Tuesday, August 1, 2006
The New Mooney Acclaim
EXCLUSIVE! First look at the world’s fastest production airplane
Adapt, overcome and have fun—Mooney has done it again! Whether it’s staving off financial troubles, or innovating new products, Mooney has experienced some ups and downs in recent years. With the brand-new Acclaim, however, they’ve raised the bar. You want fast, you want improved climb rate, you want known ice with air-conditioning, you want to carry a respectable load? In short, if you want to fly higher, faster and farther, then get a new Mooney Acclaim.
Successful designs often evolve. It’s nature’s way of adapting to changing environments, and effective designers make it work for airplanes as well. The Acclaim began with a good airframe, which Mooney fine-tuned for speed! According to Gretchen Jahn, Mooney’s CEO, “Mooney is all about speed, and for us it’s logical that we’d continue to develop the product line. Incorporating the next generation of turbocharging technology and a turbonormalizing system is only natural.”
Bill Eldred, Mooney’s director of engineering asserts, “We wanted to streamline the assembly line, and the Bravo, firewall forward, is totally different from the Ovation. The Bravo’s Lycoming is a good engine, and we never had problems with it, but the goal was to achieve a little more commonality with the Ovation and the Continental IO-550-G. We have a very smart aero engineer, Dan Apel, who ran the analysis during the Acclaim’s planning stages, and he predicted the performance gain with the Acclaim’s derated IO-550-G almost exactly.”
The Acclaim claims a speed gain that’s slightly over seven percent, which vaults it into the rarified company of turboprops, sharing the title of fastest single with the Columbia 400. Even money would probably see the Acclaim win a race with its increased range and fuel capacity. Though it’s predicted to reach true airspeeds of 230 knots, the airplane has actually seen 233 knots in its flight tests. A tweak here and there, and the Acclaim might legitimately claim the title of world’s fastest production piston single.
Eldred shares some of the planning considerations, “We went to twin turbos to relieve the workload on a single turbocharger and improve the spool-up, or engine response time. The twin turbos also gave us some freedom to rework the cowling. So far we haven’t seen the need for cowl flaps, and the engine is running very cool! We’re working on a joint program with TCM [Teledyne Continental Motors] to develop lean-of-peak charts for the Acclaim. The TCM test program starts in June, and we hope to have results by the time the aircraft receives its FAA certification.”
In engine-speak, Mooney not only derated the IO-550-G, but also limited the twin turbos to 33 inches in order to turbonormalize the engine. At that setting, the turbocharger allows the engine to produce 280 hp to a critical altitude above 20,000 feet. The Acclaim can easily reach the service ceiling of 25,000 feet at a climb rate of 1,240 fpm—no slouch by any measure. With true airspeeds greater than 0.4 Mach, this Mooney is a flight-level player above most any weather.
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Labels: Piston Singles