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A new electric motor developed by Siemens, a German company, will make it possible to build four-seat hybrid-electric aircraft, the company said recently. The motor's capabilities also suggest "that the use of hybrid-electric drives in regional airliners with 50 to 100 passengers is a real medium-term possibility," said Frank Anton, head of the company's e-aircraft research unit. The motor weighs about 110 pounds, the company says, and can produce a continuous output of about 260 kilowatts (equivalent to about 348 hp). It can drive propellers directly, without the use of a transmission. The motor will be flight-tested later this year, the company said, and the team will continue working to boost output.

Siemens worked with Diamond Aircraft two years ago to successfully flight-test a 60-kW hybrid-electric drive in a DA36 motorglider. The new engine uses a new cooling concept that reduces weight, the company said. The company is working with Airbus to develop the technology, and says if the engineers are successful in their ongoing experiments, "the first 60- to 100-seater aircraft with a hybrid electric drive could be taxiing for takeoff as early as 2035." Anton is scheduled to be one of the speakers at the CAFE Electric Aircraft Symposium coming up this weekend in Santa Rosa, California.

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Piaggio Aerospace has delivered the first Avanti Evo, its third-generation version of the twin turboprop, to a customer in Greece, the company has announced. The seven-seat airplane, with a VIP interior, will be used for charter. Piaggio CEO Carlo Logli said the company expects to deliver five more of the airplanes by the end of this year, to customers in the U.S., Asia and Europe. The new version was introduced last year, offering extended range, new five-blade Hartzell props, winglets and redesigned engine nacelles.

The interior also got a makeover and features new VIP leather seats. The aircraft, which sells for $7.4 million, uses 40 percent less fuel than jets in the same class, the company says, and the powerplants and props also are 68 percent quieter. The Evo can cruise at speeds up to 404 knots and has an IFR range of 1,770 nm.

The FAA's proposed rule for allowing small unmanned aircraft systems (under 55 pounds) into the federal airspace drew more than 4,400 comments, including input from aviation advocacy groups. Several of the advocacy groups, including EAA, AOPA and GAMA, said the FAA should lower its ceiling for small UAS ops to 400 feet, instead of 500, to provide a buffer between UAS and manned aircraft. EAA said drones should have onboard systems that would automatically terminate a flight in the event of a loss of communications with the operator, and manned aircraft operators should not be required to install new equipment as a consequence of UAS integration.

AOPA suggested that drones should be required to be equipped with technology that would automatically restrict their operations to within the allowed boundaries, and operators should be required to pass an online knowledge test every two years. NBAA said it was concerned that the proposed rules would require UAS operators to contact ATC facilities using aviation airwaves, when there is no requirement for those users to be trained in proper terminology and procedures. UAS operators should use an "alternate means of communication," NBAA said. GAMA said the rule fails to consider conflicts between UAS and low-flying aircraft such as helicopters and crop dusters. The Air Line Pilots Association suggested the FAA should set standards for testing the proficiency of UAS operators. The FAA now will review the comments before publishing a final rule, which is expected to take up to 18 months.

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Pilots planning to fly into EAA AirVenture, which for several days during the show is the site of the world's busiest airspace, are always advised to "study the Notam," and this year's FAA Notam (PDF) is now available online. The show is coming up July 20 to 26 at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Some changes have taken place since last year, EAA says, including the activation of an MOA in central Wisconsin, TFRs near Milwaukee on July 25 and 26, communication frequency updates, new IFR departure routings and more. EAA also offers advice to pilots flying in to the show.

EAA has posted procedures for exiting each of the runways after landing and for parking. The EAA site also has advice for pilots flying in to the seaplane base or nearby commercial airports, as well as for ultralight and international arrivals, and information about fuel service and discounts. This year's show will be EAA's 63rd annual convention, and will feature a B-52H Stratofortress bomber, the return of the Valdez STOL fleet, a salute to the career of aircraft designer Burt Rutan, and lots more.

