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An ongoing dispute between NavWorx and the FAA over the company’s ADS-B navigation units escalated today, as the FAA issued an emergency order suspending the company’s authorization to manufacture the units. The FAA says it has the authority to inspect suppliers’ “quality systems, facilities, technical data, and products to determine whether they meet safety standards,” but NavWorx has “declined on repeated occasions to allow FAA personnel to conduct the required inspections.” The FAA said it is concerned that two versions of the company’s ADS600-B units may contain an internal GPS chip that does not meet the FAA’s minimum performance standards for transmitting an aircraft’s accurate location.

NavWorx has denied access to FAA inspectors on two occasions, in August and November, the FAA said, after initially agreeing that access would be allowed. “Due to the company’s unwillingness to comply with these requirements, the FAA has determined that NavWorx’s continued use of its FAA authorization is contrary to the interests of safety in air commerce,” the FAA said today. “During the suspension, NavWorx may not mark or otherwise indicate that its ADS600-B units meet FAA standards.” NavWorx said in a statement last month that the FAA “changed their [$500 rebate] system to stop sending traffic to our products for reasons unconnected to the performance or integrity of our products."

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Once every four days, on average, there is a fatal general aviation accident involving loss of control, the FAA says, so they are working to educate the GA community on best practices to ensure safe flight. “You can help make a difference by joining our Fly Safe campaign,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “I know that we can reduce these accidents by working together as a community.” The FAA is producing monthly online updates with a loss-of-control scenario and a lesson developed by a team of experts. “They have studied the data and developed solutions – some of which are already reducing risk,” the FAA said. This month, the campaign is focused on flying a stabilized approach and when to decide to go around.

The FAA defines a stabilized approach as “one in which the pilot establishes and maintains a constant angle glidepath toward a predetermined point on the landing runway.” During the approach, the FAA says, the pilot must maintain a specified descent rate and airspeed, complete all briefings and checklists, configure the aircraft for landing, maintain the correct altitude levels and ensure only small changes in heading/pitch are necessary to maintain the correct flight path. If those conditions are not met, the pilot should consider a go-around. The FAA has published a Safety Enhancement Flyer about go-arounds (PDF), and a handout on stabilized approaches (PDF). The FAA also suggests a review of Chapter 4 in the FAA’s Instrument Procedures Handbook (PDF).

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Cessna will donate five new, custom-branded Skyhawk 172 airplanes to college programs early next year, the company announced on Monday. The five airplanes will go to Eastern Kentucky University, Ohio State University, Auburn University (in Alabama), Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and Louisiana Tech University. “These universities are renowned for their innovative aviation programs and we are confident they will represent the Top Hawk program and Cessna brand very well,” said Doug May, Cessna vice president for piston aircraft. “We will work together to provide students state-of-the art resources and empower them to choose a rewarding career in aviation.”

Cessna’s Top Hawk program also provides summer internships at Textron Aviation for the top student from each of the five universities. Garmin and Bose also donate products to the program, providing headsets, cameras, a G1000 database subscription and avionics for the airplanes. The five Skyhawks will be delivered early next year, Cessna said.

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Cessna is now flying two aircraft in its flight-test program for the super-midsize Citation Longitude, the company announced on Monday. The second aircraft’s first flight lasted about 90 minutes, and reached all of its performance targets, the company said. Cessna recently announced an increase in the range for the new airplane by 100 nm, to 3,500 nm, and an increase in the projected full fuel payload by 100 pounds, to a total of 1,600 pounds. “Our team has been right on target in meeting the program milestones,” said Scott Ernest, CEO of Textron Aviation. “The team remains focused, and we are charging into 2017 with great momentum on the program.”

The super-midsize Longitude seats up to 12 passengers and offers a stand-up cabin and cabin-accessible baggage compartment. It has Honeywell FADEC engines with autothrottles and a Garmin 5000 panel. There’s an optional head-up display. AVweb’s Russ Niles took a tour of the airplane last year at the NBAA Expo in Las Vegas.

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The Canadian government may plug holes in its air defense capability with an interim purchase of 18 F/A-18 Super Hornets from Boeing. At a news conference on Tuesday, the country’s Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan said the acquisition would keep its fighter capability at an acceptable level while Canada launches a full-scale open competition for replacement of the existing fleet of 77 tired first- and second-generation F-18 Hornets. Canada originally bought 138 of the fighters from McDonnell-Douglas in the early 1980s and they’ve been upgraded over that time, but are nearing the end of their operational lives. Canada routinely has trouble keeping enough Hornets airworthy to meet its own air defense needs and its commitment to the North American Air and Space Command (NORAD).

Replacing the well-worn fighters has been a major political issue in Canada for almost two decades and the recent election of Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau punctuated that controversy with his 2015 campaign promise to end Canada’s participation in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program. Canada has covered its minimum commitments to remain a partner in the multinational JSF program but it has delayed pulling the trigger on its purchase of 65 of the fifth-generation fighter aircraft. Despite Trudeau’s campaign promise, the F-35 appears to be a contender in Canada’s new fighter replacement plan. "The government will launch, in its current mandate, a wide-open and transparent competition to replace the CF-18 fleet," Sajjan told the news conference.

