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Volume 25, Number 1a
January 1, 2018
 
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Ten Americans Dead In Costa Rica Crash
 
Russ Niles
 
 

A Cessna Caravan carrying ten American passengers and two Costa Rican crew crashed and burned in Costa Rica on New Year’s Eve, killing all on board. The passengers included Bruce and Irene Steinberg, of Scarsdale, New York. The other passengers were not identified but the State Department confirmed they were American. All that remained of the aircraft was a section of tail after the Nature Air plane crashed shortly after takeoff from Punta Islita, a popular tourism destination on the west coast of the country, just after noon. It was bound for the capital city of San Jose.

Witnesses Dawn and Matthew Wolfe told ABC News the plane went “sideways” before crashing into a forested area. First responders were on the scene in minutes but the fire had consumed the aircraft by then. “The government of Costa Rica deeply regrets the death of 10 American passengers and two Costa Rican pilots in the aircraft crash,” said Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera, the country’s president.

Continental Motors || Angle Wave Cylinders for Lycoming
Here Comes The Future
 
Mary Grady
 

Every year around this time, when the days are short and nights are long and cold, we can’t help spending some time thinking about the future. A new calendar provides the illusion of a fresh start, though in reality the Earth continues its elliptical orbit, as it has for millions of years, oblivious to our human concepts. December 31 rings out the old, and January 1 arbitrarily rings in the new, regardless of astronomical realities.

So what does the future hold? We all know that we don’t know. But we choose to prognosticate anyway. And here’s my contribution — I think the two aviation stories to watch in the new year will be autonomy and women.

The pilot community seems to be warming up to the idea of flying airplanes that are smarter than us. Many of us still remember the days of stick and rudder, islands in the sky and dead reckoning. But even many diehard old-style pilots, who believe nothing beats the hands-on flying in a DC-3 or Cub, appreciate that technology that makes flying safer isn’t really a bad thing. And the safer it gets, and the easier it gets to be a safe pilot, the more people will be interested in learning to fly.

The idea of a “flying car” isn’t really about having a machine you can park in your garage and drive to the airport. It’s about having an airplane that’s as simple and safe to operate as an automobile. And with autonomy surging in the automobile world, “as safe as driving” is going to change … cars driven by humans aren’t all that safe, but autonomous cars are. Autonomous, or semi-autonomous, airplanes will indisputably reduce the risks in GA flying. Already, the NTSB has reported that 2016 was the safest year in 50 years for general aviation. I’ll go out on a limb and guess that’s not because pilots are being more careful and training harder. It’s because more airplanes are better equipped with safety gear, from AOA indicators to envelope protection to parachutes.

As autonomous systems take over more and more of the chores of flying, and eliminate more of the risk, interest in private flying will soar. And that takes us to the next story — women. Aviation has been failing to inspire half the population, for decades now. The reasons for that are legion, but let’s not debate that. Let’s say that if the career track is there, for the airlines — and I think it is, especially now, with pilots in short supply — then there’s something in society that needs to change. And that’s the reality that it’s harder for women to combine an airline career with family life than it is for men. If that’s going to change, men are going to have to be willing to step up at home. Will that happen? Will we look back someday at 2018 as a turning point? Hard to say, but it’s a New Year. The shortest days of winter are over, and hope for the future reigns, at least for today.

Electronics International 'Aviation Alert! Short video on how EI saved this pilot's life
Video of the Year: HondaJet Flight Trial
 
Larry Anglisano
 
 

If you had around $4.8 million to spend on a new light jet, you might shop the Cessna Citation M2, the Embraer Phenom 100 and the HA-420 HondaJet. After earning Part 23 FAA certification in December 2015, Honda Aircraft Company has already delivered over 40 HondaJets and has spooled up production for a lot more deliveries. In this video, Honda Aircraft Company's manager of flight operation and demonstration discusses the aircraft's design, systems and performance. A flight trial report follows in the July 2017 issue of Aviation Consumer magazine.

 

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Foreign Pilots Back In Australia
 
Russ Niles
 
 

Australia is relaxing recently tightened immigration laws and will allow foreign commercial pilots to work in the country on two-year visas. The country slashed the issuance of work visas last April but relented on pilots because a shortage is threatening to result in flight cancellations. Australia depends on aviation to serve its far-flung wilderness areas. The Regional Aviation Association of Australia welcomed the change but is also lobbying for four-year visas to bring some stability to hiring. 

Opposition party politicians slammed the change, saying Australia, which boasts some of the most consistently good flying weather in the world, should be able to train enough of its own pilots to meet demand. They also raised concerns about foreign ownership of airports, calling for laws to ensure all Australian airports are controlled domestically.

CS300s For EgyptAir Silver Lining For Bombardier
 
Geoff Rapoport
 
 

Two weeks after the Commerce Department finalized import duties of 292% on Bombardier’s Canadian-made C Series jets sold in the United States, EgyptAir announced firm orders for 12 of the larger CS300 single-aisle jets. “Welcoming EgyptAir to the family of C Series operators is another landmark moment for Bombardier,” said Fred Cromer, president of Bombardier Commercial Aircraft. “The aircraft is performing exceptionally well, the industry recognizes the C Series as best in class, and this order from another well-established airline is testament to its tremendous value.” Market price for the 12 airplanes would be $1.1B, but EgyptAir may be receiving discounts for being an early purchaser. Bombardier also celebrated delivery of the first of ten CS300s to Korean Air last week.

