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Thu, Jan 03, 2013

ANN 2012 Year In Review: Sport Aviation

Reno Had Its Revival, Rotax Began Delivering Injected Engines, And A New Airplane From Vans

The Reno Air Races made a comeback following 2011's tragic accident at the event, which was just one of the good-news stories this year from the world of sport aviation. There was a brand-new airplane from Vans shown for the first time at Oshkosh, and Felix Baumgartner completed his record-setting skydive from the fringe of space. On the down side, the NTSB released its report on accidents in the Experimental/Amateur-Built category, which showed a disproportionately large number of fatalities particularly in the early months of ownership, Glasair was sold to a Chinese investor, and Rod Hightower ended his short tenure with EAA. Cinch up those shoulder harnesses ... here are some of the top stories in Sport Aviation from 2012.

January

Reno Air Racing Association president Mike Houghton said that the organization's objective was to have a full air race event in 2012, but that there is still a great deal of work to be done.

At the much-anticipated hearing held by the NTSB on air show and air race safety, witnesses made a handful of suggestions for improving safety, while the industry strongly defended its safety record.

Yakima, Washington-based light aircraft designer and manufacturer Cubcrafters announced that it would deliver the 200th CC11 series Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) in February.

Throughout the 2011 calendar year, the NTSB conducted a study of Experimental Amateur-Built (E-AB) aircraft to evaluate the safety of this growing and innovative segment of general aviation. Release of the study was planned in the spring.

Viking Aircraft Engines released its new gold edition engine, which was on display at the 2012 Sebring Aviation Expo held January 18 to 22 in Sebring, Florida.


February

EASA certified the XtreamAir XA41/Sbach 300, the singe-place version of the company's popular two-place aerobatic aircraft. Its design is based on the already-certified XA42/Sbach 342.

The ICON A5 amphibious Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) successfully completed a demanding regimen of spin-resistance test flights.

The FAA National Kit Evaluation Team (NKET) approved and published amateur building checklists for the new Onex Single-Place, Folding-Wing Sport Pilot Aircraft.


March

The Double NASA Challenge winner Pipistrel Virus SW was offered with the new Rotax 912 iS fuel injected engine.

In the first of several practice jumps leading up to a record-setting skydiving attempt, Felix Baumgartner, the Austrian BASE jumper aiming to break the world freefall record by jumping from 120,000ft above the earth’s surface, moved a step closer to achieving his dream after the successfully completion of a test flight from 71,581 ft.

An Advisory Circular released March 12th by the FAA carried some long-awaited good news for owners of experimental category aircraft. Updated Advisory Circular (AC 39-7D) on Airworthiness Directives (ADs) formally set FAA policy that ADs are not applicable on non-type certificated aircraft, except when specifically noted.

In preparation for the S-LSA American certification, Lisa Airplanes continued its series of test runs at both Chambery-Savoy Airport and Bourget Lake.

The Slovene pilot Matevž Lenarcic, who was flying around the world in his modified Virus SW 914 Turbo, made a successful flight over the world’s tallest mountain, Mt. Everest.


April

NTSB Chair Deborah A.P. Hersman held a news conference in Reno Tuesday to announce recommended changes in how air races are conducted in an effort to improve safety.

For most, making a solo circumnavigation of the planet would be an accomplishment in any aircraft. Matevž Lenarcic touched down back in Slovenia after successfully circumnavigating the world in a Pipistrel Virus SW 914 Turbo.


May

ICON Aircraft announced that it successfully completed spin-resistance testing of its A5 amphibious LSA to the standard specified by the FAA for Part 23 certified aircraft.

A hang glider pilot who was involved in a tragic accident in which a woman fell to her death was held in jail until a camera memory chip he swallowed passed through his system.

Kyle Franklin released a carefully worded statement via Facebook, indicating "Kyle Franklin and Franklin's Flying Circus are no longer affiliated with in any way and cannot support nor endorse The Moonlight Fund Inc. due to deep philosophical disagreements over the handling of donated funds. A cease and desist order has been sent in regards to 'Amanda's Wings'"

It appeared that the EAA had killed off its support and long-standing relationship with a very popular cross country air race known as the AirVenture Cup.

