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The Aircraft Electronics Association said this week they will award five aircraft owners $1,000 each, from a random drawing, to be used toward an ADS-B upgrade. The drawings will be held next week during EAA AirVenture at Oshkosh. By offering the incentives, AEA President Paula Derks said, “AEA hopes to send a message to owners of general aviation aircraft that the time to act and upgrade is now.” Only 41 months remain to equip more than 100,000 general aviation aircraft with ADS-B equipment. “Aircraft owners who wait to equip will face scheduling pressure and likely higher installation costs as we get closer to the Jan. 1, 2020, deadline,” Derks said.

AEA’s effort joins other incentives offered by the FAA and avionics manufacturers. More efforts are expected to be announced next week at Oshkosh. Aircraft owners can enter to win the AEA awards next week at Hangar B, booth number 2035/2036, starting on Monday. Drawings will be held Monday through Friday; each owner only has to enter once to have a chance in all of the drawings. Winners must use an AEA-member avionics repair station to complete the installation, and the installation must be scheduled by August 1, 2017.

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Pilatus officials held a groundbreaking ceremony last week for a new facility at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport in Broomfield, Colorado, which will provide completions, sales, and service support for the fleet, including the PC-24 twinjet. The new facility is expected to open in the spring of 2018, on the currently undeveloped west side of the airport, and will employ about 140 workers by 2020, when the PC-24 is in full production. Pilatus said their current facility, on the east side of the airport, which provides PC-12 support, will be closed and those 80 workers will move to the new 118,000-square-foot building.

Thomas Bosshard, CEO of Pilatus Business Aircraft, hosted the ceremony. “We are extremely happy and proud to begin construction of this new facility,” he said. “Pilatus has enjoyed steady growth in the business aviation market in our 20 years at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport, and we are delighted to have the confidence to expand our operations and employment here in Jefferson County. Our employees, partners, and customers for the top-selling PC-12 NG business turboprop and the new PC-24 Super Versatile Jet are very excited to move into this state-of-the-art building, which will bring our entire team under one roof.”

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Kermit Weeks always makes a splash at AirVenture but this may be his biggest ever. The serial aircraft collector and owner of Fantasy of Flight Museum in Florida will be part of the crew flying the massive Martin Mars flying boat from Vancouver Island in British Columbia to the seaplane base on Lake Winnebago on Saturday. Weeks has been in Port Alberni, B.C., the past week learning the ropes of the aircraft. According to local news reports, he bought his seat on the flight deck by paying the $40,000 fuel bill for the eight-hour flight. “My personal thing here is I truly believe I’m being part of history,” Weeks told CTV News. “I have my doubts whether the airplane will continue flying.”

The Mars, owned by the Coulson Group, will be a star attraction at AirVenture and will fly during at least some of the afternoon airshows, undoubtedly showing the fire-dousing ability of its 8,000-gallon tanks. The aircraft has been used for more than 40 years in western North America as an air tanker but a change in tactics by firefighting authorities and the huge expense of keeping the Second World War-era aircraft airworthy have left it grounded for most of the past few fire seasons. Coulson is offering type ratings on the plane and looking for new revenue prospects for it on the Oshkosh trip. More than $1 million was spent getting it ready for the flight.

The aircraft, one of two complete aircraft owned by Coulson, was built at the end of the Second World War and served as a troop transport by the U.S. Navy for several years. Five production models were built but one was lost in a fire. The remaining four were sold as surplus to a consortium of B.C. forest companies in 1959 and converted to fire tankers. One crashed, one was wrecked in a storm while on the water and the remaining two had long careers fighting forest fires. Weeks will fly the Hawaii Mars to Oshkosh while its sister ship the Philippine Mars is back on the water in Sproat Lake in U.S. Navy livery. The Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida, has been trying to acquire the Philippine Mars for almost a decade but there are government and military issues on both sides of the border preventing the transfer.

