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Volume 24, Number 52a
December 25, 2017
 
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Chinese Company Buys Rest Of Diamond
 
Russ Niles
 
 

Austrian-based Diamond Aircraft Group has been acquired by the Chinese company that purchased Diamond’s North American operations last year. Almost a year to the day that Wanfeng Aviation Industry Co. Ltd. bought Diamond’s London, Ontario, plant, the Chinese firm bought the Austrian holdings of sole shareholder Christian Dries, who founded Diamond 25 years ago. Wanfeng said in a joint announcement it intends to increase production and sales, expand distribution and support networks and keep designing new aircraft.

"We were attracted to Diamond’s leadership position in the market,” Wanfeng Chairman Bin Chen said in a statement. “Based on this excellent foundation, we intend to take Diamond to a long-term leadership position in worldwide general aviation.” Wanfeng is one of China’s biggest companies, particularly in the auto sector, and has the horsepower to invest in Diamond’s growth, something Dries said was a major factor in his decision to sell. “Diamond is my life’s work. In the interest of a successful long-term future, we needed to find the right partner to continue our good work,” Dries said. “Wanfeng and specifically Mr. Bin Chen share my vision of the future of general aviation and are investing for the right reasons, with a long-term strategy and the resources to see their vision through.” Last year’s acquisition of the North American division resulted in a separation of the Diamond product lines and the role of the Canadian operations was not discussed in the release.

Continental Motors || Angle Wave Cylinders for Lycoming
China Nicks Another GA Property
 
Paul Bertorelli
 

I can recall almost to the day when I first became aware of the great breaking Chinese general aviation wave—or takeover, if you prefer. It was mid-June 2005 and I was riding with Michael Feinig, then Diamond Aircraft’s managing director, at breakneck speed down the autobahn to the company’s factory at Wiener Neustadt, Austria.

Diamond was involved in China much earlier than most of us realized and when I asked Feinig why, the answer was ominous: “We don’t think we have a choice.” I took that to have dual meaning. First, China would represent the next big market and second, the Chinese would become dominant in world GA no matter what happened. Better to have a friendly relationship than a hostile takeover. The first prediction hasn’t materialized, but with the sale of Diamond Aircraft to China’s Wenfeng Aviation Industry Co. Ltd, the second surely has.

At the risk of depressing you, I’ll run the major buys here, in no particular order. The country’s leading light aircraft manufacturer, Cirrus, is owned by China Aviation Industry General Aircraft (CAIGA); Continental Motors is owned by China’s AVIC International, which also snapped up the assets of the then-bankrupt Thielert Aircraft Engines; Mooney is owned by the Meijing Group, which made its fortune in China’s real-estate market; Superior Air Parts was acquired by Weifang Tianxiang Technology Group, a Beijing-based holding company; Engine Components International was bought by Continental under the AVIC flag; Glasair Aviation is owned by the Jilin Hanxing Group, a private investment company; Brantly International Limited, a light helicopter manufacturer, is owned by Qingdao Haili Helicopters; Enstrom Helicopter is owned by Chongqing Helicopter Investment Company; Icon’s largest investor is Shanghai Harbor City Development Co. There are a few others, but this gives you the lay of the land.

If, at this point, you feel the urge to twist your pearls and swoon in a global case of the vapors, I know the feeling. But bring yourself around because in the end, it’s just bidness. Western commerce has unloaded these properties on the Chinese for a multitude of reasons all boiled down to one: None of them make much money or at least the kind of money western investors hunger for, which is ROI in the teens and robust quarterlies, year after year. Run your cursor down the list and ask yourself of how many of those companies have actually been bankrupt or approached the precipice and peered over the edge. The answer is most.

So if you set aside your angst and romanticism and you’re painfully honest with yourself, you’ll soon realize that investment capital had to come from the Chinese ATM, because it sure as hell wasn’t coming from western investors. People who complain about the Chinese taking over may wish to consider investing themselves, but most of us prefer the dividends from balanced international funds and, once upon a time, securitized mortgages.