The import duties assessed on C Series jets sold in the United States, which was initially seen as a potential body blow to the struggling project, seem likely to come to naught. Bombardier’s partnership with Airbus will allow the pair to make the 75 CS100s already sold to Delta at an Airbus facility in Alabama. “This facility will provide U.S. airlines with a U.S.-built plane thereby eliminating any possibility of harm due to imports,” says Mike Nadolski, Bombardier’s VP for Communications and Public Affairs. The Wall Street Journal reports that Delta is willing to wait up to two years for the jets, which were supposed to begin arriving in the spring, if it means avoiding the import duties. Bloomberg News is reporting that Aeromexico, which is 49% owned by Delta, may purchase the Canadian-made CS100s originally destined for Delta.

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Six Dead In Australia Seaplane Crash
 
Russ Niles
 
 

Six people died in the New Year’s Eve crash of a De Havilland Beaver seaplane in Australia. The aircraft, operated by Sydney Seaplanes, was being used to shuttle passengers to a waterside restaurant and crashed on the Hawkesbury River, just north of Sydney, about 3:10 p.m. In addition to the pilot there were reportedly at least four U.K. residents and an 11-year-old boy on board. All the bodies were recovered from the aircraft, which sank in 40 feet of water.

Witness Myles Baptiste told a television station that the accident occurred as the Beaver was setting up to land. “It made a tight right-hand turn and as it actually turned around, the wings dipped and it nosedived straight into the water,” he said. It was cloudy and windy at the time and there was one report that the aircraft may have hit trees. The company said it was the first accident involving one of its aircraft in 22 years.

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Lobbying Brings Merry Christmas For AOPA
 
Geoff Rapoport
 
 

AOPA celebrated two lobbying milestones this holiday season, one national and one grass-roots. According to AOPA, over 25,000 pilots are now flying under BasicMed, rather than with an FAA aviation medical. “May 1 [2017] marked the implementation of BasicMed, or the biggest shift in aeromedical certification for general aviation pilots since the 1960s,” says AOPA. “Barely six months old, BasicMed has already sparked an interest in medical reform across the globe and contributed to some major aviation milestones, but perhaps its most noteworthy accomplishment is giving thousands of pilots their wings back.” Under BasicMed, pilots who had a valid FAA medical in the last decade are generally eligible to fly aircraft up to 6,000 pounds in exchange for visiting any state-licensed physician every four years and completing an online course every other year.

AOPA is also notching another victory in its war on monopolistic FBO pricing at airports with only a single GA provider. Waukegan National Airport management took notice of AOPA’s accusations against the airport’s sole FBO, Signature Flight Support. “In recent weeks, the airport has been advertising free tiedowns for transient aircraft, along with a pedestrian gate that will allow pilots and passengers direct access to their aircraft instead of having to walk through the FBO,” says AOPA’s Senior Director of Communications, Joe Kildea. Signature has also lowered the price of 100LL self-serve from $6 per gallon to $4.81. “The leadership at Waukegan should be commended for listening to the needs of pilots and taking these steps to ensure the airport better conforms with grant obligations,” says AOPA General Counsel Ken Mead.

Picture of the Week
 
 
Jeff Edgerton, of Shasta, CA, was the only contributor to take time away from the celebrations to send us a photo and as many of us shiver through a colder than normal holiday season this shot of Wilson Bar, Idaho reminds us that better times are just around the corner. Happy New Year from all of us at AVweb.

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Brainteasers Quiz #239: Have A Little Fun, Already
 

The FAA can be so serious when discussing regulations and safety of flight -- which are important -- but many of us began flying simply because it was fun. To keep it safely enjoyable, simply ace this quiz.

Click here to take the quiz.

Short Final
 

I had just departed a famous airport and proceeded on course.

Tower:  Cessna XYZ, what is your heading?

Cessna XYZ:  XYZ heading Southwest.

Tower:  Cessna XYZ, what is your heading? 

Cessna XYZ:  XYZ heading Southwest.

Tower (agitated):  Cessna XYZ, I need to know your heading 

Cessna XYZ:  XYZ heading Southwest.

Tower (very agitated):  Cessna XYZ, fly heading 225 degrees


Joe Serdynski

 

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:

Publisher
Tom Bliss

Editor-in-Chief
Russ Niles

Editor-at-Large
Paul Bertorelli

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Geoff Rapoport

Contributors
Rick Durden
Kevin Lane-Cummings
Paul Berge
Larry Anglisano

Ad Coordinator
Karen Lund

Advertising:

AVwebFlash (reaching 101,000 subscribers 167X/year) and our website, AVweb.com (450,000 unique visits monthly) inform and entertain GA industry leaders and owner-pilots who fly and buy. Our subscribers operate more than 120,000 airframes including turboprops, owner-flown jets, high performance twins, singles and training aircraft.

