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Volume 24, Number 46b
November 15, 2017
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GA Aircraft Sales Flat In Q3
Geoff Rapoport

Sales of general aviation aircraft were generally flat in the third quarter of 2017, according to newly released data from the General Aviation Aircraft Manufacturers Association. Airframers shipped 256 piston aircraft and 275 turbine airplanes in the third quarter—substantially similar to last year’s deliveries of 253 and 284 respectively. “The third quarter shipment and billing numbers continue a similar pattern for the industry this year: mixed, with some bright spots that continue trending upward, particularly in the rotorcraft market,” said GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce. “We’ve been very focused on streamlining certification and validation processes around the world, which will help our member companies continue bringing new and safer products to the market and hopefully spur growth in future quarters.”

Cirrus continued to dominate the reciprocating-engine market, delivering 87 of their piston-single SR series airplanes, in addition to seven SF50 jets. Textron followed in a distant second with 50 piston airplanes delivered in Q3. By total billings, the two big business jet makers collected more than half the $4.2B total with Gulfstream selling $1.6B in airplanes and Bombardier selling another $1.1B. Mooney sold the first copy of the latest generation of M20s in the third quarter, an M20V Acclaim Ultra.

Good Students Know Their Weaknesses
Geoff Rapoport

I mostly make my living as a flight instructor, so I often fly with ten or more students in a week. Not all are “student pilots” in the FAA sense of the term, but they’re all flying with me to get instruction of some sort. They're seeking new certificates, instrument ratings, tailwheel transitions or they're rusty pilots, doing recurrent training, new aircraft checkouts, remediation, etc. Some of my students, I adore. I’d feel bad taking their money, but for the need to feed my family. Others not so much.

Why do I enjoy flying with some more than others? It’s great if they’re thoughtful, pay promptly, don’t smell bad and show up on time, but I’ve realized I will bend on all of these in exchange for one particular behavior.

I want to fly with students who tell me the ways in which they suck at flying. When you tell me, “I was too flat at touchdown” or “that was way outside of ACS limits for steep turns” or “my SA in the pattern was super low today,” it brings a tear to my eye. I can trust these pilots to keep learning on their own. When I sign these pilots off, they’re going to come back in six months for recurrent training in better shape than I left them. The other guys come back to me in six months flying worse because they’re forced to by the safety office after getting caught doing something stupid.

The “other guys” are always trying to sell me on how well they flew, which creates a handful of problems. First, my job is to help you improve at the things you’re not good at. If you don’t admit that these things exist, we’ve got a problem. (Some people think my job is to sign them off to rent airplanes without an instructor, which is an awkward collateral responsibility.) Second, I’m going to have to break the news to you that you’re not as good as you say you are, which isn’t fun for me. I don’t care to hear about the magnitude of the sucking. I don’t want a mopey, “I’m a terrible pilot. I’ll never amount to anything.” I need specific things you recognize as a problem with a credible prospect for improvement.

If you’re having a painful moment of introspection and wondering if you’re one of the “other guys,” keep your chin up. We’ve all tried to minimize our mistakes to an instructor whose approval we wanted or needed. Your next lesson is a new opportunity to be the kind of student your instructor adores. I'm a student sometimes too, and I still have fight the urge to minimize my mistakes every time I'm on the receiving end of a training flight.

In retrospect, this should have been obvious to me years ago. A great pilot isn’t one who doesn’t make mistakes. A great pilot recognizes and fixes his or her own mistakes before anyone else notices them. It’s obvious then that a great student pilot is one who calls out his or her mistakes and the fix before their instructor. 

SureFly's Octocopter
Larry Anglisano

Ohio-based Workhorse Group, which builds hybrid electric trucks for UPS, FedEx and others, thinks it's time to rethink the design characteristics of the traditional helicopter. The first stab at it is the SureFly VTOL aircraft. It attracted huge attention at the Innovations Center at AirVenture Oshkosh this past summer. Aviation Consumer Editor Larry Anglisano took a close look and prepared this product video.

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Dream Chaser Flies Free, Again
Geoff Rapoport

Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser successfully completed a drop and glide test flight from 12,300 feet to Runway 22L at Edwards Air Force Base last week. “The Dream Chaser flight test demonstrated excellent performance of the spacecraft’s aerodynamic design and the data shows that we are firmly on the path for safe, reliable orbital flight,” said Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president of Sierra Nevada’s Space System division. The Dream Chaser was original envisioned as a crew transport to and from the international space station, but after receiving part of NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services 2 contract, Sierra Nevada is focused on the cargo-only mission for now. The Dream Chaser will catch a ride to orbit atop the United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket.