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Garmin announced today its latest-generation cockpit wireless system, Flight Stream 510. Unlike the earlier Flight Stream 110/210 (which are remote Bluetooth transceivers hard-wired behind the instrument panel) the new Flight Stream 510 wireless hub is self-contained in a MMC (MultiMediaCard). The miniature wireless device is simply placed into the SD card slot of the company’s GTN750 and GTN650 GPS navigators, where it serves as a Wi-Fi and Bluetooth data hub.

Priced at $1495, the Flight Stream 510 is multi-purposed and is integral with Garmin’s Connext cockpit tablet architecture, through the Garmin Pilot tablet app for iOS and Android. Among other things, the system is intended to simplify the navigation database update process of Garmin's GTN-series navigators and the G500/G600 PFD/MFD.

It works like this: Instead of downloading new databases to an SD card from a remote computer (a time-consuming process with a risk of file corruption), the data is automatically downloaded to the Pilot app and then streamed wirelessly to the panel navigator once you power up the avionics. Garmin says the Wi-Fi database transfer process is faster, while the device also enables two-way flight plan transfer, the sharing of ADS-B traffic and weather, plus backup attitude information to the tablet when a G500/G600 PFD system is in in the mix.

A single Flight Stream 510 card supports dual GTN navigators, plus it enables text messaging and voice control with Garmin's GSR 56 satcomm system. It's also compatible with the GDL69 SiriusXM datalink system for entertainment control (and weather display) directly on the tablet or mobile device.

Along with the Flight Stream 510, Garmin has lowered the annual cost of its database packages. For example, a one-year subscription for the GTN650—which includes Garmin's navigation data, SafeTaxi, obstacles and terrain—is $499. The database for the discontinued GNS430W and GNS530W is now $449. There is a new USB datacard programmer for the GNS (replacing the Skybound Reader device) for $69.95. For panels with multiple Garmin devices, database management gets easier.

Garmin's new OnePak annual database package is streamlined into a single subscription for all of the Garmin avionics in one aircraft, including a qualifying portable GPS. Garmin also throws in a Garmin Pilot IFR Premium subscription for existing subscribers. OnePak packages are compatible with the GTN and GNS-W navigators, G500/G500H/G600, G1000/G2000/G3000/G5000 integrated avionics suites, plus portable and experimental avionics—including G3X, G3X Touch, G900X and the aera-series GPS devices.

There is a major software release for the GTN750 and GTN650, which enables the Flight Stream 510 function, pinch-to-zoom map functions, database synchronization between GTN navigators and a G500/G600, European VRPs (visual reporting points), plus embedded Telligence voice command.

The Telligence software (which trickles down form the company's latest voice-command audio panels) is loaded with over 300 voice commands, activated with a dedicated push-to-talk switch. For example, keying the switch and speaking "tune destination tower" automatically tunes the appropriate tower frequency in the GTN. Other commands include "say winds" and "say distance to destination."

Last, G500 and G600 users finally have access to Garmin's TargetTrend and TerminalTraffic traffic interface, previously only available on the GTN navigator and the Pilot app. The field-updatable software upgrade also makes the system compatible with Garmin's GTX345 ADS-B In traffic and weather transponder so FIS-B weather and ADS-B traffic is overlaid on the moving map and on dedicated weather and traffic pages. The software (which is free, but doesn't include shop labor) also enables the G500 and G600 to send traffic, weather, GPS and AHRS data to the aera 600 and 796/796 portable GPS navigators—via the Flight Stream Connext network—to the Garmin Pilot app and to tablets running ForeFlight Mobile. 

Garmin says the Flight Stream 510 and GTN-series upgradability will be available this coming August (approved under the GTN's AML-STC), while the new data packages are available immediately.  Look for an upcoming Garmin product overview video as part of AVweb's AirVenture 2016 show coverage next week.



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Cirrus Aircraft said today its special-mission platform, Cirrus Perception, is now FAA certified and ready to enter service for a variety of applications, including law enforcement, traffic monitoring, mapping, search and rescue, border surveillance and more. “Special-mission operators are constantly looking for ways to increase their capabilities while reducing operational costs,” said David Moser, vice president in charge of special-missions aircraft at Cirrus. The product equips a new SR22 or SR22T with a mounting system that can accommodate a wide array of sensor models and is designed to be modular, easy to mount and remove, and reconfigurable.

