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Volume 25, Number 2b
January 10, 2018
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Huerta Ends FAA Term, No Replacement Named
Mary Grady

Michael Huerta’s five-year term as FAA administrator ended on Saturday, and so far the Trump administration has not named his replacement. Daniel Elwell, who was named as the FAA’s deputy administrator last June, will serve as acting administrator until the position is filled. Elwell was previously a senior official at Airlines for America, an airline lobbying group, from 2013-2015. He also ran his own aviation consulting firm, Elwell and Associates, in Washington, and served in the U.S. Air Force and the Air Force Reserve, including combat service during Operation Desert Storm. He flew for American Airlines for 16 years. “Dan's background as a military and commercial pilot and past leadership positions in the FAA and the aviation sector ensures a seamless transition to continue the important mission of the FAA,” said Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, in announcing the appointment.

Officials at NBAA and NATA thanked Huerta for his service. “Michael has been a steady leader at the FAA during a time of significant change,” said NBAA President Ed Bolen. “Under his stewardship, the agency has shown demonstrable progress in implementing NextGen, to ensure America’s continued global leadership in aviation; in rewriting Part 23 certification standards to ensure the safety and affordability of small aircraft; and laying the groundwork for the safe introduction of unmanned aircraft into the National Airspace System. These important priorities will be among the pillars of his legacy.” NATA President Martin Hiller praised Huerta’s “commitment to building consensus around major decisions and willingness to always listen to the needs of the aviation business community.” In November, NATA recognized Huerta’s service and contributions to the aviation industry, presenting him with their Distinguished Public Service Award.

Guest Blog: Retrofit Avionics Up 28 Percent
Paula Derks

Some financial analysts predict that the tax reform recently enacted will see corporate earnings grow in the 8 to 12 percent range in 2018. 

As all of us in the general aviation industry know, this projected growth could have a positive trickle-down effect for our market.

In my segment of the industry – avionics manufacturing, distributing and repair – where we are still recovering from the Great Recession of the 2008-2009 era, avionics sales are already trending upward over the last several months, and it appears the increase is partially due to the ADS-B Out mandate for Jan. 1, 2020.

As everyone should be aware by this late date, the Federal Aviation Administration is requiring all aircraft flying in controlled airspace to be equipped with ADS-B technology to modernize the U.S. national airspace system. The FAA predicts this mandate will apply to 120,000 to 160,000 aircraft, of which nearly 100,000 aircraft still need to equip within the next 24 months.

Five years ago, my organization – the Aircraft Electronics Association – created a quarterly avionics sales report to assess the true dollar size of the business and general aviation avionics market. The AEA is an international trade association whose membership roster is compiled of avionics manufacturers and distributors and government-certified repair stations that service, install and maintain the general and business aviation fleet. 

Today, 23 avionics manufacturers submit their quarterly sales to the AEA. The sales report provides valuable information to the industry, as well as promotes the business and general aviation avionics industry to investors and informs elected officials of its global economic value.

The dollar amount reported includes: all business and general aviation aircraft electronic sales – including all component and accessories in cockpit/cabin/software upgrades/portables/certified and noncertified aircraft electronics; all hardware (tip to tail); batteries; and chargeable product upgrades from the participating manufacturers. The amount does not include repairs and overhauls, extended warranty or subscription services.

In the first nine months of 2017, total worldwide business and general aviation avionics sales amounted to more than $1.73 billion as reported by the participating companies. The figure represented a 4.1 percent increase in year-over-year sales compared to the first nine months of 2016 amount of more than $1.66 billion. 

Even better, sales during the third-quarter months of 2017 had a 7.1 percent increase compared to the 2016 third-quarter sales of more than $548 million. 

These are significant increases in a cautious general aviation economy. Interestingly, of the more than $1.73 billion in sales during the first nine months of 2017, 57.7 percent came from the retrofit market, while forward-fit sales amounted to 42.3 percent of sales. 

The third-quarter report indicates that the retrofit market appears to be thriving, as those sales have increased more than 28 percent in the past year. Why the surge in retrofit sales? While the AEA Avionics Market Report should not be considered a predictive indicator of future industry sales activity, the results in the third quarter may be attributed to an increase in ADS-B installations in existing aircraft. 

