World's Leading Independent Aviation News Service
Volume 25, Number 29c
July 20, 2018
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Boeing Announces New Future-Tech Division
Kate O'Connor

Boeing announced the formation of a new division at the Farnborough International Airshow on Tuesday. The goal of the division, called Boeing NeXt, will be to “advance next-generation airspace management and evolve the transportation ecosystem.” According to the company, technologies NeXt will be exploring include artificial intelligence, airspace management for autonomous flight and advanced propulsion.

“We’re at a point in history where technological advances and societal trends are converging to demand bold solutions and a different way to travel,” said Boeing chief technology officer Greg Hyslop. “Through Boeing NeXt, we intend to build on our legacy of opening up new frontiers to move people and goods with proven technologies.”

Boeing has already announced that it will be collaborating with artificial intelligence technology company SparkCognition on developing unmanned aircraft system traffic management solutions. The joint project involves using artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies to track autonomous vehicles and assign routes. Other Boeing NeXt projects include the company’s recently revealed hypersonic concept, and electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicles for on-demand cargo transport and urban travel.

Researcher Seeks Input On Landing Techniques
Mary Grady

Douglas Boyd, a researcher with the University of Texas, is looking into factors that affect landing safety for light aircraft, and has posted an online survey seeking input from general aviation pilots. “A couple of years ago we did a study on student-pilot accidents, and it piqued my curiosity about the various factors that affect landing accidents, in particular,” Boyd told AVweb. “This new study is designed to try to figure out more details about how pilots think about and plan their landings.” The questionnaire asks certificated pilots (private through ATP) to anonymously answer just seven brief questions that Boyd hopes will shed light on the topic and lead to better training regimens in the future.

“It shouldn’t take more than two minutes for folks to participate,” Boyd said. The research is focused on aircraft that weigh less than 12,500 pounds. After the data is analyzed, Boyd will report his results to AVweb as well as to academic journals.

Aviation Dream Jobs: Whale Survey Pilot
Kate O'Connor

Trevor Laue typically flies 1,000 feet above the ocean, mapping grids over the waves at 100 knots. Whenever one of the flight observers catches sight of the crew’s target—a right whale—Laue breaks out of the pattern and settles into a circle around the whale so scientists in the rear seat of the Cessna Skymaster can photograph, identify and collect data on the animal. For the best results, the aircraft has to remain as steady as possible. Tolerances are just +100, -0 feet on altitude and +5, -0 knots.

Once the whale has been identified and data collected, Laue will return to the track line and continue the pattern. In peak season, the survey crew may see between 100-180 individuals a day, which accounts for over a quarter of the entire population of the endangered North Atlantic right whale. The survey flights, conducted by Laue’s employer Avwatch, take place over Cape Cod bay and south of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. The flights are contracted by Provincetown Center for Coastal studies and the New England Aquarium.

Trevor Laue is just one of the lucky pilots who contacted AVweb following our “Aviation Dream Job” survey back in June. From flying to fixing, we’re looking for stories about fascinating and unusual GA jobs. Surprise us with the rare aircraft you instruct in, specialized maintenance you do or anything else beyond the average aviation industry workday. Please submit up 500 words about what you do and a photo of you in your work environment to Selected stories will be edited—with author approval—and run on our website. Authors of chosen stories will receive an AVweb baseball cap.

Whale of a Time

Trevor began his career at the Chatham airport. Once he got his commercial multi-engine rating, he started flying with the company. By his third year, he was their primary PIC. When the previous operator fully retired last year, Avwatch brought Laue on to take over the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies contract and to lead the New England Aquarium contract. He is also the director of maintenance at Avwatch.

For a second-in-command slot on Avwatch’s survey flights, the only rating required is a commercial multi. PIC minimums are very similar to Part 135 requirements, with the addition of hours flown over water and hours flown under 1,000 feet. All of the survey flying is done in strictly VFR conditions with ceilings generally greater than 1,500 feet.

The Aircraft

For surveying right whales, Laue flies one of Avwatch’s three Skymasters. The company has one 337 and two O-2s, the military version of the 337. The aircraft aren’t outfitted with anything out of the ordinary, but the New England Aquarium uses use a belly camera mount on the O-2s to shoot straight down every five seconds or so.

