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Gulfstream announced on Tuesday it plans to add two all-new wide-cabin business jets to its line: the Gulfstream G500 and G600. The first copy of the G500 is already built, and taxied up to the company's unveiling event in Savannah, Georgia. The company also displayed a 70-foot-long mockup of the G600. "The G500 and G600 build upon the technology present in our G650 and our latest aircraft, the G650ER," said Larry Flynn, Gulfstream's president. "The G500 and G600 continue the long Gulfstream tradition of being the first original equipment manufacturer to ensure an optimal combination of speed, range, wide-cabin comfort and fuel burn."

The G500 will fly up to 5,000 nm at Mach 0.85, or 3,800 nm at Mach 0.90, the company said, and the G600 is capable of traveling 6,200 nm at Mach 0.85 or 4,800 nm at Mach 0.90. Both will have cabins 91 inches wide and 74 inches tall, with seating for up to 19, forward and aft lavatories, and a full-size galley. Both cockpits will be equipped with the Symmetry flight deck, featuring touchscreens and sidestick controls. The first flight of the G500 is scheduled for 2015, with FAA and EASA certification expected in 2017 and first deliveries in 2018. The G600 flight-test program is expected to begin 12 to 18 months after the G500's, and entry-into-service is projected to be in 2019, the company said. The G500 will sell for $43.5 million and the G600 for $54.5 million.

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Representatives of the machinists union negotiating a new contract with Textron Aviation said company officials abandoned the talks on Sunday. The union said its committee had reviewed Textron's proposal and passed back a counterproposal. "We were expecting to receive a 'last, best and final' offer from the company," the union said. "Instead, they walked out of the room without proposing anything." Textron spokesperson Nicole Alexander told AVweb on Monday, "The company is declining to comment on the labor negotiations process at this point." A union official told The Wichita Eagle the "deal breaker" was that Textron officials wouldn't promise to keep all the aviation jobs in Wichita and not outsource some work to other states.

"We had given the company language that we wanted a commitment that the aircraft would be built in Wichita," Frank Molina, directing business representative for the Machinists District 70, told the Eagle. "We wanted it in black and white." The Textron officials refused, he said. The talks are meant to combine the workers from Beechcraft and Cessna under a single labor agreement. The two companies were merged into Textron Aviation earlier this year. Beechcraft's current labor agreement expires in 2016 and Cessna's will expire in 2017.

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In a growing market of ADS-B solutions, Avidyne Corporation has announced the MLB100 ADS-B traffic and flight information system—an ADS-B solution designed for interface with the company's recently certified IFD540 slide-in GPS navigator. The single-box MLB100, which is priced at $2495, is a 978MHz datalink receiver that offers full ADS-B traffic input capability when interfaced with a mandate-compliant ADS-B position and broadcast source, including the Avidyne AXP340 transponder and IFD540 WAAS GPS navigator combination. The MLB100 also receives a variety of FIS-B ADS-B weather products. The MLB100 doesn't have ADS-B output capability, but is instead intended to interface with other products in the Avidyne line.

According to Patrick Herguth, Avidyne's chief operating officer, the IFD540, AXP340 and MLB100 combination offers a full-up ADS-B solution that meets the 2020 ADS-B mandate. "Our AXP340 Mode S transponder provides ADS-B Out to comply with the 2020 mandate and the MLB100 gives U.S.-based customers a low-cost ADS-B In solution for traffic, plus the ability to receive weather data without monthly subscription costs," he said.

The MLB100 is also compatible with the company's EX600 and EX500 multi-function display, in addition to the EX5000 display used in the Avidyne Entegra integrated avionics suite. Avidyne display systems that are already in service will require a field-loadable software upgrade to accommodate the MLB100 data stream. Avidyne says the system is expected to be available in early 2015.

Avidyne isn't alone in the ADS-B market. Garmin, BendixKing and FreeFlight Systems all offer a variety of mandate-approved solutions.

For more on the MLB100 and other Avidyne products, visit Avidyne.com

image: NATCA

The FAA has fully restored air traffic operations at the Chicago En Route Center in Aurora, Illinois, the agency said on Monday. A full shift of air traffic controllers returned to Chicago Center Sunday night and resumed duties at their normal positions for the first time in more than two weeks. During the outage, which began on Sept. 26 when a fire was deliberately set at the facility, nearly 200 staffers traveled to other ATC facilities. All of those staffers were expected to return to their posts in Aurora on Monday. "I'm proud of the team effort," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "The [Transportation] Department and the FAA are committed to learning from this event." The agency is conducting a 30-day review of contingency plans and security protocols for its major facilities. Foxx said the report will be made public.

FAA technical teams had restored all the critical systems and equipment at the center by Sunday night, and air traffic controllers resumed control of the center's airspace from adjoining centers between midnight and 1 a.m. The FAA said its technical teams worked around the clock to restore and test more than 20 racks of equipment, 835 telecommunications circuits and more than 10 miles of cable. FAA test-flight pilots based in Oklahoma City helped air traffic controllers test more than 100 radio frequencies they use to communicate with pilots. The FAA's Command Center in Warrenton, Virginia, worked closely with the airlines that serve the Chicago-area airports to minimize disruptions for travelers and maximize the number of flights arriving and departing at those airports. "The scope and timeline of the restoration and recovery process following the fire at Chicago Center was unprecedented," the FAA said.

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Hard to believe it's been 200 years since Brainteaser quizzes premiered on AVweb. Aviation has sure changed a lot since 1814, but those who've stayed with us will, again, ace this quiz.

