From the August 2015 Issue

Pipistrel’s Alpha Electro: Electric Flight Realized

The age of the electric airplane has been much written about but far less demonstrated and delivered. So when Pipistrel Aircraft, the innovative Slovenian company, announced last April at Aero that it was ready to deliver a functional electric trainer, it drew crowds of the curious. But is the technology really ready for broad market distribution or does it remain a curiosity waiting for more mature technology?

Current Issue

Parts Support For LSA: Fleet Size Matters

Let’s face it, compared to a Piper Cherokee or Cessna 152, many LSAs have complex systems and specialized parts. Imported models are often tainted by concerns of less-than-acceptable field support when they break.

Fuel Pumps: Overhaul On Condition

Some years ago I was taking an IPC and FR in a Piper Aztec. A few minutes into the climb, I shut off the aux pumps, one at a time. A few seconds later, one engine quit. I turned the pumps back on and the engine restarted. After leveling off and setting low cruise power, I tried turning off the pumps again, and found that the left engine was the problem. It would run fine with the aux pump on; not at all with it off.

Composite Propellers: Longevity, Efficiency

With minimal fanfare, composite propellers have been appearing as original equipment on more and more airplanes and more and more owners are finding that they are an option for their airplanes when it comes time for an overhaul or replacement. Composite props are more expensive than their aluminum counterparts, so we were curious why owners are shelling out the extra bucks—what’s the attraction and what’s out there to buy?\n

Garmin Improves The D2; Ups Its Camera Game

With stiff competition in the sports wearable and action cam market, Garmin is wasting no time rolling out second-generation products aimed at the market it owns: aviation. This month, the company unveiled its improved D2 aviator watch and a redesigned HD action camera—the VIRB X-series. Here is a field report of both.

Aviation Insurance: Soft Market, Low Prices

There are only some 200,000 aircraft in the U.S.—there are more cars than that in a large town—so why any profit-oriented insurer would enter such a restricted market seems to defy logic. Yet, in the last decade, the number of aviation insurance underwriters has gone from the old, hard core of nine to 14, an increase of more than 50 percent. The result is predictable—with a relatively large number of companies competing in a limited market, insurance premiums are low and owners have little trouble getting coverage.

DuraCharts: Better Paper For VFR

Remember the days of sprawling a VFR aeronautical sectional chart across the flight planning table—whiz wheel in hand—mapping your low-and-slow route around the TCA? I do. That’s why buying a venerable paper VFR sectional chart always seems worth the nine bucks, even if it gets tossed in the flight bag or map pocket in case the iPad quits. Haven’t gone digital yet? You could print your own paper charts, but for lay-it-on-the-seat reference as you motor along in a rental Tomahawk or vintage Cub, the traditional sectional lives on, perhaps given a new lease on life by Washington, DC-based DuraCharts.

Columbia 300/350

What do you get when you mate a sleek and efficient composite airframe to a high-output Continental engine, advanced avionics and an ergonomic interior? Sales—and lots of them. This is evident by Cirrus Aircraft’s success with its SR22. That was the premise behind the original Columbia 300/350, the normally aspirated versions of the company’s flagship Columbia 400, and later Cessna Corvalis series.

Letters: August 2015

After reading the fire extinguisher article in the June 2015 issue of Aviation Consumer, I have some confusion about extinguisher size, partially because one photo example was apparently omitted from the article. I assume that a fire extinguisher with a “2BC” nomenclature in its model identification is two pounds of fire suppressant, and the “5” prefix indicates five pounds.

First Word: August 2015

The concept of a wireless cockpit—pushing flight plan data from a tablet app to certified avionics, to name one capability—is supposed to curtail the task of programming a panel GPS. I think Garmin’s Flight Stream Connect wireless network, via its Pilot tablet app, succeeds in doing that, but doesn’t eliminate all of the workload, which is a good thing. That was my impression after Garmin’s Jessica Koss demonstrated the Flight Stream and ADS-B interface as we flew in the company Cirrus in the Northeast airspace, pictured to the right.

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