In addition to the external mount, the Perception package includes a dedicated electrical circuit for the special-mission equipment, and a video interface to the Garmin Perspective avionics, Moser told AVweb today. The mount can carry a payload of up to 50 pounds, with a diameter up to 10.5 inches and up to 14 inches high. The Cirrus Perception package is a $59,900 option, and is currently available only for new Generation 5 SR22 and SR22T airplanes, not as a retrofit. “The camera/sensor and any other installed special mission equipment is not included in that price,” Moser said. “Cirrus works with third-party system integrators for the sale and installation of any of the special mission equipment that a customer may need.” When not needed, the sensor mount can be removed in less than five minutes.

Moser added that the company completed a test recently with a normally aspirated SR22 loitering at a speed of 120 knots, at 3,000 feet MSL. “We were burning 7 gph, giving us up to 12 hours of endurance plus reserves,” he said. In practice, he said, endurance for the system will be a function of power, altitude, and weather.

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Russian balloonist Fedor Konyukhov, who launched from western Australia on July 12 in an attempt to beat Steve Fossett’s time for the only prior round-the-world solo balloon flight, already has faced weather challenges and equipment failures as he reaches the halfway point of his journey. As he crossed the southern Pacific at night, Konyukhov encountered snow, ice and turbulence, which shook the propane tanks suspended from the gondola so violently that some of them had to be jettisoned. A valve on the oxygen system also failed, which will require Konyukhov to climb to the top of his capsule and manually vent oxygen for the rest of the flight.

As the balloon approached South America, the continent’s tallest mountain, Aconcagua, at 22,841 feet, loomed ahead, but the balloon passed to the north of it, and is now flying above the southern Atlantic Ocean. Konyukhov, who is 64 years old, has been sleeping only in 30-minute intervals, according to a post on his website, and has been surviving mainly on energy bars and water. The balloon has been cruising mostly at altitudes between 15,000 and 30,000 feet. Fossett’s circumnavigation set a record of 13 days, 8 hours, and 33 minutes. Konyukhov has flown for about eight days to reach the halfway point of his journey. He has been flying farther north than Fossett did, adding many more miles to his flight path, compared to Fossett’s.

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It could be argued that just about every trap on a carrier is a close call but video released this week by the Navy shows just how close it can get. An E-2C Hawkeye was landing on the deck of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower March 18 and while a gust lifted a wing just before touchdown, it appeared to be a normal landing. But the arresting cable broke and that’s when things got interesting. The cable didn’t break until the aircraft was most of the way down the deck and well below flying speed. The accompanying video below shows the plane disappearing off the prow of the big ship before struggling back into the air. Eight sailors were injured by the writhing cable.

The report on the incident was obtained by the Virginian-Pilot on a freedom of information request. The cable failed because maintenance personnel misrigged the device that absorbs the tremendous load from the trapped aircraft. The cable snapped at the hook point when the huge hydraulic pistons that normally disperse the energy held their ground. The Navy found the sailors were at fault for the error but said it was understandable because the procedure they’d done wasn’t explained very well in the manuals. In addition to the injuries to the deck personnel, two aircraft were damaged by the cable to the tune of $82,000.

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If you didn’t take time to click on and watch this week’s video on a Navy E2C carrier mishap earlier this year, I recommend it. Put yourself in the pilot’s seat of the Hawkeye and you’ll appreciate the remarkable outcome.

As the story explains, the Hawkeye was involved in carrier workups off the North Carolina coast last March aboard the U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower when a cross deck pendant parted just after the aircraft trapped and was decelerating. The investigation revealed that the arrestment gear was improperly configured for the weight and type of aircraft, causing the pendant to part.

