In 2005, the general aviation industry hit $15.1 billion in billings, an all-time high and a 27.2% increase over 2004. The good news came from the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) at their annual Industry Review & 2006 Market Outlook Briefing. GAMA (www.gama.aero) figures put worldwide shipments of general aviation airplanes at 3,580 units for 2005, up 20.8% from the previous year’s total of 2,963 units.
“The outstanding 2005 shipment and billing figures demonstrate that general aviation is one of the brightest and most promising sectors of manufacturing,” said Pete Bunce, GAMA’s chief executive officer.
All sectors of general aviation manufacturing experienced healthy growth in 2005. Piston airplane shipments experienced a 20.2% increase over the previous year. Total units increased from 2,051 in 2004 to 2,465 airplanes in 2005. Shipments of turboprops increased by 13.7%, up from 321 units in 2004 to 365 units in 2005. Additionally, business jet shipments increased by 159 units to a total of 750 airplanes—a 26.9% increase in shipments over 2004.
“Our growth shows that general aviation continues to have a dramatic impact on the way the world does business,” said Bunce. “As the worldwide economy expands and becomes progressively interdependent, general aviation will play an ever-increasing role in making business soar.”
GAMA President Jack Pelton also addressed industry officials at the Washington Aero Club (www.aeroclub.org), outlining the following series of so-called “myths” about the FAA (www.faa.gov) as well as a variety of potential schemes to shift new fuel taxes and user fees onto general aviation.
Myth 1: The mechanisms for funding the FAA aren’t working.
Myth 2: A funding overhaul is needed to pay for modernization and to cover revenue shortfalls from the declining commercial ticket tax.
Myth 3: General aviation doesn’t pay its share for its use of the National Air Transportation System.
Myth 4: User fees will provide stable and predictable funding for the FAA.
Myth 5: Very light jets coming to market will place a new burden on the air transportation system.
“These myths have crept into the public discussion about FAA funding and have gained undeserved credibility,” Pelton said. “I am a businessman, not a policymaker, and FAA officials often speak of the need to run the FAA more like a business. So, I propose we address some basic business questions before we implement more policies or procedures that could add extra costs or make the system more burdensome than it already is.”
Several months ago, FAA Administrator Marion Blakely spoke at the Aero Club and delivered the opposite message: “A change in our funding system is not only necessary, it’s warranted. Our ability to pay the operations bills is literally tied to the price of a ticket. Low-cost carriers are driving the market, and there are more and smaller aircraft up there—you do the math. The equation doesn’t work.”
|A Citation upgrade|
And Speaking Of Very Light Jets
Cessna’s entry into the VLJ category, the Citation Mustang, received a Type Inspection Authorization (TIA) from the FAA several weeks ahead of schedule. The TIA allows Cessna (www.cessna.com) to begin accumulating flight test hours on its prototype and keeps the company on schedule for customer deliveries by the end of this year. The six-seater will be certified as a single-pilot, FAR 23 airplane, with a projected cruise of 340 knots true airspeed (KTAS) and max operating altitude of 41,000 feet. Cessna says it has orders on the books for more than 230 Mustangs, which will join the larger Citation family of over 4,000 aircraft.
Eclipse Aviation (www.eclipseaviation.com) says it too is on track for 2006 customer deliveries. The Albuquerque, N.M.-based company has more than 1,000 flight hours on a fleet of five jets and recently broke ground on a 52,000-square-foot manufacturing center. Eclipse’s president, Vern Raburn, who got the world’s attention a few years ago when he announced that he would sell his new jet for less than a million dollars, said that the facility would allow the company to ramp output up to four aircraft daily. As of January 2006, Eclipse claimed an order log of 2,360 jets.
Another Less-Than-A-Million-Dollar Jet?
Sierra Industries out of Uvalde, Texas, has announced a different program to bring you a jet for under a million bucks, and there’s no waiting. The company is taking used Citation 500/501SP airframes and running them through a complete overhaul and refurb to deliver a “Sierra VLJ” for a suggested retail of $845,000. Its standard equipment includes GPS, TAWS, new paint and a new 6-passenger interior. The jets can be upgraded with RSVM, EFIS and digital autopilots. For more, see their Website at www.sijet.com or call (888) 835-9377.
Columbia Avionics has announced its efforts to install and certify new Innovative Solutions and Support (IS&S) flat-panel EFIS displays in Cessna Citation 500 and 650 series aircraft. The new system comes in one-, two- or three-panel configurations, and is meant to replace the existing electromechanical instruments. Get more information at www.columbiaavionics.com or call (573) 874-4141.
Czech-Mate Turbine Single
Ibis Aerospace Ltd. announced the European certification of its Ae270 single-engine turboprop. Because of reciprocity agreements between the FAA and the Civil Aviation Authority in the Czech Republic, American certification has been delayed (but is expected imminently) in the United States.
