Bertrand Piccard, initiator of the Solar Impulse program, which is calling for a flight around the world with an aircraft powered exclusively by solar energy, showcased the state of his venture in a media conference at Duebendorf airfield near Zurich, Switzerland, last month.
News and issues concerning general aviation, specifically airplanes and helicopters powered by piston and alternative engines (i.e., non-turbine powered aircraft). Subjects include aircraft, engines, personnel, acquisitions, accidents, safety, security and training.
Although the Transportation Security Administration’s general aviation airport security guidelines working group was unable to reach a consensus on how to categorize public- and private-use GA airports for security purposes, last month it urged the TSA not to “isolate” general aviation with more stringent security procedures than those being adopted as “best practices” by other modes of transportation such as maritime, rail or highways.
After an absence of nearly 20 years, Shell Aviation announced its return to the U.S. general aviation market last month. “This is not just a trial run,” said Shell Aviation North American vice president Rick Woods. “We plan to be here for the long haul.”
Woods said fuel and other Shell products are now available at 284 branded FBOs across the country following the completion of a reseller agreement with Eastern Aviation Fuels.
A small percentage–about 20 percent–of the piston-powered fleet requires 100-octane fuel. Yet these aircraft burn about 70 percent of the total avgas volume, according to Allen Bretz, director of general aviation market at ConocoPhillips.
On the aircraft static display line at the NBAA Convention in September was Aero Toy Store’s Pininfarina Edition Learjet 60. Modern customers, said COO Ben Shirazi, want the “sexiness” associated with having an automobile or airplane interior designed by such auto and fashion icons as Pininfarina or Versace.
Although avgas is expensive, there is no shortage in the U.S., and oil companies continue to support its production and distribution. Nonetheless, Cessna Aircraft has decided to outfit its best-selling 172 Skyhawk with a diesel engine. Starting in the middle of next year, Cessna dealers will sell the Skyhawk TD powered by a 155-hp Thielert turbocharged diesel engine installed under an FAA supplemental type certificate (STC).
The FAA’s rules are a “barrier to the development and application of supersonic technologies in advanced general aviation aircraft,” said the General Aviation Manufacturers Association in comments submitted to an agency request for information on SST noise rules.
GA activity at Westchester County Airport in New York is declining, according to airport manager Peter Scherrer. He said the decline is “worrying.” Avgas fuel sales dropped from 397,247 gallons last year to a projected total of 372,000 gallons this year.
On the NATPE convention floor there were encouraging signs that aviation-related programming was holding its own in the current, seemingly endless supply of reality-based programs. Billy Campbell, president and CEO of Discovery Networks USA, parent company of the Discovery Wings Channel, served as a panelist on a forum exploring the forecast of programming for this year.
One spotlight at this year’s National Association of Television Producers and Executives (NATPE) annual convention focused on general aviation, both on and off the airwaves. The event, held late January in New Orleans at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, is a promotional extravaganza serving as a catalyst for the introduction and sale of popular programming to the television and cable networks.