The Terrafugia Transition proof-of-concept roadable aircraft successfully completed its first flight at Plattsburgh International Airport in Plattsburgh, N.Y., on March 5. The Transition took off from runway 17; after 37 seconds, it landed and taxied to a full stop.
Unrestricted U.S. FAA certification of Embraer’s smallest jet, the Phenom 100, was awarded in December 2008, and the first delivery was made to James and Elizabeth Frost on December 24 in São José dos Campos, Brazil. “Surprises” in the final certified operating specs were an improved range (1,178 nm with four aboard), shortened max performance field requirements (now 3,125 feet at MTOW under standard conditions) and a 301-foot improvement in landing distance, among others. EASA certification is expected in Q2 2009, with European deliveries to begin shortly after. Visit www.embraer.com.
On January 25, the extreme worlds of aerobatics and surfing were united in the skies over the break at Morro Bay, Calif. Kevin Eldredge, owner of SLO Air, the exclusive distributor of the new Sbach 300 and 342 Xtreme aerobatic aircraft from Germany, flew loops, rolls and hammerheads with world-class surfers Chris Ward and Gavin Sutherland. Also participating was Tutima Academy, going inverted with Ben Freelove in a Pitts S-2B. The first-of-its-kind event was sponsored by VedaloHD Performance Sunglasses, Azhiaziam American Aerial Wear and S.O. Productions to commemorate the launch of the new WardoHD signature line of sunglasses.
In spite of the difficult economy, Diamond Aircraft has announced large new orders. Saint Louis University’s Parks College of Engineering, Aviation & Technology has added nine new Diamond DA20-C1 aircraft to its flight-training department. Parks College, founded in 1927, was the first certified school of aviation in the United States.
Paul Bonhomme of Britain scored a victory in the final race of the Red Bull Air Race World Series in Perth, Australia, on November 2, 2008, but Hannes Arch of Austria was crowned 2008 World Champion after finishing third.
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.
Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority has granted CubCrafters’ CC18-180 Top Cub type certification, which allows new, certified, ready-to-fly Cubs to be delivered to customers in Australia for the first time. The Top Cub was certified in the States in December 2004; it received type certification from Transport Canada in early August, and has now been approved on floats and wheels in Canada and Australia. (On September 8, the first Canadian-registered Top Cub was delivered to owner Bernard Brossard in Montreal, Quebec.)
On July 30, 2008, the PiperJet made its first flight from Piper’s headquarters in Vero Beach, Fla. “Today marks the beginning of a new era for Piper Aircraft as the company literally takes flight into a whole new realm of performance, luxury and capability,” asserted Piper President and CEO James K. Bass.
When Vern Raburn talks, people listen. Recently, the visionary behind the Eclipse VLJ was talking about a new light-sport amphibian, the ICON A5. Raburn is an adviser for start-up ICON Aircraft, which aspires to create a sport aircraft that will “do for recreational flying what personal watercraft did for boating.”
The most highly anticipated aircraft in Cirrus Design Corporation’s history, “the-jet,” made its inaugural flight on July 3. The 45-minute flight was conducted from the company’s headquarters at Duluth International Airport in Duluth, Minn. The aircraft performed flawlessly. Designed with the Cirrus signature full-airframe parachute system, the aircraft looked beautiful in its red and white paint (the model and mock-up have been displayed in gold and white), and its roof-mounted Williams FJ33-4A-19 put a 1,900-pound blast through the “V” of the distinctive tail.
L-3 Avionics has received STC and TSO authorization from the FAA for its SmartDeck Integrated Flight Controls and Display System. The STC has been awarded for the Cirrus SR22-G2, and L-3 will offer the STC through authorized dealers for retrofit. The system’s menu structure is designed to support pilot functions in three clicks or less, making pertinent flight information more rapidly accessible. SmartDeck includes a display dedicated to flight-plan management and communication information in its standard configuration.
On March 8, 2008, Cessna completed the first flight of its Model 162 SkyCatcher. The one-hour SkyCatcher flight departed from Cessna Aircraft Field Airport and consisted of flight maneuvers evaluating the controllability and stability of the aircraft. Test pilot Dale Bleakney, of Cessna Engineering, then proceeded to Mid-Continent Airport, where the SkyCatcher will continue development testing. “The first flight of the SkyCatcher is a significant step ahead toward our goal of bringing an affordable training aircraft to market,” said Cessna CEO Jack Pelton. The SkyCatcher is priced at $111,500 and is expected to reach cruise speeds of 118 knots with a maximum range of 470 nm. Visit www.cessna.com.
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.
Cessna Aircraft Company will offer Garmin’s G1000 Synthetic Vision Technology (SVT) on all its G1000-equipped aircraft. The Citation Mustang will be the first bizjet to integrate Garmin’s SVT, and Cessna expects to offer SVT on the Caravan family and all Cessna single-engine piston aircraft in the future. In most cases, SVT will be available for retrofit in earlier-production, G1000-equipped Cessnas.
The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) announced that the 2007 year-end shipment figures for the general aviation industry have led to another record high in industry billings. At the organization’s Annual Industry Review and Market Outlook Briefing, GAMA Chairman and Cirrus Design CEO Alan Klapmeier reported that a strong worldwide market, especially outside of North America, was a driving factor for general aviation in 2007.
In early February 2008, Cessna finally admitted its big, big secret: The Model 850 will indeed go into production. Named “Columbus,” the largest-ever Citation was teased at NBAA in late 2006, refined for 2007 and slated for customer delivery in 2014.