1. Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA) has certified the Pipistrel Alpha Electro in its advanced ultralight category, the first certification of an electric aircraft in North America.

  2. The FAA and NTSB are now mulling the circumstances of a relatively minor helicopter crash in South Carolina that may go down in history as the first U.S. aircraft crash caused by a drone.

  3. A company in Wyoming has secured FAA approval to start flight tests with a large twin-engine drone, the Flyox Mark II, built by Singular Aircraft of Barcelona, Spain. The amphibious drone has a 35-foot wingspan and can carry up to 4,000 pounds of water for dropping on forest fires. According to Singular, it’s the world’s largest amphibious drone, and can be used for agricultural work, freight transport, border surveillance and rescue missions. Unmanned Aircraft International, headquartered in Casper, Wyoming, will conduct the flight tests.

  4. FBOs and local airports across Canada have been affected by a quarantine of avgas following a quality control problem at the only refinery that makes 100LL in Canada.

  5. The FAA has published an Airworthiness Directive affecting an estimated 2,147 Cessna twin-engine airplanes, requiring the owners or operators to inspect the spar caps, and if cracks are found, replace the carry-through spar. Sixteen models in the 400-series are listed in the AD, along with serial numbers for each type. If no cracks are found, the inspection must be repeated every 50 hours. If cracks are found, the airplane is grounded until the spar can be replaced.

  6. The FAA said this week it plans to spend $100 million in Phase II of its CLEEN (Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions, and Noise) program, working with industry partners to develop new aircraft and engine technologies that are more efficient and quieter, and advance the development of alternative jet fuels. The program aims to enhance environmental protections and also allow for sustained aviation growth.

  7. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is offering a free, two-week online class focusing on aircraft maintenance, running from Feb. 26 to March 11. The course, which is open to the public, will be taught by ERAU faculty as well as experts from the aviation industry. “Our students will get a real-world look at the industry, from multiple perspectives,” said Bettina Mrusek, lead faculty member for the course. “We are not only focused on the maintenance technician, but also on those supervising and leading them.”

  8. Current laws limit the ability of the FAA to regulate drone operations, to the detriment of safety, according to a joint letter to Congress released by ALPA, NATCA and Airlines for America on Tuesday. “Small drones are very difficult to visually acquire by pilots in flight or by air traffic controllers in the tower,” the statement says, “and small drones do not currently have electronic anti-collision technologies that are compatible with airline collision avoidance systems.”

  9. Voom, the on-demand helicopter service that Airbus launched in Sao Paulo last April as part of its A^3 incubator program, is now officially part of Airbus Helicopters, the company announced on Tuesday. Voom has flown thousands of passengers, and the company plans to expand its operations this year. “Urban transportation on and below ground is reaching its limits, and naturally Airbus is looking to the skies to redefine a third axis for public transportation solutions,” said Matthieu Louvot, a vice president with Airbus Helicopters.

  10. The FAA appears to be ramping up its promotion of ADS-B equipage now that the clock is really ticking on getting the gear.

  11. The pilot at the controls of a Learjet 35A until just before it crashed in Teterboro last year should not have been flying, according to documents released by the NTSB this week. Company policy required that first officers with a rating of 0, on a scale of 0 to 4, were not permitted to fly the aircraft, though they could occupy the right seat. The first officer, who had logged 1,167 hours of flight time, had been rated 0, but was at the controls for most of the flight, from Philadelphia to Teterboro.

  12. The U.S. Air Force detailed plans to address its aircrew shortage and modernize its fleet in the Fiscal Year 2019 budget request released on Monday. “There is a bow wave of modernization over the next 10 years,” said Heather Wilson, secretary of the Air Force, in a statement posted online. “Bombers, fighters, tankers, satellites, helicopters and our nuclear deterrent – they are all going to be modernized,” she said. The budget requests funding for the purchase of 48 F-35A Lightning II fighters, 15 KC-46 Pegasus tankers and continued development of the B-21 Raider bomber.