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Legendary Designer Burt Rutan Returns to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh in 2015 for VariEze Anniversary

All Rutan designs and canard aircraft invited to Oshkosh for VariEze’s 40th

Photo courtesy Scaled Composites

EAA AVIATION CENTER, OSHKOSH, Wisconsin — (February 19, 2015) — Burt Rutan, the visionary aircraft designer whose innovations made history and changed the aviation world, will be back at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh in 2015 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of his iconic VariEze aircraft.

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015, the 63rd annual Experimental Aircraft Association fly-in convention, will be held July 20-26 at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh.

Rutan’s designs have been groundbreaking for more than 40 years, beginning with the VariViggen in the early 1970s through the concepts that became the SpaceShipOne and SpaceShipTwo vehicles that are launching the era of space tourism. His use of canard wings and composite materials changed the look and efficiency of homebuilt aircraft, with more than 1,000 airplanes based on his designs now flying in the U.S. alone.

"There are few individuals in the history of aviation who can match Burt Rutan’s imagination and accomplishments," said Jack Pelton, EAA chairman of the board. "His presentations are eagerly anticipated whenever he is in Oshkosh. Although he officially ‘retired’ several years ago, his innovative mind continues to push forward with new concepts and ideas that he’ll share at EAA AirVenture in 2015."

Rutan is perhaps publicly known best for his SpaceShipOne design, which in 2004 won the $10 million Ansari XPRIZE as the first successful private spacecraft. He also designed the Voyager, which in 1986 became the first aircraft to fly around-the-world nonstop on a single tank of fuel. That accomplishment earned him, along with pilots Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, the Presidential Citizen’s Medal. Burt Rutan was also named to the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1995 and EAA Homebuilders Hall of Fame in 1998.

His VariEze aircraft first flew in May 1975, with the prototype causing a sensation at that year’s EAA fly-in. That canard design evolved into other Rutan aircraft innovations, such as the Long-EZ, that are still being built today. Rutan’s multitude of interests has also led him into successfully exploring space flight and into electric flight.

In honor of the VariEze anniversary, EAA is inviting all Rutan and canard aircraft owners to come to Oshkosh and participate in the festivities. More details on specific dates and events will be released as they are finalized.

About EAA AirVenture Oshkosh

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh is "The World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration" and EAA’s yearly membership convention. Additional EAA AirVenture information, including advance ticket and camping purchase, is available online at www.eaa.org/airventure. EAA members receive lowest prices on admission rates. For more information on EAA and its programs, call 1-800-JOIN-EAA (1-800-564-6322) or visit www.eaa.org. Immediate news is available at www.twitter.com/EAA.

Should We Keep 121.5 Alive?


Photo: CC BY-SA 3.0

Pilots are trained to use the radio frequency 121.5 in the event of an emergency. Emergency locator transmitters (ELTs) broadcast over 121.5 to notify search and rescue of a downed aircraft. FAA radio facilities, Civil Air Patrol, and often pilots monitor 121.5 as a way to receive distress signals. So why does the FCC, and subsequently the FAA and NTSB, want to ban something simple that could potentially save lives?

The answer lies in the advancement of modern technology – the increased use of the more accurate satellite-based 406 MHz ELT, and the decision of major search and rescue company COSPAS-SARSAT to cease monitoring 121.5 in 2009. But does the introduction of a more reliable system mean that everyone should be required to use it? And should we go so far as to ban the use of an emergency frequency so commonly known to help pilots?

Since 1973, the FAA has required almost all aircraft to have an emergency locator transmitter (ELT) on board. ELTs are small transmitters that emit a signal and provide a way for search and rescue (SAR) to locate a downed airplane, increasing the survival odds for a pilot and passengers. They can transmit on either 121. MHz or 406.025 MHz. It’s commonly known that the 406 MHz ELTs are much more accurate, but a good portion of the general aviation fleet still uses 121.5 MHz ELTs.

121.5 ELTs
Many ELTs commonly used in aviation are designed to transmit an analog signal over the frequency 121.5 when activated, allowing anyone that is monitoring the frequency to hear the distress signal and notify appropriate search and rescue teams. These 121.5 ELTs are inexpensive and simple to use, but they aren’t without their problems.

If an ELT is in the ‘armed’ mode, it will become activated during a crash and transmit a noisy alarm over the frequency 121.5. But sometimes a hard landing will set it off, or it can be accidentally activated during ground operations. More often than not, ELTs are activated in non-emergency situations, and ATC and operators spend a lot of time tracking down false ELT signals. In addition, finding the signal requires homing in to the strength of the signal – a difficult and inaccurate task when the signal accuracy is only limited to about 10 miles.

