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News Letter 25 July 2019

Good day all

To all those unfortunate souls that are constantly being bombarded with friend’s social media post from Oshkosh, I feel your pain, it will be over soon.   

Meanwhile for us poor sods that didn’t get to go to Oshkosh there are still events taking place. The Air Navigation Race  (ANR) National are currently under way a Brits Airfield.

Today – Training Day, 4 routes available courtesy Jonty, it is your choice to fly as many of the 4 routes you like. There will be a glide approach landing to be done after returning from any of the routes.

This competition is open to anybody to take part in any or all the available routes, only teams intending to qualify for the Worlds are required to complete the four Nationals Official routes.

Note that although times as given below, will accommodate and adjust based on weather conditions.

Thursday – Briefing 08.30

Prac Route 1 – Papers 09.00

Prac Route 1 – Papers 11.00

Prac Route 1 – Papers 13.00

Prac Route 1 – Papers 15.00

Friday – Briefing 08.30

Nationals Route 1 – Papers 09.30

Nationals Route 2 – Papers  12.00

Saturday – Briefing 08.30

Nationals Route 3 – Papers 09.30

Nationals Route 4 – Papers  12.00

Results and Prize Giving – 15:00

On Saturday Microland will host yet another Tailwinds Fly-in The event was moved from 20 July to 27 July due to the weather. Everybody is welcome.

The latest Beast from the Extra Stable- The Extra NG

Aerobatic airplanes aren’t exactly known for comfort, at least models meant for world-class competition. At Oshkosh on Monday, however, Extra Aircraft rolled out its newest model that’s supposed to be both a step up in performance and cradles the pilot in a luxurious seat in front of avionics not common in older aerobatic machines.

“What differentiates this aircraft from the others is that it’s just another step forward. We have more performance; we have more manoeuvrability. It’s a huge leap forward in terms of comfort. I’ve never been in a cockpit close to this, at least when it comes to aerobatic aircraft,” said Walter Extra, following the unveiling of the Extra NG on Monday.

“I was reluctant to do a composite fuselage for a long time because I really appreciate the behaviour of tubular fuselages when they are exposed to partial overload. You have redundant safety in tubular structures and that’s very important to me,” Extra said. The NG is equipped with a rigid full-carbon fuselage structure and a carbon fibre wing assembly with integral fuel tanks. In front of a titanium firewall, it has a 315-HP Lycoming AEIO-580-B1A swinging a Muhbauer three-blade composite prop. Extra declined to discuss the details of how carbon fibre was used in the NG because he has filed from a patent on the methods used.

The carbon fibre fuselage directly impacted cabin comfort. “Since there’s no more tubular structure inhibiting your elbow clearance, we have gained a lot of room. It’s much roomier. I think the front seat comfort comes close to the comfort you were used to in the rear seat,” Extra added.

Boeing Could Temporarily Close The 737 MAX Production Line

Yesterday, Boeing posted their biggest loss in history, as the impact of the 737 MAX grounding starts to bite. The manufacturer has warned of the possibility of stopping production of the 737 MAX temporarily if no end to the grounding is forthcoming soon.

In their second-quarter earnings call, CEO Dennis Muilenburg noted that any further delays to approval could result in a further slowdown of production rates, or even of a temporary shutdown altogether. He said that this was not something Boeing wants to do, but that it’s “an alternative that we have to prepare for … to make sure we’ve covered all scenarios.”

The earnings call highlighted the impact to Boeing of the MAX grounding, as the company reported losses of $2.9bn, compared to a $2.2bn profit in the same period last year.

Already Boeing has cut the rate of production as a result of the grounding. In April, the manufacturer slowed production by around 20% to just 42 aircraft a month. Since then, they have been maintaining that level of production but hadn’t anticipated the grounding dragging on for anything like as long as it already has.

As a result, numerous 737 MAX planes have started to pile up outside the production facility in Renton, as well as in their storage facility in Texas. Last month was revealed that even part of the staff car park had been taken over as additional storage space. With timescales for lifting the ban still very much uncertain, Boeing is faced with a major problem in terms of storing completed airframes.

