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.
Aviat Aircraft announced that the first Husky A-1C is on the flight line; it will be delivered to a buyer in Wichita, Kans. The new 200 hp model has strengthened main and tailwheel gear components and a total gross weight of 2,200 pounds. Other changes include a lowered angle of incidence for the horizontal stabilizer and a new tachometer.
General Aviation brings election results home faster!
When the voting polls closed last night in California, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s aero department was set into motion. We joined them in an AS350-B2 Astar flying the ballots in sealed, locked bags, from the ramp at Santa Monica Airport to the counting station at the office of the Registrar Recorder in Norwalk. These shuttle flights were part of a larger network encompassing six general aviation airports, all aimed at bringing in election results as soon as possible.
In late November 2007, Cessna’s bid for Bend, Oregon–based Columbia Aircraft Manufacturing Company was accepted, bringing the speedy Columbia 350 and 400 under the Cessna banner. As with all current Cessna products, Cessna Parts Distribution and the Cessna network of authorized dealers and service centers will take care of sales and support of the rebadged Cessna 350 and Cessna 400 aircraft.
With an auction bid of $26.4 million on November 28, 2007, Cessna Aircraft finalized its purchase of select assets of Columbia Aircraft Manufacturing Company, which had declared bankruptcy. The Bend, Ore., factory will now carry the Cessna name and the Columbia low-wing, high-performance, all-composite, single-engine aircraft will be branded as the Cessna 350 and the Cessna 400. Cessna Parts Distribution and the company’s network of authorized dealers and service centers have already begun plans to integrate sales and support of the new Cessna 350 and Cessna 400 aircraft.
Cirrus Design announced that its fleet surpassed a milestone of two million flight hours with just more than 3,500 aircraft. Cirrus likened this mileage to more than two round trips to the sun, or more than 15,000 trips around the world. “When we began development of the SR line, it was our intention to produce a product that gives our customers great utility, based on comfort, performance and, most importantly, safety,” said Cirrus CEO Alan Klapmeier. “Achieving the two million flight-hour mark demonstrates our commitment to our customers and determination to grow the industry.”
Liberty announced the closing of a major debt financing, arranged by Kuwait Finance House (Bahrain), which will allow the company to expand its production capacity. “The decision to raise finance was based on the strong worldwide demand for Liberty’s XL2 aircraft,” said the General Manager of Kuwait Finance House, Abdulhakeem Alkhayyat. “The finance is important, as it gives strength, stability and resources to Liberty, which will culminate in Liberty’s further success in aircraft sales.”
British race pilot Paul Bonhomme was victorious at the penultimate stop in the 2007 Red Bull Air Race World Series. More than 50,000 spectators gathered around the San Diego Bay as competing pilots sped around a challenging course marked by inflatable pylons. Bonhomme’s finishing time was 1:23:80; placing second was U.S. pilot and last year’s series winner Kirby Chambliss at 1:24:69, only fractions of a second behind. This year’s series champion will be determined in November at the final race in Perth, Australia.
After introducing the 300 Knot Club, Columbia began to receive photographic evidence from aircraft owners of groundspeeds in excess of 300 knots. The company has subsequently inducted these pilots into the club. “The 300 Knot Club is simply a way to celebrate what a purpose-built speedster can accomplish in the hands of a skilled aviator,” said Columbia Aircraft VP of Sales Randy Bollinger.
The latest version of the world’s best-selling business jet model, the Citation XLS+, recently completed its first flight. “With the flight progressing as planned and the aircraft performing as expected, this first flight was a great success,” said Cessna Citation XLS+ Program Manager Kevin Steinert. “The integration of the new Collins Pro Line 21 and Pratt & Whitney’s FADEC-equipped engines went smoothly, and we look forward to continuing this program on schedule.”
More than 560,000 visitors and 10,000 airplanes flocked to Oshkosh, Wis., for EAA AirVenture 2007. There was something for everyone, including daily air shows featuring performers such as the Red Barons, Patty Wagstaff and Michael Goulian.
I love the aviation industry; it’s always innovating and producing newer and better things to help us fly faster/smarter/better/safer, etc. When Plane & Pilot asked me to subjectively investigate “what’s cool and what’s new,” I jumped at the prospect. So, here’s our take on what’s new, what’s cool and what’s on the horizon.
On June 28, Cirrus Design Corporation finally lifted the veil on “the-jet,” the much-anticipated clean-sheet design for its “personal jet.” “We’re calling it a ‘personal jet’ not because of its size, but because it’s a natural extension of our SR22 line,” said Cirrus cofounder and CEO Alan Klapmeier. “Like the SR22, the-jet is designed to be owner flown, and it will be loaded with innovative features, including the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System. While it’s technologically advanced, it’s also designed to be exceptionally easy to fly, offering customers the opportunity to grow into yet another lifestyle change with Cirrus.”
For instrument flight, the glass panels that are increasingly common in today’s general aviation fleet may be a huge improvement over old-fashioned round “steam gauges”—but if the weather closes in, you’re still depending on instruments to provide an artificial substitute for a view of the terrain and runway environment. The primary flight display (PFD) in a typical glass panel combines the functions of yesterday’s attitude indicator, airspeed indicator, altimeter and course/deviation indicator on a single screen.
The year 2006 was the best for Pilatus since the company was founded. They recorded a double-digit increase in number of aircraft sold; additionally, sales and operating income have been on an upward curve for the past four years. More than half the company’s sales (51%) were generated in North and South America, and more than a quarter (29.2%) in Europe, followed by Asia (9.2%), Australia (7%) and Africa (3.6%). In 2006, 102 aircraft were manufactured—13 more than in the previous year. With 90 aircraft, the PC-12 represented the highest proportion, followed by seven trainer aircraft and five Pilatus Porter PC-6s.
The prototype Next Generation PC-12, which is slated for certification at the end of 2007, has completed its first transatlantic journey from Switzerland. On its way to the United States, it stopped in Iqaluit, Canada, for a series of cold-weather trials before continuing on to Pilatus’ North American headquarters in Broomfield, Colo.