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P&P’s Weekly Aviation News Roundup

Does the new “Airport” mask mandate mean little airports, too? Buh-bye to a famous aviation brand. Swapping out panels is a hot business model. The coolest new Boeing and much more.

A Learjet 75 on base to final. Photo courtesy of Bombardier.
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Just The Facts Roundup Of Aviation News For The Week Of February 8, 2021

Learjet Brand Is Now History
After 58 years of production, there will be no more Learjets. Citing a crowded light-jet market along with economic challenges, parent company Bombardier has announced the inevitable—the Learjet assembly line in Wichita will shut down by year end and 1,600 will be out of work. Since the first Lear Jet (as it was known then) took to the skies in 1963, some 3,000 have been built.

Piper AD Set To Go Into Effect
The FAA’s airworthiness directive (AD) on Piper PA-28/PA-32 wing spars will go into effect next Tuesday (Feb. 16). The AD requires regular inspections of wing spars and affects around 5,000 airframes. First proposed in 2018, the AD stems from a fatal accident involving wing failure on an Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University trainer.

Does The Federal Mask Mandate Cover GA Airports?
EAA is exploring whether the national mandate on protective face masks could impact general aviation. The January 21 order calls for masks on most public modes of transportation, but also calls for mask mandates at “airports” without specifying whether that includes non-commercial airports without airline service. EAA said it is “working to ensure that the implementation of the order remains limited to public transportation facilities such as airline terminals.”

Panel Upgrades Continue To Pace Avionics Sales
The surge in avionics updates, riding the wave of mandatory ADS-B installations (aka: the “MAW” or “might as well” effect) continued to surge through the fourth quarter of 2020, up more than 15% compared to 2019’s sales. Unfortunately for the industry, that was the silver lining in a gloomy year-end report from the Aviation Electronics Association, with overall sales down 26% for the year. AEA president and CEO Mike Adamson said, “We are hopeful the combination of innovative new products, the resilience of consumers who continue to focus on upgrades, and an uptick in aircraft production can fuel more sales growth in 2021.”

Skyhawk Emergency Landing Was Perfect…But then…
A Cessna 172 on a night training flight suffered an engine failure, but the instructor managed a smooth deadstick landing on westbound side of the Pennsylvania Turnpike with no damage. That didn’t last long, however, as not one, but two tractor-trailers clipped the Skyhawk, shoving it nose-first into a snowbank and twisting its tail feathers. The good news: No one was injured.

AirVenture To Feature Star-Studded Airshow Lineup
EAA has announced that at least 22 airshow acts have committed to nine airshows over the seven-day event (July 26 – Aug. 1), including two nighttime performances. Among the performers on the roster are the Aeroshell Aerobatic Team; the Geico Skytypers; Mike Goulian; Patty Wagstaff; Gene Soucy; Kyle Frankin; and Matt Younkin. EAA also announced it is offering free admission to attendees 18 and younger.

Proposed COVID-Relief Package Boosts Aviation
The battered aviation industry could get a financial lifeline if the Biden Administration’s $1.9 billion relief package goes through. The House version of the bill includes $100 billion for airports, infrastructure and a payroll support program for industry workers. It also earmarks $100 million for general-aviation and non-primary commercial airports.

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New ForeFlight Traffic Feature Targets “Oh $#!+” Incidents
The first new release of the ForeFlight app this year includes an improved traffic alert function, designed to provide more timely and accurate traffic conflict alerts. The new format highlights the traffic targets first in yellow, then red if the present course and altitude will bring them within your danger zone.

Black Hawk Replacement Competition Heats Up
The Boeing/Sikorsky team behind the SB> 1 Defiant helicopter design has released a tweaked version called Defiant-X. Pitted against a competing design from Bell in the Army’s competition to replace the Black Hawk, the new Defiant X has a sleeker nose (likely for more speed), a redesigned, more-rugged landing gear, and a redesigned exhaust system to reduce thermal “visibility.” The Defiant concept features a rear-mounted propeller that increases cruise speed dramatically by countering the “retreating-blade-stall” limitation of a helicopter.

Eisenhower’s “Air Force One” Restoration Suffers Setback
When Dynamic Aviation ferried “Columbine—” the Air Force Lockheed Constellation that served as President Dwight Eisenhower’s global transport—from an Arizona boneyard to its facility in Virginia in 2015, vintage aircraft buffs rejoiced at the news the four-engine beauty would be restored. But Dynamic, which has multiple business units including firefighting and international contract surveillance operations, has confirmed that “a number” of staff members have been laid off. The fate of the restoration is unclear.

 

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