Wednesday, March 1, 2006
Customer deliveries have begun!
There has always been some debate about the justification for piston twins. True, the second engine may get you home if one mill quits, but standard asymmetric-thrust multis haven’t exactly enjoyed a sterling safety record. In too many instances, directional control is so tenuous and single-engine performance so marginal that a safe landing on one engine demands that the pilot be flying a perfect airplane and be doing absolutely everything right." />
Adam chose perhaps the premier piston engine available to power the A500, Continental’s turbocharged, intercooled TSIO-550E. The engines put out 350 hp each to a critical altitude of 17,500 feet, and because max gross weight is only 6,300 pounds, power loading works out to a mere 8.4 pounds/hp. That’s the lowest ratio of any corporate twin, and it translates to excellent climb performance—1,800 fpm at best-rate speed. Even if you settle on a cruise climb of 130 to 140 knots, you’ll still see 1,500 fpm.
Modern aircraft engines hardly ever fail these days, but if one does on an A500, sea-level climb is 400 fpm, better than any of the corporate twins listed above. The combination of unaffected directional control and reasonable unimotor performance means a pilot need merely concentrate on cleaning up the airplane and hitting the proper Vyse.
Single-engine service ceiling is listed at 15,000 feet, so in theory at least, the A500 should be able to maintain altitude on one mill above the highest mountain in the continental United States. Under more normal circumstances, Adam’s test data suggests the airplane should cruise 230 knots at FL250 on about 40 to 42 gph.
Adam launched the A500 program six years ago when he contracted Burt Rutan to design a six-seat, push-pull twin, adaptable to both pistons and turbines. “I really liked Rutan’s V-Jet, the airplane he built for Sam Williams,” says Adam. “What I was asking him to do was slightly different, however—create a twin-boom, centerline-thrust piston airplane with good parts commonality to a jet. Just as with the V-Jet, though, Rutan outdid himself and came up with a design that was even better than I’d hoped.”
Far from a brash risk-taker, Adam is a West Point graduate who made his fortune in the computer business, transitioned to a successful career as a broker with Goldman Sachs and set up shop for the piston A500 and jet A700 at Denver’s Centennial Airport in 2000. The A500’s first flight came in 2002, and the FAA granted a preliminary day/VFR type certificate in May 2005.
Before you dismiss day/VFR approval for a hard IFR airplane, consider that both the Gulfstream IV and V were first approved for day/VFR before they achieved full day/night VFR/IFR certification. Adam Aircraft expects to have full certification in early 2006.
Adam delivered the first production aircraft at NBAA to a Colorado Springs chiropractor, Mike Leahy, in early November of 2005. Leahy is a former USAF instructor and fighter pilot with 3,000 hours in T-37s, T-38s and F4s, so he knows a thing or three about high-performance airplanes.
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Labels: Piston Twins