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The FAA has signed new agreements with EASA and Transport Canada that will make it easier for TSO-approved changes to aircraft to be accepted by the FAA. “The agreements will eliminate duplicate processes, get safety-enhancing equipment installed on aircraft more quickly, and save time and money for both industry and the regulatory authorities involved,” the FAA said on Tuesday. The FAA has been working with EASA for more than 10 years and with Transport Canada for more than 15 years, the FAA said, and the agencies have “established confidence in each other’s regulatory systems.” The agreement with EASA also extends to basic Supplemental Type Certificates.

An audit process will ensure that technical classifications continue to meet established criteria, and make sure standards are being met, the FAA said. The changes benefit U.S., Canadian and European aerospace industries, the FAA said, by eliminating the need for applications, additional validation and administrative review by each party.

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The U.S. House of Representatives passed a funding bill on Monday that aims to extend current levels of funding for the FAA through the end of next March. Currently, the FAA’s funding is set to expire on Wednesday night. The bill now goes to the Senate, where it’s expected to be voted on before the deadline, according to The Hill. When FAA funding was cut during the 2013 sequester, air traffic controllers were laid off and flights were delayed, until Congress passed a quick fix to restore funds. “We’re pleased that the House has acted to keep the FAA running,” said Jim Coon, AOPA senior vice president of government affairs. “We hope the Senate will quickly follow suit.”

Under the provisions of the extension, the FAA will receive $4.87 billion for operations, $1.68 billion for Airport Improvement Program grants, $1.3 billion for the construction of navigational facilities and equipment, and $78.4 million for research and engineering, including money for ongoing testing of possible replacements for leaded avgas, according to AOPA. The authorization extension also supports funding for non-FAA contracted control towers. The House bill was introduced on Friday by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa. In the Senate, debate over funding for Planned Parenthood has bogged down the budget process.

NATCA is lobbying for the government to change the way the FAA is funded, to avoid these recurring budget issues. “For years, the FAA has faced an unstable, unpredictable funding stream, and each interruption has negatively affected all aspects of the FAA’s operations and planning,” said Trish Gilbert, NATCA executive vice president. “Members of Congress cannot put the country through another shutdown. They must prevent it and find a way to provide stable funding for the NAS.”

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XTI Aircraft, a startup company that aims to develop a new certified six-seat aircraft capable of vertical takeoff and landing, said this week it has attracted $10 million in “reserve shares” through its “test the waters” crowdfunding campaign. The “nonbinding indications of interest” were collected via, which enables startups “to gauge interest in a future offering of the company’s securities.” XTI, based in Denver, says the new design, which uses ducted-fan technology, “will have the speed, range and comfort of a business jet and will take off and land like a helicopter.” Also this week, Wheels Up, a membership-based company operating a fleet of King Airs and mid-size Citation jets for private charters, said it has attracted $115 million in a new round of investment.

Wheels Up CEO Kenny Dichter said this latest round of financing will help the company to expand in the U.S., develop a base of operations in Europe and enhance the company’s technology platform. The company, which launched in 2013, offers flight booking and flight sharing via an app, and also offers concierge services and access to exclusive events for members. The new investment boosts the company’s valuation to greater than $500 million, according to Wheels Up.

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LightHawk, a nonprofit group that promotes the use of airplanes for conservation, has named Terri Watson as its new executive director. Watson had been a volunteer pilot for the group, starting in 1997, and previously served on the board. She also was executive director from 2000 to 2003. Watson was working for a nonprofit parks association in Hawaii when she heard that LightHawk was searching for a new leader. "I did a bunch of research to see what they were currently doing,” she said. “I was so excited to see a smartly focused and concise strategic plan ... that’s when I knew I wanted to be an integral part of this incredible organization again.”

Watson has been a pilot for 30 years, LightHawk said, and has an ATP and more than 11,000 hours. She has worked in many professional roles including search and rescue, firefighting, and as a support and training pilot in Iraq and Afghanistan. She was an aviator with the U.S. Army in Europe, Greenland and Korea, and has worked as an aviation consultant. Watson succeeds Rudy Engholm, who served as LightHawk's executive director from 2007 until last year.


