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Bombardier says it expects to fly its new flagship business jet, the Global 7000, in November and that it’s ramping up for production and deliveries. Bombardier’s bizjet programs have been overshadowed by the company’s problematic development of the CSeries airliner but David Coleal, president of Bombardier Business Aircraft, told Reuters that the program is on track for an entry to service of late 2018. Coleal called the ultra-long-range aircraft his division’s “number one priority” and there are 2,000 employees working on it.

The airplane will be the first real contender to the Gulfstream 650, which has a massive backlog but whose new orders have slowed as part of the general trend to weaker big bizjet sales. The Global 7000 is expected to have a range of 8,500 miles in the high Machs. According to Reuters, the engines have been started on the test article, but Bombardier spokesman Mark Masluch would not confirm that the first flight will be in November. The program was announced in 2010 with predicted delivery date of 2016. There will undoubtedly be a program update at NBAA 2016 in Orlando in early November.

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Mitsubishi’s new passenger jet could fare better with buyers in the Middle East and China compared to the U.S. market, industry watchers said this week. Not only are manufacturers predicting long-term growth in those international markets, Mitsubishi – which has struggled to move ahead on schedule for its new MRJ90 regional airliner – faces challenges meeting the needs of U.S. airlines. Mitsubishi told The National this week the company is eyeing growing regional-jet markets such as Saudi Arabia. "Also, we think that the MRJ’s size and range will match with the routes in the Middle East where expansion of air transport demand is expected," a company spokeswoman said. The report also notes that the 90-seat MRJ can compete with regional jets made by companies including Embraer, which predicted that the biggest growth in the coming years lies in the Middle East and China. 

In the U.S., the jet’s configuration could be a hurdle, as noted in another National report this week. The MRJ began about a year’s worth of certification flight tests this month in Washington state. More than 400 orders are online so far from buyers including SkyWest and Trans States, but the MRJ faces issues with mainline air carriers that limit their regional operators to 76-seat jets, according to the report. An analyst added that the jet’s range, offering 2000 kilometers at best, is just fine in smaller countries but not so much in the U.S., where something like the Embraer E170 could cover almost twice the distance. Mitsubishi, which is developing its first commercial passenger jet in 50 years, said last year it expected certification delays with the MRJ due to design issues, resulting in flight testing postponed until this month.

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Orbital ATK’s Antares rocket is slated to launch on Friday for the first time in two years. The company said Monday the launch was rescheduled from Thursday to Friday to iron out minor glitches for the Cygnus cargo spacecraft. The launch date is Orbital ATK's first Antares mission after the unmanned rocket exploded at a commercial launch site in Virginia on Oct. 28, 2014. If weather conditions are favorable, the rocket will launch Cygnus and about 5,100 pounds of cargo into orbit just before 9 p.m. Eastern. 

NASA said this week that preparations are on schedule and Antares will roll out on Wednesday for a launch pad at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Backup dates, if needed, are scheduled through Oct. 19. The 2014 explosion occurred when the launch crew deliberately destroyed the rocket about 15 seconds after liftoff after detecting a malfunction. After a lengthy review, investigators found that flaws in the rocket engine’s turbopump, which caused a fire, along with possible foreign object debris, led to the malfunction. The rocket is now equipped with upgraded RD-181 engines that NASA and Orbital ATK integrated into the Antares rocket in 2015. 

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The General Aviation Manufacturers Association kicked off its fifth annual Build A Plane Aviation Design Challenge Tuesday, inviting all U.S. high schools to enter. The 2017 contest registration is now open and will be limited to the first 100 teams to register four-student teams with one teacher. Each participating team will receive a free “Fly to Learn” curriculum package with X-Plane flight simulation software and complete the curriculum in four to six weeks. Then they’ll work on an airplane design and compete in a “virtual fly-off” mission with scores for airplane performance. The winning team will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to a general aviation manufacturing facility. The registration deadline is Jan. 20, 2017, with competition entries due in April and the winner announced in May.

The contest is designed to promote Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) subjects with aviation themes. As stated in testimonials from teachers who coached the past winners, the experience gained from competing in the design challenge and winning the contest made for memorable lessons for the students who participated. Over the summer in Arlington, Washington, the 2016 winning team from Weyauwega-Fremont High School in Wisconsin put together a Sportsman airplane at Glasair Aviation. The four students and their teacher, Mike Hansen, competed with 76 teams for the top prize. “The progress each of the students made in the areas of communication, teamwork, and technical skills will serve them well for the rest of their lives,” Hansen said. “As our industry looks for more talented young people to fill the variety of aviation jobs that will open up in the coming years, this program has proven to be an excellent entry point for high school students and a valuable educational resource for their teachers, mentors, and administrators,” GAMA said.

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For the past 10 days, I’ve been flogging the Cub around testing some new action cameras from Garmin and GoPro. Look for the video on that next week. While the Cub is fun to fly, it’s not like you’re going to take one on a trip, unless you’ve got calendar-scale time to burn and an iron butt and back. So it’s natural that Cub flying is fooling-around flying; lots of landings, working on things like steep turns, slips, slow flight and other assorted airwork most pilots who fly faster airplanes don’t really mess with because they’ve got better things to do.

So while the cameras were grinding away collecting pixels for evaluation, I amused myself with a full stall series, just to feel things out a little after nearly four months out of the cockpit recovering from an injury. While I was doing these, it occurred to me that sometime in my flying career, I disabused myself of the notion that stall recovery requires both lowering the nose and jamming in a bunch of power. I don’t do it that way unless there’s some compelling reason for applying all of the Cub’s thundering herd of 75 ponies.

