FAA has updated the COVID-19 SFAR 118, originally published on May 4, 2020, with a new regulation extending expiration dates and establishing new protocols for a number of key certifications, currency requirements, and knowledge tests. The document SFAR 118-1 went into effect on June 25, 2020, with final publication on June 29, and it’s effective through March 31, 2021.
The SFAR covers the following: “The amended relief applies to new persons who may have challenges complying with certain training, recent experience, testing, and checking requirements. This relief allows operators to continue to use pilots and other crewmembers in support of essential operations during this extended period. This SFAR also provides regulatory relief to additional persons unable to meet duration and renewal requirements due to the public health emergency.”
A table in the SFAR text outlines updates for flight reviews, instrument currency, PIC and SIC proficiency checks, and crewmember requirements, among a host of special certification extensions. In particular, the validity of medical certificates expiring from March 2020 onward now extends to those expiring up through September 2020, with a 3-month extension.
For further information and technical questions, pilots are advised to contact Craig Holmes at (202) 267-1100; or email 9-AVS-AFS800-COVID19-Correspondence@faa.gov.
A premier collection of aircraft and products earned our highest level of commendation, the Editors’ Choice Awards, by our team back in February —with the Innovation Award winner to be announced later this week—and in the August 2020 issue of Flying.
Last year at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, we announced that Gulfstream’s G500 business jet secured the 2019 Flying Innovation Award, not just for the aircraft itself—which exemplifies style and performance—but also for the layers of innovation within Gulfstream’s development program, setting the bar high for aerospace manufacturers. While we won’t have the opportunity to celebrate the 2020 winner at AirVenture (following that event’s cancellation) we will bring the news to you on Flying’s social media channels.
Here’s a recap of those ECA winners—all candidates for the Innovation Award—and be sure to stay tuned this week for the big announcement.
It has been a long journey to certification for Epic Aircraft—a tale that started more than 20 years ago. The Epic LT launched in 2000 with plans by the former company owners to bring that experimental turboprop to the market while, at the same time, pursing certification for a future version. The story turned into good news under the leadership of LT owner and entrepreneur Doug King. He took on the role of CEO—backed by different owners and then a Russian company—and set out to fulfill the challenge of turning a kit-built aircraft into a Part 23-compliant mount.
In 2019, after nine years of pursuit, the FAA signed off the E1000 following its last test-flight hour in the fall, with type certification granted on November 6. Propelled by a Pratt & Whitney PT6A-76A producing 1,200 hp, and flying at a top cruise speed of 325 knots, the E1000 is now poised to make challenges of its own, in the hot single-engine-turboprop market.
Texas Aircraft Colt LSA
If ever there were an airplane tough enough to carry on the banner of a solid future-pilot training machine, surely, it’s the Texas Aircraft Colt. Think of this light-sport, metal and composite aircraft as a Cessna 150 on steroids, an airplane that solved many of the concerns expressed by pilots and instructors over the years.
Climbing into the Colt is a snap, thanks to doors designed to hinge open 180 degrees because of wing struts built to fit behind the doors rather than in front. Once inside, the Colt offers enough room for even large people to move arms and feet freely. The Colt was designed with a welded chromoly passenger safety cell and a glass-panel Dynon EFIS system powerful enough to drive high-resolution graphic displays and a truly useful autopilot. The Colt also offers an optional ballistic parachute.
Student pilots on a solo will love the 31.7-gallon fuel tank that delivers nearly six hours of flying while miserly gulping just 5 gph. Dramatically highlighting the results of modern aerodynamic design, the 1,320-pound Colt, powered by a 100 hp Rotax engine, delivers a sprightly climb rate. We featured the Colt in the May issue of Flying.
If you want to know the truth, we considered the uAvionix skyBeacon for recognition this past year, but our admiration for the ADS-B Out device—and its new brother, the tailBeacon—solidified in 2019 as a rush of owners installed the units in order to meet the final ADS-B compliance date of January 1, 2020.
