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Volume 25, Number 30c
July 25, 2018
 
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BlackFly Multirotor Makes AirVenture Debut
 
Ashley Anglisano
 
 

The concept of home-to-office personal flight is sweeping the nation, and it seems multirotor ideas are cropping up each week. The Silicon Valley startup VTOL BlackFly is showing particular promise, and recently demonstrated flying prototypes under the ultralight category. It arrived at aviation’s Mecca this week.

Marketed by Opener Inc., the carbon-fiber BlackFly is equipped with eight electric motors. Each motor weighs four pounds and generates 130 pounds of thrust. Opener reps say the company has been testing motor-rotor sets for more than three and half years, covering a distance equivalent to 20 circumnavigations of the globe. There are two batteries per each engine-rotor pod, and they’re constantly being monitored.

"The control systems in each wing are triple redundant, leaving room for system failures,” said Alan Eustace, director and salesperson for Opener Inc. Eustace served as senior vice president of knowledge at Google, and has held the world record for highest-altitude free-fall jump since Oct. 24, 2014.

The BlackFly is restricted to 62 MPH in the United States. The BlackFly’s unique canted wings fore and aft provide lift in level flight, easing the burden on the lift rotors. With a 25 percent reserve, it can fly for about 25 miles before a recharge. With a regular 110-volt outlet, it can charge in seven hours, and in only one hour using a 220-volt outlet.

While version three has not yet flown, version two has made more than 500 takeoffs and landings, often with worst-case-scenario engine failures programmed into the test card.

“It was built completely with safety in mind,” Eustace said. Like a modern drone, the BlackFly has a “go to home” feature, and also auto-land and a ballistic parachute.

Version three of the BlackFly will be available for purchase in 2019. While it does not yet have a price, Eustace said it will be “competitive with the price of an SUV.”

For more information go to www.opener.aero.

AirVenture: Lunacy Reaches Upper Limits
 
Paul Bertorelli
 
 

Wait. What? No. Who the ^%$# green lighted this? This being allowing Ford to set up a track half inside and half outside its big tent off Boeing square and park a couple of Mustang GTs in there. Except they aren’t parked, the cars are screeching around the track giving AirVenture attendees a real-world demonstration of drifting. Yes, drifting. There appear to be no shortage of takers.

The spectacle from inside the tent is jaw dropping. The cars slide around the track in a continuous demonic din, generating billowing clouds of noxious tire smoke and hurling bits of rubber doogies at wide-eyed spectators clinging to the protective Jersey wall. The noise is not so much deafening as life threatening. 

This operation generates so much smoke that I’m not so sure it didn’t almost tank the airshow because as I was shooting on Boeing square, the visibility noticeably dropped, almost like a fog. Many people were heard to ask what was happening. (See the photo of the Aeroshell team shot through the smoke.)

I don’t know who thought it would be a good idea for Ford to do this, but whoever it was qualifies as pure genius. It’s the best, bad-assed thing ever at AirVenture and is utterly, quintessentially Oshkosh. There’s nothing like a five-liter Ford V-8 in full throat to put an ear-shattering-hold-on-a-minute-Vern exclamation point on this environmentally correct but profoundly unsatisfying drift (sorry) toward electric airplanes and cars.

And anyway, who would want to do this in a Tesla?

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VIDEO: Blackfly VTOL At AirVenture
 
Ashley Anglisano
 
 
Opener, Inc. brought version three of its BlackFly ultralight aircraft to AirVenture 2018. In this video, Alan Eustace explains the history of the aircraft and some of its features.
Bally Bomber An AirVenture Hit
 
Russ Niles
 
 

One of the most popular attractions at AirVenture will never be available to the public, never be a practical aircraft and really doesn’t fly very well but it always has a crowd around it. The Bally Bomber is a one-third scale B-17, faithfully reproduced over 17 years of meticulous engineering, construction and sheer imagination. The result is a piloted aircraft that takes off in about 1,100 feet, cruises at 90 knots and flew from Dixon, Illinois, to AirVenture for its well-received display. It will likely fly at AirVenture but hasn’t been firmly scheduled. If it doesn’t make the schedule it will be a disappointment to the hundreds of attendees who have seen it in the obscure warbird replica area and listened to its creator Jack Bally describe the lengthy design, engineering and build process, which began with a beer drinking session with friends. “We decided we had to build something different,” he said.