Other than that, there are camera ports in the side windows to shoot out of and a marine radio that is used to establish guard—essentially flight following—with the Coast Guard. Pilots on survey flights stay in contact with the Coast Guard throughout the flight, reporting position and “operation normal” every 30 minutes.

Equipment and Training

Packing the survey plane, on the other hand, does involve some specialized equipment. The survey flights all have a four-person life raft with basic provisions onboard along with a 406 MHz, saltwater-activated emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB). They also use Spidertracks—a satellite tracking device—which is always monitored by a ground contact and the Coast Guard. Every five years, pilots are required to complete a two-day training class on aircraft ditching at Survival Systems in Groton, Connecticut.

Uniforms aren’t jeans and t-shirts either. While flying survey missions, Avwatch pilots wear heavy winter flight suits and the scientists wear waterproof drysuits. In the warmer months pilots typically switch to light flight suits and pack the survival suits in the plane. Everyone onboard wears Switlik life vests packed with mirrors, flares, dye markers, supplemental air bottles, individual EPIRBs and seat belt cutters.


Avwatch is based in Plymouth Massachusetts and offers aerial networking, aerial surveys and intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance flying (ISR). The company holds multiple contracts around the country doing ISR work for the government and military. They specialize in aerial visual/infrared imagery using a tracker of their own design that is able to transmit live imagery, text, and voice communication to the ground and then rebroadcast live through various channels.

The company maintains eight airplanes in total. In addition to the three Skymasters used for whale surveys, the company has a Cessna 182, two Stationairs, a PA32R-300 and a Velocity.

For our next installment of Aviation Dream Jobs, AVweb will explore what it's like to be an aviation photographer. In the meantime, send us your own interesting and unusual aviation work stories at

UPDATED: Four Killed In Everglades Midair
Kate O'Connor

Four people are dead after a midair collision between a Piper PA-34 and a Cessna 172 over the Florida Everglades around 1 p.m. local time on Tuesday. The victims have been identified as Jorge A. Sanchez, 22, Ralph Knight, 72, Nisha Sejwal, 19, and Carlos Alfredo Carpati, 22. Neither aircraft had filed a flight plan and there were no emergency communications prior to the crash.

The aircraft were found nine miles west of Miami Executive Airport (TMB) in an area accessible only by boat or helicopter. It has been reported that both aircraft were operated by Dean International flight school and were likely on training flights when the collision occurred. The FAA and NTSB are investigating.

FAA and NTSB records show that Dean International has been involved in at least eight accidents and incidents in the last five years, the most recent of which occurred in May when one of the school's Cessna 152s entered a spin and collided with terrain, seriously injuring the two people onboard. Tuesday’s midair is the third fatal crash for the flight school since 2013.

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 website at Final reports appear about a year after the accident, although some take longer. Find out more about Aviation Safety at

April 8, 2018, Lowville, N.Y.

Cirrus SR22

At about 1653 Eastern time, the Canadian-registered airplane was substantially damaged during a hard landing following deployment of its airframe parachute. The Canadian-certificated private pilot and two passengers were not injured. Instrument conditions prevailed; the flight operated on an IFR flight plan.

The airplane was in cruise at 9,000 feet MSL, 1,000 feet above clouds, when ATC requested a temporary heading change. After the flight was cleared back on course, the pilot reportedly had difficulty configuring the autopilot. By the time he returned his attention to the flight instruments, the airplane was descending out of control through clouds. The pilot also reported the glass panel’s depicted horizon did not appear correct. The pilot activated the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System.

The airplane descended via parachute and landed upright in a field, sustaining substantial damage. After all occupants egressed, wind gusts filled the parachute and inverted the airplane.

April 9, 2018, Scottsdale, Ariz.

Piper PA-24-260 Comanche 260

The airplane was destroyed when it impacted terrain at about 2048 Mountain time, shortly after taking off. The airline transport pilot, student pilot and four passengers were fatally injured. Night visual conditions prevailed. The inbound flight earlier that evening was the pilot’s first in the airplane.

