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Cessna’s super-midsize Citation Longitude prototype has completed initial ground engine tests, the company said today, adding that the first flight is expected “in the coming weeks.” The tests verified the functionality of the engine start, fuel system and auto-throttle as well as interfaces with the avionics, electrical and hydraulic systems, the company said. “The engine-run tests are one of the final major milestones as we prepare for first flight,” said Scott Ernest, CEO of Textron Aviation. “This step really allows us to prove the maturity of the aircraft and its systems.” Deliveries of the jet are expected to start late in 2017.

The clean-sheet Longitude will seat up to 12 in a stand-up cabin and fly at speeds up to 476 knots for up to 3,400 nm. The cockpit features the Garmin G5000 flight deck. The Longitude will be Cessna’s biggest business jet, at least until the Hemisphere joins the fleet. The Hemisphere is scheduled for first flight in 2019, according to the company’s website. AVweb toured the Longitude test article last year at NBAA; click here for the video report.

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image: EASA

All 6,400 hot-air balloons in the U.S. must be inspected to ensure they are not equipped with potentially leaky fuel hoses made of “egeflex” material, the FAA said in an emergency airworthiness directive issued today. The AD is effective Aug. 29, and balloonists have 14 days after that to complete the inspection, which should take about a half hour. If the egeflex hoses are found, the balloon is grounded until the replacement is complete. Uncorrected, the faulty hoses could cause a fire, the FAA said. The hoses were used with propane burners made by Balony Kubíček, the Czech manufacturer that built the large commercial balloon that crashed in Texas on July 30, killing all 16 on board.

EASA had issued an AD (PDF) on July 26 citing three propane leaks reported in the recent past on a burner manufactured by Balony Kubíček and equipped with the egeflex hoses. But the FAA said “there is no known correlation between [the] AD action and the hot-air balloon accident” in Texas, according to Politico.

The hoses could easily be installed on any make of balloon, not just ones from the Czech manufacturer, the FAA said, so all balloons must be checked. If the egeflex hoses are found, the replacement should take about two hours and $200 worth of parts, for a total cost of about $370, according to the FAA estimate. “We have no way of determining the number of hot-air balloons that may need the replacement,” the AD says, “but we estimate that it will affect no more than 60 hot-air balloons.” The AD also says, “As of August 29, 2016 (the effective date of this AD), do not install a Kubíček fuel hose made of ‘egeflex’ material.”

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Piper’s M500, an upgraded version of its Meridian turboprop, is now EASA-approved, the company announced today. "EASA certification is an important milestone allowing us to kick off a major sales campaign to bring the M500 to the European market," said Simon Caldecott, CEO of Piper Aircraft. The M500 already has been certified in Brazil, Canada and Japan, Caldecott said. The airplane was updated last year, adding new safety features to the Garmin G1000 suite, including electronic stability protection, underspeed protection, coupled go-round, synthetic vision technology and automatic level mode.

The six-place M500 is powered by a Pratt & Whitney PT6A-42A engine, cruises at speeds up to 260 knots, and has a range of 1,000 nm. A five-blade Hartzell prop is available as an option. The new model was first introduced last year at Sun ’n Fun with a price of $2.26 million, but this year the company reduced the price to $1.99 million.

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The FAA’s new rules that will allow widespread use of small drones for commercial purposes take effect next Monday, Aug. 29. The rules require operators of commercial drones to have a pilot certificate or pass an FAA knowledge test to ensure they understand airspace restrictions and other relevant rules. They also must be at least 16 years old and will be subject to vetting by the TSA. The drones are restricted to airspace below 400 feet and must weigh 55 pounds or less. Operators must keep their drone within visual line of sight, and fly only during daylight hours, although twilight flying is allowed if the drone has anti-collision lights.

The regulations also prohibit flights over unprotected people on the ground who aren’t directly participating in the UAS operation. The FAA is offering a process to waive some restrictions if an operator proves the proposed flight will be conducted safely. “With this new rule, we are taking a careful and deliberate approach that balances the need to deploy this new technology with the FAA’s mission to protect public safety,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “But this is just our first step. We’re already working on additional rules that will expand the range of operations.”

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AOPA photo

AOPA has been organizing its regional fly-ins for a few years now, and its latest event, held at the Bremerton National Airport near Seattle, Washington, drew more than 4,000 people and nearly 700 aircraft. The event offered on-airport camping, VIP tours of an aircraft carrier and the Boeing plant in nearby Everett, a Friday night barbecue with a live band, and educational talks and seminars all day Saturday. It was the most popular AOPA fly-in ever, by a wide margin, according to AOPA outreach director Chris Eads. AOPA President Mark Baker said local pilots, volunteers, and support from the Civil Air Patrol, EAA and the Washington Pilots Association made it possible “to bring together thousands of people in the Pacific Northwest who share a common interest in aviation.”