406 MHz
A 406 MHz ELT transmit a digital signal, which allows for a code to be transmitted along with the distress signal. This code has details about the aircraft, including its registration number and a point of contact.

406 MHz ELTs are more accurate, pinpointing the location of a downed aircraft to within one to three miles, decreasing the potential search area drastically from the of a 121.5 transmitter. And false alerts are less of a problem with 406 MHz ELTs, too, meaning authorities can act immediately upon receipt of a distress signal, instead of spending their time trying to determine if it’s a fake signal or not.

Why Ban 121.5?
It’s easy to see why the 406 MHz ELT is better. What’s less obvious is why we should ban the use of 121.5

The NTSB thinks that the use or 406 MHz ELTs should be mandated. In a 2007 Safety Recommendation letter, the NTSB described the downfall of 121.5 emergency locator transmitters and recommended that the FAA mandate the installation and use of 406 MHz transmitters in all aircraft before major search and rescue organizations COSPAS-SARSAT ceased its monitoring. They NTSB believes that without a mandate, pilots will refuse to upgrade to the 406 MHz units, making it more difficult on search and rescue and possibly creating undue risk.

The FAA agrees, but finds it more difficult to mandate. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association has stood strong against the 121.5 ban, saying that it’s too costly for the approximately 200,000 general aviation pilots to upgrade, and that the decision regarding which ELT to use should rest with the pilots themselves.

In the meantime, the FCC is also considering a ban on 121.5 ELTs. In 2013, they opened up a comment period regarding the banning of 121.5 ELTs, and again AOPA opposed in this letter, stating that the FCC needs to leave aviation safety matters to the FAA. It remains to be known if the ban will come into play, but pilots should expect it to happen eventually, and more importantly, for their own safety, pilots should probably just upgrade to the 406 MHz ELT of they haven’t already.

Could - or should - the ban of 121.5 ELTs mean the death of the 121.5 frequency altogether? After all, the frequency is used for more than just ELTs. It’s an emergency frequency in which a pilot can declare an emergency, and it’s still monitiored by FAA facilities, Flight service stations and the civil air patrol. And many pilots still monitor it, which can be helpful to other pilots and ATC if they do hear something on that frequency. And pilots are taught to switch to 121.5 if they’re intercepted for some reason, such as inadvertent flight through a prohibited area.

What do you think? Should we just accept that new technology is better than the old and move on? Or should we fight to keep 121.5 alive?

New Cost Effective Solutions for Upcoming Mandates

Garmin is Now Offering Standalone ADS-B Solutions

By Conrad Theisen
Avionics Sales Manager for Elliott Aviation

www.elliottaviation.com

Earlier this year, Garmin announced a cost-effective, stand-alone Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) solution for Citation V, Hawker 800A/XP, Hawker 400A/XP, Learjet 60 and Learjet 35A. Their solution, which utilizes Garmin’s GTX 3000 Mode S Extended Squitter (ES) transponders, satisfies upcoming global ADS-B mandates without making costly Flight Management System (FMS) and cockpit display upgrades. What this means for owners and operators of these aircraft is that you now have a much more cost-effective solution to meet your NextGen requirements.

Not only does this solution satisfy upcoming NextGen mandates but paired with the Garmin GDL 88 ADS-B datalink and Flight Stream wireless gateway it gives you the capability to wirelessly receive the benefits of ADS-B In on your mobile device. While not a requirement, the addition of ADS-B In allows you to receive traffic and weather on your mobile device, which in these aircraft, currently do not have any other way of displaying the information.

Elliott Aviation is currently working on an STC to install Garmin’s new ADS-B solution in Hawker 800A/XP and Beechjet 400A/Hawker 400XP, while Executive Aircraft Maintenance is working on the STC for the Citation V and Butler National is pursuing an STC for Lear 60 and Lear 35A. With thousands of these aircraft currently in service, owners and operators now have a way to meet NextGen requirements and get added benefits of ADS-B In without the cost of a full cockpit retrofit.

Conrad Theisen has been with Elliott Aviation since 1996. He started his career as an Avionics Installer and was promoted to Avionics Manager in 2001. In 2009, he led the Customer Service and Project Management teams for all in-house aircraft. He joined the Avionics Sales team in 2012.