Video surveillance footage appeared to indicate the airplane’s wings were rocking during and shortly after lifting off from Runway 3. A traffic camera about a half-mile northwest of the end of the departure runway recorded the airplane in a left bank. As the turn progressed, the bank angle increased and the airplane started to descend. The wings became nearly vertical and view of the airplane was lost. A witness did not hear any unusual sounds or see the airplane emitting smoke, fire or vapors, and stated the engine’s sound was typical.

April 15, 2018, San Antonio, Texas

Wittman Tailwind Experimental

At about 1032 Central time, the airplane impacted terrain. The solo commercial pilot was fatally injured; the airplane was destroyed during a post-impact fire. Visual conditions prevailed.

A friend of the pilot reported the flight’s purpose was to accumulate additional time on an overhauled engine installed in September 2017. A witness saw the airplane flying at about 1,500 feet AGL with no appreciable engine issues. As he continued to watch the airplane, its engine began to “struggle” for about 10 seconds before a total loss of power. The witness remarked that the airplane was already engulfed in flames as it descended rapidly into terrain. The airplane impacted in a 20-degree nose-down attitude.

April 15, 2018, Colorado Springs, Colo.

Cessna T210 Turbo Centurion

The airplane lost engine power during a visual approach at about 1048 Mountain time. The pilot made a forced landing in a residential area three miles from the airport. During the landing, the airplane struck an embankment and was substantially damaged. The pilot and one passenger were not injured, but another passenger received a serious injury. Visual conditions prevailed.

The airplane was at 9,500 feet MSL when its engine lost power. The pilot switched to the right tank and the engine regained power. The pilot climbed back to 9,500 feet. The engine lost power again, resulting in the forced landing. Examination revealed the left tank was empty, but the right tank contained 25 gallons of fuel.

April 15, 2018, Crozet, Va.

Cessna 525 CitationJet

At 2054 Eastern time, the airplane was destroyed when it impacted terrain. The solo private pilot was fatally injured. Night instrument conditions prevailed; the flight was not operating on an IFR clearance.

While flying a relatively short route, the airplane climbed to 11,500 feet MSL before descending to 4,300 feet at 2044. The airplane remained at 4,300 feet MSL until 2053, when it entered a descending left turn. Radar contact was lost at 2054. Weather recorded about 13 miles northeast of the accident site included wind from 020 degrees at four knots, visibility of 2˝ miles in rain and mist, and broken clouds at 700 feet. The pilot did not contact Flight Service or DUATS for the accident flight.

This article originally appeared in the July 2018 issue of Aviation Safety magazine.

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Picture of the Week, July 19, 2018
One never knows, in the performance of one's everyday life, when inspiration might occur in the most unlikely of observers. This photo of me in my Super Cub warming up before take off was taken by my wife with an iPhone at Lake Hood Seaplane Base. Copyrighted photo by Terry Dickinson.

See all submissions

Airlander Cabin Designed For Adventure
Mary Grady

The team at Hybrid Air Vehicles, which is building the huge Airlander airship, has promoted a number of uses for their vehicle, from cargo delivery to military airlift, but this week at the Farnborough Airshow the company unveiled a cabin designed for luxury travel. The concept, created by DesignQ, provides accommodations for up to 19 passengers, with private bedrooms, a lounge area and onboard dining similar to what’s found in private jets. The cabin also provides floor-to-ceiling windows, and the airship can provide a unique tourism experience, flying quietly at low speeds close to the ground, and even hovering in place. The cabin is about 150 feet long. The luxury tourism design can accommodate up to 19 passengers for three-day expeditions.

Airlander and DesignQ worked in partnership over the last year to develop the concept. Throughout the process, the design team was guided by engineering and regulatory demands. The cabin design “is practical, feasible and ready for the transition into production,” according to HAV’s news release. HAV and DesignQ will continue to work together, with further announcements expected later this year. HAV officials also said at Farnborough they are moving forward with production of their prototype airship, which was damaged in a test-flight accident last year. “All around us, we see new challenges to provide services into remote places, provide airborne connectivity and reduce our industry’s environmental impact,” said HAV CEO Stephen McGlennan. “The aerospace industry can’t solve these new challenges with variations on the same answers. With Airlander there is a way to do things differently—and better."

