Sunrise On The GA Fleet!
The latest sales figures from the General Aviation Manufacturers Association are sizzling! First quarter 2006 billings, which include pistons, turboprops and business jets, came in at $4 billion—the biggest first quarter in history. This year’s sales were up a healthy 37.9% over the same period last year and early indications are that the trend will continue.
Surprisingly, piston aircraft showed the healthiest gains, with 597 aircraft shipped—a 37.6% increase over 2005. Business jets showed a spike of 36%, and turboprops had a 3.5% hop.
Cirrus continues to lead the piston charge, selling 124 top-of-the-line SR22s and 35 SR20s. Cessna sold 52 (180 hp) C-172S models, 51 (160 hp) C-172Rs, 37 turbo C-182s and 278 normally aspirated Skylanes. Columbia shipped 46 turbocharged 400 models, but no 350s. Diamond sold 46 DA42s—27 of them were the new twin diesels.
And Here They Are!
With 2006 sales figures in mind, you’d expect a rush for new general aviation products, and that’s exactly what spring delivered.
Mooney chose Sun n’ Fun to reveal its new Acclaim, which replaced its Bravo model. Mooney’s newest iteration, powered by a 280 hp Teledyne Continental TSIO-550-G turbonormalized engine, claims a true airspeed of 230 knots at 25,000 feet. “The Acclaim offers an impressive 20% increase in cruise speed and combines the typical Mooney traits of aerodynamic purity, efficiency and safety, with the convenience and versatility provided by the Garmin G1000 avionics package,” commented David Copeland, Mooney’s vice president of sales and marketing.
Larger air inlets are on a redesigned cowling, and with Mooney’s “mini-fin” winglets, wing-span has been increased by four inches. Optional 130-gallon fuel tanks extend the aircraft’s range to 1,615 nm. Future options include air-conditioning (already available on the Ovation2) and a package for FAA-approved flight into known icing. People in the front seat get AmSafe air bags.
The Acclaim has a price tag of $495,000; Mooney expects deliveries to start in the fourth quarter of 2006. To learn more about the Acclaim, log on to www.mooney.com or call (800) 456-3033.
By Land And By Sea
The futuristic Seawind amphib is rounding the corner toward certification, which may arrive as early as fall 2006. The aircraft, a FAR 23 certified variation of the successful Seawind 300C kit plane, has generated a great deal of interest—delivery positions for new customers are pushed out toward the end of 2007. Follow the action at www.seawind.net.
Light Sport Still Popping
The expanding number of small light sport aircraft (LSA) continues to get bigger. The Czech-manufactured Skylark, Europe’s newest entry, has been turning heads in the United States. “We anticipated an enthusiastic response,” Sportsplanes.com CEO Josh Foss said, referring to four completed sales and several pending sales, “but this goes beyond anything we envisioned. Most of the sales so far have occurred without a demo flight.”
The two-seater is all metal and has a sliding bubble canopy. Touted as being more rugged than other LSA, the Skylark is powered by a 100 hp Rotax 912 and can withstand up to 7 G’s. It cruises at 138 mph, stalls at 42 mph and climbs at 1,200 fpm. At 75% power with a 45-minute reserve, range is 525 miles. The aircraft takes off in a mere 500 feet and lands in 530 feet.
Sportsplanes.com intends to tour the Skylark across the country to various fly-ins and small airports. Several models will be at AirVenture Oshkosh, available for purchase. To learn more, visit www.sportsplanes.com or call (801) 420-6176.
American Legend Aircraft Company recently introduced the new Legend Cub Special, a variant of the company’s wildly popular two-place Piper Cub replicant LSA. Noticeably different is the paint scheme, now a two-color fuselage with yellow and orange. A closer look reveals a special leather interior, pilot-adjustable air vents, an interior light and a Nav/Com avionics package. Instrumentation includes a panel-mounted Garmin 396 and a PS Engineering intercom. Options include an upgrade to the new Dynon FlightDEK-D180 EFIS with a seven-inch diagonal display. Find details about the new Cub at www.legend.aero.
Many pilots are eyeing jet ownership options that don’t require a waiting period. Sierra Industries is offering the Sierra Stallion, a modified Cessna Citation. The company refits Citation 500 and 501SPs with Williams FJ44-2A electronically controlled turbines—test flights are imminent.
The Uvalde, Texas-based company claims the Stallion will see a 5,000 fpm rate of climb, 380-knot cruise speed, a 43,000-foot ceiling and a 1,400 nm range. Sierra also produces the FJ44-powered Eagle II, which requires a wing mod. The Stallion maintains the same Citation wing. For more, visit the Website, www.sijet.com.
The Diamond Jet Flies!