The Dream Chaser’s special feature is the ability to return scientific payloads with a gentle touchdown at the Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility—or any other runway over 8000 feet long. (The 30-foot-long glider’s touchdown speed is around 190 MPH, which necessitates a lengthy ground roll.) Cargo or crew capsules under parachute need to land somewhere desolate, and experience fairly violent deceleration when re-entering the atmosphere. Sierra Nevada says the Dream Chaser will experience re-entry loads around 1.5 g compared to 4-8 g for capsule systems.

The Dream Chaser has been making test flights in recent months while suspended under a helicopter, but this was the craft’s first untethered flight since October 2013. In the 2013 test, the Dream Chaser demonstrated a successful glide to landing, but was damaged after touchdown due to a landing gear issue. 

Terrafugia, Vahana Report Progress
Mary Grady

Two very different “flying-car” projects have reported major moves forward this week. Terrafugia, which has been working to certify a “roadable aircraft” with folding wings under the LSA rules, confirmed on Monday that it has become a fully owned subsidiary of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, a Chinese conglomerate that also owns Volvo and focuses on the auto industry. “Geely is committed to making the flying car dream a reality,” according to a statement posted at Terrafugia’s website. The group plans to expand Terrafugia’s R&D capabilities in the U.S. as well as in China. "This acquisition is very exciting for all of us at Terrafugia," CEO Carl Dietrich told AVweb. "We finally have the resources needed to deliver!" 

Terrafugia has already tripled the number of its U.S.-based engineers from 30 to almost 100, the company said. Terrafugia also said they hope to deliver the first Transition flying car in 2019, and to continue development of the TF-X VTOL, which will debut around 2023.

Also this week, Vahana, an Airbus project, said they have moved their full-scale prototype VTOL electric aircraft from Silicon Valley to Oregon to prep for flight testing. The team has moved into the Pendleton Hangar, a brand-new 9,600-square-foot hangar at the Eastern Oregon Regional Airport that opened in June, specifically configured for the Vahana project. The team also has completed construction of a mobile command center, a customized trailer that can be repositioned as needed for flight testing. An aerodynamically accurate subscale model already has flown and completed several trials of autonomous takeoffs and landings. The company says they plan to start flight tests of the full-scale aircraft “later this year.”

Airbus Vahana

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Suit Launched In Toilet Collision
Russ Niles

A Utah pilot is suing a local environmental group for damages to his airplane after he hit a camouflaged portable toilet on a backcountry air strip placed “on or very near” the landing surface at Hidden Splendor airstrip. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Wayne Grant claims in his suit that he surveyed the clifftop runway to look for obstacles before flying away to set up for landing. He alleges that while he was momentarily out of the immediate area, someone allegedly affiliated with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance put two portapotties “painted in colors than nearly perfectly matched” the terrain in his way. He didn’t see the biffies until the last second and couldn’t swerve to avoid them without going over the cliff.

The airplane’s wing was damaged and had to be repaired on the mountain before it could be flown away. The suit says the environmental group, which was holding an event at the airstrip, should have known better than to put the toilets where an airplane might hit them. “Planes have wings, and require sufficient clear space around the airstrip for those wings in order to land safely,” the newspaper quoted the claim as saying.

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Picture of the Week
Only a few entries we could use this week but they're nice. Ray Albright got this nice image of a Fleet Finch at Old Rhinebeck. Very nice from all perspectives, Ray

See all submissions

Brainteasers Quiz #237: Become Worthy of The Air

Determining who and what is worthy of the miracle of flight is determined by the Universe's highest authority ... yes, the FAA. And to prove your airworthiness, simply unmask these universal secrets and ace this quiz.

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Short Final

My friend Chuck, a recent solo student, got the following request from the tower on landing.

Tower: ”Expedite clearing the runway.” 

Chuck brought the C-150 to a halt on the runway.

Chuck: ”What does expedite mean?”

Jeff B. Land


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Meet the AVweb Team

AVweb is the world's premier independent aviation news resource, online since 1995. Our reporting, features, and newsletters are brought to you by:

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Paul Bertorelli

Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Geoff Rapoport

Rick Durden
Kevin Lane-Cummings
Paul Berge
Larry Anglisano

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