Dynon Launches Two New Portables
Kate O'Connor

Dynon is introducing the D3 Pocket Panel and DRX Portable Dual Band ADS-B Traffic and Weather Receiver at AirVenture this year. In addition to traffic data, the DRX ADS-B In receiver can provide NEXRAD Radar, METARS, TAFs and other weather information—along with WAAS GPS position—to connected mobile devices. According to the company, the DRX is compatible with ForeFlight, FlyQ and other apps that can receive industry-standard GDL 90 format or will work with “Stratux” type devices. List price for the DRX is $395. It will be available this month.


The D3 Pocket Panel is the latest model in Dynon’s portable Electronic Flight Information System (EFIS) line. Features include improved brightness, a new touchscreen interface and new synthetic vision display. The D3 was designed to give pilots a more affordable way to “supplement their unreliable legacy instrumentation.” It displays attitude and heading information, GPS ground track and ground speed, GPS altitude and vertical speed, and more. The device comes with both suction cup and clip mounts and measures 3.5 inches by 3.23 inches. The D3 list price is $995.

Dynon will be demonstrating both products at Oshkosh next week. The company will also be holding daily forums on products and systems at the event.

Aviation's Electric Future
Paul Bertorelli

For today’s blog, I was about to write that hardly a week goes by that we don’t report on some new electric aircraft initiative. Then I was suddenly seized by the impulse to, you know, actually check to see if that statement is correct.

As is so often true of generalities, it’s not correct. Actually, we publish something on electric aircraft about every three days. During the preceding 30 days, nine of the 72 news stories we’ve published had to do with drones or electric aircraft. That’s more than 12 percent and it’s closer to 15 percent if you include all the related drone stories that aren’t specifically about electric aircraft.

Our reporting has revealed that some big players are getting involved in electric aviation—Boeing, Airbus, General Electric, Siemens, to name a few. This, coupled with the sheer volume of stories, understandably gives the impression that critical mass is upon us and viable electric aircraft will arrive “sooner than you think” as the converted acolytes like to say. I’ll leave it to you to decide if sooner is next year or the next decade or just sooner than later.

For this blog, I’ll offer this: All this coverage portends the leading edge of a revolution in flight, the dimensions are which aren’t discernible at the moment. Based on conversations with and emails from readers, I’m convinced that many are too bogged down in doubts about battery capacity and unnatural fears of drone swarming to understand the shape shifting that’s on the aviation horizon due to a fundamental leap in the ease of learning to fly. Never mind rules and regulations, aeronautical decision making, airspace, cost, or the rest of it, just how the barriers to learn to levitate off the surface are, potentially, about to be knocked down.

Take a look at this video. I’ll wait. The takeaway is this. When the guy is throwing water balloons, bricks and radios at the drone, what’s the operator doing? Nothing. Thanks to GPS-augmented flight stability, it just occupies the same point in space, returning to that point if disturbed. No operator input required in the same way I can park my DJI Phantom at 50 feet while I fish around for batteries for the camera.

If you question if this is scalable, here’s your answer. This appeared in our news feed last week. To be sure, it’s overhyped as a flying car, a concept the industry and the media just can’t seem to let go of and this particular iteration of it may be a dead end. Its endurance and range are too limited to be of much practical use, but that misses the point. The technological underpinnings are conceptually identical to the small drones: stabilized autoflight that the pilot merely displaces to go where he wants to go. One lever for throttle, one for lateral movement or the like. I don’t know specifically how the BlackFly is configured, but that's got to be close. It’s not that it has envelope protection as an option, but that it’s based on envelope protection.

So can anyone fly such a thing? Probably not, but vastly more people can fly it than can or would be willing to master a fixed-wing airplane or conventional helicopter. This particular aircraft is intended as an ultralight, so no certificate or medical required. The ultralight weight limit stunts payload and thus capability and appeal so, at least for the BlackFly, this is likely to limit it to the FAR 103-intended recreational use.