The result is a scaled work of art in which every detail of the bomber that helped secure an Allied victory in Europe more than 70 years ago is replicated in astonishing detail. That would be remarkable in itself except the canopy flips up to reveal a little cockpit that accommodates the instrumentation and controls required for a pilot, seasoned veteran bush pilot and airliner commander Richard Kosi, to manage a four-engine aircraft that is about the same size as a Cessna 150. He has 52 hours in it and says it flies reasonably well but has a tendency to roll. “People on the ground think I’m wagging my wings and they wave back,” he said. Those who have seen it agree that for its humble presentation, it’s one of the most impressive exhibits at the show. “I don’t normally go for this kind of thing, but I’m in awe,” said one of the dozens of AirVenture attendees clustered around the aircraft, which is registered as an experimental.

Lycoming 'When can an engine give you 200 extra flying hours?'
L3 Launches Lynx System Enhancements
 
Kate O'Connor
 
 

L3 Commercial Aviation announced a new software upgrade for its Lynx NGT-9000 ADS-B transponder and display system at AirVenture 2018 on Tuesday. The Release 3.2 upgrade will include improved GPS receiver performance and startup time, better compatibility with the Genesys Aerosystems IDU-680 Electronic Flight Instrument System (EFIS) and added support for dual control panel configuration. “We continue to invest and broaden the reach of the Lynx NGT-9000 with these Release 3.2 enhancements,” said Vice President of Aftermarket Sales and Marketing Shane LaPlante. Release 3.2 will be available in August 2018. There is no cost for the upgrade and it will come standard on new systems.

Starting at AirVenture, L3 has also partnered with Avidyne on a deal—called the ADS-B Premium Package—that includes an Avidyne IFD550 GPS/Flight Management System (FMS) and a Lynx NGT-9000. List price for the Lynx NGT-9000 is $6,170 and the IFD550 starts at $21,990. For customers who purchase the package, the companies are offering $2,500 cash back and a free ADS-B Traffic Advisory System (ATAS) upgrade until Sept. 28, 2018.

The Lynx NGT-9000 was designed for general aviation aircraft and Part 27 rotorcraft. In addition to meeting requirements for the FAA’s 2020 ADS-B mandate, the touchscreen transponder provides weather, terrain, NOTAMs and TFR data. The company is running a show special of $350 off purchase price.

Terrafugia Updates Transition
 
Kate O'Connor
 
 

Flying car company Terrafugia has announced that its Transition will be getting some new features and upgrades prior to the scheduled arrival of the first production vehicles next year. The updates involve some significant alterations, including the addition of a hybrid-electric motor for use when the roadable aircraft is in drive mode. The motor uses a lithium iron phosphate battery, which according to the company is “much safer than other lithium battery chemistries.”

Terrafugia also announced that Dynon will be providing an electronic flight information system and BRS a full airframe parachute for the Transition. “Developing this new technology has allowed us to test several different mechanisms and generate process improvements along the way,” said Terrafugia CEO Chris Jaran. “We are at the critical point where we can implement the best design features based on years of flight and drive testing.” Other updates include an inflight power boost feature, remodeled interior, more cargo space, improved seat belts, airbags and three rearview cameras.

Terrafugia plans to certify the two-seat Transition as a light sport aircraft and has already received takeoff weight and stall speed exemptions from the FAA to that effect. In the air, it cruises at 100 MPH, has a range of 400 miles and a useful load of 500 pounds. Maximum takeoff weight for the aircraft is 1,800 pounds and the stall speed is 54 knots. The Transition has also been built to comply with National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration standards. As shown in the video below, the Transition first flew at AirVenture 2013. It will be on display at Oshkosh again this year.

NTSB Schedules Hearing On Southwest Engine Failure
 
Mary Grady
 
 

An investigative hearing into the CFM International engine failure on a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 in April will be held on Nov. 14, the NTSB announced on Tuesday. The one-day hearing will focus on the engine’s fan-blade design, inspection methods and procedures, containment design and certification criteria. “This was the first fatal accident involving a U.S. Part 121 air carrier in almost 10 years,” said John DeLisi, director of NTSB’s Office of Aviation Safety. “This hearing will be an important part of determining why this tragedy occurred and will provide investigators important factual data regarding the engine fan blade and engine inlet design and certification.” One passenger died after engine parts shattered a cabin window.

No analysis or conclusions about the accident will be made at the hearing; it is for fact-finding only, the safety board said. During the hearing, the NTSB will gather sworn testimony from witnesses on issues identified during the accident investigation. Parties participating will be announced before the hearing. The hearing is open to the public and video will be streamed live online. Further investigative updates and hearing information will be issued as events warrant, the NTSB said.

