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Volume 25, Number 13c
March 30, 2018
 
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Regional Airline Cites Pilot Shortage In Shutdown
 
Mary Grady
 
 

Great Lakes Airlines, a regional carrier based in Denver, has canceled all of its scheduled flights as of Tuesday, citing a lack of pilots, the Denver Post has reported. The airline posted a notice on its website noting the company has not entered bankruptcy and will continue to operate scheduled service as Great Lakes Express between Denver and two cities in South Dakota. Great Lakes had flown to Los Angeles, Phoenix and several other regional destinations. “It’s just plain, fundamental draining of availability of pilots,” Great Lakes CEO Doug Voss told the Post. “At the end of the day, it’s about the pilot-supply issue and how government is managing the consequences of it.” The shutdown will leave Cheyenne and Telluride without air service from Denver.

The Post also noted that changes in the government’s essential air service program had affected Great Lakes. Also, in 2015, the airline had entered an agreement with the aviation program at Metropolitan State University of Denver, to direct new pilots into entry-level jobs with the airline. That arrangement has been discontinued, according to the Post. According to the airline’s website, their fleet includes the Beechcraft 1900D twin turboprop outfitted for nine or 19 passengers, Embraer’s Brasilia 30-seat turboprop, Bombardier’s CRJ 200 jet with 50 seats and the CRJ 700 with 70 seats. Voss told the Post he may use the airplanes to haul cargo, and hopes to return to passenger service.

The Lure Of The Cheap Autopilot
 
Paul Bertorelli
 

Anyone who transcends beyond casual skepticism understands that to be truly blackhearted is to know that cynicism is the smoke that curls up from burned dreams. Personally, I’ve embraced it, with a list of failings and character flaws so numerous that I need an Excel spreadsheet just to list them.

But one thing I am not is a Kool-Aid drinker. Oddly, my Catholic school upbringing saw to that; I perfected the eye roll by fifth grade. So five years ago, when the FAA was describing the coming wave of streamlined certification as “twice the safety at half the cost,” my BS detector went off-scale high. Lately, it’s come off the peg, but just barely.

Are we there yet? With regard to avionics, at least, we can measure the cost part. Let’s focus on autopilots, specifically the TruTrak Vizion system at an eye-opening $5000 that Andrew Barker talks about in this video we shot at AEA in Last Vegas this week. And that’s no stripped-down wing leveler either, but a full-featured autoflight system with envelope protection.

A decade ago, the least expensive autopilot installations were in the $15,000 range, if not a lot more. Even today, as TruTrak, Garmin and Trio offer capable autopilots for five grand, the Genesys System 30, the old rate-based S-TEC bargain AP, lists for $13,000. So we’ve hit the half-the-cost claim and then some.

Now the safety part. Generously, this is a rubbery concept. What’s “twice the safety?” My working definition would be a halving of the general aviation fatal accident rate. Despite the rosy motto, the FAA’s stated goal was to reduce the accident rate by 10 percent over a 10-year period between 2009 and 2018.

Confronting the data fairly, total accidents and likely the fatal rate have declined sharply during this period. In 2009, the fatal rate was 1.33/100,000 hours compared to 0.98/100,000 in 2016, according to NTSB data. The FAA claims a bigger drop, but I’ll stick with the NTSB data for the moment and to be fair, it exceeds the FAA goal anyway.

What happened? A combination of factors related to improvements in training, an aggressive attempt to teach risk mitigation, better maintenance management and perhaps some impact from more sophisticated avionics, mainly glass panels and autopilots, although a 2010 NTSB study on this very topic found no safety impact from the glass evolution. Eight years hence, perhaps the effect is more measurable. And I wouldn’t discount the impact Cirrus has had on the whole in reducing its own accident rate dramatically.