So what does it all mean? Shortly after Continental was bought, I had a brief interview opportunity with the chairman of AVIC. Through a translator, I asked if Chinese investment in U.S. general aviation was part of larger plan or was it just opportunity buys. The translator’s eyes swelled to the size golf balls, which seemed to telegraph I’d asked a horribly prying question. She asked me to repeat it. I did. This was in Oshkosh, by the way, so I had no compunctions whatsoever about asking any questions related to aviation. If you come to OSH, bring your A game or stay home.

When the chairman heard the question, he seemed equally startled. The answer was a dissembling vagueness that led me to believe AVIC was simply marching along with the 12th Five Year Plan, which called for investment in aviation, and the Chinese were finding opportunity buys in the U.S. This made perfect sense to me.

Some have worried that China is picking up sensitive defense technology, which is a concern if you think cast-iron cylinders and half-century-old fuel injection systems are all that stand between the fall of the Republic and the continuance of the American Way. It’s true that Diamond has some pretty sophisticated autonomous aircraft technology so perhaps the Europeans may balk a little. (But I doubt it.)

Recently, the august think tankers at Rand Corp. took a run at analyzing the impact of China’s GA investments. You can read it here. One of the conclusions was: “China’s accelerating investments in the U.S. aviation industry notwithstanding, the significance of these activities is questionable. These deals were almost all small scale, each worth less than $500 million.” There were three exceptions, but those deals either fell through or didn’t represent meaningful impacts.

The larger worry is that Chinese industry will challenge the West in the large commercial aircraft field. I’m not even mildly worried about that. For one thing, the Chinese are far short of building commercially competitive airliners and, anyway, Boeing has enough lawyers to bury them in paper for at least the next century.

On the other hand, the net positive is easy to see. Continental is building a new factory in Mobile, Cirrus got its jet done and it’s selling well and Diamond will have money to fund what has been one of the most creative runs of new aircraft in GA history.

You know what? I’ll take it.

Jim Peitz's Aerobatic Bonanza
 
Russ Niles
 
 

After decades of beating himself up in extreme aerobatics in an Extra, Jim Peitz traded up to the leather and cross-country comfort of an aerobatic Bonanza. His airshow fans and his wife Cathy approve. We spoke with him at the 2017 Abbotsford International Air Show.

Lycoming - Loyalty Program Easy to join. Easier to stay.
China Flies Biggest Amphib
 
Russ Niles
 
 

China flew the world’s largest amphibious flying boat Sunday in a move that might intensify tensions in the disputed South China Sea. The AG600 Kunlong is roughly the same size as a Boeing 737 and is powered by four big turboprops in the normal high-wing configuration of an amphib. It used its landing gear for the first flight, taking off from Zhuhai Airport in Guangdong and returning about an hour later.

The aircraft has been in development for more than 10 years and while it has a variety of applications, from firefighting to search and rescue, it’s the military applications that have attracted the most interest. With a loiter endurance of 12 hours and its ability to operate from moderate seas on the open ocean, it’s believed to have applications in the contested areas of the shipping lanes in the South China Sea.

Brazil Blocks Embraer Takeover
 
Russ Niles
 
 

The president of Brazil says his government will exercise its veto power to block the transfer of control of Embraer to Boeing. Michel Temer said Friday the company is not for sale but he would welcome investment from Boeing. "All partnerships are welcome. What is not an option is the transference of control," said Temer. The Brazilian government has special shareholder status in the company and can veto any decision by the company management and directors. Defense Minister Raul Jungmann said Embraer is a key technology developer in Brazil and handing over control to a foreign company is out of the question. "This is about national sovereignty and national interests, and we cannot negotiate that. The Temer administration understands that sovereignty is non-negotiable," said Jungmann.

Boeing confirmed on Thursday that it was in talks with Embraer about a “combination” of the two companies but did not elaborate. The announcement came after The Wall Street Journal published a story on Thursday about the meetings. Subsequent reports in various publications used words like “takeover” and “merger” to describe the discussions. The meetings were held as the U.S. Commerce Department confirmed almost 300 percent import duties on Bombardier’s C Series airliners, ruling they were unfairly subsidized by the Canadian government. Boeing and Embraer had both filed protests about the sale of 75 C Series to Delta Air Lines and what they claimed were below-market prices.

