Ten Cool Things We Learned at FLYING’s Virtual Event

Key figures across aviation took part in FLYING’s first virtual event: “What’s Next in General Aviation: A Virtual Event Presented by FlightSafety.”

FLYING‘s first virtual event gave us plenty of things to think about regarding the future of aviation. FLYING

It’s not every day you get the opportunity to hear inside information about the general aviation industry from such a wide variety of leaders, pioneers, and innovators. Key figures across manufacturing, avionics, experimental, STOL, sustainable fuels, and co-ownership took part Wednesday in FLYING’s first virtual event: “What’s Next in General Aviation: A Virtual Event Presented by FlightSafety.”

In case you missed it, here are a few highlights and takeaways.

1. New Aircraft Are Changing the GA Landscape

Gulfstream president Mark Burns shared details about a “whole new pipeline of airplanes” coming from the iconic manufacturer. Burns talks about the excitement surrounding these innovative jets, including the ultralong-range Gulfstream G700.

Cirrus Aircraft has turned heads with innovative designs such as the SR22 and SF50 Vision Jet. President of customer experience Todd Simmons explained how Cirrus plans to redefine GA flying.

There’s a new single-engine speed demon in the sky. Epic Aircraft CEO Doug King talked with FLYING about the reasons why the E1000 won FLYING’s 2020 Innovation Award. What’s new at Epic? Hint: 1,200 horsepower and a climb rate of 4,000 feet per minute.

In a way, Icon Aircraft has created an entirely new niche for GA. Chris Buchholz, vice president, international for Icon told FLYING that the company is expanding to new international markets and focusing on a fresh version of their unique amphibious aircraft.

It’s an exciting time for fans of trainers and cabin-class turboprops. Piper vice president of sales, marketing and customer support Ron Gunnarson gave us some perspective.

The next generation of Van’s Aircraft is coming soon. The Van’s brand has become iconic for a reason. Greg Hughes explained why and shared a few exciting details about the upcoming model.

2. Drones and eVTOL Are Driving a New Age in Aviation

A team of aerospace companies called The AIRO Group are taking advantage of emerging and intersecting technologies around advanced air mobility by creating a new set of aviation products for a new era in aviation. One of the leaders at AIRO, John Uczekaj, CEO of Aspen Avionics, said we’re entering a growth period in the aviation industry that we haven’t seen in a long time.

3. ‘King of STOL’ Invented a Wild Aviation Sport

The High Sierra Fly-In is kind of a “Burning Man” celebration for short takeoff and landing (STOL) aircraft. High Sierra founder Kevin Quinn offers us a peek at this unique backcountry event and shares the inside story about what inspired the new aviation sport known as STOL Drag.

Just Aircraft makes STOL kits and ships them around the world from their South Carolina factory in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. We talked with co-owner Gary Schmitt, who shared some fun stories about how the company creates its popular single-engine, STOL airplanes.

4. New Avionics Are Improving GA

General aviation is entering the era of artificial intelligence. AI will help pilots with visual positioning, traffic detection, hazard avoidance, and landing guidance. Avidyne founder and president Dan Schwinn introduces us to PilotEye, the first AI-based onboard pilot aid system.

Vice president and general manager of Honeywell Aerospace Vipul Gupta told us about several new innovations in the avionics space, including the merging of tablet aviation apps with aircraft avionics.

Dynon Avionics has expanded from providing avionics for homebuilt and light sport aircraft to nearly 600 type-certified airplanes. Dynon Avionics director of marketing Michael Schofield took time to give us details.

5. Flight Sim Training Is Getting More Realistic

In a flight simulator, the lessons learned are only as good as the data in the sim. What if the sim data came from actual flights in the real world? Guess what? That’s happening. We got details from FlightSafety International executive vice president, safety and regulatory compliance Richard Meikle.

Redbird Flight Simulations is coming out with a new hardware line surrounding Cirrus aircraft. Redbird also has a new proficiency app for highly engaged pilots. Redbird vice president of marketing Josh Harnagel shared a preview with us.

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6. Tragedy Inspired a Lifesaving Technology

The tragic 1999 aircraft accident that killed pro-golfer Payne Stewart along with five other passengers and crew, was on the minds of Garmin engineers when they came up with their truly amazing Autoland safety feature. It ended up winning the Collier Trophy and FLYING’s 2021 Innovation Award. Garmin executive vice president and managing director Phil Straub shared the story with us.

7. We Learned About Several New Developments in Electric Airplanes

Certification of the historic eFlyer2 is expected next year. Electric aircraft pioneer George Bye, founder, CEO and chairman of Colorado-based Bye Aerospace gave us the latest on his first-of-its-kind aircraft and how he got hooked on flying.

Austria’s Diamond Aircraft just took a big step into the future. After years of experimenting with electric hybrids, Diamond has unveiled plans to launch its first fully-electric airplane. Head of sales and marketing Annemarie Mercedes Heikenwalder shared the facts with FLYING about the eDA40 electric trainer as well as Diamond’s new DA50RG—the first new single-engine retractable in years.

Pipistrel continues to innovate, with its Panthera, carbon fiber, single-engine four-seater and the Velis Electro—the world’s first type-certified electric airplane. We got the scoop from Right Rudder Aviation’s Andrew Chan.

It sounds counterintuitive, but some paths to aviation’s electric future go through older airplane designs. MagniX CEO Roei Ganzarski explains how the initial phase of electric aviation involves retrofitting existing platforms as well as embracing new ones.

8. Necessity Drove Invention of Unique AirCam

As Phil Lockwood explained to FLYING, he designed his one-of-a-kind, twin-engine, two-seater, tandem AirCam to snap better photographs. As AirCam fans know quite well, flying low and slow in an open cockpit offers thrilling and spectacular views.

9. There Are New Ways to Own an Airplane

Sharing ownership of a business airplane can save you money and let you step up to the next level of aircraft. Mark Molloy, president of Partners in Aviation, told us how his unique idea turned into a kind of matchmaking business.

Jet It—a hybrid fractional ownership program—offers pilots convenient access to the HondaJet. Jet It handles maintenance, aircraft management, and insurance. Founder and CEO Glenn Gonzalez says it’s a great option for pilots thinking about buying their own airplane in the future.

10. Future of GA Fuel Includes SAF

This year has seen a lot of movement in the aviation industry toward increased use of sustainable aviation fuel—aka SAF. It’s made by mixing conventional fuel with various renewable materials including cooking oil, plant oils, agricultural residues, and municipal waste. It burns cleaner and can reduce your carbon footprint. In the video, JSSI’s chairman emeritus and special advisor Louis Seno gives us the lowdown on how SAF is becoming more available to GA pilots.

Thanks to everyone who joined us for this first FLYING Virtual Event. Follow FLYING on Facebook and Twitter for updates on upcoming aviation events.

Thom is a former senior editor for FLYING. Previously, his freelance reporting appeared in aviation industry magazines. Thom also spent three decades as a TV and digital journalist at CNN’s bureaus in Washington and Atlanta, eventually specializing in aviation. He has reported from air shows in Oshkosh, Farnborough and Paris. Follow Thom on Twitter @thompatterson.

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