Saturday, November 1, 2008
Nov-Dec 2008 On The Radar
On July 30, 2008, a wave of excitement washed over the crowds at Oshkosh. Fifteen hundred miles away, in Vero Beach, Fla., the PiperJet had made its maiden flight, spending an hour aloft and reaching 10,000 feet. Since then (at this writing), the PiperJet has made 18 additional flights and spent about 34 hours in the air as test pilots Dave Schwartz and Buddy Sessoms focus on exploring stability, control and handling throughout the envelope. Current testing is expanding the performance envelope to full systems use (gear up, flaps up/down, full trim, etc.) and full speed and altitude. For the coming months, the aircraft will typically be flown for one to three weeks, then grounded for one to three weeks for system upgrades, installing additional flight-test equipment, etc. The large single has its (Williams FJ44) engine in the tail, up on a pylon, for safety and aerodynamic reasons. Computerized and automatic thrust-reacting pitch controls are working extremely well. John Becker, Piper’s vice president of engineering, said, “Pitch changes with thrust are more benign than anticipated, and handling qualities have exceeded expectations. The aircraft is very stable in all axes.” The one- or two-pilot, four- or five-passenger PiperJet’s books show 203 confirmed orders. Visit www.newpiper.com/piperjet.
The Lancair Evolution, the fastest and largest kit ever offered by the Redmond, Ore., company, made its first flight in March, and the first kit was delivered to Andy Cruce of Colorado, who’s building the machine near the factory. He wanted the Evolution because of the reliability of its (Pratt & Whitney PT6A) engine and the airplane’s speed, comfort, relative economy, equipment level (he’s using a Garmin 900 panel) and payload. Cruce is building the airplane himself, with expert help and supervision. “All these factors made the Evolution a logical choice for me: It provides a high level of performance at a relatively affordable cost,” he says. “The construction process educates the owner/builder in all aspects of the completed airplane. By working with a knowledgeable builder, I’ll be able to produce a quality airplane. I’ll also have an unusually intimate knowledge of the airplane, having participated in all facets of its construction.” The Evolution is the first all-new Lancair under the company’s independent ownership, and this pressurized four-place, 300-plus-knot turboprop is the most advanced airplane ever from the Bend, Ore., shop. With modern design and machining, it should also be among the strongest and easiest to build. Visit www.lancair.com.
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