JP International 'Checklist for JPI
Airline Grounded After Crash
 
Russ Niles
 
 

The Canadian government has suspended the operating certificate of West Wind Airlines after the crash of one of its ATR 42 airliners near a remote Saskatchewan airport that injured 25 people. Transport Canada ordered the Saskatoon-based carrier to cease operations after its inspectors found unspecified deficiencies in the way the business was being run. The company had already voluntarily stopped flying after the crash. The regulator said its inspection of the airline’s operations last week revealed issues with its operational control system, which ensures compliance with regulations regarding the scheduling of aircraft and personnel. Transport Canada said the suspension was ordered to ensure public safety. It did not detail the deficiencies it found.

West Wind said in a press release that it intended to resume flying. "We are working diligently to resolve any issues, with the aim of restarting operations as soon as possible," the release said. The French-made regional airliner was on a flight from Fond du Lac, near the border with the Northwest Territories and Stony Rapids, and crashed shortly after takeoff. No one was killed but several people were seriously hurt. Passengers had to free themselves from the wreckage before first responders and volunteers reached the crash site.

NORSEE Approval For Levil’s BOM
 
Geoff Rapoport
 
 

The FAA has approved Levil Aviation’s Broadcasting Outer Module (BOM) avionics pod for installation on certified aircraft as a secondary source of flight data under the Non-Required Safety Enhancing Equipment program. The BOM is a fully wireless avionics system; its battery is charged by a slipstream-powered generator and it transmits flight data to the pilot’s tablet via Wi-Fi connection. “We are super excited about this product, we have worked very hard to make this as innovative and forward thinking as possible,” says Levil GM Ananda Leon. “I can’t wait to see what this product does to the world of aviation.”

The system includes a GPS sensor for position, AHRS for attitude, ADS-B In traffic and weather, angle of attack information, derived wind speed and direction and flight data logging. Levil advertises the BOM for $1,295 without ADS-B In and $1,595 with ADS-B In. Levil first demoed the BOM in April this year at Sun ’n Fun, and says it will start shipping pre-order units this year.

Air Force Replaces Thunderbirds CO
 
Geoff Rapoport
 
 

Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh, the Thunderbirds operations officer for the 2016 and 2017 show seasons, will command the squadron as Thunderbird No. 1 for the 2018 season. Brig. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, Commander of the 57th Wing at Nellis Air Force Base, removed Walsh’s predecessor, Lt. Col. Jason Heard, in November after losing confidence in Heard’s “risk management style.” Walsh has been serving as the squadron’s interim commander since Heard’s removal. “Kevin’s extensive flying experience and rapport within the Thunderbirds makes him a perfect fit to command the team,” said Leavitt. “I have full faith he will lead the team through a successful 2018 show season.”

Walsh, a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and the USAF Weapons School, has logged over 2,600 flight hours and 500 combat hours, according to a Thunderbirds press release on his promotion. Before joining the Thunderbirds, Lt. Col. Walsh was an instructor for the European F-16 Weapons School in Leeuwarden Air Base, Netherlands. In addition to flying as team lead, Walsh will be responsible for the Demonstration Squadron’s 130 enlisted personnel and 11 officers. The Thunderbirds celebrate their 65th season in 2018.

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Twin Crash Kills Five
 
Russ Niles
 
 

Five people died in the crash of a Cessna 340 at Bartow Airport in Florida after the aircraft took off in dense fog early Sunday. A prominent Lakeland lawyer, his two daughters and two others were killed in the crash, which occurred near the end of the runway. The lawyer, aged 70, and his passengers, in their 20s and 30s, died in the impact and post-crash fire. They took off about 7:15 a.m. for Key West and the ASOS was reporting zero visibility at the time.

Local officials said first responders were dispatched to the scene within minutes but had to move slowly because of the dense fog. They didn’t get to the crash scene until 13 minutes later and it took another 12 minutes to knock down the intense fire.

Picture of the Week
 
 
Some of the busiest airspace in the world was the setting for a video shot by Karl Klingebiel and Gary Winterboer as Mujahid Abdulrahim flew the camera plane for them over LAX. Nice work everyone.

See all submissions

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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Editor-at-Large
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Short Final
 

Heard at ILG (Wilmington, DE) on a Sunday. ILG is a training site for ATC, and also has very, very patient controllers.

