Next-Generation Pilatus PC-12
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.
Inside, this roomy machine has an impressive four-screen Honeywell Primus Apex flight deck, with PFDs in front of each pilot and two MFDs stacked in the center. Crew workload is further lowered and passenger comfort is improved by a fully automatic digital cabin pressurization control system, which operates without any need for attention from the pilot. The new BMW Group–designed cockpit enhances pilot comfort and ergonomics, while the cabin offers leather and comfort, pushing the definition of “businesslike” nearer to “luxurious.” The price is set at $3.78 million. Learn more at www.pilatus-aircraft.com.
Two New Jets From Embraer
Embraer announced two new twin-engine jets, the mid-size Embraer MSJ and the mid-light Embraer MLJ, at Sun ’n Fun in April. Both aircraft seat two pilots up front and can carry up to eight passengers. The flight controls are full fly-by-wire; the Pro Line Fusion flight decks are by Rockwell Collins; and the engines are by Honeywell. The larger MSJ has a 2,800 nm range and a cruise speed of Mach 0.80; the MLJ will cover 2,200 nm at Mach 0.78.
Full-size comfort is a design parameter at Embraer, and both airplanes have six-foot-tall stand-up cabins that measure six feet and 10 inches across. Both are equipped with a private lavatory; the MSJ can be equipped with a proper galley.
The MSJ will be delivered in late 2012; the MLJ is set for a year later. Embraer predicts that the company will capture 21% of the projected market with these two airplanes, about 2,800 units of total production. More information is available at www.embraer.com.
Cessna Mustang Delivered To UND
Lots of colleges have jets, but not too many will let their students fly them. University of North Dakota, one of the country’s premier aviation schools, took delivery of a Cessna 510 (a.k.a. the Citation Mustang) in late March. With a state-of-the-art Garmin G1000 panel and “true jet” character and flight qualities, the Mustang was picked to complement UND’s expansive flight program.
The newest addition to UND’s flight line will be used for training contract students as well as selected, qualified undergraduates. (The school also plans to use the Mustang for some “executive travel.”)
The university’s first Mustang was displayed in a Wichita, Kans., ceremony next to a newly refurbished Cessna 150, the beneficiary of months of largely volunteer work and one of the first two aircraft the 40-year-old aerospace department ever acquired. Now, UND logs more than 100,000 flight-training hours a year. Learn more about the school at www.avit.und.edu.
Cessna Flies In 3D
Cessna sells more Garmin G1000 flight decks than any other manufacturer, so it was no surprise when Cessna announced in April that it would begin offering the new Garmin SVT (Synthetic Vision Technology) in its entire G1000-equipped line—from the Mustang on down, stopping shy of the SkyCatcher LSA. Synthetic vision gives a GPS-database-generated 3D view of terrain, obstacles and full airport diagrams, right down to the numbers on the runways. Garmin’s SVT also shows transponder-equipped traffic.
Flying with the SVT is a little like playing a computer game in reverse: You look at the screen and make all the inputs on the real airplane. The depiction in front of you is a realistic representation of what’s outside, even as you fly the Highway in the Sky (HITS) or navigate an emergency landing. SVT is intended to aid situational awareness only, and that’s plenty to recommend it; but it might also save your life, in an “off-label” sort of way. SVT is mostly a software enhancement for G1000 systems (though both existing MFD and PFD need some hardware changes), so we expect a lot of upgrading over the next few years, as well. Purchasers of a new Skylane or Turbo Skylane before July 31 will receive an SVT upgrade at no additional cost. For more information, visit www.garmin.com and www.cessna.com.
New Raisbeck Package For King Air B200GT
Performance comes in many dimensions, and Raisbeck Engineering has a new package for owners of the Hawker Beechcraft King Air B200GT, which was originally equipped with four-blade Hartzell/Beech propellers. The STC will yield increased aerodynamic efficiency that a pilot can use for more speed, greater range and additional operational flexibility.
The EPIC Gold package includes Raisbeck’s Ram Air Recovery System and dual aft body strakes. Though it’s barely visible to the unprepared eye, the performance increase is unmistakable. Because the Gold package is designed for airplanes that already have the four-blade Hartzells, pricing is roughly half the cost of the full EPIC Platinum package (which includes the four-blade Hartzell/Raisbeck for those 200/B200 aircraft originally equipped with three-blade propellers). The EPIC Gold package is priced at $61,012. More information is available at www.raisbeck.com.
Diamond D-JET 003’s First Flight
On April 14, Diamond’s newest D-JET, S/N 003, lifted off from London, Ontario (Canada), on a first flight lasting one hour and 25 minutes, during which all test card items were completed.
On the outside, S/N 003 looks identical to S/N 002, which first flew on September 14, 2007. The most noticeable difference between the latest two models and the original prototype is a pair of small ventral fins, added for a bit more stability.
Each new aircraft is designed to continue and expand testing on additional systems and, consequently, has an expanded flight-test envelope. This latest unit’s duties will grow to include extensive proofing of avionics, fuel systems, autopilot and anti-ice systems. Later this summer, S/N 003 will be the first D-JET to be retrofitted with the production engine, a FADEC-equipped Williams FJ33-19.
