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Mon, Jan 03, 2011

2010 Year In Review: General Aviation

Layoffs And Innovation Both Prominent In GA In 2010

Nearly every legacy GA manufacturer suffered layoffs in 2010, but there was also a sense of optimism and innovation at some of the major trade shows and in the industry in general. New avionics were introduced in the GA market, and the replacement for 100LL fuel and electric airplanes grabbed headlines as well. Following is a sampling of the stories we brought you from General Aviation in 2010.

January

  • Dassault Systèmes' CATIA has been chosen by Terrafugia, creators of the Transition Roadable Aircraft, for 3D composite and finite-element modeling. 


Terrafugia Roadable LSA

  • FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt announced that Houston air traffic controllers had begun to use an improved satellite-based system - Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) - to more efficiently and safely separate and manage aircraft flying over the Gulf of Mexico.  
  • Two pilots who landed their airplanes on frozen Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis faced fines of up to $1,000 ... because aircraft are not allowed on Minneapolis park property.   
  • Eroll Southers, President Obama's nominee to lead TSA, withdrew his name from consideration, saying the nomination has been "obstructed by political ideology." Southers had been at the center of a controversy which had Republicans accusing him of misleading congress. 
  • The NTSB released a factual report on a January, 2009 accident in West Virginia that killed a pilot and five passengers on a cross-country flight from  Lake in the Hills, Illinois to Huntington, WV. 
  • Purdue University's Department of Aviation Technology announced its intention to purchase a fleet of 16 2010 Cirrus SR20 aircraft. 


Cirrus SR20

February

  • The new, Singapore-based owners of Piper Aircraft said strategic investments enabled the company to move forward on many fronts, from the formation of a new company focused on Asia/Pacific initiatives, to accelerated development of its product line and other product programs.
  • A new two-place tandem utility kit aircraft was announced by AviPro Aircraft, Ltd. The "Bearhawk Patrol" is a high wing aircraft AviPro says is designed for comfort, endurance and fun. 
  • Hangars at IAD and Manassas Regional Airport (HEF) collapsed under the weight of several feet of snow.  No fatalities have been reported for either incident, although several aircraft were damaged. 


DC Snowfall Photo Courtesy Washington Airports Authority

  • Bye Energy, an integrator of alternative energy and renewable fuel technologies for business and general aviation aircraft, launched “ The Green Flight Project” to enhance the development of an electric and electric-hybrid propulsion system (EHPS) for commercial application.  
  • A small plane crashed into a 7 story office building in Austin, Texas, killing the pilot and one office worker as well as injuring several people in and around the building. The building houses an IRS office. The pilot, identified as Joseph Andrew Stack, reportedly set his house on fire before taking off in the plane and intentionally flying it into the building. Stack left a 6 page suicide note on his website. He was reportedly having issues with the IRS. 
  • The NTSB released a preliminary report in the accident of a Cessna 337 Skymaster that went down at Monmouth County Executive Airport in New Jersey February 15th. 

March

  • With more than double the international attendees than at past Conferences, the annual Women in Aviation Conference drew nearly 3,000 attendees from all areas, disciplines and interests that make up the aviation community. 
  • Plans to extend the runway at Madison County Executive Airport (MDQ) near Huntsville, AL, stalled after the FAA received a single, detailed complaint letter from a local resident. 
  • The FAA made some adjustments to it's proposed changes for Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, which will likely be good news for pilots operating in and out of Covington Municipal Airport (9A1) south of the city.
  • A North American T-6 Texan impacted in the Gulf of Mexico about a half mile from shore. The warbird was seen flying as a part of a five-plane formation doing aerobatic maneuvers over the water. 
  • President Barack Obama announced his intention to nominate Major General Robert A. Harding, U.S. Army (Retired), as Assistant Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security (TSA).


Major General Robert Harding

  • Cessna delivered the 9,000th single-engine piston aircraft to be produced in Independence, KS. Cessna customer Rob Logozio took delivery of the 182T Skylane, during a small ceremony at Cessna's Independence facility. 
  • The NTSB adopted a study concluding that single engine airplanes equipped with glass cockpits had no better overall safety record than airplanes with conventional instrumentation, so-called "steam gauges."  
  • GAMA testified in support of the Administration's fiscal year 2011 budget request for the FAA before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies. 
  • FAA administrator Randy Babbitt faced some tough questions about funding for NextGen when he testified before the U.S. House Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee. 
  • The U.S. Senate finally passed the $34.5 billion FAA Reauthorization bill with a unanimous 93-0 vote. The legislation stalled in the House. 
  • The FAA said analysis of fatal accidents for airplanes operating under an experimental airworthiness certificates, such as the Lancair, revealed a large and disproportionate number of fatal accidents for their fleet size. 
  • The sale of the FAA Type Certificate for the Luscombe 11E at a bankruptcy auction in Altus, Oklahoma fell far short of expectations, bringing only about a half million dollars against the company's estimated $16 million in debts. 