And that gets us back to affordable autopilots with envelope protection. Despite all the training and risk awareness, the big killers in GA remain loss of control and stalls. Because we can’t interview dead people, the reasons for LOC accidents are poorly understood, so the operative theory is that smart autopilots can intervene frequently enough to nudge the fatal accident needle downward. It did not escape me that Garmin’s new GFC 600H autopilot for helicopters has a hover assist mode, perhaps to help the ham-fisted helo driver avoid trimming trees with the tail rotor.

Certainly, in onesies and twosies, that ought to move the accident rate downward, right? It probably can’t hurt, but I’m skeptical that this technology will have measureable impact at this point. 

As long as he’s in the loop, homo the sap is ever creative in digging smoking holes by defeating the very systems he invented to keep him from doing so. There’s no line of code in an autopilot that’s the equivalent of “Hey, watch this.”

What we’re missing here in the forest-for-the-trees wonder over impressive autopilots is that we’re well past the dawn of a sea change that’s marching smartly toward autonomous flight. You can’t help but notice all the coverage we’ve been doing on drones and automated flying machines that will whisk passengers from A to B at the press of an app option. Envelope protection is but a mere momentary stop on that road and, being a little harsh here perhaps, it’s already obsolete. We just haven’t realized it yet.

I’ve been doubtful of the timing and remain so, but the outlines are unmistakable. Line 266 of my spreadsheet catalog of character flaws is the inability to predict the future. But I’ll hazard a prediction anyway. The coming GA bifurcation will be between pilots for whom coping with the prospect of a fiery death is the appeal of flying and those who just want to fly to South Bend for Christmas; those who lust for the feel of the stick and those who admire turn anticipation of a perfect radius drawn on a vivid TFT.

In the not-too-distant future, someone will be blogging about how control laws should be written to balance the pilot’s genetic urge to intervene against the wisdom of preventing him from doing so.

Welcome to the revolution.

S-TEC 3100 Autopilot Ready To Earn STCs
 
Joy Finnegan
 
 

Genesys Aerosystems says its new S-TEC 3100 autopilot will earn STCs for numerous aircraft in early April. In this exclusive podcast recorded at the 2018 Aircraft Electronics Association convention in Las Vegas, Genesys’ Jamie Luster, director of sales and marketing at the company to talk about the product originally announced at AirVenture in Oshkosh last year.

A Little Float Flying, Please
 
Rick Durden
 
 

For pure fun in aviation, not much beats flying seaplanes. The pilots I know who have found room in their aeronautical budget to get a seaplane rating have been uniform in telling me that they had a ball doing so and were glad they did it. As winter weather starts to retreat from the northern climes, it’s an appropriate time to think about what’s involved in adding on the single-engine sea rating to an ASEL ticket—no written required, one to three days of enjoyable dual instruction and then a practical exam that consists of an oral and flight test—but also to look at that process from the point of view of the flight instructor who will be providing the training.

There are excellent books and videos that will help you prepare for a seaplane rating. Beyond the published training materials, did you ever think about what concerns a seaplane instructor who is giving training? What does he or she want to make sure sinks into the soul of the student by checkride time? What do seaplane instructors talk about over beers when they discuss turning landplane pilots into seaplane pilots? After all, while seaplane flying is tremendous fun, it has its unique dangers—and an accident rate well above that of landplanes.

What follows are thoughts on the subject from the perspective of more than 20 years of giving seaplane dual and lots of conversations with experienced seaplane instructors, designated examiners and FAA inspectors. This article is generally targeted toward floatplanes—the more common type of general aviation seaplanes—but most of the information also applies to flying boats, although they have some specialized operating differences.

I’ll start it off with a strong recommendation to join the Seaplane Pilots Association before taking any further steps toward the rating. The monthly magazine the SPA puts out is excellent and its website is a tremendous resource for training and ongoing operations.

Preflight Thoughts

Consideration for others is very important to instructors who fly out of the same lakes all season, yet may not occur to students who are only in the area for a few days.  Don't sump the tanks and then dump the fuel sample into the water. It doesn't take much gasoline to do a lot of damage. We want to keep the lakes clean and fish alive, and we know the owners of those high-dollar lakeshore houses certainly don't want the seaplanes putting fuel in the lakes.

