transfer go-juice around the airplane can give a new pilot headaches, and if you're going to take a plane with such a system aloft, you need to make sure you fully understand where the gas is, and how to get it to the engine.

Where Am I ?

By the way—have you got a map? It can be more than just inconvenient to strap into a new airplane at an airport in an area you have never flown, then take off—only to find out that you have no idea where you are. Many, if not most, airplanes today have a GPS somewhere in the cockpit. But some of those handhelds can be mighty tricky to operate, even if it is just to bring up a map! Make sure that you either know how to work the fancy hardware before you go aloft or have a good local map in your pocket.

Seat and control adjustments, how to turn on (or off) the heater—these are all trivial items that can become significant when you are all alone in an aircraft and working hard just to adapt to its flying qualities. It is easy to reach task saturation and then have a little extra annoyance push you over the edge—so make sure not to take off in a hurry—take the time to ask questions and get good answers. If, at any time, you find yourself rushing to get in the air ("Hey, you can fly my plane, but I need to leave in 45 minutes, so make sure you have it back by then!"), it's probably time to stop, pass on the opportunity, and come back when you have more time.

Unfamiliar Avionics

Avionics are another huge area of complication these days. With the proliferation of glass cockpits, no two airplanes ever seem configured the same. Don't get me wrong—I am all for advanced displays that make a pilot's job easier and have been involved in their development for decades. However, the user interfaces are far from standard at this point in time, and once you start pushing buttons, you can end up with no usable displays at all—or worse, end up with guidance that is taking you someplace you don't want to go. There are four or five major brands of EFIS out there in the homebuilt world today, and while all of them have similar displays, when it comes to critical parameters (such as airspeed, altitude, and attitude), the button-pushing and knob-twisting that you have to do to change a page or set the altimeter is different from brand to brand. Once again, know what you have to do to fly a safe mission, and then "keepa-your-hands-off" the rest! If your goal is to experiment with, and experience, the EFIS, then have at it—but do a lot more ground prep with the manuals and with the system before you go aloft—and take a safety pilot.

When I am flying/testing/evaluating an airframe, I make sure that I know how to bring up the primary flight display, bring up a moving map, and set the altimeter. If I have to control radios and the transponder through the EFIS, I make sure I can do that as well. I rarely use the navigation or guidance features of an EFIS in an airframe evaluation, so I leave those alone—or I have a handheld or iPad that I know how to use along for the ride. Many accidents have happened due to distractions in the cockpit—which is a good reminder to always check on how to cancel visible and audible alerts before you go flying! Also make sure you ask the owner if there are any engine parameters that they are still "working out" in their EFIS or engine instrumentation.

Should I Do This?

Flying other people's planes is a great way to grow as a pilot, and it is an honor to reach the point in one's career when such offers are made. Yet, it is probably some of the most subtly hazardous flying you might do—simply because there are so many little things to learn about a particular Experimental aircraft. Always be brutally honest with yourself before you accept an offer (or assignment) to fly a new type. Is your experience base broad enough to accept? I have turned down remarkable offers to fly some fascinating airplanes because I just didn't feel like I was qualified—despite what the owner thought. I have never met an airplane that was worth dying for—and while some specific opportunities might never come again, it is better to be around later for other opportunities than to take one that you shouldn't and make it your last.

Paul Dye retired as a Lead Flight Director for NASA's Human Space Flight program, with 40 years of aerospace experience on everything from Cubs to the space shuttle. An avid homebuilder, he began flying and working on airplanes as a teen, and has experience with a wide range of construction techniques and materials. He flies an RV-8 that he built in 2005, and an RV-3 that he built with his pilot wife. Currently, they are building a Xenos motorglider. A commercially licensed pilot, he has logged over 4800 hours in many different types of aircraft. He consults and collaborates in aerospace operations and flight-testing projects across the country.

This article originally appeared in the October 2015 issue of Kitplanes magazine.

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General Electric, whose DNA extends back to Thomas Edison, started its life as a builder of generators and electrical equipment. It’s more than an electric technology company now, but shoving around electrons is still a core interest.

I thought of that earlier this week during GE’s press briefing at NBAA when a company exec mentioned, almost as an aside, that the company had configured a jet engine—the same GE F110 used in the F-16—to generate a megawatt of electric power. A million watts. To put a megawatt in perspective, it’s enough to run about 1000 coffee makers. For comparison, coal-fired power plants in the 2500 to 3000 megawatt range aren’t uncommon.

So what’s the point of this? GE didn’t say, but I suspect someone came asking for such a thing to support some kind of imagined flying machine. I doubt if GE did it just to keep a few junior engineers busy. It fits into a general pattern of electrification for everything, if not as a prime mover than as a means of controlling and managing mechanical systems with a greater degree of precision than with direct or hydraulically boosted systems.

