Have you ever driven a Ferrari? A Ferrari is like no other, a bit hard to climb into, but once you’re there, you become part of the car. Acceleration, braking, turning, a Ferrari does everything fast, with a solid in-control feedback you feel in your whole body. It looks as fast as it drives.
Mooney’s newest Ovation2 is like that. The difference is that the Ovation2 will beat a Ferrari on less horsepower—not around the corner, but across the country. As a matter of fact, it challenges all current piston singles to a race and bows to none. To top it all off, Garmin’s new G1000 panel transforms the Mooney into a serious 21st-century go-places airplane.
The interesting thing is that today, most airplane and car factories are modern examples of assembly lines and high-tech ovens (can you imagine baking your airplane?). Both Ferrari and Mooney make airplanes the old-fashioned way—by hand, one at a time.
Mooney has traditionally focused on speed by squeezing every erg out of the engine and shaping the airflow. In 1955, Mooney produced the 150-hp M20 for the first time; with wood wings and tail, the airplane would cruise in the 140-knot range. A metal tail followed in 1958 and metal wings in 1961. Simple, smooth and fast has always been the credo underlying Mooney’s product development. “Strong” also is a catchword for the M20—the main spar is a one-piece design tested over 9 G’s and the tube fuselage acts as a roll cage to keep the occupants protected. Creature comforts sometimes took a backseat to performance, so to speak.
Eventually, Mooney recognized the need for more room and extended the fuselage for the short-lived PFM Porsche-powered M20L. The longer fuselage evolved into the TLS and is the staple of today’s Bravo and Ovation line.
The Ovation2 Continental engine is a normally aspirated IO-550G, making the airplane Mooney’s most powerful to date. By limiting the rpm to 2,500, the engine is de-rated to 280 hp from 300 hp. The most significant effect of limiting the horsepower is the 300-hour TBO extension, bringing the engine to a 2,000-hour overhaul interval while still providing a 190-knot cruise at non-oxygen altitudes. For another $51,000, the turbocharged Bravo GX will post 214 knots at FL250. Either airplane will give any of the plastic airplanes a run for their avgas.
A standard-equipped Ovation2 is an incredibly capable airplane. Dual alternators, electrical buses and batteries add a comforting level of redundancy. Mid-Continent’s new 4300 Life Saver Electric Attitude Indicator with a battery backup is icing on the cake. The Precise Flight speed brakes enable you to get down from the flight levels in a hurry. But for going anywhere, anytime, options like the TKS Known Ice Protection System, REIFF engine heaters, oxygen systems, airbags, leather seats and air conditioning enable you to tailor your airplane for any mission and comfort level you can imagine. Add traffic and terrain awareness equipment and the airplane rivals anything that’s rolling off the factory floor today, including the heavy iron.
What makes it so special is the newly certified G1000 Integrated Avionics System. And you can bet when Garmin says “integrated,” they mean integrated. The Air Force uses the term “situational awareness” to describe detailed knowledge of your flying environment. The G1000 offers that and more, with solid-state Attitude and Heading Reference Systems (AHRS).
Easy to see and right at your fingertips are the two 10-inch G1000 multi-function displays. All engine performance data can be displayed, and if a limit is exceeded, a warning will alert you of the problem. The warning system includes a voice in the background telling you that you forgot your gear, or that you’re too fast or slow. For those worried about terrain, a Class-B TAWS and detailed topographic maps are included—you pick the scale. Traffic information comes from TIS Mode-S data with provisions for future traffic avoidance technology (like ADS-B). If it’s weather you want, lightning detection can be included or you can activate your subscription through XM Radio’s WxWorx and radio shows, delivered via the standard GDL-69A. The WxWorx product has weather good enough to do your own TV show.
The G1000’s electronic instruments deliver the same information general-aviation pilots are accustomed to getting from steam gauges, but with subtle and significant differences. Airspeed, altitude and vertical speed are all there; the actual numbers are displayed on a moving tape. But the interesting thing is that Vx and VY are marked on the tape as well as airspeed limitations, like Vne and stall. They’re graphical and easy to see, allowing you to interpret them at a glance. Trend and deviation recognition become no-brainers. The horizontal information display is selectable between a generic rose HSI, or an arc, all overlaid on the attitude, which is, by the way, displayed on a full screen. With the horizon line stretching from one side to the other of the 10-inch screen, it becomes consummately easy to detect, set and correct roll and pitch movements.
Of course, it will take a little time to get used to flying with all that information in places we aren’t used to. Fortunately, Mooney thought of that and provides factory transition training for pilots in Kerrville, Texas. FlightSafety of San Antonio, Texas, will teach the new owner how to get the most out of this incredible avionics system. The Ovation2 with the G1000 avionics system accounts for 75% of all new Mooneys on order.
With the Garmin G1000 system, it’s easy to focus on all the gee-whiz capability of the avionics, but that leaves out a large part of the Mooney equation. Paying close attention to aerodynamics, Mooney has created a slippery airplane. Push and pull rods for the flight control system result in an extremely positive feel; there’s no delay or doubt as to who is flying the airplane. Crisp roll response and a positive pitch feel round out the solid ride and sports-car-like handling of the Ovation2. The real test comes at the stall—is the airplane sloppy? Does it fall off on a wing? Does it give you advanced warning of the stall? Of course, the FAA mandates a device warning us that a stall is imminent, but the test is how the airplane telegraphs a stall using aerodynamics. The Ovation2’s stall is preceded by subtle burbles. There’s enough pitch and roll control left over to fly around in the burble, and banks up to 30 degrees are no problem. Other than training, the only time you’ll feel the burble is when you least expect it and can least afford it; the good thing to know is that you can fly right out of it.
One thing you can’t leave out is how smooth the engine starts and runs, with Continental and Mooney having solved the washing-machine syndrome. All things considered, this is an honest, fun-to-fly airplane. With a sports-car feel, solid ride, predictable instrument performance and an avionics system unmatched by the latest Airbus or Boeing, the Mooney Ovation2 GX enables you to avoid the lines and enjoy the air at your pace. And, if you put the pedal to the metal, you won’t lose your driver’s license.
For more information, contact Mooney Airplane Company at (800) 456-3033 or log on to www.mooney.com.
SPECS: 2005 Mooney Ovation2 GX