Diamond’s D-JET is alive and well. April 18th marked the day when the new single-engine, single-pilot jet made its first test flight out of London, Ontario. Subsequent flights followed, and the D-JET is now on the approach for certification. The new five-seat very light jet (VLJ) uses a FADEC controlled Williams FJ33 turbine engine and features full Garmin glass inside. The D-JET projects a max cruise of 315 knots at a certified ceiling of 25,000 feet and a retail price of approximately one million U.S. dollars.
Diamond CEO Christian Dries, who flew the jet on its second test flight, returned to say, “I was particularly impressed by the feeling of space, security and solidarity. The simplicity of operation, from engine start through take-off, flight and landing was obvious and reflects my vision of what a personal jet should be.” The D-JET anticipates certification next year. Watch for developments at www.diamondair.com.
More Than Zero
The Pacific Aviation Museum—Pearl Harbor (PAM) added two more aircraft to its collection of airplanes. One of the few remaining Mitsubishi/Nakajima A6M2-21 Zero fighters is headed to its permanent home on Hawaii’s Ford Island. The Japanese-produced Zero was manufactured in 1942 and saw action against several American fighter units, including Pappy Boyington’s Black Sheep. PAM is also welcoming a Grumman F4F Wildcat. As America’s prime carrier-based aircraft in the first part of World War II, the Wildcat regularly tangled with Zeros. Though the Japanese fighters outperformed the big Grummans, the Wildcat had self-sealing fuel tanks, more firepower and could sustain more damage. During the Battle of Midway, one Japanese Zero pilot reportedly emptied his guns trying to bring down a Wildcat only to see the plane return to its carrier. To find out more, log on to www.pacificaviationmuseum.org, or call (808) 836-7747.
Photographer Of The Year
Pilot Journal and Plane & Pilot contributor Jim Wark was presented the first Aerial Photographer of the Year Award at the Professional Aerial Photographers Association International gathering this year in Orlando, Fla. In addition to authoring and providing his artwork for numerous books and publications, Wark recently lectured at Yale University on aerial photography. Much of his work is available at www.airphotona.com.
Speaking Of Space
If you’re still waiting for Burt Rutan to refine his earlier canard creations—you air breathers are dreaming. But then so is Rutan. At a recent Los Angeles gathering sponsored by the National Space Society and the Planetary Society, Rutan told the group, “My dream is to go to the moon in my lifetime.” In the audience was the second man on the moon, Buzz Aldrin, who came to listen to the first civilian spaceship maker.
“I want my grandchildren to see some of the interesting moons, on Jupiter and Mars,” commented Rutan. Referring to a new book called What We Believe But Cannot Prove, edited by John Brockman, Rutan described his certainty in man’s destiny to visit the stars. Of course, Rutan isn’t the only believer—so far over a billion dollars have been invested worldwide in a rash of new “space ports,” all at a time when there aren’t yet any civilian spaceships. Read the complete text of Burt Rutan’s speech by clicking on the “Cleared To Go” sidebar at www.pilotjournal.com.
Largest Peacetime Airlift In The World
For the fifth year, Cessna Aircraft Company is enlisting Citation owners to provide transportation for athletes traveling to Ames, Iowa, for the 2006 Special Olympics USA National Games, which will occur from July 2 through 7. Business jet owners are donating their aircraft and crew to pick up contestants from 35 states and fly them to and from the event. Cessna organizers estimate that 400 Citations will participate this year, transporting more than 2,500 athletes and coaches. On July 1 and July 8, Des Moines air traffic controllers anticipate a Special Olympics Citation will land or takeoff every 60 to 90 seconds for a 12-hour period. To participate or learn more, log on to www.citationairlift.com or call (877) 376-5438.
More Airplanes Pulling The Cord
Airframe parachutes, spurred largely by Cirrus (www.cirrusdesign.com), have begun to spread into other aircraft. Symphony becomes the second FAR 23 certified plane to offer the Ballistic Recovery System (BRS), which is an option for its 160 model. Dallas, Texas-based IndUS (www.indusav.com) aircraft announced that it will also be offering parachutes. The BRS has been in use for years in experimental and ultralight aircraft and, to date, is credited with saving almost 200 lives.
More Satellite WX Coming
WSI Corporation announced that it’s developing a system to enable aircraft to receive in-flight weather and entertainment via the SIRIUS satellite galaxy. Look for the rollout before the year’s end. Find out more at www.wsi.com.
In Memoriam: Scott Crossfield
The worldwide aviation community mourns the loss of Scott Crossfield, legendary test pilot and aerospace pioneer. On April 20, Crossfield’s body was found in the wreckage of his Cessna 210, northwest of Atlanta. There were severe thunderstorms in the area.
Having washed planes in exchange for flying lessons at age 12, Crossfield ultimately became the first pilot to fly at twice the speed of sound. He accomplished this feat on November 20, 1953, in a rocket-powered Douglas D-558-II. He was an active member of NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, and subsequently played a major role in the development of the X-15 rocket plane, flying as a test pilot and working as a consultant. Crossfield died at the age of 84.