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LAMA: Higher LSA Weight Good For The Industry
 
Paul Bertorelli
 
 

While some light sport aircraft manufacturers may have misgivings about a higher gross weight for LSAs, Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association President Dan Johnson says it’s a good idea and will be a boost for the entire GA industry.

“Anything that puts more people in the air and keeps them in the air is good for this entire industry,” Johnson told AVweb this week in this exclusive podcast recorded at AirVenture 2018. But there may also be winners and losers. “Always when you make changes, somebody may be hurt somehow … but we want the pie to be bigger and then everybody figures out how to get their piece of it,” Johnson said.

The weight limit changes were a surprise part of EAA Chairman Jack Pelton’s press briefing at AirVenture on Monday. Although not everyone in the industry seemed aware of it, the higher limit is about halfway through a four-year rulemaking process. “It did surprise us, I’ll admit. I knew there was talk about it. I didn’t think it was very likely to go through,” Johnson said.

“I think it means some fairly significant things, but the way they’re going about it is the right way. They’re going to go away from a number, which today is 1320 pounds for landplanes and 1430 pounds for seaplanes. That number will disappear and it will be a formula to arrive at it,” Johnson said.

He thinks it’s likely that the formula-derived weight limit could be around 750 kilograms, to match the European VLA limit. That’s 1650 pounds or about the weight of a Cessna 150. The implication is obvious: More legacy aircraft will be grandfathered into the sport pilot pool. While that may hurt the sales of new light sport airplanes, it also removes the arbitrary weight limit for manufacturers of new LSAs, potentially allowing them to offer more robust structures with more safety features and equipment.

Before the rule is finalized, Johnson says the light sport industry would like to accelerate things by actually doing what the new rule would allow. He said LAMA has approached the FAA with a cooperative plan. “We’ll help you collect that data if you’ll allow the industry to do some of these things under controlled circumstances—yet to be described. We collect the data then the FAA has what they need to sell the regulation change,” Johnson said.

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EPS Diesel Marks Development Milestones
 
Tim Cole
 
 

Wisconsin-based Engineered Propulsion Systems Inc. (EPS) is back at AirVenture to announce progress on its clean-sheet diesel design intended to go up against established versions from Austro Engine and Continental. Next step for EPS includes more testing, advancement toward certification--and, as always, the hunt for more funding.

EPS is tackling the daunting diesel challenge from a different direction—creating a clean-sheet aviation design, not an auto conversion—of a horizontally opposed configuration they're calling a "Flat Vee." They're confident enough in their design to project a 3,000-hour time-between-overhaul, not time-between-replacement, a serious diesel sticking point.

"We are not a TBR engine," the EPS team likes to point out, achieving that goal with advanced steel alloy components including a steel crankcase and steel pistons. The EPS engine will come with a single-lever FADEC and unique mechanical and electronic vibration control features. 

 AVweb interviewed EPS co-founders Michael Fuchs and Steven Weinzierl to catch up on what looks like an intriguing project. You can listen to their comments here. To advance toward certification, the team needs to complete software development, finalize airborne electronics hardware, finish documentation and work on environmental testing, among other items.

Fuchs and Weinzierl come to the project as engine development pros, with Dick Rutan serving in a flight test role. First flight of the EPS proof of concept was aboard an SR-22 with Rutan at the controls. The team is eyeing the refurb market and believe the EPS diesel's superior fuel economy and resulting endurance will drive sales. 

 For more information about the EPS diesel, visit www.eps.aero.

AirVenture Gallery, July 24, 2018
 
 
Along with the campsites, the second day of AirVenture was packed with warbirds and air show performances.

See all submissions

AirVenture Lookback: 2008
 
AVweb Staff
 
 

A decade ago, AirVenture was abuzz with news of the PiperJet’s first flight, a new aerodiesel from upstart Austro Engines and space tourism was a thing with Burt Rutan and Sir Richard Branson promoting what eventually became Virgin Galactic.

Austro showed off its four-cylinder diesel based on the same Mercedes Benz design Thielert used for its Centurion line, but by July of that year, Thielert was in bankruptcy and Diamond Aircraft had branched off on its own to supply engines for its popular DA42 twins.

PiperJet didn’t show its single-engine jet at Oshkosh, but it made a splash from a distance with the announcement of a successful first flight at Vero Beach. Sir Richard Branson and famed designer Burt Rutan did make an appearance, promising that the White Knight Two launch ship would appear the following year. (It did.)

In an unusual admission of aerospace honesty, Rutan said he wasn’t confident the “big breakthrough” in propulsion needed to drive efficient space tourism would happen in his lifetime, but he told an 11-year-old girl in the audience it would happen in hers.

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