The retrofit surge also could be partially attributed to the possibility that aircraft owners are choosing to have additional avionics work done while simultaneously coming into ADS-B compliance. Many avionics shops are telling us that aircraft owners are electing to order full-panel avionics upgrades rather than just the ADS-B equipment. 

Whatever the reason, retrofit sales increased more than 32 percent during the third-quarter months alone. This is consistent with what shop owners in the U.S. have been telling me during our AEA Connect Conferences last fall, as many have a backlog of work ranging anywhere from two to six months.

With such a short time span left to comply with the ADS-B Out mandate, aircraft owners and operators may now realize time is getting short, and the supply of authorized avionics shops performing these installations will be in great demand throughout 2018 and 2019. 

Although the mandate was first introduced in 2010, with a 10-year compliance calendar, owners have been slow to react. Suspecting the FAA may extend the mandate beyond 2020, owners procrastinated, and demands for lower equipment prices were heard throughout the industry. The manufacturers responded positively, and today, there are several lower-priced options available, as well as more offerings for the Part 25 market. 

Who knows how long it will take corporate tax cuts to trickle down to our industry segment or what the new year may bring; in the meantime, the avionics industry, as usual, will march on, work hard and do our part in modernizing the nation’s airspace.


As president of the Aircraft Electronics Association, Paula Derks presides over the international trade organization that provides regulatory representation, training and member services to nearly 1,300 general aviation electronics entities in 43 countries around the globe. 

In coordination with the AEA board of directors, Derks’ position includes long-range planning and budgeting, representing the AEA at industry events, and ensuring the strategic objectives of the association are realized. She is the publisher of Avionics News, the association’s monthly magazine.


Mooney Ovation Flight Review
Paul Bertorelli

Mooney is showing off its new Ovation Ultra, with a new Garmin G1000 NXi from Garmin and--a first--a pilot's side door for the cabin. In this in-depth flight review video, AVweb's Paul Bertorelli explains how the Ovation Ultra compares to the competition, especially the Cirrus SR22.


Electronics International 'Aviation Alert! Short video on how EI saved this pilot's life
NBAA Launches New Mentoring Program
Mary Grady

Workers at all phases of life may be looking for a new career path for any number of reasons, and NBAA this month introduced a new mentoring program that aims to help those seekers explore opportunities in business aviation. “The great thing about the program is it’s designed for everyone,” said Brian Koester, NBAA’s manager of operations. The first class comprises a diverse group of 20, Koester said: “College students looking to find their way into a business aviation career, people already in the industry looking to make a step up, people at a crossroads in their career trying to decide if they want to stay on the path they’re on, or maybe turn down a different road.” Each participant will be matched with a mentor in the industry. The program started this month and runs through June.

Both mentees and mentors will be asked to sign a best-practices agreement covering goals, confidentiality, how often they will meet and a specified end date, NBAA said. The end point was added so potential mentors would be more willing to participate, knowing “they’re not on the hook forever,” Koester said. The program was designed by a steering group, with input from NBAA’s Young Professionals Council, the association’s Domestic Operations Committee and Business Aviation Management Committee, along with NBAA staff members. More programs are planned for next year. Participants must be at least 18 years old.

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Thinking of an avionics upgrade? Wondering what the latest cockpit technologies are? What's new in the field of avionics and instrument systems? How do the aviation regulations affect how you operate and maintain your aircraft? You can find information on all of these topics by reading Avionics News, the monthly magazine of the Aircraft Electronics Association. And, best of all, it's a free publication for U.S. residents. Subscribe today by visiting AvionicsNews.net.
First U.S. Flight Demo For Volocopter
Mary Grady

Volocopter, the German company that has long been working to develop a semi-autonomous VTOL, flew its aircraft for the first time in the U.S., on Monday. The aircraft flew briefly, unmanned and tethered, on a stage during the keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Volocopter also announced it had flown with a passenger for the first time last month, taking Intel CEO Brian Krzanich for a short flight inside a hangar in Germany. The aircraft was remotely piloted while Krzanich went along for the ride. “That was the best flight I’ve ever had,” Krzanich said after landing. “Everybody will fly like this someday.”