[Editor's Note: This is not the 200th anniversary but, instead, the 200th Brainteaser quiz.]

Includes a reader survey about the future of aviation.

Take the quiz.

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Last month, I spent a solid week on the phone talking to flight schools about their operations, their marketing and, especially AOPA's idea to refurbish older Cessna 150s and 152s and feed them into the training and flying club market.

While they were intrigued by the idea, almost all of the schools were put off by the numbers. Why spend $99,000 for a nicely restored 30-year-old 152, asked one operator, when I can make more money with one that costs a third as much but isn't quite perfect. In fact, "not perfect" is a polite euphemism for just on the acceptable side of ratty. Most of these schools told me they do enough repair and refurb on these old airframes to keep them airworthy, but not enough to make them what anyone would consider good as new.

This highlights what may be a sticky challenge in the burgeoning refurb business, especially at the low end of the market. It's well-established that when presented with options, aircraft buyers will tend to load up an airplane with everything that can be stuffed into it. Buyers aren't particularly warm toward stripped down airplanes, but for refurbs at the trainer end of the spectrum, they'd better get that way.

In bringing the 152 it showed at AirVenture in July up to near-new standards, AOPA discovered that just as building new airplanes is expensive, so is refurbing them to near-new standards. Redbird has learned the same thing with its Redhawk diesel conversion project. It hoped to bring these airplanes in for around $200,000, but the price has escalated to $249,000. Why? Because anything to do with airplanes—buying them, fixing them, upgrading them—is always more expensive than even the most conservative estimate imagines.

AOPA's Woody Cahall, who oversaw the 152 Reimagined project with Aviat, told me that the original plan envisioned replacing everything in the airplane with new and bringing the airframe to essentially new standards, perhaps with some upgrades. "We put together a wish list at the start, and all of that added up to about $135,000," he said. Curiously, that's about the price of a new, lavishly equipped LSA with a glass panel and probably a ballistic parachute system. And clearly, it wasn't going to work for trainers in the refurb market.  AOPA, rightly I think, kept the airplane refurb modest and the price below $100,000.

Another thing anyone dabbling in this market may have to realize is that the margins on such projects won't be anything like margins on new airplanes. There's profit there, probably, but I doubt if anyone is going to get rich on the idea. "One of our efforts on this airplane was to set a duplicable model that other people could follow and come up with a good airplane. You could easily get the airplane to a ridiculous price," Cahall said.

As with new airplanes, there will be fatter margins at the top tier of the market, the refurbed cabin-class twins, for example, or expensive singles like 36 Bonanzas and Piper Saratogas, which are much in demand on the used market. Those buyers will want every bit of bling they can get into the panel and will understand they'll have to pay for it. But in the two-place market? Not quite.

And that's why the AOPA 150s and 152s are modestly equipped. No glass, no expensive STC mods and certainly no autopilots. "The cost to repair that stuff and the expense of databases is just outside the scope of the kind of airplane we wanted to provide," Cahall said. As you may have seen at AirVenture, the interiors have nice new metal panels with a basic Garmin GTR 225 digital navcomm and a portable aera GPS. But no ADS-B of any kind and no upgrades like LED lighting.  

I continue to believe that this refurb idea is a good one and it'll have legs. But it's going to take a year or two to confirm that, by which time AOPA expects they will have completed as many as 20 refurbs. That's a sizable enough fleet to determine if the expense of restoring an airplane to near-new standards will reduce maintenance and operating costs enough to make it worth the investment. And if buyers, renters and students will really respond to like-new airplanes instead of being put off, as AOPA says its surveys insist they are, by worn out ones with old radios, crappy upholstery and faded paint.

The flight schools I spoke to had mixed reactions to the question of presentable airplanes. Some said spiffy interiors mattered, some said not so much. Price does matter, though. Several schools told me they had new Skycatchers on the line renting for $110 or $115, but students preferred the old 152s at $90. AOPA's real target for these refurbs is newly formed flying clubs, which have their own economics and preferences. Cahall said AOPA got surprising interest from the private owner segment, too. 

The industry got to this state because new airplane prices, even in the training market, have become prohibitively expensive with no prospect of them retreating. (There are other, larger forces at work, too.) If these organized refurb ideas don't make a meaningful dent in the cost of owning airplanes and learning to fly them, we all know which way the trend line is going. It's going there anyway, but the first step is to try to wrench it flat and worry about pointing it upward later. We're so far from that that I don't expect to see it while I'm still healthy enough to fly.

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We're seeing more capable navigation apps for Android tablets, including the new AvNav EFB app.  It has some of the same features that iOS users are accustomed to, including plates-on-map and DUATS flight planning and filing.  In this video, AvNav's Sanjay Kumar offers a tour of the app's functions during its debut at AirVenture 2014 at Oshkosh.

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A handful of biplanes were household names during the 1930s, and two survive yet today — the Waco and the Great Lakes.  In this video, AVweb's Paul Bertorelli takes a look at the Great Lakes 2T, which is back in production with a new Lycoming AEIO-360.

Order the DC PRO-X from David Clark Online

At Jacksonville, Florida, this week, Sierra Nevada and Embraer took the wraps off the first A29 Tucano to be made in the U.S.  It's the first of 20 airplanes on their way to Afghanistan for that country's rebuilding air force.

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Picture of the Week
Picture of the Week

"POTW" veteran Daniel Valovich of Hot Springs, AR calls down the lightning to lead off another showcase of reader photography. Click through for more pictures.