AOPA will host two more fly-ins this year. On Sept. 16-17, the show will be in Battle Creek, Michigan, and on Sept. 30 - Oct. 1, in Prescott, Arizona. The events are free and open to everyone, with activities scheduled Friday night through Sunday. AOPA will publish important arrival and departure procedures and a NOTAM three weeks prior to each event. All shows include a Q&A session with Baker, a rusty pilots seminar, on-site camping, static displays and more.

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News reporting is often described as the first draft of history, but for events as momentous as World War II, there may never be a final draft. Decades after the fact, what my parents and my generation knew as simply “the war” continues to generate ever more detailed histories and analysis, as new records come to light and historians employ new methods to find and cross-reference this material for a fresh look.

One such work is a new book on the 1942 carrier-borne attack on Tokyo led by Jimmy Doolittle, a raid that forever after bore his name. The topic has never lacked for attention; I count at least nine books on the subject, plus mention in countless others. James M. Scott’s Target Tokyo builds on the research that went before it and, in exhaustive detail, paints a vivid portrait of the Doolittle raid, its origins, the tactical planning and execution and the overarching effect the raid had, told from both the U.S. and Japanese perspective.

At 648 pages, Target Tokyo will probably stand as the landmark work on the Doolittle raid. Most of us know the story well enough to recite at least the outlines of the raid, but Scott has drilled deeply into the record to reveal details I’ve never read elsewhere. I can’t list them all here, but I found several surprises in the book. One was that post-attack Japanese news reports had claimed the raiders bombed schools and hospitals, something I always took to be Japanese propaganda. But Scott’s review of contemporaneous Japanese records revealed that the raid did cause casualties in schools and hospitals, including Doolittle’s own bombs. That was, of course, unintentional and what we describe today by the discordantly sterile term “collateral damage.”

I also never realized that the Japanese were fully aware that the bombers were on their way to Japan. Some previous histories were vague about whether the patrol trawler the U.S. task force encountered, the hapless Nitto Maru, got off radio warnings before it was sunk by the Navy. Post-action review, classified at the time, left no doubt. The Navy monitored continuous radio transmissions from the trawler for 27 minutes until the ship was sunk. And the Navy had such a time of it, that skipper of the U.S.S. Nashville, a light cruiser, was mortified that 915 rounds were fired at the Nitto, without a hit. Aircraft from the U.S.S. Enterprise sunk the trawler with gunfire.

The 16 carrier-launched B-25s each carried only a ton of bombs, a mix of incendiaries and general purpose ordnance. The raid has often been described as a militarily insignificant pinprick, and while that’s true, the raiders did more damage than I had understood. No fewer than 112 buildings were destroyed and 53 damaged. One of the incendiary-set fires burned for 48 hours, a fact that would portend of worse to come—much worse—when B-29 fire raids commenced in earnest in early 1945. Curiously, in this long form podcast, author Scott told me that those devastating B-29 raids could have destroyed the very records he relied on to examine the Doolittle mission from the Japanese perspective. Luckily, many appear to have survived and Scott relied on a translator to review them.

Even some U.S. records of the raid have been obscure or classified until recently. One of these was a detailed accounting of the raid assembled by Merian Cooper in Chunking, immediately after the raid. “Cooper is one of the fascinating characters in this time period. He was the director of King Kong, the original movie from the 1930s … he ends up being brought in as the briefing officer for the raiders in China. His job was to sit down with each of these raiders and to take their statements,” Scott says. The result was 300 pages of fresh eyewitness accounts never used in previous books on the raid. These records may represent the best accounts of the raid itself.

Scott writes that Japanese records reveal that the raid had consequences far beyond bombed buildings and fires. The Japanese military had assured the population that the country could never be attacked because in two millennia, it had not been. Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, the architect of the Pearl Harbor attack, knew different and was so shocked and depressed by the Doolittle raid he retired to his flagship cabin for several days.

Yamamoto later used reverberations from the raid to argue for the Japanese assault on Midway, which the Japanese army had been cool to. Obsessed with the destruction of the U.S. Pacific fleet, Yamamoto prevailed and the tipping point of the Pacific war followed in June of 1942 when the Japanese suffered a crushing defeat. History is replete with what-ifs, but had Japan not attacked Midway, the war certainly would have spiraled in a different direction.

These discussions and more are covered in fascinating detail by Scott, in a book that almost reads like a historical novel. History isn’t often chronicled in page-turners, but Scott has definitely written one. Anyone interested in World War II history will want it for the bookshelf. Hear my conversation with James Scott about the research and writing of Target Tokyo here.    


Author James M. Scott's new book, Target Tokyo, adds fascinating detail and analysis to the famed 1942 air raid led by Jimmy Doolittle. In today's podcast, AVweb's Paul Bertorelli talks to Scott about researching and writing the book. (Thanks to Jay Swindle for audio editing assistance.)

New DC One-X from David Clark || Advanced Comfort Technology and Superior Performance

As part of its retooled line of upper tier single-engine cabin class airplanes, Piper is showing off its new M600 turboprop. Aviation Consumer's Larry Anglisano took a demo flight in the new airplane.

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