The FAA lowered the boom on airports serving mainly GA, business and regional airline traffic, announcing on March 22 that it will close 149 ATC contract towers as part of its effort to slash spending by more than $600 million in the current fiscal year under the federal government’s “sequester” mandate. The action could spell the end of the agency’s 30-year-old contract tower program.
General Aviation » General Aviation Aircraft
News and issues concerning general aviation, specifically airplanes and helicopters powered by piston and alternative engines (i.e., non-turbine powered aircraft).
Lease Corporation International (LCI), which signed a large helicopter order with AgustaWestland at last year’s Heli-Expo show, has announced an agreement with aerial services group Avincis (Booth No. C7211), which is leasing a new AW139. This will be operated for offshore crew changes in North Sea oil and gas fields by Avincis’s Aberdeen-based subsidiary Bond Offshore Helicopters.
Seattle-based performance modification specialist Raisbeck Engineering and Hartzell Propeller have unveiled a new swept-blade propeller for the Hawker Beechcraft King Air series. The newly certified propeller is the result of three years of development, according to the companies, which describe it as the first business aviation turbine propeller using practical swept-wing theory as an integral part of its design. The propellers have aluminum blades and hubs.
As part of a drive to expand aviation and its role as a critical component of the economy in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a flight academy has been established at Thumamah airfield, 28 km north of King Khalid airport at Riyadh.
Farnborough, UK-based Gama Group continues to grow, opening its new aircraft management base at Switzerland’s Geneva Airport last month and announcing a range of investments at Glasgow Airport in Scotland for next year, including a new hangar and executive aircraft handling terminal.
Last month the company celebrated the first year of operations at Fairoaks Airport near Farnborough, where it established Gama Engineering at what was the birthplace of the Gama company in the 1980s.
China Aviation Industry General Aircraft (Caiga) announced sales of 60 Cirrus SR20 and SR22 piston singles to various customers in China today. The deals, signed on the first day of Airshow China 2012, bring the to-date total number of Cirrus sales in China to more than 100, according to Paul Fiduccia, Cirrus Aircraft executive director for government affairs and international cooperation. Caiga owns U.S.-based Cirrus.
The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada has updated its investigation of the May 28 midair collision between a Beechcraft Bonanza and a Piper PA-28 over the Washington, D.C. suburb of Summerduck, Va. The TSB is handling the investigation at the request of NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman to avoid any potential conflicts of interest because the two victims aboard the Bonanza were U.S. government employees.
The NTSB has opened the public docket on the September 16, 2011 crash of a highly modified P-51 at the National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nev. The docket includes 900 pages of documents, photographs, FBI findings, drawings, maintenance records and aircraft weight-and-balance information. The agency expects to add more material as it becomes available.
GippsAero (Hall 1 Stand D2) is currently flight-testing its new $1.3 million GA10 turboprop single and anticipates certification by May 2013. Because so much of the GA10 is based on the current GA8 piston-powered Airvan, the Australian company’s marketing manager Mark McNamara expects an expeditious certification program using one or two aircraft. “We’re excited to have the aircraft flying and headed toward certification,” he said.
Aurora Flight Sciences is displaying its Diamond DA42 optionally piloted aircraft (OPA) on the Diamond Aircraft stand here (OE18). The low-cost intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) solution is compatible with NATO standards, and “combines the best of manned and unmanned surveillance aircraft capabilities,” said U.S.-based Aurora.
Called the Centaur, the OPA can be self-deployed, as its ground control equipment fits in the aircraft’s cargo compartment. Conversion from manned to unmanned-configuration takes two crewmembers less than four hours.