Tower: Cherokee XYZ, let me explain how we do things. When I give you a clearance, you need to read it back so I know you understood.

Cherokee XYZ: OK, I understand.

Tower: OK, but you haven't read back the clearance.

Cherokee XYZ: Oh, I'm sorry.

Tower: No need to apologize, but I need you to read back Cherokee XYZ cleared touch and go, Runway niner.

Cherokee XYZ: Oh, I understand. I'm cleared.

Tower: I don't think you're understanding. When I clear you, I need you to read this back: "Cherokee XYZ is clearedtouch and go, Runway niner."

Cherokee XYZ: OK, got it.

Tower: You haven't read it back, though!! Please read back.

Cherokee XYZ: Cherokee XYZ cleared to land, Runway niner.

Tower: If you want to do a full stop, I can clear that instead of a touch and go.

Cherokee XYZ: I'd prefer to do a touch and go, though.

Tower: OK, then you need to read back clearance for a touch and go. Let's try this one more time: Cherokee XYZ cleared touch and go, Runway niner.

Cherokee XYZ: Cherokee XYZ, Cleared touch and go, Runway niner.

Tower: Excellent! That was perfect.

I had to stop laughing before reporting in.


Joshua Zide


General Aviation Accident Bulletin
 
 

AVweb’s General Aviation Accident Bulletin is taken from the pages of our sister publication, Aviation Safety magazine and is published twice a month. All the reports listed here are preliminary and include only initial factual findings about crashes. You can learn more about the final probable cause in the NTSB’s web site at www.ntsb.gov. Final reports appear about a year after the accident, although some take longer. Find out more about Aviation Safety at www.aviationsafetymagazine.com.

September 13, 2017, Nantucket, Mass.

Cessna 402B Businessliner

At about 0723 Eastern time, the airplane was substantially damaged during a rejected takeoff. The commercial pilot sustained minor injuries. Visual conditions prevailed.

The pilot later stated he accelerated the airplane to between 90 and 95 knots and lifted off. The airplane achieved a positive rate of climb and the pilot retracted the landing gear. However, after becoming airborne the pilot was fighting with the controls to keep the airplane’s nose up. The pilot used manual trim and verified the autopilot was not engaged, however, the nose-down tendency continued. He rejected the takeoff and executed an emergency landing on the remaining portion of the runway.

Examination revealed the elevator trim tab was deflected approximately 24 degrees up (airplane nose-down), while the cockpit trim indicator depicted a nose-up trim condition. Further examination revealed the elevator trim tab pushrod was separated from its actuator but remained connected at the elevator trim tab. A drilled bolt was recovered from inside the horizontal stabilizer but the associated washer, castellated nut and cotter pin were not located.

September 14, 2017, Machias, Maine

Beech C23 Sundowner

The airplane was substantially damaged at about 1130 Eastern time during a forced landing following a total loss of engine power. The solo private pilot was not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

While in the airport traffic pattern and turning to a left base leg for the runway, the engine began to run rough. The pilot verified that the mixture was full rich and the fuel boost pump was on. He also applied carburetor heat, but the engine lost all power about 15 to 20 seconds later. The pilot turned the airplane directly toward the runway but didn’t have enough glide range and landed in a grass area just prior to the runway. During the landing, the landing gears sank into soft ground and the nosewheel touched down hard, which collapsed the nosegear. The airplane spun 180 degrees and came to rest upright in the grass.

Some 20 gallons of fuel per wing were removed from the airplane while the magnetos, fuel boost pump and engine-driven fuel pump tested satisfactorily. The carburetor was intact and clear of debris. The fuel bowl was also absent of debris. The propeller was rotated by hand and continuity was noted in the camshaft, crankshaft and valve train.

September 15, 2017, Glenwood Springs, Colo.

Cirrus Design SR22

At about 2010 Mountain time, the airplane impacted trees and terrain while maneuvering in mountainous terrain. The non-instrument-rated private pilot and three passengers were fatally injured; the airplane was destroyed. Night instrument conditions prevailed.

