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.
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.
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.