Thursday, May 29, 2008
July-Aug 2008 On The Radar
Next-Generation Pilatus PC-12
The latest iteration of the turbine-single Pilatus, which received FAA and EASA certification in March 2008, has two big improvements that are split by the firewall. Up front, improvements in the 1,200 shp Pratt & Whitney PT6A-67P include the single-crystal blades and a new compressor design. Power upgrades make for faster climb and more stamina in fast-cruise power settings. Running off the back of the P&W powerplant are two monster 300-amp generators that ensure full electrical power and redundancy. These big dynamos are cooled and exhausted through special ductwork that ends in a tiny grill on the lower left side of the cowl, the only external clue that this is the newest PC-12.
Inside, this roomy machine has an impressive four-screen Honeywell Primus Apex flight deck, with PFDs in front of each pilot and two MFDs stacked in the center. Crew workload is further lowered and passenger comfort is improved by a fully automatic digital cabin pressurization control system, which operates without any need for attention from the pilot. The new BMW Group–designed cockpit enhances pilot comfort and ergonomics, while the cabin offers leather and comfort, pushing the definition of “businesslike” nearer to “luxurious.” The price is set at $3.78 million. Learn more at www.pilatus-aircraft.com.
Two New Jets From Embraer
Embraer announced two new twin-engine jets, the mid-size Embraer MSJ and the mid-light Embraer MLJ, at Sun ’n Fun in April. Both aircraft seat two pilots up front and can carry up to eight passengers. The flight controls are full fly-by-wire; the Pro Line Fusion flight decks are by Rockwell Collins; and the engines are by Honeywell. The larger MSJ has a 2,800 nm range and a cruise speed of Mach 0.80; the MLJ will cover 2,200 nm at Mach 0.78.
Full-size comfort is a design parameter at Embraer, and both airplanes have six-foot-tall stand-up cabins that measure six feet and 10 inches across. Both are equipped with a private lavatory; the MSJ can be equipped with a proper galley.
The MSJ will be delivered in late 2012; the MLJ is set for a year later. Embraer predicts that the company will capture 21% of the projected market with these two airplanes, about 2,800 units of total production. More information is available at www.embraer.com.
Cessna Mustang Delivered To UND
Lots of colleges have jets, but not too many will let their students fly them. University of North Dakota, one of the country’s premier aviation schools, took delivery of a Cessna 510 (a.k.a. the Citation Mustang) in late March. With a state-of-the-art Garmin G1000 panel and “true jet” character and flight qualities, the Mustang was picked to complement UND’s expansive flight program.
The newest addition to UND’s flight line will be used for training contract students as well as selected, qualified undergraduates. (The school also plans to use the Mustang for some “executive travel.”)
The university’s first Mustang was displayed in a Wichita, Kans., ceremony next to a newly refurbished Cessna 150, the beneficiary of months of largely volunteer work and one of the first two aircraft the 40-year-old aerospace department ever acquired. Now, UND logs more than 100,000 flight-training hours a year. Learn more about the school at www.avit.und.edu.
Cessna Flies In 3D
Cessna sells more Garmin G1000 flight decks than any other manufacturer, so it was no surprise when Cessna announced in April that it would begin offering the new Garmin SVT (Synthetic Vision Technology) in its entire G1000-equipped line—from the Mustang on down, stopping shy of the SkyCatcher LSA. Synthetic vision gives a GPS-database-generated 3D view of terrain, obstacles and full airport diagrams, right down to the numbers on the runways. Garmin’s SVT also shows transponder-equipped traffic.
Flying with the SVT is a little like playing a computer game in reverse: You look at the screen and make all the inputs on the real airplane. The depiction in front of you is a realistic representation of what’s outside, even as you fly the Highway in the Sky (HITS) or navigate an emergency landing. SVT is intended to aid situational awareness only, and that’s plenty to recommend it; but it might also save your life, in an “off-label” sort of way. SVT is mostly a software enhancement for G1000 systems (though both existing MFD and PFD need some hardware changes), so we expect a lot of upgrading over the next few years, as well. Purchasers of a new Skylane or Turbo Skylane before July 31 will receive an SVT upgrade at no additional cost. For more information, visit www.garmin.com and www.cessna.com.
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