According to The Verge, Intel has been working with Volocopter to integrate its drone technology into the aircraft. The Verge also reported that besides the aircraft that flew during the keynote, the 2X production version also is on display at the show. The 2X rotors are set a bit higher, to enhance safety, says Volocopter CEO Florian Reuter, and the interior is roomier. Flight endurance now is about 30 minutes, but Reuter said the goal is to be able to stay aloft for at least an hour. That should be enough for the urban routes that he expects the aircraft to serve. Company spokesperson Helena Treeck told AVweb on Tuesday the Volocopter will remain on display at CES for another four days, but will not fly again. She added there are currently no plans for the aircraft to appear elsewhere in the U.S. However, company representatives have told AVweb in the past they would love to bring the aircraft to the U.S. and fly at EAA AirVenture, so we’ll see.

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Bell, SureFly Also At CES
Mary Grady

Volocopter was not the only aviation company with a presence at the Consumer Electronics Show this week — Bell Helicopter and SureFly also made the trip to Las Vegas. SureFly had announced they would fly their manned drone at the show on opening day, but the attempt was delayed by rain. No date has been announced for a second attempt. Bell is attending the show for the first time, with exhibits that focus on the development of urban air taxis. “The future of urban air taxi is closer than many people realize,” said Bell CEO Mitch Snyder. “We believe in the positive impact our design will have on addressing transportation concerns in cities worldwide.” Bell is showing a mock-up of a four-passenger cabin for an air taxi.

The Bell exhibit features an “augmented reality simulator” inside the cabin, with a selection of travel scenarios, such as landing on the red carpet for a Hollywood premiere and flying above a cityscape at night. “The air taxi is not a new concept – Bell Helicopter has been moving people over urban landscapes for decades,” said Snyder. “While we are laser-focused on the passenger experience and eager to share with the public, Bell continues to develop our air taxi design to provide safe, reliable transportation services to the world.”

SureFly's passenger drone

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First BelugaXL Rolls Out
Mary Grady

The BelugaXL, the extra-large and unique cargo aircraft built by Airbus to transport huge aircraft sections among its various production sites in Europe, has rolled out from its assembly hangar in Toulouse, France, for the first time, this month, Airbus announced on Tuesday. The airframe is now structurally complete, the company said. It’s the first of five aircraft now under construction, and is expected to fly for the first time by this summer. The new airplanes will be bigger than the BelugaST transporters they are replacing. The ST can carry only one wing at a time for the A350 XWB jet, but the XL can transport both wings at once.

The aircraft is based on the Airbus A330-200 jet, with a highly modified fuselage. “We have the A330 as a foundation,” said Bertrand George, head of the BelugaXL program. “But many changes have been successfully designed, introduced into the aircraft and tested. Transforming an existing product into a super transporter is not a simple task.” The BelugaXL is about 20 feet longer and 3 feet wider than the BelugaST, and will be able to lift about 6.6 tons more payload. Five BelugaXLs are scheduled to enter service for Airbus’ airlift needs. Workers have now begun to build the second aircraft.

Picture of the Week
Going places is the great thing about personal aviation and some, like Poppy, get to go to some pretty nice places. Jake Ruhl shot this of his obviously appreciative dog near Bend, OR.

See all submissions

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

We flew a group of customers from North Carolina to Canada for a factory visit. This was a part 91 corporate trip, in a King Air 200. When we returned several days later, our Canadian airport had turned into the ice planet of Hoth: not just snow but ice everywhere. We got clearance to taxi from ground and I was barely moving trying to steer with just differential thrust. An airport vehicle called for clearance to move and he was told to hold for the King Air taxing out. The following exchange took place.  

Airport vehicle: "What King Air?" 

Tower: "I don't see him. Oh wait, there he is. He is BARELY moving" 

Me, in my obviously Southern drawl: "Hey, we are doing the best we can!"

Tower: "Don't you have spikes on your tires?" 

Me, in an even deeper Southern drawl: "Well we bought some chains, but nobody onboard knows how to put them on!" 

Tower: "Sounds of multiple people laughing."


Dan Moore 


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