Advancing battery technology will improve endurance, but the commercial viability of such a thing lies in the nexus between price and perceived value. Will enough buyers materialize to spend, say, $150,000, for a novelty vehicle to hop out of their (rural) yard and spin around the fields and pastures to constitute a viable business? No one can answer this yet, although we know precious few are willing to spend that much for a light sport airplane, requiring as it does a certificate, an airport, probably a hangar and significant training. It matters not a whit if the BlackFly itself represents the breakthrough; the technology that animates it already does. There will be others of its ilk. The BlackFly, by the way, is scheduled to appear at AirVenture.

Our flood of electric aircraft coverage has revealed another trend: a necessary impatience with the glacial pace of battery improvement. Although the urban mobility crowd, spearheaded by Uber Elevate, is clinging to pure electric designs, we’re seeing more hybrid proposals, which I see as an open admission that electric propulsion, for all its benefits, isn’t keeping up with what designers imagine to be the use cases. But even at that, hybrids have their limits, too. The SureFly VTOL, which will also be at AirVenture, is a hybrid, but with only a 400-pound useful load and a 70-mile range. As range extension goes, that doesn’t leave me gasping for breath.

And just at Farnborough this week, Rolls-Royce revealed its design for a six-propulsor electric hybrid with a 435-mile range and payload for four or five passengers. It uses a turbine engine to drive a generator with batteries for surge power needed at takeoff. Rolls says it will fly in the early 2020s. If their numbers are realistic, that strikes me as intercity urban mobility sort of range, provided the noise the thing makes doesn’t crump the idea before it gets off the ground. Rolls says its using low noise technology of some kind and that will be a must.

So will demonstrating to regulators that a single motor/prop failure is remote enough not to require exceptional mitigation. But why wouldn’t this be doable? Thousands of single-rotor helicopters have been certified and although a helo can autorotate, the rotor has to actually be there to do it. Rare is the accident when the rotor spins off into space. Why should it be any different with rotors powered by electricity? Or that are smaller?

As we prep for the trek to AirVenture, 2018 marks the first year when there’s likely to be significant numbers of electric aircraft on display, based on what we've heard so far. While these are still in the demo phase, with the exception of Pipistrel’s Alpha Electro, it’s shortsighted to believe that will always be the case. If it were, we would still be traveling cross country looking up the buttholes of oxen.

To Go, or Maybe Not to Go
Rose Marie Kern

In this world where cell phones can perform more functions than the computer of only a few decades past, many pilots prefer to brief themselves. Doing so when the weather is good is easy—when the online aviation weather options show a dry, high pressure system with no indication of turbulence or other adverse weather advisory. But what about when the weather turns dicey?

Discerning Forecasts

What about when satellite and radar both show obscuration, and temperatures are indicating freezing levels at your aircraft’s favored altitudes. Or in the summer time, the clear skies of morning suddenly produce billowy cotton clouds, which shoot upwards as though they are spewing from a can of Redi-whip.

Paying close attention to changes in weather should begin at least 24 hours before the flight. It’s also the time when Flight Service is a good option for helping with a go–no go decision.

Flight Service specialists spend their entire working day looking at weather and other factors related to flight—both nationwide and more specifically in their individual areas of responsibility. When your call comes in, they’ve been talking to other pilots, many of whom could just have flown in the skies you want to transit.

The Abbreviated Briefing

This is a situation where requesting an abbreviated briefing may be more helpful and take significantly less time than going through the entire standard briefing. If a standard briefing is requested the briefer must adhere to the FAA’s required format and ensure that every item is covered.

The other option starts with a pilot specifically stating they want an abbreviated briefing. The briefer then asks the pilot what specifically is needed and will ask questions they need to fulfill the request.

A standard briefing requires the briefer to go over the adverse conditions, TFRs, overall weather synopsis, current and forecast weather, winds aloft and NOTAMS for the entire route. In other words you are getting the whole big picture.

What if your only concerns are the conditions at the destination? Asking for an abbreviated briefing for specific items allows you to only get the current and forecast weather and NOTAMs at that location—cutting out the parts you’ve already gleaned from scanning the online sites.

Another use for an abbreviated briefing is winds aloft. It may be awkward to get that data from some online sites, but a briefer can check a range of altitudes en route easily. Scanning the altitudes/locations, the briefer can tell where along the route the winds can be more favorable, and they can offer suggestions for when an altitude change might be preferable.