The Ae270 Propjet is a large-cabin, pressurized aircraft designed to carry up to 10 people, or it can be configured to carry cargo. To learn more, go to www.ae270.com or contact the company at +420-25576-2488.
|C90GT King Air|
|Columbia 350 and 400|
A New King
Raytheon (www.hawkerbeechcraft.com) announced FAA certification of its new C90GT, the latest evolution of King Air. The new and improved turbine twin has increased performance in all phases of flight, including a 26-knot increase in max cruise. Pratt & Whitney PT6A-135 will take the C90GT to its certified ceiling of 30,000 feet in just 22 minutes. King Airs have enjoyed a 40-year production run. The 6,000th King Air rolled off the production line in December 2004.
Flip Your Bird
For those who want to buy a new Columbia 350 or 400, help is on the way. Columbia Aircraft’s new program, “Flip the Bird 1, 2, 3,” facilitates the purchase of a new Columbia 350 or 400 by helping aircraft owners sell their current plane. Owners planning to make such an upgrade will be guided by aviation experts on finance, insurance, tax and brokerage matters. They’ll also receive an aircraft detailing kit, “For Sale” signs and three months of classified advertising in Trade-A-Plane at no cost. For more information, contact Columbia Aircraft at (888) 526-2247 or www.flycolumbia.com.
More Cheyenne Upgrades
T-G Aviation has announced that its eleventh Super Cheyenne conversion is now in the air. Kevin Klein of T-G Aviation noted “We now have more than 10,200 hours of total flying time.”
The Super Cheyenne conversion replaces the existing Cheyenne I, IA, II or IIXL stock engines with new Pratt & Whitney PT6A-135A turbines that are factory rated for 750 SHP. Also included in the conversion are specially designed Hartzell three-blade props that turn at 1,900 rpm, down from 2,100 rpm for a quieter ride.
Converted Cheyennes see improved performance in many areas, but most notably in rate of climb, high-speed cruise and fuel economy. T-G Aviation says that speeds as high as 300 KTAS have been recorded, with more normal cruise falling into the 275 to 280 KTAS range. Fuel burn averages around 72 gph. The Super Cheyenne reaches FL270 in 14 to 17 minutes.
The firewall-forward conversion is done at the T-G Aviation facility in Mount Hope, Ontario, Canada. For more, log on to their Website at www.tgaviation.com or call (905) 679-6554.
Ever wished you could set your luggage down and have it follow you? If so, you have something in common with Peter Yeadon, a professor at Rhode Island School of Design. At the moment, the world’s smartest suitcase is still a prototype, but if Yeadon gets his way, one day we’ll have hands-free luggage that tails us home. See more at www.yeadon.net.
Cirrus To Get Even Faster
Thanks to Tornado Alley Turbo, Inc., Cirrus owners may soon be able to reach their destinations even quicker than they already can. Tornado Alley is developing a turbonormalizer for the SR22 that will allow it to reach 210 knots or possibly more. President Timothy Roehl hopes to obtain FAA certification later this year. The system is anticipated to be priced between $45,000 and $50,000 installed. Check for updates at www.taturbo.com.
More Horsepower For Mooney
Owners of Mooney M20R and M20S aircraft can now upgrade their Teledyne Continental IO-550-G engines to 310 horsepower. The STC for modification, which includes the installation of a Hartzell three-bladed propeller, was obtained by Midwest M20 Mooney in Flora, Ill. This shortens takeoff distance for the M20S by up to 55% and increases its rate of climb by 300 fpm. Furthermore, the aircraft’s takeoff weight is increased to 3,368 pounds, the same as that of the M20R. The upgrade costs $25,000 for aircraft with two-bladed propellers and $17,500 for models that already have three-bladed Hartzell propellers.
Mooney is also offering interior refurbishments for M20J and M20K models. Elements of the updated look include one-piece fiberglass panels covered with Ultraleather; an automatic timer-controlled light in the baggage area; a quieter cabin; and new glare shields, carpets and kick panels. The interior kits are installed at the Factory Service Center. Contact Mooney for more information at (800) 456-3033 or www.mooney.com.
Focke-Wulf Fw 190
The White 1 Foundation in Kissimmee, Fla., is restoring a genuine Focke-Wulf Fw 190 F-8 in hopes of returning it to the air. Presently, the aircraft is undergoing complete restoration to airworthy condition with the correct BMW 801 engine.
Focke-Wulf FW 190 F8, W Nr 931862, has a rich history including action while serving with JG 5 in Norway. The aircraft was last flown during the famous Battle of Fordefjord on February 9, 1945. It came to rest on a snow-covered mountain after its pilot was forced to bail out. The aircraft has now been moved to Florida.
Pilot Journal readers have a unique opportunity to participate in the restoration process. For five days, July 17 to 21, participants can get hands-on instruction from the master craftsmen restoring this classic warbird. Fans can also log on to the Website and bid on a chance to sit in the completed project and fire up the one-of-a-kind engine that hasn’t been heard since the end of WWII. For details, log on to www.white1foundation.org or call (727) 365-1713.