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file photo: Airbus

An experienced flight nurse fell from a medical helicopter during a rescue mission in Austin, Texas, Monday night and was killed, officials have reported. The Star Flight EC-145 was operating at about 9:45 p.m. and the crew was working to hoist aboard a woman who had fallen from a cliff in a hiking area and injured her legs. Flight nurse Kristin McLain, 46, who had worked with the Star Flight team for seven years, fell from the helicopter's hoist and died at the scene. The rescued patient was taken to a hospital and is recovering.

The FAA issued a new rule last year that requires operators of air ambulances to follow strict flight rules and procedures, but later, the implementation of the rule was postponed. The FAA said both the agency and the industry needed more time to be able to conform to the new rules. The rules require operators to follow stricter flight rules and procedures, improve communications and training, and carry additional on-board safety equipment. From 2011 to 2013, seven air ambulance accidents resulted in 19 fatalities, the FAA said. In March, the FAA said the overall helicopter accident rate was declining.

The 87-year-old pilot who skipped a gear-up Piper Aerostar off a runway in Florida earlier this month told AVweb he didn't forget to drop the gear. In fact, Chris Gaklis said in an interview he retracted the gear a few seconds before the aircraft was caught on video clattering down the short strip at Aero Acres Air Park in Port St. Lucie, then lurching back into the air. It was, he said, a botched go-around rather than a gear-up landing. "As I was coming in on final I noticed the (crosswind) was coming up," he said. He decided to go around but after pulling up the gear and firewalling the throttles, he retracted the flaps prematurely. "It dropped about eight feet," he said. He said he knew the aircraft had spent some time on the ground but the howling engines masked the extent of the impromptu belly landing and he elected to continue the go-around.

After he had stabilized the aircraft in the pattern, he learned from the ground radio station that there were no repair services on the field so, with the engines still making power and no apparent problems staying airborne he elected to fly to his home airport of Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport about 80 miles away. "I said: 'To hell with it, I'll go back,'" said Gaklis. He tested the gear and "got three green" so he left the wheels down for the low and slow flight (for an Aerostar) back home. "It ran perfectly," he said. "There was no vibration whatsoever." Gaklis said he landed normally and it wasn't until he shut down that he realized how lucky he had been. "I was shocked when I saw the props," he said. An image posted online shows the prop tips curled like fish hooks about six inches up the chord. Gaklis has the Aerostar listed for sale as a rebuild and he's estimating there is about $50,000 in damage to the props, engines and belly. If it doesn't sell, he's considering doing the work himself but he said it's unlikely he'll fly the aircraft again.

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New airplanes sales may be a little soft, but we're seeing plenty of refurb work -- everything from new panels to fresh paint to full-up interiors. We would like to feature some of these airplanes in the pages of AVweb and spotlight the owners and shops doing the work. If you have photos of your restored aircraft -- single, twin or turbine -- send them to us at refurb-otm@avweb.com. If we select your airplane as refurb of the month, we'll contact you for more information.

Our best stories start with you. If you've heard something the flying world might want to know about, tell us. Submit news tips via e-mail here. (Or send them direct to Newstips at AVweb.com.)

AVweb is the world's premier independent aviation news resource, online since 1995. Our reporting, features, and newsletters are brought to you by:

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At Sun ‘n Fun early in the week, I got a good long sit in Mooney’s new M10T mockup, which they unveiled for the first time in the U.S. First impression: It’s big. Like Cirrus big. The cabin interior is about 48 inches wide, so it will easily accommodate two 21st century Americans rather than the svelteish 1950s models that Al Mooney figured the original airplanes were large enough to accommodate.

It being a mock-up, most of the attention was paid to working out the interior details and they are decidedly automotive. The panel is dominated by a Garmin G1000, but there’s little else in it in the way of additional mechanical controls or switching, although I’m sure there will be more when the airplane is actually ready to fly, which it will be sometime this summer. Ingress and egress isn’t typical Mooney, since it has two doors and the sill is lower than I recall it being on the M20 series.