    Luscombe Factory

  • The FAA has issued a Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin (SAIB) for the type of wingtip modification that separated from a Cessna 337 in Monmouth, New Jersey. The airplane went down, killing all five people aboard. 

April

  • The FAA announced that it will consider the special issuance of a medical certificate to pilots who are taking medication for mild to moderate depression, conditions that now bar them from all flying duties.
  • Randy Groom, an experienced senior executive and prominent aviation professional with more than 36 years of leadership roles in general aviation, was named the new Executive Vice President of Piper Aircraft. 
  • The Solar Impulse, an aircraft being developed by a Swiss group for an attempted flight around the world only on solar power, completed its first test flight at a military air base in Western Switzerland. 


    Solar Impulse

  • A Common Pleas Court in Philadelphia has awarded $89 million to the survivor of a 1999 plane crash in Youngstown, Ohio, as well as the families of those who lost their lives in the accident. 
  • Officials at Cessna said they are still optimistic, but cautious, about the predicted rebound in general aviation’s piston market. 
  • Cessna Chairman, President and CEO Jack Pelton issued a call to action urging the general aviation community to take a leadership role in defining solutions to environmental issues so that responsible stewardship works in conjunction with economic considerations required for industry growth.
  • A volcanic eruption in Iceland caused widespread disruption of air travel over much of Europe, as a plume of volcanic ash drifts across much of the northern and western portions of the continent. 
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) formally began the regulatory process required by the Clean Air Act that may ultimately result in standards mandating the industry's transition to unleaded aviation gasoline (avgas).
  • An audio recording released by the FAA confirmed that air traffic controllers at Palo Alto Airport told pilot Doug Bourn he was taking off "at your own risk," as the controller could not see the runway due to thick fog at the airport. 
  • The Florida Senate passed House Bill 173, which exempts visiting aircraft from the state's use tax. Passage of the bill came Friday, and with Governor Charlie Crist's expected signature, it will take effect in July. 

May

  • NATA President James K. Coyne addressed California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in a letter asking that the state reconsider its inclusion of flight training providers in regulations issued by the Bureau of Private Post Secondary Education. 
  • The St. Augustine-St. Johns County Airport Authority sought to develop the airport as the economic gateway to Northeast Florida.  The first public step was is renaming the St. Augustine Airport (KSGJ) the Northeast Florida Regional Airport at St. Augustine. 
  • The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) reported that in the first quarter of 2010, worldwide general aviation airplane deliveries totaled 390 units, a 15 percent drop from the same period last year.  
  • Cessna President and CEO Jack Pelton was named by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to the department's Future of Aviation advisory committee

  • While many industries may have some trouble pinpointing a single date that marks the moment they began, that is not the case for the air show business.
  • A pilot from Arkansas found himself in hot water after landing his LSA beside the ocean. Authorities say 36-year-old Mark Jensen was arrested for operating a "motorized craft" on Georgia's Tybee Island beach near Savannah in violation of local laws.
  • In response to the FAA’s release of its final rule, “Automatic Dependent Surveillance–Broadcast (ADS-B) Out Performance Requirements to Support Air Traffic Control (ATC) Service,” both the Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA) and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) said they  welcomed its arrival.  
  • At the opening session of the Future of Aviation Advisory Committee meeting, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood charged the committee's members with helping to ensure that the U.S. aviation industry remains vital, competitive, sustainable and safe.

June

  • The California Legislature reauthorized a state Post-Secondary Bureau last year that monitors the quality of post-secondary institutions and protects students from losing pre-paid tuition to a school that closes down. Flight training facilities had been exempted, but as part of the re-authorization of the Bureau (Assembly Bill 48; AB48), the exemption was tentatively removed.
  • Four people in a Cirrus SR20 SRV G3 single-engine aircraft were uninjured after deploying their BRS-equipped ballistic emergency parachute over unlandable rocky terrain in southern Norway on May 28th during an enroute emergency. 
  • Four members of a Florida family reportedly en route to a family vacation at the Grand Canyon were killed when an airplane registered to Jeffery Ulrich went down, at a very steep pitch angle, into an empty school in Eagar, AZ. 
  • Beginning at the end of June, Air Traffic Controllers were directed to no longer use the phase "Taxi To" when clearing aircraft to an assigned takeoff runway. 
  • Cirrus president and CEO Brent Wouters gave an upbeat assessment of the company to the Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association (COPA) Annual Migration.

