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Flight Design GmbH, based in Germany, said in a news release it has applied for "a planned receivership which allows for reorganization of the company." The filing will enable the company to deal with a "liquidity crunch." The crunch is driven mainly by one international customer that "has not settled a bill of over seven digit Euros," the company said. The contract was for engineering services. An attorney appointed by the court, Knut Rebholz, said the most urgent task is to start negotiations to fund continuing operations. "The order situation of the company is good and the products have a very good international reputation in the market," Rebholz added. CEO Matthias Betsch told a German news site, Sachsische Zeitung, "The company will continue to run normally. Customers will receive the usual service, deliveries proceed."

Tom Peghiny, CEO of Flight Design USA, told AVweb that his company is separate and independent from Flight Design GmbH, but the situation in Germany does have an impact. "We couldn't get aircraft from [Germany] for nearly two years," he said. "We negotiated to be able to buy our airplanes and parts from AeroJones [a Taiwanese company operating in China]. Those negotiations were successful, and we expect to take delivery of the first airplanes from China next month." AeroJones will be able to meet his needs for U.S. deliveries of two to three CTLS series aircraft per month, Peghiny said, and also can supply parts for the current fleet.

Peghiny added that he has orders and deposits in place for airplanes from Germany, "so we are actually creditors" of Flight Design GmbH. He said none of those airplanes on order were destined for U.S. customers, but were to go to the U.S. dealer network. Flight Design GmbH employs about 20 workers in Germany and about 100 at its production plant in Ukraine. The company was founded in 1988 and has delivered about 1,500 aircraft.

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The name of Eric "Winkle" Brown may not be familiar to U.S. readers, but to the British, he was celebrated as the Royal Navy's most decorated pilot. He held world records for having flown more different types of aircraft than anyone — a total of 487 — and the most carrier landings — 2,407. During World War II he served as a test pilot for aircraft carriers, and by 1943 he had logged 1,500 deck landings on 22 different vessels. He was the first to land a jet on an aircraft carrier, in 1945, and he survived 11 crashes. His work won him numerous medals and honors, including a Distinguished Service Cross. After the war, he test-flew 43 captured German aircraft.

images: Wikipedia

Brown also continued to work as a test pilot after the war, and amassed information that influenced the designs of many Western aircraft and aircraft carriers, according to the New York Times. He wrote about a half-dozen books about his experiences and contributed frequently to aviation magazines. He also was a popular lecturer on aviation topics and served as president of the Royal Aeronautical Society. He was born in Scotland in 1919. He died Sunday at a hospital in Surrey following a brief illness, his family said.

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Diamond's new seven-seat DA62 twin debuted last April at Aero Friedrichshafen in Germany and visited the NBAA show in Las Vegas in November, so it's already familiar to many aviators, and as of today it's officially FAA-certified. The twin offers a "combination of cabin volume, utility, performance and efficiency," said Diamond CEO Peter Maurer. The airplane comes with two turbo diesel Austro AE 330 turbocharged engines, each with 180 hp. Maximum speed is 201 knots and maximum range is 1,280 nm. The company is introducing the new twin to U.S. customers with a Southwest Demonstration Tour, which began last week in San Diego and is now in Long Beach.

A team of pilots, flying the latest versions of the company's twins and single-engine airplanes, will visit airports in California and Nevada, and arrive in Scottsdale, Arizona, on March 12. The team then will visit Texas and the Southeast, with more tours to be announced later in the year, the company said. The DA62 sells for about $1.25 million.

Click here for a video of the DA62's debut at NBAA last year.

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If it seems that airline seats are getting narrower, while the average size of passengers gets wider, Airbus has an idea that could reverse that trend -- replace at least some of those seat rows with benches. Airbus has filed a patent (PDF) for bench seats, which could accommodate not only larger-than-average passengers but also families with kids and people with restricted mobility. The "reconfigurable passenger bench seat" would feature adjustable, detachable seat belts and optional fold-down armrests.

