The wunderbox that brings satellite uplink weather and radio capabilities to the cockpit
Fourteen years ago, when I met Tim Casey of Garmin International, we were at the Paris Air Show, and Carl Pascarell and I had just ferried the prototype Sino Swearingen SJ30 jet across the Atlantic to Le Bourget Airport with little more than point-and-shoot VHF radios. Like most prototypes, the first SJ30 was having its share of systems problems, and electrical glitches had burned up both of our VLF/Omegas on the eastbound crossing. By definition, we were flying IFR above 35,000 feet and needed a method of positively identifying our position for the trip back to San Antonio, Texas.
There’s excitement in the air in both Albuquerque, N.M., and Wichita, Kan. Final certification for the Eclipse 500 and the Cessna Mustang is almost in sight, and soon, all of us will get the first hints of just how deep the water is for the very light jet (VLJ) aircraft market. At the recent EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis., Eclipse flaunted two of its conforming prototypes, and Cessna debuted its Mustang, direct from Wichita, with CEO Jack Pelton at the controls.
Before they were booted up, the Chelton boxes in the Malibu Jet Prop we tested looked like any number of other newer panel configurations. Almost every new airframe manufacturer is putting glass into the cockpit now with a primary flight display (PFD) in front of the pilot and a multi-function display (MFD) right next door.
It’s always a bit mind-boggling when Cessna finds ways to improve the most popular line of jets in the world, but once again, that’s exactly what it has done. A new and improved Model 525 Citation CJ1+ has earned FAA certification and is headed to a runway near you before the year’s end.
Adam Aircraft received the final type certificate for the pressurized, twin-engine A500. Less than one year after founders Rick Adam and John Knudsen gave Burt Rutan $1 million and a back-of-the-napkin design for an all-composite, centerline-thrust twin, a proof-of-concept A500 was flying over Mojave, Calif. In 2002, flight testing began out of Denver’s Centennial Airport.
Final numbers for general aviation’s 2004 financial year have been released by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), and the news is great. Piston singles sales hit a 20-year high. “Bonus depreciation, coupled with the continuing growth of the U.S. economy helped make 2004 a turning point for our industry,” says GAMA chairman Jim Schuster.
A buyer’s guide to the latest must-have gear for aviators
Almost every pilot searches for the right tools to make any flight a safe and enjoyable one. Whether it’s a gizmo that enables us to enjoy that short $100 hamburger flight or a portable piece of equipment that can save us baggage space during long cross-country treks to the backcountry, we’re always in need of that extra-special something that will make our trips a whole lot easier and the ride a whole lot more fun.
An unusual rash of activity has come out of Washington, D.C., this year that affects all pilots. Changes in regulations, aviation services, airspace and even outer space have, thus far, been the hallmark of 2005.
Our extensive Buyer’s Guide to the most unique paraphernalia that any flier could want
Wiith the holidays upon us, we knew we had to settle the one question that most of us are asking at this time of the year: What do you get for a pilot who has everything? Well, we’ve searched long and hard to answer that question, and we’ve come up with an exhaustive list of gizmos that you can get for your favorite flier—or better yet, perhaps even for yourself.
A portable, WAAS-enabled solution with a mighty big screen
AvMap’s EKP-IV—which is an enhanced version of its predecessor, called the EKP-IIIC—can most likely best be described as the Rolls-Royce of portable GPS units for in-cockpit use. It’s bigger than your average handheld, standing at 4.75x7x1.5 inches, and it’s a bit pricey—but both the money and size buy a couple of other things that usually aren’t available in any other portable GPS units of which I’m quite aware, perhaps because the company has seriously taken into account its customer’s suggestions and comments.
After nearly a decade of many birthing pains, the new sport pilot’s license as well as light-sport aircraft category has become a reality. The new 4,700 pages added to the FAA rules and regs went into effect on September 1st of this year, and while no one quite knows what’s next, aviation’s general consensus is positive.
If you’ve been wondering if this tsunami of new technology that’s been threatening to forever change the way we fly is just a passing fancy, the news is now clear: Every major airframe manufacturer has announced they’re presently or will shortly begin shipping airplanes featuring glass panels. Cessna Aircraft Company (www.cessna.com) just received the FAA’s blessing to begin delivering Garmin (www.garmin.com) G1000-equipped Skylanes, both turbocharged and normally aspirated models.
I count myself lucky that I’m allowed to fly with virtually all the new portable GPSs, and I’m just as amazed as you are when avionics manufacturers continue to find new worlds to conquer. Just when it seems there’s nothing new left to be done, someone does it.
Bendix/King, Garmin, Chelton? At first glance, they all seem so different, but are they really? It turns out they have a lot in common.
Learning to use even one of the modern IFR-approved GPS maps, let alone several of them, is challenging. Understanding the capabilities of a device requires as much class time as learning how to operate it. The how can be very different from unit to unit, but the what is surprisingly similar.
At its annual Aviation Forecast Conference, held recently in Washington, D.C., the Federal Aviation Admin-istration (FAA) released its forecast for general aviation (GA) from fiscal years 2004 through 2015. The FAA defines “general aviation” as “a diverse range of aviation activities and includes all segments of the aviation industry, except commercial air carriers and the military.” The report gives us the FAA’s perspective on everything from single-engine piston aircraft to corporate jets, gliders and even homebuilt airplanes, both now and over the coming 12-year period.
After being shoved out of the spotlight for the last year by the new gaggle of personal jets, the pistons are back. Liberty Aircraft’s XL2 earned final certification from the FAA, becoming the first GA aircraft to come direct from the factory with Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC). Developed by Teledyne Continental, FADEC puts power management into the hands of a computer, resulting in a 15% to 20% fuel economy.
For those of us who routinely fly in busy airspace, the need to constantly “keep your head on a swivel” competes for our attention with ATC instructions, terminal area charts and instruments on the panel. The folks who fly “heavy iron,” on the other hand, have had options like TCAS (Traffic Alert/Collision Avoidance System) for more than 20 years, which they can rely on for warning of other aircraft on a collision course. But the cost of such a system (which can run into the tens of thousands of dollars) has been prohibitive for most of the GA fleet.
What began only a few years ago as a little more than a tease, glass cockpits have made their way to the general-aviation mainstream. Steam gauges are giving way to dream gauges. Upstarts Lancair and Cirrus were the first to show up with the big display screens in certified aircraft and neither has looked back. Last year, Cirrus announced it would sell only glass-paneled SR20 and SR22s, and immediately began shipping its aircraft equipped with the Avidyne Entegra.