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A novel set of software algorithms is giving a University of North Dakota test plane the ability to automatically detect airborne traffic conflicts and take evasive action. The project, using a Cirrus SR22 with a safety pilot on board, has NASA backing and could find its way into cockpits in the coming years. The system uses ADS-B signals to determine the position and closure rate of nearby aircraft. While that data is accurate, it requires that both planes be equipped with ADS-B transponders and other equipment, something that few general aviation aircraft have installed so far. During dozens of tests, UND used a manned Cessna Skyhawk as the intruder aircraft. Each time, the software, driving the Cirrus’ autopilot and a rudimentary autothrottle, successfully made an evasive maneuver to avoid the collision. While the system needs more refining before it’s ready for the market, researchers said it could be key in letting unmanned planes mix with manned aircraft in the National Airspace System.

A British aviation buff who found as many as 60 World War II Spitfire fighter planes in Myanmar earlier this year could start excavating them later this month. David Cundall signed a deal with Myanmar’s government, capping a 16-year personal search for the planes, which he believed had been left behind by Britain’s RAF in 1945. Indeed, the planes appeared to have been greased and wrapped before being crated and buried at the end of a former RAF airfield runway. The planes may been in decent condition, and there is a possibility that some could eventually be restored to airworthiness. While the Spitfire was a lynchpin of Britain’s air force during World War II, with about 20,000 produced, only about 35 are still flying around the world today. The single-engine plane was powered by an engine producing as much as 2,000 horsepower in later models and could cruise at more than 450 mph.

This time next year, Edmonton’s City Centre Airport could be closed for good to make way for new homes and a shopping mall if city leaders get their way. The city set aside $80 million Canadian Dollars (about $81.5 U.S. Dollars) to buy out the 200 people and businesses with an interest at the airport. That includes FBOs, flight schools, repair shops and other businesses based at the general aviation airport just north of downtown Edmonton. The city’s international airport about 10 miles south of the city took over all remaining airline traffic in 1995 from City Centre airport, setting up the smaller airport’s closure. But the Edmonton Flying Club could block the city’s plans with an $18 million lawsuit, claiming that it has a lease to use the airport through 2028. The flying club got the nod from a court last week to seek an injunction against the city, which would put airport shutdown plans on hold, at least temporarily.

Like many homebuilders, Neal Willford spent a decade working on his kit plane before taking it for its first flight recently. But Willford's Thorp T-211 Sky Scooter kit had parts dating from the 1960s, making it something of an aviation time capsule. The T-211 first flew in 1945 and its designer had a hand in making the Piper Cherokee. While there is now a modern LSA version of the Sky Scooter, the original never caught on. The kit pioneered the use of matched hole parts, meaning builders wouldn't have to set up jigs and drill hundreds of holes for rivets. Willford, an engineer at Cessna, helped develop the new SkyCatcher by day as he worked on the T-211 in his free time. Willford built his with a Continental engine from a Cessna 150, giving it enough power to cruise at about 100 knots.

More than a dozen universities and numerous companies will work with the FAA over the next decade to make general aviation safer. The Center of Excellence initiative is part of the FAA's broader effort to reduce GA fatalities by 10 percent by 2018. The agency will spend at least $5 million funding the research initiative, with companies pitching in an equal amount. The sixteen universities across the U.S. will work on a variety of issues affecting general aviation, from airport safety and human factors to weather avoidance and making aircraft systems safer. The FAA has funded several other Centers of Excellence in the last decade, working on topics like ADS-B, improving pilot training and making airplanes quieter.