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Industry News Feed

Title: AIN:Charter and Fractional

X-Copter Demonstrates New Simulator at Oshkosh Show

Helicopter training simulator provider X-Copter is on hand at EAA AirVenture 2014 in Oshkosh, Wis., to demonstrate its recently certified primary flight simulator. Located at AirVenture's HAI Heli-Center, the Arizona-based company is offering show specials of more than $7,500 in incentives for the lease or purchase of the new training device, which has a base price of $88,000.

"In addition to recent FAA approval, we are very excited about our new leasing and financing options for our customers," said Brandon Frett, the company's director of simulation. "We will make it very easy for a flight school or individual to acquire an X-Copter."

Before its certification, X-Copter previewed the simulator, which currently covers the Robinson R22 and R44, to the Heli-Expo audience in Anaheim, Calif., in February. Since obtaining regulatory approval in late May, it has produced and delivered 14 units, with an additional 10 currently on order.

Currently in development are training simulator platforms for the Robinson R66, as well as Schweizer, Bell and Eurocopter models. The device's full-scale, steel-chassis cockpit includes two high-resolution touchscreen monitors; realistic controls with tactile vibration cues; touchscreen technology with fully customizable, advanced avionics simulations for glass-cockpit applications; and an outside view delivered by three high-definition screens portraying in-flight motion, autorotations and hovering.

July 29, 2014, 7:00 PM

Backed with Cash, Relaunched Mooney Plans To Focus on Flagship Aircraft

Backed with cash from Asian investors, the relaunched Mooney International has spent the last eight months hiring staff at both its Kerrville, Texas production plant and its new Chino, Calif. headquarters and R&D center. The company now employs 150 and recently completed its first aircraft–an M20TN Acclaim Type S–since the new investors took control. That aircraft was the first new Mooney off the production line in Kerrville in five years. It was sold via auction and delivered to the customer's representative on Tuesday at EAA AirVenture 2014. All auction proceeds–$646,000–will be used to establish a Mooney history museum in Kerrville.

Mooney's new CEO is Dr. Jerry Chen, an aerodynamicist who was on the faculty of the University of Southern California (USC). Chen told AIN that the reborn company has sufficient reserves to operate at a loss for at least five years and would be focusing on the production of its $699,000 Acclaim flagship. The company also plans to restart production of its Ovation3, which has a list price of $649,000.

To date, Chen said the company has booked orders for 14 aircraft, 10 of them from China. He said the company likely would produce one aircraft per month through the remainder of this year and then gradually increase that rate to three aircraft per month in 2016. According to Chen, the company is focusing heavily on the Chinese market and will open an office in Beijing later this summer, exhibit at the Air China show in Zhuhai in November and sponsor an aircraft in the Great Silk Road Air Race, from Turkey to China, in 2015. "China is an important market for us," he said.

Chen said the R&D efforts in Chino will focus on the development of aircraft modifications and new aircraft. Separately, Mooney announced that it is partnering with Redbird Flight Simulators to equip Mooney facilities at Kerrville, Chino and Beijing with Redbird FMX full-motion simulators. The simulators will have Mooney-branded graphics, fully enclosed cockpits and quick-change configurations. They will be used for sales, transition training and pilot proficiency instruction.

July 29, 2014, 6:30 PM

Sailplane Project Seeks To Reach the Edge of Space

Can a glider fly to more than 90,000 feet? That's the question the Perlan Project, a nonprofit aeronautical and atmospheric research organization, hopes to answer in a partnership with Airbus Group that was announced this week at EAA AirVenture 2014 in Oshkosh, Wis.

The Perlan Project began back in the early 1990s with the discovery of stratospheric mountain waves. Fueled by strong winds blowing over the tops of high mountain ranges such as the Andes, the waves of air shoot upward through the atmosphere, nearly to the edge of space. NASA test pilot and project founder Einar Enevoldson theorized that a glider could ride these waves higher than any has ever flown and proved it in 2006 when he and the late adventurer Steve Fossett broke the existing sailplane altitude record in a standard glider, reaching 50,671 feet before realizing the encumbrance of their expanded pressure suits made it dangerous to operate the controls. This experience led to the realization that a custom glider with a pressurized, heated cabin was needed to fully explore the phenomenon.

"Our company is built on the shoulders of aviation pioneers who pushed boundaries in their own times, people who flew farther, higher, faster," said Airbus Group CEO Tom Enders. "When we learned of the Perlan Project and its quest to soar to record heights, we knew that we needed to find a way to be a part of it," he said adding that such a partnership is consistent with the airframer's core values of furthering innovation in aerospace. The Toulouse, France-based company believes it will benefit from the opportunity to gain experience and data from very high altitude flight for use in future applications.

The Airbus Perlan Mission II, as the project is now known, expects to set new altitude records in the 2015 to 2016 time frame, while harvesting data about earth's atmosphere and its ozone layer. To operate at the low air density found at that altitude–less than 2 percent of that at sea level, which would be similar to flying through the atmosphere of Mars–the project will require a new and highly efficient aerodynamic design for the sailplane.

"When Perlan Project began focusing on securing partnerships to help us complete the mission, we never dreamed we would be so fortunate as to secure a partner of the caliber of Airbus Group," said Enevoldson. "Thanks to their technological and financial support, we are well on our way to the edge of space. Now it's just a matter of completing the world's most innovative glider and catching the right wave."

July 29, 2014, 5:30 PM

Safran Subsidiary SMA Begins Deliveries of Diesel General Aviation Engines

Safran's SMA general aviation engine unit plans to deliver 90 of its SR305-230E four-cylinder general aviation diesel engines this year for Cessna's 182 JT-A and other aircraft such as the OAP Delfin, company CEO Thierry Hurtes said today at EAA AirVenture 2014 in Oshkosh, Wis. The engine, which has a TBO of 2,400 hours, has already received EASA and FAA certification.

Hurtes said SMA is also developing a higher output version of the engine, likely in the 260- to 285-hp range. The increased power in the higher output model would come from a combination of adding fuel injection and increasing engine speed, he noted.

According to Hurtes, work continues on SMA's SR460 six-cylinder twin-turbo diesel engine, designed for 330- to 400-hp applications, including installation on twin-engine pistons.

The first SR460 was assembled in March, he said, and is undergoing bench-testing. The engine was designed to run on three cylinders if necessary, he added, noting that the air intakes and turbochargers function independently on each side of the horizontally opposed engine. SMA expects to certify the SR460 within two years. To date, Hurtes said, the 600-pound SR460 has displayed good specific fuel consumption and power-to-weight ratios.

He also clarified a few points concerning the SR305, which is designed to be used with composite propellers to "reduce the level of stress on the engine." Hurtes also revealed the cause of a catastrophic failure of an SR305 in a 182 JT-A aircraft last August where the aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing and the test pilot was unharmed. He said the failure was caused by a faulty engine bearing, the result of a lapse in quality control. "The problem was identified and corrected and is now behind us," he said. Certification for the JT-A aircraft itself remains pending.

Huertes said SMA is also talking to unnamed helicopter manufacturers about adopting its engines for their applications.

July 29, 2014, 5:00 PM