The avionics take an elegant approach to a problem that plagued many aircraft owners: how to comply with the requirement without spending a lot of money and adding another box to their instrument panel. First, uAvionix debuted the skyBeacon, a self-contained replacement for the airplane’s left-wing navigation light that a reasonably handy owner could swap out on their own—only a maintenance technician with inspection authority needed to sign off on the work. Then, in summer 2019, the company launched the tailBeacon, which had the same concept of just replacing the nav light on the empennage of the airplane.
In talking with owners, though there have been hiccups unique to various airplanes, the certification covers such a broad range of needs at a reasonable price point—making it a friend, indeed, for pilots needing to keep flying in ADS-B-required airspace.
Tecnam P2012 Traveller
In the very last week of 2018, Tecnam gained European Union Aviation Safety Association certification of its 11-seat P2012 Traveller, a piston-powered twin aimed directly at the commuter-aircraft market. On paper, perhaps that doesn’t sound like a slam-dunk, but the Traveller proved in 2019 that it fills a niche few aircraft can.
In October, the mighty mini airliner made a transatlantic trip to gain FAA certification, with a delivery to its first and—at least for now—most important customer, Cape Air. Yes, the regional airline famous for its flights to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, Massachusetts, but with bases around the US, it worked hand in hand with Tecnam on the airplane’s development. And they didn’t just have their own specs in mind, though the airplane’s easy baggage loading and passenger-centric entry/exit door sure make the case for it. They, along with the manufacturer, also envisioned a green future for the airplane, placing it firmly within the airline’s own road map for alternative fuels and efficiency of consumption.
Powered by two Lycoming TEO540C1A engines actuated by full authority digital engine control, and with Garmin G1000 NXi avionics in the cockpit, the airplane’s operating costs are projected to run at $391 to $405 per hour. With the ability to complete a 500-nm trip at 155 knots at 10,000 feet, there’s a lot of application for the P2012 Traveller we’re just beginning to see. We featured the Tecnam P2012 in the June issue of Flying.
With glass cockpits abound these days, hardly anyone thinks much about a communications failure anymore, but it still happens. That’s why plenty of pilots carry a backup two-way radio in their flight bag. However, the problem with most of them is, when they’re needed, trying to communicate with a small handheld radio demands that the pilot needs to pull off their headset to talk, and that means picking up a serious amount of background noise.
Late in 2019, Sporty’s unveiled a solution to the cockpit-noise problems inherent in handheld radios. Called the PJ2, Sporty’s backup doesn’t require removing a headset, only unplugging it from one location and plugging it into the jacks conveniently located on top of the handheld PJ2. The result is a transmitter able that takes advantage of the noise-canceling microphone on a good headset.
The PJ2 includes 20 scannable memory channels, a last-frequency button, an oversize backlit screen, and even a quick access button to listen to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration broadcasts. Press and hold the number “2″ key for three seconds, and the PJ2 automatically switches to 121.5. Sporty’s PJ2 runs on six AA batteries but includes a USB-C plug for backup power.
On Thursday, June 25, Diamond Aircraft Industries announced the latest update to its single-engine piston airplane line, the DA50 RG—the five-seat version of the DA50 in a retract formulation. Like others in its family, the airplane will be powered by a diesel powerplant, the Continental CD-300 turbocharged, fadec engine, with a max power output of 300 hp (270 hp maximum continuous power).
The latest DA50 is projected to make a top speed of 181 knots (at ISA, 16,000 feet msl, and 1,700-kgs weight), climb to a maximum operating altitude of 20,000 feet, and boast a useful load of 1,232 pounds. Its max range will be around 750 nm (with a 30-minute reserve), and fuel consumption while in those parameters will be about 9 gph. With a takeoff distance (at sea level, over a 50-foot obstacle) of 2,427 feet and a landing distance of 2,100 feet (also at sea level, over a 50-foot obstacle), the 4,407-lb airplane can find a home in a number of applications.
