Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Mustang Teaching Machine?

Flying the airplane is easy. Mastering the systems is the challenge.

In The Air
The TTx's Intrinzic flight deck introduces the new touch-screen Garmin G2000. Seven years ago, when I flew the first Garmin Gee Whiz 1000 that was to eventually dominate the industry, I was impressed by the exponential improvement in avionics technology. The G2000, first announced at Sun 'n Fun 2011, very well may be as far ahead of that initial flat-screen system as was the G1000 above steam gauges.

Much of the magic is in the Garmin GTC570 touch-screen controller, a small panel on the lower center console. This is a marvel of miniaturization that allows a pilot to program comm frequency, navigation and mode information, plus environmental control and intercom commands, all through a single, 5.7-inch console.

The GTC570 features large icons backed by infrared sensors (that respond to heat), and it's designed to keep fingerprints off those big, beautiful, 14-inch, GDU1400 displays.

The TTx has a zero-fuel weight of 3,300 pounds against its 3,600-pound gross weight. In other words, all weight above 3,300 pounds must be fuel. This is intended as a hedge to minimize loads on the wing-spar carry-through structure. If you depart at max gross weight, you'll need at least 50 gallons on board.

Ortega and I departed Wichita MidContinent with 75 gallons in the tanks and climbed up to 12,500 feet to see what the airplane would do at breathable heights. Despite the fierce heat, the TTx elevated above the flat Kansas plains at an easy 1,100 fpm, ascending at cruise climb speed to keep the engine cool. Once we leveled, the G2000 suggested we were flying at ISA +23 degrees C, not exactly optimum cruise conditions.

Still, running the big Continental at max cruise settings, 2,400 and 31 inches mp, with best power dialed in, we saw 193 knots true on about 21 gph. Pulled back to 50 degrees lean of peak, fuel burn dropped to 15.5 gph, but speed maintained 182 knots, certainly a fair trade.

Using that setting for cross-country travel, we could have endured for 5.5 hours, worth nearly 1,000 nm. Cessna claims a maximum 1,250 nm range at long-range settings. That would allow one-stop transcontinental hops across most of the U.S., and as we witnessed on a sizzling Wichita, washboard afternoon, the Corvalis high-wing loading imparts a ride that's placid and serene even when the sky isn't.

The oxygen system wasn't operational for our flight, but a previous hop in a Corvalis TT to 17,500 feet suggested a cruise of 213 knots. Another flight in the predecessor Columbia 400 to FL250 granted us 222 knots max cruise.

Cruise checks complete, we cleared the area and tried a series of stalls and a few other maneuvers to check the Garmin Electronic Stability Protection System. This is an attitude monitor that guards against operation outside the normal flight envelope. I decelerated to 80 knots, and wrapped the airplane over to a 60 degree bank, simulating a left departure stall.


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