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Just the Facts Aviation News Roundup For the Week of November 30

A big, in-person winter airshow in progress, a bad AD on Piper wing spars, virtual goodness from Microsoft, virtual country music for jet pilots, and much more.

Icon Aircraft can now boast the most compact Garmin G3X Touch flat panel in the industry. Image courtesy of Icon AircraftI
Icon Aircraft can now boast the most compact Garmin G3X Touch flat panel in the industry. Image courtesy of Icon AircraftI
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It might not be aviation-specific news, but everybody got a stocking full of hope these past couple of weeks with the announcement of highly effective vaccines from three manufacturers. The hope is that first recipients will be getting their vaccines before the end of this year and that hundreds of millions of doses will be made and distributed throughout 2021. If so, airline travel and, hence, tens of thousands of flying and other aviation jobs could return sometime thereafter, hopefully very soon.

Sun ’n Fun’s Holiday Flying Festival and Car Show is underway as we speak. Forced to cancel its 2020 Sun ’n Fun Fly-In, Sun ’n Fun came up with a December event to kind of take its place. There will be a STOL contest, more than 100 show cars and nearly as many planes, 80 vendors and more. As was the case with its would-be April show, the winter reboot comes as the country is at a peak of coronavirus infections and deaths. Attendees are recommended to wear masks.

The FAA published its final AD on certain Piper PA-28 and PA-32 wing spars. The AD  requires repetitive inspection and corrective action if cracks are found. The action was prompted by the crash of a Piper Arrow in Florida last year after the plane’s left wing detached in flight. Both aboard the plane were killed in the crash.

A group of pilots using the hashtag #PilotsForKen is protesting what it says is the unfair dismissal of popular designated examiner Ken Wittekiend by the San Antonio FSDO, for whom Wittekiend worked for more than a decade. The group premiered a video on its YouTube channel asking the FSDO to reconsider.

Icon Aircraft can now boast the most compact Garmin G3X Touch flat panel in the industry. 2021 Icon A5 Limited Edition models will come with the Garmin’s touchscreen integrated glass panel in place of the standard Garmin Aera 796.

Microsoft is coming out with a virtual reality function on its groundbreaking Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020. The upgrade is free of charge and, like you, we’re wondering just how silly people will look while doing akro in the VR hood. The VR option is expected to show up later this month.

NBAA’s GO Virtual Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition had a successful first (and maybe only) run, capping off its two days of information and inspiration on Thursday. The bizav member organization said that thousands virtually attended the event, which featured keynote speakers, technical seminars and virtual exhibition spaces.

Keynote speaker at NBAA Go was country music superstar Dierks Bentley, who is an avid pilot (and one of the nicest guys we know). Bentley started his aviation love affair flying the Cirrus SR22 and has moved up to progressively bigger and faster planes. His current ride is a Cessna CJ4. Sweet. Of course, Bentley and bandmates ended the keynote with a couple of tunes.

Textron Aviation announced its King Air 260 at the event. The 260 is the latest iteration of the 200-series King Air. New features on the model include autothrottles by IS&S and a new, sophisticated weather radar. The new model has already earned FAA approval.

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Milestones are cool, and Pratt & Whitney is celebrating a big one, with the production of its 50,000th PT-6, one of the most respected and ubiquitous engines in aviation history.

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