Abbreviated briefings can focus on information about a specific location—such as required routing or procedures around the Grand Canyon or through the New York City area.

Some pilots call to ask for density altitude or lifted index information. You can ask for STMP data—special procedures related to air shows or large public events. One of the most popular abbreviated briefing requests is simply TFRs related to presidential movement.

A standard briefing is comprehensive, but it does not include everything a pilot may want. For instance you get the current NOTAMs, but they don’t give you published NOTAMs or the status of military training routes or restricted areas unless you ask for them. Briefers have access to this information though it will take them a bit longer.

Adverse Conditions

If you ask for the abbreviated briefing, the briefer must always provide any adverse conditions in areas you tell them you plan to transit. The current definition of adverse conditions is: Weather Advisories, TFRs and air-port/runway closures at the departure and destination locations.

You can circumvent that if you wish by stating (for the recording) that you already have the adverse conditions en route before asking your specific question.


If you’re aware that there’s icing in the forecast, you may be specifically looking for related PIREPs. The humble PIREP is one of the best resources—when pilots take the time to give them. Now that pilots can enter PIREP data directly into the NWS database through onboard instrumentation they are encouraged to supplement the NWS information with direct observations several times per flight if possible, especially when weather is in their area.

Flight Service keeps an eye on the PIREPs—many times the specialists who have taken a PIREP from a pilot while working the radios will turn around and verbally inform the briefers in their area as soon as urgent weather information is received—severe turbulence and mountain waves, storms or icing. Having heard the in-formation, the briefers keep a higher awareness of what is happening and-can be communicated to other pilots as they call.

More General information

In Flight Service terminology, “abbreviated briefing” also covers situations where pilots may want to know information that is not directly related to a specific flight. For instance, in the days after 9/11 when every aircraft was grounded, pilots called the only phone number they had that linked directly to an FAA facility—the Flight Service Briefing line. Most of them only asked one thing: “When can I take off?” Every one of those calls was counted as an abbreviated briefing.

Briefers take calls from pilots who want more information on how to file ICAO flight plans, where to find information on crossing into the SFR A around Washington, D.C., and who should they call to have a NOTAM issued. They ask briefers where to call in UFO sightings and how they can find historical weather or NOTAM information.

In situations where having a second opinion as to whether you should fly or stay on the ground, call the guys with the most current information and ask for an abbreviated briefing.

Rose Marie Kern worked in ATC and Flight Service for over 34 years. For questions on these topics check her web-site:

This article originally appeared in the February 2018 issue of IFR Refresher magazine.

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Garmin Announces New Weather Radar
Kate O'Connor

Garmin introduced a new Doppler-based, solid-state aviation weather radar on Wednesday. According to the company, the GWX 75 is intended for use in a wide range of aircraft and was designed as a direct replacement for the GWX 70. The GWX 75 features a high-definition color palette, a range of 320 nautical miles, horizontal scan angles of up to 120 degrees and pilot-adjustable sector scanning. Additional options include turbulence detection and ground clutter suppression.

“We are thrilled to continue to broaden our suite of weather radar solutions that meet the needs of thousands of aircraft operators throughout the world,” said Carl Wolf, Garmin vice president of aviation sales and marketing. “With improved features, a lower cost of ownership and easy upgrade path, the GWX 75 is a simple and straightforward weather radar solution that increases situational awareness to aid in navigation around severe weather.”

A helicopter version, the GWX 75H, is available as well. The GWX 75 and GWX 75H weather radars are expected to be available in August with retail prices of $21,995 (GWX 75) and $31,995 (GWX 75H). Compatible flight displays include the GTN 650/750, the G500 TXi/G600 TXi, and G500/G600.

In addition to the new radar, Garmin is launching a Weather Radar Operations eLearning course, which will cover a variety of topics and operational techniques related to the use of Garmin weather radars. The course is available online for $149.

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Brainteasers Quiz #245: A Pilot Walks Into an Isobar

A good day aloft begins with a look at weather, because no matter how sharp you think you are at the controls, the sky has something to say about who flies and who aces this quiz.

Click here to take the quiz.

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