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Biggest Plane On The Go, Aussies To Invade America? And Cool News From Sonex

Plus, WiFi in the sky coming soon, Garmin has cool Pilot updates and much, much more!

Stratolaunch on the go.

Telecommunications firm Gogo launched its testbed network of 5G towers in a variety of rural and urban areas as it begins to build out its terrestrial 150-tower national network that will provide broadband (25 gbs upload) communications to aircraft. Duncan Aviation is working on an antenna STC for planes.

Delta Airlines has dropped the long-held requirement for its pilots to have four-year college degrees, part of the industry-wide move toward relaxing hiring standards for hard-to-fill pilot positions.

Garmin announced that it has earned STC approval for the installation of its GFC 500 digital autopilot in Beechcraft V-tailed Bonanza models C-G and in the Cirrus SR20. The autopilot, which boasts advanced capabilities, including envelope protection and advanced IFR approach features, is now available in hundreds of specific-year aircraft models representing two-dozen types. Here’s the full list.

Garmin also announced big updates to its popular Garmin Pilot iOS and Android app. The app now includes special notifications for some of the most pertinent NOTAMS, including when there’s no fuel available at the field or NOTAMS on the field condition, most notably affected by runway contamination (snow and ice). Also new on Garmin Pilot is the updated airport page and a refined menu system that requires even fewer tablet taps.

Sporty’s awarded a Sporty’s Pilot Training Scholarship to Wyoming teacher Steven Schofield, who is working towards additional ratings. Schofield, whose son Ian is eager to become a pilot like his dad, is an active member of the Civil Air Patrol and is this close to getting his instrument rating and hopes to start work on his commercial ticket soon, as well.


Longtime Sonex employee Mark Schaible has purchased the Oshkosh-based kit maker, which produces the kit for the SubSonex single-place jet, along with low-cost piston-powered models. Schaible says he has big plans for new airplane development, with a two-place jet and a high-wing piston to come in the next couple of years, and continued expansion of low-cost engine options.

Another company, Breeze Airlines, has reportedly started recruiting Australian ATPs (who are eligible for an E-3 visa) to fly its Embraer E190 and E195 jets, and its Airbus A220s. As visa holders, the pilots would be tied to their employers, with their eligibility to work dependent on their employer’s satisfaction with them. An analysis of the pay rates Breeze will offer show that the compensation is better than that at most Australian airlines but not as good as most U.S. carriers.

Tamarack, manufacturers of retrofit active winglets for select Cessna Citation light jets, has formally petitioned the FAA to reopen the investigation into the 2018 crash of a CitationJet CJ2+ in Indiana. The Board pinned the cause of the crash on the asymmetrical deployment of the active wingtips. Tamarack disagrees. It asserts the winglets could not have deployed in the manner the NTSB claims.


Clayton Smeltz became the first person with paraplegia to earn a type rating in the Cirrus SF-50 Vision Jet, equipped with adaptive controls that enable Smeltz to use the rudders and brakes with his hands.

Stratolaunch made the first taxi tests of its enormous Roc twin-fuselage mothership. It hopes to make the first flight of the plane in the coming weeks. By some metrics, Roc is the largest plane in the world (though that said, it hasn’t yet flown, so is it really a plane yet?) Here’s the video!

FlightSafety International has acquired simulator maker Frasca and intends to use its newly acquired property to develop flight-training devices in support of FlightSafety’s training efforts, which focus on large, Level D simulators.


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