Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Aviat Husky A-1C
A venerable bush plane turns visionary
|The lights of Lakeland, Fla., sparkle a thousand feet below, a pointillist painting on a black canvas. Yet despite the darkness, I can clearly distinguish open fields, forested tracts, clumps of trees, a couple of large ungulates—either horses or cows—even a narrow, sandy beach on a lake that should be invisible. All I have to do is glance at the small monitor sitting on the glare shield of the Aviat Husky A-IC.|
|The high-wing Husky features tandem seating and dual controls.|
“The primary objective was a useful-load increase,” says Horn. “The list of options and equipment we can install in the airplane has grown. And everything weighs a few pounds—a few pounds here, a few pounds there—so I was wondering: What’s the maximum structural capability and the maximum realistic load potential of this airplane?”
The wing, fuselage, tail and landing-gear structures were tested to determine load-bearing limits. The fuselage and wing were found capable of handling several hundred additional pounds while maintaining a hefty safety margin. The landing gear, however, couldn’t handle increased loads quite as well, particularly when the lateral forces associated with operations on skis were factored in. The tail assembly also needed strengthening to handle the loads the wing and fuselage could bear. Ultimately, Horn decided to raise the gross weight by 200 pounds, though he knows it can handle more.
“I decided on 2,200 pounds because we know how we all are,” Horn says. “If I tell you to stop at 2,200, I know you’re going to have a margin above that. And I wanted the handling at 2,200 pounds to be the equivalent of handling at 2,000 pounds, so an A-1C pilot wouldn’t discern that he’s carrying 200 more pounds.”
Despite the focus on weight, the A-1C adds some aerodynamic improvements of its own to the Husky: extended semifowler flaps (for shorter takeoffs and landings) and advanced-performance ailerons. And the spades have been eliminated from under the wings, providing more stability and probably sparing a few people from lacerations.
|Stu Horn is proud that the Husky is the first piston aircraft with EVS as an OEM option.|
The A-1C is available in both 180 hp and 200 hp configurations, and four different propellers are approved for the aircraft, giving a wide choice in balancing preference for takeoff and landing performance with cruise speed.
Welch has taken the controls for a low pass over X49, South Lakeland Airpark, two miles south of Lakeland Linder Airport (LAL). It’s unlighted and not visible to the naked eye, but looking at the monitor, we could have easily put it down on the turf if we had to.
We may not be in the bush, but as we head back to LAL over namesake bodies of water, I realize that it could be Husky country, after all. Aviat is certifying the A-1C for amphibious floats. Previously, the Husky’s carrying capacity on floats limited its utility. But thanks to the gross-weight increase, an amphib A-1C will have an impressive useful load of more than 700 pounds.
And who knows what other changes lie ahead for the Husky? Even the EVS can’t see that. When Horn bought Aviat in late 1995, he was a real-estate developer from the New York area—with no experience in aviation—who was looking to do something different with his life. Now he’s an avid pilot, eager to incorporate his enthusiasm into every airplane the company builds.
“I know what I don’t know now,” Horn says about the difference in running the company today compared to when he first bought it. “But because I use the airplane, I’m always saying, ‘I wish I could do this’ or ‘I wish I had that.’ So between that and input from our customers, there’s no shortage on the wish list of things we want to do."
SPECS: Aviat Husky A-1C-200
|EVS Technology |
|At the heart of today’s enhanced vision systems (EVS) are infrared sensors that detect long-wave infrared (LWIR) emissions invisible to the human eye. All matter above absolute zero emits heat, which infrared sensors can use to create a thermal image. The infrared sensors gather the information on the differences in thermal energy, and the data is processed to create an image display on a screen in wavelengths that can be seen and interpreted by the human eye. The eight- to 12-micron band is the range for detecting LWIR emissions through smog, fog, smoke and darkness. Therefore, this bandwidth provides maximum “atmospheric transmission” (the term denotes LWIR emissions’ ability to penetrate the atmosphere). |
Forward.Vision’s thermal camera imaging system clearly displays the runway threshold (left), horizon, terrain, such as highways (right), and anything else in front of the airplane in pitch-black night.
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