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After six years in the doldrums, there are signs of improvement in the small and medium-sized business jet market, according to analysts attending the Latin American Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (LABACE). Brian Foley, a New Jersey-based consultant, told Bloomberg the under-50,000-pound market sector shipped 20 percent more jets in the first half of 2014 compared to the previous year. "What we're finally seeing is that due to more confidence in the economy, people's balance sheets are improving," Foley told Bloomberg. "They're slowly coming back into the game, which is good for all aircraft manufacturers." LABACE began Tuesday and runs until Thursday in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

For the past six years, only the large-aircraft segment has prospered, largely because most of those who buy them are the ultra-rich, government agencies or large global companies that need (or want) the big planes regardless of market forces and wary boards of directors. The light- to mid-sized aircraft are more accurately described as business jets and in the absence of new acquisitions during the recession the existing aircraft are getting dated. Manufacturers are introducing new aircraft in that segment, with Cessna and Embraer squaring off for dominance.

Embraer officially entered the mid-size business jet market Tuesday with Brazilian certification of its Legacy 500. The aircraft was announced six years ago at the 2008 European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE) and the certification was announced on the opening day of the Latin American Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (LABACE), which opened Tuesday in Sao Paulo. FAA and EASA certification is expected in the next few weeks. Production is underway and the first delivery of a Legacy 500 will happen in September. 

The Legacy 500 uses a fly-by-wire control system and will carry up to 12 passengers. Range, with four passengers aboard, is 3,125 nm, 125 nm farther than the design goal. It also beat the design goals on takeoff distance (by 516 feet), landing distance, fuel consumption and high-speed cruise. It's powered by Honeywell HTF7500E engines.

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New rules recently have addressed the safety of shipping lithium batteries in air cargo, but a story in Monday's Bloomberg News raised questions about their use in electronic devices in the cockpit of passenger airplanes. "Because many airlines are replacing paper charts with laptops and tablet computers, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration conducted tests on what would happen if one of their rechargeable lithium-ion battery cells ignited," according to the Bloomberg story. "In one test, the cockpit filled with smoke thick enough to obscure instruments and vision out the window for about five minutes."

In an undated PowerPoint posted online, Steve Summer, of the FAA Fire Safety Branch, reported on an Electronic Flight Bag Hazard Assessment, and concluded: "Tests have shown that even with a very high ventilation rate (1 air exchange/minute), a typical COTS Li-Ion battery could pose a significant hazard within the flight deck environment and could potentially present a catastrophic risk." A working group for the International Civil Aviation Organization is scheduled to meet in Germany on Sept. 9 and will address the new research, according to Bloomberg.

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With new apps now available that make it easier and cheaper to book helicopter shuttles to the Hamptons from Manhattan, traffic is up more than 40 percent this summer, local officials say, and Long Island residents are seeking regulatory relief from the increased noise and traffic. At a meeting held Monday night in Peconic, N.Y., more than 150 people gathered to complain to FAA officials. One resident said she went to the beach near her home and counted 34 helicopters passing by within less than two hours. A proposal to divert the traffic offshore would add 60 miles to each trip, said Jeffrey Smith, vice president of the Eastern Region Helicopter Council. "It would put an unbelievable burden on our small operators," he told Newsday. The FAA officials had no comment.

Smith added that the current flights are in compliance with both FAA rules and voluntary noise-abatement restrictions near the East Hampton Airport. "Our whole industry rides on the balance of being a good neighbor," he said. Local officials are conducting a noise study, collecting complaints, and scheduling more local meetings. Meanwhile, complaints also are continuing about helicopter flights for tourists above the Hudson River near Manhattan. Last week, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., called for a ban on the flights, saying they threaten the public safety and quality of life of residents along the waterfront. "It is time for the  FAA to use any and every tool they have to shut down these helicopters and put an end to this problem," he said, "and if they don't have the tools they need, then we will do all we can to make sure they have them."

The last two flying Avro Lancaster bombers will meet up with the one-of-a-kind delta-wing Vulcan Bomber later this month for a rare flight demonstration at the Royal Air Force base in Waddington, in the United Kingdom. One of the Lancaster bombers, flown by the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, recently crossed the Atlantic for the first time, and the other one is flown by the Battle of Britain Memorial flight group. The Cold War-era Vulcan Bomber has been flying since 2007, after 14 years of fundraising and restoration work. The event will be held as part of the Clacton Air Show on Thursday, Aug. 21.

The Canadian bomber will be touring in the U.K. for six weeks. Both airplanes were designed by Avro's chief designer, Roy Chadwick. He drew up the preliminary designs for the Vulcan bomber in 1946. "He died in a plane crash the following year, and never saw his second masterpiece fly," according to the Vulcan To The Sky website. Chadwick's work was picked up by Stuart Davies, who took his ideas to fruition.

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Honda Aircraft showed the first production model of its new business jet at AirVenture 2014.  Honda's Andrew Broom took AVweb through the aircraft.