  • EAA said the Third "Final Report And Order" from the FCC concerning 121.5 MHz ELTs represents conflicting rules written by two different federal agencies which will soon place pilots in a precarious position - being in compliance with one but not the other. 
  • A Beaumont, TX pilot who was caught on video buzzing Crystal Beach in Texas in his Diamond DA40 won't be flying for a year after the FAA revoked his pilot certificate.  
  • Although Alaska was one of the first places where ADS-B technology was tested, it's finally become SOP
  • The U.S. House of Representatives prepared a one-month extension of the FAA Continuing Resolution because there had been little progress in reconciling the House and Senate versions of the pending reauthorization bill. 

July

  • An increasing number of CFI's are apparently not renewing their instructor certificates, and that is causing more than a little concern in the industry. 
  • The Solar Impulse aircraft landed back at Payerne, Switzerland precisely at 0800 local time, after flying more than 24 hours powered only by electricity from solar cells. 
  • The Last Time was planned to bring together pilots of Douglas C-47s that flew in World War II--and several haven’t flown the airplane since they brought them back safely to the United States following the war.  
  • Colton Harris-Moore, who gained notoriety as the "Barefoot Bandit", was arrested in the Bahamas.  
  • Avidyne announced they had received FAA amended STC approval for their recently-certified DFC90 Digital Flight Control System which enables speed-based Flight Envelope Protection.  
  • Mr. Anthony Galley announced the creation of a new airplane company, Kestrel Aircraft, to complete the certification and produce a new, single engine turboprop airplane. 


    Kestrel

  • Cessna announced that it is collaborating with Bye Energy, an integrator of clean, alternative energy technologies for business and general aviation aircraft, to design and develop an electric propulsion system for a Cessna 172 proof-of-concept (POC) aircraft. 
  • Two new Able Flight pilots received their wings in a ceremony at EAA AirVenture, surrounded by family, friends and the flight line at AeroShell Square. 
  • FreeFlight Systems took the wraps off its line of RANGR 978 MHz ADS-B products including ADS-B transmitters, transmitters with WAAS GPS, transceivers, and transceivers with WAAS GPS for the experimental and LSA markets at AirVenture. 
  • The U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate cleared a bill extending the authorization of the FAA for two months. The extension includes language strengthening aviation safety. 

August

  • Cessna sold new aircraft to nine global training fleets in the first half of 2010, marked by the recent delivery of the 12th 172 Skyhawk to a Russian training program. Cessna says the delivery keeps it as a leader in flight training solutions. 
  • GAMA released the industry's second quarter shipment and billings figures. The numbers show that, in the first half of 2010, total GA airplane shipments fell 9.8 percent, from 1039 units in 2009 to 937 units this year. 
  • Blue Grass Airport officials were joined by Governor Steve Beshear, Mayor Jim Newberry, Kentucky Department of Aviation Commissioner R. Winn Turney and FAA Administrator Doug Martin for a ribbon cutting ceremony of the airport's new crosswind runway.
  • Weather and terrain played against rescuers trying to reach the site where a DeHavilland DHC-3T Otter went down, an accident which fatally injured former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens and four others.  
  • The former Indiana money manager who bailed out of a plane which later crashed in Florida agreed to plead guilty to fraud charges in his home state. 
  • A DeHavilland Beaver with a pilot and three park rangers on board was reported missing in southwest Alaska. 


    Beaver Float Plane File Photo

  • Pilots who fly in or near Jacksonville, FL can receive free traffic and weather broadcast information in the cockpit. To receive these services, aircraft must be equipped with an Automatic Dependent Surveillance - Broadcast (ADS-B) transmitter/receiver or transceiver and compatible cockpit display. 
  • A letter from Cessna's Roger Whyte has begun circulating in which the Cessna Sr. VP of Sales and Marketing admits to additional delays in the much-delayed and long-awaited Cessna Skycatcher LSA program. 
  • On August 28 at the Santa Barbara Airport, John and Martha King were held at gunpoint, ordered from their Cessna 172, handcuffed and detained in the back of two separate police cars.

September

  • John and Marth King offered some solutions to the many concerns about possible iterations of incidents such as the one in which they were detained at gunpoint by Santa Barbara police.