The pilot was receiving VFR flight following from ATC. Radar data show the airplane on a westerly heading, then turning southwesterly at about 11,000 feet msl. Subsequently, the airplane climbed to about 12,000 feet msl and proceeded northwest for about 12 miles. The airplane then turned back to the southwest in a gradual descent. The last radar position was at 2009:32 and 11,400 feet msl, about mile south of the accident site location.

At 2008, a weather station at 10,600 feet msl and about 16 miles south-southwest of the accident site reported wind from 240 degrees at 11 knots, gusting to 23 knots and varying between 210 and 280 degrees; mile visibility, fog and an overcast ceiling at 200 feet. According to the U.S. Naval Observatory, sunset was at 1917 and the end of civil twilight was at 1944.

September 15, 2017, Watsonville, Calif.

Cessna T210N Turbo Centurion

The airplane was substantially damaged at about 1300 Pacific time while landing. The private pilot and passenger were not injured. The airplane’s nose landing gear separated and the aft fuselage was punctured and torn. Visual conditions prevailed.

Examination of the accident site revealed impact marks on the approach end of the runway. Debris was found near the impact marks, and the nose landing gear was found further down the runway. The airplane came to rest on the left side of the runway. The pilot later stated there were no mechanical anomalies with the airplane and that the approach and landing was normal. He further stated he didn’t know how the nose landing gear separation happened.

September 16, 2017, North Branford, Conn.

Mooney M20C

At 1300 Eastern time, the airplane was substantially damaged when it collided with trees and terrain. The airline transport pilot/owner and the passenger were fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

Earlier on the day of the accident, the pilot/owner flew to another airport about 60 nm away to pick up the passenger. Both fuel tanks were topped off and line personnel witnessed the pilot sample the fuel before he departed with the passenger at about 1230. Witnesses near the accident site did not see the airplane or hear engine sounds, but they heard what sounded like a “crash” in the trees. The three-blade constant-speed propeller remained attached to the crankshaft flange and was largely intact. There was no evidence of rotational scoring and two of the blades were not damaged. Weather reported nine miles southwest of the accident site included variable wind at three knots, visibility of 10 sm and broken clouds at 1400 feet.

September 16, 2017, Sedona, Ariz.

Cessna 208B Grand Caravan

The airplane collided with a light pole at about 1430 local time while taxiing. The pilot and eight passengers were not injured; the airplane sustained substantial damage to its left wing. Visual conditions prevailed for the Part 135 on-demand air taxi flight.

After landing, the pilot was instructed by ground control to follow a truck on the A6 taxiway to transient parking. Transient parking had been moved to the east side of the ramp and was only accessible by taxiway A6 during a fly-in and car show taking place at the time. As the pilot followed the truck, he noticed several airplanes whose wings overhung the taxiway’s right side. Ground personnel were available to clear the airplane on the right but not on the left. The airplane impacted a light pole with its left wing. The light pole was positioned about 65 feet from the taxiway’s centerline.

September 20, 2017, Rhine, Ga.

Cessna 150G

At about 0605 Eastern time, the airplane was substantially damaged when it collided with terrain shortly after takeoff from a private airstrip. The solo student pilot was fatally injured. Night visual conditions prevailed.

Witnesses heard the airplane depart the private grass airstrip at about 0600. They said the pilot made a left 360-degree turn—as he was known to do—before they diverted their attention. Another witness heard the airplane depart, followed shortly thereafter by the sound of a crash. The student pilot was scheduled to take his private pilot checkride the following day in St. Simon’s Island, Ga. On the morning of the accident, he planned to pick up his flight instructor at a nearby airport before flying to St. Simon’s.

September 23, 2017, Ainsworth, Neb.

Mitsubishi MU-2B-40

The airplane was destroyed at about 1028 Central time when it impacted terrain 3.5 miles from its departure airport. The solo private pilot was fatally injured. Instrument conditions prevailed; an IFR flight plan had been filed.

The airport manager watched the airplane depart and enter clouds. Several witnesses in the vicinity reported hearing the airplane take off and a loud noise shortly thereafter. The wreckage was located around 1800 that night. At the time of the accident, the wind was 360 degrees at 10 knots, visibility was 1 sm in mist and overcast skies were at 500 feet. The temperature and dewpoint were both 48 degrees F.

This article originally appeared in the December 2017 issue of Aviation Safety magazine.

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