The first customer-built example of the new Onex single-place, folding-wing, aerobatic sport aircraft flew for the first time. Bill Fisher of Jackson Tennessee flew his AeroVee powered, standard gear Onex, serial number ONX0018 on May 10th.

The FAA began offering transponder code 1202 for glider pilots to use when not in contact with ATC. The new code will help ATC differentiate gliders, which have unique flight and maneuvering limitations, from other VFR traffic.


June

EASA certified the first types in a newly created certification category for light aircraft. Following the PS-28 Cruiser from Czech Sport Aircraft and the Flight Design CTLS-ELA, the Evektor SportStar RTC is the third aircraft type to be certified under new specifications designed specifically for Light Sports Aircraft (LSA).

When it received delivery of a CubCrafters Carbon Cub in June, directSky became the aircraft manufacturer’s dealer to service the European market.

The FlyNano electric prototype airplane made its first flight. The single-place open-cockpit floatplane concept was unveiled at the Aero 2011 trade fair in Friedrichshafen, Germany.

After almost ten years in the aircraft float business, the maker of Full-Lotus floats decided to focus on production of its non-aviation products. All the design rights, inventory and production tooling for the Full-Lotus float line have now been sold to Aircraft Floats Manufacturing, Inc.


July

The NTSB issued a lengthy list of recommendations to the FAA concerning the operation of Experimental and Amateur-Built (E-AB) aircraft.

ICON Aircraft announced that its A5 Light Sport Aircraft will be powered by the new Rotax 912 iS engine.  The two companies collaborated during the development of both the Rotax 912 iS engine and the A5 to ensure a seamless integration of the new Rotax.

Team RV announced it would perform twice at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2012: on Monday and Wednesday.

Glasair Aviation LLC (Glasair), and Mr. Fang Tieji, Chairman of Jilin Hanxing Group co., Ltd., announced that Mr. Fang had acquired Glasair's kit-aircraft manufacturing assets. Glasair Aviation manufactures the very popular Glasair, Glastar and Sportsman lines of personal aircraft, having delivered approximately 3,000 planes which are being built and/or flown all over the world.

Just Aircraft of Walhalla, SC, demonstrated the latest variant of their popular Highlander Homebuilt aircraft in the Ultralight area at EAA's AirVenture.

The RV-1 designed and built by Dick VanGrunsven, which was the basis for the entire line of RV series of aircraft designs, was dedicated in a ceremony in front of hundreds of RV fans that assembled in the hot Wisconsin sun to see it transferred to its new home ... the EAA  AirVenture Museum.

The RV-14 ... the newest airplane from Van’s Aircraft which Vans says continues and improves on the legacy of the most successful side-by-side two-seat kit aircraft in history ... was introduced at AirVenture in Oshkosh.

After 13 years of steady leadership from Carl von Hirsch and his team, Quicksilver Manufacturing became Quicksilver Aeronautics, with new owners who say they plan to offer pilots fresh choices in familiar aircraft designs.

NTSB Chairman Debbie Hersman addressed a large crowd at Oshkosh concerning what has been described as an alarming accident rate among homebuilt kitplanes. The recently-completed study encompasses 10 years of data from 2000-2010.

Cessna said it would be moving the 162 Skycatcher into a primary aircraft category, and out of the Light Sport Aircraft category. This move will aid in the certification process with countries worldwide.

The Pipistrel Aircraft Team received two prestigious awards at AirVenture.


August

Following the story that first broke on ANN involving the sale of Glasair Aviation to a Chinese entity, Mikael Via, President and CEO of Glasair Aviation, announced his resignation from the Washington based general aircraft company that he has led for over 11 years.

Something of the darling of AirVenture at Oshkosh this year, the founders of Lisa Airplanes, which is developing the Akoya Amphibious Ski Plane LSA, decided to place the company into receivership "in order to protect its future."

Pipistrel received notification from the FAA that they could not validate that Pipistrel aircraft were built in Italy, and they have advised that until they finished their investigations that no more Pipistrel aircraft will be registered in the USA in the LSA category.

As part of its continuing investigation into the September 2011 crash of a highly modified P-51D airplane at the National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nevada, the NTSB opened the public docket.

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) granted a Type Certificate (TC) for the new Rotax 912 iSc aircraft engine only five months after its introduction.