Diamond’s personal jet seats up to five, with three-across seating on the rear “bench” and an optional, unique rotating copilot’s seat that allows “club” seating for four as the pilot takes care of the flight. Follow the progress at www.diamondaircraft.com.
HondaJets Available For Sale In Europe
In a recent expansion of jet sales throughout North America, Honda announced the establishment of a sales and service strategy for Mexico and Canada. Now, responding to strong demand for aircraft from customers abroad, Honda plans to expand HondaJet sales to Europe.
The trend toward rapidly expanding high-line turboprop sales favors non-U.S. markets, with Europe’s being the largest. Just a few years ago, some 70% of such sales were booked to U.S. customers. According to several of the larger players in both the turbine and jet markets, sales have moved away from such heavy reliance on the States. The U.S. market has matured, the dollar is weaker and manufacturers are building to comply with not only FAA certification regimens, but also emerging international regulatory bodies.
On the service side, HondaJet’s goal is to have flight times of 90 minutes or less for all customers to their nearest facility. Completion of the U.S. HondaJet sales and service facilities is scheduled to coincide with the anticipated certification and first deliveries of HondaJet in 2010. To learn more about HondaJet, visit www.hondajet.com.
King Air PFD Retrofit From Avidyne & Southern Star
Avidyne Corporation and Southern Star Avionics received FAA approval for their jointly developed single PFD, designed as a retrofit for the King Air 90 series. This package integrates the Envision system with an S-TEC 65X autopilot. With this approval, Avidyne can now offer single-PFD and dual-PFD Envision options on King Air 90s. “This single-PFD Envision certification provides an even more affordable retrofit option for the single-pilot King Air 90-series owner looking to move up to a big-glass instrument package,” said Tom Harper, Avidyne’s director of marketing. “Avidyne now offers full-feature Envision retrofit solutions to meet the specific mission and budgetary requirements of single-engine piston aircraft up through RVSM-capable turbine-class aircraft.” Retail pricing begins at $34,995. For more information, log on to www.avidyne.com and www.southernstar.aero.
137 More Texans To Head North
Hawker Beechcraft Corporation picked up two follow-on contracts for an additional 137 T-6A Texan II military trainers for the U.S. Air Force, a $550 million deal that’s part of the USAF and Navy’s Joint Primary Aircraft Training System (JPATS). The contract also covers backup, including program and manufacturing management, program support, field service representatives, material shortage management, field maintenance training and aircrew training devices.
The sweet-flying, powerful turbine-engine machines are, sadly, probably decades from finding their way into civilian hands, but at least the legitimate customer has one fantastic recruiting tool.
So far, Hawker Beechcraft has delivered more than 387 aircraft and 83 aircrew training devices to various training installations throughout the States in the JPATS program, which calls for delivery of aircraft and training devices into 2016. Learn more at www.hawkerbeechcraft.com.
Lancair’s first all-new design in several years, the Evolution, flew behind its 927 shp Pratt & Whitney PT6A-135A from Bend, Ore., to Lakeland, Fla., still in primer, just a bit over three weeks after its first flight on March 21. Getting enough test hours on the Hobbs meter was the first priority, and Lancair General Manager Tim Ong was ecstatic about the Evolution’s performance. “It doesn’t fly like anything else,” he said. “It’s just so perfectly neutral. It was great right out of the box.”
There’s no “walk-around” cabin, but it’s still tall, wide and comfortable. (Bill Lear is supposed to have once said, “I don’t walk around in my Cadillac, and nobody expects me to, either.”) As the first all-new design under Lancair CEO Joe Bartels, the Evolution incorporates what the company has learned over many years and is built much more to certified standards than previously. “In this league, you don’t just make it thicker if you want it stronger,” Bartels stated.
The pressurized and spacious four-seater is equipped to accept AmSafe air bags and a full-airframe BRS parachute system. It has a fast-cruise speed of 330+ KTAS (270 economy cruise) and a climb rate of 4,000 fpm. Basic kit price is $250,000, and plenty of options are available. For additional details, see www.lancair.com.
Comp Air Announces Two New Aircraft
Comp Air, known for its large kit aircraft and its very large, destined-for-certification Model 12, announced two new machines at Sun ’n Fun 2008.
The cantilever high-wing, fixed-gear, 7,200-pound MTOW, six-place Comp Air 9 will cruise at 240 knots and is designed for short- and soft-field operations. According to Comp Air President Ron Lueck, who’s also the aircraft designer, it will “go anywhere a C-206 will go, but faster.” Its versatility is evident with three doors (two in front), a 3,400-pound useful load and a range of up to 2,200 nm from a 1,000 shp Honeywell turboprop.
With a gross weight of 7,500 pounds, the Comp Air 11 has essentially the same fuselage as the Comp Air 9, but it’s a low-wing retractable that should go 120 knots faster on its 1,650 shp. “It’s an ego thing,” Lueck commented. “It’s bigger than a VLJ and as fast, and we can use shorter runways than the jets.”
Both machines feature full-carbon construction and are designed to be pressurized. At this writing, the 9 is slated to fly at Oshkosh in July; the 11, about six months later. Both kits are expected to start at around $250,000. Visit www.compairaviation.com.