As the video shows at about 0:30, the Hawkeye catches the four wire, which slows it considerably before breaking. This leaves the airplane in extremis at the very end of the deck, not scooting right along as it would be in a regular bolter. As you can see, the pilot doesn’t have much flying speed before sailing over the bow and disappearing from view, sinking like a stone. It takes no imagination at all to understand what has to happen next. With the airplane short of flying speed and the engines already at full power—carrier pilots are trained to open the throttles on touchdown in case of a bolter—it would take laser-like discipline to let the nose fall through a little to trade altitude for airspeed. But there’s not that much height—about 90 feet on a Nimitz class carrier, depending on the deck pitch state. As the water comes rapidly closer, the urge to pitch up would be overwhelming, countered perhaps by unshakeable faith in ground effect.

The other thing to think about is being run over by the ship if the airplane actually ditches. So would it be worth jinking a little left to get out of the way? I don’t think so. I dragged out my NATOPs manual and it looks to me like unless the airplane plopped right off the angle deck, it would clear the ship’s line of movement on the port side. When recovering aircraft, carriers steam so the wind over the deck is closely aligned with the angle deck. That means that the imaginary line describing the extended approach centerline is constantly moving to the pilot’s right to some degree, requiring a series of right corrections for line up. It also means that the ship would move to the right of an airplane that landed in the water off the angle deck, albeit it would have to be a few hundred feet beyond the bow to have a lot of clearance. 

Looking at the specs for the E2C, it has more than 10,000 HP which, according to Grumman, provides a power loading of 0.19 HP/lb. On paper, that makes it a bit of a hotrod, depending on weight. One airplane you’re familiar with which definitely is a hotrod is the Carbon Cub, whose power loading is about 0.13 HP/lb., but more like 0.15 or 0.16 if really light. A Carbon Cub—and others of its ilk—can power through a near stall condition with the nose high by simply hanging on the prop. Maybe an E2C at a light weight could do the same. But either way, when the Navy said the pilot displayed “phenomenal airmanship” in recovering the aircraft, they could be faulted for understatement.  

Another Ditching

Monday’s news feed brought news of yet another successful ditching, this one off Kona in the Hawaiian Islands. A Piper Apache with two aboard went into the water for unknown reasons. It happened about 3:15 p.m. local time. One of the news reports I saw said the two survived thanks to good equipment and good training. I’d never argue with success, but I’d also point out that perhaps the equipment and training wasn’t as good as it might have been.

Despite a radio call and apparently good position reports to ATC, the pair was in the water for some 20 hours. In other words, they spent a night at sea in life jackets, one of which was leaking. What could have improved their chances? A raft and signaling equipment. Coast Guard pilots will tell you that the probability of detection for a person in the water is quite low. A raft improves that and signaling devices improve it more. It’s not unreasonable to include this equipment on airplanes that are routinely flown over long stretches of open water. Signaling devices in or attached to the life vests are the best bet. (If they had this equipment, it wasn’t mentioned in the reports I saw.) A chem light or a small flashlight will flare like a beacon in the night vision gear search pilots use. 

You may recall that four years ago, I wrote about the ditching of an aeromedical Westwind off Norfolk Island near Australia. The pilot, whom I’ve interviewed several times, successfully got the airplane into the water in fresh seas and low visibility at night and got everyone evacuated. He had injured occupants and a stretcher patient. Quick recovery by boat turned on a small penlight he had in his shirt pocket for signaling. Everyone survived.

The two Hawaii victims benefitted from warm water—about 80 degrees this time of year, which translates to indefinite survival time. Had that happened in the 65-degree water off Bar Harbor or Santa Catalina, surviving overnight would have been unlikely. The accident record is rich with routine flights that started as a sunny afternoon lark and turned into a survival struggle in an eye blink. Survival often turns on the smallest things, like the habit of carrying basic survival and signaling equipment even though you know you’ll never need it. Until you do.

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What Everybody Ought to Know About the CGR-30P from Electronics International

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Mark Espenant of Ottawa, ON (Canada) takes us on a field trip to the CN Tower in our latest "Picture of the Week." Click through for a closer view and a gander at more photos from AVweb readers.

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Perhaps it's cooler in the southern hemisphere, but here at North 41 degrees 17 minutes / West 93 degrees 6 minutes, it's hot enough to fry an egg on the hangar roof, which will be easier to swallow when you ace this quiz. (Includes results of last month's reader survey on favorite airshow performers.)

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