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FAA Administrator Michael Huerta will update a congressional committee on the implementation of ADS-B requirements for general aviation at a hearing in Washington on Wednesday. Aircraft operating in certain types of airspace will be required to have ADS-B equipment on board by 2020 but so far only a fraction of the fleet has been equipped. Huerta will be the key witness at the House Committee on Small Business's session entitled FAA's 2020 NextGen Mandate: Benefits and Challenges for General Aviation. The committee is looking for insights into the process so far, the benefits for GA and the "importance of incentivizing and ensuring widespread adoption." The committee is chaired by Sam Graves, R-Mo.

Also testifying will be Paula Derks, the president of the Aircraft Electronics Association; Tim Taylor, of Free Flight Systems, testifying on behalf of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association; Bob Hepp, of Aviation Adventures, testifying on behalf of AOPA; and Kenneth Button, director of George Mason University's Center for Transportation, Policy, Operations and Logistics. There have been concerns raised about the avionics industry's ability to satisfy the demand for installation of the devices that are required for compliance in time for the 2020 deadline, especially if aircraft owners wait until the last minute to get the work done. The hearing will be streamed live starting at 1 p.m.


Aveillant, a British technology company, said recently its 3D holographic radar is now ready for the market. The technology "brings performance previously only found in high-end military systems to the civil aviation arena," the company said. The system can survey 360 degrees of airspace for up to a 40-mile range, and because it doesn't rotate like traditional radars, it can track every target continuously. The continuous tracking enables the system to identify each target based on its detailed Doppler signature. The first commercial system will go online later this year.

In a trial at a Glasgow airport where an offshore wind farm created clutter on radar screens, the system showed that it could help air traffic controllers clearly distinguish between aircraft and the wind turbines. The 3-D holographic radar is fully compatible with the full range of ATC systems, such as ADS-B and WAM (Wide Area Multilateration), the company said. Aveillant was launched in 2011 as a spin-off of Cambridge Consultants, which has been working with radar systems since 1980.

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The FAA on Tuesday approved, for the first time, commercial operation of an unmanned aerial system over land. Previously, the agency had OK'd flights only over remote areas of the Arctic Ocean. The new approval will allow energy company BP and UAS manufacturer AeroVironment to fly a Puma AE for aerial surveys in Alaska's Prudhoe Bay region. "These surveys Ö are another important step toward broader commercial use of unmanned aircraft," said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "The technology is quickly changing, and the opportunities are growing." The Puma AE is a hand-launched UAS with a wingspan of 9 feet.

The Pumaís sensors will help BP to target maintenance activities on specific roads and infrastructure, the FAA said, which will save time and promote safety and operational reliability, while helping to protect the sensitive North Slope environment. "The 2012 Reauthorization law tasks us with integrating small UAS in the Arctic on a permanent basis," said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. "This operation will help us accomplish the goal set for us by Congress."


A team of scientists at the University of Illinois has developed materials that can immediately respond to damage and self-repair large cracks and holes. "We have demonstrated repair of a nonliving, synthetic materials system in a way that is reminiscent of repair-by-regrowth as seen in some living systems," said chemist Jeffrey Moore. The technology comprises two adjoining, parallel capillaries that are filled with regenerative chemicals that flow out when damage occurs. The two liquids mix to form a gel, which spans the gap caused by damage, filling in cracks and holes. The gel then hardens into a strong polymer.

"We have to battle a lot of extrinsic factors for regeneration, including gravity," said study leader Scott White, an aerospace engineer. "The reactive liquids we use form a gel fairly quickly, so that as it's released it starts to harden immediately. If it didn't, the liquids would just pour out of the damaged area and you'd essentially bleed out. Because it forms a gel, it supports and retains the fluids. Since it's not a structural material yet, we can continue the regrowth process by pumping more fluid into the hole." Self-repairing materials have been developed in the past, but they were capable only of bonding tiny microscopic cracks. The new materials can repair holes the size of a bullet. The team's research was supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and published in last month's issue of Science.

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Any schoolteacher who wants to learn about using aviation in the classroom to promote interest in science, math and engineering, is welcome to sign up now for the annual Teachers' Day event at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis. "Teachers' Day is free and open to any teacher who'd like to attend," said Debbie Phillips, executive director of Build A Plane, which organizes the program. "By participating in the morning event, teachers get free admittance to AirVenture compliments of EAA, as well as a free lunch and free parking. We want to see you there!" The program, now in its fifth year, provides an opportunity to network with other teachers and aviation professionals.

Aerobatic champion and International Aerospace Hall of Famer Patty Wagstaff has been invited to speak at the event, Phillips said. Teachers also will hear presentations by representatives from AOPA, EAA, GAMA, the FAA, the National Air & Space Museum, Honeywell, and the Aviation Explorers, as well as Wisconsin's Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch. Build A Plane is a non-profit organization that gives kids a chance to build real airplanes at school, placing more than 200 general aviation aircraft into schools across the United States since 2003. For more information about Teachers' Day, contact Debbie Phillips at 505-980-5915 or visit


Airbus's A350 XWB carried passengers for the first time earlier this month, taking two loads of Airbus employees and "cabin experts" from Toulouse back to Toulouse on shakedown flights. Those on the flights to nowhere were urged to press all the buttons and generally push and pull anything a regular airline passenger might encounter on a line flight. They had plenty of time to play. The first flight on June 2 was a seven-hour affair while those on the second flight left their impressions on a 12-hour out-and-back. "During the flights these early passengers were tasked to try out and test the A350 XWB cabin systems, including air conditioning, lighting, acoustics, in-flight entertainment (IFE), galleys, electrics, toilets and water waste systems," Airbus said in a news release.