It's tough to be inconspicuous in a seaplane; the homeowners are watching, will complain and there are a lot more of them than there are seaplane pilots.

We are sensitive to noise and do our best to instill noise awareness in every pilot. For a number of reasons, seaplanes are often noisier than landplanes on takeoff and climbout. Plus, the sound reflects off the water on the takeoff run, right at those living on the shore. It's especially noticeable on those lovely, quiet mornings when the homeowners are sitting on their decks eating breakfast.

As a result, when we are making takeoffs and landings, we try to move them around the lake and go to adjacent lakes so that we are not constantly bombarding the same spot with noise. We do our best to cross shorelines at a 90-degree angle to minimize the noise footprint on the houses on the shore. We get as much altitude as we can over the lake before turning over land and try to reduce the prop RPM as much as we can when over shorelines. Put bluntly, the FAA has left the question of whether seaplanes can land on lakes to local and state governments, so it's those homeowners who may be voting to ban seaplanes from the lake. Frankly, we don't want to piss off the neighbors. We are not exactly a potent political force.

Which Airplane?

This question invariably generates a lot of discussion among instructors—and often the prospective seaplane pilot doesn’t have much choice in the matter. Based on my experience, I think there is a general preference for tandem-seating airplanes. While we instruct from the rear seat in most of them, and visibility tends to be lousy, we like having a complete set of controls, including a throttle. There are certain operations where there is very little time to react if a student makes a serious mistake—so we are going to be hovering a fraction of an inch from the controls in whatever type of airplane we’re flying. In a tandem airplane, the student can't see us doing it, so we don't adversely affect his or her confidence. Believe it or not, that is extremely important—if a student sees the instructor poised to grab the controls, the student's performance and rate of learning drops rapidly. Plus, if we have to get on the controls, we don't have to knock the student's hand off the throttle. That savings of time has been important to every one of us.

Boaters

Boaters can be a tremendous problem to seaplane operations. The hard fact of life is that despite pious claims to the contrary, drunken boaters are tacitly tolerated on most waterways, yet sober individuals who have passed fairly stringent federal tests to operate seaplanes may be banned from those same waters. Go figure.

All of us have seen boaters do incredibly stupid things in the presence of seaplanes, with jet skiers being magnitudes worse. We long ago quit trying to analyze why boaters will engage in idiocy; we just stay clear if at all possible. The rule of thumb we want to pass on to students is that if they see a boater doing something dumb, assume that the boater will continue the practice.

We all teach that a seaplane pilot should never insist, nor even count on, boaters adhering to maritime right-of-way rules. While we teach those rules and explain that the moment the airplane touches the water, it must comply with nautical rules, we point out that a lot of the boaters don't know them. If there is a question of right of way, back down. A boat can withstand a collision much better than a seaplane.

We've discovered that if boaters come up to the airplane while we are on the water and want to race or otherwise play, that the best approach is to smile, wave and generally be friendly, but do nothing else. We've observed that few of the sorts of boaters who generate problems have much patience, so if we just sit there for 90 seconds or so, the boater will lose interest and go away. We've learned to never race a boat on takeoff as we'll usually lose and, upon discovering that they are winning the race, a disconcerting percentage of boat drivers will then turn so that they are directly in front of the airplane and slow down.

We've found that if there is any doubt about what a boater is going to do when near the airplane, the best thing to do is to simply shut down, get the prop stopped and be ready to get out onto a float quickly.

Finally, we're aware of the bad things that can happen when a seaplane hits a boat wake while moving fast, so we treat every wake with caution. We’ve also read too many accident reports in which the sequence begins with the seaplane hitting a boat wake.