Aerocet has received a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) for carbon composite amphibious floats for the Quest Kodiak 100 bush plane. The 6650 floats are leak-proof and all but impervious to salt and contaminated water. "We are very proud of the product our team worked hard to build and excited to watch the floats, combined to the proven Kodiak 100 airframe go out the door and into worldwide fleets," Aerocet said in a statement.  "With extensive structural testing and over 400 flight test hours their light weight and slick forgiving hulls will give pilots the best advantage of flying safely and comfortably."

The floats incorporate Aerocet's patented oil-bath wheels front and back that virtually eliminate bearing maintenance. There's an advisory system and the floats have three weather-tight storage lockers each to expand the aircraft's already significant load-carrying capability. Aerocet has been building composite floats since 1987 in Priest River, Idaho.

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As with any airplane there are specific techniques to managing the finer points of the critical phases of flight. Historic Flight Foundation's John Sessions got some pointers from Dan Gryder when he picked up his refurbished DC-3 at Sealand Aviation in Campbell River, British Columbia.


Our sister publication Aviation Consumer wants to know about your experiences with aircraft cylinders, including factory-new, PMA cylinders from Superior and ECi (including RAM Nickel) and used or reconditioned cylinders. This survey pertains only to Lycoming or Continental engines, not Rotax or experimental engines. (Lycoming or Continental engines used in experimentals are fair game, however.)

If you have a moment, please click here to take the short (five-minute) survey.

The answers you give are confidential and will be shared with no one but the editors of Aviation Consumer. Look for a report on the results of this survey in their November 2015 issue.

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Daher's TBM 900 leads the single-engine turboprop market in speed and efficiency.  In this informational video from AVweb, we take a look at the airplane's performance and market appeal.

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In my lofty role as editorial director here at AVweb, I am also self-appointed Chief of Word Police. We all have our little foibles and sacred cows, no? I actually have only two. I sweep the copy for two things; one is a word, the other a phrase. The word is “upbeat,” the phrase is “game changer.” (My friends across the pond at the U.K.’s Flyer magazine legislate against photos with subjects flipping a thumbs up, the ultimate empty-headed cliché.)

It’s not that I’m so blackhearted that I want the world to be pessimistically and chronically depressed, it’s just that both of these descriptors have become so cliché as to become running jokes of themselves, regardless of context. Marketers toss them off to describe the most banal of products and developments.

How cliché? Permit me an example: Google game changer and you’ll get 48 million hits; upbeat will return about half of that. For reference, Kim Kardashian gets 180 million, Pope Francis 112 million and Donald Trump 200 million. So game changer is overused to the point of near fatal eye glazing. Plus, what the hell does it mean anyway?

It obviously comes from sports and may date to the 1980s. The modern definition, according to Merriam-Webster, is “a newly introduced element or factor that changes an existing situation or activity in a significant way.” The key word here is “significant”; otherwise, any and all change would affect the game. And what is the game, anyway? I think we can assume for this context that it’s the GA market, its size, its health and its growth.

Game changer has a big brother and that would be “disruptive.” A disruptor is a shift so elemental that it sweeps all before it, displacing it with an entirely new thing. This has happened in aviation and I’ll get to that in a minute, but examples in other industries are more dramatic. Railroad diesel locomotives displaced steam; electronic calculators disrupted the wooden slide rule; digital imaging disrupted photographic film. I lived through one disruption myself and it happened almost in a blinding flash. The first summer I worked on a newspaper, it was printed using ancient Linotype machines and hot lead. I can still recall the oily smell of the composing room. The following summer, those machines were gone, displaced by cold type. Eventually, a lot of craft jobs went away during that disruption. 

And now back to aviation and why I don’t like using game changer or disruptive in the predictive sense. It’s mostly vanity. I don’t want to predict some product is the second coming of flight itself only to have it stumble, resulting in someone rubbing my face in a naïve prediction colored by someone’s marketing copy.  