Bloomberg analyst George Ferguson noted that just endlessly building 737 MAXs wasn’t going to work for Boeing, saying, that a fourth-quarter restart for the Max remains the likeliest outcome, especially with FAA officials working on-site with Boeing on a resolution. However, he noted that,“…if something happens to extend that, they can’t just keep building planes.”

Muilenburg seems to be of the same mindset, stating in the earnings call that cutting production further could become a possibility. He said that,

“Should our estimate of the anticipated return to service change, we might need to consider possible further rate reductions or other options including a temporary shutdown of the MAX production … a temporary shutdown of production line could be more efficient than a sustained lower production rate”

Should the ban be lifted in the fourth quarter, however, the CEO noted that they would plan to ramp up production to 57 a month by 2020. Even then, Boeing warned that there could be delays in delivering new aircraft to customers due to the current reduced rate.

So far, Boeing says that the software package has been developed, but is yet to be submitted to regulators. A number of other requirements needed to be filled in order to achieve re-certification of the type, all of which Muilenburg was positive about in the earnings call.

In it, the CEO said that everything was approaching being ready to submit to the FAA, and that Boeing planned to do so in September. Boeing has tentatively said that they hope the fixes will be approved for a test flight in October. Should the fixes be approved, this would still leave time for the 737 MAX to return to service in the fourth quarter of the year.

However, all this hinges on a lot of ‘what if’s. Should any further problems arise or any of the fixes be deemed to be insufficient, going back to the drawing board could add weeks or even months to the timeline for return to service.

Clearly, Boeing is as keen, if not keener, than any of the MAX operators to see this aircraft back it the sky. Every week that drags on into the unprecedented grounding period is another week of costs, losses and uncertainty for the manufacturer to bear.

Game Composites earns FAA production certificate

Aerobatic aircraft manufacturer Game Composites of Bentonville recently received a production certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), with plans to increase the production of its GB1 GameBird aerobatic airplane.

The certificate allows the company to determine whether the airplanes it manufactures are airworthy, CEO Philipp Steinbach said. It’s the first time in 23 years such a certificate has been issued to a general aviation manufacturer, according to a news release. Previously, the FAA certified each airplane individually.

“This document is the result of two years of work,” Steinbach said. “The FAA has been here for the last two years, every two weeks for two days plus to check everything we do along the way — the way we handle things that go well and not so well. Now, they decided our quality system is good enough to give airplanes to people.”

The company makes the GB1 GameBird at its 40,000-square-foot building at Bentonville Municipal Airport, and the first airplane that was built at the Bentonville facility flew for the first time in November, he said. The second took flight in January. So far, seven have been delivered to their owners.

Game Composites has sold 30 airplanes and was recently working to finish building the 12th of those. The company’s 34 employees can make one airplane about every month, and by the end of the year, Steinbach hopes to have 40 employees and the capacity to build two per month.

Steuart Walton, grandson of Walmart founder Sam Walton, is Steinbach’s business partner. “The GB1 GameBird is truly innovation at its best, and I couldn’t be happier for the team and what they’ve accomplished in reaching this major milestone,” Walton said. “It’s so exciting to think about their path forward as a real contributor to the aviation community and Bentonville at-large.”

Scott Kagebein, aircraft safety inspector for the FAA, has been working on the certification project for the past two years and presented the certificate to Steinbach and Game Composites employees. Before receiving the certificate, the company was building the aircraft under a type certificate, and each airplane was FAA certified individually.

“Now, they are all built per their drawings, and they are good to go as soon as they get built,” Kagebein said. “It’s a big accomplishment for them.”

In 2017, Game Composites received the type certificate, which defined the airplane. The production certificate defines the company and how it builds the airplane, Steinbach said. Since the previous certificate, very little has changed with the airplane, but it has been updated to include the newest electronics.

The $400,000 airplane can fly up to 300 mph and travel 1,000 nautical miles, or about 1,150 miles. The company is pre-revenue. “Before we can talk revenue, that’s probably a year out,” Steinbach said.