Wind

Constant wind awareness is a big deal. We do our best to make sure it becomes a part of the students’ thought processes all the time they are in the airplane. The aileron positioning that pilots learned for ground ops of landplanes tends to be forgotten about the time they taxi in from the private pilot checkride. That’s simply because a pilot usually can get away with ignoring it in nosewheel airplanes. That’s not the case in a seaplane. Deflecting the ailerons and elevators in the correct direction for the wind can mean the difference between routinely taxiing out for takeoff and capsizing the airplane. The combination of wave action raising the upwind wing and an aileron mispositioned so as to exacerbate the effect can flip a seaplane in seconds.

When we are in airplanes with only one door we make all our taxi turns so that the door side will be up should the airplane get blown over during the turn. Yes, it has happened.

Depending on the type of seaplane, a tailwind on takeoff or landing can be a serious problem. A downwind takeoff should only be performed if the pilot knows the airplane well and has taken all of the variables into consideration—it should never be inadvertent or considered as a minor matter.

Knowing the wind direction and speed can mean being able to safely land in a sheltered area of a lake on a windy day as opposed to damaging the floats or the hull in the attempt. We spend time teaching students how to read wind signatures on the water and we expect them to learn the subject well.

Taxiing

We want our students to be aware where the airplane is going to be in the next 30 seconds or so because landplane pilots sometimes forget that, unless a seaplane is moored, beached or tied up at a dock, it is going to move—all the time.

We have also learned patience because getting where one wants to go while taxiing a seaplane means accepting the fact that the best way to taxi is also the slowest. There are three types of seaplane taxiing: idle, plow and step.

Idle is just that, power at about 1100 RPM or less. The airplane meanders toward the destination in its most stable and safe configuration while the student keeps the stick full aft and applies the needed aileron deflection.

We almost completely avoid plow taxiing. That involves carrying about 1500-1700 RPM with the stick fully aft. The airplane is pitched up significantly. The problems are twofold: First, the instructor can't see straight ahead because the nose is so high and, second, for tractor airplanes, plow taxiing puts a lot of water through the propeller. That causes rapid blade erosion, making it too expensive to do for any length of time. We all know what can happen if prop blade erosion is not treated.

Step taxiing means that the airplane is planning on top of the water—the same configuration the airplane is in for best acceleration on takeoff. While it allows the airplane to cover long distances on the water in a relatively short time, the airplane is least stable when taxiing on the step. When making a turn on the step, students often tell us it feels as if they are trying to balance on a beach ball. It's a pretty good analogy. Step taxiing is one of those times when we instructors are hovering over our set of controls.

Pitch Attitude

This is the heart of takeoffs and landings in seaplanes. Much of the effort we expend as instructors is getting pilots to the point where they become viscerally attuned to the pitch attitude of the airplane. Much of the time it is an integral part of getting the best performance from low-powered, high-drag airplanes. However, on some high-performance or large seaplanes an error of as little as a degree or two in pitch during takeoff or landing can mean the airplane will become uncontrollable or will set up a vicious porpoising. From the front seat there isn't a lot of airplane in front of the pilot to provide pitch reference, but we expect a pilot to learn to make use of what is available. As a fledgling seaplane pilot, you are going to hear a lot from that voice in the rear seat about pitch attitudes during the takeoff run, liftoff, climbout, approach, flare, the landing run, and even while taxiing. Be ready for it and be prepared to learn to hold a selected pitch attitude precisely and trim the airplane appropriately—yes, trim, it helps a lot. There is little that will upset instructors more than a student who lets the nose wander up and down randomly. Bluntly, there are times when such sloppiness can be fatal.