    John And Martha King

  • NATA announced a new partnership that will help aviation businesses and individuals comply with new FAA requirements to re-register all aircraft
  • The all electric Cri-Cri, jointly developed by EADS Innovation Works, Aero Composites Saintonge and the Green Cri-Cri Association, made its official maiden flight at Le Bourget airport near Paris.  
  • It's not often that GA pilots and residents living near airports or in flight corridors find themselves on the same side of an argument, but that's just what seems to have happened with the FAA's plan to nearly triple the size of the Class C airspace around Long Beach Airport.
  • The NTSB took about five hours Tuesday to come to a determination of probable cause in the accident last year over the Hudson River that fatally injured nine people, and sparked major changes in air space rules in the popular VFR corridor. 
  • Cessna neared completion on its fourth expansion in the Mexican city of Chihuahua, which will increase the size of it's factory there 10 fold over it's original floor space. 
  • A seven-year contract proposal offered by Cessna Aircraft to the International Association of Machinists in Wichita was ratified by default when a strike vote failed. 
  • House of Representatives passed the final version of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 which allows businesses to take advantage of the bonus depreciation tax incentive for general aviation aircraft purchases and components, including engines and avionics.
  • The FAA has given the green light for full-scale, nationwide deployment of ADS-B following its successful roll-out at four key sites.
  • Piper told employees that it would be laying off about 6 percent of its workforce, or about 60 employees, according to media reports. Most of those being let go are in the manufacturing sector, though some outside that division will be downsized as well. 

October

  • A former attorney for the FAA says he was fired for refusing to "break the law," and for keeping track of his attempts to alert safety officials about what he says are serious violations on his blog "FAA Whistle Blower." 
  • It's going to potentially be a little more difficult to be on an airport ramp under rules proposed by the FAA to require airports certificated under Part 139 to put in place safety management systems (SMS) for all airfield and ramp areas. 
  • Parachute maker Ballistic Recovery Systems is opening a new plant in Pompano Beach, FL, and plans to hire 500 workers. 
  • The FAA has granted STC approval to Avidyne Corporation for the installation of their Entegra Release 9 Integrated Flight Deck (R9) in the Piper PA-46  Matrix aircraft.
  • The FAA has told Hilton Head Island airport (KHXD) officials that any proposal to extend the runway on the resort island to less than 5,000 feet would receive a cool reception from the agency, and would be difficult to justify in terms of funding. 
  • California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed (CA) Senate Bill 856 (SB 856) into law. SB 856 is a budget trailer bill to the California budget which contains language providing a delay in compliance for flight training facilities with the regulations issued by the Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE). 
  • Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced a series of measures during a speech to the National Press Club in Washington intended to lead to the creation of a national biofuels industry


    Secretary Of Agriculture Tom Vilsack

  • The FAA said it would "look into" an incident involving U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) in which he landed his Cessna 340 on a closed runway at Port Isabel-Cameron County airport last week. 

November

  • Buttonville airport, which occupies about 180 acres near the Markham-Toronto border, will be closed in about five years. In its place will be a real estate development which is being described as "a town within a city."  
  • An aircraft specifically modified to accommodate those who have lost the use of their lower extremities has been developed by TL-Ultralight. With a few changes, the company, based in the Czech Republic, says its TL 3000 Sirius can accommodate pilots confined to a wheelchair or have other lower-limb disabilities.
  • Representative John Mica (R-FL), who is likely to take over the gavel of the House Transportation Committee in January, said in an interview that his top priority will be an FAA reauthorization bill that does not include changes in union organization rules for FedEx Express. 
  • GAMA released the industry's shipment and billings figures for the third quarter on Tuesday, and the news is not particularly good. In the first nine months of 2010, total GA airplane shipments fell 14.5 percent, from 1,588 units in 2009 to 1,357 units this year. 
  • A flight that was supposed to have been a routine check of some avionics issues ended with the airplane running out of fuel, even though the pilot had visually checked the fuel levels prior to the flight. 
  • The FAA announced it is proposing that all pilot certificates include photos of the certificate holder
  • Mooney employees are facing yet another series of layoffs... ultimately leaving few of them on the job. According to company statements, 'More difficult decisions were necessary that will eliminate many of the current positions at the company by year end.'


    Mooney Acclaim

December

  • Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV and Byron Dorgan, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Aviation, Operations, Safety and Security, are pushing their colleagues to pass the FAA Reauthorization in the lame duck Congress
  • Two high-wing aircraft's flight paths converged... with a surprisingly survivable result. It doesn't usually end this way
  • The National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI), representatives of other aviation organizations, and flight instructor renewal clinic (FIRC) providers met with representatives from the FAA's AFS-800 division in Washington, D.C. to discuss "Updating the Flight instructor Renewal Process to Enhance Safety of Flight." 

  • In a blog post on the DOT website, FAA administrator Randy Babbitt says that an uptick in the number of incidents in which a laser pointer has been directed at an airplane is a "serious problem" which pilots should immediately report.
FMI: www.aero-news.net

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