In my experience, that’s generally not how pilots I’ve flown with have been trained or at least how they remember being trained. When I’ve done flight reviews and ask for a stall demo, the reaction is almost universally an abrupt pitch down and a vigorous application of power. What could be—and should be—an elegant, almost subtle thing, is actually a rather coarse handling of controls and throttle that results in more pitch down than is necessary, not to mention power-induced yaw that’s of no help.

I think the reason for this is that the FAA’s stultifying Airplane Flying Handbook, which is the doctrinal bedrock of primary training, describes the importance of power application in the stall recovery, mainly as a means of minimizing altitude loss. This makes sense, especially if you don’t have the altitude to lose if you were, say, at 500 feet in the pattern. Otherwise, it’s just Pavlovian stimulus-response for that single circumstance in which it’s assumed the pilot is too task saturated to analyze the situation and act.

Interestingly, the AFH also explains that stalls can be recovered without power and that this should be taught. And I think it is taught. But I don’t think it gets much emphasis in training because absent any instructions, many pilots will use the cram-in-the-power method as though a power-off recovery hadn’t occurred to them.

But in the Cub—or any airplane where I’m messing with stalls—I almost always use the power off method. Slow the airplane down, idle the engine and smoothly and gently pitch up until the stall announces itself with a post-burble break, if there is one. (The Cub doesn’t have much of a break.) Then gently lower the pitch until unstalled flight is reestablished, rinse, repeat. The fun is to feel for that moment when the wing is happy again, then load up a little and stall it some more. I can do that for 10 minutes without losing enough altitude to need power to recover it. It’s helpful to remind yourself to keep the wings level with rudder, not aileron. And not using the ball, either, but an outside reference for yaw cues for wings-level stalls.

I wouldn’t be so cheeky as to suggest that teaching stalls this way—de-emphasis on power recovery in favor of simply unloading the wing—would make the slightest dent in the stall/spin accident record. And anyway, maybe we’ve gotten about as good as we’re going to get on stall accidents. Maybe we’re into group think in beating this idea that we’re terrible at stall recovery. But I do wonder if it would make some pilots less nervous about stalls and more cognizant of a feel for wing loading, angle of attack and precise control of the airplane if power were more evenly left out of the recovery scenario.

It would require giving up on the lowest common denominator notion that posits that most would-be pilots don’t have the mental bandwidth to analyze whether they need gobs of power as a survival response or they can just, you know, relax the pitch a little. I’ll admit that for some students, this is probably true and expecting a nuanced, situational response from them is futile. I have no idea what the percentage of pilots who are thus overwhelmed actually is. But it’s probably not trivial.

Related to this high-Alpha meandering around the sky is a note David Rogers sent me when we were discussing the FAA’s new doctrine on teaching slow flight. Rogers is a longtime faculty member at the Naval Academy and a nationally recognized aerospace engineering expert. He says it’s worth mentioning that the term “behind the power curve” is something that’s briefed theoretically but it’s not something that’s trained much, if it all. And why would it be?

It’s not inside the normal envelope of operation and the real need for the understanding is probably limited to that rarified slice of pilots stuffing airplanes into short fields or sandbars on a regular basis. And even then, a pilot skilled in such operations shouldn’t have to hang it on the prop to spot land and stop short, although that’s one way of doing it.

But like exploring stalls just for the heck of it, learning about flying behind the power curve—also sometimes known as the region of reversed command—is useful just as a skills and knowledge multiplier. If you’ve experimented with it in the casual realm of fun flying, you might just recognize it if you ever blunder into it in the heat of battle. I’m actually a recognized expert myself in this topic; the Cub is so anemically powered that every climb out is behind the power curve. You kinda get used to it.

About Those Cameras

More instructors are using cameras in the cockpit as just another teaching and learning tool and they’re terrific for that purpose. For a while now, Garmin’s VIRB series cameras have had onboard GPS capable of recording various flight parameters that can be overlaid right on the video.

That’s useful to have for post-flight briefing. The cameras will also record good quality audio from the aircraft audio system so both student and instructor can have an indelible record of the training. You may recall that Icon is installing cameras in cockpits as standard equipment to serve, for all intents and purposes, as a cockpit voice and data recorder.

The latest cameras are impressively capable but there’s a problem: They’ve been that way for several years and GoPro finds itself in financial difficulties because it has been slow to introduce new products and the new product, at least the GoPro Hero 5 I’ve been testing, is not so much better that droves of buyers will rush out to grab it. It’s not like the difference between an iPhone 5 and 6, say. GoPro is a victim of its own success.

This gives Garmin a market opportunity with the new VIRB Ultra 30 because with its sophisticated GPS and altimetry, it does things the GoPro doesn’t and ties nicely into Garmin’s extensive line of fitness and sports products. I won’t be surprised to see Garmin become a bigger player in the action cam segment. I was at the dropzone over the weekend having a skydiver friend test the cameras and several people said, “Hey, I didn’t know Garmin made cameras.” Well, it does. And you may see more of them.     


Back by popular demand is AVweb's penetrating review of why pilots fly patterns that are just insanely, infuriatingly too large. Extra stripes available by request.

Picture of the Week <="227106">
Picture of the Week

Jim Russell is this week's winner with this breathtaking shot of a Cub against a dramatic skyscape. Click through to see our other submissions.


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