This came up again when I was shooting this video on Tamarack Aerospace’s next generation active winglets. They’re now to the point that it’s not really a leap to say the wing is inflight configurable beyond just slats and flaps. To squeeze more efficiency out of existing airframes, Tamarack gives the wing expanded span but gets away without a structural penalty by using a trailing-edge device that mitigates gust loads that would otherwise require more heavy metal or composites to defeat.

For the newest technology—which the company hopes to apply to the commercial airline market—the winglet itself rotates in the vertical axis in conjunction with whatever the trailing-edge device is doing. So that means the entire winglet structure rotates on a pivot just inboard of the wingtip. What provides the motive power? Electric motors, of course. And not very big ones at that. There’s an array of accelerometers and logic that measure loads and flight conditions in real time and adjust the appropriate surfaces instantaneously. If that had to be done with hydraulics, forget it. It would so cumbersome and heavy as to cancel out much of the benefit of the extra span and winglets. And the benefit, by the way, is less drag and better climb so the airplane gets to cruise altitude more quickly, where jet engines are more efficient, and once there, it cruises on lower power, saving more fuel.

Nick Guida, Tamarack’s founder, told me he thinks one airline the company has been courting as a customer could save up to $150 million in fuel costs. And it will likely be an airline project, not a Boeing or Airbus project. The OEMs are backed up with orders and strained for R&D resources that might not return much on the investment. Of such things are successful niche business plans made, all riding on a wave of a broad revolution in electrics.

The Aftermarket Glass Revolution

While on the subject of waves, Garmin is breaking one on the retrofit market with its new TXi series displays to replace the aging 500/600 series. Here’s a video tour of what these new products will do. For some time, we’ve been at the point where an older but capable airplane could be converted entirely to glass. But the new TXi products will make it easier because of wide AML support and flexible interfaces with ADS-B and other traffic and weather systems to even include onboard weather radar. They can also be installed without the need for backup systems, making it ever more convenient to finally sever the tether with those vacuum pumps we all love to hate. As part of the drift toward electrics, the TXi’s have battery backup and the open pad abandoned by that vacuum pump can now support a second alternator.

Will this prove economically attractive to owners? I think it absolutely will, given that an airframe worth $80,000 can now be made almost as functionally capable as one costing nearly a million by investing a sum not at all out of line with what owners have been spending for such things.

The dark side of this is what it will do to the competition. Garmin has leveraged its profits to essentially become a near monopoly in general aviation avionics, at least in major systems. Year after year, it has followed brisk-selling products with yet more products, so much so that in the aviation press, we struggle to keep up. I’m disappointed that we haven’t seen the same from the likes of Aspen and BendixKing, although Avidyne remains a player. Garmin has built success upon success and is so utterly dominant that meaningful competition is problematical at best.

Kenny the King Air Salesman

I’ve been covering the Wheels Up charter subscription program since its inception in 2013. I never understood it and when I finally did, I thought it would be, like many new aviation businesses, a crater looking for a grid reference.

Wrong again. Wheels Up seems to be not just prospering, but booming. Listening to Kenny Dichter, the company’s founder, talk about it is to hear a man utterly enthralled with general aviation and in possession of an appreciation for the King Air that borders on the religious. Every time I hear him speak, I have to resist the urge to rush out and order a 350i. Dichter saw in the King Air a unique combination of range, payload and speed that he could marry to the interests of affluent, if not rich, people who want to fly somewhere 500 miles away five times a year. Others have had shards of this vision, but none have quite made the connection that Dichter has.

As we’ve reported, Wheels Up is a subscription business and any such business model requires loyalty, or what we in the publishing business call renewal rate. It’s one thing to retain a $29 magazine subscription and quite another to hold onto a customer spending $14,000 a year. To do that, Wheels Up did something interesting. When Hurricane Irma swirled into Florida, Wheels Up got hit with more demand for flights than its King Air fleet could conceivably handle. Dichter chartered a 737 and hauled his clients out of Florida at no charge. Do you think those customers will renew when their contracts come up? I’d kinda bet on it.  

Winglets improve aircraft efficiency by shaping wingtip vortices and reducing drag. But what really improves efficiency is added wingspan. Tamarack Aerospace offers both in its patented active winglet technology. And now they're migrating it from business jets to airliners. AVweb prepared this video report at NBAA-BACE in Las Vegas.

Alsim has been making flight simulators in France for 24 years and has sold dozens of flight training devices in North America. To better serve that market, it's opened an office in Austin, Texas. AVweb's Russ Niles spoke with the new manager of the North American operation, Scott Firsing.

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Picture of the Week
Picture of the Week

Thank you, readers, the picture entries keep getting better and we really like the light and subject matter of Joe Dory's cell phone snap of Robbie Schoeoflin landing on a harvested bean field in Washington State. Just beautiful, Joe.

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