Perlan, Solar Impulse, Skigull - Big Year for Aviation R&D

It's been a fun year for for projects seeking to advnace aviation.

Solar Impulse 2, the all-solar aircraft flying around the world is staying the winter in Hawaii. It was a lot of fun reading about the aircraft's progress. Solar Impulse pilot Bertrand Piccard wrote a short note about his trip home from Hawaii in July. I can feel his disappointment, but I have no doubt he'll return to the sky with great success.

More Big Turboprop News

About a week after Diamond announced their new 7-place turboprop, a couple other aircraft companies made splashes in the media with aircraft in or near the DA50-JP7s class.

Piper announced three new models, grouped together as the "M-Class." There aren't a lot of specifics yet, but the M350, M500 and M600 appear to be an update and rebranding of Piper's current 6-place cabin class aircraft, the Matrix, Mirage and Meridian. Using just basic info from their website, the only difference between the Meridian and M500 or the Mirage and M350 are about $50,000 in each case.

Diamond Turboprop: Balancing Innovation and Risk

I'm pretty impressed overall with Diamond Aircraft. They've very quietly been making innovative, high-quality aircraft for years. They have a firm foothold in the training market with their economical DA20, and the DA40 is well-regarded in the 4-place piston market by those who fly it. Their DA42 Twin Star is probably the first meaningful piston twin developed in decades. With its diesel motors, FADEC and advanced aerodynamic design it's a really cool airplane.

Military IPs: Renew Your CFI by Mail!

A few years ago, the FAA updated 14 CFR 61.73 allowing military Instructor Pilots to get or renew a CFI ticket by taking a single written exam and presenting the results along with proof of a military IP rating. (In the USAF the supporting document is a Form 8.) This is a great deal for military IPs and was really long overdue.

Garmin's new GTN Avionics - Will You Upgrade?

Garmin has been very busy telling the world about their new GTN series avionics, intended to replace the GNS 430/530 series panel-mount IFR GPS systems. The new GTN 650 and 750 truly are impressive. They take everything that was good about the 430/530, all the good features of Garmin's handheld touchscreen Aera series GPS units, and many of the features available in the G1000 suite...then combine them all into a neat little package.

Cirrus Now Owned by Chinese Investors - So What?

As mentioned in a Cirrus Press Release and on AVweb, a Chinese company called China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Co., Ltd. (CAIGA) purchased Cirrus Industries Inc. at the end of February. There have been some mixed feelings about this deal, and we're still waiting to see if it's going to cause any major changes in the company.

Fifi Back in the Air

"FIFI" First Flight with New Engines from Hangar Workshop Productions on Vimeo.

It isn't the most recent news, but I couldn't resist re-posting this video. It shows the Commemorative Air Force's B-29, Fifi, getting back into the air after being grounded with engine trouble. It's a great footage of a beautiful aircraft. I hope you enjoy.

Surprise, Surprise: Boeing Wins Tanker Contract This Time

Boeing has started proudly announcing their victory in the latest iteration of the USAF's air refueling tanker competition. An analyst named Richard Aboulafia from the Teal Group said the decision was a big surprise. I'm not sure how he thought the competition would go after Boeing successfully contested the last decision, but I didn't expect our politicians to allow any other outcome.

Though I'm not proud of the course the competition has run, I am glad to see that this decision was reached somewhat quickly and that the KC-135 can finally look forward to a firm retirement date.

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