(That has happened to me, by the way. It’s painful, too.)

Second, I have learned that journalists know no more about how markets will respond to products than do the people selling those products and they may know a lot less. People who read publications like AVweb do so out of passion for the activity, as an escape of sorts, which is why aviation journalism tilts toward boosterism of the industry. Pilots get enough gloom from the daily press. To be fair, aviation journalism’s critical bent isn’t extinct, but the blade often lacks an edge.

But using the “substantial change” threshold and looking backward rather than forward, there have been quite a few legitimate game changers in aviation. In no particular order, GPS certainly qualifies. It disrupted loran and is about to do the same to the VOR. Hundreds of GPS products exist now that didn’t 20 years ago and you can fly approaches into airports you couldn’t even a decade ago.

Was Cirrus a game changer? I’d say yes, because its particular appeal yielded a modern airplane but, more important, aggregated a pilot community that might not have existed otherwise. How about electronic controls for engines, FADECs? No cigar on that one. The uptake hasn’t been sufficient to ignite significant change. Diesel engines? During the past decade of aircraft production, diesel has gained a 10 percent market foothold. Is that significant? Yes, but I’m going to equivocate on whether it’s a game changer.

Glass panels generally and the Garmin G1000 definitely qualify as game changers, if not quite disruptors. There are still more steam gauge airplanes than glass airplanes. That’s one prediction that did come true, although I didn’t make it. In 2004, I was skeptical not of the glass itself, but its ability to penetrate the market. I was wrong on that one.

Two developments that were supposed to be game changers but weren’t were very light jets and light sport aircraft. During the summer of 2000, as Eclipse was ramping up, you could hardly open an aviation magazine without seeing VLJ—very light jet—or “disruptive technology.” I remember being told that these airplanes as a class might yield 20,000 airframes a year. It was all an utter confection, of course. There are successful jets in this class—the Cessna Mustang, the Phenom 100 and even the resurrected Eclipse—but they’re hardly game changers.

Judging light sport is not so easy. If we imagined it would usher in a new era of cheap airframes, revitalizing the industry and bringing in new pilots, it has fallen short. On the other hand, the light sport rule has kept many pilots in the air who would have otherwise retired and it has delivered several thousand new airplanes for a quarter to half the price of anything certified. Isn’t that significant? I’ll go all Fox News on that one; you decide.

The big aviation disruptor was the jet engine. It completely displaced piston engines in large transport-category airplanes. More critically, it disrupted the fuel—avgas. Although it has been a slow-motion disruption, avgas production has been in continual decline since about 1954.

And now comes the newest contender to the throne of the changed game, the Icon A5. In its August 2015 issue, AOPA Pilot declared the Icon to be a game changer that “changes everything.” Ignoring the weight of saddling it with altering the laws of physics and in the context I’ve sketched here, it could certainly be a game changer if it achieves its stated goals of bringing people into aviation from outside the usual channels. In my view, that’s because the LSA universe is a small one, and if a single manufacturer sells even 100 airplanes a year—never mind 500—that meets the standard of significant change. If Icon built 500 in a year, which it says it plans to do, it would, for that year, become the largest piston light aircraft manufacturer in the world and would expand current piston production by 50 percent. That would be true if the context is certified piston aircraft or light sport aircraft.

And that, by any definition, changes the game. But first, it has to happen. So let’s prop the door open and see if it does.

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Flying in the annual Red Bull Air Races on a tight course with speeds up to 200 knots and forces up to 10 Gs isn't easy, and this year U.S. competitor Kirby Chambliss, who's won the series twice in the past, isn't doing as well as he'd like.  He talked with AVweb's Mary Grady via Skype from Austria about the competition, the challenges, and the rewards.

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Safe Flight Instrument Corporation recently earned FAA certification for its latest-generation speed control/angle-of-attack system. In this video, Aviation Consumer editor Larry Anglisano flies with the system in Safe Flight's Cessna for a detailed look.

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