AVweb's recent survey shows subscribers think AVweb is the most useful of the nine leading GA print and digital publications they read!

That's why most leading GA companies advertise in AVwebFlash, year after year.

For ad rates and scheduling, solo eblasts, video and special marketing offers, contact:
Tom Bliss, publisher: 602-625-6815 Email: Tom@avweb.com

2018 Market Prediction: More Avionics Growth
 
Larry Anglisano
 
 

With all the new avionics we reported on here at AVweb and at sister publication Aviation Consumer magazine the past year, some readers have asked for my market predictions for the new year. Will there be more growth? Less expensive new products? Will 2018 be a bust? During my 27 years of work in the industry, I've learned that anything is possible and everything sales related is unpredictable. But before looking into the crystal ball for 2018, it’s worth a look at last year’s performance of the avionics sector for clues. In doing so, I’m cautiously optimistic looking ahead because buyers bought lots of avionics in 2017—$1.73 billion worth during the first nine months. This is according to the Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA), which has tracked sales numbers for the business and general aviation avionics market since 2013 through an independent third-party research firm.

The numbers prove that shops really are as busy as many of them report because 57.7 percent of the sales came from the retrofit market, while forward-fit sales (equipment installed by aircraft manufacturers) was 42.3 percent. This is a 4.1-percent increase compared to the first nine months of 2016. These numbers aren’t based on the list price of equipment, but instead on net sales, and represent certified and non-certified panel-mounted avionics, portable avionics, billable equipment upgrades and also batteries, which seems an odd accessory to include in the tally. To me, batteries are gotta-have items, want them or not. And, the numbers don’t include what consumers spent on repairs/overhauls, navigation data subscriptions and extended warranty plans. If you pay for nav data, you know it’s real money. It’s so substantial that I think data subscriptions alone would boost the overall $1.73 billion figure considerably. According to the companies that separated total sales figures between North America and other international markets, 73.5 percent of sales during the first nine months of 2017 were U.S. and Canada.

The uptick in sales isn’t surprising to me because the majority of avionics shops I’ve spoken to over the past year enthusiastically report a scheduling backlog for major work. A friend who recently bought a Baron needing an ADS-B system told me his shop couldn't begin work on the basic upgrade until March. But many shops attest to struggling through some lean years, and some shops that were mismanaged didn’t survive. Still, with all the talk of a shrinking overall market, why the boom in avionics? For one, there is a lot to buy, including low-cost glass from Dynon, a company that's working on an STC for its experimental SkyView suite for Cessna Skyhawks. There's also a market bursting with well-equipped autopilots for under ten grand (including models from TruTrak, Garmin and Trio), plus way too many choices of ADS-B gear. The 2020 ADS-B mandate is at the two-year mark, but I know plenty of owners who still haven’t upgraded. For more basic, entry-level aircraft, I predict uAvionix will take the lead with its SkyBeacon bolt-on wingtip light ADS-B solution. Plus, 2018 will be the year Garmin starts shipping its new line of retrofit displays—the TXi series. 

I asked Jessica Koss at Garmin for her take and she believes ADS-B upgrades are driving the sales boom because buyers are adding on other equipment during the install for convenience. The low-cost G5 EFIS is one popular add-on, Koss said. Over at Avidyne, CEO Dan Schwinn had similar thoughts, crediting ADS-B compliance for sparking other upgrades while the aircraft is down. Avidyne reports strong demand for its new IFD550 navigator. We’ll have a report coming up. Jessica Power at Power Aviation Strategies, a new marketing firm specializing in avionics shop branding, predicts a strengthening of the shop network, with ADS-B driving other avionics upgrades as it did in 2017. 

"In 2017, a lot of buyers used the ADS-B mandate as an opportunity to include the 'wants' versus the 'needs' such as primary flight displays, autopilots and touchscreen navigators while the aircraft was down for ADS-B work. There were certainly manufacturers that took advantage of the mandate, offering bundled discounts during the EAA AirVenture at Oshkosh," Power told me. 

But forget about products and more good places to have the work done. This latest avionics boom is a trend I’ve witnessed before and I think it reflects a strong stock market. Disposable money, perhaps.  As I write this, the Dow Jones sits at 24,764. On this day in December 2012, it ended at 13,104. From experience, I know a strong market drives avionics and other upgrades. In the past, when stock portfolios were healthy, buyers wrote big checks for avionics and other improvements. And I mean big checks—as in $40K worth of avionics for an old Cherokee or Skyhawk. 

What comes to mind is the era when Garmin’s GNS530/430 radios and S-TEC autopilots were flying off the shelves faster than shops could reorder. At the time, I marveled that owners of aging entry-level piston singles were writing those big checks for the latest and greatest avionics gear simply because they could, even if it meant the airplane would be upside down in value. That bubble eventually burst and a lot of those owners lost big when used aircraft demand tanked. That might happen again, but with luck, lower-priced avionics will lessen the sting.

Larry Anglisano is the Editor in Chief of sister publication Aviation Consumer magazine.

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