We are particularly alert to pitch attitude on touchdown and the landing run out. The nose of the floats has to be pitched up slightly and held in that attitude for the first portion of the run out. At the moment of touchdown the rapid increase in drag way down at the bottom of the floats—well below the center of gravity of the flying machine—imparts a significant nose-down moment on the airplane. Yes, behind you, we instructors will be hovering around that rear stick. We will be especially careful if we know the student is a nosewheel pilot because she or he will have a tendency to relax on touchdown. Unless you gradually feed in more aft stick to keep the pitch attitude constant, there is the risk that the nose will drop far enough for the floats to effectively stub their toes and pitchpole the seaplane. It’s fast and it’s violent. Flipping a seaplane tail over nose is a nasty bit of work as the windshield may well collapse. If that isn't enough, trying to release the seatbelt and find one's way out of an inverted airplane is the stuff of which dunking survival courses are made.

We'll also watch your pitch attitude on the step to keep you from stubbing a toe or dragging the aft end of the floats and slowing or stopping acceleration. In lower-powered seaplanes or on shorter bodies of water, acceleration is critical, so pitch attitude on the step is important.

Attitude of the airplane during touchdown and run out in a second axis—yaw—is as critical as in pitch. The airplane must be traveling in the same direction as it is pointed, or it will be subjected to side load on the floats on touchdown. Because the load will be well below the center of gravity and floats don’t slide sideways well, there is a lot of kinetic energy that will work to tip the airplane. The result is usually a sequence that starts with a wing hitting the water hard and the airplane starting to rotate around that wing. It can progress into a cartwheel, some portion of the wing breaking off and/or the airplane coming to a stop inverted.

The good thing is that most of the students we fly with are able to figure out the direction the airplane is pointed versus the direction it’s traveling and make the two match fairly early on in training. However, we’re always paying attention as yaw can be induced quickly, usually inadvertently, when the pilot carries a little too much speed into the flare and floats or is momentarily distracted by something just prior to touchdown and makes an unconscious rudder input.

Glassy Water

Unless the wind is nearly dead calm, it's tough to find true glassy water during training. Without actually experiencing the phenomena, it's incredibly difficult to convince a pilot that there are circumstances in which it is absolutely, totally and completely impossible to tell how high you are above the water. Almost every student believes deep in his or her pilot soul that she or he is way too cool to fall prey to the visual illusions of glassy water. We know that. We’ve seen it in almost every student we’ve flown with, so we do everything we can to try to get the teaching about glassy water to sink into the pilot’s viscera. We read seaplane accident reports and realize that the perils of glassy water don’t always sink in to pilots—one out of about four or five seaplane crashes involve glassy water.

When we are teaching glassy water landings, we expect the student to memorize the pitch attitude and power required to set up and maintain the slow descent approach as a first step. Then we work to expand her or his awareness of the effect of the slow descent rate—the airplane may run out of suitable landing area before actually touching the water. We watch closely to see that students are paying attention to the big picture and don't get so fascinated with the process of finding the water that they run out of lake, as it were, and wait too long to make a successful go around.

Glassy water takeoffs involve prying one float out of the water, running briefly on the other, and then popping the airplane into the air. The first few times it feels odd to the student, and most do it by rote manipulation of the controls. We're watching to make sure you don't stick a wingtip into the water (that’s pretty low risk, although it can feel as though you’re about to do it) or stall the airplane as you yank it off the water (higher risk, particularly if the airplane is heavily loaded or modestly powered).

Overall Wariness

Because a lot of seaplane training is not around airports, there is a tendency to let down one's guard and not watch for other airplanes. We have to remind ourselves to keep looking around. To make matters worse, most of the airplanes we use have crummy visibility—so we have to be assertive in watching for traffic.

Anywhere a waterway is narrow, such as on a river, the neck of a lake or if there is an island relatively close to a shoreline, our seaplane CFI internal power line alarm triggers. Power lines are extraordinarily difficult to see from the air—and most pilots don’t know just how difficult. It’s a fact of life, we see a small fraction of the power lines we fly over—so we don’t realize how many we don’t see. That is important to seaplane pilots because people like to build vacation homes on islands and demand (and get) electrical service. Power companies naturally look for the easiest and shortest ways to string lines across water. Our rule of thumb is not to land on any relatively narrow body of water until we have had a chance to check it for power lines either from the ground or via boat. We may survive catching a power line on the propeller, but we doubt we'd make it if we snagged it on the struts that connect the floats to the airplane. The incredibly experienced pilot and well-loved aviation writer Richard Bach only survived a power line strike on landing because a medevac helo got to him 12 minutes after he and his seaplane impacted inverted.