Mooney hasn’t given any numbers yet, other than a gouge on speed and the basic dimensions. But just looking at the airplane, I see two challenges the designers will have to deal with and they’re the perennial two: weight and drag. The M10T will be powered by Continental’s CD-135 diesel. This engine has proven to be a reliable, economical performer but in conversions of older 172s, it doesn’t exactly deliver nosebleed-inducing climbs. If propped correctly—Hartzell has a nice three-blade option—it climbs acceptably, but not as well as the Lycoming version at low altitude.

That’s a function of weight, so Mooney will really have to keep the M10T on strict weight control and composite construction may or may not help. When composites were the latest new thing, proponents cited their superior strength-to-weight ratio, but the reality proved otherwise. One engineer told me that the more he worked with composites, the better he liked metal. Mooney says it will use quite a bit of carbon fiber in the M10T, so that should help.

Diesels flow a lot of air and because they’re water-cooled, they have radiators that gulp air, too. That adds cooling drag to an engine/airframe combination that isn’t overburdened with thrust. Since the M10T is a clean sheet and really a third- or fourth-gen OEM diesel, Mooney has a nice opportunity for some engineering creativity to tweak the most from a diesel powerplant. I’m looking forward to seeing how they do it. But diesels hardly rewrite the laws of physics and aerodynamics, so expectations need to be kept in check.

Jet Envy

This year’s airshow at Sun ‘n Fun promised to be and was one of the most jet-heavy in recent memory. The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds performed and so did the Breitling Jet Team, flying L-39s. This was their first appearance in Lakeland.

Jets blended with prop acts are a mixed bag, in my view. They tend to be fast and loud, but also dancing at the limits of the crowd’s visual range since there’s no hope of fast jets inhabiting the traditional airshow box. But one jet act this year should was a refreshing exception to that. Bob Carlton flew a routine in the SJX-2 SubSonex, a kit airplane from Sonex Aircraft powered by a PBS TJ100 turbojet. The airplane and the act drew a lot of attention.

Unlike typical jet shows, Carleton’s routine included the kind of compact, high-G aerobatics normally associated with piston aircraft and not just high-speed flybys and three-mile diameter loops. He did a couple of graceful performances that were just loud enough to be noticed without splitting the eardrums. Personally, as I get older and crankier, I’ve had my fill of 105-decibel, rib cage-rattling flybys. That’s why I usually abandon the airfield when the show starts, retreating to some place quiet where I can work in peace.

The week before Sun ‘n Fun, I spent a couple of days at Carleton’s Albuquerque home base shooting a video for our sister publication, KITPLANES, whose editor, Paul Dye, was checking out in the SubSonex. We’ll have the video up next week. Sonex has sold seven of these kits and I suspect they’re going to sell a lot more. At $130,000 complete, it’s a lot of exceptionally cool airplane for the money. It’s basically the price of a mid-range LSA, but it makes just enough of the right kind of noise and goes like stink. Then there’s always the smell of Jet A in the morning. 

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In mid-April, Piper announced its new M600 single-engine turboprop, a new model based on the successful Meridian.  At Sun 'n Fun 2015, Piper brought a cabin mockup of the new airplane, and AVweb spoke to Piper CEO Simon Caldecott about how the company plans to position the airplane in the market.

Introducing Garmin Vantage ADS-B Solutions - Maybe It's Time to Take More Control of Your Own Safety
What Everybody Ought to Know About the CGR-30P from Electronics International

Cirrus started building the first production Vision SF50 this week.  AVweb's Russ Niles toured the plant in Duluth.

Is Your ARC NavCom Tango Uniform? Get a New IFR/TSO'd TKM-MX385 from TKM Avionics

Garmin's G500 and G600 retrofit PFD/MFD system is getting some long-awaited enhancements, including TrendVector ADS-B traffic symbology, georeferenced Flite Charts and more weather data capability.  Aviation Consumer editor Larry Anglisano took a look at the system with Garmin's Jessica Koss at Sun 'n Fun 2015 in Lakeland, Florida.

Trade Your Chocks for Starting Blocks || Cessna TTx

The FAA is exploring the idea, and the small airplane groups are gathering the information.  AVweb's Russ Niles spoke with Dan Johnson of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association (LAMA) at Sun 'n Fun 2015.

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