Pilot Journal
Thursday, May 29, 2008

July-Aug 2008 On The Radar


On The RadarThe 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.
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On The Radar137 More Texans To Head North
Hawker Beechcraft Corporation picked up two follow-on contracts for an additional 137 T-6A Texan II military trainers for the U.S. Air Force, a $550 million deal that’s part of the USAF and Navy’s Joint Primary Aircraft Training System (JPATS). The contract also covers backup, including program and manufacturing management, program support, field service representatives, material shortage management, field maintenance training and aircrew training devices.

The sweet-flying, powerful turbine-engine machines are, sadly, probably decades from finding their way into civilian hands, but at least the legitimate customer has one fantastic recruiting tool.

So far, Hawker Beechcraft has delivered more than 387 aircraft and 83 aircrew training devices to various training installations throughout the States in the JPATS program, which calls for delivery of aircraft and training devices into 2016. Learn more at www.hawkerbeechcraft.com.

On The RadarLancair Evolution
Lancair’s first all-new design in several years, the Evolution, flew behind its 927 shp Pratt & Whitney PT6A-135A from Bend, Ore., to Lakeland, Fla., still in primer, just a bit over three weeks after its first flight on March 21. Getting enough test hours on the Hobbs meter was the first priority, and Lancair General Manager Tim Ong was ecstatic about the Evolution’s performance. “It doesn’t fly like anything else,” he said. “It’s just so perfectly neutral. It was great right out of the box.”

There’s no “walk-around” cabin, but it’s still tall, wide and comfortable. (Bill Lear is supposed to have once said, “I don’t walk around in my Cadillac, and nobody expects me to, either.”) As the first all-new design under Lancair CEO Joe Bartels, the Evolution incorporates what the company has learned over many years and is built much more to certified standards than previously. “In this league, you don’t just make it thicker if you want it stronger,” Bartels stated.

The pressurized and spacious four-seater is equipped to accept AmSafe air bags and a full-airframe BRS parachute system. It has a fast-cruise speed of 330+ KTAS (270 economy cruise) and a climb rate of 4,000 fpm. Basic kit price is $250,000, and plenty of options are available. For additional details, see www.lancair.com.

On The RadarComp Air Announces Two New Aircraft
Comp Air, known for its large kit aircraft and its very large, destined-for-certification Model 12, announced two new machines at Sun ’n Fun 2008.

The cantilever high-wing, fixed-gear, 7,200-pound MTOW, six-place Comp Air 9 will cruise at 240 knots and is designed for short- and soft-field operations. According to Comp Air President Ron Lueck, who’s also the aircraft designer, it will “go anywhere a C-206 will go, but faster.” Its versatility is evident with three doors (two in front), a 3,400-pound useful load and a range of up to 2,200 nm from a 1,000 shp Honeywell turboprop.

With a gross weight of 7,500 pounds, the Comp Air 11 has essentially the same fuselage as the Comp Air 9, but it’s a low-wing retractable that should go 120 knots faster on its 1,650 shp. “It’s an ego thing,” Lueck commented. “It’s bigger than a VLJ and as fast, and we can use shorter runways than the jets.”

Both machines feature full-carbon construction and are designed to be pressurized. At this writing, the 9 is slated to fly at Oshkosh in July; the 11, about six months later. Both kits are expected to start at around $250,000. Visit www.compairaviation.com.



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