 

Honda Flies High

Photo: Courtesy of Honda Aircraft Company

Honda Motor has long been a crowd pleaser. Its cars, motorcycles, and lawnmowers are consumer favorites around the world. Now the Japanese giant is about to try its hand at producing a light jet, and by all indications, the plane will be another winner.

The unusually light and speedy HondaJet, priced at $4.5 million and capable of carrying four to six passengers, looks set to win Federal Aviation Administration certification by first-quarter 2015. It will be the most expensive aircraft in its class, but buyers already are lining up. The company claims that its first two years of production are sold out, though it refuses to disclose exactly how many jets it is capable of producing per year.

Honda has been quietly laying the groundwork for this since 1986. Back then, wanting to better understand aircraft design, Honda sent Michimasa Fujino, now 54, to Mississippi State University’s Raspet Flight Research Lab. It was at Raspet that the young Honda engineer eventually designed and built two research aircraft.

The second of these, the MH02, was an all-composite, 8,000-pound, high-wing twin jet with the engines mounted atop the wings, which Fujino would later enhance and dub Otwem, for over-the-wing engine mount, since that was the key distinguishing feature of the plane. He figured that this aesthetically challenged configuration -- which looked vaguely like a giant attacking insect from a 1950s horror movie -- would allow for bigger cabins and improved aerodynamics. After Honda green-lighted a move into the light-jet market, Fujino set about converting his MHO2 research into a commercially viable aircraft.

As Fujino and his team refined the jet over nearly a decade, they also built a massive, state-of-the-art manufacturing, engineering, and service center in Greensboro, N.C. -- for an estimated $140 million. This is now Honda Aircraft, where Fujino serves as CEO and oversees more than 1,200 employees.

Check out the rest of the Mark Huber’s story here!

Beechjet/Hawker 400XP Garmin G5000 Retrofit Program

Breathing New Life into a Timeless Airframe

By Mark Wilken
Director of Avionics Sales for Elliott Aviation

www.elliottaviation.com

At NBAA this year, spectators had the opportunity to see the Garmin G5000 first-hand in the Beechjet. This is exciting news for Beechjet/Hawker 400XP owners and operators alike as it further affirms the longevity for this aircraft. Because avionics parts obsolescence is becoming a prevalent issue in older airframes, the G5000 retrofit rids any obsolescence issues and further enhances the capabilities of this magnificent airframe.

Garmin recognized the importance of the G5000 program, as over 700 Beechjet/Hawker 400XPs/Jayhawk T-1A are currently flying, with many of them older and rapidly facing avionics parts obsolescence issues. However, this viable airframe is still a leader in the light jet segment. The aircraft features 450 Knot speeds with a 1,300+ NM range. Additionally, this airframe is based on a squared oval design with a flat floor, allowing a superior cabin cross-section for ultimate head and shoulder room.

Paired with the G5000, the useful load increases by 150 lbs or more. The G5000 is not just a partial avionics upgrade leaving much of the 1980’s technology but a complete replacement of the entire avionics suite including a new Garmin autopilot system. The G5000 instrument panel consist of three 12” LCD displays that provide the pilot and copilot with all the latest technologies including Synthetic Vision, Electronic Charts, XM Weather, WAAS/LPV, ADS-B, Engine Indication, MFD Range Rings including Reserve Rings, and more.

The 2nd half of this decade will see the Beechjet series aircraft facing CRT Display obsolescence, AHRS obsolesce, WAAS/LPV upgrades, ADS-B out upgrades and a rising cost per hour for avionics repairs. The G5000 will take care of all of these issues in one short downtime, making it a true upgrade that will keep this aircraft flying for many years to come.

With the G5000 officially flying in the experiential stage, customers are looking at this retrofit beginning late 2015. At Elliott Aviation, we are looking forward to installing the Garmin G5000 in Beechjet/Hawker 400XP’s from all over the world. We will be striving to achieve the same milestones that make our Garmin G1000 King Air retrofits such a success like a 15-day downtime, all new wiring, and industry-leading checkout instruction.

About the Author

Mark Wilken joined Elliott Aviation in 1989 as an Avionics Bench Technician. He was promoted to Avionics Manager in 1996 and joined the sales team in 2003. Mark has led many highly successful avionics programs such as the King Air Garmin G1000 avionics retrofit program. He recently led efforts for Wi-Fi solutions in Hawkers, King Airs and Phenom 300’s. Mark holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Aviation Management from Southern Illinois University and is a licensed Pilot.

 

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