The New Mooney Acclaim
EXCLUSIVE! First look at the world’s fastest production airplane
“We added new wingtips, which enhance the styling of the airplane and promise an incremental improvement in performance. This is another of [Dan] Apel’s innovations, and it improves maintenance by doing away with the enclosed tip lights. These new “mini-fin” tips will be available for retrofit on older Moonies,” elaborates Eldred.
The new Garmin autopilot is tightly integrated with the G1000 flat-panel display system and will allow the addition of a flight director to an already impressive system. Eldred continues, “We expect the new Garmin GFC 700 autopilot to complete certification tests by July and be fully integrated with the production line by September.”
Much has been written about the Garmin G1000 system and, for those who haven’t flown with it, the bottom line is that Garmin has integrated a flight management system that rivals the sophisticated and easy-to-use systems found on business jets and airliners. The ultimate in presenting situational awareness, the G1000 puts everything a pilot needs, including datalink weather, where he or she wants to see it, all in an easy-to-maintain modular package.
Mooney airplanes have long had a reputation as economical speed demons, and the Acclaim sets the flag farther down the field. The Acclaim’s evolutionary design improves on the wing that was first designed by Al Mooney more than four decades ago. Incorporating a single massive spar, the wing is built as a unit and mated to the airplane, much the way the P-51 Mustang was built in World War II. In fact, there are further similarities between the Mustang and Mooney wings. Like the Mustang wing, the Acclaim retains laminar flow throughout two-thirds of its chord and is one of the most efficient in production today. The factory tested the wing to a 14 G breaking point, and the wing is rumored to have experienced a 12 G recovery during an owner-flown upset situation without failure. You wouldn’t expect an executive travel machine to be more capable than the hottest jet fighter or aerobatic airplane in existence.
To quote Paul Arrambide, an engineering test pilot, “This is a strong airplane!” Of course, Mooney doesn’t advertise the airplane’s true strength, but building anything less wouldn’t be worthy of the Mooney brand name.
A truly capable single-engine airplane must provide for performance in adverse conditions while maintaining passenger comfort. The Acclaim sports TKS known-ice capability for rough winter weather and air-conditioning for hot southern comfort. Lighting and air controls at each seat enhance the passengers’ experience. To compliment the G1000, Precise Flight speed brakes make speed and altitude control easy. The torque-tube flight-control system gives the pilot a firm “in-control” feel in any situation and the System Annunciator alerts for any system fault. Ergonomic leather seats and a roll cage (which is reminiscent of NASCAR racers) surround the cockpit; AmSafe air bags incorporated into the seat belts round out the Acclaim’s safety features.
Mooney paid attention to other fine details, like individual rear seats that can recline for comfort, or be removed to increase baggage storage. Speaking of baggage, the flat floor can accommodate square suitcases, golf clubs or large coolers through an easily accessed door.
In the airplane business, customer service and support are often overlooked. Mooney already has one of the best warranties in the business, but the company also aspires to a level of customer service that would make a Lexus dealer blush with envy. Along with service, Mooney has concentrated on solving the perennial training issue. New owners receive a four-day checkout program at the factory that introduces them to all the components, planning and operation of the sophisticated G1000 system, all in accordance with the FAA’s Industry Training Standards (FITS). To handle initial and recurrent training, Mooney has contracted some serious instructors at Flight Training, Inc., of San Antonio,Tex., who average several thousand Mooney hours apiece. They specialize in G1000 training and all aspects of Mooney flying. If you want to join the ranks of Mooniacs (Mooney owners and pilots), these folks can show you the way.
To put it mildly, any airplane that can top 230 knots in the flight levels has to be a complex sophisticated craft, and the Acclaim is no exception. Some complex airplanes trade the fun of flight for that last erg of performance, but not the Acclaim. If you judge an airplane by how it handles, the newest Mooney will win you over!
SPECS: Mooney M20 TN Acclaim