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AVweb Insider

Here at AVweb, there are certain kinds of stories we have trouble with. By trouble, I mean deciding what to do with them, how to play them or even to run them at all. Aviation lawsuits are an example. We usually ignore these. Some crash stories are hard to place and record attempts and promotional stunts. These are sometimes one in the same.

So it was just before AirVenture we got an e-mail chiding us for…well, I'll quote the e-mail."Russ, you and your staff completely blew it. Here is the best aviation story of the year and you barfed. Of all the trivial BS you put on your site…and you miss this?" The writer, Pete Jessen, was referring to the recent round-the-world flight of Amelia Rose Earhart in a PC-12. Recall that this Amelia is a namesake of but no relation to the original who famously vanished in the Pacific in 1937.

We actually did cover the story, but because such promotions seem to come and go like the weather, we have trouble assigning much import to them. Jaded I guess. Ms. Earhart's accomplishment, wrote Jessen, was lining up the sponsors to ensure a successful flight and for that, "she deserves a ton of credit." OK, so here's the ton, or at least a few pounds worth. You can hear Ms. Earhart in her own words in this podcast recorded at AirVenture and decide for yourself how much credit is due or how important the flight was.

But back to promotional flights and records. Earhart's worthy goal was to raise money for training girls to fly. A laudable effort indeed, but do such things really achieve these goals or are they just ego flights on someone else's dime for the pilots? Are there better ways to do it without flogging an airplane around the world? A good question that I'm not sure I can answer. And that, I suppose, is why such stories don't get the editorial fires burning around here. Earhart's flight got coverage in the daily press, including short segments on the major networks. It's really only interesting because her name is Earhart. If it were Magillicutty, it would be just another PC-12 ferry flight. Does either promote aviation and grow the herd? Probably can't hurt, but my excitement meter isn't off the peg yet.

One effort that probably didn't help the aviation cause was another record attempt we reported on about the same time, that of Haris Suleman who, at 17, was attempting to be the youngest pilot to circumnavigate the globe in under 30 days. He earned his private license just in June and was accompanied by his father, Babar Suleman. Haris was found dead in the water off American Samoa and the father remains missing. Again, they were raising money for charity, with aviation as the high-profile vehicle to draw in the donations.

Given all the crazy, risky stuff I've done in my life, I'm the last guy to cluck over adventures like this one. Far be it for me to be the crusher of dreams. My view is to go for it, just don't screw it up. Still, the instant the story broke, I was reminded of another incident many of you may recall in 1996: the death of seven-year-old Jessica Dubroff in Cheyenne, Wyoming during an attempt to be the youngest person to fly across the U.S. in a light aircraft. The record, fueled by media attention, was utterly meaningless since no one maintains such records and she wasn't a rated pilot anyway. Her flight instructor was PIC. Ever seeking to be relevant, Congress piled stupidity upon tragedy by passing the Child Pilot Safety Act, essentially outlawing such stunts. Perhaps they'd have done better to require licenses to become adults—not adult pilots, just adults.

Not that there's anything remotely novel about stunts like these and they are just that. The original Amelia's global flight was dreamed up by her husband, George Putnam, to promote his publishing ventures and her image. She even had her own line of luggage and sportswear. Even Charles Lindbergh's epic New York to Paris flight fits into the category, since hotelier Raymond Orteig's $25,000 prize was meant to promote aviation. It had no specific technical goals or requirements beyond surviving the attempt to accept the check.

But in those days, there was no television or real-time web feeds, so audiences were forced to imagine what was happening between fuel stops and over remote oceans. That must have made those flights more electrifying, if not more relevant. And maybe that's just it. We're all over stimulated in an age when YouTube has videos of people jumping from buildings with a GoPros attached to their gonads, and even these aren't that unique. Maybe flying around the world is just so ho-hum, so ordinary that it doesn't rise above the daily noise, even if it's for charity or a world record.

Or maybe it's just me.

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At AirVenture 2014, Continental Motors introduced its latest diesel powerplant, the CD300.  Rhett Ross told AVweb how the company intends to manufacture and market the new engine.

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406 MHz distress beacons are again gaining market popularity, and ACR Artex brought its new ELT1000 ELT to AirVenture 2014, along with a personal beacon that's budget-priced.  In this AVweb Product Minute video, Artex's Mikele D'Arcangelo provides an overview.

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As the aircraft refurbishment market blooms, appraisers are struggling with how to set higher values on airplanes that are 30 years or older.  At AirVenture, AVweb spoke with Brian Jacobson of the National Aircraft Appraisers Association about how appraisers are coping.

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At AirVenture this week, Shell executives were making the rounds explaining — at least in general terms — what their plans are to replace leaded 100LL with an unleaded fuel of equivalent performance.  In this long-form podcast, Shell's Rob Midgley hinted that Shell's aiming for a fuel that could be produced in a larger number of refineries than now make leaded avgas.

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Picture of the Week
Picture of the Week

Herb Harney of Grandville, MI takes our breath away with a sight any pilot would revel in. Click through for more breathtaking photos from AVweb readers.