Through its social media channels, the company said, “We’d like to say thank you to everyone who was involved in the development of our DA50 RG—especially to our Production and Design department. Your dedication and hard work have left everyone in utter amazement in our company. Our special thanks also go out to Kirk Smith, the winner of the DA50 Design Competition, who came up with this stunning paint scheme and to Knud Tiroch who supported us with the execution of Kirk’s design. Thank you all for inspiring us.”
Bombardier’s Wichita site has a rich history as the manufacturing center of the iconic Learjet, and over the years, Bombardier expanded the site’s operations to include completion work for the Global 5000 and Global 5500 aircraft cabins as the latest diversification for this skilled workforce. Those employees had something big to celebrate recently as the first long-range Global 5500 business jet entered into service when delivered to an undisclosed customer.
Last year, Bombardier announced that the Global 5500 aircraft can fly 200 nautical miles more than planned, saying that its new range of 5,900 nautical miles is 700 nautical miles more than the nearest competitor at the same speed. The Global 5500 offers a stunningly long list of enticing features that serve the Global brand well, with an optimized wing, Mach 0.90 speed, available “4K-enabled” cabin, and patented Nuage seats, a completely new business jet aircraft seat design.
“This spacious and efficient aircraft is the ultimate business tool, with the range and access to safely take our customers where they need to be,” said David Coleal, President, Bombardier Aviation. “The first Global 5500 aircraft delivery is of particular significance for our employees in Wichita, who recently took on the meticulous work of interior completions for the Global 5000 and Global 5500 aircraft.”
Bombardier said the Global 5500′s Nuage seat is the first new seat architecture in business aviation in 30 years. A “tilt link system” is the heart of the new seat design, providing a deep ergonomically-comfortable recline, while a floating base for fluid movement brings to market a trackless footprint and permanently-centered swivel axis for effortless and intuitive positioning. A new tilting ergonomic headrest is fully-adjustable for exceptional comfort and optimal neck support in any position.
Along with the introduction of the Nuage seating, the Global 5500 is equipped with Bombardier Pũr Air, a sophisticated air purification system available exclusively on Global aircraft. The system’s advanced HEPA filter captures up to 99.99% of allergens, bacteria, and viruses, and completely replaces the cabin air with 100% fresh air in as little as one-and-a-half minutes.
In announcing the entry into service of their Global 5500 during a worldwide pandemic, Bombardier said the first delivery demonstrated flexibility and dedication in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Bombardier has taken extraordinary steps to protect its employees and customers against the virus, and as manufacturing activities resume around the world, the company has strict protocols for continued safety and operational excellence. The successful entry-into-service of the Global 5500 business jet at this time demonstrates Bombardier’s resilience and the efforts of its talented employees,” the company said.
Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo last week completed its second successful test flight from Spaceport America in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico marking another important milestone toward the launch of Virgin Galactic’s commercial service. The company said in a news release that, Mark ‘Forger’ Stucky and Michael ‘Sooch’ Masucci, both commercial astronauts, commanded SpaceShipTwo Unity’s flight. The test flight was conducted under a set of stringent operational protocols to ensure safety against COVID-19 including enforced social distancing as advised by state guidelines as well as universal mask usage.
SpaceShipTwo’s glide, flown at higher speeds, allowed the team to continue to evaluate systems and vehicle performance in advance of future rocket-powered space flights. Flying VSS Unity in glide configuration at higher speeds enables certain vehicle systems to operate close to the environment seen during phases of rocket boost on a spaceflight. The spaceship achieved a glide speed of Mach 0.85 after being released from the mothership VMS Eve at an altitude of 51,000 feet. Unity completed multiple test-points before touching back down smoothly for a runway landing at Spaceport America.
“Forger and Sooch performed a series of maneuvers with Unity designed to gather data about performance and handling qualities while flying at higher speeds,” according to a company press release. “This data will be verified against similar maneuvers that were performed in the previous glide flight to enhance aerodynamic modeling. Pending the completion of an extensive data review of this flight, the team will start preparing for the next stage of our flight test program—powered spaceflights from Spaceport America. In addition to the data review, we have several steps to complete, including final modifications to the spaceship customer cabin and detailed inspections of the vehicle and systems.”