Normal Operations

We make sure we have a canoe paddle aboard and can get to it easily.

In amphibious airplanes a gear-down landing on water has a fatality rate that is shockingly close to unity. We teach students in amphibs to say their landing checklist out loud, repeating and confirming that the gear is in the proper position for the surface on which we desire to alight.

Seaplane flying remains very much a part of aviation where pilots have to learn to "feel" the airplane. While pitch attitudes are sharp-edged and precise, the health of the airplane and success of the operation is much a matter of feel. The airplane is going to tell you a great deal by how it behaves on the water, in the air and in the sometimes delicate transition between the two; we want you to understand what it is saying. We want you to feel how the airplane sits in the water normally, so you can tell if one of the compartments in the floats has flooded. We want you to be able to feel if the rate of acceleration on takeoff is appropriate, especially because some seaplanes accelerate very slowly and take a long, long time to get off the water. A Seabee or a loaded Cessna 206 can run for well over a mile on a hot day. We want you to be able to tell what's normal or whether there's something wrong. We want to help you to develop, and then trust, that nagging feeling that something is wrong—so you can abort a takeoff with time to stop.

Without a runway for reference, many pilots have difficulty visualizing the path an airplane must follow to get to a given spot. We want you to be able to visualize the movement of the airplane on the water and through the air. We will work with you to make sure you can select a desired touchdown spot on the water, know the wind direction and then visualize a complete traffic pattern so that you can set up for a landing from almost any position in or near that traffic pattern.

It Truly is Fun

I recall an afternoon talking with other seaplane instructors about how much we enjoyed flying airplanes that can land on the water more than once and techniques we use to teach students about the hazards. One of the pilots sitting with us—not yet a seaplane pilot—laughed and said, "Fun? After all the possible horrible things you just described?"

One of the other instructors grinned at him and responded, "Yeah, we tell the bad parts to keep the riffraff from learning to fly floats so that they don't show up at the remote lakes we like. But, when we tie up to the dock at one of those lakes, and hear the loons calling, we know that learning to fly floats is sure worth the effort."

Rick Durden is a CFII, holds an ATP with type ratings in the Douglas DC-3 and Cessna Citation and is the author of The Thinking Pilot’s Flight Manual or, How to Survive Flying Little Airplanes and Have a Ball Doing It, Vols. 1 & 2.

Siemens Electric Airplane Makes U.S. Debut
 
Mary Grady
 
 

Siemens brought its prototype electric aircraft to the U.S. this week for the first time, showcasing the airplane at the company’s Innovation Day in Chicago. “Electric propulsion is one of the transformative technologies that will help the industry meet the goals of reduced fuel, emissions and noise,” said Teri Hamlin, vice president of electric propulsion for Siemens. “By accomplishing testing on our systems on select flying testbeds in the lower power classes, we are gaining valuable experience and knowledge that accelerates and validates our other developments in hybrid-electric propulsion systems in the high power classes.” Further testing of the technology will take place in Waco, Texas, at the Texas State Technical College Airfield.

The Texas facility will become home to the eFusion aircraft, a flying test bed featuring the Siemens 55-kw electric propulsion unit, the company said. The Texas facility also will be key in data collection on new electric propulsion systems, enabling safety standards and certification efforts for the aerospace market. Siemens also is working with Airbus on the “City Airbus” demonstrator, a VTOL designed for urban mobility. That aircraft will fly for the first time later this year, Siemens said. The company also said recently it will collaborate with Airbus and Rolls-Royce to further develop innovations in the field of hybrid electric propulsion.

