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ForeFlight has added a synthetic vision upgrade to their popular iPad-based flight-planning software, the company recently announced. The upgrade provides a three-dimensional view of terrain and airport features, and dims or brightens to simulate daylight and night conditions. The Stratus ADS-B receiver is not required to run the feature, the company says, but with Stratus 2, the built-in AHRS "drives a super responsive pitch and bank instrument in the center of the Synthetic Vision view."

With AHRS, the upgrade provides a "backup glass cockpit on your iPad" that can help you stay aware of your position and surroundings, the company says. Without the Stratus AHRS, the horizon at the center of the synthetic vision view remains fixed, and displays GPS-derived ground speed, altitude, vertical speed, track, and an HSI display with course deviation indicator. The featureáworks in either split-screen or full-screen mode. It's available to currentásubscribers for a $25 annual fee.áA full review of the new upgrade will be featured in the February issue of Aviation Consumer magazine.

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Flytenow, a startup online business that wants to match empty seats in general aviation aircraft with passengers who would share the costs, has sued the FAA over its statement that the practice would violate FARs. "This is a classic case of government overreaction to new technologies and innovative ideas," said Jon Riches, a lawyer at the Goldwater Institute, a nonprofit group that promotes free-market economics. The institute, which is representing Flytenow in its suit against the FAA, argues in its news release, issued on Tuesday, that the FAA's decision "violates the First Amendment and Due Process rights" of the company.

The Institute says it believes the FAA's rules are "unconstitutionally vague because it cannot provide legally-required 'fair warning' of what communication activities of private expense-sharing pilots are allowed or not." Riches said: "Instead of updating regulations to reflect the way Americans communicate today, the FAA is stifling innovation and silencing pilots who want to use the Internet to communicate their travel plans." In its interpretation of the regulations, issued last August in response to a request from AirPooler, a similar flight-sharing startup, the FAA said for a general aviation pilot to post flights online would constitute "holding out," that is, making a public offer to transport people for compensation.

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The FAA is still not saying when it will release its proposed rules for unmanned aircraft systems, but on Tuesday, the agency granted two more exemptions to allow UAS operations, including the first for real estate photography. The agency gave the exemptions to Douglas Trudeau, of Tierra Antigua Realty in Tucson, Arizona, and to Advanced Aviation Solutions in Spokane, Washington. The exemptions authorize Trudeau to fly a Phantom 2 Vision + quadcopter to create aerial videos for real estate listings in Tucson, and allow the Spokane operators to fly a fixed-wing eBee Ag UAS to make photographic measurements and perform crop scouting for precision agriculture.á

Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx concluded that the UAS in the proposed operations don't need an FAA-issued certificate of airworthiness because they don't pose a threat to national airspace users or national security. The FAA said it will require "certain conditions and limitations" to ensure the UAS are operated safely. For example, all operations require both a pilot and observer, the pilot must have at least an FAA private pilot certificate and a current medical certificate, and the UAS must remain within line of sight at all times. The FAA noted that it has received 214 requests for exemptions from commercial entities.

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The FAA will announce a final rule today to require all Part 121 airlines to have safety management systems. A safety management system is defined by the FAA as "the formal, top-down, organization-wide approach to managing safety risk and assuring the effectiveness of safety risk controls." Most major carriers already have their own ways of achieving the same goals but the FAA rule will create standards for SMS systems. Many other countries have already implemented similar regulations and the SMS rule will make the U.S. comply with membership requirements for the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the initiative was issued in November of 2010. A parallel NPRM covering certificated airports was also issued then. The new rule will be announced at a media event in Washington. It will be attended by Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta and Nicholas Calio, CEO of Airlines for America, the industry trade group that represents the major airlines.

Don't believe that old hangar saw that "driving to the airport is more dangerous than flying." Statistically, it isn't. Leaving the planet adds new dimensions to transportation risk, but you'll improve your odds by acing this quiz. (Includes a new reader survey about drones.)

Click here to take the quiz.

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AVweb Insider

One of my secret ambitions has been to own an airplane company and I think I'm about to realize it. Not to reveal too much about my personal finances, but I'm about to come into a lot of money. I mean a really, huge, stupid amount of money.

I've been getting a lot of e-mails from sincere-sounding African princes and a couple of serious European banker types promising large sums of money if I'll just provide them with certain financial data so the funds can be transferred.

So far, the total promised is just shy of $500 million and I expect it will be wired to me any day now. For example, Mr. Ifeanyi Onuora is sending $2.5 million via wire transfer for the mere fee of $65, which he has generously agreed to accept via credit card payment. He seems like such a nice man, that I might find a place for him in my new company. Then,á Mrs. Tessy Bongara, whose husband recently died in a tragic mining accident, commits to sending $7.5 million, for which she only wants a 10 percent processing fee, provided up front. Looking at my current accounts receivable, that's a mere bagatelle. I can't believe my good fortune. I feel so blessed.

Of course, all of us in aviation know that the only thing to do with crazy money is to invest it in some kind of aviation product or service, knowing as we do how wildly high the returns are likely to be, especially in China where more than a billion beating hearts are filled with an uncontainable desire to slip the surly bonds andůaviate! Can you imagine the potential?

Now it's just a question of deciding what company or product to invest in. Perhaps a light sport that doubles as a bass boat? No, I think that's already been done. Still, bass fishing in China could be a clever market play that no one else has thought of. Are there bass in China? Could you pivot it to a flying carp boat?

I was thinking Beechcraft would let me buy the old plans for the Starship; I think the Chinese would love that! But then since they crushed all of the airplanes, I guess they burned the drawings, too. Pity. But that's the thing about crazy money, I guess. People are just afraid to connect it to really good ideas. It's that old fear-of-success thing, I suppose.

Or how about a new, clean-sheet engine? I'm kind of warming to that idea. If I've got almost $500 million to spend, it would take, what, only 15 percent of it to bring a new engine to market. I could figure on selling 30 or 40 a year and I think I'd clean up. (That's how crazy money works, by the way. The math is much different than with regular money. It has something to do with algorithms.)

I'm hoping that nice Mr. Onuora has some ideas; he did identify himself as a marketing executive in Nigeria and the way things have been going, I figure anyone there knows as much about the airplane business as people selling the damn things elsewhere. So what the hell, I've got money to burn.

So if you've got an airplane company to sell, be sure and get in touch with me soon. I've already picked out a site for my new aviation business and tomorrow, I'm placing an option on a bridge so I can get to it.

Join the conversation.
Read others' comments andápost your own.

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AVweb readers provided us with a wealth of fantastic photos in 2014, and here's a nice summary look at many of them edited together by Paul Bertorelli. And thanks to everyone who contributed. Best wishes for 2015.

Click here for the back story on this video.

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For pure, undiluted fun, there's nothing quite like operating a small flying boat off a remote lake. áIn this video, AVweb's Paul Bertorelli takes a test flight in a new Searey Elite. áThe company is now selling these airplanes as SLSA aircraft.

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Dan Gualandri from Sarasota Avionics filmed himself installing two instruments by Electronics International, the CGR 30P and CGR 30C. áHe removed a total of nine instruments out of his cockpit and replaced them with only two units from EI.

U.S. Sport Aviation Expo || January 14-17, 2015 || The Affordable Aircraft Expo