The average airline seat width has gone from 18.5 inches in the 1990s to about 16.5 inches today, according to CNN, while at the same time the average weight for U.S. travelers has gone up from 159 pounds to 166 pounds for females, and from 186 to 196 for males. Last year, an Australian man filed suit against Etihad Airlines, claiming that he had to "contort and twist" his body to accommodate an overweight passenger in the adjoining seat during a long flight from Dubai to Sydney, causing a back injury and aggravating an existing back condition.

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Perhaps one of the most popular flight schools in the U.S. to earn a single-engine seaplane rating, Jack Brown's Seaplane Base in Winter Haven, Florida, has trained nearly 20,000 pilots. To find out what the draw is all about, Aviation Consumer editor Larry Anglisano recently enrolled in Brown's $1,400 SES course and had his cameras rolling to capture the experience.


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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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The phrase "witness to history" is an overused one in the obituary writer's vocabulary and probably just as often overstates the departed's life role. But in the case of Eric "Winkle" Brown, it's barely adequate to describe the man. As you read in this week's news columns, Brown died this week at the age of 97. Given his occupation as the most well-known flight test pilot in the U.K.—and the world for that matter—it's a testament to raw skill, preparation, instinct and, I bet he'd say some luck, that he lived to that age. Interestingly, Brown says his small stature--that's how he got the nickname "Winkle"--may have saved him in at least one crash. Only U.S. readers with a smattering of aviation history knowledge will know of Brown's career as a Royal Navy pilot involved in many of the U.K.'s major test programs during World War II and immediately after it.

I never met Brown, but know of him vicariously through reading and filmed interviews. What I found most interesting about those interviews is his incredible recall of detail and ability to put a story's key frames into meaningful perspective even a non-aviation viewer can grasp. He was at the intersection of so many critical events in aviation that in any reading of history, he'll pop up Zelig-like nearly everywhere. In this video, he tells the story of a test program to land the DeHavilland Mosquito on the decks of aircraft carriers.

Well into the program, he began to wonder why the Royal Navy wanted to do that. A chance meeting with Barnes Wallis—he of the dam busters bomb fame—revealed that the Brits planned to attack Japanese capital ships with skip bombs from carrier-launched Mosquitos in the Pacific. The war against Japan ended before they sailed.

But for a quirk of fate, Brown would be known as the first pilot to exceed Mach 1, rather than a then-unknown Air Force captain named Yeager. Brown had been the principal pilot on a project called the Miles M.52 and as the U.S. Air Force later did, the test team was slowly inching its way toward the Mach 1 mark. Without explanation, the program was summarily canceled and the acquired data and design work was sent to the U.S. One key technical element from the M.52 was the all-flying tail, which is how the X-1 team eventually overcame the shock wave problem on the X-1's tail. The rest, as they say, is history and you can hear Brown talk about it in this interview. Here's another nice BBC piece on Brown. Among Brown's many firsts was the first landing of a jet aboard a carrier in 1945. He ended his career with 2407 shipboard traps, a record that will likely stand for a long time.

Fair warning about clicking on these links. Be prepared to spend an hour or two watching these and other interviews. And if you do that, you'll understand why Brown so richly deserves mention in this space. I doubt if we'll see his like again.

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EAA's annual Skiplane Fly-In at Pioneer Airport offers winter fun and a nod to the association's roots.

Jay Leno Installs an MVP-50 from Electronics International into His Eco Jet Car || Click to Watch

With an infusion of new capital from Chinese interests, Mooney is on the move with two new models, the Acclaim Ultra and the Ovation Ultra.  The company showed the Acclaim Ultra at a press event on Wednesday.

Evolution Flight Display System Angle of Attack Indicator (AOA) || Aspen Avionics - Technology That Matters
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Picture of the Week

Tom Ciura of Lancaster, NY kicks off our latest batch of reader-submitted photos. Click through for more shots from AVweb readers.

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