Fly SAM STC Approved
XCub Now Available On Floats
 
Mary Grady
 
 

CubCrafters is now offering factory-installed floats for its Part 23-certified XCub two-seater, the company announced this week. Wipline 2100 floats, manufactured by Wipaire, are available in both amphibious and seaplane versions. Float operations were “a design objective from the outset,” said Randy Lervold, president of CubCrafters. Lervold said he has trained with the floats on the XCub and was impressed with their performance. “The airplane’s handling on water was smooth and predictable, even in wind and chop,” he said. Takeoffs were quick, and the landing gear on the amphibious model is “robust,” he said. The floats are available for new XCubs, or as a retrofit on aircraft that have already been delivered, the company said.

The XCub has been a popular product since its introduction in 2016. It cruises at about 127 knots, takes off in 650 feet, and has a range of about 700 NM. It’s driven by a 180-HP Lycoming O-360-C1G engine, paired with a Hartzell constant-speed prop. It sells for about $300,000. The seaplane (straight) floats are available factory-installed for about $45,000, and the amphibious floats are $70,000, company spokesman John Whitish told AVweb this week. The company doesn’t yet offer factory-authorized certification for water operations, Whitish said, but their training partner, TacAero, is working on a program that will be offered later this year. AVweb’s Paul Bertorelli took the XCub flying in 2016; click here for his report.

AEA: New Stuff From Trans-Cal, PS Engineering and Airtext
 
Joy Finnegan
 
 

AVweb’s final sweep of the Aircraft Electronics Association in Last Vegas turned up a new altitude digitizer from Trans-Cal, a specialized audio control from PS Engineering and a new Iridium satellite-based texting system from Airtext.

Trans-Cal announced, new for 2018, its “Charlie” unit altitude digitizer. The company says the unit has the same quality, reliability and ruggedness as previous models but comes in a smaller box and is less expensive. The box is 0.9 inches tall for use where space is critical. It comes with a 42-month warranty, which the company says is the longest in the industry. Shops give Trans-Cal high marks, according to our sister publication, Aviation Consumer.

PS Engineering was spreading the word about its PAC 45 Digital Audio Control with MultiTalker designed with special-missions helicopter use in mind. The PAC 45 uses patented technology developed at Wright Patterson and licensed to PS Engineering. The new product  makes it available for use in general aviation, as well.

The PAC 45 allows the pilot to place six individual com radio sources and up to nine unique positions, within a stereo headset, according to the company. PS Engineering is predicting deliveries to begin in the third quarter of 2018.

You may have already read about Airtext’s product that allows 16 simultaneous users to send and receive text (SMS) messages anywhere in the world.

The product uses the Iridium satellite network, which has 40 satellites now and is expected to have 70 by the end of the year. This system allows connectivity through a cellphone while on the airplane. The company hopes the device will address concerns about internet expense and usage fees. Airtext says its product is perfect for smaller aircraft or as supplemental connectivity for large airplanes. At the AEA show, Airtext also introduced new pilot functionality and capabilities such as the ability to get D-ATIS, ASOS, international METAR and TAFs. FBOlink is also available, allowing pilots to send messages to FBOs. There is also a new small, lightweight cockpit annunciator that uses e-ink technology similar to that employed in Kindle e-readers, making it easy to read, says the company. President David Gray stressed at the show that the unit is small, just under a pound. List price is $14,950 with messages costing five cents and phone calls running $1.60/minute.

Lycoming 'When can an engine give you 200 extra flying hours?'
Wing Shot Over Long Beach, California
 
 
This beautiful wing shot was taken over downtown Long Beach, Calif. on a scenic flight by pilot Brian Ringel.

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Aspen's New Low-Cost EFI
 
Paul Bertorelli
 
 

At the Aircraft Electronics Association show in Las Vegas, Aspen announced a new low-priced EFI, the E5. It's based on the company's Evolution series PFD, but it's non-certified and can be paired with TruTrak's new non-certified autopilot.

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