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I hauled the Cub over to Sebring on Saturday—that takes most of the day, one way—and hung out at Tecnam’s big hangar there. I’d flown over to fly and shoot Tecnam’s latest light sport aircraft, the Astore. Nice airplane.

I first saw it at Aero in 2013 and didn’t spend enough time with it to get the gist of what Tecnam had in mind for it. It’s basically a high-end, high-performance cruising LSA and by high-end, I mean invoicing around $200,000, on a base price of about $170,000. Because of the high price—not despite it—it has become a bestseller for Tecnam. You read that right; the top-tier price is a plus because that’s what buyers of LSAs are buying. I’ve said this to the point of inducing nausea, but it continues to be true. And has been true almost from day one.

Now another trend has surfaced that I don’t think anyone expected. Many of the buyers, although not all, of these airplanes are not newcomers to aviation or older pilots who are stepping out of ancient Skyhawks or Cherokees as they transition into their aeronautical dotage. Increasingly, they are owners of new aircraft like the Cirrus SR series, twins like Barons or even cabin-class 340s or 421s. Tecnam’s Shannon Yeager told me these are not pilots who are aging out or worried about losing their medicals, or who can no longer afford those airplanes. They’re opting out on a value equation basis.

I can’t find any serious market research on this, but I’ve heard it from three manufacturers now—Tecnam, Legend and Flight Design—and it seems to be an accelerating trend. I don’t think it has to do with the inability to afford bigger, more capable airplanes. People who can afford to pay an unleveraged $600,000 for a new airplane aren’t likely to suddenly discover they can’t afford the maintenance or the fuel to fly it 100 hours a year. What Yeager finds is that such buyers get into an over-capacity situation. They don’t see the value of owning an asset that expensive and using it to bore holes in the sky at 18 gallons per hour. In other words, just because you can afford something, doesn’t mean you want to buy it or keep it if you already own it.

Another reason for this is that while we haven’t been looking that closely, top-tier LSAs have become impressively capable. The Astore, for instance, has a turbocharged Rotax 914 engine and a Garmin G3X Touch avionics suite complete with autopilot and envelope protection. It has plush seating and a generous baggage compartment. With the 914, it steams along at 120 knots and if U.S. rules allowed the constant speed prop that European rules do, it would do 130 knots. With fuel consumption under 5 GPH, that’s 29 NMPG. Not bad.

LSA manufacturers vary on this, but Tecnam’s limitations allow the airplane to be used under IFR, but not in IMC. That would make it a good IFR trainer and I wouldn’t get my law-and-order pants snagged on flying it through the odd cloud. Even limited to VFR, that’s a lot of capability for an owner who just doesn’t pound halfway across the continent frequently enough to justify a TTx.

When LSA was hatching, I don’t remember anyone ever suggesting the market would develop in this way. At the time, the airplanes were envisioned to be the modern equivalent of my Cub, suitable for training and recreational use, but hardly high-performance aviation. LSA actually predates the glass panel and I don’t think anyone saw the avionics driving sales and product development the way they have. And while light sport was supposed to stimulate new designs, I doubt if anyone foresaw quite the profusion of aircraft that would happen to also touch the high-performance end of the spectrum. In my various travels, I noticed there ain’t much religion about observing the 120-knot maximum speed restriction and many designs push the minimum useful load rule (430 pounds for a 100-HP airplane) to the breaking point.

These trends—especially the buyer profiles—continue to tell us that the real world has evolved beyond the noble initial intent of the light sport rule. Buyers are pushing back against its artificial constraints and I think they’ll continue to do so. Eventually, I suspect, we’ll see enough market pressure to raise the weight limit, remove the silly speed restriction and relax constraints against IFR usage. That still won’t stimulate a lot of volume, but it will bring in more buyers and they’ll be happier for it.

I think that will be the continuing fate of light sport. And although it might not be the fairy tale we all pined for, it’s not a bad story.

Masimo is marketing its new MightySat wireless pulse oximeter/personal health monitor to both pilots and endurance athletes. The device has a rich feature set that measures far more than blood oxygen saturation and has a $399 ($299 scaled back) retail price. Aviation Consumer editor Larry Anglisano has been using the device for flying and athletic endurance training. Here's a summary of its major functions.

Picture of the Week
Picture of the Week

Take a beautiful setting, a beautiful airplane and a little magic light and you get a Picture of the Week winner. Mel Malkoff, of Kingston, Washington took this stunning shot of Bruce Hind in his SeaBee as he took off from Long Lake, Washington on his way to AOPA's Bremerton Fly-In. Great shot, Mel.

The successful aviator needs more than the ability to look good behind overpriced sunglasses. Great pilots know the regulations and how to apply them in all weather, day or night, but especially while acing this quiz. (Includes results from last month's reader survey.)

Click here to take the quiz.

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