The St. Marys, GA, airport authority voted to shut down The Jumping Place ... a skydiving operation based at the airport ... by revoking its permit to operate.

The NTSB determined that deteriorated locknut inserts found in the highly modified North American P-51D airplane that crashed during the 2011 National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nevada, allowed the trim tab attachment screws to become loose, and even initiated fatigue cracking in one screw.
 

September

After three years in production and a fleet of well over one hundred aircraft, the CubCrafters Carbon Cub SS is evolving for 2013, the company said.

After a flight time of 69 hours and two minutes Team France 1, the 17th and last remaining competitor in the air in the Gordon Bennett Balloon Race 2012 landed safely and claimed victory in one of the world’s oldest aviation challenge events.

As part of a celebration of aviation, Yves "Jetman" Rossy took to the skies with fellow "Breitling Flyer" pilot, Nigel Lamb in the renowned Spitfire MH434.

The NTSB indicated that the pilot of a Polaris Polar Star flying boat which went down on July 20, 2011 had been consuming alcohol prior to his flight.

Six balloon teams representing three nations and featuring some of the world’s greatest gas balloonists prepared to compete in the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta’s America’s Challenge race for gas balloons.

In what has become an annual four-day event, 95 professional BASE jumpers gathered in Malaysia to plunge from the top of the 1,380 foot tall Kuala Lumpur Tower.


October

For the first time in its history the America’s Challenge Gas Balloon Race had a gas problem. A worldwide helium shortage forced the 2012 event into an all hydrogen-lifted challenge.

WACO Classic Aircraft won FAA STC approval for installation of the S-TEC System 55X autopilot in the WACO YMF-F5C and 5D.

Shortly after the five teams in the 2012 America’s Challenge Gas Balloon Race on a Sunday evening in Albuquerque, New Mexico, race officials predicted a flight to the east coast was not out of the question. That prediction came true – 3 fold.

Vans Aircraft announced at the AOPA Summit in Palm Springs, CA, that it is planning to offer a factory-built version of its RV-12 LSA beginning next year.

After flying to an altitude of 128,097 feet in a helium-filled balloon, Felix Baumgartner completed a record breaking jump for the ages from the edge of space exactly 65 years after Chuck Yeager first broke the sound barrier flying in an experimental rocket-powered airplane.

The U.K. company developing an electric-powered racing airplane hopes to be able to break the speed record for electric aircraft next year. The founder of The Electric Aeroplane Company (Teaco) in Gloucestershire, U.K. said the airplane may be "substantially faster" than any previous electric-powered aircraft.

The EAA Board of Directors accepted the resignation of President and CEO Rod Hightower. Hightower planned to return to St. Louis to reunite with his family.


November

A massive series of frauds using various online "Daily Deal" sites to sell warbird adventure flights to the unsuspecting public, promising all kinds of thrills in either an Extra 300 or SF-260 Marchetti... aircraft to which (to the best of our knowledge/research) David Riggs had NO documented access.

When Quicksilver Manufacturing became Quicksilver Aeronautics earlier this year, the ownership change for the Temecula, California company triggered a requirement to prove the company’s kits meet the provisions of Experimental Amateur Built category. Quicksilver announced several kits had received their letter of authorization from the FAA.

Tecnam North America launched the new P92 Echo Classic Light at a special introductory price through the end of 2012.


December
An Italian LSA manufacturer plans to set up shop in Kissimmee, FL. The City of Kissimmee’s Economic Development Office said in a news release that Italico Aviation is opening an LSA manufacturing facility at Kissimmee Gateway Airport. 

The first Flight Design CTLSi airplanes powered by the new fuel-injected Rotax 912 iS engine have landed in the U.S., and many have reportedly been delivered to customers both in the United States and abroad.

Kyle Franklin is returning to the airshow circuit with a truly monstrous bipe he calls... 'Dracula.' Evolving over a nine-year design and construction period, Dracula was completed in secrecy... 'The tapering fuselage, speed ring cowling, and sloped windshield hearken back to the racing airplanes of the 1930’s. 

Score one for grassroots advocacy. The State of New Mexico, which had proposed a general ban on amphibious aircraft and seaplanes from all of its state parks, relented following an effort spearheaded in part by  'The Seaplane Forum' online.

FMI: www.aero-news.net

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