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Just The Facts Roundup of Aviation News For The Week Of February 22, 2021

Amazing images from Mars, first video of a promising Multicopter, farewell to an aviation friend and more details emerge on the UAL 777 that lost an engine on departure last weekend.

NASA released the first photographs of the surface of Mars as taken by the Perseverance Rover, which landed on the Red Planet last week. And they are spectacular, showing a level of detail better than any previous lander. The mission is to look for signs of ancient life, but they’d be okay with current life, as well, they say.

Joby Aviation released the first public videos of its as yet unnamed multicopter/tiltrotor aircraft, and it shows the craft flying forward at a decent rate of speed, as well as it hovering. The company plans to begin commercial operations of it in 2024.

Joby also announced that it was merging with a company known as Reinvent Technology Partners, it received an infusion of cash of $835 million, and it plans to take the company public later this year.

Aviation journalist Mike Collins, who spent 25 years at AOPA in a variety of capacities, died on Thursday, February 25, of COVID-19. Collins was a top-notch writer, photographer and editor. We send our condolences to his family, his coworkers and his many, many friends in aviation.

The Smithsonian Air & Space Museum got a $10 million gift from the Kislak family. The museum will use the gift to create a World War II aviation gallery.


A large part of the #2 engine cowling of a United Airlines Boeing 777-200 fell on a Denver area residential neighborhood last weekend shortly after it had taken off from Denver International Airport. The engine came apart after a fan blade broke. The crew expertly returned the plane for a safe landing back at DIA.

After the incident, United, Boeing and the FAA called for the grounding of 777’s with the same Pratt & Whitney 4000-series engine model as on the UAL plane that suffered the engine failure. Investigators are trying to determine if the failure was preventable and determine how maintenance practices might need to change.

Piston aircraft deliveries were pretty unchanged in 2020 compared with 2019, this according to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) 2020 report on aircraft manufacturing numbers. Turboprop business suffered a 15.6 percent decline in deliveries, while business jets took a big, with deliveries down by just over 20% over the previous year.


Erickson is working on what it’s calling an “optionally piloted” version of its Air Crane, which it says it plans to start flying in 2021. The Air Crane is a heavy lift helicopter that is widely used in a variety of industries, including logging.

Garmin was on the list of nominees for National Aeronautic Association’s 2020 Robert J. Collier Award for its revolutionary Garmin Autoland system.  The Collier trophy is considered by many to be the most prestigious award in aviation. Other nominees this year included Space X for its Falcon 9 and Dragon 2 space vehicles and Bell for its V-280 Valor tiltrotor.  The winner is expected to be announced this summer.




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