Plane & Pilot
Wednesday, August 1, 2007

District of Columbia

A turbocharged manifestation of desire

District of ColumbiaWhen you fly different-make and -model airplanes, it can be hard to keep them straight in your radio calls. I’ve called a TBM, flying at FL280, a Cirrus. I’ve called a Diamond Star a Cessna, and I’ve called a Warrior a Husky. Usually, I catch myself immediately and correct my call, but there are times in life when calling something, or someone, by the wrong name can be hazardous to one’s health. A radio call generally isn’t one of them. That’s why I’ve decided to call any airplane I’m pilot-testing, “Baby.” So last week, when I was just getting my feet wet with a 12-hour-old Columbia 400, after botching a few radio calls, the airplane thence became Baby N452BS, and that’s no bravo sierra.

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One of the cooler features of the G1000 MFD is the range ring. With 98 gallons usable and 106 total, the range ring was showing that we could fly all the way to Tucson, Ariz., a little less than 1,000 miles down the road, and land with a 45-minute reserve; so the 400 sure has legs.

We actually didn’t go to Arizona until a couple days later, to take the photos you see on these pages. The 500-mile flight from Van Nuys airport to Page, Ariz., took 1.8 hours, and on that flight, I finally sampled the 400 in the flight levels. Climbing through FL180, the Crew Alerting System (CAS) on the G1000 flashed “Vapor Suppression On,” to suppress fuel vapor. It’s required above FL180, and at FL230—ATC wouldn’t give us FL250—at 31.9 inches MP and 2,500 rpm, we were burning 16 gph lean of peak and scooting along at 212 knots true.

Whenever Doug and I climbed above 12,500 feet, we plugged into the Mountain High O2D2 electronic, pulse-demand, oxygen delivery system. Connected to the 400’s on-board oxygen system, the O2D2 rationed oxygen and sensed our inhaling, giving us only the toot we needed depending on cabin altitude. It worked great and kept us refreshed and headache-free during and after our flights.

Also keeping us headache free was the Avidyne TAS620 Traffic Advisory System. Last time I flew the G1000, it had the transponder-based traffic information system (TIS), which has limited coverage and wasn’t too helpful flying across west Texas. The Avidyne TAS620 is an active system based on TCAS technology employed by air-transport category aircraft. Though there wasn’t too much traffic in the high teens or low- to mid-20s where we flew, in terminal areas and busy airspace like in New York and Los Angeles, traffic systems like Avidyne’s are worth their weight in gold.

Though my final flight for this report was almost a week ago, as I sit to write, I still feel high and am now so spoiled from my three days with the fastest fixed-gear piston single in production. I’d really like to go to Scottsdale to visit a friend this weekend, and I’d really like to do it with the Columbia comfort and speed I became so accustomed to this past week. Columbia, take me away…

2007 Columbia 400


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