Keeping order and making sure everyone was fed and watered were cabin crews from Lufthansa and Air France. They gave the galleys and other systems a good workout as they mimicked standard service on their flights for the volunteer passengers. It's not clear how the seat assignments were determined for the aircraft, which had a comparatively generous 252-seat business/economy split. The aircraft will hold as many as 369 passengers. The aircraft is a direct competitor to the Boeing 787 and will be certified by the end of the year. Airbus has 812 firm orders for the long-range two-aisle jet.

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Late last week, I visited the Rotax factory in Austria, where Iíve been once before and Iíve interviewed the company executives and technical people more times than that. These discussions drift around various themes, but two recur noticeably. First, Rotax and its parent, BRP Powertrain, is, above all else, an engine company. But the conversations project that notion as almost secondary to the fact that the R in BRP stands for recreational. That means, among several, snow machines, ATVs, motorcycles, BRPís unique Can-Am Spyder which they pointedly say is not a motorcycle, and, of course, aircraft.

The second thing these conversations show is that BRP understands its entire business relies on the burning of gasoline for fun but not necessarily profit, in the sense that it's not primarily a commercial aircraft engine manufacturer. Recreation is the core,†whether it be boring holes around the pattern or slashing through the woods on an ATV. In the U.S., we take this sort of thing as a birthright, but itís different in Europe. In Austria, for example, personal watercraft arenít allowed on the lakes during the two warmest months of the year. I suspect itís about noise first, but pollution and safety are also factors.

Few here complain about that; itís just an accepted fact and they run the company accordingly. In the U.S., we would rail about over regulation and government intrusion. Thatís just the way weíre wired.

Without saying as much, Rotax also seems more attuned to an issue aviation is quite vulnerable to: carbon exhalations of piston engines. Regardless of which tribe you belong to with regard to the veracity of anthropomorphic warming, the rest of the world is starting to take notice with regulation and policies and Rotax is trying to stay ahead of this evolution because its entire business depends on it.

The 912 iS is a prime example, which Iíve mentioned before. Ask anyone at Rotax about the business case for this engine and youíll be told it only makes sense as a long-term play. Very long term. This engine is likely to be in the product line for 10 years at least and probably more like 25. So thatís the timeline for the return on investment and Rotax is willing to accept that, something which canít be said of many American companies, never mind American aircraft companies. Continental could be said to going the same way with its diesel investment. Thereís no quick buck there. Of course, Continental isnít an American company, is it?

During a company overview briefing, Rotaxís Christian Mundigler told me Rotax is determined to be seen as an environmentally responsible company acting ahead of any regulations forcing it to do so. Francois Tremblay, head of BRPís propulsion business, said the same thing. I was a little surprised to learn that in some of its test cells, Rotax is using the engines to generate electricity to power the plant and they recover exhaust heat to warm the shops for the same reason. All of this requires investment, of course, and I asked if the energy recovered runs black or red. Tremblay was non-committal on that, but again, in the European context, the payout is in perception and Rotax probably canít afford not to make the investment. I wonder if American companies will ever get to this point or can afford to not bother. Interesting to ponder, no?† To be fair, many already are. We just donít hear enough about it.

Another interesting thing about Rotax is how it lets the passion of its customers infuse the management and promotional teams, which are sort of joined at the hip here. The motor sportsóspecifically motorcyclesóare famous for flying journalists to exotic locations and having them try out the latest new product. In aviation, just getting a look at the latest product can sometimes be like extracting molars with a pair of channel locks. That sort of promotion just isnít done and to be fair, the companies probably donít have much of a budget to do it. We try to help by showing up at the door notebook and camera in hand to review products. Often, we donít even get a call back.

Rotax, on the other hand, takes a page from the motorcycle industry, of which theyíre part. Iím writing this in a giant lux tent erected at the Wels, Austria airport. Rotax sponsored a dinner here last night, a luncheon today and another dinner tonight. Tonightís dinner will combine the aviation side with a couple of hundred European Can-Am riders. I didnít ask about the RIO on it because Iím sure no one looks at it that way. This is nothing but expensively funded promotion and brand building and Iíll tell ya this, it injects a little optimism and enthusiasm into an industryóaviationóthat can use a lot more of both. Continentalís Learn to Fly Day at Fairhope last month had the same effect. No matter how gloomy things might seem, thereís nothing like a good party to spread a little sunshine, even for a grump like me.

Plus the beer is terrific and a got to ride the Can-Am Spyder around. No, not at the same timeÖ.

In a follow-up blog, I'll examine what Rotax may be up to.

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At its Gunskirchen, Austria, factory, Rotax celebrated both 25 years of producing the 912 series engine and the 50,000th engine in the series. †AVweb was there and prepared this video report with the company's Francois Tremblay.

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In Slovenia, Pipistrel is well into certification testing of its exotic Panthera four-place retractable aircraft. †AVweb recently visited the factory and prepared this test flight report on the new aircraft. †Although it hasn't hit its speed numbers yet, Pipistrel thinks further drag clean-up will take care of that.

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Piper is touring Europe with its new Archer DX diesel, and later this summer, the airplane will appear in the U.S. †While in Europe, AVweb took a flight demo in the airplane, and here are some impressions.

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The Lear 60 is a fast, affordable business jet. †But like most airplanes, it could do well with additional baggage space. †Raisbeck Engineering, a well-known STC house, has developed just such a product. †AVweb takes a look at it in this brief product video.

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That's not a Beech, and it didn't just roll off the line. †It's Joe Shepherd's immaculately restored Lockheed 12A Electra Junior. †We got story on this aircraft (and a good look at it) at Sun 'n Fun 2014.

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Picture of the Week

Christopher Mars of Aurora, OH shares a unique homebuilt aircraft in this week's top photo. Click through for more reader-submitted images.